Shape of things to come?

Date: Tuesday 11th July 2017

IT’S long overdue, but Eden Council’s proposed local plan — the document that will shape the direction of future development in the district over the next 15 years — is nearing completion.

A final draft goes out to consultation on Monday and a series of five community engagement events across the district will start on 17th July. This follows a public inquiry and two rounds of hearings which were held to address the concerns of interested parties raised during the earlier stages of the process.

The road so far may be seen as a long and winding one, but it is vitally important that the public and those involved in business and property development have confidence in the final strategy.

Unfortunately, that might not be the case given the conflict that seems to have arisen between the council’s previous planning decisions and guidance on housebuilding from the Government.

The latest draft of the plan reduces the number of Eden villages which are regarded as key hubs, and therefore suitable for large-scale development, from 28 to 13. Those previously in the list are now to be regarded as suitable only for small-scale, sensitive development because they lack key amenities.

This is fine in principle, but the problem is that the council has already approved controversial schemes in some of those villages which it would have refused under the terms of its new plan.

That has led to a perception that developers are being favoured over local communities, which the council needs to counter. With a target total of 4,356 new homes to be built across the district in the next decade and a half, the housebuilding surge will continue. The council needs to make sure the developments are sustainable and in the right place.