Staffordshire - Campaign to Protect Rural England

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By Frank Walmsley, committee member

Preparation of the Joint Local Plan for the City of Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme reached a significant stage with the consultation on the Preferred Options via the Response Document during February 2018. This, stage 6 of the process of planning for the period 2013 to 2033, leads to consultation on the Full Draft Joint Local Plan which is due to take place in November - December 2018 followed by the submission of the plan to both councils for approval in October- November 2019. Cooperation between the two authorities is welcome as there is now a statutory obligation on local authorities to deal with cross boundary matters through the Duty to Cooperate.

The Preferred Option in the plan, derived from earlier consultation, states there is a need for 26,613 houses during the plan period, with 9,021 in Newcastle and 16,892 in Stoke. A need for 230 hectares of employment land is also identified, comprising 167 hectares in Stoke and 63 hectares in Newcastle. The plan finds there is a shortfall of housing land in Newcastle of 2,099 dwellings, and identifies inter alia sites in the Green Belt at Keele University and Keele Science Park as a way of meeting the shortfall. Two large employment sites are also identified at Keele.

One example is the former Keele Municipal Golf Course, covering 81 hectares (200 acres) which could take 1,800 houses.

The plan considers that the removal of land from the Green Belt for both housing and employment requirements is justified by ‘exceptional circumstances’ with benefits on balance outweighing the harm. There will be ‘a minor negative potential effect’, with the land released contributing to an overall enhancement of landscape and townscape. A sustainable settlement would be an aim, ‘based on garden village principles’.

CPRE has objected to the proposal to take land from the Green Belt based on its long standing campaign against outward spread of the big cities and suburbanisation of the countryside. It has repeatedly received the strongest public support, including that from senior political figures.

In Staffordshire the pressures on the Newcastle-Stoke Green Belt are being replicated by the Greater Birmingham and Black Country Strategic Growth Study which includes Lichfield, Tamworth and South Staffordshire amongst areas that could make a significant contribution to the shortfall of housing land.



Woodland threatened by i54 extension

We have been contacted by a local historian and resident of Fordhouses, Wolverhampton about an area of woodland that could be destroyed if the i54 development site is extended to the west. The woodland is not currently listed in Natural England’s Ancient Woodland Inventory, which might offer it some protection under the NPPF. We have been sent some local historical documentation and maps, and if it can be proven that the area has been continuously wooded since 1600, it could be designated as Ancient Woodland. The area around Pendeford Hall is a remnant of what in mediaeval times was a much larger forest.

i54 picture 

However, time is not on our side. The City of Wolverhampton Council and Staffordshire County Council want to obtain outline planning permission from South Staffordshire Council for the extension of the i54 development site to provide an additional 24 hectares (60 acres) of land to accommodate up to 100,000m2 of industrial employment floor space. The proposed development site is located north of Wobaston Road between Pendeford Hall Lane and the i54 site.

South Staffordshire Council was due to meet on 19 June to consider the adoption of a Site Allocations Document (SAD). Adoption of the SAD will remove the land from the Green Belt. It is likely that a planning application to develop the land will then be made within the near future. We have been asked to be kept informed of the decision regarding the SAD and about any specific planning applications that may be submitted. We will keep members informed so they can submit a personal objection if they wish.

I54 map picture




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