18 October 2021
Solihull Council Local Plan
Examination by Independent Inspectors
The major activity keeping us occupied currently is start of Hearings on the Council’s Local Plan. The ‘Examination in Public (EIP)’, led by Independent Inspectors, is scheduled in two blocks of sessions: from 27 Sep - 8 Oct and 8 Nov - 9 Dec 2021. A Forum representative will be present at most sessions, representing views of the KDBH community (per our responses at foot of page below) and generally keeping a weather eye out for anything under discussion that could affect KDBH.
Although attendance in person is inevitably limited, all meetings are webcast and can be accessed via the link on the Council’s Examination webpage (nb: this takes a while to load). Anyone can go on line to listen in, either to 'live' Hearings or to catch up on past sessions. To give a flavour of what the sessions entail, and how they are conducted:
this short summary is our Forum representative's report back from the first day
this link takes you the Matter 1 Hearing, with discussion on Neighbourhood Plans and with Forum input starting at minute 47.00
The first block of sessions has now completed and hearings are paused until 8 November.
Looking forward, Thursday 18 November is definitely a date for diaries - the most important hearing for us in KDBH. The morning session, starting at 9:30am, is dedicated to discussing the proposed housing site allocations for Knowle. We have already submitted representations to the Inspectors, updated to reflect what's happened in the sessions so far. Two of our planners will be attending to argue the case where we believe changes are necessary to protect KDBH community interests.
Residents' Survey results and representations
Update May 2021
Council Submits its Local Plan for Independent Examination
On 19 May, the Council let us know that they had submitted their Local Plan to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
This triggers the next stage of the process, Independent Examination (IE) - the final scrutiny before the plan can be adopted (assuming it passes IE). An Inspector is appointed on behalf of the Secretary of State to oversee the process of reviewing the Plan and its evidence base, taking due account of all the representations made in last year's consultation. More details on the Council's website Here
There's nothing more we can do just now regarding the Local Plan itself. However, we do expect that the Inspector will call Hearings and have asked to attend any relevant to matters affecting KDBH. We continue to prepare for these, most notably our recent commissioning of an independent review of the Council's KDBH Transport Study as being one of the foremost issues for KDBH residents.
Update 25 March 2021
Since Christmas, we’ve spent a good deal of time reviewing and structuring your (anonymised) feedback, and are pleased to now make this available for all to share. The results are enormously helpful in developing our understanding - not just in responding to the Local Plan, but also in shaping our approach in a number of important topic areas going forward.
As always, we can rely on lots of feedback from our KDBH residents, which we value greatly. With more than 800 comments received, we’ve sorted responses into specific subject groups covering the most popular words/themes so it's easier for anyone with a particular interest to go straight to relevant responses. Click on the links to see feedback (exactly as provided) in the seven categories below:
On 19 March, the Council also let us know that they have published details of all the representations they received from the consultation, which you can read via the links below:
The Council is arranging for the representations to be reviewed before a decision is made to submit the Plan to the Secretary of State (via the Planning Inspectorate), following which they will publish the updated Plan and confirm the timeline for the rest of the Local Plan process. We will continue to follow developments very closely and keep you posted…..
This page brings together below all the various strands of work undertaken by your Forum team over the 5 weeks since Solihull Council published their Draft Local Plan on 30 October 2020. It is the culmination of a massive, concerted effort by a team dedicated to creating high quality representations that are robustly founded on evidence and set out clearly and precisely what modifications we believe are necessary to the Local Plan, and why.
We will submit representations to the Council on behalf of the KDBH community. In framing the representations, therefore, we have focused on: a) how they link to the KDBH Neighbourhood Plan objectives and policies, voted on by residents in March 2019; and b) more recent feedback specifically relating to the Council's Draft Local Plan obtained through the Residents' Survey that ran from 25 Nov - 1 Dec 2020. Below we provide a summary of the results of the Survey and have linked various aspects to show where resident feedback has been carried through into relevant representations.
The Council's 6 week (the minimum legally allowed) consultation timescales severely limited the time that our on-line Residents' Survey could be available. Over just 6 days, the Forum received 814 detailed comments in nearly 300 responses.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the majority of responses came from Knowle residents.
The Forum really appreciates the level of response in the challenging circumstances of lockdown and over a peak period in the run up to Christmas ('Black Friday'!). While ideally we would, of course, have wished for more time to seek views, we do also have the benefit of being able to draw on residents’ responses to previous Local Plan consultations (both in support and objections); as well as the Residents’ Survey undertaken during development of the KDBH NP Neighbourhood Plan.
6. What is your view on the proposed scale of new housing development (808) in KDBH?
While there is general recognition that some housing development is required, and the reduction from 1,040 homes is welcome, 63% of respondents still oppose or strongly oppose the scale of proposed development.
7. What is your view on delivery of new community facilities in KDBH enabled by new housing development?
There was a majority in support of all three proposed new facilities. The sports facility was most supported at 64%; there was slightly greater support for a new primary school than a new secondary school, with the latter being most opposed at 24%.
8. The opportunity for new schools / new sports facilities is a key factor shaping my view
This was an interesting response in that there was no clear majority one way or another.
9. How important is it for the Council to clearly address proposed policies that are at odds with our KDBH Neighbourhood Plan policies and/or likely to affect village character and distinctiveness?
The Forum has created individual representations covering each of these areas - see R2, R3 and R5 below.
All three areas received a resounding majority of the view that the Council 'must' or 'should' address these aspects of policy. It comes as no surprise that the greatest concern relates to housing density, with 80% responding that this 'must be' addressed. There was slightly less concern regarding Housing Mix, with an 18% minority regarding this as 'not important'.
These matters are also addressed in other representations, notably the R7 'KDBH Settlement Chapter'; and in R8-R12 dealing with site proposals and Concept Masterplans.
10, 11. How important is it to the 'soundness' of the Council's proposals to have more certainty regarding provision of a) health care facilities and b) traffic, transport and parking in relation to new development?
The strength of feeling is as resounding as ever on what have always been two top priority areas for KDBH residents. The vast majority of responses were of the view that health and transport related matters 'must be' addressed in a way that provides a credible level of certainty for any development proposals to be considered 'sound'. Only 1% deemed health and transport matters to be 'not important'.
Your Forum has included representations on both these matters in R7 'KDBH Settlement Chapter' below, as well as R8-R12 that specifically relate to each of the sites.
12,13. What is your view on the Council's proposals for a) the Hampton Road Site; b) the Arden Triangle Site?
Neither of the two sites could muster more than 1/3 of respondents in support of the new development, with a majority being against the proposals. It is noticeable that views are more strongly felt opposing the Arden Triangle development, there being far fewer 'neutral' than for Hampton Road site and 53% against.
As always, KDBH residents have provided us with a wealth of detail on what lies behind their views, contributing a total of 814 comments - which we value hugely and are still busy working our way through. Thank you!
Taking everything into account what approach should be taken in making representations to the Council regarding whether their proposals are 'sound'?
This is the crunch question.
Nearly 3/4 of respondents are of the view that the Council's proposals are materially unsound. 23% indicated a preference for outright objection against 7% fully supporting the proposals.
A clear majority of 50% indicated that representations should object on the basis that the proposals lack sufficient evidence and require material changes. This is the approach that your Forum has taken in creating its 12 representations below.
Forum Representations on SOLIHULL COUNCIL'S Submission Draft Local Plan
The structure and content of our representations needs to be to a certain prescribed format. They follow the Draft Local Plan paragraph by paragraph and are very detailed, with cross-references and often quite technical 'planning speak' - in short, they are not an easy read for the layperson! We've therefore created an 'Overview' Document as a more 'user friendly' short summary of the representations. We recommend that everyone starts with this.
In total, we've created twelve representations, labelled R1-R12 below:
Policy-Related: R1-R6 relate to representations on Draft Local Plan policies that are at odds with our KDBH Neighbourhood Plan policies on, eg. Density, Affordable Housing, Housing Mix.
Site-Related: R7-R12 are representations on the two proposed development sites in Knowle - Hampton Road and the Arden Triangle - and their related Concept Masterplans. These are the heart of our representations. They identify a wide range of aspects in the Council's proposals that need to be addressed to provide credible evidence of viability of the sites - including application of the policy matters addressed in R1-R6.
If you are reviewing the detail - or if you're short on time and read just one thing - the KDBH Settlement Chapter, R7 is the best starting point to get an overall sense of the representations being made.
All the representations have now been finalised as at 9 December 2020. A complete document with all 12 representations and suitable for printing was sent to the Council on 10 December 2020 - you can read this document Here.
Although the Forum is a body representing the community, our representations will count as only one 'view'. We have striven to make our representations available as soon as possible in advance of the consultation closing date on 14 December so that anyone can, should they choose, use them in part or in whole as input to a representation they too may wish to make. We do very much encourage as many residents as possible to make their view heard.
R1 - Status of Neighbourhood Plans
R3 - Housing Mix
R5 - Density
R2 - Affordable Housing
R4 - Housing Requirement
R6 - Concept Masterplans
R7 - KDBH Settlement
R8 - Policy KN1,
R9 - Policy KN2,
R10 - Concept Masterplans, General Matters
R11 - Concept Masterplan, Hampton Road
R12 - Concept Masterplan, Arden Triangle