Inspector Recommends 28,370 Homes for South Worcestershire
The Inspector who is carrying out an Examination of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) has recommended that 28,370 homes need to be built in the area by 2030.
However, he has also said that nearly 5,000 of those homes have in fact already been built – because the Plan covers the period since 2006.
The Inspector's recommended figure is higher than the 23,200 in the Plan that was submitted to the Government last year and a slight increase on the 27,300 proposed by the three partner councils in January this year. However, it is considerably fewer than the 36,000 some developers called for during public hearings in October and March.
It is also 2,200 fewer than would have been required under the old West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy, which the coalition Government abolished shortly after coming to power in 2010.
Councillor Judy Pearce, who chairs the South Worcestershire Joint Advisory Panel that leads work on the SWDP, said:
"We know many people will be unhappy at the level of housing the Inspector has proposed, but the only way we can secure a locally-controlled future for south Worcestershire is to ensure that the Plan gets to the stage where it can be adopted as quickly as possible.
"Once adopted, the SWDP will give the three councils control over where new homes and businesses are built. Without it, we face a future where developers can try to build almost anywhere and our powers to resist their applications would be very limited."
The Inspector, Roger Clews, took into account the requirements of the new National Planning Policy Framework and the recently released National Planning Practice Guidelines in reaching his conclusions, which have today been published at swdevelopmentplan.org
Each of the three councils preparing the Plan - Malvern Hills District Council, Worcester City Council and Wychavon District Council – will be asked in the summer to formally accept the Inspector's recommendation. In preparation for that, work has begun to identify potential sites where the additional homes could be built and to assess other implications of the Inspector's recommendation.
The councils have already told the Inspector that they will continue to follow the strategy of the SWDP, which is to concentrate development in and around existing communities, rather than create new towns and villages. A substantial database of sites already exists from earlier work on the Plan, and more have been proposed by local people, organisations and developers in a recent formal call for sites.
Those sites will all be assessed for a range of factors, including access to infrastructure, transport links and whether they are prone to flooding.
A preferred list of sites will then go to the three councils at their summer meetings.
A six-week consultation will subsequently be launched to give the public the chance to have their say on the new proposals. The consultation will be concluded by the end of September. After that, the Inspector is expected to hold a second stage of his Examination, to consider the proposed new sites and a variety of other vital aspects of the Plan.
These are expected to include policies on affordable housing, transport, flood management and design. It is expected that the SWDP will be adopted by the three councils in 2015.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 Plan formally covers the period between 2006 and 2030. That means 4,909 homes that were built between 2006 and 2012 count as part of the 28,370. A further 3,785 new homes that were already being built or had been given planning permission by 2012 also count towards that total.