Cannock Chase Local Plan Preferred Options Consultation

A synopsis, summary, commentary and guide to help you understand some of the key points.  

To preface this: I am not a planning expert but tried to extract key points in the document to help anyone who wants to have a view on the future development of our area an idea of where to start.

The consultation consists of 30 documents across 3,014 pages of text, diagrams, maps and detailed proposals and evidence.

The Local Plan is a hugely important document that sets out the policies the Council and Developers must adhere too for all kinds of development in our area through to the year 2038. Whether that is house building, land used for employment or any other kind of development. Always the most contentious is how much housing will be built, where and the infrastructure around these (roads, doctors, schools etc.) This document, when complete, will tell developers what they must do to build anything in our area and it gives Councillors making planning decisions the tools to hold developers to account and say yes or no to future building. It is vitally important that the Local Plan has policies in it which protect us against developer led building. If it is not in this document, not clear enough or not robust enough this will allow developments to be built in areas not supported by the community without the infrastructure to support these developments.

To be absolutely clear the National Government sets the legal minimum number of new homes to be build and in our case, it is 5,516 new homes between 2018 and 2038 at a rate of 276 per year. Additionally, we have agreed to build another 500 houses at 25 a year to cover for the shortfall of housing needed in the Greater Birmingham commuter area.

The Council, in the plan, has set out it’s preferred options sites to deliver 1,538 across five sites plus an additional 3,699 either in being build already, with planning consent granted or identified as sites preferred from the evidence the Council has considered. This gives a total of the Council preferred sites of 5,237.

The five preferred strategic sites are listed as

  • 875 houses south of Lichfield Road, looking from Heath Hayes towards Norton Canes
  • 410 houses east of Wimblebury Road looking from Heath Hayes towards Prospect Village
  • 45 houses at the rear of Longford House along Wellington Drive
  • 33 houses in Brereton between Hob Hill school and the A51 bypass
  • 175 houses west of Hednesford Road looking from Norton Canes towards Heath Hayes

Tables A, B and C on pages 72 – 76 (PDF pages 79 – 83) detail a wider list of preferred sites that are either already being built, already have planning permission, (15 sites, 1,260 houses) are already allocated or have a resolution to grant planning permission for housing (12 sites, 1,432 houses) and additional sites from the development capacity study (27 sites, 1,007 houses).

To decide which areas the Council would prefer for development it considers a number of documents around Green Belt, Heritage, Employment needs, town centres study, habitat assessment, sustainability and equality. One particular document for housing is known as the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment or SHLAA. In this document anyone who owns land or a developer, can submit land for including in the overall polices map. It is exactly that though, a list of landowners and developer who might like to build houses etc at some point in the future. The preferred sites are extracted from this document to get a view of the preferred site the Council would like to see developed. However, it does mean that a much wider list of sites exist where land owners and developers would like to build and may come forward in the future or not.

If land comes forward for a planning application off the wider SHLAA list it must adhere to the policies in the Local Plan and hence why having the best policies for our community must be a priority to ensure inappropriate development is stopped and any development serves the community.

How this relates to specific pieces of land in our area is contained in and interactive map on the Council’s website I found this quite difficult to use until I asked for instructions and I reproduce them here anyone who wants to look at the map and the details included for every area.

  1. On the Councils website follow the link from the planning policy news web page
  2. To the proposals map for the preferred option:
  3. Turn the Local Plan preferred options layer on by clicking on the empty box (once) so the tick appears, and all the layers will show.
  4. In the ‘Choose what you would like to do..’ drop down box in the top left corner.
  5. Choose ‘identify sites in a particular location on the map.
  6. Next beneath this there are 5 boxes with different shapes in: pointer, line, polygon rectangle and circle.
  7. Click on the pointer (upside down teardrop shape)
  8. Then go to the map and where you want to identify a polygon – click on it.
  9. The results are shown on screen and the ‘Ref’ is the site reference and the Policy reference is also shown and the SHLAA reference.


The Council is suggesting 8 Strategic Priorities in the Local Plan


Each one of these has a detailed proposal and the consultation document sets out the evidence to date, feedback from previous consultation stages and any new evidence. The headlines for each of these is detailed below and the pages in the consultation document to look at for the detailed information. Fundamentally you can give your views on each strategic objective and the information to support each one, state anything you believe is missing, should be removed or amended.

Strategic Objective 1: To deliver high quality development that is distinctive, attractive and safe by:

  • Protecting, conserving and enhancing the District’s historic environment, and sustaining local character and distinctiveness by managing designated and non-designated heritage assets and their townscape and landscape settings;
  • Retaining and enhancing the distinct and separate character of the District’s settlements and protecting and enhancing the quality of the built environment by ensuring that new development is designed to provide the highest quality of built form and public realm which will enhance the District’s distinctive heritage and natural assets; and
  • Creating places that are safe, inclusive and accessible which deter crime and reduce the fear of crime.

This is in the document in detail pages 30 – 47 (PDF pages 37 – 54)

Strategic Objective 2: To create community infrastructure and healthy living opportunities across the District by:

  • Safeguarding the health and the amenity of local communities.
  • Providing active leisure and sports facilities.
  • Providing healthy living opportunities and increasing physical activity in everyday lives.
  • Providing opportunities for allotments and local food growing.

This is in the document in detail pages 48 – 60 (PDF pages 55 – 67)

Strategic Objective 3: To deliver a sufficient supply of homes to provide for housing choice and ensure all people are able to live in a decent home which meets their needs by:

  • Facilitating sustainable housing provision for this plan period and the next;
  • Delivering sufficient housing to meet the District’s own need and an appropriate and sustainable contribution to the wider housing market area shortfall where justified in adopted plans;
  • Helping meet local need for affordable dwellings;
  • Providing housing choices for an ageing population;
  • Catering for the needs of different groups in the community.

This is in the document in detail pages 61 – 85 (PDF pages 68 – 92)

Strategic Objective 4: To encourage a vibrant local economy and workforce by:

  • Championing clean growth principles to support a highly productive, clean and resilient economy;
  • Safeguarding existing employment areas for employment uses;
  • Providing employment opportunities in locations which best respond to market demands and which will attract inward investment;
  • Ensuring that business locations and centres are accessible by public transport from all areas of the District, reducing travel needs where possible;
  • Supporting the development of town centres as hubs for commercial uses such as offices, leisure and culture uses, residential opportunities and community activities;
  • Providing a range of sizes and types of employment sites to meet modern business needs;
  • Supporting sustainable tourism and the rural economy, balanced with the protection of the AONB and the District’s two SACs;
  • Ensuring the land based economies of the District, including agriculture and forestry, can continue to operate, diversify and prosper;
  • Encouraging the development of Live Work units;
  • Providing for local employment and the development of skills.

This is in the document in detail pages 86 – 102 (PDF pages 93 – 109)

Strategic Objective: 5 To support the provision of sustainable transport and communications infrastructure by:

Managing the need to travel by:

  • Providing for major new development in accessible locations that can provide access for all sections of the community to work, shopping, health, education, leisure, green space and other facilities.
  • Clustering the development of services and facilities in locations that can provide convenient access to all sections of the community.
  • Ensuring major new developments provide for safe pedestrian and cycle movement within the scheme and to neighbouring areas, and are designed to accommodate high quality public transport services.
  • Supporting the installation of high quality and resilient digital communication technologies to facilitate business development and remote working.

Supporting low carbon transport systems:

  • Supporting the provision of electric vehicle charging points, and other infrastructure that may be required for alternative low and zero carbon transport options, including hydrogen vehicles.
  • Supporting changes to the road network where they are related to the reduction of environmental impacts and the enhancement of public transport.
  • Supporting sustainable freight distribution by road and rail.

Maintaining and improving the transport system:

  • Achieving improvements to walking and cycling routes and supporting increased use of the canal network and towpaths as part of the integrated transport network.
  • Securing the continued development of the Chase Line rail services, facilities and infrastructure as the preferred means of transport.
  • Safeguarding land that is required for sustainable transport schemes, including road, rail, cycle ways and footpaths.
  • Supporting the safe and efficient use of the highway network through traffic management schemes.
  • Establishing standards for the provision of car and lorry parking.

This is in the document in detail pages 103 – 121 (PDF pages 110 – 128)

Strategic Objective 6: To create attractive Town and Local Centres by:

  • Enhancing the Town, and Local Centres in order to protect and improve their vitality and viability;
  • Maintaining a hierarchy of Town and Local Centres;
  • Supporting growth of shops, offices, business, education, leisure, arts, cultural and tourism in Town Centres, and improving access to employment and housing in order to achieve Town Centres with good vitality and viability;
  • Supporting the development of Town Centres as hubs for comparison goods shopping, leisure and culture uses, residential opportunities and health and community activities;
  • Supporting the development of Local Centres mainly for local food shopping and local services; and
  • Supporting the direction of new investment to the Town, and Local Centres via a range of means as most appropriate to the local context.

This is in the document in detail pages 122 – 139 (PDF pages 129 – 146)

Strategic Objective 7: To protect and enhance the natural environment development will:

  • Minimise impacts on, and provide net gains for, biodiversity, including by conserving, expanding and linking natural habitats through habitat creation and improvement to ensure a robust, establishing coherent ecological networks of sites that provides wildlife with the opportunity to prosper;
  • Protect, conserve and enhance the District’s natural environment assets, valued landscape and townscape, sites of biodiversity or geological value and soils. The highest degree of protection will be given to the protected landscapes of the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Green Belt; and
  • Avoid any harmful impacts on the integrity of the Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the Cannock Extension Canal Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

This is in the document in detail pages 140 – 161 (PDF pages 147 – 168)

Strategic Objective 8: To support a greener future, development will:

  • Increase production of low and zero carbon energy and heat;
  • Promote sustainable building design, site layout, construction materials and increase Low and Zero Carbon development;
  • Offset and mitigate any carbon emissions that cannot be avoided;
  • Reduce the risk of flooding, maximise flood protection and manage the effects of flooding;
  • Avoid air, water, soil, noise and light pollution;
  • Ensure development makes efficient use of previously developed land and buildings;
  • Safeguard potential mineral reserves;
  • Minimise waste: and,
  • Encourage and facilitate the use of sustainable modes of transport.

This is in the document in detail pages 162 – 179 (PDF pages 169 – 186)

I would encourage anyone with an interest in the future of our area to comment on the plans, be aware developers will be commenting and will want to shape the plan to their advantage. Use whatever words you feel are right for you and add anything you feel is important for our area to be a place thrive for us all into the future. Your opinion matters as much as anyone’s and more than most. Do not be put off by the technical and detailed nature of the plan, it has to be written this way to stand up to legal scrutiny but I have done my best to simplify a very complex issue and hopefully help you comment on the aspects of the plan which are important to you.