Shropshire Star

Fresh consultation launched as council tries to satisfy inspectors' local plan concerns

A fresh consultation has been launched into Shropshire Council's delayed Local Plan.

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The Local Plan, which would cover the county until 2038, sets out all the locations where houses and commercial developments can be built.

The plan has to be agreed before planning inspectors before it becomes official and Shropshire's has faced a number of delays.

One of the major issues has been inspectors voicing concerns over the council's plans to find space for 1,500 homes and 30 hectares of employment land for councils in the Black Country – which must be provided under rules where councils have to help nearby authorities.

The issue has also been the subject of legal threats from lawyers acting for The Bradford Estates, which wants to build up to 3,000 homes on green belt land to the west of Tong – a proposal the council decided not to include in the local plan.

In January the inspectors wrote to the council saying they were worried the evidence for the proposal did not match the outcome.

The issue is crucial as it could mean the council has to find sites for more homes and employment land – potentially 1,500 houses and 30 hectares for employment.

As a result Shropshire Council has now complied with the inspectors' request to update some of its key documents to clarify the position – ahead of hearings which will decide whether the plan is approved.

A consultation will now take place on the documents before inspectors consider them.

The documents include an updated 'Sustainability Appraisal', new topic papers relating to 'housing and employment land requirements' and matters relating to the 'proposed release of some Green Belt land', as well as a proposed new policy relating to how the housing needs of older people and those with disabilities and special needs will be met.

The council said that as part of the documents it is proposing an increase to both the overall housing and employment requirements for the county to 2038, but added "that no new site allocations are required in order to deliver this proposed increase".

The latest consultation runs until June 11.

The draft Local Plan was submitted for examination in September 2021, with public hearings, led by appointed planning inspectors, held in 2022 and 2023.

Chris Schofield, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for planning and regulatory services said: “This consultation is important as it allows all parties to submit comments on the newly published material.

"We consider that this material addresses the concerns of the inspectors and will allow the examination to continue positively later this year.

"However, before that it is important we understand the views of all parties, including local residents.

"I would therefore urge people to visit the council’s website and have their say before June 11.”

The consultation documents and other information relating to the consultation, including how to respond, can be found on the Shropshire Council website.

All responses will be considered by the council and sent to the Planning Inspectors for their consideration. It is anticipated that there will be further public hearings into the Local Plan in the autumn.