Local residents have been given just over a month to comment on long-awaited proposals for new housing and employment sites across Wyre.
Wyre Council’s Local Plan consultation exercise kicked off last week with a drop-in at Garstang Library.
“Garstang has got to expand at some point and also it’s a long term plan.”
Garstang Mayor Town Coun Lynn Harter has urged the public not to panic at the prospect of hundreds or thousands of new homes being built but to make sure they have their say,
The proposals could see future development channelled along the A6 corridor, focused on the Fylde coast peninsula or spread across rural settlements ranging from Great Eccleston to Stalmine, with the possibility of expanding Nateby and Winmarleigh.
The Council has warned some prime agricultural land may be built on. Comments must be sent in by August 7.
But just a week in to its public consultation exercise on future housing, employment and protected sites, there is already controversy about how the council is communicating its plans, with concern that many people do not realise they can share their opinions and view the wide ranging proposals which could transform key parts of the borough.
A Local Plan, covering the next 15 years, will guide future planning decisions and approvals. At the moment there are different visions of what could lie ahead and where and what type of development should take place ,
The first option would see development focused on Fylde coast towns of Fleetwood, Cleveleys, Thornton and Poulton with “a moderate amount in the A6 corridor”.
The second “A6 Corridor”option focuses development on settlements, particularly Garstang, with Winmarleigh and Nateby consolidated and expanded. Some Green Belt land might need to be released.
The third “Dispersal” option would see moderate development across urban and rural settlements with development in places such as Great Eccleston, Hambleton, Knott End/Preesall, Inskip and Stalmine as well as expanding Winmarleigh and Nateby.
The council has issued an Issues and Options summary, which advises residents to refer to the full Local Plan document “to fully appreciate the range of issues and options”. Limits on utility provision, coastal flooding zones and size of highways will all affect the final Plan and it says without such a Plan : “Developers will take the lead on where development happens – not the Council and the community.”
Some 180 people visited Garstang library last Thursday to view the proposals. Local newsagent Richard Whyman said he was concerned many local residents still appeared to know nothing about the consultation exercise. He said: “I am not anti development but believe it should involve local people, have a clear plan for managing its impact on the original area and the people living here should see clear gains.”
Garstang Town Council will discuss its response at its July 20 meeting.
Town Mayor Coun Lynn Harter said: “My own personal view is that Garstang has got to expand at some point and also it’s a long term plan. It’s not as if all (buildings) are going to appear overnight.
“It means we would have far more control over what goes where and when. I think rather than people panicking they should look at it as at best an opportunity to have a say in what goes where.”
Garry Payne, Chief Executive of Wyre stressed: “This is just the first step in consulting the public. Things are not set in stone. ..Residents’ comments and town and parish council(comments) will be taken into account. The public understandably have a fear the whole of Wyre will be built on. That’s not the case.”
A Wyre Council spokeswoman said there had been widespread publicity about the consultation in the press online and on social media,with 11,000 individual notifications sent out
Responses could be sent online, via community events, in libraries or at the Garstang Visitor Centre. See wyre.gov.uk/localplan for more information.