Local Plan Review - Publication Plan
Part A: Context and development strategy
What is the Local Plan?
1.1 All planning authorities are required to have a strategic plan which provides a framework for the future planning of their area. This is known as a Local Plan and it provides the blueprint for future development in the district. This plan has been prepared in line with the latest National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Planning Practice Guidance (PPG).
1.2 This Local Plan will replace the Core Strategy which was adopted in 2012 and accompanying Site Allocations Document (SAD) which was adopted in 2018 as the Local Plan for the district. The SAD committed us to review our Local Plan to respond to the increasing need for development, both within South Staffordshire and in our neighbouring authorities, and it helped frame some of the key issues that this Local Plan needs to consider. The plan period for this Local Plan will be 2018-2039, although national policy requires the plan to be reviewed in whole or part every five years.
The role of the new Local Plan
1.3 The new Local Plan sets out how much development is required in the district up until 2039 and allocates the sites required to deliver the identified level of development needed. This includes residential (including Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople accommodation) and employment uses. The Local Plan sets out the overall spatial strategy for growth and guides where development will in principle be supported and where it will be restricted.
1.4 The previous Local Plan (Core Strategy and SAD) looked forward to 2028 and includes a number of sites which are allocated but have not yet been developed; these allocations are carried forward to this plan where they are assessed as still suitable. There are also a number of Safeguarded Land sites. This is land that was removed from the Green Belt in the SAD and earmarked for future consideration to meet some of the development needs in this Local Plan. On top of this, additional sites are allocated through this plan in order to meet our development needs.
1.5 This Local Plan sets out policies to guide the determination of planning applications and cover a lot of the same issues as those in the previous Core Strategy, such as promoting sustainable development, protecting and providing open spaces, design quality and protecting and enhancing the natural and historic environment. However, consideration has been given to what changes have been made to national policy since the previous Local Plan and how we should respond to these locally.
1.6 It is important that we have an up-to-date Local Plan and enough land to meet our housing requirements for a rolling 5 year timeframe. Without this, South Staffordshire will be vulnerable to speculative planning applications, resulting in a piecemeal approach to new development and potentially sites that do not relate well to existing settlements.
The Local Plan in tackling Climate Change
1.7 Climate change has been recognised internationally as the most important environmental challenge that we face and has a direct impact on the council's activities and how we meet the needs of all residents in the district. The council has declared a climate emergency and following on from this has prepared a Climate Change Strategy that sets out our commitment to local action on climate change. One of the key strands of the council's Climate Change Strategy relates to our strategic planning responsibilities and sets out how we will use the planning system and the new Local Plan as a vehicle to encourage sustainable patterns of development, promote carbon resilient design, and protect the natural environment.
1.8 National planning policy is also placing much greater emphasis on the role of the planning system in tackling climate change with the latest NPPF (2021) placing climate change, and mitigating its impacts, front and centre when setting out what the presumption in favour of sustainable development means for plan making. In addition, the recently published National Model Design Guide makes it clear the use of natural features in scheme design can play a part in mitigating climate change. It is clear that the use of features such as tree lined streets can have multiple benefits, not only relating to climate change, but also improving the appearance and the ecological value of developments.
1.9 Given this, it is critical that the new Local Plan provides greater ambition and measures for mitigating and adapting to climate change than previous Local Plans. As a result, climate change measures are a consistent thread that will run through the plan. This goes beyond the more obvious climate change policies relating to renewable energy generation and energy efficiency measures for new buildings. The overall spatial strategy, in focusing greater levels of development in the larger villages and urban edge locations with greater access to facilities and public transport, thus reducing car dependency, is key to achieving sustainable development and tackling climate change. A plethora of other policies relating to open space provision, design (including a requirement for tree lined streets), parking standards (and a requirement for electric vehicle charging points), sustainable transport/active travel measures, biodiversity net gain, Green Belt compensatory measures and reducing flood risk will all play their part as a package of environmentally focused policies.
Will the new Local Plan affect me?
1.10 The Local Plan will result in new development, with the plan detailing how future development will be distributed across the district and on which sites. This is based on the evidence gathered, comments made to previous consultations, site assessments and the Sustainability Appraisal, land that is available and taking on board the requirements of national planning policy and guidance.
1.11 The changes that take place may affect you in a variety of ways. You may be able to see new homes or employment development near to where you live; new facilities may be provided close to you such as new shops, schools, or open spaces; new roads or cycle ways could be built to make journeys shorter or easier; and new employers may provide new job opportunities. Planning affects many aspects of our lives, and it is important that we get the balance right.
The plan making process
1.12 Preparation of the Local Plan has taken a number of years involving extensive public consultation with the key stages outlined in Table 1.
- Identification of main planning issues for the district.
- Development of Strategy Options
- Call for Sites
- Sustainability Appraisal (SA) Scoping Report
Issues and Options
- Public consultation on whether the correct issues were identified and potential strategies and policies to meet different development needs
- Additional Call for Sites
- Initial SA Report
Spatial Housing Strategy & Infrastructure Delivery Consultation
- Public consultation on strategic approach to new housing development, including broad locations but not specific sites
- SA of spatial growth options
Preferred Options Plan
- Public consultation on the Council's preferred options for sites and policy directions of travel
- Draft SA Report
- Sets out the final Local Plan for submission to the Secretary of State (SoS)/Government
- Public consultation on legal compliance and 'soundness'
- Final draft SA Report
Submission and Examination
- Local Plan submitted to Government (Planning Inspectorate) with all the comments received during the Publication Plan consultation
- Independent Examination carried out in public by a Planning Inspector
- Final SA Report
Estimated Winter 2023/24
- Council formally adopts Local Plan
- SA Adoption Statement
Monitoring and Review
- Each year, identified targets and planning applications are monitored to assess delivery of the Local Plan
Table 1: Stages of Plan-making
Issues and Options 2018
1.13 The Issues and Options in October 2018 was the first consultation on the new Local Plan. The council sought views on the appropriate level of growth to plan for and high-level scoping options for where new growth could be located. Development Management policy options covering issues such as affordable housing, climate change mitigation and sustainable transport were also consulted on, with the preferred policy options covering the different policy areas set out in Parts C-E of this document.
Spatial Housing Strategy and Infrastructure Delivery 2019
1.14 In October 2019 the Spatial Housing Strategy and Infrastructure Delivery (SHSID) consultation set out the council's preferred spatial strategy for distributing growth. This proposed a level of housing development that would meet South Staffordshire's housing needs plus a 4,000-home contribution towards unmet needs of the wider Greater Birmingham and Black Country Housing Market Area (GBBCHMA). The council's preferred spatial option for distributing growth was Option G – which proposed infrastructure-led development with a garden village area of search beyond the plan period. The preferred spatial option was not site specific and sought to focus growth on large strategic sites that would deliver new and improved infrastructure, including in areas near to the source of unmet housing needs in the Black Country; as well as limited growth in smaller villages to ensure the council's requirement for delivering 10% of homes on small sites is met. In addition, 6 reasonable alternative options for distributing growth were consulted on in the SHSID.
Preferred Options 2021
1.15 The Preferred Options was the third stage of public consultation, building upon previous consultations and taking on board all representations received in arriving at an amended infrastructure-led strategy. This consultation set out the proposed site allocations to meet the preferred strategy, and where known, detailed what additional infrastructure sites may require, or be able to realise. It also sought feedback on fully drafted Development Strategy and site-specific policies and set out our direction of travel for Development Management policies, such as the percentage of affordable housing required on future development sites and asked for views on these.
Publication Plan 2022
1.16 The Publication Plan is the final draft Local Plan that is consulted on prior to submission of the Local Plan to the Secretary of State for independent examination. This stage of Local Plan consultation is known as a Regulation 19 consultation and representations at this stage must focus on whether the plan meets the tests of soundness set out in the NPPF. This is the plan that will be submitted for independent examination.
1.17 This plan is accompanied by a policies map that replaces the previous policies map that accompanied the SAD 2018. The policies map is set on an Ordnance Survey background and illustrates geographically the policies in the plan. Included are a number of inset plans that focus on the areas and settlements that are the focus of growth. An interactive version of the policies map is available on the council's website.