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Local Plan Review - Hub Status of Westbury - UPDATE 26.06.20
15th June 2020
This Parish Council has been made aware that the Local Plan Review item (consideration of the Pre-Submission Draft of the Plan) which had been scheduled to be considered by Shropshire Councils Cabinet on 6th July 2020 is to be moved to a new Cabinet date on 20th July 2020.   
 
Papers for the new Cabinet on 20th July, including the Local Plan document, will be published on Shropshire Council’s website on Friday 10th July in line with Council protocol.       This  delay does not impact on the timeframe for the proposed consultation, which continues to be planned to begin in late July and run for 8 weeks as previously planned.
 
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Yesterday Shropshire Council planning policy officers met with representatives of Westbury Parish Council and myself after the points allocation for Westbury village becoming a community hub (allowing development) in the local plan review was challenged by a developer. Following this challenge Shropshire Council has accepted that within the “comfortable walking distance of the village “ there is an  business with five or more employees thus adding 5 points to the village score, resulting in Westbury qualifying  for hub status.

 

This was challenged by the parish council and myself, however the council insist the scoring is accurate and if not accepted could be challenged at the inspection stage.  This would be post the public consultation which is likely to be in mid July and run for 8 weeks.

 

During the meeting, we ran through the many points which have been raised earlier in this process in particular at the public consultation meetings, which we held at the village hall. Likewise, I highlighted many of the concerns that residents had raised with myself and with the parish council over the past week or so, once it was apparent that the hub status had been challenged.

 

One of the significant issues that has been raised in the sustainability is the  security of the outreach post office service in Westbury which is temporarily housed within a business premise in the village. This service has been suspended since the lock down began and there is no guidance or guarantee as to, if and or when this might resume. Having a post office service either permanently or as an out reach service carries four points. Therefore, without the post office the allocation of points for Westbury Village would drop below the hub threshold of 48 points.   Shropshire Council has asked that further investigations are carried out by both the parish council and myself as to the security and long term viability of the out reach Post Office service in Westbury.  We will feed back this information to the planners within the next 10 day where they will take a decision around amending the points allocation once again.

 

(please note that the point allocation as per Shropshire council website is not the allocation they are using as it includes the school and petrol station which no longer exist the website appears to be very out of date)

 

There are currently no applications lodged with Shropshire council for any large scale developments in Westbury however I have been made aware by a number of residents that there is movement by some developers to make applications as soon as they have the green light to do so. There is a lot of speculation as to the locations and many sites have been promoted in and around the village for development.

 

Going forward there are some key points to remember-

 

If Westbury is included in the draft local plan which goes to Shropshire Council’s cabinet to approve for public consultation all residents will have the opportunity to respond to the consultation and make their views known. It is unlikely, at this stage, I will be able to call a public meeting much like we have had in the past (unless government guidance is relaxed) in this case it will be important that residents respond in writing either on line or via the post or to me and I will pass on comments. Should we not be able to meet I will look to hold a digital meeting but I am conscious that many resident will not be able to access this and  I will be happy to discuss with anyone via telephone their views which I will feed into the consultation.

 

Following the end of the consultation and, if Westbury is still included in the Local plan, which goes before the planning inspectorate (independent body) the parish council and residents will be able to formally challenge the allocation of housing for Westbury (looks to be in the region of 20-25 houses as a guide) I will provide more information on this if and when we get to this stage.

 

Likewise, I am also aware that I have been contacted by a small number of resident who would like to see some development in the village. Again,  my advice is very much the same that if you would like your views considered it is important to feed these into the public consultation from mid July onwards.

 

I hope this provides a clear overview of where we are in what is a very complicated situation. There are lots of fine details which I will happily discuss over the telephone.

 

As ever if you have any questions or think I can be of assistance please do not hessite to contact me

 

 

Ed Potter

Shropshire Councillor for the Loton Division (Including the Parishes of Alberbury with Cardeston, Montford, Great and Little Ness and Westbury)

Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Education

07779117802 / 01694731305

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