Nearly 200 acres of protected countryside could be released from green belt to be used for development as part of the core strategy currently being consulted upon by West Lancashire Council.
The local authority has put forward two options in its draft strategy, either release of land in Burscough or over several sites spread around Burscough and Ormskirk.
The council said the land in question is less than 1% of its Green Belt but the move will be seen by house builders as an early test of the new localism agenda. Previously, regional planning guidance dictated that housing targets for new supply be met in more urbanised east Lancashire around Burnley and Blackburn. The government's assertion that local authorities set their own strategies clears the way for moves such as West Lancashire's.
Mick Wellock, director of Kirkwells, the recently launched planning consultancy established by former council planners and regeneration managers in Lancashire, told Place there will be more councils following West Lancs' lead.
The draft core strategy for West Lancs states that housing delivery on a large scale on brownfield sites is "simply not achievable" given the lack of such sites in the borough. It continues: "However, the priority for development in West Lancashire will be brownfield land wherever possible, and developers wishing to build on non-allocated greenfield sites will be required to demonstrate that their proposed development cannot be accommodated on brownfield sites."
Consultation closes on 24 June.
- View the draft core strategy