Rossendale Free Press

Coun Alyson Barnes

- Council leader

THE new local plan is due to be formally adopted at our council meeting on December 15.

Many of you have taken a keen interest in the formation of the plan which has been an ongoing part of the council’s work for a number of years now.

Councils all over the country have a legal duty to put in place a plan that looks at the housing and employment needs of an area for the next 15 years.

These plans should also help health and education providers to plan future services in Rossendale too.

Clearly all of this is designed to ensure that there is enough of the right type of housing available to those who wish to buy or rent them at any one time.

Many of you will know just how hard it can be finding the right thing, especially given Rossendale’s growing popularity.

Pressure is like never before to build houses and much of the discretion councils once had in determinin­g planning applicatio­ns locally has been lost due to dic-tat dished out by central government.

These days the whole system seems to favour the developer, although I am sure they would argue otherwise.

As Rossendale is part of a two-tier council area, we are also reliant on the county council to identify highways and flooding concerns.

This means that if issues are not raised by LCC in their capacity of the highways authority or lead strategic flood authority then we can not refuse planning applicatio­ns on highways or flooding grounds.

This aspect of the process can be incredibly frustratin­g given the very real challenges we face as a borough.

The council could refuse more planning applicatio­ns, but we know that the framework we have to work within is rigid, and refusing applicatio­ns without sufficient planning grounds would result in the applicatio­n being approved on appeal and costs, often amounting to tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of pounds being awarded against the council.

The adoption of the local plan will do two things.

Firstly it will help us to fend off unwanted and unplanned local developmen­t.

Having a newly adopted plan is very powerful when it comes to fighting planning appeals.

It will also enable the council to adopt further planning support documents that will help our area, these documents will address issues like climate change and design standards. Issues we know concern many of our residents. As ever, please contact me if you would like to raise anything with me directly.

I can be contacted on 07817 414248 and alysonbarn­ - I will be happy to hear from you.

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