The Local Development Framework - Core Strategy

The closing date for comments on the draft Core Strategy is the 28th February. What started as a brief consideration of progress on finalising the Society's submission developed into a lengthy discussion. On the key issue of housing numbers we concluded that the Council's proposal of 8,000 dwellings is too high. The strategic development sites being promoted for south Lichfield and Streethay raise important issues not only about the selected locations but also the scale of housing and the broader impact upon the City's infra-structure. The question was posed why the proposed extension of the Lichfield Southern By-pass from Birmingham Road to London Road should not constitute the boundary of the City in the same way as the first phase of the By-pass.

Although a range of numbers is given for each strategic housing site we are mindful that Darwin Park was allocated for 650 houses but 1,122 have been built. That is a massive 72% more than was planned. The Council maintained through the last Local Plan Public Inquiry that the area allocated was not excessive for 650 houses. If the Council fails again to ensure they control the maximum numbers built to no more than the upper number of the range allocated there will be substantially more houses overall. This will further increase the adverse effects upon existing problems in the highway network, car parking and other local facilities.

Consideration was given to recent publicity promoting development of land south of Fradley towards Streethay. The possible impact of the revised HS2 line on this site and the virtual coalescence with the strategic development site for Streethay was noted. We however preferred the District Council's proposals for Fradley.

The need for action to improve public transport was discussed and the worthy plan aspirations for re-opening of the Lichfield to Walsall line. That line could provide better access to trains from Burntwood which is one of the largest towns in the country not served by a rail service. The need for additional parking and disabled access for Lichfield Trent Valley Station was discussed. The scope for improved use of Rugeley Trent Valley Station and its potential for access to new development sites were also considered.

Concerns expressed in the past by the Society about the timely provision of infra-structure for new developments such as Boley Park and Darwin Park has not been acted upon. Serious delays have occurred on Darwin Park in relation to the Community hall, play facilities and the adoption of public open space, sewers and highways. There have also been with serious omissions in planning for the provision of and upgrading of pedestrian links and securing footpath lighting. These problems indicate the need for a fundamental rethink by the Council on how to avoid these shortcomings on new sites. A detailed Infrastructure Delivery Plan has also been produced by the Council with an extensive listing of projects required for new developments. The means by which they will be delivered and critically how unacceptable delays will be avoided is not at all clear.

Please do not miss the opportunity to submit to Lichfield District Council your views on the draft Core Strategy. This is an important consultation exercise the Council has helpfully made available in addition to the formal statutory process.

John Thompson
February 2011