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Future Vision

Future VisionAt last! we can report something really positive that FBC is doing.

As part of the revised planning system introduced by the previous Government, Fylde has to prepare a new plan for the longer term use of land in Fylde.

The last Government had a particular view about how that should be done - in essence starting at the top (Government) and making all the other plans (down to parish level) subordinate to the next one upwards. A process known as 'Top Down' planning

This meant that by the time residents of the area got a bite of the planning cake, there were only crumbs left for them.

But the present Government is instituting revolutionary changes to the planning system. It is implementing a reversal of direction - so that plans are prepared from the bottom up - as part of St Eric Pickles' Localism agenda

As an example, it's likely that there will - for some aspects of planning at least - be neighbourhood organisations (smaller than a  parish or ward), and they will have the power to approve some planning matters that currently have to be decided at the Borough Council level.

There are still a lot of details to be decided about how this will be worked out, and we won't know the final picture until nearer November when the Localism Bill that's now being debated in Parliament is closer to getting Royal Assent.

Just on that topic, anyone interested can follow the Bill's minutiae during the select committee stage on the Parliament TV channel (view in real-time, or use the 'Archive' option to see Committee meetings that have taken place).  The Select Committees meet on 1, 3, 8, 10, 15, 17 Feb and on 1, 3, 8, 10 March before the Bill goes back to the Commons for its Report Stage and Third Reading.

You can follow this link to follow the progress of the overall Bill

The usual way that Fylde would prepare a new local plan would be for officers to work in isolation for several months to produce a draft set of proposals that conformed with the County or Regional plan (which themselves conformed with the former Government's plan for the country). Then they would test them amongst Chief Officers within the Council. Then Councillors would be given a first sight flavour of what ideas had been hatched and so on. Eventually, the plan would be put out to public consultation.

But, of course, by that time, many of the contents of the plan would have been about for so long that they engendered a sense of ownership in the officers that had produced them - and persuading them to make changes toward the end of the line was quite hard.

We don't mean that in a critical sense, it's just human nature. You have an idea, you refine it with colleagues, you trial it with the boss, and by the time Jo Public gets to it - well, it's more or less finished as far as you're concerned.

But this time it's different.

Fylde is anticipating the spirit of the localism legislation and starting at the bottom.

We wish we could say they were using the same sort of anticipation to get rid of their awful Cabinet System and bring back the Committee (one-councillor-one-vote) system. We also wish that St Annes Town Council had taken the same open approach to its production of what will become their blueprint for St Annes, but to our mind they chose a more constrained process that won't produce as good a result as it could.

Anyday now, readers will see a deluge of publicity from FBC, both in treeware media and on the radio about this major new initiative, as Fylde looks for the widest possible input into what the area should be like in 20 years time.

We don't at all believe this is one to their many cynical 'this is what we're going to do and we're doing a tickbox consultation to be able to say we've done it.' operations that were so beloved of the former Commissar.

And we don't believe it is anything like a 'done deal' in terms of any decisions that will come from it.

No, this is a real consultation and it's being done in what we think is the right way. The process shows every probability of being properly recognised and evaluated  to form the basis of the plans that will follow.

You can tell it's a serious effort to acquire a  lot of comments from people because FBC has put some thought into finding locations where people will be congregating in any case, and is taking the consultation to them.

Sometimes this has thrown up anomalies - such as Little Eccleston's main consultation being on Farmers Market day in nearby Great Eccleston, but apart from the more churlish, we think people will see what is intended here, (and we did hear that some extra ones might take place with a mobile display in Little Eccleston and maybe Wesham if they can get one organised).

Even better, this is a non-technical non-gobbledygook consultation, It's doubtful that you will be asked about where the conservation areas should be, or what planning category land should be put into.

This is about your view of what Fylde should look like in 20 years time

It's about what the Council should be aiming to achieve

And it wants to find out what each of the 'Big Issues' are for each community in Fylde - what's good, what's bad, what needs to change.

There will be some display panels, but mostly the Council wants to talk with people about what their hopes and aspirations are.

The process will see informal drop-in sessions throughout Fylde over the next fortnight, and you will also be able to comment on FBC's website and social media. There will also be follow-up visits to schools and larger employers.

So we're urging everyone that can to get along to one of the consultations or to comment online if they can't.

Whilst it's probably best to go to your most local event, we understand it's not exclusive, so if you live in St Annes and you're having a pub lunch at the Eagle and Child on 15 Feb, or you're out for tea at the Miller Arms at Singleton on 10 Feb, (both well worth a visit) you can wander along to the exhibition and talk about your hopes and views for the future of Fylde

We will want to talk to them about the things we value about Fylde - peace and quiet, tranquillity, order, cleanliness, flowery public spaces, green countryside, upmarket small friendly shops, low rise: low density building, parking facilities, preserving the identity of places, and so on.

We hope our readers will find the time to put their views - whatever they are - forward as well.

We believe this is a real consultation and  Fylde Council - especially Cllr Trevor Fiddler who is the driving force behind it - should be commended for approaching it in this way. No Focus Groups pushing their own special interest, no plans already cast, no preconceptions, no hidden agenda, just a genuine desire to identify the issues for Fylde and its towns and villages.

Fylde's website showed the following places for consultations

Monday 7 Squires Gate 10am -1pm Car park, Morrison's, Squires Gate Lane, Blackpool, FY4 2AY
Monday 7 Kirkham 3 - 7pm Kirkham Community Centre, Mill Street, Kirkham, PR4 2AN
Tuesday 8  Warton 10am - 1pm Car park in front of the Scout Hut, Lytham Road, Warton, PR4 1XE
Tuesday 8 Ansdell 3 - 7pm Ansdell Institute, Woodlands Road, Ansdell, FY8 4BX
Wednesday 9 St Annes 10am - 1pm Car park, The Square, St Anne’s Road West, St Annes, FY8 1RN
Wednesday 9 Elswick 3 - 7pm Elswick Village Hall, Roseacre Road, Elswick, PR4 3UD
Thursday 10 Lytham 10am - 1pm Car park, Booths, Haven Road, Lytham, FY8 5EG
Thursday 10 Singleton 3 - 7pm Singleton Village Hall, Station Road, Singleton, FY6 8LL
Friday 11 Newton 10am - 1pm Car park, Newton Village Stores, Bryning Lane, Newton, PR4 3RN
Monday 14 Wrea Green 10am - 1pm Outside Post Office, Wrea Green, PR4 2NE
Monday 14 St Annes 3 - 7pm United Reformed Church Annex, Clifton Drive North, St Annes, FY8 2AE
Tuesday 15 Weeton 10am - 1pm Car park, Weeton Village Hall, Knowsley Crescent, Weeton, PR4 3ND
Tuesday 15 Freckleton  3-7pm Freckleton Village Hall, School Lane, Freckleton, PR4 1PJ
Wednesday 16 Great Eccleston 9am - 3pm Great Eccleston Farmers’ Market, The Square, Great Eccleston, PR3 0ZB
Wednesday 16 Staining 3-7pm Staining Village Hall, Chain Lane, Staining, FY3 0DD
Thursday 17 Kirkham 10am - 2pm Car park, Morrison's, Mill Street, Kirkham, PR4 2AN
Thursday 17  Lytham 3 - 7pm Lytham Assembly Rooms, Dicconson Terrace, Lytham, FY8 5JY

If you want more information please contact the Planning Policy team on 01253 658418 , or email planningpolicy@fylde.gov.uk

We'll be having more to say as this initiative rolls forward.

Dated:  31 January 2011


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At Fylde's Policy Development Scrutiny Committee of  6 January 2011
consultant Jennifer Cross of 'X Associates' told the Committee she had
noted "reports about the Asset Transfer scheme in the press, and
in other media"
.  In recognition of this 'other media' accolade, we have
marked  this article accordingly