South Worcestershire Development Plan adopted by councils

The South Worcestershire Development Plan, designed to provide jobs and homes up to 2030, has been fully adopted. The Plan will boost the local economy and deliver sustainable development.

Malvern Hills District Council, Worcester City Council and Wychavon District Council – the three partners involved in the preparation of the Plan – have each met this week and approved the adoption of the SWDP.

The Plan will enable the development of nearly 300 hectares of employment land and the building of 28,400 new homes between 2006 and 2030. A significant amount of the development included in it has already taken place or planning permission has already been given.

The SWDP has been jointly prepared by the three councils over a period of more than five years and has been the subject of multiple public consultations and a Public Examination conducted by a Government-appointed Inspector.

His report concluded earlier this month that, with modifications that have already been consulted on and approved by the three councils, the Plan is sound and legally compliant.

Councillor Melanie Baker, who chairs the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel, said: “The Plan is all about ensuring residents can find the homes and the jobs they need to enjoy happy and successful lives and careers in south Worcestershire. The SWDP will also help us achieve the economic growth our area needs over the next 14 years and deliver a range of jobs and housing, including a proportion of affordable homes, to help people get on to the property ladder.

“Adoption of the SWDP allows the three councils to drive sustainable development, and promote homes and jobs in suitable locations that are supported by the appropriate infrastructure and services. It will also give greater powers to resist speculative planning applications for unsustainable or harmful development on sites that are not allocated in the SWDP.

“I would like to thank all the officers who have worked so hard on this Plan, the members of all three councils for providing their input and giving it their approval – particularly those who sat on the Joint Advisory Panel – and, most importantly, the residents of south Worcestershire for engaging with the many public consultations we have held over the Plan.”

In addition to the much needed new homes, the SWDP sets out plans for just over 300 hectares of vital employment land as well as new retail provision focused in Worcester City and the main towns.

The new housing is all set to be built within or on the edges of existing settlements. Development in smaller villages without key services or in the open countryside has generally been avoided, although there will be some new housing in larger villages with local services, especially where planning permission was granted during the preparation of the SWDP.

Full details of the Plan are available at www.swdevelopmentplan.org.

Government Inspector backs South Worcestershire Development Plan

The official Examination of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP), conducted by a Government-appointed independent Inspector, has concluded that the Plan is sound and can now go forward with a recommendation for adoption by the three councils that prepared it.The Plan sets out a long term vision for south Worcestershire, with the emphasis on boosting the local economy and delivering sustainable housing development, up to the year 2030. It includes plans for 28,400 new homes as well as land for retail and employment.

Malvern Hills District Council, Worcester City Council and Wychavon District Council have jointly prepared the Plan and each of them will now be asked to formally adopt it at meetings on 23 and 24 February.

The Inspector, Roger Clews, has today published his report on the Plan, concluding that it is sound and legally compliant, following an Examination that began in October 2013.

In the report the Inspector says: “The South Worcestershire Development Plan provides an appropriate basis for the planning of Worcester city and the Malvern Hills and Wychavon districts.”

His report has today been published at www.swdevelopmentplan.org.

The Examination led to the councils producing a range of “main modifications” to the SWDP including an increase from the original housing number of 23,200. It is these modifications, already approved by the three councils, which enabled the Inspector to judge the SWDP as being sound.

Councillor Melanie Baker, who chairs the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel, said: “It’s fantastic news that the Inspector has given the Plan a clean bill of health. I am hoping all three councils can now move rapidly to adopting the Plan, which will be a vital tool in delivering the economic growth we need and providing the housing our current and future residents want.

“The SWDP sets out where employment and housing development is to take place, and once it is formally adopted we will have greater powers to resist speculative planning applications for unsustainable or harmful development on sites that are not allocated in the Plan.”

The Inspector has accepted that the SWDP is based on extensive evidence and public consultations.

The Plan covers the period from 2006 to 2030. That means a significant amount of the development included in it has already taken place or planning permission has already been given.

In addition to the 28,400 new homes, the SWDP sets out plans for just over 300 hectares of employment land as well as new retail provision focused in Worcester City and the main towns.

The new housing is all set to be built within or on the edges of existing settlements. Development in smaller villages or the open countryside has generally been avoided, although there will be some new housing in larger villages with local services where planning permission was granted during the preparation of the SWDP.

Councillor Baker added: “It is heartening that the Inspector has accepted the strength of the case for three councils producing a strong joint Plan and that the basic building blocks of our strategy for growth and its distribution are sound – in particular the Plan’s approach to the settlement hierarchy, settlement boundaries, maintaining of the Green Belt, and the retention of Significant Gaps and green space. The Inspector has also endorsed the links between proposed development and infrastructure provision.

“Housing sites are obviously one of the main focuses of the Plan, however it is important to remember that the SWDP also contains a major overhaul of all of our planning policies and establishes a consistent set of development management policies for south Worcestershire as a whole.”

The main development sites set out in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (a significant number of which already have planning permission) include:

  • Worcester south “urban extension” – 20 hectares of employment land and 2,600 new dwellings at the Broomhall and Norton Barracks sites on the southern edge of Worcester
  • Worcester west “urban extension” – five hectares of employment land and 2,150 dwellings at Temple Laugherne on the western edge of Worcester
  • 1,250 dwellings on smaller sites within Worcester city. The largest of these are Gregory’s Bank industrial estate (169 dwellings – construction has already begun) and the former Crown Packaging site (230 dwellings)
  • Retail-led development at three city centre sites at Cathedral Square, Trinity House & the Cornmarket, and the Crowngate/Angel Place area
  • Around 750 dwellings at Worcester’s Shrub Hill opportunity zone, along with mixed use and commercial development on a 19.72-hectare site
  • Kilbury Drive, Worcester – 250 dwellings
  • Gwillam’s Farm, north of Worcester – 250 dwellings
  • Swinesherd Way, south east of Worcester – 300 dwellings
  • Worcester Six business park (next to M5 Junction 6) – 16 hectares of employment land for research and development; manufacturing related to environmental and new technologies; or associated businesses
  • Pershore – around 695 dwellings at an urban extension to the north of the town, off Station road; an employment site of five hectares to the north east, off Wyre Road; and 82 new dwellings on smaller sites
  • Droitwich – urban extensions at Copcut Lane (740 homes and 3.5 hectares of employment land) and Yew Tree Hill (765 homes and 200-unit extra care facility); 10 hectares of employment land at Stonebridge Cross Business Park; and 226 dwellings on smaller sites
  • Evesham – 500 homes in the Cheltenham Road urban extension; 200 dwellings at Abbey Road; 400 homes south of Pershore Road, Hampton and a new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Avon; 34 hectares of employment land at Vale Industrial Park; and around 500 dwellings on smaller sites
  • Newland, Malvern – 800 dwellings and 10 hectares of employment in an urban extension north east of Malvern Link
  • Malvern Hills district – 495 dwellings on smaller allocated sites, including 110 at the former Howsell Road allotments
  • Malvern Technology Centre (QinetiQ), Great Malvern – 4.5 hectares of new employment land; 300 dwellings
  • Blackmore Park, Malvern – 5.1 hectares of employment land off Blackmore Park Road, south of Great Malvern
  • Tenbury Wells – 162 dwellings on four sites
  • Upton-upon-Severn – 138 dwellings on two sites

Key facts

The SWDP provides a long term vision up to 2030 for south Worcestershire, with the emphasis on boosting the local economy and delivering sustainable housing development.

It is based on extensive evidence and previous consultations and has been jointly prepared by the three partner councils – Malvern Hills, Worcester City and Wychavon.

The SWDP includes policies for dealing with four broad areas:

  • Creating jobs and economic prosperity
  • Meeting housing needs
  • Transportation
  • The environment.

Full details of the Plan are available at www.swdevelopmentplan.org.

The proposals build on the work done between 2007 and 2010 on the South Worcestershire Joint Core Strategy.

The Draft Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State for independent Examination in May 2013 and the Examination began in October 2013.

The plan covers the period 2006 to 2030. Of the 28,400 new homes allocated in the plan, 8,623 had already been built by 31 March 2015 and 8,084 already have planning permission.

New housing sites proposed for consultation

Earlier in the year the three councils working on the SWDP (South Worcestershire Development Plan), in response to the Inspector’s interim conclusions, made a call for new potential sites for housing development in the three districts.

The call was made after the Inspector concluded that more housing was needed in the plan to meet housing need, in effect an additional 6,200 dwellings. Following this some 500 housing sites were identified or submitted to the three south Worcestershire councils, and each has now been assessed and checked for suitability.

As a result, the three councils now are putting forward a number of these for consideration for future allocation.

Many have been ruled out in the recommendations by the three councils for a number of reasons. These include whether the site:

  • does not support the approach of encouraging development in or adjacent to the main settlements;
  • risks excessive development, particularly in the villages;
  • does not encourage sustainable development or provision of services and infrastructure.

Further criteria include whether there is conflict with rules on statutory green belt, designated natural or historic assets, risk of flooding, etc.

Consequently many new sites are clustered in or adjacent to the urban area of Worcester or the towns of Malvern, Evesham, Droitwich Spa, Pershore, Upton upon Severn and Tenbury Wells rather than the area’s villages or in the open countryside.

There are some new recommended housing sites at the larger villages which still retain some local services, but a significant number of these sites and many others within the towns reflect planning permissions which have been granted since the SWDP was submitted in May 2013. Importantly the call for sites has also brought forward a significant amount of additional brownfield land for development in Worcester.

Cllr. Judy Pearce, Chair of the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel,
said: “South Worcestershire has risen to the Inspector’s challenge well and many suggestions came forward which gave plenty of options. Some of these proposed sites will now come forward to be looked at by the three councils. If agreed, these sites will be subject to public consultation and any representations received will be forwarded to the inspector. However, the Inspector will not be re-opening the consultation on sites previously proposed for allocation unless there has been a change, such as to the boundary or proposed number of houses on the site.”

If the three councils agree to this proposal at their meetings on 30 September the consultation process will start on 6 October and will last for six weeks. The consultation is being run by the three south Worcestershire councils with responses sent to the Inspector, who is expected to hold a hearing in early 2015 after considering them. More information on the scope of the consultation and how to take part will be issued soon.

Selection of sites being considered:

Wider Worcester area

  • Extension at Temple Laughern from 975 to 2,150 (land within Malvern Hills district)
  • New urban extension at Swinesherd Way (300) (land within Wychavon district)

Malvern Hills

  • Focus on main towns maintained
  • Malvern North East (Newland) increased by 100 dwellings to 800 but with no change to the allocation boundary
  • A reduced requirement for redirected houses to Wychavon in order to meet Malvern Hills’s unmet need (around 350 vs 1,350 previously)
  • 81 dwellings though the partial development of the former Lower Howsell Road allotments in Malvern
  • Increasing the proposed housing at the QinetiQ mixed use development to 300 dwellings.

Worcester City

  • Additional sites in Worcester are primarily brownfield, including 240 on the Crown Packaging site at Perry Wood Walk and 100 on land at Lowesmoor Wharf
  • Ambrose Close and Hopton Street.
  • Shrub Hill Opportunity Zone is increased by 229 dwellings to 596 but with no change to the boundary of this brownfield allocation.

Wychavon

  • Focus on main towns maintained
  • A reduced onus on Wychavon to meet Malvern Hills’s unmet housing need (around 350 vs 1,350 previously).

Click here to view Council Papers

More information and details of how to make a representation to the consultation are available at www.swdevelopmentplan.org.

Opportunity to suggest sites for extra housing

A formal call for sites that could accommodate extra homes across the districts of Malvern Hills, Worcester City and Wychavon has been issued.

The three partner councils preparing the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) have asked for individuals, public bodies and developers who know of potentially suitable sites to come forward with their suggestions.

The move is being made in line with the Government’s new National Planning Policy Guidance, which came into force on March 6. The Government-appointed Inspector currently conducting an Examination of the SWDP has also indicated that the housing requirement in the Plan is likely to increase from the current 23,200.

The deadline for suggesting sites is 5pm on Wednesday April 2.

Should any of the sites proposed from this exercise be supported by the three councils, they will become the subject of a public consultation before being submitted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate.

There is no need for any sites which have already been suggested as potential housing locations to be suggested again, unless details of those sites have changes significantly. The three councils maintain a database which includes details of all previously proposed sites.

Click here for details of how to propose a site

Development Plan Examination set to re-open

The Inspector who is carrying out an Examination of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) has announced that new hearings will take place next month, after the three councils preparing the plan submitted new evidence.

The Inspector, Roger Clews, will hold the hearings on March 13 and 14 to consider new evidence on how many homes will be needed in south Worcestershire by 2030. The three partner councils – Malvern Hills District Council, Worcester City Council and Wychavon District Council – submitted the Plan to the Government last year.

Initial Examination hearings took place in October, after which the Inspector said that the number of homes required “is likely to be substantially higher than the 23,200 figure identified in the submitted Plan.” He also ruled out some of the larger figures proposed by developers, some as high as 36,000.  He asked the councils to supply further information, and they have now examined updated estimates on likely economic growth and job creation across South Worcestershire up to 2030.

In their submission to the Inspector, published today at http://www.swdevelopmentplan.org/examination, the councils have suggested a revised housing requirement of between 26,700 and 27,300, based on this latest evidence.  At the hearings next month, the Inspector will consider if this should be the final housing number that will be included in the completed Plan.

Councillor Judy Pearce, who chairs the South Worcestershire Joint Advisory Panel that leads work on the SWDP, said:

“It is important that we move forward with the Plan and we hope that the Inspector will now be able to determine a housing number for south Worcestershire.  He will need to consider carefully that final number in relation to infrastructure and the environment.”

The SWDP will guide south Worcestershire’s economic and housing growth over the next 16 years and, when adopted by the three councils, will form the basis for planning decisions across South Worcestershire. The Inspector has already confirmed that he supports the SWDP’s proposed use of 280 hectares of land in south Worcestershire for employment.

Once this first stage of his Examination is satisfactorily concluded, the Inspector is likely to call a second phase to consider where the new homes and businesses are to be built.