South Worcestershire Development Plan Review Issues and Options Consultation

Views are being sought to help shape the future growth of South Worcestershire into the middle of this century.

A public consultation is being launched on Monday, 5 November on the review of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP). This will help Malvern Hills District, Worcester City and Wychavon District Councils decide how to best accommodate housing and employment growth in the area to 2041.

This includes the building of another 14,000 new homes to meet demand as well as 169 hectares of employment land to support companies to grow and create new jobs.

The current SWDP was approved by the three South Worcestershire Councils in 2016 and set out proposals to deliver 28,400 new homes and 300 hectares of employment land by 2030.

However, the Government now requires all councils to review their local plans every five years to ensure they are keeping up with the latest housing requirements. Failure to do so could mean councils losing control over where development takes place.

Since December 2017 planners have been collecting and analysing technical evidence which has been used to inform the review so far. Using the Government’s standard methodology it has been calculated an additional 14,000 new homes will be needed by 2041.

This is due to factors such as population increases, more people living in smaller households and affordability. Despite more than 16,500 new homes being built since 2006, many people still struggle to access affordable and housing market. The average house price in South Worcestershire is now £260,000 and the average rental for a one bedroom flat as high as £530 a month.

Planners have also been looking at whether the current SWDP development strategy – which focuses most development at Worcester, Droitwich, Evesham and Malvern – could deliver the new requirement or other options such as a brand new settlement or settlements should feature.

Other issues being looked at include whether or not:

  • Planning rules should be relaxed in town centres to support the viability and vitality of high streets
  • The Green Belt should be used to accommodate some new development
  • New employment land should be provided near new housing or strategic transport sites like railway stations and motorway junctions
  • Electric car charging  points should be required in new developments
  • Developers should have to provide plots to allow people to build their own homes

This work has now been set out in an Issues and Options document and the public and all interested parties are being invited to have their say.

A series of roadshows are being held to provide people with more information and gather views. They take place on:

Saturday 10 Nov CrownGate, Friary Walk, Worcester 10am to 4pm

Tuesday 13 Nov Pump Rooms, Tenbury Wells 2pm to 8pm

Thursday 15 Nov Parish Centre, Droitwich 2pm to 8pm

Tuesday 20 Nov Memorial Hall, Upton upon Severn 2pm to 8pm

Wednesday 21 Nov Town Hall, Pershore 2pm to 8pm

Monday 26 Nov Lyttleton Rooms, Malvern 2pm to 8pm

Thursday 29 Nov Town Hall, Evesham 2pm to 8pm

People will also be able to take part in the consultation online which will be available here from 5 November 2018. The deadline for responses is 5pm on Monday 17 December.

Comments on the Issues and Options will be assessed and will help inform the next stage of the plan making process which will include site specific development proposals which will be the subject of another round of public consultation likely to be  in November next year. A final report will be published for consultation and submitted to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate for public examination in 2020. It is hoped a revised SWDP will be approved and published in 2021.

Revocation of the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy

On Thursday 25th April 2013 the Government announced that the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy would be revoked on Monday 20th May 2013. The Chief Planner’s letter making this announcement can be found here

Clarification of site description of Site Allocation SWDP43/4 Old Northwick Farm

In the Issues and Responses Summary Report (28 November 2012) on Significant Changes Consultation (Summer 2012), the description of an area to exclude from the Old Northwick Farm site allocation was unclear because it refers to ‘delete land at 22a Northwick Lane’.  It should  have read ‘delete land at Old Northwick Farmhouse, Northwick Lane’ .  The maps that were available at the Full Council meetings in December 2012 and the  Interactive Map for the  Proposed Submission Plan exclude Old Northwick Farmhouse from Site Allocation SWDP 43/4 Old Northwick Farm.

Revised number of homes for South Worcestershire being considered

Proposals to increase the number of homes to be built in South Worcestershire are set to be considered by councillors.

The number of homes proposed in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) – which will guide economic development and housing in the area until 2030 – may need to rise beyond the current figure of 20,360.

The changes being considered follow a public consultation held last year about the initial proposals contained in the SWDP Preferred Options document, published in September 2011.

There were around 10,000 responses to the consultation – which can all be viewed at http://www.swdevelopmentplan.org/ – giving a very broad range of proposed housing numbers, ranging from 7,800 to 55,300. 

These responses have fed into work to prepare the next version of the SWDP, alongside new evidence including updated Population Projections from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the latest Strategic Housing Market Assessment for Worcestershire.

A revised version of the SWDP will go to each of the three partner councils on July 3, and councillors are being briefed over the coming weeks about possible changes that are being considered.

It is likely that councillors will be asked to consider a proposed increase in the number of homes required under the SWDP from 20,360 to 23,000. But in practice the number of additional homes is likely to be fewer than that, because of changes to national planning policies.

New rules introduced in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) allow councils, for the first time, to include a variety of housing in their numbers for new homes that were previously excluded from their calculations.

That means the majority of the additional homes would be accounted for by empty homes that are brought back into use and so called “windfall sites”. These are sites that are not specifically identified in the plan but which subsequently come forward for housing development. This includes the reuse of land previously built on for non-residential purposes – for example, a disused factory being turned into flats.

Councillor Marc Bayliss is Chairman of the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel, which includes councillors from each of the three councils working on the SWDP and also from Worcestershire County Council.

He said: “The SWDP is all about planning for the future, ensuring that we are taking the right steps to help economic growth in south Worcestershire over the next 18 years and providing the homes that local people will need.

“The Panel is now working hard to evaluate all the latest evidence and the representations received in the consultation and make sure the Plan meets the needs of local people and local businesses – both now and up to 2030. Once that work is done, we will be reporting to the three councils with recommendations for changes to the Plan.”

If any changes to the SWDP are backed by the three councils on July 3, further public consultations on those specific changes will take place.

A revised version of the full SWDP document will then be published in October, and will go to a public examination next year. It’s expected the final version of the Plan will be formally adopted later in 2013.

Alongside this work, the three partner councils are also working with Worcestershire County Council to prioritise and prepare an Infrastructure Delivery Plan, setting out the level of investment needed to deliver the SWDP.

Response to Tewkesbury Growth

Submission to the ‘Developing the Preferred Option consultation Document 2011?2012’, published for consultation by Cheltenham Borough, Gloucester City and Tewkesbury Borough Joint Core Strategy partner Councils, on behalf of the South Worcestershire Development Plan 3 partner Authorities – Malvern Hills District Council, Worcester City Council, Wychavon District Council – 10th February 2012.

Read a copy of the submission on behalf of the South Worcestershire Development Plan 3 partner Authorties.