18:40 Monday 02 December 2013

Just over 500 responses for council's local plan

Written byLAURA HAMMOND

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A DEVELOPMENT plan which will act as a blueprint for the whole of East Staffordshire is a step closer to completion following the latest consultation run by East Staffordshire Borough Council.

Just over 500 people gave their views on the authority’s Local Plan, which lays out the way in which the borough will grow over the next 20 years.

Housing, health services, education and employment are among the areas covered in the hefty document, which is due to be adopted next year.

Julie Jessel, the borough council’s cabinet member for regulatory services, told the Mail she was pleased with the number of people who had offered their views, calling it a ‘reasonable’ response.

“I would be worried if we had no responses, and it’s something that affects a lot of people and it’s very emotive.”

The council has come under fire for housing figures included in the Local Plan, which were increased by almost 3,000 earlier this year and have now gone up yet again following guidance from Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles.

Also included in the plan are proposals for a new secondary school in the borough, and information about which areas offer the best development opportunities.

The consultation for the plan came to an end on Friday, and officers are now sifting through the responses.

Councillor Jessel said: “We now need to find the key themes and the key issues. We get people who are broadly supportive, people who are objecting to certain sites, and others who comment on a whole range of subjects.

“At this stage we can only make minor changes to the document. Any major issues go forward with the Local Plan and the inspector will consider them then.

“We hope there are no particular major issues.”

It is not the first time the plan has been out for public consultation. Last time, the council received more than 2,000 responses.

Changes have been made to incorporate some of the recommendations made by businesses and members of the public.

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