Funding for Site Development and Infrastructure

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Comment

Black Country Core Strategy Issue and Option Report

Representation ID: 1335

Received: 08/09/2017

Respondent: Worcestershire County Council

Representation:

Apart from private sector investment, the main potential sources of funding referred to are the Black Country LEP and West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), and we remind the Black Country authorities that WCC is not a member of the WMCA. This is a particular concern given the indicative viability of the plan, which suggests that future growth may need to be supported by external funding as it is unlikely that sufficient funding can be achieved through developer contributions.

Full text:

The Black Country Core Strategy Issues & Options consultation report (the "Issues & Options") recognises that the Black Country is potentially unable to meet housing and employment land needs within its own boundaries. The Issues and Options notes the potential for some growth to be exported within the wider Greater Birmingham and Black Country Housing Market Area, which includes Bromsgrove district and Redditch borough. However, the issues and options gives little detail of any proposed growth outside the Black Country, and there seems to be little consideration of the impact this could have on neighbouring authorities, including the county and districts of Worcestershire.
The potential for growth in neighbouring local authority areas is alluded to, and the call for sites extends to those authorities adjoining the Black Country. We are concerned, however, that no reference is made to the impacts on infrastructure -particularly roads and education - that could arise from such growth. There are known areas of congestion on key transport routes in and around north Worcestershire, including at Hagley, at junctions 3 and 4 of the M5, and at junction 1 of the M42. AQMAs exist at Hagley and M42 J1, making these locations particularly sensitive to additional vehicle emissions. Capacity enhancements and solutions to traffic congestion could be very expensive and delivery would require a successful growth fund bid as well as developer contributions. More detaiI on such schemes cannot be known until modelling has been undertaken.
We support the proposals to invest in rail, which provides opportunities for growth, subject to agreed investment. WCC has strategic plans to increase rail accessibility and frequency to Birmingham, Kidderminster, London and Worcester.
Apart from private sector investment, the main potential sources of funding referred to are the Black Country LEP and West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), and we remind the Black Country authorities that WCC is not a member of the WMCA. This is a particular concern given the indicative viability of the plan, which suggests that future growth may need to be supported by external funding as it is unlikely that sufficient funding can be achieved through developer contributions.
We also have concerns that some areas adjacent to the Black Country that may be potential locations to accommodate Black Country growth may also be areas of interest to Birmingham City Council in meeting Birmingham's unallocated housing need. Dialogue needs to take place between Birmingham and the Black Country authorities, and also between the Black Country authorities, WCC, and relevant Worcestershire district councils, to identify areas of potential. It is important to ensure that proposals comply with the districts' visions for their future employment and housing growth.
We recognise the need for a Green Belt review, and would appreciate the opportunity to input into this as a neighbouring authority.