New housing sites proposed for consultation
Earlier in the year the three councils working on the SWDP (South Worcestershire Development Plan), in response to the Inspector's interim conclusions, made a call for new potential sites for housing development in the three districts.
The call was made after the Inspector concluded that more housing was needed in the plan to meet housing need, in effect an additional 6,200 dwellings. Following this some 500 housing sites were identified or submitted to the three south Worcestershire councils, and each has now been assessed and checked for suitability.
As a result, the three councils now are putting forward a number of these for consideration for future allocation.
Many have been ruled out in the recommendations by the three councils for a number of reasons. These include whether the site:
- does not support the approach of encouraging development in or adjacent to the main settlements;
- risks excessive development, particularly in the villages; and
- does not encourage sustainable development or provision of services and infrastructure.
Further criteria include whether there is conflict with rules on statutory green belt, designated natural or historic assets, risk of flooding, etc.
Consequently many new sites are clustered in or adjacent to the urban area of Worcester or the towns of Malvern, Evesham, Droitwich Spa, Pershore, Upton upon Severn and Tenbury Wells rather than the area's villages or in the open countryside.
There are some new recommended housing sites at the larger villages which still retain some local services, but a significant number of these sites and many others within the towns reflect planning permissions which have been granted since the SWDP was submitted in May 2013. Importantly the call for sites has also brought forward a significant amount of additional brownfield land for development in Worcester.
Cllr. Judy Pearce, Chair of the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel, said: "South Worcestershire has risen to the Inspector's challenge well and many suggestions came forward which gave plenty of options. Some of these proposed sites will now come forward to be looked at by the three councils. If agreed, these sites will be subject to public consultation and any representations received will be forwarded to the inspector. However, the Inspector will not be re-opening the consultation on sites previously proposed for allocation unless there has been a change, such as to the boundary or proposed number of houses on the site."
If the three councils agree to this proposal at their meetings on 30 September the consultation process will start on 6 October and will last for six weeks. The consultation is being run by the three south Worcestershire councils with responses sent to the Inspector, who is expected to hold a hearing in early 2015 after considering them. More information on the scope of the consultation and how to take part will be issued soon.
Selection of sites being considered:
Wider Worcester area
- Extension at Temple Laughern from 975 to 2,150 (land within Malvern Hills district)
- New urban extension at Swinesherd Way (300) (land within Wychavon district)
- Focus on main towns maintained
- Malvern North East (Newland) increased by 100 dwellings to 800 but with no change to the allocation boundary
- A reduced requirement for redirected houses to Wychavon in order to meet Malvern Hills's unmet need (around 350 vs 1,350 previously)
- 81 dwellings though the partial development of the former Lower Howsell Road allotments in Malvern
- Increasing the proposed housing at the QinetiQ mixed use development to 300 dwellings.
- Additional sites in Worcester are primarily brownfield, including 240 on the Crown Packaging site at Perry Wood Walk and 100 on land at Lowesmoor Wharf
- Ambrose Close and Hopton Street.
- Shrub Hill Opportunity Zone is increased by 229 dwellings to 596 but with no change to the boundary of this brownfield allocation.
- Focus on main towns maintained
- A reduced onus on Wychavon to meet Malvern Hills's unmet housing need (around 350 vs 1,350 previously).
More information and details of how to make a representation to the consultation are available at www.swdevelopmentplan.org.
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
- The environment.
Details of the proposals are available at www.swdevelopmentplan.org, where the full range of consultation material, including guidance notes and evidence, can also be accessed.
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.
The Draft Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State for independent examination in May 2013.
Stage 1 of the Examination resulted in the Inspector recommending an increase in housing provision from 23,200 to 28,370. This led to a "call for sites" in March 2014, when those promoting sites had the opportunity to put these forward to the councils for consideration.
All of the sites put forward have been subjected to a rigorous technical assessment to consider their suitability for inclusion. Criteria for assessment include:
- whether the site is compatible with the strategy of concentrating development at or adjacent to Worcester and the main towns in south Worcestershire;
- if, in the villages, whether the proposed development would be excessive
- whether the site is affected by any constraint – e.g.
It is anticipated that the Inspector will start stage 2 of the Examination process in early 2015.
Stage 2 of the Examination will cover a wide range of matters including:
- the strategy and the associated strategic policies;
- the development management policies;
- the proposed urban extensions
- the proposed allocations in the towns and villages.
• South Worcestershire Development Plan website
• Worcester City Council
Rob Byrne - 01905 722 409 / firstname.lastname@example.org
• Wychavon District Council and Malvern Hills District Council
Emma Wild – 01386 565102 / email@example.com