St Helens Council has announced it will not now publish its draft local plan until the summer of 2018.
The new plan will be the lead land use planning document for St Helens, once it is adopted. It will set out how much new development for housing, employment and retail will be needed in the Borough. It will also set out those policies against which individual planning applications for all types of development will be assessed.
The draft plan will be published for a final consultation before it is then sent to the Planning Inspectorate for independent examination. If it passes that then, depending on how long that process takes, the council may be in a position to adopt the plan in 2019.
The last version of the plan was the subject of a consultation exercise over last Christmas. Despite the timing more than 5,500 responses were submitted to the council from local residents, businesses and landowners. This alone will no doubt have generated a lot of work as the council reviews each and every one and considers whether and how to change the emerging plan in response, or why not to do so.
The delay though is due to factors beyond the council’s control. The government intends to introduce new national planning guidance in early 2018 that will change the way in which councils in England must calculate how much housing to plan for. The St Helens draft plan will be expected to follow this guidance. The additional work generated will further delay the publication of the draft plan.
When the plan is published for consultation next summer it will be the last chance to comment on it before it goes for independent examination. It will therefore be of interest to anyone with a property interest in the St Helens area, or who is thinking of investing in a development in that area or with an interest in how the area may change in the coming years.
For more information on the progress of the plan go to St Helens Council’s website, via this link [https://www.sthelens.gov.uk/localplan].