Warwick District lies within the heart of Warwickshire and is due south of the city of Coventry. It covers an area of 28,226 hectares. Approximately 80% of its population of 132,900 (2006 mid year estimates) live within its four towns of Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick, Kenilworth and Whitnash.
The district enjoys a high quality environment with attractive, historic towns surrounded by a pleasant rural area. Approximately 81% of the district's rural area lies within the West Midlands Green Belt. The district benefits from good communication links with road and rail access both to the West Midlands conurbation and to London.
The district's character, and much of its appeal, comes from its wealth of historic buildings and areas. The district contains 29 conservation areas and approximately 1500 listed buildings, some of the most notable of which include Warwick and Kenilworth Castles, Stoneleigh Abbey and the two country houses of Packwood and Baddesley Clinton (both owned by the National Trust).
For all of these reasons, Warwick District has become a desirable place to live and work and the district has seen sustained growth over recent years with 15056 new homes built in the period 1976 to 2001. This has helped the district meet the challenges of a changing economy, with growth in the service sector and a rise of white collar jobs over the last 50 years making up for a steep decline in manufacturing jobs (many of which have been tied to the changing fortunes of the automotive industry). Today, unemployment is low within the district (1.6% in 2007), however this masks local pockets of deprivation where unemployment is much higher.
Growth in Warwick District in recent years has been primarily focussed on its four towns. In the last 20 years this has been seen in two ways. Firstly, there has been the release of large green field sites on the edge of towns for new housing and employment uses, with major development in areas such as Tachbrook Park, Warwick Gates, South Sydenham and South West Warwick. Secondly, particularly since 2000, there has been more development within the urban areas of brownfield sites such as the former Pottertons and Benfords factories in Warwick and the Regent Court development in Leamington. Since 2001, brownfield sites within urban areas have accounted for 426 new homes per year, leading to Warwick District having one of the highest overall levels of house building in the West Midlands.
Growth has also been seen outside of the urban areas. The rural areas have witnessed significant development pressure, both on large sites such as the former Hatton Hospital and many smaller sites within and adjacent to the many villages within the district. The district also has a number of major existing institutions and organisations that are located within the rural area and some of these have sought permission to expand or redevelop. Examples of this include the Royal Agricultural Society of England at Stoneleigh Park (the National Agricultural Centre), the University of Warwick, Coventry airport and Prodrive at the former Honiley airfield.
What is a Core Strategy?
Warwick District Council has an important role in setting the planning policies to help guide and manage new development in Warwick District. In the past the Council has done this principally through a document called the "Local Plan". The current Local Plan for Warwick District sets out a comprehensive set of planning policies to guide development in the district up to 2011.
In 2004, a new act of Parliament, the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act, was enacted. This required the gradual replacement of Local Plans with a new series of planning documents, to be known collectively as the "Local Development Framework" (LDF). A key principle behind the LDF is that it contains a number of documents, and that local planning authorities can determine (within limits) which they prepare and in which order, to reflect local circumstances and priorities. For example, Warwick District Council has already prepared planning guidance on managing our housing supply, vehicle parking standards and affordable housing.
The most important document within the LDF is the Core Strategy, and the Government has made it a priority that all local authorities prepare Core Strategies. As its name suggests, the Core Strategy must set out the general planning strategy for the District and will contain a limited number of core policies. The Core Strategy is not intended to replace the Local Plan in terms of its length and level of detail. As and when more detailed planning policies are required to replace the Local Plan, the Council can prepare these separately, however they should take the Core Strategy as their starting point.
The planning context for the Core Strategy
Although Warwick District Council is the planning authority for Warwick District, this does not mean that the Council is entirely free to choose its own planning policies. There is a framework of legislation, national planning guidance and regional planning policy within which we must operate. The planning context for Warwick District over the period to 2026 is heavily influenced by this context, and in particular by regional planning policy. This is set out in the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS). The RSS sets the broad framework of policies for the whole West Midlands region and, like the Core Strategy, is itself subject to public involvement and independent examination. Importantly, it identifies how much new housing and employment land should be provided within each authority over the period that it covers.
The current West Midlands RSS was issued by the Secretary of State in 2004. It is at present being reviewed to take account of new projections for the number of new households in the West Midlands that it is anticipated will be in existence by 2026. These projections show that there will be a requirement for significant additional homes above those originally projected (in the 2004 RSS) for the West Midlands. This is part of a national trend of household growth, and the Government has made it clear that every region within the country will be expected to play a part in meeting the need for further housing, and the jobs that accompany this.
For Warwick District, it is anticipated that this will mean that we will be required to accommodate a significant number of new homes and jobs within the district over the period to 2026. The precise implications of this are considered in section 4 (the key issues facing Warwick District). It should be noted, however, that the process of reviewing the current RSS is still underway. This review is called the "West Midlands RSS: Phase Two Revision". The West Midlands Regional Assembly (the body undertaking the Review) approved its draft RSS Review (called the "Preferred Options") in October 2007 and there will be a region-wide public consultation on this in early 2008. It is expected that the final version of the "West Midlands RSS: Phase Two Revision" will be issued by the Secretary of State early in 2009.
Notwithstanding the fact that the review of the RSS has not been completed, this Issues Paper takes as its basis the figures for growth given in the "Preferred Options" document approved for consultation by the Regional Assembly. This will allow everybody in Warwick District to consider the possible implications of significant growth in the district and how this may be addressed.
The Core Strategy and the Sustainable Community Strategy
As well as preparing this Core Strategy, Warwick District Council is working alongside many other partners and stakeholders to prepare a new Sustainable Community Strategy (SCS) for Warwick District. The previous Community Strategy "Warwick 2020" was prepared in 2004 however the Warwick Partnership has decided to update and review the Community Strategy to better reflect new and emerging priorities within Warwick District. The Government supports close working between Community Strategies (now termed "Sustainable Community Strategies") and Core Strategies, and indeed the Core Strategy is required to have regard to the SCS.
The SCS and the Core Strategy were launched at a joint "Visioning Event" held in Warwick in June 2007. Although the timetable for preparing the SCS is much shorter than that for the Core Strategy (it is expected that the SCS will be agreed by March 2008), every opportunity has been taken to bring the two processes together. This has enabled the SCS to be aware of figures for new jobs and homes in the emerging RSS Review (see above), and also for the Core Strategy to be aware of the needs and aspirations of various stakeholders within the district. Where it is reasonable and possible, the needs of stakeholders should be reflected in the Core Strategy in due course.
What happens next?
The purpose of this Issues paper, and the public consultation that is following its publication, is to foster a wide ranging public discussion about the key issues that will be affecting Warwick District over the period to 2026. We would wish to encourage everybody to contribute to this debate by making their views known. As part of this consultation you can:-
- Return the on-line questionnaire which is being prepared to accompany this Issues Paper via the following link (www.warwickdc.gov.uk/corestrategy) OR
- Complete the same questionnaire which is attached at the end of this Issues Paper.
We would ask that you complete and return your questionnaire, either electronically or by post, no later than 18th January 2008. We will then analyse the comments made and report a summary of these in the spring of 2008. From then on, the anticipated timetable for preparing the Core Strategy is as set out below.
If you have any questions about the Core Strategy, please contact the Planning Policy Team at the Council on 01926 456505 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
|What||When||What will this involve? Will I have an opportunity to comment?|
|Options Report||Spring 2008||We will publish a paper setting out the options that may be open to us for how the district should develop and providing an opportunity to comment on these.|
|Core Strategy Preferred Options Report||Autumn 2008The "preferred option report" will set out the Council's preferred approach for how the district should develop. There will be a formal six week period of public consultation on this document.*/ ?>||The "preferred option report" will set out the Council's preferred approach for how the district should develop. There will be a formal six week period of public consultation on this.|
|Core Strategy Submission version||Spring 2009We will further refine this "preferred option" to prepare a final "submission version" of the Core Strategy which we will submit to the Secretary of State. There will be a further formal six week period of public consultation on this document.*/ ?>||We will further refine this "preferred option" to prepare a final "submission version" of the Core Strategy which we will submit to the Secretary of State. There will be a further formal six week period of public consultation on this.|
|Public examination of the Core Strategy||Autumn 2009||This examination will allow a Planning Inspector to consider how "sound" the Core Strategy is. Those who commented on the submission version of the Core Strategy may be invited to appear at the Examination.|
|Adoption of the Core Strategy||Spring 2010||The Council will adopt the Core Strategy as part of its development plan.|