ABOUT 21,000 homes need to be built in Huntingdonshire by 2036.

Fortunately for the area, plans for half have already been submitted for approval or committed – outlined in Huntingdonshire District Council’s Core Strategy in 2009 – and land for the rest has been identified.

Planners at HDC last week revealed the draft Huntingdonshire Local Plan to 2036 – a document that indicates where housing and business can be built over the next 23 years.

The plan includes three well-known strategic expansion locations – Alconbury Weald, St Neots East and Wyton Airfield (excluding the RAF base) – as well as other plots of land outlined for developments of 10 or more homes.

Assistant director Steve Ingram said the Local Plan was an important document for Huntingdonshire and the inclusion of three major development sites protected further mass expansion of towns and villages.

The latest draft Local Plan, which gives the council the power to refuse planning permission to developments on sites not included in the document, was started last March after the regional planning policies and targets were scrapped and replaced by neighbourhood planning.

The document is an update of the 2009 Core Strategy, which was part of the regional planning policy, and now includes Alconbury Weald and the Enterprise Zone, which was announced in August 2011.

The Local Plan process is at the third stage of eight on its way to becoming adopted by HDC. This is the time residents can voice concerns and when landowners can put forward land for inclusion for development.

About 75,000 Huntingdonshire residents will receive a leaflet on May 31 at the start the consultation period, which closes on July 26.

Mr Ingram said that last time there were more than 1,200 representations – a number he expected to increase, with hundreds of landowners offering their land as alternatives.

It means that planning permission for houses at Alconbury Weald will not be granted until at least August, after the consultation ends, as someone in Huntingdonshire could put forward land that could not only accommodate more than 5,000 homes but is in a more suitable location, he added.

“Alconbury Weald was a game-changer for Huntingdonshire,” Mr Ingram said. “It meant that we didn’t have to find another 5,000 homes and business space elsewhere in the district.

“There should be no surprises in this, some already have applied for planning permission or have already been committed. Wyton Airfield is the latest addition after the Homes and Communities Association announced that it would be making it available.

“The consultation starts on May 31 and we will see if there are any sustainable alternatives or acceptable additions. This is the time for people to get involved as afterwards it will be too late.”

Paul Bland, HDC planning services manager, said the developments included in the draft Local Plan covered a 25-year period starting from 2011 “meaning residents weren’t going to see them all pop up tomorrow”.

Any development at Wyton Airfield was likely to be one of the longer-term projects.

The addition to the housing stock will also include homes that are more affordable. Mr Bland said that developments of 10 homes and more will have to include 40 per cent affordable housing – a mix of social housing and other affordable housing schemes.

The character of the district was also an important feature in the plan. Mr Ingram said: “We are committed to protecting green space for people who live and will live in Huntingdonshire.”

Mr Bland added: “It’s not all about development. Where we have seen that a primary school, an area of open space or community facilities are needed, we have included that into each area as a suggestion.”

After the consultation ends, planners will work towards the formal publication of the draft Local Plan in January or February next year. In April, councillors will then get a chance to make changes, should they wish, before the document is submitted it to the Planning Inspectorate in a year’s time.

The council will receive recommendations from the inspector next November and it should be ready for adoption a month later.

Mr Ingram said that HDC was at a similar stage in the construction of its Local Plan as the rest of the districts in Cambridgeshire, though Huntingdonshire was looking in better shape than Cambridge – it has to find space for most of its 40,000 homes in and around the city.

INFORMATION: To view the draft Local Plan, visit http:consult.huntingdonshire.co.uk/portal