New consultation opens on plan for future of South Worcestershire

A new consultation opens this week on the Plan that will guide South Worcestershire’s economic and housing growth until 2030.

The South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) is being jointly prepared by Malvern Hills District Council, Worcester City Council and Wychavon District Council. Once adopted, it will form the basis for planning decisions across South Worcestershire until 2030.

Last month the three councils voted to proceed to submission of the draft SWDP to the Government, and on Friday (January 11) a new six-week public consultation opens – aimed at testing that the plan complies with the necessary legal requirements and is “sound”.

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: “This consultation is not about the actual proposals in the Plan – so it’s not a chance for local people to suggest a new site for employment use or to call for homes to be built elsewhere.

“Instead it’s a chance for people to say if we’ve addressed the necessary legal and procedural tests. Have we got the evidence to back our proposals? Have we followed all the rules about how a Local Plan should be compiled?

“This is a final test of the robustness of the Plan before we submit it to the Secretary of State.”

This technical consultation will give local people and interested parties the chance to give their views on a range of important factors. These include whether the proposals in the SWDP can definitely be delivered, whether they are based on clear evidence and whether there have been appropriate opportunities for the public to give their views on the Plan.

It will also test that the SWDP complies with national guidelines and legislation, including the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012, the Localism Act 2011 and the new National Planning Policy Framework.

Once this latest consultation is completed, the SWDP and the consultation results will be submitted to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. This is expected to happen in April.

The Secretary of State is then expected to call an Examination in Public, chaired by an independent inspector, to examine the Plan.

That is likely to happen in the summer, paving the way for the SWDP to be formally adopted by all three councils by the end of 2013.

The consultation will run at, and printed copies of the consultation forms will also be available at council offices and libraries.

Responses can be made online at via the consultation portal. Completed forms can be sent to or posted to South Worcestershire Development Plan Team, FREEPOST RLTS-XRLK-AKGK, Orchard House, Farrier Street, Worcester WR1 3BB.

The Chairmanship of the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel rotates among the three partner councils, and at the next meeting it will be proposed that Cllr Bayliss stands down as Chairman in favour of Cllr Judy Pearce of Wychavon.

What happens next?

  • 11 January – 5.00pm, 22 February 2013 – Technical consultation on the plan, to allow the public and others to give their views on whether the Plan is sound and complies with legal requirements
  • April 2013 – Draft Plan submitted to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
  • June/July 2013 (TBC) – Examination in Public held by independent inspector
  • August/September 2013 (TBC) – Inspector’s report published
  • Late 2013 (TBC) – Adoption of SWDP by the three councils.

Notes to Editors

The South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) will provide 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 proposed policies for dealing with four broad areas:

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

Details of the proposals are available at, where the full range of consultation material, including guidance notes and evidence, can also be accessed.

The proposals build on the work done between 2007 and 2010 on the South Worcestershire Joint Core Strategy. The three councils decided to take a different approach when the coalition Government announced its proposed changes to the planning system.

Much of the research behind the Joint Core Strategy has been used in preparing the draft SWDP, but our approach to providing housing has changed and many of the proposed housing sites are now either smaller than previously suggested or have been removed altogether.

The new proposals differ from the Joint Core Strategy in several significant ways:

  • The focus is on supporting and delivering economic growth and jobs
  • Major economic initiatives include a Technology Park to the east of Worcester, near junction 6 of the M5, and major employment sites at Blackmore Park, Malvern; Vale Industrial Park, Evesham; the north east of Pershore; and at Midland Road and south of Warndon Wood in Worcester
  • A range of sites have been allocated for “mixed use”, where housing, employment, retail, leisure and other facilities sit alongside each other
  • Housing numbers are now driven by up-to-date assessments of local needs, not top-down regional targets
  • Approximately 23,200 homes are proposed, around 1,300 less than in the Joint Core Strategy, and with fewer completed each year
  • 42% of the homes required by 2030 have already either been built or given planning permission, or will be met by means such as  bringing empty homes back into use. That means that, in the 18 years remaining till 2030, locations only need to be found for another 13,400
  • More than half of the housing provision for the Worcester area will be met within the city, reducing the need for expansion beyond the city boundaries
  • Although extensions adjacent to Worcester are proposed, what used to be the largest site – to the west of the city – is now due to host only 975 dwellings, 2,500 fewer than were proposed in the Joint Core Strategy
  • In Malvern Hills and Wychavon, it is proposed to have a smaller proportion of new homes built at the main towns. There will also be new housing built in rural villages, with the aim of supporting the needs of the local population
  • The proposed Plan is evidence-based and has been subjected to a range of appraisals covering its sustainability, viability and necessary supporting infrastructure.