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  • Gail Collins

‘Pause’ to Solihull Local Plan

Government Inspectors on the Solihull Local Plan Examination have advised the Council to pause the Local Plan until changes are finalised to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council submitted its Local Plan for Examination in May 2021 and Examination hearings had since taken place in front of Inspectors Kevin Ward and Kelly Ford.

In a letter to the Council in early March 2023, the Inspectors said that “it would be appropriate to wait” to continue the Examination until the finalised NPPF version is published, and added it is “likely” that further hearing sessions would be required and discussion on some of the strategic issues re-opened.

The Inspectors added that “You will appreciate that our assessment of the soundness of the local plan must be based on current national policy at the time.”

Solihull’s housing requirement, as stated in the submitted plan, is an average of 816 dwellings per year, together with a contribution of about 2,000 dwellings to meet needs from Birmingham City Council’s area up to 2030/31, which the Inspectors said was “a key factor in duty to cooperate discussions and statements of common ground with relevant local planning authorities”, resulting in a total housing requirement of 15,873 dwellings up to 2036/37.

One of the areas of contention in the draft Solihull Local Plan is the Council’s opinion that up to 2,000 homes can be built on a site beside the National Exhibition Centre (NEC). The Inspectors believe only 500 homes could be built on the NEC site, so at least a further 1,700 must be found elsewhere.

The Inspectors consider that it is “unclear” on whether the Council will make the Birmingham contribution, but if it does “additional site allocations will be required”.

In the meantime, the Inspectors have agreed that the overall spatial strategy of the submitted Local Plan and the other housing site allocations are in principle appropriate.

Solihull Council has now said it “reluctantly” supports the proposal to pause the Local Plan, which would “enable the examination to take into account the significant changes to the NPPF”.

For more details, please contact our Planning Policy Team on 0121 744 5511.


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