St Helens Borough’s Local Plan could soon progress as the Cabinet prepares to discuss its submission to the Secretary of State at a meeting on Wednesday 23 September.
Senior officers will recommend to Cabinet that the Local Plan Submission Draft be submitted as per the resolution of Council on the 19 December 2018.
In March this year, the Cabinet asked council officers to consider the land use planning implications of the Council’s new strategic partnership with English Cities Fund (ECF) in the context of the Local Plan.
A report on this review has now been published and will go before Cabinet for a decision to be made on the next steps for the Local Plan.
The report highlights ECF’s developing plans for St Helens town centre. Officers resolved that the ECF partnership will help the Council to accelerate delivery on the sites that have been identified in the Local Plan and will put St Helens Borough in a strong position to secure high quality development, supporting the borough’s economic recovery.
The ECF’s contribution will be within the tolerances already identified in the plan and so officers concluded that there is no need to delay submission of the Local Plan to take further account of the proposal.
Also included is an updated Community Impact Assessment, originally produced in December 2018, which specifies how the council will use its planning powers within the context of the Local Plan to improve quality of life and reduce health inequalities for residents in St Helens Borough.
If a decision is made by Cabinet to submit the Local Plan it will be submitted to the Secretary of State in October. The Secretary of State appoints an independent planning inspector to examine the plan and documentation.
The planning inspector will decide when the public examination will be conducted. Once known, details of the timescales will be shared online at www.sthelens.gov.uk/localplan.
St Helens Borough Council Leader, Councillor David Baines said:
“Earlier this year we decided to pause the process for submitting the Local Plan draft, giving our new Chief Executive Kath O’Dwyer and new Executive Director of Place Services Lisa Harris the opportunity to look closely at it and for us to benefit from their experience and advice, and making sure we took full account of our ground-breaking deal with English Cities Fund.
“Officers have spent recent months assessing the plan and their strong and clear recommendation is that we proceed with the Submission Draft, so this will now be considered by Cabinet.
“The Local Plan draft protects the majority of our borough as greenbelt, plus our outstanding parks and open spaces, while also being ambitious for employment and housing growth. And we will continue to explore all opportunities for bringing brownfield sites back into use, as we have done recently in securing funding from Liverpool City Region to help regenerate the Moss Nook and Cowley Hill sites.
“We want St Helens Borough to be a vibrant, attractive and prosperous place. We want local people to benefit from a good choice of affordable homes, skilled local jobs, efficient infrastructure, beautiful open green spaces, good transport links and better health and wellbeing. This is an even more vital mission after Covid-19. Everything we do is in pursuit of these goals.”
Councillor Richard McCauley, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Housing, said:
“We must develop a plan that allows us to meet the required Government targets on housing, and that can accommodate the growth we want to achieve in St Helens Borough.
“This plan sets out our ambitions to create jobs, build a mix of high quality, affordable homes and shape infrastructure investments utilising brownfield first and foremost.
“It gives residents some certainty about our development plans and future use of land in the borough. It shows where development is planned, and therefore where resources and possible additional infrastructure, such as roads or new schools, are needed to support it.
“It will protect the vast majority of our open green spaces, develop our town and district centres, and help to prevent decisions being made on developments that may not be in the best interests of our local community, as without it we are at the mercy of developers who would be able to cherry-pick development sites without our input.
“Our Local Plan will help us to achieve all the things that matter to you as residents, and to us too.”
The Submission Draft of the Local Plan was subject to a public consultation in 2019, with the council receiving approximately 2,000 responses. These responses have been collated and will be submitted to the inspector together with the Local Plan and supporting documents, should councillors decide to submit the plan.
Anyone who submitted a response during the Local Plan Submission Draft consultation will receive an email or letter from the council notifying them when the plan has been submitted to the planning inspectorate for examination, unless a request was made to not be notified.