Councillors to consider bold plan for South Worcestershire’s future

 A key planning document that will shape the way South Worcestershire develops over the next 20 years is set to be considered by councillors.

The Review of the existing South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) sets out Worcester City, Malvern Hills District and Wychavon District Councils' vision for the area up to 2041.

It includes a government target for an extra 11,000 new homes as well as policies that will support business growth, rural communities and the fight against climate change. This is on top of the 28,400 already planned for up to 2030 in the current SWDP, the majority of which have already been built.

High-quality design and sustainability are at the heart of the plan, which councillors on all three councils will be asked to approve for public consultation.

Most of the new housing will be provided through new settlements, known as strategic sites. These will be located close to existing or new railway links. Clear layout plans will be produced for each area. Providing new greenspaces will also be a key part of the Plan.

Development will be completed in phases over time and developers will be asked for payments to support, and where necessary, deliver local infrastructure.

The strategic sites are as follows:

  • Up to 2041, 5,000 new homes will be built at Worcestershire Parkway with up to 40% affordable housing and 50 hectares of employment land. Another 5,000 homes are planned after 2041. The settlement will be carbon neutral with renewable energy providing the development's energy needs. The focus will be on making sure residents' needs are met nearer to where they live including a new town centre, schools, local neighbourhood centres and community facilities. Together with investment in walking and cycling infrastructure it will promote sustainability and reduced car use.

  • At Throckmorton, a carbon neutral settlement of 2,000 homes with 40% affordable housing and 20 hectares of employment land will be created by 2041. In the second phase after 2041, another 3,000 new homes are planned, as well as 40 hectares of employment land. Again, the focus will be on sustainability with a town centre, schools and community facilities part of the proposals. New infrastructure will include direct walking and cycling links to Pershore Railway Station, which will also be enhanced.

  • At Rushwick 1,000 new homes are planned as well as five hectares of employment land, a new railway station, primary school, retail and other supporting services including a new or improved village hall, community park, allotments and orchards. Up to 40% of the housing will be affordable and no development will be allowed before land necessary to allow the railway station to be built and other critical infrastructure has been secured.

  • Land near Mitton close to Bredon and next to Tewkesbury Town, has also been identified to provide 1,000 new homes, 500 of which will be to meet neighbouring Tewkesbury Borough Council's housing need. This agreement is part of the legal Duty to Cooperate which requires councils to support each other's strategic planning needs. A new primary school, community facilities and walking and cycling links are included in the proposal.

Smaller sites have also been identified for new housing in each area during the plan period. In Worcester City 866 new homes are planned, 594 in Malvern, 10 in Tenbury and 376 in parishes across the Malvern Hills District. In Wychavon 916 new homes have been allocated to Droitwich Spa, 255 in Evesham, 212 in Pershore and 1,069 in parishes across the district.

As well as housing, the new Plan provides 290 hectares of new employment land to support business growth, strengthened protections to prevent development on the Green Belt and 179 hectares of new open green space for people to enjoy.

There are also a raft of new policies supporting each councils' efforts to tackle climate change. These include:

  • Developments must be designed to minimise car use
  • Developers must provide the infrastructure for charging electric vehicles in each new home
  • Sustainable materials and construction techniques must be used
  • At least 20% of predicted energy use by a development must come from renewable or low carbon energy sources
  • Sites for new solar farms have been identified

The new Plan has been produced following extensive engagement with experts providing technical advice, as well as feedback from consultations earlier in the process. This has been overseen by a joint panel of councillors from the three local authorities.

The completed draft document will now be considered by each council and if approved, will go out to public consultation for six weeks from the start of November. The public will be able to submit comments on the Plan once the consultation opens.

The Plan will then be submitted to the Secretary of State for scrutiny by the Planning Inspectorate, through a process called Examination which is expected to take place during 2023.

Worcester City's Place and Economic Development Committee will be the first to consider the Plan and the consultation process at a meeting on 3 October. The document will need to be approved by all three councils at meetings in Worcester City on 17 October, Malvern Hills District Council on 18 October and Wychavon on 19 October.

Cllr David Harrison, Chairman of the South Worcestershire Development Plan Joint Advisory Panel, said: "The Plan publication consultation is an important milestone in the process of getting the revised SWDP formally adopted and is the culmination of a huge amount of technical work and consultation already undertaken over the last few years.
"The Plan contains a series of bold proposals and policies with sustainability and high-quality design at its core. I look forward to hearing councillors debate the Plan across all three South Worcestershire councils, and hopefully we can agree to start the public consultation in November."

Read SWDPR Plan and report to be considered by councillors.

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