Government inspector backs South Worcestershire Development Plan
The Plan sets out a long term vision for south Worcestershire, with the emphasis on boosting the local economy and delivering sustainable housing development, up to the year 2030. It includes plans for 28,400 new homes as well as land for retail and employment.
Malvern Hills District Council, Worcester City Council and Wychavon District Council have jointly prepared the Plan and each of them will now be asked to formally adopt it at meetings on 23 and 24 February.
The Inspector, Roger Clews, has today published his report on the Plan, concluding that it is sound and legally compliant, following an Examination that began in October 2013.
In the report the Inspector says: “The South Worcestershire Development Plan provides an appropriate basis for the planning of Worcester city and the Malvern Hills and Wychavon districts.”
His report has today been published at www.swdevelopmentplan.org.
The Examination led to the councils producing a range of “main modifications” to the SWDP including an increase from the original housing number of 23,200. It is these modifications, already approved by the three councils, which enabled the Inspector to judge the SWDP as being sound.
Councillor Melanie Baker, who chairs the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel, said: “It’s fantastic news that the Inspector has given the Plan a clean bill of health. I am hoping all three councils can now move rapidly to adopting the Plan, which will be a vital tool in delivering the economic growth we need and providing the housing our current and future residents want.
“The SWDP sets out where employment and housing development is to take place, and once it is formally adopted we will have greater powers to resist speculative planning applications for unsustainable or harmful development on sites that are not allocated in the Plan.”
The Inspector has accepted that the SWDP is based on extensive evidence and public consultations.
The Plan covers the period from 2006 to 2030. That means a significant amount of the development included in it has already taken place or planning permission has already been given.
In addition to the 28,400 new homes, the SWDP sets out plans for just over 300 hectares of employment land as well as new retail provision focused in Worcester City and the main towns.
The new housing is all set to be built within or on the edges of existing settlements. Development in smaller villages or the open countryside has generally been avoided, although there will be some new housing in larger villages with local services where planning permission was granted during the preparation of the SWDP.
Councillor Baker added: “It is heartening that the Inspector has accepted the strength of the case for three councils producing a strong joint Plan and that the basic building blocks of our strategy for growth and its distribution are sound - in particular the Plan’s approach to the settlement hierarchy, settlement boundaries, maintaining of the Green Belt, and the retention of Significant Gaps and green space. The Inspector has also endorsed the links between proposed development and infrastructure provision.
“Housing sites are obviously one of the main focuses of the Plan, however it is important to remember that the SWDP also contains a major overhaul of all of our planning policies and establishes a consistent set of development management policies for south Worcestershire as a whole.”
The main development sites set out in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (a significant number of which already have planning permission) include:
- Worcester south “urban extension” - 20 hectares of employment land and 2,600 new dwellings at the Broomhall and Norton Barracks sites on the southern edge of Worcester
- Worcester west “urban extension” - five hectares of employment land and 2,150 dwellings at Temple Laugherne on the western edge of Worcester
- 1,250 dwellings on smaller sites within Worcester city. The largest of these are Gregory’s Bank industrial estate (169 dwellings – construction has already begun) and the former Crown Packaging site (230 dwellings)
- Retail-led development at three city centre sites at Cathedral Square, Trinity House & the Cornmarket, and the Crowngate/Angel Place area
- Around 750 dwellings at Worcester’s Shrub Hill opportunity zone, along with mixed use and commercial development on a 19.72-hectare site
- Kilbury Drive, Worcester - 250 dwellings
- Gwillam’s Farm, north of Worcester - 250 dwellings
- Swinesherd Way, south east of Worcester – 300 dwellings
- Worcester Six business park (next to M5 Junction 6) – 16 hectares of employment land for research and development; manufacturing related to environmental and new technologies; or associated businesses
- Pershore – around 695 dwellings at an urban extension to the north of the town, off Station road; an employment site of five hectares to the north east, off Wyre Road; and 82 new dwellings on smaller sites
- Droitwich – urban extensions at Copcut Lane (740 homes and 3.5 hectares of employment land) and Yew Tree Hill (765 homes and 200-unit extra care facility); 10 hectares of employment land at Stonebridge Cross Business Park; and 226 dwellings on smaller sites
- Evesham – 500 homes in the Cheltenham Road urban extension; 200 dwellings at Abbey Road; 400 homes south of Pershore Road, Hampton and a new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Avon; 34 hectares of employment land at Vale Industrial Park; and around 500 dwellings on smaller sites
- Newland, Malvern – 800 dwellings and 10 hectares of employment in an urban extension north east of Malvern Link
- Malvern Hills district – 495 dwellings on smaller allocated sites, including 110 at the former Howsell Road allotments
- Malvern Technology Centre (QinetiQ), Great Malvern – 4.5 hectares of new employment land; 300 dwellings
- Blackmore Park, Malvern – 5.1 hectares of employment land off Blackmore Park Road, south of Great Malvern
- Tenbury Wells – 162 dwellings on four sites
- Upton-upon-Severn – 138 dwellings on two sites
The SWDP provides 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 policies for dealing with four broad areas:
- Creating jobs and economic prosperity
- Meeting housing needs
- The environment.
Full details of the Plan are available at www.swdevelopmentplan.org.
The proposals build on the work done between 2007 and 2010 on the South Worcestershire Joint Core Strategy.
The Draft Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State for independent Examination in May 2013 and the Examination began in October 2013.
The plan covers the period 2006 to 2030. Of the 28,400 new homes allocated in the plan, 8,623 had already been built by 31 March 2015 and 8,084 already have planning permission.