2020 South Worcestershire Authorities Monitoring Report Published, 31 March 2021
The South Worcestershire Councils (SWCs) have published the latest Authorities Monitoring Report (AMR). The AMR monitors the policies of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) which was adopted on 25th February 2016. This is the third AMR which reports against the SWDP, covering the period between 1st April 2019 and 31st March 2020. It includes, amongst other things, information on housing completions, and progress on the development of allocated sites. It also monitors progress on associated local development documents e.g. Supplementary Planning Documents and Neighbourhood Plans.
SWDP Review Further Regulation 18 (III) Sustainability Appraisal Consultation, 1 March 2021
The South Worcestershire Councils (SWCs) i.e. Malvern Hills, Worcester City and Wychavon started a review of the SWDP in late 2017. This is in line with Government requirements that local plans should be updated every five years. The review of the SWDP will address development needs for the period 2021-2041.
Since the completion of the SWDPR Preferred Options consultation in December 2019, work has been progressing on the Publication version of the SWDPR (Regulation 19). However, the review of the SWDP has been delayed due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and our ability to collect evidence. The intention was for the next Regulation 19 stage of the consultation on the SWDP Review to be undertaken in the autumn of 2020. However, lockdown restrictions have made it much more difficult to complete several technical assessments and evidence gathering needed to support the plan within the timeframe. Further, in updating the evidence base, legal advice from Counsel recommended that an additional round of consultation is factored into the SWDPR timetable prior to Submission of the plan for Examination to allow for updates relating to the Sustainability Appraisal to be made available for consultation.
Accordingly, an updated Local Development Scheme (LDS) for 2020-2023 was approved by each local authority in September 2020 (effective from 1st October 2020). The 2020-2023 LDS includes an updated SWDPR timetable, which has moved back the Publication version of the plan to October/November 2021. This allows for additional time to finalise the technical evidence base updates and also to include an additional further Regulation 18 (III) consultation to provide greater clarification and updates to elements of the Sustainability Appraisal evidence base work.
The Sustainability Appraisal is an on-going process which tests the plan’s sites and policies against a Sustainability Framework, with a report published at each stage of the plan-making process. The Regulation 18 (III) Sustainability Appraisal update will provide information to help clarify the report published during the previous Regulation 18 (II) Preferred Options consultation carried out in November/December 2019.
The Sustainability Appraisal (SA) report is a UK-specific procedure that examines the social, economic and environmental sustainability of the sites and policies of a Local Plan in detail and proposes mitigation measures to overcome any negative impacts identified.
A key purpose of the Sustainability Appraisal is to facilitate the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive’s required levels of environmental assessment, resulting in an integrated approach (the SEA Directive was transposed into English law by The Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 (SEA Regulations)). This includes transparency, by sharing assessment information and plan-making detail with a public audience, which provides the opportunity to influence the Local Plan.
In line with the Planning Policy Guidance and requirements of the SEA Directive, there is a need to provide a clear and transparent process of identifying, describing and evaluating reasonable alternatives (Article 5(1) of the SEA Directive). This should be the case for any type of reasonable alternative raised through the plan making process.
Accordingly, the Sustainability Appraisal will provide updates to the following sections of the SWDPR (as was submitted at the 2019 Preferred Options Regulation 18 (II) stage), as relates to the analysis of, and reasoning for, the selection and rejection of reasonable alternatives:
- draft SWDPR policies;
- proposed strategic location sites and reasonable alternatives;
- proposed site allocations and reasonable alternatives; and
- proposed SWDP reallocation sites.
A full Sustainability Appraisal (Environmental Report) will be produced for the Regulation 19 stage of the plan making process. This version of the appraisal will assess the sustainability of the proposed submission version of the SWDP.
The public consultation will run for seven weeks from Monday 1 March to Monday 19 April 2021.
This Regulation 18 (III) consultation is focused on the Sustainability Appraisal and will be technical in nature:
- The consultation is not seeking views on an updated version of the SWDP.
- This stage is not a further opportunity to make comments on proposed site allocations or policies published in the SWDP Review Preferred Options (2019); any such comments will not be considered.
Therefore, the material published for this consultation only relates to updates to the Sustainability Appraisal evidence base.
Following this consultation, the Publication version of the SWDP Review will then be published for a further round of consultation in October/November 2021. It will then be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in early 2022, and subject to the Planning Inspectorates timetable, Examined over the course of 2022. The Inspector’s report is expected late 2022 with the aim to readopt the reviewed SWDP by April 2023.
For further details on this consultation, please follow this link - SWDP Review Further Regulation 18 (III) Sustainability Appraisal Consultation
South Worcestershire Councils Response to the Planning for the Future White Paper Consultation, 29 October 2020
The South Worcestershire Councils have published their response to the Planning for the Future White Paper Consultation.
SWDP Review Timetable Updated, 6 October 2020
The three South Worcestershire Councils have updated their Local Development Schemes (LDS). The latest versions were adopted at Council meetings held on 16 September 2020 (Wychavon District Council), 29 September 2020 (Malvern Hills District Council) and 30 September 2020 (Worcester City Council). The LDS is a project management document which sets out the council priorities for producing planning policy documents over the coming three years.
The new timetable for the SWDP Review is as follows:
Additional Preferred Options (Focused on Sustainability Appraisal) Consultation (Regulation 18) – March-April 2021
Publication Consultation (Regulation 19) – November-December 2021
Submission (Regulation 22) – March 2022
Independent Examination (Regulation 24) – May 2022-January 2023
Receipt of Inspector’s Report (Regulation 25) – March 2023
Adoption (Regulation 26) – April 2023
South Worcestershire Councils Response to the Changes to the Current Planning System Consultation, 25 September 2020
The South Worcestershire Councils have published their response to the Changes to the Current Planning System Consultation.
Covid-19 Causes Delay to SWDP Review, 24 July 2020
The completion of the review of the South Worcestershire Development Plan has been delayed due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was hoped that the document would be ready for public examination in early 2021, but lockdown restrictions have made it impossible to complete a number of technical assessments and evidence gathering needed to support the plan. This includes additional traffic and air quality modelling. These cannot be carried out currently as vehicle movements are still not close enough to pre-lockdown levels.
Over the next few months the necessary assessments and studies will take place. The plan to be sent for public examination will be published, subject to approval by all three South Worcestershire Councils, in October 2021. It will then be submitted to the Secretary of State in February 2022. The expectation is it will then be examined before the end of 2022 and adopted shortly after. The proposed timetable changes still need to be approved by the three South Worcestershire Councils. They will be considered at meetings in September.
Cllr Lucy Hodgson, Chair of the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel, said: “We’re disappointed we have to push back the SWDPR timetable but it was unavoidable given the delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Many consultants needed to complete the technical work required remain on furlough, and any data we capture now about traffic movements or air quality would not give us a reliable picture.
“Given the importance of this document to meeting future demand for housing and economic growth in South Worcestershire, it’s important the plan is robust so it’s right we take the time to do this work.
“The team will do everything possible to make sure there is no further delay to the timetable but that will depend on how the pandemic progresses and the impact of a second wave of Covid-19 or any future lockdown restrictions.”
The revised SWDP sets out how a Government requirement to build another 14,000 new homes across Malvern Hills District, Worcester City and Wychavon District by 2041 will be met. This is on top of the need for 28,400 new homes by 2030, more than half of which have already been built, set out in the current plan.