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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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Date set for Cockermouth relaxed planning rules referendum

People in Cockermouth will go to the polls next month in a referendum to decide whether to relax planning rules in the town.

The town is the first in the country to apply for a neighbourhood development order, aimed at making it quicker and easier to alter certain buildings. If the vote is in favour, it will mean set changes can be made without the need for planning applications.

The planned neighbourhood development order would permit the chance of use of ground-floor commercial properties in Market Place to restaurants, cafes or bars, and permit tables and chairs to be put outside for customers.

It would allow up to four flats to be created above shops on Main Street and Station Street and shop fronts on the same roads to be replaced in line with an approved design guide.

Houses on Horsman Street, Derwent Street, New Street, Fletcher Street and the southern side of Crown Street would be able to timber front doors and install sliding sash windows.

Cockermouth is the first in the country to have applied for a neighbourhood development order.

The town council and Allerdale council have spent more than three years working on the project after the town was selected by the Government to pilot the legal changes, contained in the Localism Act.

People in the affected streets will get to vote in the referendum, as recommended by an independent assessment of the plan.

Councillor Mark Fryer, Allerdale’s executive member responsible for planning, said: “This is just one more step on the road to openness and transparency throughout the borough.

“It’s the clarion call to say come on, we want a much bigger say how things work in this community.”

He added that he would like to see Cockermouth become the first of many towns and parishes in Allerdale using the orders.

Alan Smith, Allerdale leader and Cockermouth town councillor, said: “There was £1.7 million spent on Market Place over eight years ago.

“It was envisaged then that it would become the nighttime economy area and people could put out tables and chairs in the summer. They could do that with this.

“The creation of flats above commercial premises fits into our reducing poverty strategy.

“Everything that’s in here works into our council plan. I really welcome this.”

The referendum will take place on June 26.

Allerdale council is running the poll, funded by the Government.

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