Have your say on new infrastructure and affordable housing in south Worcestershire

Three new six-week consultations on planning documents supporting the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) will open on 16 February 2015.

The funding of new infrastructure – from roads and schools to village greens – and guidance on where and how affordable housing is built will all come under the spotlight.

Residents, developers, town and parish councils, and other interested parties can make their views known via the SWDP Consultations Web Page. The consultations conclude on 30 March 2015.

These consultations complement work on the SWDP, which is being jointly developed by the councils for Malvern Hills, Worcester City and Wychavon. The Plan 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.

Details of the three consultations are:

Community Infrastructure Levy

The south Worcestershire councils are proposing to apply a Community Infrastructure Levy on developers who gain planning permission for new housing and large scale retail development. This will help fund essential strategic infrastructure, such as new or safer transport schemes; flood defences; education, community, health and social care facilities; park improvements; green spaces and leisure centres. Each council is required to produce its own charging schedule and, because of the different land values across the area, the rates across south Worcestershire will vary. Views are now being sought on whether the level of those charges is appropriate.

Developer contributions

Planning guidance is being proposed on how and when developers will need to make contributions towards local infrastructure in order to ensure their proposals are acceptable in planning terms, in line with SWDP policies. Opinions are being sought on this guidance, which is set out in a Supplementary Planning Document on the Developer Contributions Consultation Page.

Affordable housing

The SWDP proposes that most new housing developments should include a proportion of affordable housing, such as rented accommodation managed by housing associations. An Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document now needs to be compiled to give detailed guidance on this, covering issues such as whether flats or houses should be built, how many bedrooms should be included in affordable dwellings, and the circumstances in which developers will have to make a financial contribution towards affordable housing being built away from their own developments. This consultation asks for comments, particularly from landlords and housing developers, on the detailed advice that needs to be included in this document.

At the same time a call for possible sites that could be used as pitches for travellers has been launched. The SWDP includes policies for the provision of up to 70 new pitches for travellers and travelling show people by 2030, in order to comply with national planning rules.

The consultations and call for sites are part of the programme of work in the Local Development Scheme that was approved by the three councils on 30 September 2014.

Councillor Melanie Baker, deputy chairman of the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel, said: “The south Worcestershire councils are all striving to ensure the SWDP is able to deliver the planned growth in employment and sustainable developments that will provide residents with homes to meet the needs of young families, older people and single households. The consultations are a vital part of that work and I urge people to get involved and make their views known.”

The consultations are being launched just a few days before public hearings resume in stage two of the formal Examination of the SWDP, being carried out by Government-appointed Inspector Roger Clews.

The latest sessions are:

  • Commencing 24 February 2015 at the Sixways Stadium, looking at SWDP policies one to seven (the basis for how the plan has been compiled, housing and employment sites selected etc) and the strategic sites (including the major “urban extensions” proposed on the edges of Worcester, where some of the largest housing developments have been allocated)
  • Commencing 14 April 2015 at the Sixways Stadium, considering development management policies (the detailed rules that future planning applications will be assessed against, covering, for example, the design of new developments, the proportion of affordable housing to be included in residential developments)
  • Commencing 12 May 2015 at the Worcester University Arena in Hylton Road, focussing on proposed sites in the main towns and villages in south Worcestershire.

Stage one of the Examination resulted in the Inspector recommending an increase in housing provision to 28,370, requiring the councils to identify proposed sites for around 6,200 dwellings.

It is currently expected that the SWDP will be adopted by each of the south Worcestershire councils in early 2016.

More details are available on the SWDP Consultations Web Page.

Dates confirmed for next phase of Examination of South Worcestershire Development Plan

Dates have been confirmed for the second phase of the Examination of the Plan that will guide economic development and housing in South Worcestershire until 2030.

The South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) is currently being examined by a Government-appointed Inspector, who held his first public hearings in late 2013 and earlier this year. Since then work has taken place to identify sites for additional housing. A consultation on the proposed additional housing sites and related changes to the Plan ends at 9.00am on Monday, November 17.

The results of that consultation will be considered by the Inspector as part of his next three hearings:

  • Commencing 24 February 2015 at the Sixways Stadium, looking at SWDP policies one to seven (the basis for how the plan has been compiled, housing and employment sites selected etc) and the strategic sites (the major “urban extensions” proposed on the edges of Worcester, where some of the largest housing developments have been allocated)
  • Commencing 14 April 2015 at the Sixways Stadium, considering development management policies (the detailed rules that future planning applications will be assessed against, covering, for example, the proportion of affordable housing to be included in residential developments)
  • Commencing 12 May 2015 at the Worcester University Arena in Hylton Road, focussing on proposed sites in the main towns and villages in south Worcestershire.

The 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 being jointly prepared by the three partner councils – Malvern Hills, Worcester City and Wychavon.

Following extensive public consultation, the SWDP was submitted to the Government for independent Examination in May 2013.

Stage one of the Examination resulted in the Inspector recommending an increase in housing provision to 28,370, requiring the councils to identify proposed sites for around 6,200 dwellings.

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.

Council’ update of progress to the Inspector – June 2014

On 10 June the Councils provided their first update (available Here ) to the Inspector confirming the progress made in addressing the necessary work required to enable the Examination process to proceed. This work particularly related to the increased Objective Assessment of Housing Need recommended by the Inspector following  the final Stage 1 Hearings (13 and 14 March 2014) and the Inspector’s  consequent Further Interim Conclusions (April 3 2014).

The Councils understand that the Inspector will respond to this update  in due course.

The Inspector’s letter to the 3 Councils setting out his further interim conclusions

The Inspector’s letter to the 3 Councils setting out his further interim conclusions, following the reconvened Phase 1 stage of the examination in March 2014, has been published by the Programme Officer and can be viewed via this link. Having considered the additional evidence put to him by the 3 Councils on housing supply, as well as further third party representations, the Inspector has provided a full, objectively assessed need for housing over the Plan period for South Worcestershire of 28,370 dwellings. The Inspector has also commented on matters relating to Windfall allowances, five-year housing land supply, and clarification with respect to the retail policy.

  • The Inspector’s letter to the Councils is available here
  • The Inspector’s Further Interim Conclusions are available here