The Chairman welcomed Councillors S. Colella and R. Jenkins, the Ward Councillors for Hagley, who had asked to speak at the meeting and advised that they would be able to do so once the report had been presented.
The Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regeneration introduced the report, which he believed was a robust response to the Wyre Forest Local Plan Pre-Submission Plan, which it was felt was undeliverable in its current format. The main areas which would be affected by the Plan were highlighted and it was commented that there was no appropriate data or information within the plan to support much of its content.
The Planning and Conservation Manager highlighted a number of key areas within the response, which included:
· The objection had not been done lightly, however from the information provided the infrastructure suggested did not support the plan and therefore there was no option but to put in an objection.
· The level of growth was predominately through Hagley and whilst the suggestion was for a bypass the evidence did not make this clear or support it.
· The lack of detailed modelling within the plan.
· As this was the only stage where the Council could put forward an objection, it had no option but to take this course of action.
· It was likely it would go before the Planning Inspector in July 2019.
The Chairman invited Councillors Jenkins and Colella to speak to this item and the following areas were discussed in more detail:
· Both had great concerns around the impact on Hagley and the surrounding area.
· Concerns that the Plan would fail within a five year period.
· The County Council Local Transport Plan 4 (LTP4) had not mentioned the inclusion of a bypass and it was believed that if it was not included within this then it was unlikely to happen. Whilst, this was acknowledged by Officers it was explained that this was not relevant to the response at this stage.
· It was understood that Councillor K. May as a County Councillor had asked for an assessment of the traffic in Hagley through one of the LEPs.
· The Ward Councillors were grateful for the objection but were concerned that the response could have gone further.
· Concerns that the Plan also did not included the impact of South Staffordshire and Dudley on the local areas. Officers responded that both Dudley and South Staffordshire were at the earliest stages of producing their plans and therefore it was not possible to include the impact of these within this matter.
· That the response should include reference to the fact that there had not been any investment in the infrastructure of North Worcestershire by the County Council for over 50 years.
· It was important that the Planning Inspector got the full picture of the concerns raised in respect of this matter.
· That the residents of Hagley had been campaigning for a bypass for a number of years.
· Concerns that the matter could go to the Planning Inspector as early as July 2019.
· Work with Blakedown Parish Council in respect of transport and the train station and potential improvements to it in order to make access better.
· Potential improvements to the Kidderminster Train Station in order to encourage people to use it.
· Specific reference was made to 6.1, 6.3 and 6.11 within the report which summarised the objections.
· Funding gaps and the ability for the County Council to carry through any proposals for improvements to the infrastructure.
The Leader advised that he was continuing to press for a strategic assessment of Bromsgrove and that he would be attending a meeting with the County Council to discussion this further in the following week. It was confirmed that this was not a public meeting.
In summing up, the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regeneration thanked the Ward Councillors for their comments and clarified the next stage of the process. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that as set out within the Constitution the Leader and Chief Executive in consultation with the relevant Head of Service, had delegated powers to put forward such a response, should there be insufficient time for it to be considered at full Council. The Leader confirmed that he had sent the response to Group Leaders and given them the opportunity to make any comment.
RESOLVED that the officer response to the Wyre Forest Local Plan Review Pre-submission Plan (as attached at Appendix A of the report) be submitted before the end of the representation period.
a) that the Officer response to the Wyre Forest Local Plan Review Pre Submission Plan, be approved by Council as its formal response, and that this is confirmed with Wyre Forest District Council; and
b) that delegated authority be given to the Head of Planning and Regeneration to ensure that the Council is represented at the Examination in Public element of the Wyre Forest Local Plan review.