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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Cockermouth set to make referendum history

People and business owners in Cockermouth are just one step away from being able to make changes to their properties without permission.

Market Place photo
Market Place

History is set to be made in the town as, for the first time in the country, people will not have to gain planning permission for a number of changes.

A referendum held two months ago saw the majority of voters favouring the introduction of Neighbourhood Development Orders, but before the new rules can be rolled out, Allerdale councillors must give it their backing. And at next week’s full council meeting a decision is expected to be made in favour of the orders.

In his report to councillors, Allerdale’s head of development services Kevin Kerrigan is recommending them to resolve to make the NDO.

He has outlined how the introduction could lead to a decrease in the number of planning applications in the town.

“From a financial perspective, this may lead to a reduction in income to the council from planning fees,” he said. But Mr Kerrigan said this would then free up officer time which could be used elsewhere.

Businesses in the town have already welcomed the referendum results, after facing months of hardships especially due to major roadworks.

The relaxed laws will result in a cafe culture taking over Market Place, as tables and chairs can be automatically placed on the pavement and businesses transformed into restaurants, bars and cafes.

Jonty Chippendale, who owns The Toy Shop on Main Street, is positive this will lead to good things for the town. He said that anything which gives decision-making back to the people is to be encouraged.

“I know of businesses that are planning to relocate there and I’m sure it will create a cafe culture in Market Place which will be very nice as it’s a lovely place to go outside on an evening,” he said.

Mr Chippendale added that the year had been a real struggle and once it was out the way, things will look better.

As well as the changes for Market Place much-needed housing will be created in the town, as flats will be allowed above commercial premises; business owners will also be able to change their shop fronts and new windows and doors can be installed on a building inside the conservation area.

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