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.

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Update

A  CIL timeline was approved by the South Worcestershire Councils in September 2013.

That was before Stage 1 of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) hearing began in October 2013 and before the consequent changes to the SWDP timetable were made.

Given these changed circumstances, it will be necessary to revise the CIL timeline accordingly. The South Worcestershire Councils will make a decision on this revised timeline in Spring 2014 when the position on the SWDP is clearer . For purposes of clarity, there will not be any progression of CIL through the February 2014 cycle.

The purpose of this note is to clarify the position in the interim, as far as is  possible.

If you have any further questions then please contact John Pattinson at john.pattinson@worcester.gov.uk or ring on either 01905 721105 or 01905 721170.

Inspector questions housing figures

The three councils involved in compiling the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) have been asked to look again at the figures they prepared on the number of homes needed in the area by 2030.

The Inspector who is conducting an Examination of the Plan has asked the three authorities – Malvern Hills District Council, Worcester City Council and Wychavon District Council – to do more work on the technical evidence used to establish how many homes the area will need.

The Inspector, Roger Clews, said in a letter to the councils that the number of homes required “is likely to be substantially higher than the 23,200 figure identified in the submitted Plan.”

The Inspector’s interim conclusions are published today at http://www.swdevelopmentplan.org/examination.

Councillor Judy Pearce, who chairs the South Worcestershire Joint Advisory Panel that leads work on the SWDP, said:“We are disappointed that our locally derived figures have been questioned by the Inspector. The Inspector clearly feels that the figure should be higher and has asked us to undertake more analysis to enable him to agree a final figure.

“It’s not unusual for many councils to have their plan rejected at this first stage of Examination, as has happened recently in Coventry, Nuneaton and Bedworth, North Warwickshire and elsewhere.

“So we are very pleased that the SWDP is still on track and we are looking forward to continuing to work with the Inspector to produce the technical work he has requested and to achieve the best result for local people from this process.”

The SWDP will guide South Worcestershire’s economic and housing growth over the next 17 years and, once adopted, will form the basis for planning decisions across South Worcestershire.

Today’s news follows public hearings in the first week of October, held as part of phase one of the Inspector’s Examination of the SWDP. His interim conclusions show that the three councils met the legally binding duty to co-operate with neighbouring councils and other bodies in preparing the Plan. He also supports the proposed use of 280 hectares of land in south Worcestershire for employment.

But he has questioned the evidence used as the basis for the figure of 23,200 new homes by 2030, and his interim conclusions note that developers at the hearings put forward a wide range of figures from 23,500 to 36,000.

His interim conclusions give little weight to the highest figures produced by developers.

Cllr Pearce said: “There has been pressure from some developers for higher numbers of homes and we are relieved that the Inspector has not accepted some of the more extreme suggestions.”

The councils have also been asked to revise their figures on how much retail space will be needed across south Worcestershire by 2030. The Plan currently calls for 50,000 square metres of new retail space to be built during the period covered by the Plan. The Inspector suggests that in some towns there may be a danger of too much retail space being created.

The three councils have been given until 8 November to produce a timetable for the compiling of the new housing data.

The Inspector says that once the new housing need assessment work is completed and published, he will hold another hearing before concluding this first phase of his Examination.

A second phase will follow, looking at the sites where it is proposed that new homes and businesses are built.

Further Information:

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 http://www.swdevelopmentplan.org/examination.

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 changes to the planning system.

Sustainability Appraisal Addendum Report (July 2013)

The South Worcestershire authorities have sought and gained the Inspector’s permission to add to the Core Document Library a Sustainability Appraisal Addendum Report  ( CD 217).

The councils  are very aware of the length of time that the entire process has taken since the inception of the initial Joint Core Strategy in 2006 and the amount of detailed information that the process has generated, including various iterations of the Sustainability Appraisals. Consequently  the Councils have decided to prepare this report  to assist participants.

This material is presented to the inspector and participants in the interests of openness and transparency. The Councils would wish to stress that they do not consider that there is any new information contained therein and that it is a re-presentation of existing material from the Sustainability Appraisals to assist participants’ understanding of the evidence underpinning the Councils’ strategy, policies  and site selections, including reasons for selecting/rejecting alternatives .