The Council has received a letter from the independent Inspectors outlining their initial views on Solihull’s new Local Plan following the examination hearings that took place from September 2021 to February 2022.
The Inspectors have concluded that the Council has complied with the duty to co-operate in the preparation of the Local Plan, but they are still giving consideration to a number of significant issues of soundness raised at the hearings.
These include the period of the plan. As the plan is likely to be adopted sometime in 2022/23 they suggest extending the plan period to at least 2036/37 so that Solihull’s strategic policies look ahead over a minimum fifteen-year period from adoption so it is consistent with national policy.
While they agree that the plan should recognise the importance of the NEC, and the potential for new housing at the complex, the Inspectors are seeking more evidence to justify the ambitious vision for the site that would see the delivery of more than 2,000 new homes by 2036.
Councillor Andy Mackiewicz, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Planning & Housing, said:
“I welcome the Inspectors’ letter. It was heartening that they have agreed we have complied with our duty to cooperate as this was a big hurdle and is part of the legal test of the plan.
“They have now set us the challenge of producing more evidence to support the NEC’s masterplan proposals and suggested we also consider the time period the plan covers.
“We will work closely with the NEC to consolidate their proposals in order to demonstrate to the Inspectors that the scheme is deliverable and within the timescales envisaged.
“The Inspectors have acknowledged the constructive approach we have taken to the examination and this will continue as we seek to respond positively to the issues the they have raised.
“The Local Plan is a key strategic document charting the next decade of growth and development in the borough, whilst delivering on our ambitious climate change actions. So it is vital we have a legal and sound plan to ensure that as a democratically elected organisation, we continue to have control over the planning process; making sure the right development takes place at the right place, and in the right way.
“The current Plan meets our residents’ desires in terms of protecting the character of the borough as well as providing the new homes and new economic opportunities we all need for the future.”
The full letter can be found here.
More information about the Local Plan can be found here.