Friday, 27 April 2007

Out with the Local Plan, in with the Core Strategy

In line with government planning reforms, the current Lancaster Local Plan is being replaced by a Core Strategy, which will be submitted to Government on 4 May 2007 and is the Council’s overarching spatial planning strategy for the period up until 2021.

The overall intention is “a sustainable district, whose quality of life and standards of development, comprising a prosperous knowledge-based city, a regenerated coast and a conserved countryside.

The council says the Strategy also sets out broad locations for new homes and jobs, regeneration areas and the district’s natural and built heritage. In addition it outlines how public and private agencies will help make the vision come to fruition in the run up to 2021. Underlying this strategy is the principle of urban concentration, with key themes of sustainable communities, economic regeneration, improving the environment and delivering quality services.

It will now be on deposit between 4 May and 15 June, during which time people can make supporting representations or formal objections. It will then be the subject of an ‘Independent Examination’ early next year.

You can make a comment by;

• Using the online representation form on the Council’s website (www.lancaster.gov.uk)
• Emailing your representation form to fforwardplanning@lancaster.gov.uk or
• Sending a paper copy of your representatives to the City Council

The Strategy, representation forms and all other relevant documents can be viewed and downloaded from the Council’s website (www.lancaster.gov.uk) and are available at Palatine Hall and Morecambe Town Hall.

Copies of the Strategy can also be viewed at all public libraries in the District and at University.

Let Your Fingers do the Recycling

If you want to recycle your old Yellow Pages directory, given that the recycling box collectors have rejected it, then give it to a schoolkid.

Over the next seven weeks, several local schools will be taking part in the Yellow Woods Challenge, run by Yellow Pages, working with the Woodland Trust and Lancaster City Council, to recycle old Yellow Pages directories and help increase woodland in England – one of the least wooded countries in Europe.

Funds raised through the Yellow Woods Challenge will be invested in the Woodland Trust’s most ambitious children’s tree planting campaign ever launched – ‘Tree For All’ – which aims to plant 12 million trees by 2009.

Youngsters will learn about recycling and woodland conservation through educational materials in the classroom and games on the internet.

The primary schools taking part locally in Lancaster are Moorside, Ryelands and St Bernadettes plus Poulton-le-sands Primary; St Margaret's, Hornby; St Peter’s, Heysham; St Lukes, Slyne with Hest; Arkholme Primary, Silverdale CE Primary and Carnforth Primary. The competition closes locally on May 25, 2007.

For more information, visit www.yellow-woods.co.uk.

Or if that’s not possible, there are yellow pages recycling banks at Booths and Tesco in Carnforth and Morrisons in Morecambe.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

High Court strikes down planning committee "perceived impartiality" fallacy?

(Thanks to Max for this item): Outside and critical observers of local democracy have long had a problem with the idea that councillors on planning committees should not say or do anything which indicates support or opposition to developments.

An example of this absurdity could be seen at the It's Our City panel debate in Lancaster last Friday when several councillors refused to say whether they thought the Centros Miller plans for a huge and unwelcome shopping complex (unwelcome to many local residents, that is) were rubbish - despite the fact that no planning permission has yet been applied for.

Now, the BBC reports that the High Court has ruled on a case related to the new high pressure gas pipeline being built across England and Wales. Some local councillors were advised by council officers not to take part in the planning committee vote due to having taken part in a protest against the pipeline. They didn't take part, the decision was taken to judicial review, and now that planning committee decision has been branded unlawful.

High Court Judge Mr Justice Collins said the councillors should never been told not to vote. "The councillors did feel under pressure not to participate," he commented. "Where it seems that the advice given was clearly wrong, was in raising the threat of a
complaint to the ombudsman."

He went on to say that councillors should not be inhibited from "doing the duty imposed upon them by the democratic system by the over-cautious advice from monitoring observers".

Perhaps now we can look forward to seeing local councillors show some backbone when standing up to overcautious civil servants?