Planning policy officers from Wyre Forest District Council are busy cataloguing and considering thousands of comments and suggestions from local people who took part in a major public consultation on future housing and regeneration of the district.
Around 2,000 people submitted over 4,800 different written comments and more than 1,800 attended special drop-in sessions held all over the district last July and August to give their views on Wyre Forest District Council’s proposed Local Plan Preferred Options document.
The Planning Policy team has been busy registering and considering the comments made during the consultation and will publish them as part of the preferred options submission later in the year.
For the preferred options proposed sites within Kidderminster town centre the council has currently received 88 objections and six comments in support.
For the Kidderminster Urban Extensions to the east of Kidderminster from the A451 Stourbridge Road to the A449 Worcester Road, the council has received 817 objections, with the greatest number being in relation to land at the rear of Spennells which had 458 objections. There were 16 representations of support across this range of sites.
The Lea Castle Hospital sites received 107 objections and 17 supporting representations.
There was also additional support for Lea Castle to be extended further and considered as a new urban village.
The council received 413 objections and 28 in support for the Stourport-on-Severn sites
For Bewdley there were 153 objections across the range of sites and 14 representations in support.
In the villages, rural areas and various smaller sites there were 118 objections and 3 representations in support.
There are still outstanding responses to be analysed and catalogued so final figures may vary from the snapshot at this present time.
The Government requires local authorities to have Local Plans that are based on up to date evidence and Wyre Forest District Council, amongst much technical analysis, is currently gathering information, carrying out transport modelling and finalising the Green Belt Review and Strategic Flood Risk Assessment.
A further update of the Objective Assessment of Housing Need will also be required once the government publishes its final standardised methodology and to account for new data releases. Once this work has been completed, along with the site selection and policy revision process, then there will be another public consultation before the plan is submitted to the Secretary of State for final approval.
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.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Marcus Hart said, “We were very grateful to every person and organisation that gave their views, attended events and submitted comments about the future of our district, both about future housing and economic growth.
“In an ideal world we would only ever look to develop on brownfield land, but we have reached a stage where there are not enough sites available to meet the demand for new homes needed over the next 20 years.
“It is vital we plan ahead and identify which sites are available for future development. Without it we will be unable to resist or defend indiscriminate applications from developers to build on green belt. Any decisions to release green belt land will be considered very carefully as will the consultation responses.”
Councillor Ian Hardiman, Wyre Forest District Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Regeneration said: “There will be further public consultation before the final document is submitted for the approval of the Secretary of State.”
Once all comments have been carefully analysed the next step will be for Cabinet to agree the next round of consultation, called the Pre-submission Consultation, which will take place in July and August this year.
Results from that second consultation will then be analysed in September and October before the council agrees its final submission to the Secretary of State in December. A public examination by an independent planning inspector will then be held early in 2019 with a view to the final plan being formally adopted in July 2019.
More information about the Local Plan including a detailed timetable is available at www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/localplanreview.