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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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Carlisle becoming awash with housing developments

Carlisle is in danger of becoming awash with new housing developments because the city council is currently powerless to turn them down, it has been warned.

Stewart Young photo
Stewart Young

Cumbria County Council leader Stewart Young is warning that the city may not have the schools and other infrastructure to cope with all the homes now being built.

He said there was a real urgency for an official Local Plan to be finalised, designating which areas communities feel are suitable for new housing. But he said the county’s two-tier council system was making it incredibly difficult to compile a plan that would work.

Speaking at the county cabinet meeting in Kendal he said: “We are seeing a spate of major planning applications coming in around the county, particularly Carlisle, which districts are powerless to turn down because the developer would just appeal.

“Carlisle is getting hundreds and hundreds of houses in areas that were never designated for housing because they haven’t got a local plan, so there is some real urgency.”

Local Plan documents help to determine how towns, cities and villages grow by influencing planning policies.

But Carlisle is currently among five districts in Cumbria that does not have an up-to-date plan. Work is underway to change that – with the local plan for 2015-2030 going through consultation ahead of an inquiry to adopt it – but Mr Young said it is proving difficult.

“I do not think we can exaggerate how difficult it is to draw up a local plan in a two-tier authority,” he told colleagues.

“As with many things the two-tier system makes everyone’s life a lot more difficult and more expensive. The district council is responsible for these plans and how much growth there will be in housing, yet a significant amount of the infrastructure needed to support these developments is the responsibility of the county council.

“By infrastructure I mean highways but also education – how many school places are needed to support these developments – utilities, broadband and even health services. It’s a real challenge to draw all of these up in the dysfunctional system that we are stuck with.

“Somehow we have to try and work together. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes make it work.”

Councillor Anne Burns said the impact of all these additional homes could put real pressure on education – an issue she wants to see tackled in the upcoming Local Plan.

“In Carlisle alone even with two or three children coming through a development it can be difficult to provide school places for them,” she said.

“In some areas we do need extra places for them. I would like that highlighted more.”

Mr Young said the council was already in the process of spending millions to increase the number of school places due to an increase in birth rates, but he said these new developments were adding additional pressure that wasn’t yet factored in.

Have your say

I think the top man at the Bank of England may define "we" as London and the South East, where populations are expanding Hardly the case in run-down Carlisle. While the south may need to meet demand with supply, that's certainly not the situation in most northern towns and cities.

Posted by SarahM on 28 May 2014 at 11:41

But the very top man The Governor of The Bank of England says we don't build enough houses whose right him or our councillors.

Posted by Anon on 23 May 2014 at 22:51

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