The first Neighbourhood Development Order is in progress. Cockermouth Town Council has submitted an NDO to Allerdale Borough Council for consultation. NDOs allow a neighbourhood forum to permit a particular type of development without planning permission.
The proposals put forward in Cockermouth aim to conserve the town’s traditional character and boost the local economy. The plan focuses on attracting people to the area around the market square by improving its appearance, encouraging bars and cafes and enabling additional housing. If passed, the proposals will allow the following development without planning permission:
- change the use of shops and offices to cafes, bars or restaurants and allow pavement tables and chairs within the Cockermouth Market Place;
- convert the space above commercial premises on Main Street and Station Street into up to four flats;
- replace shop fronts on Main Street and Station Street in compliance with a design guide; and
- install sash windows and panelled wooden doors on several streets following a design guide.
Allerdale are consulting on the proposed orders until 23 December. After the consultation period, the proposals will be considered by an Inspector, and if passed, will be voted on at a local referendum before coming into force.
These proposed permitted developments reflect measures encouraged by the Government to improve footfall in town centre areas. While the aim of the NDO is good it raises the question of why planning permission should be required for these changes in the first place.