Decision on land off M54 junction 3 to be taken in May
A decision on whether land off junction 3 of the M54 should be included in Shropshire Council’s Local Plan to help meet the Black Country’s housing need will now be taken by the council’s Cabinet at its meeting in May .
On 12 February Cabinet will be asked to consider an update to the forward programme for the preparation of the Local Plan Review, including a small alteration to the current programme – and will propose that the council now publishes a full draft of its Local Plan (regulation 19 stage) in May 2020 for Cabinet’s consideration.
The proposed alteration to the programme is to ensure the Local Plan has an opportunity to respond effectively to the council’s emerging Climate Emergency Draft Strategy and to ensure other supporting evidence base documentation is in place.
This means that the report to Cabinet in February will not include any further consideration of development options, and won’t ask councillors to decide if land at junction 3 of the M54 should be included as a preferred development site in the Plan. In May Cabinet will be asked to agree that a consultation is carried out into a full version of the Local Plan – and to agree whether land at junction 3 should be included in this consultation.
As part of the Local Plan review a consultation into strategic development sites was carried out in summer 2019. The consultation proposed sites at the former Ironbridge Power Station, Buildwas; Clive Barracks at Tern Hill; and RAF Cosford, but proposals for a strategic employment site, housing and related community services north of Junction 3 of the M54 haven’t been supported as a preferred development site.
Robert Macey, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for housing and strategic planning, said:
“Shropshire Council is aware that the Local Plan review is of importance for the whole of Shropshire and is taking the necessary time to enable the council to come forward with a full plan for public consultation that is reflective of the needs and aspirations of the county.
For clarity – on an issue which has been of significant public attention since the last round of consultation – we had hoped we’d be in a position to make a robust decision on accepting unmet need from the Black Country this month. In light of further recent evidence published by the Black Country Authorities regarding their ability to meet their own housing and employment needs, we feel it’s appropriate to allow sufficient time to give full consideration to this evidence, and to frame this important decision within the context of the wider Local Plan considerations.
“Therefore, it’s proposed that a decision on Shropshire Council’s position on its response to any unmet housing and employment need from the Black Country Authorities, upon which there is an acceptance that proposed land at Junction 3’s inclusion in the local plan is predicated, should be taken at the same time as the rest of the Local Plan in May 2020, rather than in isolation. These decisions would be made prior to any public consultation of the full version of the plan.”
Junction 3 of the M54
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.
The Local Plan Review
Shropshire Council is undertaking a partial review of the local plan for the period 2016 to 2036.
The review includes consideration of housing requirements (including objectively assessed need), employment land requirements, the distribution of development and a review of green belt boundaries, as part of the consideration of strategic options to deliver new development.
The purpose of the review is to update certain elements of the plan, and to ensure that we can respond flexibly to changing circumstances in line with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
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.