THE GOVERNMENT’S planning inspectorate has told councils behind the South Worcestershire Development Plan to go back to the drawing board with their housing figures.
In a letter to the three authorities; Wychavon District Council, Malvern Hills District Council and Worcester City Council, issued on Monday (October 28), Roger Clews said the number of homes earmarked to be built by 2030 should be ‘significantly higher’ than the 23,200 calculated.
Out of those more than 4,000 would be built for Malvern.
Mr Clews also warned the councils’ proposal to create 50,000 square meters of retail space may be too much for some towns.
But he did support the proposed use of 280 hectares of land in the south of the county for employment space and declared the three councils had met their legal duty to co-operate, which sees housing developments built in one district for the benefit of another.
Mr Clews released his conclusions as part of the SWDP’s first phase of public examination.
During hearings held at the start of October developers had called for as many as 36,000 homes across the three areas however the inspector declared those forecasts should be given little weight.
He said: “My most important finding is that the modelling and analysis in the February 2012 Strategic Housing Market Assessment do not provide a reliable basis for identifying the level of housing need in South Worcestershire over the Plan period.
“Thus I must ask the councils to undertake some further modelling and analysis in order to derive an objective assessment of housing need over the plan period.”
Coun Judy Pearce, who chairs the councils’ Joint Advisory Panel (JAP) which has led the work on the SWDP, said the inspector’s findings were disappointing but added it was not unusual for councils to have their plan rejected at the first stage.
“We are very pleased that the SWDP is still on track and we are looking forward to continuing to work with the inspector to produce the technical work he has requested and to achieve the best result for local people from this process.
“There has been pressure from some developers for higher numbers of homes and we are relieved that the Inspector has not accepted some of the more extreme suggestions.”
Mr Clews requested the councils provide a timetable for producing new housing figures by next Friday (November 8).
Once the new numbers are compiled he will hold another hearing before concluding phase one of the examination and triggering phase two which will look at where the new homes and businesses have been proposed.
Visit www.swdevelopmentplan.org for the inspector’s full findings.