South Worcestershire Development Plan - Update February 2020
What is it?
The SWDP is the local planning document that controls planning in our area and covers Wychavon, Malvern and Worcester. It is a collaborative initiative between the three councils to ensure better planning in the south Worcestershire area. Government requires that the plan is reviewed every five years. The present review is due for adoption in late 2021 and will run until 2041 although it will be subject to review every five years.
What is happening now?
The three councils have been told that they need to provide another 14,000 houses by 2041. Earlier in the year there was a call for development sites to be proposed to the council which could be developed. The authority published a Preferred Options Discussion Document this week laying out their proposals to meet this target. A six week public consultation started last Monday.
What is being proposed?
The main thrust of the proposal is to create three new strategic developments. These are at Worcestershire Parkway ( Where the new station is being built), Rushwick and Throckmorton. It is planned that 2,000 houses may be built at Throckmorton by 2041 but it could be the centre for further development beyond that date. Altogether these sites will provide 8,000 of the required 14,000 houses. Smaller allocations are proposed at Droitwich (730), Evesham (210) and Pershore (600). Around 3000 houses will be built in Worcester or Malvern towns but at least 1,274 houses will be absorbed by the villages.
Which Villages will be chosen?
The villages have been categorised on the basis of the services they can provide. Category 1 - 3 villages will be the ones that will be expected to take the housing development. Flyford Flavell is a category 3 village. Which Villages will not be chosen? At the moment Grafton Flyford is a category 4 village as is Naunton Beachamp and Dormston. It is proposed to remove this category and deem these villages to be in the open countryside. North Piddle and Libbery are already in the open countryside. It is hoped to protect the open countryside from development.
What is included in the present review?
The present review is about the allocation of housing, employment and such things as protection of the environment. There is a separate review about infrastructure which will look at the implications for education, highways and health care and other requirements for the increased population. There will also be detailed development plans for the three strategic sites in due course. Until these are published it is difficult to say what the implications will be for us.
What has happened in our parishes?
Earlier in the year, 8 sites were put forward for development in our parishes. Most of these were in either Grafton Flyford or the open countryside. All these sites were appraised by the review team. All the site in Grafton Flyford and the open countryside have been discounted in the review. The only site that comes forward in the preferred options proposal is a site at Meadowcroft on Bishampton Lane, Flyford Flavell where an allocation for 12 houses has been made.
What does that mean for us?
It is difficult to say with any certainty as the plan is subject to review every five years even though it is supposed to run to 2041. The government set the methodology for calculating the housing numbers and can change its mind any time as it has done over the past ten years. However, if the strategy is accepted it is envisaged that the main sites at Worcester Parkway and Throckmorton will continue to expand and take the main thrust of development for the foreseeable future. The plan also requires about 1,200 houses to be found on windfall sites. These are small scale developments like houses in back gardens and agricultural dwellings. There is also a possibility that the development boundary around Flyford Flavell will be redrawn to expand the development possibilities in a later plan. However, in the short term it would appear that there is very little likelihood of any development within our parishes except within the present development boundary of Flyford Flavell.
Will there definitely be development in Flyford Flavell
Just because a site has been proposed at this stage does not mean that it will be given planning permission. The preferred options review is now subject to public consultation. Once that is complete the plan will be firmed up and a full plan will be published in September next year. There will be another public consultation in about a year’s time and then the proposed new plan will be sent to a government inspector for scrutiny. Last time that process took over a year but the review team at the moment are suggesting this plan will be approved sometime in late 2021. It would be premature for any planning application to be made in Flyford before then. There have been several planning applications on the land at Meadowcroft over the past few years and the parish council have responded accordingly. Should there be a further planning application on the site in the future the parish council will look at the merits of the proposals at that time. Because a site has progressed to the strategic plan does not automatically mean that it will gain planning consent. It still has to pass all the usual tests.
What is the Parish Council doing?
The parish council will respond to the public consultation on behalf of the residents. This was a major topic of debate at the parish council meeting on 26th November. There is a pause in the process now while the authorities absorb the comments but there will be a further review in September or October 2020.