Covid-19 causes delay to SWDP Review

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The completion of the review of the South Worcestershire Development Plan has been delayed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was hoped the document would be ready for public examination in early 2021. But lockdown restrictions have made it impossible to complete a number of technical assessments and evidence gathering needed to support the plan.

This includes additional traffic and air quality modelling. These cannot be carried out currently as vehicle movements are still not close enough to pre-lockdown levels.

Over the next few months the necessary assessments and studies will take place.

The plan to be sent for public examination will be published, subject to approval by all three South Worcestershire Councils, in October 2021. It will then be submitted to the Secretary of State in February 2022.

The expectation is it will then be examined before the end of 2022 and adopted shortly after. The proposed timetable changes still need to be approved by the three South Worcestershire Councils. They will be considered at meetings in September.

Cllr Lucy Hodgson, Chair of the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel, said: "We're disappointed we have to push back the SWDP timetable back but it was unavoidable given the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Many consultants needed to complete the technical work required remain on furlough, and any data we capture now about traffic movements or air quality would not give us a reliable picture.

"Given the importance of this document to meeting future demand for housing and economic growth in South Worcestershire, it's important the plan is robust so it's right we take the time to do this work.

"The team will do everything possible to make sure there is no further delay to the timetable but that will depend on how the pandemic progresses and the impact of a second wave of COVID-19 or any future lockdown restrictions."

The revised SWDP sets out how a Government requirement to build another 14,000 new homes across Malvern Hills District, Worcester City and Wychavon by 2041 will be met. This is on top of the need for 28,400 new homes by 2030, more than half of which have already been built, set out in the current plan.

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