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PETITION FOR THE RURAL VOICE TO BE HEARD BY THE CITY COUNCIL

In September 2015, three hundred and sixty residents of Kellet and Halton Wards submitted a petition to Lancaster City Council, promoted by Nick Ward, Chairman of Over Kellet Parish Council. The petition called upon Lancaster City Council:

• to resolve to work with the Parish and Town Councils in the District and fully recognise their contributions in preserving the distinctiveness and aspirations of our local communities and

• to set up a working group with Council Officers and representatives of rural parishes and of the City Council to enable rural views to inform the process of preparing component documents in the Local Plan.

Under a section headed "Improving the Rural Environment", a former edition of the Lancaster City Council Planning Handbook had said "In responding to pressures for new development the City Council will look to guard against inappropriate change and protect the character of villages".

The City Council website defines Community Engagement as ‘The involvement of citizens, through locally based representative bodies and individually, in influencing and shaping those decisions which directly impact on their local environment and the quality of their daily life’.

Community Engagement is what the petition was asking for: it was NOT a request to stop development in villages - but a request for parish councils and parish meetings to be given an opportunity to engage in dialogue with the City Council on the scale and location of housing development and other matters concerning the future of our villages: villages which are rural in character and have been sustained as communities separate from the urban centre of Lancaster - in some cases for over one thousand years.

The City Council has been - and is - undertaking public consultations about Developing a Local Plan for Lancaster District 2011-2031. These consultations concern housing development and the future of the North Lancashire Green Belt. I have written a number of letters to the Press on these issues to raise public awareness. My letters can be accessed below

2 October 2015 - Petition asks for "engagement" on local plan preparation: provision of information is not enough..

22 November 2015 - Plea for housing that is "Affordable to Buy".

26 November 2015 - Preserving the North Lancashire Green Belt substantially unchanged..

21 December 2015 - Plea for full investigation of Turley's Housing numbers..