Shropshire Council

Local plan review - preferred scale and distribution of development

  • Period: 27 October 2017 - 22 December 2017
  • Status: Open
  • Audiences: Everyone
  • Topics: Planning, Asset management
  • Type: Public

In order to respond to this consultation, we recommend that you download and read the documents attached to this page, in particular the ‘Preferred Scale and Distribution of Development’ Consultation Document. This document contains the information you will need to consider when completing the consultation questionnaire.

To respond to this consultation, please use the questionnaire available on the "Get Involved" tab on this page.

Please note: For the avoidance of doubt, as part of the Preferred Scale and Distribution of Development Consultation we are seeking views on the suitability of the proposed Community Hubs. If you have views on the proposed Community Hubs, including the way in which the approved Hierarchy of Settlements assessment has been applied to identify the thresholds for Community Hubs or wish to correct any factual inaccuracies about local services and facilities, then please do so within your response to the Consultation.

Furthermore if when completing the Consultation Questionnaire your answer requires more space than allowed, please feel free to continue on a separate piece of paper and submit this alongside the completed Consultation Questionnaire.

Confidentiality and data protection

Information provided in response to this consultation, including personal information, may be subject to publication or disclosure in accordance with the access to information legislation (primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004).

Scope of this consultation

This consultation document seeks views on the preferred scale and distribution of development for the review of the Shropshire Local Plan. The Consultation Document, available to download from this page:

  1. Sets out the preferred scale of housing and employment development in Shropshire 2016-36;
  2. Sets out the preferred distribution of this growth;
  3. Identifies housing and employment growth guidelines for the strategic centre and each principal and key centre;
  4. Confirms the methodology which Shropshire Council proposes to adopt to identify a settlement hierarchy in Shropshire;
  5. Lists the settlements which form part of this hierarchy, including those that will, in future, be identified as Community Hubs and those that will be maintained as Community Clusters;
  6. Proposes draft policies for the management of development within Community Hubs and Community Clusters; and
  7. Identifies other development requirements which may need to be addressed as part of the Local Plan Review.

Consultation plan

The Consultation will run for eight weeks between Friday 27 October and Friday 22 December 2017. 

The consultation will be undertaken in line with the standards set out in the Council’s published Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) and national guidance.  Consultation documents will be made available on the Shropshire Council website, and paper copies will be provided at Libraries and Council Offices in the main towns. A significant number of organisations and individuals will be notified directly of the publication of the consultation documents by email in accordance with the SCI.

Notification

The Council will notify all those currently on the consultee database by e-mail. This represents approximately 4,000 contacts made up of local and national organisations, individuals, parish and town councils, adjoining authorities (including adjoining parish and town councils), statutory bodies (such as the Environment Agency), agents and developers, interest groups, and anyone else who has asked to be included on this list.

The Council will inform Shropshire’s Parish and Town Councils via the Association for Local Councils (ALC).

The Council will issue a Press Release shortly before the start of the consultation providing an overview of the consultation. There may be a further opportunity to issue a subsequent press release towards the end of the consultation period to ensure people are aware of the end date.

Viewing the documents

In line with the SCI and previous successful consultations, this will primarily be a web-based consultation.

However, there will be paper copies of the consultation material and summaries of the supporting documents, available to view at the following Council offices during normal office hours:

  • Shrewsbury: Shirehall Abbey Foregate
  • Wem: Edinburgh House
  • Oswestry: Castle View
  • Craven Arms: the Gateway

These documents will also be available to view at all libraries during their normal library opening times.

Meetings

In using resources effectively, it is not proposed to hold bespoke meetings to publicise the consultation. Instead it is considered more effective for officers to attend pre-arranged meetings as a discrete agenda item in order to communicate the consultation.

ALC Area Committee Meetings

It is acknowledged that Town and Parish Councils are important local consultees and offer a conduit into wider local communities. Whilst it is not proposed officers will attend individual parish council meetings, in using resources effectively it is proposed officers will attend and present information to the each of the ALC Area Committees to publicise the consultation. The following provides the time and dates of the ALC meeting:

  • North ALC Committee: Edinburgh House, Wem – 16 October
  • Central ALC Committee: Guildhall, Shrewsbury – 18 October
  • East ALC Committee: Severn Centre, Highley – 22 November
  • South ALC Committee: Venue and Date TBC
  • Oswestry ALC Committee: Venue and Date TBC

Where resources allow and on request, Planning Policy Officers can arrange and attend meetings at the Shirehall, Shrewsbury with representatives from Parish or Town Councils to discuss the consultation.

Other Meetings

Where possible it is proposed officers will also attend and discuss the meetings of the Shropshire Business Board and the Developer Forums, along with other suitable opportunities with local organisations, to discuss the consultation document. 

Why are we reviewing the Local Plan?

The Shropshire Local Plan currently comprises the Core Strategy (adopted 2011) and the Site Allocations and Management of Development (SAMDev) Plan (adopted 2015), together with the adopted Neighbourhood Plans for Much Wenlock and Shifnal. These documents set out proposals for the use of land and policies to guide future development in order to help to deliver sustainable growth in Shropshire for the period up to 2026.

Local Planning Authorities are required to keep under review any matters that may affect the development of its area. Shropshire Council has determined to undertake a Local Plan Review in order to allow the consideration of updated information on development needs within the Country; reflect changes to national policy and our local strategies; to extend the Plan period to 2036; and to provide a plan which will help to support growth and maintain local control over planning decisions during the period to 2036.  Maintaining an up to date Local Plan will support local growth by generating certainty for investment in local development and infrastructure through a policy framework that establishes an up to date and objective assessment of development needs and supports sustainable development in Shropshire during the period to 2036.

The overall strategic approach of focusing growth in Shropshire’s Strategic Centre; Principal Centres and Key Centres, whilst enabling some controlled development in rural areas to maintain local sustainability, remains the preferred development strategy. Many of the existing policies in the Core Strategy and SAMDev do not need to be amended and will be carried forward as part of the new Plan. The review will therefore focus on key areas of change, including options for the level and distribution of new housing and strategies for employment growth during the period to 2036, together with any amended policies and new site allocations which are needed to demonstrate that these requirements can be delivered. The existing Core Strategy and SAMDev Plan will remain in force until any new Plan is adopted. This is anticipated to occur during 2019-20.

The product of the review will be a new Local Plan document which merges the Core Strategy & SAMDev Plans and contains both strategic policies and more applied policies which primarily inform planning decisions, together with existing (and unimplemented) sites and new site allocations.

Strategic objectives of the Local Plan Review

The strategic objectives, policies and proposals in the current Local Plan have either been in place since the adoption of the Core Strategy in 2011 or since the adoption of the SAMDev Plan in 2015. It is considered that many of the objectives of the current Local Plan remain relevant to the sustainable development of Shropshire during the extended Plan period to 2036.

The following strategic objectives are proposed for the Local Plan Review:

  1. Provide an appropriate development strategy for Shropshire for the period 2016-2036 within an up to date Development Plan for Shropshire which is fully compliant with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF);
  2. Ensure a deliverable Development Plan for Shropshire which secures a five year land supply for both housing and employment development and maintains the primacy of the Local Plan in decision making, in accordance with the up to date policy framework of the Plan;
  3. Support the development of sustainable communities which are thriving, inclusive and safe, ensuring that people in all areas of Shropshire have access to decent affordable homes, jobs, education and training and the resources necessary to start well, live well and age well (Core Strategy Objective 1);
  4. Develop the roles of Shrewsbury as a sub-regional ‘Strategic Centre’, and Shropshire’s Principal and Key Centres as more sustainable and self-sufficient settlements, providing the main focus for new housing, employment and infrastructure development (Core Strategy Objective 2);
  5. Support rural communities through the delivery of local housing and employment opportunities appropriate to the role, size and function of each settlement (Core Strategy Objective 3);
  6. Promote sustainable economic development and growth by providing a flexible and responsive supply of employment land and premises, and the development of further/higher education and training opportunities, to support business development, satisfy the changing needs and demands of the Shropshire economy, promote inward investment, and help generate skilled, well paid employment opportunities (Core Strategy Objective 6);
  7. Support the development of sustainable tourism, rural enterprise, broadband connectivity, diversification of the rural economy, and the continued importance of farming and agriculture (Core Strategy Objective 7).
  8. Promote high quality design and ensure that development responds to its local context and creates safe, accessible and attractive places (adapted from Core Strategy Objective 10);
  9. Ensure that the character, quality and diversity of Shropshire’s built, natural and historic environment are protected, enhanced and, where possible, restored, in a way that respects landscape character, biodiversity, heritage values, and local distinctiveness, and contributes to wider environmental networks across the County(Core Strategy Objective 11);
  10. Improve the quantity, quality and accessibility of multifunctional open space, rights of way, and sport, recreation and cultural facilities to provide varied opportunities for people of all ages to enjoy physical activity, cultural activities and lifetime learning, helping to improve health and well-being (Core Strategy Objective 12).

Strategic context

Shropshire is a large, diverse but predominantly rural, inland County. However, Shropshire does not operate in isolation; it is influenced by cross boundary interactions with adjacent areas including Herefordshire, Worcestershire, the Borough of Telford and Wrekin, Staffordshire, the West Midlands conurbation, Cheshire and areas across the English-Welsh border. These include: cross border service provision such as shopping, health, education and leisure; transport links and commuting patterns; any inter-dependencies between housing markets and economic areas; and protection of the Green Belt and our landscape, historic and natural environments. These interactions are the subject of on-going discussions with neighbouring planning authorities under our ‘Duty to Co-operate’. The spatial context for the Local Plan Review is described in detail in the Authority Monitoring Report (AMR) which is available on the Council’s web pages. More detailed facts, figures and trends concerning the Shropshire context are also available on the Council’s webpages.

Shropshire: Strategic Challenges and Opportunities

The existing Local Plan and particularly the Core Strategy was prepared against the backdrop of the global economic recession which significantly affected the economies of both the UK and Shropshire.  The current Local Plan sought to assist economic recovery and this has now started to take effect across Shropshire under the positive influence of its objectives, policies and development strategies. 

The influence of the Local Plan and the resurgence of demand and investment in Shropshire have coincided with proposed national infrastructure and investment programmes within the UK economy, which present further opportunities for Shropshire.  The national agenda for political and administrative devolution has brought forward the Combined Authority for the West Midlands conurbation and the drive towards establishing the Midlands Engine to channel investment into the region.  This agenda has also created further opportunities associated with the earlier devolution of authority to Greater Manchester, as part of the drive to create the Northern Powerhouse, providing a second route to channel investment into the west and north of England.

These emerging channels for investment are expected to be helpfully drawn together by the national infrastructure investment in the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail link, providing a rapid transit route between the south-east region and the regions of the north to encourage investors to look beyond the London conurbation and the Home Counties.  HS2 will deliver a close link to Shropshire through the proposed interchange in Cheshire. This will provide a further channel for investment through a proposed investment zone located around the Northern Gateway centred on Crewe.

The emergence of these exciting investment opportunities in the sub-regions around Shropshire is timely and supports the decision to undertake an early Local Plan Review.  The Local Plan Review will therefore ensure that future housing and employment land requirements and policies help meet Shropshire’s future needs and capture the opportunities in and around the County.

The past few years have seen a change in Shropshire’s fortunes with the scale of investment evident in the widespread resurgence of residential development and key investments by existing businesses across the County.  This resurgence in the County was set against the backdrop of the healthy projections for the UK economy for over 2% growth through 2017.  However, the national economy and the fortunes of the County may be further challenged by the decision to leave the European Community as a result of the outcome of the referendum on membership of the EU in the summer of 2016 and the negotiations on the UK exit strategy which have now commenced. These factors also influence the scope of the Local Plan Review.

In light of this context, the following strategic opportunities and challenges have been identified:

Opportunities

  1. The Combined Authority for the West Midlands brings together the metropolitan authorities within adjoining areas to drive forward the Midlands Engine. Shropshire has the potential to benefit from this enterprise via the M54 corridor and the strategic highway network linking together key investment locations at Wolverhampton, Telford, Shifnal, Albrighton and Bridgnorth; at major redevelopment locations which include Clive Barracks, Tern Hill near Market Drayton and the former Ironbridge Power Station; and at those created around RAF Cosford;
  2. The Northern Powerhouse and Northern Gateway together aim to re-invigorate the North West region. The Northern Gateway will drive the creation of an investment zone around the HS2 interchange at Crewe with the effects extending through physical proximity and journey time/distance into the Shropshire economy.  This is expected to create direct opportunities for the northern Market Towns of Whitchurch, Market Drayton and Wem. 
  3. The positive effects of the northern investment potential will also be experienced through the rail network with the potential to influence other areas of the County.
  4. The opportunities created through these external influences are expected to enhance the investments being delivered within Shropshire and in the adjoining areas of the Local Enterprise Partnership in Telford & Wrekin and Hereford. The joint working within this partnership will be led and influenced through the Strategic Economic Plan being refreshed along with Shropshire Local Plan Review.

Challenges

  1. The focus of the HS2 investment will be located to the north of Shropshire and will attract significant interest from other sub-regions similarly affected by this nationally significant infrastructure investment. Shropshire needs to be able to understand the nature of the demands to be created by HS2 and ensure that some of these investment needs are met within the County.
  2. Shropshire recognises the opportunities to be derived from other national and sub-regional investments and from the investment and potential of its own vibrant local economy. The County places a premium on the promotion of economic growth but will need to understand and address the barriers to investment and growth to translate this demand into employment and prosperity.
  3. Shrewsbury and Oswestry as the main centres for economic investment expect to see their current principal employment sites come to completion during the Plan period to 2036. Whilst new land is available in these locations and in other Principal and Key Centres, there is a need to further replenish the supply and bring forward a readily available supply of accessed and serviced land for investment.

Evidence base

The Local Plan Review will be informed by an extensive evidence base which will be made available through the Council’s web pages.  

Hierarchy of settlements

A key evidence base document which has informed this stage of consultation is the Hierarchy of Settlements. The purpose of this document is to provide a summary and present the conclusions reached in the settlement hierarchy assessment of Shropshire.

The settlement hierarchy has informed decisions on a settlement’s potential to accommodate new development. A copy of this document is available to download below.

Supporting assessments

Sustainability appraisal

The Preferred Scale and Distribution of Development document, which represents the second stage of consultation on our Local Plan Review, has been subject to Sustainability Appraisal in line with the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004. A summary and the full report of this appraisal is available to download below.

Habitats regulations assessment

The Preferred Scale and Distribution of Development document, which represents the second stage of consultation on our Local Plan Review, has been screened under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) and an HRA Screening Report and a summary of this report are available to download below.

Equality and Social Inclusion Impact Assessment

The Preferred Scale and Distribution of Development document, which represents the second stage of consultation on our Local Plan Review, has been subject to Equality and Social Inclusion Impact Assessment. This assessment is available to download below.

Call for sites

A previous stage of consultation, called the ‘Issues and Strategic Options’ was accompanied by a ‘Call for Sites’, inviting landowners and the development industry to submit potential development sites for further assessment. The responses to this invitation are being carefully assessed and will be used to inform the publication of an updated Strategic Land Availability Assessment (SLAA) by the end of 2017 and further consultation on preferred site allocations in Spring 2018.

The SLAA is a technical assessment of the capacity; suitability; availability; and achievability (including viability) of land for development. The SLAA represents a key component of the evidence base which will support the Local Plan Review. However, whilst the SLAA is an important technical document, it does not allocate land for development or include all locations where future development might occur. The SLAA simply provides information which will be investigated further through the plan-making process.

What happens next?

We will publish a summary of the responses to this Preferred Scale and Distribution of Development Consultation on our web pages.  The comments we receive will be used to inform the further development of the Local Plan Review.

Documents

The consultation will be undertaken in line with the standards set out in the Council’s published Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) and national guidance.  Consultation documents will be made available on the Shropshire Council website, and paper copies will be provided at Libraries and Council Offices in the main towns. A significant number of organisations and individuals will be notified directly of the publication of the consultation documents by email in accordance with the SCI.

To respond to this consultation, please download and complete the questionnaire available here.

Once completed, this questionnaire can be submitted by:

If submitting your own response, please enter your last name in the subject field;

If submitting a response on behalf of a client, please enter their last name in the subject field.

  • Post to: Shropshire Council, Planning Policy & Strategy Team, Shirehall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY2 6ND

Information provided in response to this consultation, including personal information, may be subject to publication or disclosure in accordance with the access to information legislation (primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004).

Data protection

Information collected in our surveys will only be used by us (Shropshire Council) to inform the immediate and future provision of our services. The information you provide will be kept confidential in accordance with our Privacy Policy. It will not be shared outside of Shropshire Council. Information collected via our online surveys (hosted on the Surveymonkey website) will be stored on SurveyMonkey’s servers in the United States of America and SurveyMonkey gives an undertaking never to disclose the survey questions or your responses to others without permission.