Neighbours' overspill could prompt early review of local plan

Planning work being carried out by a local enterprise partnership (LEP) will determine whether a Staffordshire council must revise its local plan to help tackle a shortfall in housing supply across neighbouring Birmingham, an inspector has said.

Lichfield: local plan examination report published last week (picture by Sue Hasker)
Lichfield: local plan examination report published last week (picture by Sue Hasker)

Lichfield District Council, which told its neighbours two years ago they would have a "fight on their hands" should they "start to eye our open land for further development" has agreed to carry out an early review of its local plan if more homes are needed to meet the needs of Birmingham.

In a report published last week, inspector Robert Yuille concluded that Lichfield District Council's local plan provides an appropriate basis for the planning of the district, as long as a number of modifications are made.

A modification to the document, put forward by the council and endorsed by the examiner, commits the authority to carrying out an early review or partial review of the plan "if further housing provision is needed to meet the needs of Birmingham or Tamworth".

According to the inspector's report, at the initial local plan examination hearings it was established that evidence that Birmingham might not be able to meet its own housing needs had emerged relatively late in the preparation of the plan.

The modification proposes collaborative working with Birmingham and the other authorities within the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area, which includes Lichfield, to establish the scale of any shortfall and where it should be met.

If this work pointed to a need for further provision of housing in Lichfield then the local plan would be reviewed, the inspector's report explains.

In 2013, the council's portfolio holder for development, Ian Pritchard, told local newspaper the Lichfield Mercury that Birmingham "has many previously developed sites; they should use those first before they come knocking on our door".

According to the inspector's report, the LEP's joint housing study and strategic spatial plan "will play an important role in determining how much housing growth individual authorities such as Lichfield will take in the future to help make up the shortfall".

It added that if the council did carry out an early review of the document, "it would be required to cooperate with the LEP and have regard to its relevant findings and policies".

"The question of whether or not it had discharged its duty to cooperate with the LEP would, of course, be tested at the examination into the soundness of the reviewed plan," the report said.

"It is in this context that statements reported in the press by a leading Lichfield councillor - the gist of which was that the council would resist any land grab attempts from outside the area - need to be construed."

In July, the High Court threw out a developer's legal bid to quash modifications to Lichfield's local plan. Mrs Justice Patterson said that she had "no jurisdiction" to hear the claim because the document was still being examined.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Join the conversation with PlanningResource on social media

Follow Us:
Planning Jobs