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Have your say on infrastructure & travellers’ pitches in south Worcestershire

Councillors are to be asked to approve the launch of three consultations on planning documents supporting the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP).

Two of the consultations concern how the vital infrastructure needed to support the delivery of the SWDP will be provided. This will cover funding for essentials such as transport schemes, flood defences, community facilities, green spaces and leisure centres.

The third consultation will concern the identification of potential additional pitches to accommodate travellers and travelling showpeople.

The three councils that have prepared the SWDP – Malvern Hills, Worcester City and Wychavon – will each meet in the next few weeks to approve the launches of the consultations.

On infrastructure, the consultations will cover two important areas.

Developer contributions

A Supplementary Planning Document has been prepared setting out 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.

Community Infrastructure Levy

A Community Infrastructure Levy will be applied to 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 has produced 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.

Sites for travellers and travelling showpeople

The third proposed consultation will concern a Development Plan Document setting out proposed locations for additional pitches for travellers and travelling showpeople, to be provided over the next ten years, as required by national planning policy.

As part of the SWDP process, the three councils carried out an assessment of the need for pitches. That assessment has been considered by the independent Inspector who conducted the Examination of the SWDP. 33 new pitches are proposed at seven south Worcestershire locations over the next five years, the majority at existing travellers’ sites. Up to 20 more are proposed to be built in the following five years as part of “urban extensions” to the west and south of Worcester.

The three councils will each need to give their approval to the launch of the consultations over the next few weeks.

The consultation on sites for travellers and travelling showpeople is due to receive its final approval on February 24 from Wychavon. If supported, that six-week consultation will launch on March 14, alongside a separate one on affordable housing provision. The date for the latter has been recently revised.

The final approval for the two infrastructure-related consultations is expected from Malvern Hills and Worcester on March 22. If they are approved, those consultations will launch on 1 April for six weeks.

Responses to all the consultations can be made at www.swdevelopmentplan.org. Printed copies of the documents and response will also be available at customer service centres and libraries.

The independent Inspector who carried out an Examination of the SWDP has recently published his report, concluding that the Plan is sound and legally compliant. The three councils are now being recommended to adopt the Plan and will meet to make their decisions on February 23 and 24.