Local plan will see 7,000 new homes in Ashfield

NMAC10-2465-2''Kirkby Ashfield District Council Offices
NMAC10-2465-2''Kirkby Ashfield District Council Offices

Ashfield District Council has revealed its local plan could see 480 new homes being built in the area EACH YEAR for the next 15 years.

The target was announced as the authority launched its ‘preferred approach’ - what it wants to see to accommodate the future growth of the district.

The local plan is one of the most important aspects of the authority’s responsibility as it determines how Ashfield will grow and develop as a community over the next 15 years, and how it will provide a future for residents and their families.

The authority has forecasted 10,000 new jobs will be created in the area over the next 15 years.

Last year, the council voted to withdraw its local plan after a Government inspector said it was probably “unsound”.

The authority must deliver the plan by 2017, or the council would lose its right to determine planning applications in the area.

Councillor Don Davis, deputy council leader, said: “This is not just about housing.

“It is about the whole future of the district.

“As locally elected leaders, we need to ensure that residents and their children, both now and in the future, have access to a wide range of jobs, housing, education, and health and leisure facilities.

“A local plan is therefore more than just a development map. It is a blueprint for a sustainable community for all of our residents.”

He said evidence showed the area needs additional housing sites, adding: “We need to build an average of 480 new homes per year over the next 15 years.

“I want to emphasise here that this is only 62 more units per year than our current rate based on the last 5 year performance. So it represents only modest growth requirements.”

He said sites had been allocated across the district to ensure that development is spread as evenly as possible.

The priority had been to concentrate on brownfield sites but it had been necessary in certain instances to use some greenfield sites.

The authority had sought to minimise this as much as possible.

Coun Davis said the council had spent time on researching and analysing a vast amount of evidence, sought the views of technical experts and consulted with a cross party Local Plan Steering Group.

The Local Plan Preferred Approach will be taken to Cabinet for approval on January 7 before a period of public consultation.

He said Ashfield’s economy is growing, with a forecast of 10,000 new jobs to be created over the next 15 years.

Coun Davis said: “Clearly there is a need to accommodate growing and new businesses, which will create these thousands of new jobs. As well as this, people who live and work here need to have a choice of housing to suit their needs and to help create future homes for their children.

“A great deal of technical and evidence based work has gone on to produce our preferred approach.

“As part of the Cabinet report and the consultation which follows, we will publish all of this evidence, as well as a detailed map showing the sites which we have allocated for development.

“We appreciate that some people do not want to see development near to where they live and that our preferred approach will not receive unanimous endorsement.

“However, I want to assure you that we have taken an entirely evidence based approach and one where we believe that the whole district will benefit.

“It is vital that we provide a sustainable future for our residents and their children and that this preferred approach to the Local Plan seeks to do exactly that.

The council will announce the public consultation date after the cabinet meeting on January 7. The consultation will last six weeks, using various platforms including social media.

Officers will then consult again on revisions to the preferred approach.

After this second round of consultation, the council will submit the plan to the secretary of state and he will appoint an inspector to examine the plan in public, before making his recommendation to the Government about approval.

Coun Davis added: “We anticipate that this inspection will take place by November or December next year.

“Approval of the local plan is one of the most important decisions affecting the district, as it will be our growth and community blueprint for the next 15 years. We want to provide a sustainable future for the families and children of Ashfield. We believe that the local plan preferred approach does that.”