West Lancashire Borough Council is preparing an innovative new Local Plan and the first draft of this extremely important document will be considered by Council's Cabinet at their meeting on 11 September.
Cabinet members are being asked to approve the proposed Local Plan Preferred Options document for public consultation. If they do the document, which features many exciting proposals will be consulted upon in October and November, and local people will be able to have their say.
A Local Plan guides how the borough develops over a specific time period. It can cover everything from where new homes, employment sites and retail and leisure facilities should be situated, to policies on transport, local services, energy and the environment.
The proposed Preferred Options document suggests a Local Plan that will help deliver exciting new development to support the growth of the Borough until 2050, in particular around the Borough's two largest towns of Skelmersdale and Ormskirk. The Local Plan proposals also allocate land for smaller opportunities for new developments in the rest of the Borough to meet local housing and employment needs.
The innovative proposed Preferred Options would provide new homes and employment space in and around Skelmersdale, including a bold initiative to create three new Garden Villages and a Logistics Park alongside the M58. This proposal would make a significant contribution to the business case for creating a Skelmersdale Rail Link, make development proposals in the Town Centre more attractive to businesses and create a wide range of new job opportunities in growing business sectors.
Within Ormskirk and Aughton, the proposed Preferred Options plan for new homes and the opportunity to create an impressive brand new Knowledge Park and Student Accommodation Village on St Helens Road to complement what is already offered at Edge Hill University. These proposals will attract new, hi-tech businesses to Ormskirk, provide much-needed purpose-built student accommodation to alleviate the demand for houses of multiple occupation. They will also enable university graduates to stay in West Lancashire by offering more of the right type of jobs and accommodation for young professionals to buy and rent, and support Ormskirk town centre businesses.
The proposed Preferred Options will also ensure that the rural areas of the Borough will continue to be strongly protected from inappropriate development (over 88% of West Lancashire will remain as Green Belt). This will allow the agricultural sector to continue making its significant contribution to UK food production and ensuring that the natural environment of the Borough will be protected and enhanced.
John Harrison, Director of Development and Regeneration, said: "By planning so far into the future, the Local Plan gives greater certainty about where development will take place over the next 30 years. It will enable the Council to better manage new development in a way that creates more sustainable communities, provides homes for all parts of the community and takes advantage of opportunities emerging from the anticipated economic growth, including those stimulated by the expanded Port of Liverpool.
"Alongside this, a longer-term Local Plan can create the opportunities to deliver the infrastructure that new development will need and health and wellbeing benefits for the residents of West Lancashire.
"A robust Local Plan also means the Council will be in a better position to make planning decisions so they are done at a local level rather than being made by a national planning inspector."
The proposed Local Plan Preferred Options document will be first discussed at the Council's Planning Committee on Thursday 6 September. Councillors can make recommendations to Cabinet to be discussed at their meeting on 11 September. The Planning Committee papers are available on coins.