The Staffordshire Structure Plan - 1996 to 2011

The Staffordshire Structure Plan has reached another stage in determining requirements of housing, employment, transport etc. within the County for the early part of the 21st Century. Following a consultation phase of preliminary proposals the Deposit Draft version of the Plan has been published for further consideration, following which an Examination in Public is scheduled to take place in mid-1999.

Members will recollect publication of the need to provide 4.4 million new homes nationally between 1996 and 2011 with the Lichfield District requirement established at 7,600 dwellings. The local press carried details of the disposition of these houses including 2,000 at Fradley and 1,000 west of Tamworth. The view was stated that broadly the City of Lichfield, for many and varied reasons, could not sustain further growth beyond that confirmed within the adopted Lichfield District Plan.

The Deposit Draft now under consideration has confirmed the general principles of development within the Lichfield District area and in particular restraint upon development within the City. Indeed the relevant paragraph (para 4.39) has remained unamended. This paragraph is of considerable significance to the aims of the Civic Society and no doubt will be quoted and referred to many times in the ensuing years. It reads:

"Physical and environmental constraints are considered to limit the development capacity of the historic City of Lichfield. Nevertheless it will retain its employment, commercial and social role for a wide surrounding area and continue to provide station facilities for commuting to the West Midlands conurbation and elsewhere. Given the need to avoid the release of Green Belt land the strategic direction for growth is considered to be to the northeast, but still related to the City. Generally the principle of free standing small to medium sized new settlements is not considered to represent a wholly sustainable form of development. However special circumstances apply at Fradley to the north east of Lichfield, in as much as there is a major employment site on the former airfield and the historic City of Lichfield and its setting warrants special protection. A significant degree of self sufficiency could therefore be achieved once the proposed new settlement reaches its optimum size of at least 3,000 houses beyond the end of the plan period.

Changes are evident in the Deposit Draft to the housing allocation within the Lichfield District area. Originally the provision from 1996 to 2011 was proposed to be 7,600 dwellings; to include 1,000 west of Tamworth and 2,000 around Fradley - both with a further 1,000 beyond the plan period. The Deposit Draft reduces the overall figure down to 6,800 dwellings due to a reallocation within the immediately neighbouring Staffordshire areas and a reduction down to 1,400 dwellings within the plan period at Fradley. The additional houses beyond the plan period at Fradley are however raised to 1,600 dwellings to maintain the sustainable requirement at 3,000 dwellings in total.

Turning to employment; Lichfield District has, it would appear, benefited from the changes indicated in the Deposit Draft. The overall allocation of land for employment has increased from 1,220 to 1,275 hectares within Staffordshire with increases in Stafford, Stoke, Tamworth and East Staffordshire. Lichfield District, on the other hand, has seen a reduction in land allocation from 230 hectares to 215 hectares which, in terms of the area of the District, is significant.

There are number of other changes in the Deposit Draft which members may well find of interest including:

a. The re-insertion of the A38, especially in the area of Fradley for highway improvements.

b. The Lichfield Southern Bypass is qualified by the words "Walsall Road to London Road" added after the words "Lichfield Southern Bypass".

c. The Lichfield to Walsall rail route and the opening of the line from Lichfield to Burton are now supported.

d. The protection of the routes of former canals for restoration has been added.

In conclusion; a comparison between the Deposit Draft and the earlier consultation document clearly indicates a reinforcement of the general principles of development within the District, a re-statement of the special significance of Lichfield City and the obvious fact that Lichfield District has benefited by the changes made.

Roger Hockney and David Duffy
June, 1999