Ambitious plans for new housing and jobs: Planning for a sustainable future

Published Monday 7 December 2020 at 13:22

Plans for how thousands of new homes and jobs will be created in Blackburn and Darwen over a 20 year plan period have been captured as part of the Borough’s draft new Local Plan.

The Council’s Executive Board will meet on December 10th 2020, to discuss the draft Local Plan – including the ‘Big Six’ areas of development and to confirm the timetable asking residents for their views.

A six week consultation period starting on Friday, January 8th 2021 is expected to be approved with the closing date scheduled for the 19th February 2021.

Following the consultation, it is expected the new Local Plan can be submitted for examination by national government in late 2021 before being adopted in 2022.

The ambitious plans propose the creation of around 7,000 new homes and 5,000 jobs by 2037 in identified Growth and development areas.

All other areas of the Borough in the plan are identified as either a Renewal or Protection area.
The plans aim to boost the Borough’s Covid-19 recovery by improving housing, health and infrastructure such as roads and schools.

With multi-generational families living together in smaller traditional terraced housing, the new plan will emphasise the importance of providing both high quality larger and affordable housing in the areas most needed. It also aims to boost town centre recovery post Covid-19.

The new plan will address the Climate Emergency through a variety of measures. This includes the location and design of development, identification of land for environmental opportunities such as biodiversity enhancements – setting aside space to create a woodland, wetland, wildflower meadows or other habitat for plants and animals and what is known as ‘Carbon sequestration’ – the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to mitigate global warming. It also includes a walking and cycling strategy.

Options are also being drawn up for a new Household Waste Recycling Centre to serve the whole of the Borough. If these proposals are approved it would see the existing facilities in Blackburn and Darwen replaced with a new purpose built facility at Chapels in Darwen.

The new plan outlines how it will protect land in response to resident feedback.
In addition, whilst the draft plan does not propose to develop any of the Borough’s Green Belt for housing it does seek to allocate a new strategic employment site on land off Junction 5 of the M65 motorway. The purpose is to respond to local businesses wanting to expand and relocate to the area which would increase our skills base and jobs growth.

The largest proposed new housing development site is in North East Blackburn where there could potentially be up to 1500 new homes at Sunny Bower. A sustainability appraisal demonstrates why this site is considered a good site whilst appreciating further master-planning work is required to ensure that any necessary road improvements, green infrastructure, drainage, school places, landscaping and community and health facilities are addressed.

The plan details six key proposals and ideas:

  • Blackburn Growth Axis is a concept for growth which links strategic sites across the Borough from the Salmesbury Enterprize Zone, through Blackburn town centre, along the Haslingden Road corridor and up to the M65 at Junction 5.
  • Darwen Town Investment Plan delivering a series of wide-ranging improvements for Darwen.
  • North East Blackburn Strategic Housing Site – a new neighbourhood on the edge of the town.
  • South East Blackburn Strategic Employment Site to attract jobs and investment at a key motorway location.
  • Blackburn Town Centre Major Development Site – a unique opportunity to boost the vitality of Blackburn town centre.
  • Infrastructure Delivery Plan – an important series of interventions to improve infrastructure for all, such as roads, schools, household waste centre and health facilities.

Councillor Phil Riley, Executive Member for Growth and Development, said:

The simple reason we need to focus on increasing the number of housing in the Borough is that research shows that quality housing is linked to economic growth. If we don’t do this, demographic forecasts indicate that our working age population would decline, and the proportion of older population would increase.

We know that the current pandemic has caused enormous challenges across just about every sector. However, this isn’t going to last forever and that’s why it’s important we plan for the future with a clear vision of how we are going to improve our housing and employment for our future generations.

Cllr Riley added:

The feedback residents gave us as part of the previous consultation stage has already directly informed a number of changes to the way sites have been selected for this version of the Local Plan. Clearly there will be opportunities for residents to have a view about the plan both during the consultation process and later during the public enquiry.

The consultation draft Local Plan includes the following main themes:

  • Vision, Strategic Objectives and Balanced Growth Strategy;
  • Core Policies (housing, economic development, town centres, climate change, health, design and infrastructure); and
  • Policies around the proposed areas for Growth, Renewal or Protection.

Youth MP for Blackburn with Darwen, Zara Hayat, said:

This plan is about the future – everyone’s future but, particularly the thousands of young people growing up in the borough.

We want them to see their futures living and working in this wonderful place with a range of valuable opportunities.

The proposals contained in this plan are essential if there are going to be the jobs that will attract them and the houses that will be needed to meet their needs and aspirations.

For the sake of the future of the borough, I would encourage everyone to look at the plan and please comment as your views really do matter.

A Policies Map accompanies the draft Local Plan and is available to view online so that residents can easily identify planned growth and development in their neighbourhood.

Ecology, flooding, drainage and traffic issues have been thoroughly investigated before putting the sites forward for consideration, but resident feedback is being sought to make sure all factors are considered.

The new plan also places greater emphasis on managing new development to influence health and well-being in the most positive way possible by using active design principles and health impact assessments on larger sites.

It also addresses infrastructure requirements – schools, health, roads, open spaces, household waste recycling, and leisure to ensure enough new infrastructure is provided to support new development.

For example, primary school extensions are necessary during the plan period, including confirmed works at Lammack Primary School (Blackburn) and St Peters Primary School (Darwen).

Additional primary school and secondary school places across the borough will be identified in the early part of the plan period.

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