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Let's get on with SWDP, county MP urges
A COUNTY MP has made an impassioned plea for a key growth blueprint to finally be signed off - and warns any more delays could have bad consequences for Worcestershire.
Her concerns have been echoed by a planning committee boss in Malvern, who says too many housebuilders are being given free reign to do what they want until the document becomes ‘live’.
As your Worcester News revealed on Saturday, councils in Birmingham and the Black Country are trying to convince the inspector that the plan is too ambitious and threatens their prosperity.
Mr Clews has just concluded a four-day inspection into the SWDP, and is expected to make a further announcement within weeks.
Mrs Baldwin, who represents West Worcestershire, said: “To my mind, the democratically agreed plan ought to be considered the definitive document and the inspector should only be able to make changes where there are actual errors of fact.
“With every day of uncertainty over the adoption of this plan, our towns and villages continue to face speculative planning applications and councils are unable to work to their own, democratically agreed local strategy.”
When an original timetable was laid down for the SWDP, the inspectors’ examination was pencilled in for June but had to be delayed.
District councils in Worcester, Malvern and Wychavon eventually agreed it after some rangling, which triggered the independent examination.
Both Mrs Baldwin and fellow MP Peter Luff, who represents Mid-Worcestershire, have written to planning minister Nick Boles and Mr Clews calling for a speedy conclusion.
Mr Clews’ next step will be to either make some recommended changes to the SWDP, or move to the final section of the examination, known as stage two before signing it off.
Councillor Tony Penn, chairman of Malvern Hills District Council’s planning committee, has also backed a swift end.
“It’s been causing us problems for a while now because we haven’t got the adopted plan in place,” he said.
“Under the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) clause 14 says ‘is allowing a development going to be worse than not allowing it’, and that message has been passed from the Government to the inspectors.
“This has been dragged out for too long, it wasn’t easy getting the three councils to agree to it and we now need to get to stage two quickly.”
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