Council lays out plans for future

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BOOSTING the economy and tackling a housing shortage will be top of the agenda in Forest Heath over the next four years.

Creating growth and providing more housing have been identified as priorities in Forest Heath District Council’s Draft Strategic Plan for 2012-2016.

The council is now looking for public responses to the plan as it puts it out for consultation.

David Burnip, chief executive, told a meeting of the council on Wednesday that supporting the economy was the council’s ‘number one priority’.

“We cannot make businesses prosper but we can create the right conditions so they want to come here and it’s conducive to growth,” he said.

Mr Burnip said the council was not in control of its own stocks of housing, but emphasised the aims of a recent report which called for 10,000 new homes to be built in the district by 2031.

The report cites the 550 empty homes in the area which could be brought back into use as an example of where improvements can be made.

The council’s remaining two priorities will be community development and providing value for money in its provision of services, according to Mr Burnip’s report.

Community development will focus on public participation and supporting parish councils, but Brandon was also singled out for special attention.

The report states that ‘health inequalities’ need to be addressed in the town, a view supported by Brandon councillors Eddie Stewart, Tony Simmons and Stephen Edwards.

However, Cllr Tim Huggan said Brandon should not be singled out for attention.

“There are other areas with just as much deprivation and we should be looking at the district as a whole,” he said.

The council agreed to put the report out to public consultation. Once responses are received, councillors will vote again on the plan.