DEVELOPMENT briefs for six major housing sites around South Lakeland have finally been adopted following years of deliberation and debate.

They provide detailed guidance to developers on how they should proceed with their planning applications and the issues they will have to address for each site, including housing design, how much green space and landscaping should be provided and how roads and pathways are to be designed. In each case a minimum of 35 per cent 'affordable' housing must be provided.

It has taken years to get to this point and not everyone in the communities affected - Kendal, Ulverston, Kirkby Lonsdale and Milnthorpe - will be happy with the outcome.

The sites effectively extend urban and semi-urban communities into the Green Belt and the incursion will not go down well with a lot of people.

But the die has been cast and thousands of new houses around the district will certainly now be built.

It is the duty of South Lakeland District Council planners to ensure that the allocated sites are developed in the most sympathetic way possible. Although the briefs are designed to help them accomplish this, it will not be an easy task.

Council leader Peter Thornton is right when he says the proposals are 'going to influence people's lives for 50 to 100 years or even longer so it's essential we get this right'.

Getting it right, however, does not just mean providing more houses. They must be accompanied by adequate infrastructure, employment opportunities and services such as school places, GP capacity and public transport links.

Some of the developments may seem large. There is a concern, for example, that building 747 houses in a town like Ulverston will be too much. But as Cllr Thornton points out, GlaxoSmithKline's £1 billion investment in the town will require more workers and they will need homes.

Perhaps there is less of a case for relatively large scale developments in places like Milnthorpe and Kirkby Lonsdale. Unless those proposed are sympathetic to local needs and aesthetics, they will probably be lamented for years to come.