Bolton Council Allocations Plan Examination (2014)

We were pleased with the outcome of the 'LDF' (Local Development Framework) consultation in 2010 - this with a new Government and changes to planning required a re-assessment/revisit which was completed and became the 'Local Plan' in 2014. It was acknowledged by planners and Planning Inspector that Westhoughton had borne the brunt of development over many years, and that it couldn't really cope with much more building without undue pressure on infrastructure, services and quality of life. Since then there has been a period of relative quiet here in Westhoughton. In light of the 'cessation' of building after the 2008 financial meltdown, it could be construed that much of the development was driven by the credit bubble and an element of speculation.

There have been changes to planning strategy which could put pressure on greenbelt, and moves to boost the economy by government through construction. And whilst concentrated in London and the South East, as reported in the media, there has been a resurgence in building, aided by Government schemes such as 'Funding For Lending' and 'Help To Buy' - the latter using taxpayers money to underwrite deposits. Since 2008 banks had been more careful and risk averse, seeking bigger deposits on property loans. With house prices surging again commentators are talking of a bubble.

Review

There is no indication that extra allocations are needed in Westhoughton, nor are they referenced in any revised documentation relating to Schedule of Main Modifications [link] (to the Allocations Plan) dated June 2014 - to be examined by the Planning Inspector for soundness [of the Local Plan, formerly LDF] in light of planning changes put in place by the Government.

The Examination Hearings took place between 28th April and 9th May. The Inspector, Kevin Ward, concluded that a number of Main Modifications being required to make the submitted plan sound, these requiring public consultation over a six week period ending on 25th July 2014.

Outcome

The Planning Inspector concluded his examination of Bolton Council's Local Plan (formerly LDF) in September declaring that it was "sound when main modifications are made" (Inspector's Report), meeting policy requirements land/housing needs for the area.

Developers queried a shortfall in allocations to meet 5-year supply requirements, this was comprehensively dealt with in his report (Assessment of Soundness - Issue 2): "total potential supply of housing land will be sufficient to meet the residual requirement for the rest of the plan period and will provide some flexibility should sites not come forward as envisaged… I conclude therefore that the approach towards the supply and delivery of housing land is justified, effective and consistent with national policy.". The Inspector concurring with information supplied in the Bolton Annual Monitoring report 2014-15.

In Westhoughton there were no significant changes; the plan therefore is as expected, and does not contain any further or additional building in Westhoughton. Areas of 'Protected Open Land' - Lee Hall, Bowlands Hey and Ditcher's Farm - are not needed for development, at least up to 2026.

The Council was able to formally adopt the Allocations Plan as part of its Local Plan and Core Strategy in December 2014. Bolton Council Local Plan (FINAL).

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Current Activity

Development sites up for planning approval or approved. Westhoughton Current Sites.

Planning Search (Bolton Council) - search by reference number, postcode, ward or single line of an address.

'My Bolton' - searchable 'My Maps'… navigate to desired area, select 'Planning' / 'Applications by year' / click pop-up 'ref' to view planning application.

Meetings

Westhoughton Town Council - info
Meetings take place fortnightly, Monday evenings at Town Hall. Planning matters usually discussed on a monthly basis.
Upcoming: 31 July (7pm)

Bolton Council Planning Committee - info
Thurs, 27 July (2-6pm)
Council Chamber
Minutes/Info of all Council Meetings can be found on the Meetings Calendar - look for Committee of interest, date and click on link for info, minutes and decisions.