Worcestershire Development Plan - Malvern Greens' response

17 November 2011

Malvern Hills

The South Worcestershire Development Plan 'Preferred Options' document sets out the possible planning measures for the next 20 years in Malvern Hills, Worcester City and Wychavon.  Malvern Green Party Councillor reports....

The Malvern Hills Green Party, like many other local groups and individuals, is concerned that the basic vision is seriously flawed. We have sought to address the issues and put forward our own vision in our response paper, 'Putting Communities before Developers'.
Please read this document, and let us know your thoughts. Contact Malvern Hills Green Party here.

The key points of our response are:

· Pro-rata distribution of new development across South Worcestershire will better support rural regeneration, avoid creating of new large estates and the problems that they bring, and will protect towns and villages from the effects of sub-urban sprawl.

· This more evenly distributed approach will minimise pressures on existing infrastructure. Avoiding the need for new roads and junctions will ease strains on the budget and allow for resources to be focused to areas of existing need.

· A new (or possibly two) green town, consisting of 2-3000 houses and new employment and amenity space would help significantly to offset the growth requirements for existing villages and would provide a suitably balanced way to meet the area's overall housing needs for the foreseeable future. The first green town could be located at Throckmorton, which has previosuly been considered as an eco town, and could be served by a new station on the Worcester-London railway line.

· The SWDP should put greater emphasis on housing type and allow less control to be taken by developers. More afforable and social housing should be incorporated into the plan, as should smaller houses and bungalows to suit the ageing population. The local need for housing should be addressed first and foremost, before attracting commuters to the area.

· The SWDP represents an important opportunity to upgrade significantly the standards of thermal efficiency in our housing stock to respond to the problems of climate change and escalating fuel costs. We think the Plan should set new and exacting standards for new development (specifically the Passivhaus standard) with regard to energy efficiency and carbon emissions.

· The Worcestershire countryside is already dotted with houses and farmsteads (mostly built before planning regulations came into being). We think it would be perfectly reasonable (and helpful) to relax the rules so that a proportion of the additional housing need can be met in rural areas by low-impact (e.g. do not connect to mains utilities and for a sustainable lifestyle involving significant local production of food etc.) and low cost homes.

· We would like to see a specific policy that presumes in favour of refurbishment over demolition unless the proposed new build would meet energy design standards that exceed what can be achieved through refurbishment (or the existing property is beyond viable repair).

· We think that all significant additional development sites (i.e. above 100 dwellings) should be required to include provision for new (small) community work spaces, shops/offices and good amenity space within the site, to be funded by developer contributions, and that these facilities should be provided early in the development build out.

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