Councillors asked to approve new timeline for revised draft Local Plan

A plan to ensure Swindon has the right homes, jobs and infrastructure over the next 20 years needs to be updated, councillors will be told next week (7 Dec).

Published: Wednesday, 30th November 2022

SCR under construction

Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve a new Local Development Scheme (LDS), which will set out a revised timeline to produce a new draft Local Plan for the Borough.

The Swindon Borough Local Plan 2026 was adopted in 2015 and sets out how much development is needed in Swindon, as well as where and how it should take place for the period up to 2036. It helps to build local communities, protect important features and ensure that the housing and associated infrastructure Swindon needs in the future is delivered in a sustainable way, guarding against speculative development.

In order to keep the Local Plan up to date, the Council is required to undertake regular reviews and to takes into account government changes to the planning system, together with comments from previous consultations and new sites which have come forward for development.

The updated LDS provides a number of opportunities to ensure the new Local Plan meets local and national challenges. This will include ensuring it meets the needs of the community post the COVID-19 pandemic, that it meets the Council’s priorities regarding climate change and town centre regeneration, and that it provides enough land for homes and economic growth.

Following a consultation on the draft Local Plan last year, a proposed 350-home housing allocation on the former Highworth golf course site has been withdrawn, while the deliverability of other sites are also under review.

In light of the national and local changes, the Council needs to review and evaluate options for new development with updated supporting evidence to deliver homes to achieve a five-year housing supply.

The outline programme for the LDS will be presented to the Council’s Cabinet, which includes:

  • A public consultation (Regulation 18) in Autumn 2023 – this marks the start of the engagement stage of the Plan where it is decided what should be included in the Plan.
  • A public consultation (Regulation 19) in Summer 2024 – this provides an opportunity for representations on the ‘soundness’ of the plan to be made on the changes to the Local Plan before it is examined by an independent Planning Inspector.
  • Submission of the Local Plan to the Secretary of State (Regulation 22) in late 2024.

If the LDS is approved by Cabinet and then the Scrutiny Committee, it will be made available on the Council’s website at the earliest opportunity.

Councillor Gary Sumner, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Strategic Infrastructure, Transport and Planning, said: “It is important we regularly review our Local Plan because circumstances change and sites which had previously been allocated for housing growth sometimes do not come forward for a variety of reasons.

“We therefore need to ensure we continue to reflect the changing local and national picture. We will be looking to identify housing sites which will deliver a five-year housing supply so we do not receive speculative planning applications on land where residents do not want to see development.

“The Local Development Scheme is the first step in that process and will help us to respond to challenges.”

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