Solihull Local Plan (Draft Submission) 2020

Ended on the 14th December 2020
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(33) Challenges

  1. To help shape the policies in the local plan it is helpful to identify the challenges the Borough faces and what the objectives should be in addressing these challenges. This helps to ensure that the plans policies are justified and that they will play a part in meeting these objectives.
  2. Whilst the challenges identified in the Issues and Options consultation were based on the 2013 SLP, the subsequent consultations have enabled these challenges to be shaped and updated through this process to ensure they are up-to-date and appropriate. The challenges are not set out in any priority order.

A. Mitigating and adapting to Climate Change
B. Meeting housing needs across the Borough, including the Borough's own needs and, where possible, assisting with accommodating the HMA (Housing Market Area) wide shortfall.
C. Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work and invest in Solihull
D. Securing sustainable economic growth
E. Protecting key gaps between urban areas and settlements
F. Reducing inequalities in the Borough
G. To maintain a supply of Gypsy and Traveller sites and pitches.
H. Increasing accessibility and encouraging sustainable travel
I. Providing sufficient waste management facilities and providing for sand and gravel aggregates
J. Improving health and well being
K. Protecting and enhancing our natural assets
L. Improving water quality and flood risk
M. Maximising the economic and social benefits of the High Speed 2 rail link and Interchange
N. Mitigating the impacts of High Speed 2 and the growth associated with the Interchange area
O. Providing infrastructure and securing developer contributions.

Challenge A – Mitigating and adapting to Climate Change

  • To reduce the higher than average greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Low potential for wind and biomass.
  • To reduce the high level of emissions from transport.
  • Traffic growth generated from new housing and employment growth across the Borough
  • Rise in emissions from increased flights and passenger travel to and from Birmingham Airport
  • Risk to health of older people and those in fuel poverty in poorly insulated homes.
  • Risk of increased surface water flooding in urban areas.
  • Urban heating and adverse impact on air quality.
  • Retrofitting of existing buildings.
  • Increased risk of disease
  • Impact on biodiversity conservation and landscape character.

Objectives

  • To address the Council's Climate Change declaration of October 2019
  • Reduce the Borough's net carbon emissions, and make a full contribution to the national, sub-regional and local targets for reduction – including to be at net-zero emissions by 2041.
  • Provision of low carbon infrastructure (Green Gas, local Power networks, EV charging)
  • Promote decentralised energy and heating networks within the Mature Suburbs and North Solihull area, and the generation of energy from on-site renewable sources.
  • Support the implementation of 'Solihull Connected' and increase mode shift to public transport and active travel by ensuring that new development is located in areas of high accessibility or potential high accessibility.
  • Implement measures, such as integrated green infrastructure, to improve resilience of existing and new developments to the impacts of climate change.
  • Implement measures to improve the alternatives to car travel.
  • Promote public transport access to Birmingham International station and low carbon surface movement strategy to the Airport

Challenge B - Meeting housing needs across the Borough, including the Borough's own needs and, where possible, assisting with accommodating the HMA wide shortfall

  • Meeting the Borough's housing needs without adversely affecting the quality of its environment and its attractiveness for businesses and residents.
  • Accommodating some of the HMA wide housing shortfall without adversely affecting the quality of its environment and its attractiveness for businesses and residents
  • Ensuring a supply of housing is available throughout the plan period, especially in the early period.
  • A shortage of affordable housing, particularly for rent and first time buyers, in all areas of the Borough but especially the Mature Suburbs and the Rural Areas of the Borough.
  • A need to widen the housing offer to ensure the provision of an appropriate range of market housing and encourage affordable routes to home ownership.
  • A need for a range of affordable housing for older people and for people with learning, physical and sensory disabilities and mental health needs.
  • A need to address legal obligations for self and custom house building.
  • Consider intervention in the market to provide more affordable housing

Objectives

  • To ensure that the full objectively assessed housing need for the Borough is met for the plan period consistent with the achievement of sustainable development and the other objectives of the Plan.
  • To ensure that provision is made for an appropriate proportion of the HMA shortfall in new housing land consistent with the achievement of sustainable development and the other objectives of the Plan.
  • To help newly forming households and young people to get on the housing ladder through the development of more open market 'starter homes' and shared ownership.
  • Maximise the provision of affordable housing; ensuring the provision of an appropriate mix, type and tenure of housing on sites in a range of locations which meet the needs of Solihull residents, particularly needs for affordable housing, including social rented, low cost home ownership and supported housing, on a Borough wide basis.
  • Maximise the supply of affordable housing including delivering more affordable housing through windfall development and prioritising locations for development that will best contribute to building sustainable, linked, mixed use and balanced communities.
  • Widen the range of options for older people and for people with learning, physical and sensory disabilities and mental health needs through the provision of accommodation which is designed to meet these diverse needs.
  • To provide opportunities for self and custom build as signalled through Solihull's Self and Custom House Building Register.

Challenge C - Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work, visit and invest in Solihull

  • Accommodating additional development, whilst:
  • Continuing to improve the quality of the environment in the North Solihull area and in areas of deprivation in the Mature Suburbs;
  • Conserving the qualities of the Mature Suburbs, rural settlements and characteristics of the wider rural area that make those places attractive areas to live;
  • Delivering the necessary infrastructure to promote sustainability of settlements
  • Ensuring there is sufficient amenity space and opportunities for secure children's play;
  • Providing healthy places which include opportunities for cycling and walking
  • Ensuring that residential and other amenities are protected.
  • To ensure that development maintains and enhances the Borough's sense of place so that people will visit and invest in Solihull.
  • Maintain Solihull's role in providing a green lung for the wider area.

Objectives

  • Ensure high quality design and development which integrates with its surroundings and creates safer, inclusive, adaptable and sustainable places which make a positive contribution to the Borough's sense of place, attractiveness and to people's quality of life.
  • Conserve and enhance the qualities of the built, natural and historic environment that contribute to character and local distinctiveness and the attractiveness of the mature residential suburbs and the rural area.
  • Ensure development does not have an adverse impact on residential and other amenities, and where that impact is unavoidable, to incorporate satisfactory mitigation.
  • Promote the sustainability of the rural areas through infrastructure investment, including broadband.
  • Widen the range of options for older people and those with disabilities through provision of accommodation which is designed to meet these diverse needs.
  • Provide cycle ways and wildlife to provide sustainable connectivity between communities, transport hubs and public open spaces.
  • Enhance the Borough's cultural & visitor attractions.
  • Maximise the potential of the 2022 Commonwealth Games to encourage visitors to Solihull

Challenge D - Securing sustainable and inclusive economic growth

Key Economic Assets

  • Maintaining Solihull's important regional and sub-regional role.
  • Meeting aspirations of key businesses to enable them to maintain competitiveness (Birmingham Airport, National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham Business Park, Blythe Valley Park, Jaguar Land Rover) whilst contributing to sustainable development.
  • Retaining and developing a high skilled workforce.
  • Provide a range of housing to attract inward investment
  • Provide a natural landscape that is attractive for relocation of business
  • Impact of congestion on motorways, the strategic highway network and rail from additional growth/housing.
  • Impact of pressure for development on the quality of the environment.
  • Need to provide opportunities around workplaces for healthy and active lifestyles.
  • Need for high speed digital connectivity to enhance competitiveness.
  • Need to ensure that the "urbs in rure" is preserved in Solihull to drive inward investment into the West Midlands.

Solihull Town Centre

  • Widening the range of uses and activities to maintain and enhance attractiveness whilst providing for a greater range of needs.
  • Impact of congestion.
  • Maintaining the attractiveness of the Town Centre's historic core and parkland setting.
  • Allow for restructuring post COVID and the new economic landscape

Shirley Town Centre

  • Pressure from out of centre retail development.
  • Poor quality shopping environment.
  • Impact of high level of through traffic and congestion.
  • Allow for restructure post COVID

Chelmsley Wood Town Centre

  • Dated in appearance and in need of environmental improvements.
  • Broader diversity of uses needed to improve attraction to shoppers.
  • Maintain its local importance.
  • Allow for restructure post COVID

Objectives

  • Maximise the capacity and benefits of the recently extended runway at Birmingham airport, including through enhancing the passenger experience.
  • Support the continued success of other key economic and employment assets such as National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham and Blythe Valley Business Parks and Jaguar Land Rover whilst maintaining the quality of the environment and managing congestion.
  • Support smaller businesses and employers in the Borough.
  • Support the continued success of Solihull Town Centre whilst maintaining the quality of its environment and managing congestion.
  • Encourage investment into Shirley and Chelmsley Wood Town Centres to improve competitiveness and the shopping environment and support long term sustainability.
  • Revitalising town and local centres to meet the emerging challenges of Post COVID Britain, including their role as destinations for retail and leisure.

Challenge E - Protecting key gaps between urban areas and settlements

  • Maintaining the integrity of the Green Belt and the Borough's attractive rural setting that helps to attract investment, in the context of the significant pressures on agriculture and for development to meet the housing requirements for Solihull including the local and wider Housing Market Area needs.

Objectives

  • Maintain the Green Belt and improve the network of green infrastructure in Solihull, to prevent unrestricted expansion of the major urban area, to safeguard the key gaps between settlements such as the Meriden Gap and the countryside.
  • Ensure that the countryside is managed so as to deliver a range of benefits including the growing of food and energy products, create an attractive rural setting and improved public access and recreational opportunities.

Challenge F – Reducing inequalities in the Borough

North Solihull

  • Significant levels of deprivation with higher levels of crime, fear of crime and worklessness than the Borough average.
  • Poor public transport links with the south of the Borough, employment areas and poor access by walking and cycling to local services and facilities and economic assets.
  • Inadequate supply of business premises, particularly space for small and medium size enterprises.
  • Skills / qualifications gap and low educational attainment.
  • Poor quality urban environment (including main retail centre), green space and public realm, lack of variety of tenures, lack of market and affordable housing.
  • Poor health, significantly lower life expectancy with a significant gap between the best and the worst wards in the Borough.

Other areas of the Borough

  • Pockets of deprivation in the Mature Suburbs and Rural Area: low incomes, unemployment and poor health in parts of Bickenhill, Elmdon, Lyndon, Olton and Shirley.
  • Problems of access to housing and local services, particularly in some rural areas.
  • Increasing obesity Borough wide, of particular concern amongst children.
  • Pockets of anti-social behaviour crime around the Borough.

Objective

  • Close the gap of inequality between the most and least affluent wards in Solihull, particularly reducing the inequalities that exist between North Solihull and the rest of the Borough.

Challenge G - Maintaining a supply of Gypsy and Traveller sites and pitches

  • The need to maintain an appropriate level of supply of authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites and pitches in Solihull.
  • Avoiding the establishment of unauthorised developments and encampments.

Objective

  • To ensure adequate provision of authorised pitches to meet the identified accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers in the Borough.
  • Reduce the number of unauthorised developments and encampments and enable Gypsies and Travellers to access the services and facilities to meet their needs, whilst respecting the interests of the settled community.

Challenge H - Increasing accessibility and encouraging sustainable travel

  • Difficulties of access to services, facilities and employment leading to social exclusion, in the North Solihull area and for young and elderly in rural areas.
  • High car use in the Mature Suburbs and often this is the only form of available transport in rural parts of the Borough.
  • Ensuring that expected levels of population growth as well as delivery of HS2 and UK Central do not compound existing levels of peak hour congestion on the principal road network
  • Public transport journey times and poor reliability can discourage modal-shift.
  • Poor pedestrian and cycle connectivity between communities and retail and employment centres.
  • Physical, behavioural and perceptual barriers to more sustainable forms of transport, most notably cycling and bus.
  • Poor north-south public transport links.
  • Poor cross-Borough transport links to key destinations such as Birmingham Airport and lack of direct public transport link to University of Warwick
  • Managing transport demand and access to Solihull Town Centre
  • High number of journeys to school and college by private car
  • A new approach is needed to access to Solihull central business district.
  • More journeys to school and college taken by sustainable modes of travel.
  • More developments in areas with good public transport access and of sufficient density to support the long term viability of public transport provision.

Objective

  • Improve accessibility and ease of movement for all users to services, facilities, jobs and green infrastructure, including the rural area.
  • Reduce the need to travel.
  • Manage transport demand and reduce car reliance.
  • Enable and increase the modal share of all forms of sustainable transport, including the ability to use different modes (eg train & cycle) for one journey.
  • De-couple economic growth and increase in car use.
  • Concentrate development in areas with high existing, or potential for improved public transport access, and of critical mass to support the long term viability of public transport provision.
  • Increase the amount of EV charging points

Challenge I - Providing sufficient waste management facilities and providing for sand and gravel aggregates

  • Providing sufficient waste management facilities to meet an equivalent tonnage to the waste arising in the Borough.
  • To encourage developers to have a waste strategy and the construction to minimise the carbon impact
  • Providing for sand and gravel production to meet national and local targets, in the context of limited resources elsewhere in the sub-region.

Objectives

  • To promote the management of waste arising in the Borough further up the waste hierarchy and its treatment as a resource to be used wherever possible.
  • To address the identified needs for waste management in the Borough.
  • To provide for primary sand and gravel resources within the Borough to meet Solihull's contribution to the requirement identified in the West Midlands Metropolitan Area Local Aggregates Assessment, including the maintenance of a minimum 7 year landbank, whilst ensuring that provision is made to encourage the use of secondary and recycled aggregates, that sand and gravel resources are safeguarded from possible sterilisation by non-mineral development, and that environmental, restoration and aftercare criteria are met.

Challenge J - Improving health and wellbeing for everyone

  • Significant health inequalities in the Borough, particularly between North Solihull and the rest of the Borough.
  • Incidence of unhealthy lifestyles and behaviours, particularly in young people; an ageing older population, and the need to improve the physical and mental health and wellbeing of those who visit, work and live in Solihull, in accordance with the Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

Objective

  • Promote development that contributes to a healthy and safe population by providing for opportunities to enable people to pursue an active lifestyle, increase participation in physical activity including play, sport and recreation and make healthier choices.
  • Meet local housing and employment needs whilst facilitating the provision of appropriate health care services to create healthier safer communities.
  • Ensure development promotes positive outcomes for physical and mental health and wellbeing through its location, layout and design, inclusion of appropriate levels of open space, sporting facilities, safe cycling routes and the protection and improvement of air quality.

Challenge K - Protecting and enhancing our natural assets

  • Decline in the quantity, quality and connectivity of biodiversity and ecological networks across the Borough, including sites of national importance such as the River Blythe, loss of sites of local importance, and fragmentation of habitats.
  • Degrading of the historic Arden landscape character in parts of the Borough.
  • Managing the growth agenda so that ecosystem services provided by natural assets are not harmed and thus undermine the Borough's capacity for growth.
  • Facilitating the planting of 250,000 trees by 2030

Objectives

  • Increase and enhance Solihull's natural environment
  • Promote an ecosystem approach to biodiversity conservation aimed at:
  • Halting and reversing decline and loss by conserving, enhancing and increasing the cover and connectivity of biodiversity and habitats of value. Contributing to local and sub-regional initiatives to improve the natural environment, such as Nature Recovery Networks and the Natural Capital Investment Strategy
  • Integrate green infrastructure and biodiversity net gain within development and avert fragmentation with the wider ecological network
  • Reviewing and updating biodiversity information and the network of local wildlife and geological sites.
  • Addressing gaps in the strategic ecological network to support wildlife and green infrastructure.
  • Promote a landscape scale approach to protecting and restoring the landscape of the Borough and its characteristic features.

Challenge L – Improving water quality and flood risk

  • Poor or moderate quality of the Borough's main water bodies, the Rivers Blythe and Cole and their tributaries, and increasing risk of flooding associated with new development.

Objectives

  • To contribute towards improving the quality of the water environment by ensuring that the Plan's policies and land allocations help to protect and improve the quality of the main water bodies in the Borough.
  • To minimise the risk of flooding by avoiding development in high risk areas wherever possible, by applying the flood risk sequential test reducing flows to rivers by restricting surface water discharge rates during periods of high intensity rainfall, and ensuring that new development is designed so as to minimise surface water flooding risks.

Challenge M - Maximising the economic and social benefits of the High Speed 2 rail link and the UKC Hub Area

  • Securing amendment to the HS2 proposal for a Parkway style interchange station with surface car parking, which could undermine efforts to maximise the economic and social benefits of the rail link.
  • Creating a sense of place and arrival via a well-connected and integrated interchange, public realm and development opportunities that help support the HS2 Growth Strategy aspirations for employment, skills, environment and infrastructure.
  • Ensuring appropriate infrastructure is in place that allows the Interchange to be well connected to the nearby key economic assets, including Birmingham Airport, the NEC, local universities and the wider Hub area so that they (and others) can take advantage of the opportunity provided by HS2.

Objectives

  • To provide an appropriate planning framework so as to ensure that the potential economic and social benefits of growth enabled by the HS2 rail link and interchange station are delivered.
  • That the Hub becomes globally renowned as the best connected business, leisure and entertainment destination in Europe and a major driver of the UK economy.
  • Creation of a sense of place that draws upon a modern interpretation of 'garden village' principles.
  • Ensuring that the HS2 Interchange prioritises access by bus, cycle, Metro, SPRINT bus rapid transit network, or the Coventry Ultra-Light Rail system rather than the private car.
  • Promote cross-boundary connectivity to HS2 from the wider sub-region and key destinations to maximise opportunities for the Midlands Engine for Growth and reduce the need to travel by car.

Challenge N - Mitigating the impacts of High Speed 2 and the growth associated with the UKC Hub area

  • Impact of construction works on the HS2 rail link and interchange station on the environment, communities and transport network, and subsequently during the operational phase.
  • Significant infrastructure requirements associated with the rail link and interchange.
  • Impact of the associated economic and housing growth on the Borough's transport network, communities, environment and its Green Belt.

Objectives

  • To maximise the opportunities of HS2
  • Develop a strategy to mitigate the impacts of increased road traffic to/from Birmingham Interchange including public transport provision, junction schemes and environmental measures required.
  • To make efficient use of land at the Interchange site by utilising decked car park options in lieu of extensive surface level parking.

Challenge O – Providing infrastructure and securing developer contributions

  • Providing sufficient and appropriate physical, social and green infrastructure to support inclusive growth for new and existing communities

Objectives

  • Set out strategic and local infrastructure needs in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan.
  • Work with stakeholders and partners in infrastructure delivery, including Transport for West Midlands, the CCG and NHS Estates, utility providers, statutory bodies and neighbouring authorities.
  • Allocate funding from developer contributions in the annual Infrastructure Funding Statement to enable timely delivery of infrastructure to support development and growth objectives.
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