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In the spring of 1999 Burnley Borough Council published a set of 11 Issues Papers concerning the future development of the Borough up to 2011. Extensive public consultation was carried out in the form of Parish Council and ward councillor meetings, round table discussions with key stakeholders and the distribution of a Newsletter to every household and business in the Borough. The results of this exercise have refined and endorsed the Vision and Guiding Principles for the new Local Plan and are used to develop the Strategy for the new Local Plan outlined here.


By 2016, Burnley will be a thriving town in England’s North West. It will provide a good quality of life for everyone. At the same time, Padiham will have become a thriving market town. Both towns will be places in which people in which people can have pride and confidence.

Guiding Principles

Diagram 1

The Vision and the Guiding Principles form the foundation for the Local Plan. Together they show how the Local Plan contributes, alongside other Council Strategies, towards the development of a better Burnley, for residents, visitors and investors. The detailed policies and proposals in the Local Plan will contribute to achievement of the Vision and are measured against it. The principle of sustainable development will run as a connecting thread throughout the document and will be formally assessed at key stages through a Sustainability Appraisal of the Plan. The focus is on meeting the needs of the community today, for jobs, homes and a pleasant and safe environment, whilst also ensuring that the quality of life experienced by the next generation is enhanced and not diminished.

Development Strategy

The development strategy for the Local Plan reflects the outcomes of the Issues Papers consultations and represents the way in which the local plan themes are realised. The development strategy has four principle elements:

  • Action for regeneration

  • A growing economy

  • Maintaining a compact town

  • Safeguarding valued assets

Action for regeneration

Effective regeneration, aimed at social inclusion, increasing prosperity and improving quality of life, must be long term and extend to all activities of the Council. The Local Plan has a key role to play in achieving the Council’s overarching Regeneration Strategy in providing the environment for regeneration in its policies and proposals. Clear links need to be established and maintained with other Council strategies. The need for regeneration focuses particularly on parts of the Borough, which suffer from environmental, economic and social problems. Here houses are empty, unfit and unwanted, unemployment is higher, and health is poorer. Local people will need to be engaged in regeneration activities both as beneficiaries and as agents for change. Neighbourhood planning initiatives and partnerships will identify Actions Areas where focused regeneration will tackle social exclusion, poor housing and a degraded environment.

A growing economy

The success of the Borough is dependent upon a thriving local economy with quality jobs in quality locations. Identifying a mix of sites for different types of employment will help build the economy of the Borough. Town centres can provide the location for a successful mix of many different uses and will increasingly include knowledge based and service sector employment. However, there will continue to be a need to separate some forms of industry from housing. Diversifying the rural economy within a sustainable framework will be encouraged.

Compact town

Maintaining compact towns (Burnley and Padiham) enables greater accessibility for everyone but must not result in a town crammed with development. A defined Urban Boundary will be maintained but not all urban sites are automatically acceptable for development. Within the Urban Boundary development will be focused on areas, which are highly accessible and use previously developed land and does not, for example, take valuable green space. Additionally development will be located where existing infrastructure has capacity and where it will support and strengthen existing communities.

Safeguarding valued assets

Achieving and maintaining a good quality of life for people in the Borough will involve the protection of locally and nationally important and valued assets. At a local level this could include, for example, a small local nature reserve or important area of open space or woodland. National examples would include listed buildings such as Towneley Hall and Gawthorpe Hall or the South Pennines Moors Special Protection Area. The Council will work in partnership with local people and local and national organisations in their protection, management and improvement.

Local Plan Themes

The structure of the Local Plan is built around achievement of the Vision. It recognises that activities, places and how people use them do not happen in isolation but are inter-linked, as shown by the headings below.

Diagram 1

Working Communities

Quality employment with high skills is fundamental to the success of the Borough. Attractive and high quality development opportunities must be provided in a variety of locations to suit different business needs.

Town centres are the location for many different types of employment. Knowledge based employment increasingly finds town centres and edge of centre locations more attractive. Delivering attractive sites in and around the town centre will have an increasingly important role.

The Victorian mill developments, typical of Burnley, were built so that people could work and live in close proximity. This principle has come full circle as a current goal of the Government’s sustainability policy. In recent years new employment has focussed on industrial estates on green fields on the edge of the town, such as Network 65. Other industrial locations, such as Heasandford, that are not close to motorway junctions have found it difficult to attract new development. Sites close to the M65 are good for delivery vehicles and easy for commuting by car but not always accessible by public transport.

The Borough has moved on from its cotton weaving origins but the legacy of weaving sheds, mill chimneys and surrounding streets of stone built terraces is still evident. Some are valuable assets, part of the Borough’s heritage, reused for industry, offices or housing but others have fallen vacant and subject to vandalism and in some areas conflicts occur with local residents from inappropriate uses and traffic generation.

In the countryside the continued decline of agriculture will increase pressures for diversification. The extent of change to be allowed in the countryside will need to be addressed.

The Plan will:

  • Identify linkages with other Council Strategies to promote economic development

  • Identify a range of sites to enable the growth and diversification of all sectors of the local economy which maximise use of previously developed land and facilitate good access by goods and service vehicles, car and public transport, to amounts in line with the Structure Plan

  • Promote quality locations for quality employment

  • Identify areas where investment for continued employment uses is preferred and others where change of use or demolition will be considered.

  • Promote the use of new technology and innovative uses for older buildings.

  • Encourage diversification of the rural economy including new tourism, leisure and other uses, which respect the environment and are easily accessible.

  • Encourage small businesses, and recognise their importance

Connected Communities

In the past planning for transport was mainly about road building now it is more important to consider the role of transport and the reasons why people need to travel and as a consequence employ a range of transport solutions.

Accessibility is a quality of life issue. It concerns the ability of all people, young and old, non-disabled and disabled, to meet their everyday needs. This includes getting to work, to the shops, to school or to leisure facilities. The environmental problems caused by increasing car dependence also have an effect on quality of life.

Locating new development where it can be reached easily by a variety of means of transport, including walking, minimises social exclusion, increases choice, reduces travel costs and benefits the environment. Good accessibility is equally important to business. In the town centres attractive and secure car parking will continue to be needed.

Burnley developed as a compact town with few areas more than two miles from the town centre. Shops, schools and work were often within walking distance. But in the last twenty years housing, employment, shopping and leisure have shown a tendency to move outwards and build at lower densities. Modern lifestyles, changing consumer preferences and the freedom provided by the private car have resulted in more and longer journeys. For people without access to a car the choice and quality of local facilities has often diminished and the time, difficulty and cost of travel increased. Changing this pattern will be a long-term process but the location of new development has a major influence on people’s travel choices.

The proximity of the following services will be assessed in defining areas of search for new housing development; children’s play area or open space, bus stop, food shop, primary school, and Post Office. Increasing the number of people living within walking distance of these services will help to secure their long-term viability.

Improving existing transport infrastructure is important and a balanced approach is needed between the car, public transport, cycling and walking.

The Plan will:

  • Locate major new development where it can be easily accessed by a variety of means of transport, including walking, cycling and public transport and is close to local services.

  • Promote enhancements to the bus station and shelters and rail stations

  • Promote the quality of services on major routes.

  • Include the development of safe footpath and cycle links.

  • Include traffic management and car parking policies to minimise environmental damage and improve traffic flows whilst recognising the need to remain competitive and attract shoppers and visitors.

Living Communities

People’s housing needs change over their lifetime and the fortunes of particular housing areas and house types also goes up and down. The key is to provide a range of choice in housing so that different needs can be met at different life stages (for example the increase in the elderly population may lead to a demand for sheltered housing). This will include new housing, the improvement of existing housing, bringing empty homes back into use and the conversion of non-residential buildings to housing. Alongside this it is necessary to protect and invest in older housing areas to maintain their attractiveness and where houses are no longer in demand or have become unfit to consider their clearance.

The emphasis in finding sites for new housing will focus on accessible previously developed brownfield land. Undeveloped industrial sites will be examined for housing potential. The role of Burnley and Padiham town centres for housing will be promoted. New housing development must build in good design, quality materials and energy efficiency.

There are areas in the Borough, which suffer from significant housing problems, this includes high concentrations of unfit and empty houses and a run down environment. Some of these areas have been the target for specific action and improvements and additional areas are proposed. These include the Central Renewal Area, Daneshouse and Stoneyholme Renewal Area, SRB and Priority 4 areas. It is essential when clearance is used in these areas that after - uses are fully worked out in partnership with the local community and implemented to ensure a better quality of life for residents.

There is no up to date evidence showing a need for affordable housing provided by private house builders in the Borough. House prices are amongst the lowest in the country and there are large numbers of vacant houses in both the private and public rented sector. Should a survey provide such evidence the provision of affordable housing on new housing developments will be pursued.

The Plan will:

  • Identify sites for housing which maximise use of previously developed land and have good access to local services by a choice of transport, to amounts in line with the Structure Plan

  • Promote new development of a high standard of design, materials and energy efficiency.

  • Protect the amenities of existing houses from harm by nuisance and promote the environmental improvement of the area.

  • The plan will promote the reuse of buildings for housing and residential uses in the town centres where appropriate.

  • The plan will identify Action Areas as a focus for regeneration, clearance and improvement, and promote extensive consultation for these processes

  • Encourage a mix of uses – according to public need, where identified

Green and Pleasant Communities

Living in an environment that is of a high quality can make a major contribution to people’s quality of life. It is important that pride and confidence in the Borough are encouraged. The environment is a fragile resource, which needs to be protected from damage by development and associated nuisances and pollution. The Green Belt is important in protecting the separate identities of settlements in East Lancashire. Its openness will be safeguarded with small-scale development only in exceptional circumstances.

In order to ensure a high standard of townscape, new development should be responsive and sensitive to its surroundings. The use of scarce resources can be minimised through energy efficient design.

Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas are important features in Burnley. As well as providing a quality environment, they give a link to the town’s heritage and identity.

Open spaces within the Borough are especially important and come in many forms: trees and woodlands, parks, playing fields, nature sites, wildlife corridors and landscaped areas. Much of the Borough’s open space improves the appearance of the town, offers educational and recreational opportunities and is beneficial for wildlife. However, it is important to recognise that not all open spaces are valuable, or still required for their original purpose.

The appearance of Burnley’s countryside is changing and will continue to face pressure. The landscape and its wildlife have been subject to changes arising from new development, shifts in agricultural policy and practice and from different forms of diversification. It will be necessary to draw a balance between the possible new uses of land and buildings (e.g. barns) in the countryside, which aid the rural economy and minimising any harmful impacts.

The Plan will

  • Include policies to ensure that new development will enhance and improve the environment wherever possible.

  • Promote high quality and energy efficient design of buildings and spaces, which are accessible to all.

  • Promote and integrate the development required to sustain the well being of the rural economy with the protection of the countryside for its landscape, amenity and wildlife value.

  • Protect the character and appearance of buildings, structures, gardens and areas that are of architectural and historic interest and importance.

  • Protect important open spaces and provide green space to serve identified local needs.

Inclusive Communities

The government is aiming to build sustainable communities by tackling social exclusion, providing accessible education and job opportunities, improving housing conditions, reducing crime and promoting healthier lifestyles. To achieve this, communities need, amongst other things, easy access to a wide range of services and facilities.

Over recent years the provision of services has been changing with more social care within the community and reduced provision of some services for financial reasons. At the same time the demand for local services and facilities has increased, e.g. youth activities, health care and policing.

The provision of services and facilities should be tailored to each community’s particular needs to help achieve an improved quality of life for all. This will need to reflect the differing needs of Burnley’s multi-cultural communities.

Shops, offices, services and facilities are provided at a number of different levels from postal, phone and mobile services, through local centres both urban and rural, to district centres and to town centres and in some cases, isolated outlets e.g. factory shops and petrol station shops.

Greater mobility and changing lifestyles have led to increased competition between all centres with a decline in smaller centres. On the other hand, pro-active management and development of Burnley town centre have maintained its competitive edge and role as a thriving sub regional centre. Accessibility and choice are important contributors to an overall improved quality of life.

The Plan will:

  • Maintain a hierarchy of accessible centres for all communities

  • Promote the comprehensive regeneration of communities suffering from social exclusion.

  • Support the provision of a full range of accessible facilities for all communities.

  • Recognise the different cultural needs of local communities

  • Encourage community involvement at all stages and levels in plan making and implementation.

Town Centre Communities

Burnley town centre contains a diverse community made up of town centre users and residents, providers of services and facilities and other business interests. The mix of shops, offices, leisure and community facilities coupled with a safe, attractive environment and easy access draw people and investment to the centre and support its vitality and viability. The future role and prosperity of the centre will depend upon its continuing improvement in terms of the range and quality of shops and services, employment opportunities, access for all, environmental quality and range of town centre activities including housing. High quality design, materials and maintenance both within the town centre and at its gateways will contribute greatly in attracting people and business.

Padiham town centre also contains a mix of uses but has suffered a decline in the range and quality of shops and services. At the same time there has been increased interest in residential uses and hot food outlets. The centre is too small to compete directly with Burnley town centre and needs to redefine its role in the light of changing shopping patterns.

The Plan will:

  • Maintain and improve Burnley town centre as a sub regional centre.

  • Promote the regeneration of Padiham town centre

  • Identify a Padiham town centre core

  • Identify a range of employment opportunities including retail and service sector development

  • Promote mixed use development

  • Promote enhancement of the two centres’ townscape with maintenance of attractive elements and development of quality new design


Current Government guidance requires that all Local Plans be assessed for their environmental impact. This is achieved through an Environmental Appraisal that examines the positive and negative impact of policies on issues such as air quality and sensitive landscapes. There has however been a move nationally towards taking a much broader assessment of plan impacts known as Sustainability Appraisal, which also looks at social and economic affects and implications for use of natural resources. The appraisal is best undertaken at all key stages of the preparation of the plan, helping to identify potential conflicts and make alterations as appropriate. An appraisal group has been established to undertake a Sustainability Appraisal throughout the whole of the preparation of the new Local Plan.


Any Plan is only as successful as its implementation. In order to be able to quantify the success of the Plan Strategy it will be necessary to ensure that the policies to be developed are measurable. One way to do this is to establish targets. Such targets already exist at national level, for example, the Government aspiration to build 60% of all new houses on brownfield land. The County Council is currently developing a number of targets for different policy areas as part of the Structure Plan Review. These targets in themselves set a context for local targets.

In order to measure progress towards targets and also to assess when any review of the Plan may be required monitoring systems will need to be put in place. This will become increasingly important as government initiatives such as “Best Value” seek to analyse the performance of Local Authorities.

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