1. Introduction


Purpose of the Local Plan

Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004), West Lancashire District Council is required to produce and maintain an up to date District Wide Development Plan. The Plan will direct and control development within West Lancashire between the years of 2001 and 2016. This document is the adopted version of the Plan.


Format of the Local Plan

The Planning and Compulsory Act 2004 brought about wide-ranging changes to the English Planning System, with significant effects on Development Plans. The system of Structure Plans, Local Plans, and Unitary Development Plans has been replaced by a single tier Local Development Framework (LDF). This replacement Local Plan has been prepared along the lines of what is proposed for the new LDFs. There has been a clear aim in the production of this Plan to reduce the number of policies and make the Plan more succinct and user-friendly.


The Plan is divided into three key sections, taking on board the principles of Local Development Frameworks. Part One, the "Core Strategy", provides the overall vision for the Plan based on the Regional Spatial Strategy, the Joint Lancashire Structure Plan and other key documents such as the West Lancashire Community Strategy. This provides the Plan's aims and objectives and will guide all development in the District. Part Two provides the detailed "Policies and Proposals" which deal with specific forms and types of development as well as allocating land for certain types of development such as housing or employment uses. NB. The policies in the Plan are not mutually exclusive and any planning application will be judged against all relevant policies. Finally, Part Three contains background information in more detail in the form of Appendices, including targets.


Planning Context

West Lancashire is the southernmost District of the County of Lancashire, bordering the conurbations of Greater Manchester and Merseyside. The population of the District in 1991 was 107,978. This rose slightly to 108,377 by 2001. Approximately one third of the population lives in Skelmersdale (2001 population 34,550) but the District also contains the towns of Ormskirk/Aughton (2001 population 26,785 includes Downholland and Great Altcar)  and Burscough (2001 population 8,668) as well as many villages. The District covers an area of 34,688 hectares and contains a large proportion of the best and most versatile agricultural land in Lancashire. It is bordered by the Ribble Estuary to the north and the Borough of Sefton to the west. The Metropolitan Boroughs of Knowsley and St. Helens lie to the south with Wigan, Chorley and South Ribble to the east.


This Plan is based upon two important strategic planning documents for the area.These are the Regional Spatial Strategy for the North West and the Joint Lancashire Structure Plan. Both documents' strategies aim to strongly resist the past trend of people moving out of the Greater Manchester and Merseyside Metropolitan Areas into Lancashire.


The regional context for the Plan is contained in Regional Spatial Strategy for the North West (RSS) published in March 2003. The overriding aim is to promote sustainable patterns of development and physical change.The Spatial Development Framework of the RSS focuses new development and urban renaissance resources in the North West Metropolitan Area stretching from Merseyside to Greater Manchester and including Skelmersdale but excluding 8 the rest of West Lancashire.


At the sub-regional level the Joint Lancashire Structure Plan 2001-2016 provides the context for the Local Plan. This Structure Plan provides strategic guidance for the years up to 2016. The Local Plan must conform to the Structure Plan, which seeks to restrain development in most parts of West Lancashire apart from the main settlements where varying levels of development will be allowed. Skelmersdale is identified as a regeneration priority area where development should be provided at a level which would support its role as a key centre for public transport, employment and services as well as supporting regeneration of the town. Ormskirk and Burscough are identified as market towns where development should be allowed to support and enhance their roles as service centres and public transport hubs for the surrounding villages and rural areas.


Your Chance to Comment

The Council put a great amount of effort into involving all interested people and organisations in the discussion of the issues which need to be taken into account in the preparation of the development framework for the District. A Statement of Community Involvement was prepared to accompany this Plan. This details the standards the Council set for consultation.


A wide variety of comments were received at both the deposit and re-deposit stages of the Plan's production. Comments were also received on Pre-Inquiry Changes that were published prior to the start of the Local Plan Inquiry. The Public Inquiry was held between 5th July and 14th October 2005. By the close of the Inquiry the Inspector had considered 959 objections and 1,340 supporting comments. The Inspector's Report was received on 4th May 2006 and the Plan formally adopted in July 2006.


Relationship to Other Development Plans

This Plan replaces the West Lancashire Local Plan, which was adopted in December 1999.


The County Council has prepared a Minerals and Waste Local Plan and is replacing this document with a Minerals and Waste LDF. These documents contain policies relating to mineral extraction and waste disposal throughout Lancashire. The Replacement West Lancashire Local Plan does not contain any policies on these matters to avoid any misunderstanding.


Map 1: The Sub-Regional Context 


Other Relevant Strategies and Plans

West Lancashire District Council's Corporate Objectives

On 23rd July 2003, the Council confirmed the vision and priorities that are shared by
the Council and community alike:

Our Vision:

'Putting CUSTOMER SERVICES FIRST - building a community second to none'.

Our Priorities:

  • Protecting and improving the street scene and the environment;
  • Combating crime and the fear of crime;
  • Working to create good quality jobs for local people;
  • Improving housing and ensuring that there is affordable housing available for local people;
  • Delivering cost-effective services that delight the customer and are accessible to all;
  • Providing opportunities for leisure and culture.

West Lancashire's Community Strategy 2003-2006

A Community Strategy was published by the West Lancashire Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) in March 2003. This Strategy was prepared by the local community for the local community. The LSP consists of representatives of public, private and voluntary organisations. As many people as possible were involved in preparing the draft document and consultation on the draft took place in winter 2002/3. A survey by the District Council in 2000 showed that 81% of people were very or fairly satisfied with life in their area.The Strategy sets out the commitment that over the next ten years the members of the LSP will:

  • Work together to improve and sustain the quality of life of our area;
  • Strive to ensure equality of opportunity and access to services;
  • Seek to improve the life chances of everyone living and working in West Lancashire; and
  • Foster thriving towns and vital rural areas where people choose to live, work and play.

The Community Strategy is set to be reviewed through 2006/7.


Housing Strategy Statement

The District Council's Housing Strategy was adopted by the Council on 24th September 2003. The  Strategy sets out the following priorities:

  • Balancing West Lancashire's housing market;
  • Achieving decent homes standard;
  • Improving the supply of, and access to, affordable housing across the District;
  • Improving the standard of private sector housing;
  • Meeting the housing needs of vulnerable people.

Community Safety Strategy

The West Lancashire Community Safety Strategy was first published in April 2002 (and revised in 2005), and was preceded by a Crime and Disorder Audit. The Audit enabled the Council to consult with the community, identify priorities and determine local solutions. Both processes are repeated every three years. The Strategy describes how we will tackle these issues.


The Council, together with Lancashire Constabulary, Lancashire County Council, West Lancashire Primary Care Trust and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, have specific responsibilities to address Community Safety under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, but many agencies from the public, private and voluntary sector also work together as a Partnership to combat crime and, importantly, the fear of crime in our community.


The Strategy consists of a number of Strategic Themes which have been prioritised as:

  • Reducing Drug and Alcohol abuse and their effects on the community;
  • Reducing the number of Road Traffic accidents resulting in death or serious injury;
  • Addressing Social and Environmental issues affecting young people;
  • Reducing Domestic Violence;
  • Reducing Anti-Social Behaviour and its effect on the community;
  • Reducing Domestic and Commercial Burglary;
  • Reducing Criminal Damage, Vehicle Crime and Violent Crime;
  • Improving the community's quality of life and reducing the fear of crime.

Cultural Strategy

This Strategy was adopted in 2004 and indicates how culture contributes to improving and enhancing the quality of life in the District and to the alleviation of issues and problems associated with the Council’s corporate objectives.


The Cultural Strategy vision is:

  • To improve the quality, quantity and sustainability of cultural activity for all residents, and the quality of time spent in the District for visitors. 
  • To make additional effort to enhance the quality of life and (via this) the life-chances of people from identified groups in the District.

Consultation and Community Engagement Strategy

The Council published its Consultation and Community Engagement Strategy in July 2001. The Strategy sets out how the Council intends to engage local communities over the next few years. The aims of the Strategy are to:

  • Help ensure the services the Council provides offer best value;
  • Enhance the well-being of the District;
  • Enhance democracy and social inclusion.

 Seven key initiatives are identified in the Strategy for the next three years including:

  • Establishing a Citizens' Panel;
  • Introducing the Council meeting as an Assembly on an annual basis;
  • Expanding electronic consultation;
  • Developing a Community Strategy and Local Community Plans;
  • Co-ordinating the consultation done by the Council.

This Strategy will be reviewed by 2007. 


Heritage Conservation Strategy

The District Council's Heritage Conservation Strategy was adopted in 2003. The document complements "Heritage Conservation in Lancashire" published in 1999.The principal aims of the Strategy are:

  • To preserve and enhance the District's built heritage, archaeology and historic landscapes;
  • To promote and increase public awareness, knowledge and the enjoyment of the historic environment;
  • To establish a sustainable approach to managing changes in our historic environment.

Its aims are:

  • To develop and maintain a comprehensive information base relating to all elements of the historic environment;
  • To provide proper protection for the historic environment to ensure it is safeguarded for future generations;
  • To provide sound 'conservation' advice and promote good practice and understanding of the historic environment;
  • To encourage partnership working with other Local Authorities, national, regional and local heritage bodies, Parish Councils and the public on heritage issues;
  • To identify and secure funding opportunities and initiatives which will help achieve the aims of the Strategy.

Regeneration Strategy

The ten year Regeneration Strategy was adopted in late 2005 and identifies a range of priority projects and initiatives that are to be developed in the coming years across the three major geographical areas of the District, covering Skelmersdale/Up Holland, Ormskirk/Burscough and the Rural Parishes. The Strategy sets out the specific social, economic and environmental needs of these communities which the various identified investment proposals are seeking to address and aims to provide a cohesive regeneration blueprint for the District as a whole. This will be critical if West Lancashire is to build on its achievements to date in attracting substantial private and public sector investment, as well as continuing to develop strong and sustainable communities.


The main components of the Strategy are:

Skelmersdale/Up Holland - key strategic projects include the visioning and masterplan for Skelmersdale Town Centre, the re-modelling of both the industrial and residential estates, the creation of a sub-regional centre for culture and sport and the creation of a technology park at Junction 4 of the M58.

Ormskirk/Burscough - key strategic projects include the Market Towns initiative, the re-modelling of the industrial estates and improvements to the Leeds-Liverpool canal corridor and Burscough Wharf project.

Rural Parishes - key strategic projects include a Rural Study and Forward Strategy, a Tourism Study and Forward Strategy, the Vital Villages initiative, Leeds-Liverpool canal and marina and the proposed Ribble Estuary Regional Park.

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Disclaimer: This adopted West Lancashire District Proposals Map forms the 'lower tier' of the two-tier Plan in Lancashire. The 'upper tier' comprises the Lancashire Structure Plan.