We have 18 potential development sites that we are assessing for sustainability and whether they can deliver according to our emerging Vision, Objectives and Policies as well as our Community Needs & Priorities. I’m sure you can appreciate that the ‘devil is in the detail’ and we are seeking clarity from the potential sites before we shortlist our Preferred Options and bring them forward for consultation with residents and stakeholders.
We can easily deliver on the number of new homes that we are required to accommodate, all sites will generate Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding for community facilities in Ashington and the wider District. However some sites have offered to deliver tangible community assets in lieu of CIL and this is where we need the detail. Are they in the right place, are they needed, are they the right size/design etc, can they actually be delivered or are they unrealistic and will later be withdrawn?
Accepting CIL money is easy but it’s not always so easy to spend it – we need community land to put new facilities on, is it enough money to actually build something that we need, who will own, insure & maintain it, will it affect the neighbours etc. It could be years before the money is spent.
So, if you’re wondering why the Neighbourhood Plan is taking so long it’s because we have all of these issues to deal with while trying to get the best we can for our residents, all within the framework of a formal planning document that will withstand intense scrutiny by Site Promoters, residents, stakeholders, District & County Planning Officers and a Government Inspector…it’s no wonder there are times I don’t sleep at night!