Backlash as South Worcestershire Development Plan delayed - The Worcester Observer

Backlash as South Worcestershire Development Plan delayed

Worcester Editorial 20th Feb, 2024   0

LEADERS of the Liberal Democrat groups across Worcester, Malvern and Wychavon are calling for answers after the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) was postponed again.

An update provided to councillors late last week (Thursday, February 15) confirmed another delay, but an exact timeline is not available as discussions continue.

The development plan is the blueprint for the three councils to build 11,000 new homes over the next 20 years.

The 11,000 homes are in addition to 28,400 already planned for Worcester, Malvern Hills and Wychavon between now and 2030.

Plans were submitted for review by the Planning Inspectorate in September 2023, two years behind schedule.

Inspectors were assigned in December and raised major concerns about evidence used in the plan now being over two years old and likely out of date.

Another key concern raised revolved around the transport modelling, which shows how traffic moves around the area.

Residents have also expressed serious concerns over the impact of new housing on the road network.

Malvern Liberal Democrat group leader, Coun Paul Bennett labelled the delay ‘another potential disaster’ for the SWDP.

He added: “No plan means developers take control.

“This is genuinely heartbreaking and those who have left us in this position need to explain what has gone wrong.”

Wychavon District Council said while inspectors believed they had made good progress preparing for the hearings, they have asked for some evidence documents to be updated first.

The authority added this would avoid further delays later in the process.

Worcester City Councillor and local Lib Dem leader, Coun Mel Allcott said the situation was confusing, with a constant back and forth from an on-track plan to repeated delays.

Coun Allocott, who is the Lib Dems Parliamentary candidate for Worcester, added: “What has been submitted to the inspector may not even be fit for purpose.

“By the time any plan is approved, we will likely have hundreds more homes being built than we needed.”

Chair of the Joint Advisory Panel for the SWDP, Coun Pat Agar emphasised the importance of the plan being properly scrutinised and based on the ‘most robust evidence possible’.

She added: “We will now work on producing the new and updated evidence requested as soon as possible so we can proceed to the next stage of the examination process.”

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