FENLANDER: Your help needed to shape Fenland’s development over next 20 years

A WIDE-RANGING strategy has been drawn up for the growth and regeneration of Fenland over the next 20 years.

It sets out a bold vision of the future and highlights the key principles and policies needed to bring greater prosperity, new opportunities and a better quality of life for everyone in the district.

All local people are being encouraged to comment on the draft strategy, which has been developed by Fenland District Council, working closely with key partners.

The proposals are set out in full in the “Fenland Communities Development Plan – Core Strategy 2011-2014”. It was due to be officially launched by Councillor Alan Melton, FDC’s Leader, at the full Council meeting last night (July 28).

The document suggests a flexible and proactive approach to planning and development. It seeks to identify how Fenland can best attract investment and bring increased prosperity while preserving the district’s special character and heritage.

It envisages the building of between 11,000 and 16,000 new homes over the next 20 years, highlighting the broad locations of growth within Fenland which form part of the extensive consultation.

In his foreword Councillor Alan Melton, FDC’s Leader, says growth will not only be in housing and population but also in economic activity and infrastructure.

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“There are also important social and environmental aspects which need tackling, health inequalities to address, and education and skills to be improved,” he writes.

The seven core elements of the vision outlined in the strategy are:

• Active Fenland: Residents living more healthy lifestyles, assisted by improved access to open space, the countryside and investment in leisure centres.

• Aspirational Fenland: Residents with a positive attitude towards learning and skills and access to improved job opportunities.

• Build Fenland: Quality developments which deliver improved housing, business and employment opportunities.

• Eat Fenland: Maximising the district’s agricultural heritage alongside new industry and jobs within this sector.

• One Fenland: Joined-up public sector organisations delivering a better focused service.

• Resource-efficient Fenland: Development of energy efficiency facilities to attract industry and promote skilled jobs and learning opportunities for local people.

• Connected Fenland: Improved transport links, infrastructure and broadband.

The “Fenland Communities Development Plan – Core Strategy” document is the key tool in delivering this approach. It highlights growth levels and locations about which residents’ comments are important and would be welcomed.

Councillor Kit Owen, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for neighbourhood planning, said: “We are taking a radically different approach to many other local authorities.

“In focusing on the key issues, we are seeking to be flexible, to guide development, not dictate it, and we want to give local communities the maximum opportunity to shape the direction it takes.”

Publication of the document marks the start of a lengthy consultation process. The first stage will run until September 23 2011. All the comments made by residents will then be taken into account before a revised plan is published early next year.

Following further consultation, the Core Strategy will be submitted to the Government prior to an independent examination by a planning inspector. The final plan will be adopted by FDC by the end of 2012.

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