Councillor John Riddle is in Peter Jackson's cabinet with responsibility for Planning, Housing and Resilience. His department has been tasked with overseeing the withdrawal of Labour's calamitous 'Core Strategy', a move which received overwhelming support during the council elections in May 2017. The plan, if successful would have landed the county with an additional 26,000 houses, and has been defended by the likes of Ian Lavery and Ronnie Campbell.
On taking over the administration at County Hall last May we delivered on a manifesto pledge by withdrawing Labour's plan to land Northumberland with 26,000 new homes, including 2000 on green belt land. The plan, named the 'Core Strategy' would have been a developers charter, allowing building and concreting over vast areas of our precious green belt land. If we had submitted the document for approval it's highly likely it wouldn't have been approved, meaning the county would have been exposed while we struggled to replace the document.
We're proud to report that the new 'Local Plan' will be completed on a very similar adoption date to Labour's failed Core Strategy.
Work is continuing at a pace and significant progress continues to be made which will result in a draft plan being consulted upon in summer. The new plan will be based on up to date numbers, rather than the previous plan which was based on fudged data, leading to more houses being built in Northumberland than was necessary.
A "Call for Sites" consultation has just concluded and will be assessed. This will allow us to develop sites in consultation with local areas, rather than the previous approach of bulldozing through areas like Dissington in Ponteland. The group working on the new plan has cross-party backing and will look at a number of factors to establish the new plans for the county's future. We'll be able to take into account new documents such as the Neighbourhood Plans which have been made to establish what residents would like to see in their areas.
We are about to launch our Spring 2018 Local Plan consultation which will commence on Wednesday 28th March and run for 6 weeks. The consultation will be a truly open process, allowing residents to design the future of our county.
I believe that by making the process more open, and engaging more people, we will be able to develop a plan for the future of our county that better reflects the county that residents would like to see.