Dozens of questions will be put to the public this winter about how they would like to see Preston, Chorley and South Ribble develop over the next 15 years.
Residents will be invited to answer a total of 67 posers to help shape the Central Lancashire Local Plan – a document which will influence the type and location of new housing and employment sites across the region through to the mid-2030s.
They will be able to give their thoughts on almost 500 sites suggested as being suitable for development by members of the public and a further 200 put forward by public bodies - many of which may be duplicate suggestions. Respondants will also be asked about issues such as transport, climate change and community facilities.
However, the target for the exact number of houses which will have to be built in Central Lancashire in the coming years is one issue which is not up for discussion – as that is set by central government.
Papers presented to the cabinets of the three district authorities show a provisional total of 1,033 per year over the 15-year lifespan of the plan – an annual reduction of around 300 per year compared the number which the region currently has to build.
The public will be asked how they think the target should be met – and whether it should be seen as a minimum starting point which should be exceeded if possible. The districts are yet to determine how the dwellings should be split between them.
Under the government's new methodology, the target can also shift annually depending on population changes.
Other questions in the survey will focus on specifics including whether there should be restrictions on the number and location of takeaways which can be opened and how air quality can be improved. Comments will also be invited on protecting town centres and how to encourage walking and cycling.
Michael Green, cabinet member for economic development at Lancashire County Council and a member of South Ribble Borough Council, warned of the risk of overwhelming potential respondents.
“The danger is that they will get lost in the mass of information and switch off – meaning we won’t get their views and we need them,” he told a meeting of the Central Lancashire Strategic Planning Committee.
But members heard that the public can answer as many or as few of the questions as they wish – and that the survey will be presented in a user-friendly format which is accessible on most devices. A paper option will also be available.
The full list of proposed development sites will be published when the consultation begins next month. Public drop-in sessions are also planned.
Chorley and South Ribble’s cabinets have already approved it and, subject to Preston City Council doing the same, the consultation will run from 18th November, 2019 until 14th February, 2020.
Further consultations on a narrower list of preferred options will take place next year and the the plan will also have to be examined in public by a planning inspector before it can be adopted in 2022.
YOUNG PEOPLE TO GET THEIR SAY
A slimmed down version of the local plan survey will be made available for 11-21-year-olds.
They will be asked questions including what they would like to change about their area and how they would like it to look in 15 years’ time. Their comments will also be invited on specific issues such as the environment and apprenticeships.
“We’re trying to capture their views, because the local plan will affect their futures quite heavily,” local plan co-ordinator, Carolyn Williams, said.