What a Local Plan contains
A Local Plan is one of the key influences on sustainability and quality of life in an an area. It sets out where homes, factories, offices and other places of employment are going to be allowed to be built in future. It also contains policies about how development proposals are expected to protect the built and natural environment, contribute to climate change objectives and help to promote economic and social well-being. Main “strategic” policies are expected to be robust enough to apply for at least 15 years after they come into force. Detailed policies about managing development are expected to be reviewed regularly.
The policies are written statements of the rules the Council will generally follow when taking decisions about whether to grant permission for development. Some of these policies apply in particular areas, and there are maps which show the details.
How the plan’s being developed
Shropshire Council has been drafting an update to its Local Plan since 2016. The update includes reviewing both the strategic policies (set by the Core Strategy in 2011) and the detailed development management policies which were adopted in Shropshire’s SAMDev Plan in 2015. There have been consultations on detailed aspects of what should be included the plan before, but now the first full version has been published. Some of the proposals have been highly controversial and progress has been slow. It was originally intended that a new plan covering the period up to 2036 would have been formally “adopted” by Spring of this year. The plan is still about 2 years away from formal adoption and the period it covers has now been extended to 2038.
The Council originally intended launching a restricted consultation about the “soundness” of the whole plan this Summer. That approach attracted criticism that some of the more detailed aspects should be open to consultation. Its Cabinet accepted the need for a broader consultation and that has now been launched. After the consultation closes the proposals will be updated if needed and a formal “pre-submission” draft produced. The plan is expected to be adopted in 2022, after a further public consultation on its soundness and an examination by the Planning Inspectorate.
What’s proposed in South East Shropshire
Across the County, it’s intended to build 30,800 new homes over 22 years. This is around 20% more than is calculated as needed to meet government requirements, and includes 1,500 homes to meet demand which the Black Country authorities say they will be unable to fulfill. 300 Hectares of land is being allocated for employment use. Development will be focussed on Shrewsbury and the market towns, and the Council is aiming to balance housing and employment development in those areas. Here’s a summary of the proposals for the main centres in South East Shropshire:
It’s been widely publicised that there was a proposal to take an area of land North of the M54 at Junction 3 (A41) out of the Green Belt to build a large planned settlement. Shropshire Council do not currently support this proposal and it isn’t included in the draft plan. It is proposed to change the Green Belt boundaries around Cosford, Albrighton, Shifnal, Stanmore Industrial Estate near Bridgnorth, and Alveley.
Where to get information
The consultation is mainly being carried out online. Paper copies of the documents will be available in some libraries, and at Shirehall in Shrewsbury, but with Covid 19 precautions in place you may need to book and wear a face covering and gloves when inspecting documents. You can see the full set of documents and the Council’s information on how to respond on their website here: https://shropshire.gov.uk/get-involved/reg-18-pre-submission-draft-local-plan-consultation/
Perhaps the easiest way to see where building is proposed to be allowed in your area (and where it won’t be) is to look at the interactive online map. There’s also an interactive online map of all of the sites which have been considered for inclusion in the plan, so you can see what the alternatives might be.
How to comment
The full draft plan has been published as one document which is 342 pages long! It’s also accompanied by separate documents setting out a Sustainability Appraisal, a Habitats Regulations Assessment and an Equality and Social Inclusion Assessment. You don’t have to read all of the documents to comment, but you can give your views on any aspect of them or the proposal maps. There are response forms and you can submit as many as you wish to make separate comments on a number of the proposals.
The draft plan document is organised into these sections so if you wish you can go straight to the portions which interest you and comment on those (there’s an index at the front of the document):
- Introduction – 5 pages
- Strategic policies – 44 pages
- Development Management policies – 98 pages
- 18 separate sections on proposals for local areas (between 2 and 19 pages each, depending on the area)
- A section on the Strategic Settlements of Clive Barracks, Tern Hill and the former Ironbridge Power Station site.
- A section on the strategic site of RAF Cosford