Cumbria Crack

Groundbreaking joint plan for AONB wins planning award

View of Arnside looking out across Morecambe Bay

A pioneering development plan aimed at protecting a nationally important landscape has earned Lakeland District Council (SLDC) and Lancaster City Council a prestigious award from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

The two authorities were praised at the recent North West Regional Awards for Planning Excellence 2019 for their work on the Local Plan covering the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The plan, developed in association with the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership and local communities, puts the conservation of the special characteristics of the area at its heart and makes sure that planning decisions are consistent on both sides of the county boundary.

It also allocates sites for new housing and contains special policies on landscape, the design of development in the AONB, affordable housing (including on small sites) and the natural and historic environment.

Judges from the RTPI had already awarded the plan top spot in the Spatial Planning category but went one better by declaring it the overall winner, praising the way it had helped to achieve the delicate balance of preserving the natural beauty of the area while also providing for the specific housing needs of the community.

Councillor Jonathan Brook, SLDC’s Housing and Innovation portfolio holder and Councillor John Reynolds, cabinet member with responsibility for planning policy at Lancaster City Council,  said: “The two local authorities are delighted to receive this award and wish to thank the RTPI for recognising the level of expertise shown by both authorities and the benefits that joint working can bring.

“The innovative and groundbreaking approach set out in the document will help secure a special and unique part of the district for future generations, while at the same time contribute to meeting future development needs of the area.”

Judging panel member, Steve Thompson, added: “The judges were impressed by the plan’s positive approach to affordable housing provision, supported by a comprehensive evidence base including a ‘household needs’ survey which was sent to every household within the AONB area. They were also particularly impressed with the plan’s approach to identifying potential development sites.

“The plan is an excellent example of joint working and positive planning, which has successfully addressed competing policy objectives at the national and local level. It is a groundbreaking plan, which showcases a wide range of skills and the high quality of planning work involved in its preparation.”

Lucy Barron, Arnside and Silverdale AONB Manager, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that the AONB Development Plan has been recognised in this way.

“The plan is the first of its kind, covering an entire AONB, in the country. The award is testament to the hard work of the staff from South Lakeland District Council and Lancaster City Council and the AONB Partnership, and to the commitment of the two councils to their shared protected landscape.”

The two councils will now join other overall winners from regions around the country at the RTPI’s prestigious national Awards for Planning Excellence ceremony, to be held in London on 30 April 2020.

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