23rd Sep, 2020

COVID-19 delays blueprint on future housing plans

THE COMPLETION date of the South Worcestershire Development Plan review has been delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was hoped the document would be ready for public examination early next year but restrictions have made it impossible to finish technical assessments and evidence gathering needed to support the plan.

Among them are additional traffic and air quality modelling which cannot be carried out at the moment as traffic levels are not close enough to pre-lockdown levels.

Over the coming months the necessary assessments and studies will take place.

The plan to be sent for public examination will be published, subject to approval by all three South Worcestershire councils in October 2021.

It will then be submitted to the Secretary of State in February 2022.

The expectation is it will then be examined before the end of 2022 and adopted shortly after.

SWDP Joint Advisory Panel chair Coun Lucy Hodgson said: “We’re disappointed we have to push back the SWDP timetable back but it was unavoidable given the delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Many consultants needed to complete the technical work required remain on furlough, and any data we capture now about traffic movements or air quality would not give us a reliable picture.

“Given the importance of this document to meeting future demand for housing and economic growth in South Worcestershire, it’s important the plan is robust so it’s right we take the time to do this work.

“The team will do everything possible to make sure there is no further delay to the timetable but that will depend on how the pandemic progresses and the impact of a second wave of covid-19 or any future lockdown restrictions.”

The revised SWDP sets out how a Government requirement to build another 14,000 new homes across Malvern Hills District, Worcester City and Wychavon by 2041 will be met.

This is on top of the need for 28,400 new homes by 2030, more than half of which have already been built, set out in the current plan.

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