Controversy is set to continue over housing sites

First published in Opinion

More change is certain in South Lakeland following a planning inspector’s decision this week to rubber-stamp a major blueprint, which identifies 88 sites where new homes and businesses might be created up to 2025.

The decision could be the catalyst for 2,000 new homes in Kendal, 1,200 in Ulverston and 500 in Grange-over-Sands, plus many new houses around Broughton, Urswick and Swarthmoor and on the Cartmel peninsular.

The evolution of the Local Development Framework has been a long and tortuous process, which has already seen hundreds of people air their views.

The LDF throws into sharp focus some of the most pressing issues facing the district, namely the lack of affordable homes, the shortage of employment sites and the often conflicting pressures of maintaining a buoyant economy while still protecting the environment.

Families desperate for homes, affordable housing campaigners and business leaders have welcomed the inspector’s decision. But campaign groups fighting to preserve our green spaces are devastated with the outcome.

The inspector’s ruling is a major new development, but does not mean any specific scheme has been given the go-ahead. That means the arguments are set to continue for years to come.

Housing developers will be keen to submit planning applications for the sites, reassured that the principle of whether homes can be built has been established. But local residents who want to see fields remain as open land will be ready to mount vigorous opposition.

Some basic principles much be adhered to. Just because a site has been allocated, it does not mean simply any houses should be built there. Each proposal must be judged on its own merits and the highest standards of build and design must be used to try to mitigate impact.

And all concerned - developers, residents and the council - must be prepared to compromise where necessary to reach the best possible outcome for everyone.

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