Regional Spatial Strategy - Newslink
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Planning is a pretty complicated subject. It's a strange mix of local democracy, complex regulation, expensive legal process and central government diktat. It also has a bewildering jargon all of its own.

But it really matters. I urge you to get take real notice of two major pieces of planning going on at present - the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) and the South Worcestershire Joint Core Strategy (SWJCS)

They may sound technical and remote, but their implications for where we live are going to be huge.

Put simply, the RSS defines in broad terms where the land for new housing and jobs should be located in the counties and urban centre of the West Midlands and the SWJCS defines exactly where they will go.

The RSS is in a bit of a mess because, despite the very high new housing numbers local authorities signed up for, the government has said they weren't high enough and has employed expensive consultants to recommend even higher numbers. Then there will be a public inquiry process next year.

However, for reasons I just don't understand, the government insists that the local authorities of the region including our very own Worcester City, Malvern Hills and Wychavon must produce their own more local plans before the results of the RSS are known.

Wisely, the three councils have pooled their resources into developing a joint strategy. Nowhere is this co-ordination more important than somewhere like the St Peters, Kempsey and Norton area. It is here that the boundaries of all three authorities meet. Having a policy that takes account of the needs of these different communities is vital.

Now of course the RSS says we need a lot more houses - and that is right. As we live longer in smaller households, we do need more homes. There is also already a desperate shortage of affordable housing in South Worcestershire that does need to be addressed. So, although I think the government's figures are too high, I accept the need for a lot more building over the RSS plan period to 2026.

Worcester has been designated as a growth area. And that means it will take a lot of these new homes - but so will Droitwich and Evesham. The problem is that Worcester is basically full, so they will have to go around the city - and the St Peters/Norton area has been identified as possible location for 3,000 of them, with another 300 at Whittington and 3,500 in the Dines Green/Lower Broadheath area.

I went with Councillor Rob Adams to the very informative South Worcestershire Joint Core Strategy exhibition at the St Peter's Garden Centre on 27th September. If you didn't get along, there are other events organised and a good website at www.swjcs.org. The consultation ends on 31st October. Now is the time to get your point of view across - your view on where the houses should go and also on the new roads, railway stations, bus services, sewage systems, water supply, schools and medical facilities that we will need to cope with this huge growth.

I have pretty strong views on this subject, especially on providing the essential infrastructure to support the homes, and I've expressed them frequently. Now, though it's your turn. Please tell the planners what you think - you have until the end of October


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