A major eight week public consultation on the future development of Wyre Forest ended last night. (Monday 14 August)

Approximately 2,000 people have submitted written comments and more than 1,800 attended special drop-in sessions to give their views on Wyre Forest District Council’s proposed Local Plan Preferred Options document.

The Government requires local authorities to have Local Plans that are based on up to date evidence. If a Local Plan is not up to date it will have less weight at planning appeals and will mean that the council is less able to control new development and ensure only that which is appropriate and sustainable takes place.  A Local Plan helps the council to turn down development proposed by land owners and developers where the council considers the proposal inappropriate.

The consultation was the next stage towards adopting a new Local Plan for Wyre Forest that will eventually guide where future homes and employment sites should go. It also considers where other supporting services, such as schools and roads should be sited.

Once all the feedback from this initial consultation has been considered the council will progress to the next ‘Pre-Submission’ stage at which point there will be another public consultation before the plan is submitted to the Secretary of State for final approval, in 2019/2020. Further details are contained in the Project Plan.

The Secretary of State will then appoint a Planning Inspector to undertake an Examination in Public (EIP) of the Local Plan and will decide if the plan can become adopted or not.

Council Leader Councillor Marcus Hart said, “I would like to thank everyone who engaged in the consultation. I appreciate the strength of feeling consultations like this can create – especially this time round, when we are having to consider developing on some Green Belt Land.

“Our preference will always be to offer up brownfield land but the stark reality is that we simply do not have enough brownfield land to meet the demand for new homes needed over the next two decades.

“Part of the work of the council is to identify a five year land supply. Without a five year land supply we may get developers submitting applications to develop on any green field land which we will be unable to resist or defend on appeal.”

“I would also like to reassure residents that we remain committed to regenerating our town centres and working with landowners to bring forward schemes that allow redundant shops and buildings to be reused.”

Councillor Ian Hardiman, Wyre Forest District Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Regeneration said:

“It is great that so many residents took time to comment on the various options and come along to talk to our staff at the eight drop-in sessions to find out more about the options, view the plans, ask questions and give their views on where new development should go.

“We have been very successful in developing on brownfield sites, the former British Sugar site now called Silverwoods is a shining example of that. However, with more growth there is a greater demand on services, but that is the case wherever the growth goes within the district.”

The Preferred Options document set out two main options.  One option was to concentrate additional development to the east/south east of Kidderminster (Option A). The other option (Option B) dispersing developments more widely (particularly around Stourport-on-Severn and adjacent to Lea Castle, Kidderminster).

As well as comment on the two main options, people were able to comment on any of the sites or come up with alternative suggestions.

More information about the Local Plan is available at www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/localplanreview .

The Preferred Options Consultation is part of the process all councils have to follow to eventually adopt a new Local Plan. Wyre Forest’s current plan was adopted in 2013.  The new Local Plan which should be adopted by 2020 will guide future development between then and 2034. 

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is the document published by the Government setting out the national policies to guide the delivery of sustainable development and is the framework that councils must follow to ensure that they are able to adopt their Local Plans. The Local Plan needs to look ahead for a period usually of at least 15 years.