Big plans need big response

Date: Wednesday 12th September 2018

THE wait is over. The final draft of Penrith’s masterplan has been revealed for public consumption — and not much has changed since a leaked version appeared in this newspaper in mid-summer.

Yes, the proposal for a northern relief road has been dropped because of a lack of enthusiasm from the public and, more crucially, Highways England, but there still remains the potential for housing to be built on part of the Beacon.

This aspect in particular has alarmed large numbers of Penrith residents who are determined to safeguard the future of the town landmark. Publication of the blueprint raises a few questions — even leaving aside ones about the extent of the proposed enlargement of Penrith — which Eden Council might want to ponder.

Why, for instance, is a major plan for Penrith for the next three decades being spearheaded by the council’s executive, largely in secret up until now, when only one of its six members represents a town ward; and why have the consultants included Lowther Estates’ plans for low density housing on the Beacon in the first phase, which concerns mainly land to the west, when the rest of the proposals for a village in the central Beacon Hill area are earmarked for the second tranche of development?

There may be a number of sound logistical reasons for the way in which the phases have been mapped out, but Eden has been closely associated with Lowther in pre-publicity about the masterplan so it should be well aware of the sensitivities surrounding this particular aspect of the proposals.

Public engagement events are to be held across Eden in September and October, so there will be lots of opportunities for residents to comment on this vision of how Penrith might look in the future. These are big plans, and they deserve a big response.