Council unveils revised Local Plan including proposals for new village at Lea Castle
A new village at Lea Castle and a new housing development to the east of Kidderminster could create much-needed homes over the next 20 years under proposals being discussed by Wyre Forest District Council next week.
The council has published the latest version of its Local Plan following a huge consultation last summer. After reviewing and considering thousands of responses from the Preferred Options consultation stage, the council has developed the next stage, known as the Pre-submission Plan, which sets out where it thinks new homes should be built.
The main way the council is planning to deliver housing growth is with a new village at Lea Castle and an extension of Kidderminster to the east of the town. Both sites would be sustainable and it is proposed that they would have their own primary school, other local facilities, road improvements and a much-needed element of affordable housing.
There would also be land made available for employment at Lea Castle, an extension to Easter Park and a second phase at Silverwoods. Previous proposals for a new major housing development adjacent to Spennells in Kidderminster and a number of other sites across the district are not being progressed further.
This pre-submission version of the Local Plan sets out how the district will develop until 2036 and outlines the strategy for making sure the growth needed for future generations is in the right place, and is of the right character and quality.
The council consulted on its Preferred Options for the Local Plan in July 2017. More than 5,000 comments were submitted. It highlighted that residents have endorsed what the council wanted the Local Plan to achieve, to use brown field sites, limit the impact on the countryside, plan for homes to get people on the housing ladder, plan for local jobs and services and make sure the roads and transport systems can cope.
It is good news that as a result of the Preferred Options Consultation that more brown field sites have become available and been added to the Local Plan, but the supply of brown field land in the district is limited and there is not enough to deliver all of the growth that the area needs.
Councillor Ian Hardiman, Wyre Forest District Council’s Cabinet member for Housing, Health and Wellbeing said: “We need to make sure that we have enough homes in the district to meet our current housing need as well as for our children and grandchildren. We want the local economy to grow and offer employment opportunities for them too. The Local Plan identifies the sites where the developments will go.”
He added: “We know how important the countryside and rural character of the district is. In an ideal world we would only ever look to develop on brown field land, but we have reached a stage where there are not enough sites available to meet the demand for new homes needed for our families in the future. The Government’s method of calculating housing need means that over 5,500 houses need to be built in the period from 2016 to 2036. While we have had no option but to include sites in the Green Belt, we are determined that not one more house will be built on the Green Belt than is necessary.”
“The new village at Lea Castle can accommodate 1,400 homes and the plan makes sure that there is a physical gap both from Kidderminster and from Cookley. The intention is that it should have its own facilities including a primary school and should not therefore have an adverse impact on nearby schools.”
Residents will get a chance to have their say on the Local Plan. Unlike previous consultations, the council is required to ask specific questions which will give people an opportunity to comment on how the Local Plan has been prepared, whether its aims are achievable and whether the plan is based on a robust evidence base.
The council’s Overview and Scrutiny committee will be discussing the Local Plan and consultation timetable at its meeting on Thursday 25 October. It is being recommended that the consultation runs from Thursday 1 November to Monday 17 December and there will be eight drop in sessions at various locations across the district. The final version of the pre-submission Local Plan and consultation details will be agreed at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 30 October.
The Local Plan and information on how to submit comments will be available at www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/localplanreview from Thursday 1 November.
The consultation will be the last chance for people to have their say before the council submits the Plan to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government who will appoint an independent planning inspector to examine the plan.