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Draft Local Plan Review


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3. Challenges

64. The SLP highlighted significant problems, tensions and challenges facing the Borough.  These were used as a basis for developing the strategy and policies in the plan that could be used to address the challenges. 

65. The challenges set out in the SLP have been used as a starting point for the local plan review, and consideration has been given as to whether they remain appropriate and up to date, or whether there have been any change in circumstances that need to be addressed.  The Scope, Issues and Options consultation invited views on whether these challenges were still appropriate, and whether there were any new ones that needed to be considered.

66. The challenges set out below[9] are based on the challenges identified in the SLP.  Challenges B (Housing Needs) and Challenge G (Shortage of Gypsy and Traveller Sites) have been amended and new challenges M and N have been added to reflect changes in circumstances since 2013.

A Reducing inequalities in the Borough

B Meeting housing needs across the Borough, including the Borough's own needs and, where possible, assisting with accommodating the HMA wide shortfall.

C Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work and invest in Solihull

D Securing sustainable economic growth

E Protecting key gaps between urban areas and settlements

F Climate change

G To maintain a supply of gypsy and traveller sites.

H Increasing accessibility and encouraging sustainable travel

I Providing sufficient waste management facilities and providing for sand and gravel aggregates

J Improving health and well being

K Protecting and enhancing our natural assets

L Water quality and flood risk

M Maximising the economic and social benefits of the High Speed 2 rail link and Interchange

N Mitigating the impacts of High Speed 2 and the growth associated with the Interchange area

Challenge A – Reducing Inequalities in the Borough

North Solihull RegenerationArea

  • Significant levels of deprivation with higher levels of crime, fear of crime and worklessness than the Borough average.
  • Poor public transport links with the south of the Borough, employment areas and poor access by walking and cycling to local services and facilities and economic assets.
  • Inadequate supply of business premises, particularly space for small and medium size enterprises.
  • Skills / qualifications gap and low educational attainment.
  • Poor quality urban environment (including main retail centre), green space and public realm, lack of variety of tenures, lack of market and affordable housing.
  • Poor health, significantly lower life expectancy with a significant gap between the best and the worst wards in the Borough.

Other areas of the Borough

  • Pockets of deprivation in the Mature Suburbs and Rural Area: low incomes, unemployment and poor health in parts of Bickenhill, Elmdon, Lyndon, Olton and Shirley.
  • Problems of access to housing and local services, particularly in some rural areas.
  • Increasing obesity Borough wide, of particular concern amongst children.
  • Pockets of anti-social behaviour crime around the Borough.

Objective

  • Close the gap of inequality between the most and least affluent wards in Solihull, particularly reducing the inequalities that exist between North Solihull Regeneration Area and the rest of the Borough.

Challenge B - Meeting housing needs across the Borough, including the Borough's own needs and, where possible, assisting with accommodating the HMA wide shortfall

  • Meeting the Borough's full objectively assessed housing needs without adversely affecting the quality of its environment and its attractiveness for businesses and residents
  • Accommodating some of the HMA wide housing shortfall without adversely affecting the quality of its environment and its attractiveness for businesses and residents
  • Ensuring a supply of housing is available throughout the plan period, especially in the early period.
  • A shortage of affordable housing, particularly for rent and first time buyers, in all areas of the Borough but especially the Mature Suburbs and the Rural Areas of the Borough.
  • A need to widen the housing offer to ensure the provision of an appropriate mix, type of market housing and encourage intermediate home ownership through the provision of Starter Homes and Shared Ownership.
  • A need for a range of affordable housing for older people and for people with learning, physical and sensory disabilities and mental health needs.
  • A need to promote opportunities for self and custom house building.

Objectives

  • To ensure that the full objectively assessed housing need for the Borough is met for the plan period consistent with the achievement of sustainable development and the other objectives of the Plan
  • To ensure that provision is made for an appropriate proportion of the HMA shortfall in new housing land consistent with the achievement of sustainable development and the other objectives of the Plan.
  • Maximise the provision of affordable housing ensuring the provision of an appropriate mix, type and tenure of housing on sites in a range of locations which meet the needs of Solihull's residents, particularly needs for affordable housing, including Starter Homes, and supported housing, on a Borough wide basis.
  • Address constraints in supply including the inability to deliver affordable housing in recent years through windfall development prioritising locations for development that will best contribute to building sustainable, linked, mixed use and balanced communities.
  • Widen the range of options for older people and for people with learning, physical and sensory disabilities and mental health needs through the provision of accommodation which is designed to meet these diverse needs.
  • To provide opportunities for self and custom build as signalled through Solihull's Self and Custom House Building Register.

Challenge C - Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work and invest in Solihull

  • Accommodating additional development, whilst:
  • Continuing to improve the quality of the environment in the North Solihull Regeneration Area and in areas of deprivation in the Mature Suburbs;
  • Conserving the qualities of the Mature Suburbs, rural settlements and characteristics of the wider rural area that make those places attractive areas to live;
  • Ensuring there is sufficient amenity space and opportunities for secure children's play;
  • Providing healthy places which include opportunities for cycling and walking; and
  • Ensuring that residential and other amenities are protected.

Objectives

  • Ensure high quality design and development which integrates with its surroundings and creates safer, inclusive, adaptable and sustainable places which make a positive contribution to the Borough's sense of place, attractiveness and to people's quality of life.
  • Conserve and enhance the qualities of the built, natural and historic environment that contribute to character and local distinctiveness[10] and the attractiveness of the mature residential suburbs and the rural area.
  • Ensure development does not have an adverse impact on residential and other amenities, and where that impact is unavoidable, to incorporate satisfactory mitigation.
  • Widen the range of options for older people and those with disabilities through provision of accommodation which is designed to meet these diverse needs.

Challenge D - Securing sustainable economic growth

Key Economic Assets

  • Maintaining Solihull's important regional and sub-regional role.
  • Meeting aspirations of key businesses to enable them to maintain competitiveness (Birmingham Airport, National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham Business Park, Blythe Valley Park, Jaguar Land Rover) whilst contributing to sustainable development.
  • Retaining a high skilled workforce.
  • Impact of congestion on motorways, the strategic highway network and rail from additional growth/housing.
  • Impact of pressure for development on the quality of the environment.
  • Need to provide opportunities around workplaces for healthy and active lifestyles.
  • Need for high speed digital connectivity to enhance competitiveness.

Solihull Town Centre

  • Pressure for redevelopment and expansion.
  • Impact of congestion.
  • Maintaining the attractiveness of the Town Centre's historic core and parkland setting.

Shirley Town Centre

  • Pressure from out of centre retail development.
  • Poor quality shopping environment.
  • Impact of high level of through traffic and congestion.

Chelmsley Wood Town Centre

  • Dated in appearance and in need of environmental improvements.
  • Broader diversity of uses needed to improve attraction to shoppers.
  • Maintain its local importance.

Objectives

  • Maximise the capacity and benefits of the recently extended runway at Birmingham airport, including through enhancing the passenger experience.
  • Support the continued success of other key economic assets such as National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham and Blythe Valley Business Parks and Jaguar Land Rover whilst maintaining the quality of the environment and managing congestion.
  • Support the continued success of Solihull Town Centre whilst maintaining the quality of its environment and managing congestion.
  • Encourage investment into Shirley and Chelmsley Wood Town Centres to improve competitiveness and the shopping environment.

Challenge E - Protecting key gaps between urban areas and settlements

  • Maintaining the integrity of the Green Belt and the Borough's attractive rural setting that helps to attract investment, in the context of the significant pressures on agriculture and for development to meet the housing requirements for Solihull including the local and wider Housing Market Area needs.

Objectives

  • Maintain the Green Belt and improve the network of green infrastructure in Solihull, to prevent unrestricted expansion of the major urban area, to safeguard the key gaps between settlements such as the Meriden Gap and the countryside. Ensure that the countryside is managed so as to deliver a range of benefits including the growing of food and energy products, create an attractive rural setting and improved public access and recreational opportunities.

Challenge F - Climate change

  • Higher than average greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Low potential for wind and biomass.
  • Strong potential for decentralised energy and heating networks around Solihull Town Centre, UK Central Hub Area and growth areas where feasible and viable.
  • High level of emissions from transport.
  • Risk to health of older people and those in fuel poverty in poorly insulated homes.
  • Risk of increased surface water flooding in urban areas.
  • Urban heating.
  • Retrofitting of existing buildings.
  • Impact on biodiversity conservation and landscape character.

Objectives

  • Reduce the Borough's greenhouse gas emissions, so as to contribute to the national target for reduction, through a range of measures such as the location and design of development, provision of renewable and low carbon energy schemes, and promoting opportunities for low carbon travel.
  • Promote decentralised energy and heating networks within the Mature Suburbs and North Solihull Regeneration Area, and the generation of energy from on-site renewable sources.
  • Support the implementation of 'Solihull Connected' and encourage the use of public transport by ensuring that new development is located in areas of high accessibility or potential high accessibility.
  • Promote measures, such as integrated green infrastructure, to improve resilience of existing and new developments to the impacts of climate change.

Challenge G - To maintain a supply of gypsy and traveller sites

  • The need to maintain an appropriate level of supply of authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites in Solihull
  • Avoiding the establishment of unauthorised developments and encampments.

Objective

  • To ensure adequate provision of authorised pitches to meet the needs of Gypsies and Travellers in the Borough, to reduce the number of unauthorised developments and encampments and enable Gypsies and Travellers to access the services and facilities to meet their needs, whilst respecting the interests of the settled community.

Challenge H - Increasing accessibility and encouraging sustainable travel

  • Difficulties of access to services, facilities and employment leading to social exclusion, in the North Solihull Regeneration Area and for young and elderly in rural areas.
  • High car use in the Mature Suburbs and often this is the only form of available transport in rural parts of the Borough.
  • Ensuring that expected levels of population growth as well as delivery of HS2 and UK Central do not compound existing levels of peak hour congestion on the principal road network
  • Public transport journey times and poor reliability can discourage modal-shift
  • Poor pedestrian and cycle connectivity between communities and retail and employment centres.
  • Physical, behavioural and perceptual barriers to more sustainable forms of transport, most notably cycling and bus.
  • Poor north-south public transport links.

Objective

  • Improve accessibility and ease of movement for all users to services, facilities, jobs and green infrastructure.
  • Reduce the need to travel.
  • Manage transport demand and reduce car reliance.
  • Enable and increase the modal share of all forms of sustainable transport.
  • De-couple economic growth and increase in car use.

Challenge I - Providing sufficient waste management facilities and providing for sand and gravel aggregates

  • Providing sufficient waste management facilities to meet an equivalent tonnage to the waste arising in the Borough and to address a predicted gap between waste arising and capacity of waste management facilities in the Borough.
  • Providing for sand and gravel production to meet national and regional targets as apportioned to the West Midlands County sub-region, in the context of limited resources elsewhere in the sub-region.

Objectives

  • To promote the management of waste arising in the Borough further up the waste hierarchy and its treatment as a resource to be used wherever possible.
  • To address the capacity gap between waste arising and the capacity of facilities by taking advantage of opportunities to provide facilities for recycled materials, organic and residual waste.
  • To provide for a total of 7.2 to 8.6 million tonnes of primary sand and gravel resources from sources across the West Midlands Metropolitan Area for the Plan period to 2033, including the maintenance of a minimum 7 year landbank, whilst ensuring that provision is made to encourage the use of secondary and recycled aggregates, that sand and gravel resources are safeguarded from possible sterilisation by non-mineral development, and that environmental, restoration and aftercare criteria are met.

Challenge J - Improving health and wellbeing for everyone

  • Significant health inequalities in the Borough, particularly between North Solihull and the rest of the Borough.
  • Incidence of unhealthy lifestyles and behaviours, particularly in young people; an ageing older population, and the need to improve the physical and mental health and well being of those who visit, work and live in Solihull, in accordance with the Health and Well-Being Strategy.

Objective

  • Promote development that contributes to a healthy and safe population by providing for opportunities to enable people to pursue an active lifestyle and make healthier choices.
  • Meet local housing and employment needs whilst facilitating the provision of appropriate health care services to create healthier safer communities.
  • Ensure development promotes positive outcomes for physical and mental health and wellbeing through its location, layout and design, inclusion of appropriate levels of open space and the protection and improvement of air quality.

Challenge K - Protecting and enhancing our natural assets

  • Decline in the levels and quality of biodiversity across the Borough, including sites of national importance such as the River Blythe, loss of sites of local importance, and fragmentation of habitats.
  • Degrading of the historic Arden landscape character in parts of the Borough.
  • Managing the growth agenda so that ecosystem services provided by natural assets are not harmed and thus undermine the Borough's capacity for growth.

Objectives

  • Promote an ecosystem approach to biodiversity conservation aimed at:
    • Halting and reversing decline and loss by conserving and enhancing biodiversity and habitats of value.
    • Contributing to local and sub-regional initiatives to improve the natural environment.
    • Reviewing and updating biodiversity information and the network of local wildlife and geological sites.
    • Addressing gaps in the strategic ecosystem network to support wildlife and green infrastructure.
    • Promote a landscape scale approach to protecting and restoring the landscape of the Borough and its characteristic features.

Challenge L - Water quality and flood risk

  • Poor or moderate quality of the Borough's main water bodies, the Rivers Blythe and Cole and their tributaries, and increasing risk of flooding associated with new development.

Objectives

  • To contribute towards improving the quality of the water environment by ensuring that the Plan's policies and land allocations help to protect and improve the quality of the main water bodies in the Borough.
  • To minimise the risk of flooding by avoiding development in high risk areas wherever possible, reducing flows to rivers during periods of high intensity rainfall, and ensuring that new development is designed so as to minimise surface water flooding risks.

Challenge M - Maximising the economic and social benefits of the High Speed 2 rail link and the UKC Hub Area

  • Securing amendment to the HS2 proposal for a Parkway style interchange station with surface car parking, which could undermine efforts to maximise the economic and social benefits of the rail link.
  • Creating a sense of place and arrival via a well connected and integrated interchange, public realm and development opportunities that help support the HS2 Growth Strategy aspirations for employment, skills, environment and infrastructure.
  • Ensuring appropriate infrastructure is in place that allows the Interchange to be well connected to the nearby key economic assets, including Birmingham Airport, the NEC and wider Hub area so that they (and others) can take advantage of the opportunity provided by HS2.

Objective

  • To provide an appropriate planning framework so as to ensure that the potential economic and social benefits of growth enabled by the HS2 rail link and interchange station are delivered.
  • Creation of a sense of place that draws upon a modern interpretation of 'garden village' principles.

Challenge N - Mitigating the impacts of High Speed 2 and the growth associated with the UKC Hub area

  • Impact of construction works on the HS2 rail link and interchange station on the environment, communities and transport network, and subsequently during the operational phase.
  • Significant infrastructure requirements associated with the rail link and interchange.
  • Impact of the associated economic and housing growth on the Borough's transport network, communities, environment and its Green Belt.

Objective

  • To minimise the impacts of HS2 and the associated growth during both the construction and operational phases and to ensure that any unacceptable impacts are satisfactorily mitigated.

View Comments (141) 1. Do you agree that we've identified the right challenges facing the Borough?  If not why not?  Are there any additional challenges that should be addressed?             

[9] The challenges are not set out in any priority order.

[10] Including ensuring sufficient territory to new buildings and the opportunity to provide adequate landscaping.

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