Draft Local Plan Review

Ended on the 17 February 2017
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1. Introduction


1. At the heart of planning is the need to plan positively for sustainable development.  One of the principal ways this is achieved is by having a local plan to guide the development of an area.  Having a local plan is key to delivering sustainable development that reflects the vision and aspirations of local communities.  The aim is that local authorities should positively seek opportunities, through their local plan, to meet the development needs of their area.  The Council's local plan addresses the spatial implications of economic, social and environmental change that is happening to the Borough, both now and in the future.

2. The current local plan, the "Solihull Local Plan" (SLP), was adopted in December 2013 and covers the period 2011 to 2028.  Although it is a recently adopted plan, and is up-to-date in many respects, there are three reasons that have triggered the need for an early review of it.

3. Firstly, the successful legal challenge to the local plan post adoption means that the current Local Plan has no overall housing requirement for the Plan period. This makes it difficult to demonstrate that the Borough has a five-year housing land supply, as required by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

4. Secondly, the examination of the Birmingham Development Plan has made clear that the City Council is unable to meet its own housing need within its boundaries, and that the shortfall will have to be met elsewhere within the Housing Market Area (HMA) (or other nearby areas) such as Solihull.  The adopted Solihull Local Plan acknowledges that when work on housing needs identifies a need for further provision in the Borough, a review will be brought forward to address this[1].  This is the appropriate time for doing so.

5. Finally, the arrival of HS2 to the Borough, and in particular the Interchange station marks a significant shift from the SLP.  The UK Central Masterplan and Prospectus for a 'Garden City' approach to the High Speed 2 Interchange have set out the Council's ambitions for this part of the Borough. The Proposed Local Area Plan[2] for the High Speed 2 Interchange and Adjoining Area highlighted the need to review the Green Belt boundary to enable the Interchange Area to be allocated for development. An updated Local Plan addressing this matter is vital if the full potential of the High Speed 2 project is to be realised.

Scope, Issues and Options Consultation

6. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) makes clear that early and meaningful engagement and collaboration with residents, organisations and businesses is essential.  This engagement commenced with a consultation on the scope, issues and options to be considered as part of the local plan review.

7. The consultation[3] took place from November 2015 to January 2016 and sought to engage with all those who have an interest in shaping the future of the Borough.  It focussed on scoping the local plan review; the issues that the review will need to address; and an identification of broad options.

8. The representations[4] to this initial consultation have helped shape the review of the local plan and have been taken into account in producing this Draft Local Plan – the next stage in planning for the future of the Borough.

The Draft Local Plan

9. This is a draft plan that has been produced under Regulation 18 of the Town & Country Planning (Local Planning) Regulations 2012.  It sets out the Council's preferred option for accommodating managed growth in a sustainable manner.

10. As the SLP was relatively recently adopted (post NPPF), many of its policies remain up-to-date and relevant.  Whilst it is clear that some policies need fundamental changes as a result of the challenges now faced, others do not.  The earlier consultation sought views on the scope of the review, and whilst this remains a 'whole' plan review, the opportunity has been taken, where appropriate, to utilise existing policies, with amendments where necessary.  Therefore this plan follows the structure used for the 2013 plan in terms of the policy headings that are used.

How could it affect me?

11. The Local Plan will set out the future spatial strategy for the Borough and will include the allocation of sites to promote development.  It will also identify land where development would be inappropriate because of its impact on, for instance, environmental or historic assets; and it will also incorporate a strategy for enhancing the natural, built and historic environment.

12. It is likely that the plan will be of interest to a wide range of residents, businesses, groups and organisations living, working or investing in the Borough, and the Council wishes to encourage all those with an interest to comment on the matters raised in this document.

What will happen if we don't find more development sites?

13. The NPPF requires Local Plans to identify a supply of specific deliverable sites to meet the housing requirement for 5 years with a further supply of developable sites (or at least broad locations for them) for years 6-10 and, where possible, for years 11-15.  A Local Plan that does not meet this requirement could be found unsound through the examination process.

14. The lack of a demonstrable 5 year housing land supply increases the Borough's vulnerability to speculative housing proposals, and would lead to development and growth taking place in an unplanned manner.

Consultation dates

15. The Draft Local Plan will be open for consultation that will run from 5th December 2016 to 30th January 2016[5]. Throughout the document a series of questions are posed on key points.  For ease of reference all of the questions are also listed together in an appendix.

Next steps

16. Following the consultation, representations will be considered and the Council's response prepared and agreed. The results of the consultation will then be used, along with other evidence, to assist the Council in preparing the next stage of the plan making process – the publication of the 'submission' version of the plan, which is the plan the Council intends to submit to examination.

17. It is anticipated that the submission version[6] of the plan will be published in mid 2017 and that examination in public will take place later in the year.

Relationship to Other Plans

18. Once adopted, this plan will replace the Solihull Local Plan (Dec 2013), and its policies will no longer carry any weight.  However until that point is reached, the relevant policies in the SLP will continue to be applied as adopted development plan policy.  The weight that can be attached to the emerging plan will be dependent upon the stage it reaches; the extent of unresolved objections; and the degree of consistency with the NPPF.

19. The Gypsy and Traveller Site Allocations DPD was adopted in December 2014 and co-exists with the SLP.  This DPD will continue to be used to provide a framework for determining relevant applications and will also continue alongside the plan produced as a result of the current review process.

20. Presently there are no adopted neighbourhood plans in the Borough.  Any that are pursued in the short term will need to reflect the strategic policies of the SLP.  But once this plan review is adopted, it will take precedence and subsequent neighbourhood plans will need to reflect the strategic policies of the reviewed plan.

[1] See paragraphs 8.4.5 and 8.4.6.

[2] This was an area plan published in November 2014, following which the Council decided to plan for this area through a review of the local plan rather than pursue an area plan.

[5] This is 8 weeks, and whilst there is no statutory timescale for consultation at this stage, this period is based on the statutory minimum 6 weeks given for the submission stage of the plan, with an adjustment recognising that this consultation spans the Christmas period.

[6] Often referred to as the 'published' version of the plan, as prepared under regulation 19 of the plan making regulations, and is the version the Council intends to submit for examination.

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