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Next steps are being set out by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council following consultation on the first draft of the Local Plan governing development in the area until 2040.


Thousands of comments on the possible future location of homes, businesses, community facilities and protected green spaces are being reviewed.


Submissions during the consultation focused on proposals for specific areas, comments questioning forecasts for housing need, support for the use of brownfield sites and views on the possibility of creating employment sites in different parts of the borough.


Andrew Fear, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council's Cabinet member for Strategic Planning, said: “We must have a Local Plan, otherwise it will be a free-for-all for developers to apply for permission wherever they want.”


“As part of the preparation for the next steps in the process, the council has asked independent consultants to review the calculations for the number of homes needed in coming years.


“Local Plans are required by Government to earmark land suitable for different types of development and to maintain a rolling, minimum five-year supply of housing land.


“We automatically review our calculations as we move through the process to make sure that they remain accurate and as the Government updated its national planning guidance in December, this review will be based on the latest advice.”


If a Local Plan doesn’t exist, or is out of date and the housing supply falls below the minimum requirement, then developers are more likely to gain approval for planning applications for anywhere in the Borough – including areas previously deemed off-limits.


Following January’s Cabinet discussion, work will continue on the Local Plan, which will go to Full Council for all councillors to have a say. Then, if approved, it will go to a second public consultation later this year.


Finally, an independent inspector will examine the plan in light of previous responses and may take further submissions from anyone trying to change it, if they have already made formal comment earlier in proceedings.


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