Inspector finds flaws in Telford & Wrekin Council’s planning blueprint

“Serious concerns” have been raised by an inspector over Telford & Wrekin Council’s planning blueprint for the next 14 years.

Telford Council stock
Telford & Wrekin Council

The authority has been asked to review several aspects of its local plan, with Government Inspector Michael Hetherington warning that the selection of sites for housing is “flawed”.

Telford & Wrekin Council’s local plan covers its aspirations for the economy, jobs, growth and housing development up until 2031. It identifies sites where certain types of development can take place.

An interim examination of the plan has identified concerns over the predicted level of job creation and supporting evidence for the choice of housing sites.

The council’s deputy leader Councillor Richard Overton said it was normal procedure for issues to be raised before the final plan is approved.

The inspector stated: “I advised that I would contact the council if I identified serious soundness concerns with the potential to affect the examination programme. Unfortunately I have identified such concerns. The purpose of this note is to highlight the issues involved and to suggest possible courses of action to enable the examination to proceed.

“For the avoidance of doubt, all comments set out in this note are interim only and are made subject to the contents of my final report.”

The report states that a clear audit trail is required to show how the council arrived at decisions over potential housing sites being selected for development.

The council’s opposition Tory leader Councillor Andrew Eade said it was unacceptable for the council to be in the situation at this stage of the process.

“It has been seven years since the Labour administration took back control of the council, but despite our continued and robust warnings over the urgent need for renewed and updated planning policies, they have done little but sat back and twiddle their thumbs. Only over the past three they have tried to cobble planning policies together which have now crashed around their ears, leaving our communities reeling from unwanted and disproportionate housing development.

“The inspector has agreed with my group’s submission to the inquiry that the level of forecast jobs growth, which is 40 per cent above what is predicted nationally, cannot be supported by enough workers and is “insufficiently robust”, Councillor Eade said.

But Councillor Overton said: “It is hard to guess what is going to happen in 2031 and the government has even recognised that and they are supposed to be bringing forward some options in the autumn to make it easier for councils.

“We are the second biggest growing town in the West Midlands and UK because of our business winning, business supporting council attitude. We have seen the likes of Magna come to this town creating hundreds of jobs.”

He said that there were a number of sites in public ownership had been given the planning permission many years ago and that there were brownfield sites for development that were due to be reviewed.

Councillor Overton said the inspector had given the council an opportunity to address his concerns before the final submission is made.

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Comments for: "Inspector finds flaws in Telford & Wrekin Council’s planning blueprint"

Roger

I am not surprised because of the factor of people who work in Telford but live in Shropshire. It removes the linkage between Jobs and homes which the inspector might be looking for. A second factor is people who live in Telford and work in West Midlands as commuters. The two may cancel out but not exactly. In my view Shropshire has population growth and Telford has jobs growth but the linkage is not direct so they may build too many homes in Telford because the preferred place to live is Shropshire. It is a dynamic that will not fall into a convenient mathematical formula.

At the moment without the Shrewsbury NWRR there is not a lot of scope for building factories but there is in Telford. Telford is closer to the I54 so the rate of growth of jobs is higher in Telford. Telford being so small geographically and so close to Shrewsbury the incidence of commuting between the two is high. In Bridgnorth the distance to Telford is less that Shrewsbury and there is a Wolverhampton factor. The same applies to Shifnal Tong and Albrighton, they are more associated with working in Telford or Wolverhampton but unlikely to work in Shrewsbury. So in effect Shropshire has Telford as an industrial sector whilst Shrewsbury is commercial and administrative and rural areas are agriculture and dwelling by commuting into the Urban Areas. Telford does not have much of an rural area and Shropshire has an excess of it. The Picture in Shropshire is diluted because of the Smaller towns like Oswestry and Ludlow but is more stark in Telford.

It really does not matter because with no building of social housing private housing is demand led so the houses will not be built unless there is a customer demand. Any long term plan must be dynamically adaptable and is not critical in Telford because they have infrastructure for 200,000 already in place where as in Shrewsbury we have infrastructure for seventy thousand trying to accommodate a hundred thousand. The inspector may have found inconsistencies but it is not as critical as it in Shropshire. If the trend of working in Telford and living in Shropshire continues the Infrastructure in Shropshire will fall over but Telford's will be under utilised. It's a long standing problem but not any standard model.

n3bpml

agree Roger,

Telford does not have the population to warrant more housing development.

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