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West Lancashire developments

Volume 560: debated on Tuesday 19 March 2013

The Petition of residents of West Lancashire,

Declares that the Petitioners reject the proposed developments by West Lancashire Borough Council in their West Lancashire Local Plan because of the following detrimental effects; the loss of Green Belt and agricultural land, the loss of a safety buffer between residential and industrial areas, the further strain on inadequate infrastructure; roads, sewers, health services and schools, the damage to the environment through pollution and loss of habitat, the devaluation of property, the loss of identity as a village and finally because there is no guaranteed benefits to local residents.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to stop the proposed developments in the West Lancashire Local Plan by West Lancashire Borough Council.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Rosie Cooper, Official Report, 11 February 2013; Vol. 558, c. 681.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is aware the West Lancashire Local Plan was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate on 31 October 2012 for examination. An independent inspector has been appointed to examine whether the submitted plan is sound. The Examination Hearings commenced on 19 February 2013 and are currently underway.

The purpose of the independent examination is set out at section 20 (5) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. The role of the inspector is to assess whether the plan has been prepared in accordance with relevant legal requirements, and whether it is sound. For a plan to be found sound it must be positively prepared, justified, legally compliant and consistent with national policies. At the Examination stage the council will also need to demonstrate how it has appropriately considered the views of local people; and demonstrate that its proposals are based on robust evidence.

It is the role of the independent inspector to assess the soundness of Local Plans, not for central Government. If requested to do so by the local council, the inspector may recommend modifications to the plan that he or she considers are necessary for the plan to be found sound. The council may also propose its own modifications. Should a plan be found sound, it is up to individual councils to decide whether to take it forward to adoption.

Under section 21 of the 2004 Act, if the Secretary of State thinks that a local development document (Local Plan) is unsatisfactory he may at any time before the document is adopted direct the local planning authority to modify the document in accordance with the direction and give reasons. Section 27 of the Act applies if the Secretary of State thinks that a local planning authority are failing or omitting to do anything it is necessary for them to do in connection with the preparation, revision or adoption of a development plan document. This is a power of last resort and such powers are only used in exceptional circumstances.