04/06/2019 - Permalink

Cabinet asked to approve Local Plan strategic sites consultation

Related topics: Planning

The Ironbridge Power Station site

Shropshire Council’s Cabinet will next week (12 June 2019) be asked to approve a public consultation on a number of strategic development sites.

The consultation would run for a total of 10 weeks between July and September 2019.

The consultation responses would be used to inform the next stages of the Local Plan review with formal consultation on a full ‘pre-submission’ version of the revised Local Plan now expected in spring 2020. Shropshire Council expects to formally submit the Local Plan, together with any formal objections, for examination by the Planning Inspectorate in June 2020.

Strategic sites are large sites of more than 25ha in size, which are not associated with meeting the growth needs of any particular settlement but which will contribute to achieving the aspirations of the Economic Growth Strategy for Shropshire.

The draft consultation document proposes that there is sufficient evidence and justification for Shropshire Council to give positive preference for the allocation through the ongoing Local Plan Review of strategic development sites at:

  • The former Ironbridge Power Station, Buildwas;
  • Clive Barracks at Tern Hill; and
  • RAF Cosford.

At this stage proposals for a strategic employment site, housing and related community services north of Junction 3 of the M54 have not been supported as a preferred development site. It’s considered that further evidence and justification is required before determining whether this site could be identified as suitable in principle for development.

Instead, the draft consultation document seeks comments on:

a. The potential benefits of the proposed development;
b. The issues and impacts which might be generated; and
c. Ways in which these might be mitigated or addressed.

Robert Macey, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for and housing and strategic planning, said:

“The current Local Plan review is designed to help ensure that the Local Plan will remain the starting point and platform for planning decisions during the period to 2036. The council’s preferred sites to deliver Shropshire’s housing requirements were published for public consultation in October 2018. However, whilst these requirements can mainly be met from sites within existing settlements, a small number of larger mixed-use strategic sites are also being promoted in the county.

“These three strategic sites would generate new investment in employment, increasing the number but also the quality of jobs locally, and provide additional housing, improved infrastructure and local services.

“At this stage it is considered that further evidence and justification is required to enable the site at Junction 3 of the M54 to be preferred for development.

“However, we would still consult on all four options. If the Junction 3 proposal is proposed as a preferred option for development at the pre-submission draft stage of the plan preparation process, this would be subject to further consultation at that time.”

Shropshire Council previously consulted on preferred sites to meet its development needs between October 2018 and January 2019.

Around 3,600 unique responses were received to that consultation. An objective analysis of these responses was commissioned from consultants and has identified a range of key issues including:

  • Windfall sites;
  • The release of land from the Green Belt;
  • The need for a glossary of technical terms;
  • Local infrastructure capacity; and
  • The urgent need for affordable housing.

This analysis, which will include more detailed comments on specific settlements, will be made available on the council’s Planning Policy web pages during the consultation period.

At their meeting on 12 June Cabinet will also be asked to approve an updated timetable for undertaking the Local Plan Review which reflects the scale and nature of the proposals now being considered and the volume of feedback received during the last round of consultation. This is documented within a revised Local Development Scheme which covers the period from 2019 to 2022, and is an appendix to the Cabinet report.

Further information

1. Any release of land near Junction 3 of the M54 would be to help deliver cross-boundary needs from the Black Country. The alternative options available to meet this need, including through Green Belt release within the Black Country and nearby authorities, are currently being investigated by the Black Country Authorities, who will publish their findings as part of the evidence base for the review of the Black Country Core Strategy. The findings of these studies will provide essential evidence to inform any decision about whether the release of land at Junction 3 from the Green Belt is justifiable.

2. If the consultation is agreed by Cabinet:

  • Consultation documents will be made available on the Shropshire Council web-site, and paper copies will be provided at libraries and council offices in the main towns.
  • A significant number of organisations and individuals who have already registered with the council will be notified directly of the publication of the consultation documents by email.
  • Officers expect to continue to engage directly with individual parish councils and town councils during the consultation period to help them to explore the implications of the proposed approach in their local context.
  • Electronic responses will be encouraged, to reduce printing and distribution costs and to reduce the time spent collating and analysing paper responses.