THE public will now have their say on an ambitious blueprint for the future of Copeland after councillors voted the emerging plans through to the next stage.

The new Local Plan will seek to establish which parcels of land will be earmarked for housing, regeneration and business use, also setting out the public spaces that should be safeguarded for future generations to enjoy.

The council’s chief executive Pat Graham described the draft plan as “one of the most strategically-important documents” the authority will produce, “delivering massive growth for this borough.”

At a special meeting of Copeland’s full council held last night (November 20), members formally agreed to launch the first phase of an eight-week public consultation.

The move will give the borough’s residents an opportunity to help shape the living document, their views helping to inform the council’s “preferred policy” and “site allocation options.”

Mrs Graham said: “This will guide development as we produce it over the next 10 years. It is the vehicle through which we will deliver and achieve many of our growth ambitions.

“We throw all the issues and options out there, and it’s our job to listen, but it will end up in allocations, lines on maps, winners and losers.”

Chris Hoban, strategic planning manager, and his team were praised for their efforts in the creation of the “comprehensive” document.

However, the meeting also heard from councillor Jackie Bowman that the member turnout to council workshops to develop the Local Plan had been “appalling”.

Mrs Graham also confirmed that failure of councillors to attend some of the sessions had delayed the production of the important plan.

“For those members that haven’t been able to engage, please as individuals and community representatives make sure that you take the opportunity to do so,” she urged.

The consultation will run from November 25 this year to January next year.

Individuals and groups whose details are held on the council’s consultation database will be contacted directly by post or email.

Copies of the draft will also be available on the council website, in its offices and in libraries.

Councillor Dave Banks said the plan could include scope for developing land around the £165m mine planned for Whitehaven to support the industry’s supply chain.

He also wanted to see the creation of a “long overdue” indoor market to help boost retail and boost trade in town centres.

The new Local Plan will deal with issues including the scale of development for the borough, the proportion and placement of housing and business schemes.