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.