Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Masterplan for City Centre Left in Tatters; REGENERATION BLUEPRINT TO BE REDRAWN AFTER INSPECTOR'S CRITICISMS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Masterplan for City Centre Left in Tatters; REGENERATION BLUEPRINT TO BE REDRAWN AFTER INSPECTOR'S CRITICISMS

Article excerpt

Byline: By PETER YOUNG Political Editor

A COUNCIL blueprint for shaping the future of Newcastle has been withdrawn after being savaged by an independent planning inspector.

The document, which maps out policies for the regeneration of the city up to 2021 and beyond, will now be rewritten.

It has taken four years to get this far and the cost is around pounds 295,000, but council officials who are redrafting the strategy say the money will not be wasted and most of the information will be included in the new version.

Called the local development framework core strategy, it sets out guidelines on key topics such as housing numbers and their location, the allocation of land for jobs, transport strategies, and a wide range of environmental issues.

There was an exploratory meeting between the Government-appointed planning inspector Anthony Thickett and officials of the city council and the Government Office for the North East last month. Mr Thickett expressed serious reservations about the soundness of the plan.

He questioned a lack of information to back up housing policies and targets and suggested the allocation of land for waste disposal was based on guesswork. He also said the strategy does not have an effective policy for delivering land for job creation or new shops.

After the criticism, the document was withdrawn and will now be redrafted to go back to the Government early next year.

Liberal Democrat council leaders came under fire today from Labour leader Coun Nick Forbes, who said: "This is a shocking critique of the Lib Dems' mismanagement of the planning agenda.

"This is a crucially important document because it sets the tone for the development of the city for many years and I'm aghast the Lib Dems have got it so wrong. There must be an immediate investigation and heads should roll."

Coun John Shipley, the council's Lib Dem leader, said: "The focus for the inspector's statement was evidence behind the core strategy and not core strategy policies in themselves.

"He was insistent evidence, particularly on housing issues, followed recent Government guidance to the letter and the council was not able to demonstrate this. …

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