What is a local plan?
Every local planning authority has to produce a Local Plan which sets out the planning framework for its area. It determines the amount of housing and employment growth being planned for over the next 20 years, and where that growth will be located. It also contains policies which will be used to decide planning applications. The policies cover many topics from Green Belt, housing, employment, and open space to design, historic buildings and environmental issues. The policies will reflect those of national government but will be tailored to meet the local requirements of Stafford Borough.
All councils have to review their Local Plans at least every 5 years to take on board updated information, particularly about the amount of homes needed. Our local plan will cover the years 2020 to 2040.
What stage is the local plan currently at?
We are currently at the Preferred Options stage in the plan making process, with the plan due to be adopted in October 2024.
What is the Preferred Options stage?
The Preferred Options document is a full draft of the local plan. It includes new policies and sets out proposed sites where new homes, jobs and other facilities should be located, and contains policies that the council will use to decide planning applications.
When will the Preferred Options consultation take place?
The Preferred Options consultation will take place between 24 October 2022 and 12noon on 12 December. Comments made before or after these dates will not be considered. The responses received will be used to inform the next stage of plan preparation.
How can I get involved in the consultation?
We are running a series of in-person drop in events and an online consultation event. The time and date of these consultation events are still being confirmed and details of these will be released soon.
Alternatively, you can complete our online response form which will be available at Strategic Planning and Placemaking Consultations.
Will my comments be made public?
We are legally required to make the comments we receive about the local plan available for all to see, including your name. No other personal information will be published. We cannot accept any comments marked private or confidential.
How can I stay informed?
We will keep our website and social media pages updated with the details of the consultation and our consultation events. We will also be in touch with everyone who is registered on our consultation database to let them know about the Preferred Options consultation, where to find the documents and how to submit a response.
If you want to be added to our consultation database, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I still submit a site for consideration through the local plan process?
The Call for Sites process is still open, and we are currently accepting new submissions. Any submitted sites will be considered at the next stage of the plan process.
Where can I find out more details?
The local plan documents are available at www.staffordbc.gov.uk/local-plan.
What happens next?
Once the consultation period has ended, we will consider all the comments and information submitted to produce the final publication version of the plan. We will then undergo another round of consultation before the final version is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.
What happens if we don’t prepare a local plan?
If the local plan is not updated, there is a risk that central government could intervene and prepare a local plan for the council. This would likely limit local involvement and decision making. It is also possible that existing policies used when considering planning applications will no longer be applicable, which could increase the risk of unplanned, speculative development.
Why was the Preferred Options stage delayed?
The Preferred Options stage of the Local Plan was delayed until Autumn 2022 in order to include the most up-to-date evidence based information, such as completions and commitments as at March 2022, and avoid community engagement and consultation during the Summer holiday period. In addition, this allowed the authority to consider any information on planning reforms emerging through the Government’s Levelling Up agenda.
Will any other dates in the timetable change?
No. At this stage it is anticipated that the rest of the local plan timetable will meet the dates set out in the Local Development Scheme, following on from the Preferred Options report consultation stage.
Is ‘no development’ an option?
The simple answer is no. National government is clear that housing growth is fundamental to revitalising the economy and the thrust of national planning policy (NPPF) is ‘significantly boosting the supply of housing’. The need for housing is not just a national issue, but a local one too. If we don’t plan to deliver this growth ourselves, we will lose significant control over where it might go.
How will existing infrastructure and services cope with more development?
We have been working closely with colleagues at Staffordshire County Council and utility companies to identify where there is capacity across Stafford Borough or where infrastructure improvements would be required, to ensure infrastructure needs are delivered through new development proposals.
An infrastructure delivery plan (IDP) has been published alongside the Preferred Options document. The IDP identifies the Borough’s existing infrastructure provision as well as the known requirements that have emerged through engagement with infrastructure providers and Staffordshire County Council (SCC) to date. The IDP is a ‘living’ document so will be updated when new information becomes available as the local plan progresses.
Will the Local Plan need to deliver housing sites for 10,700 new homes between 2020-2040?
Housing provision for 10,700 new homes must be delivered over the Local Plan period. There are already approximately 6,200 homes approved including at the strategic sites allocated in the adopted Plan for Stafford Borough 2011-2031.
The Local Plan 2020-2040 Preferred Options proposes to deliver 4,500 new homes at sites across the borough of which 3,000 are at Meecebrook Garden Community, over 1,000 are at Stafford Town and the rest are at Stone and other larger settlements.
The proposed development of Meecebrook will continue beyond 2040 to deliver a further 3,000 homes.
Why does the Local Plan include 2,000 new homes to meet the needs from other areas beyond Stafford Borough?
By law the Council must pro-actively engage with neighbouring areas on strategic issues including their unmet needs. To ensure the Local Plan can move forward and economic growth continues to occur in Stafford Borough, the housing figure of 10,700 new homes to be delivered over the Plan period includes the provision of 2,000 new homes to meet unmet needs from neighbouring areas. This is why the annual figure for housing delivery has increased from 500 new homes per year in the current adopted Plan for Stafford Borough 2011-2031, to 535 new homes per year in the Local Plan 2020-2040 Preferred Options.
Why do we have to help other councils out?
All councils have to meet a legal test known as the “Duty to Cooperate”. This means we have to engage ‘constructively, actively and an ongoing basis’ with our neighbouring authorities over matters which cut across administrative boundaries. The matters include meeting unmet housing and employment needs and the Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation, issues which do not always adhere to local authority boundaries.