Wirral Local Plan reaches key milestone

09 May 2022

The document that will underpin future development across all of Wirral for the next 15 years is set to go through the next crucial stage. 

The Submission Draft Local Plan is published today (May 9) and over the next six weeks there will be an opportunity to comment by making written representations on the Plan. All representations must be made by June 24.

It follows on from a full public consultation which took place in 2020 and received around 26,000 responses which have now been processed and used to develop the final Submission Draft Local Plan document. 

This latest publication stage is an opportunity for local communities, businesses and other interested stakeholders to make formal representations on this Submission Draft of the Local Plan’s “soundness” and “legal compliance”. [See additional information, below]  

At the heart of Wirral’s Local Plan is the regeneration of the ‘LeftBank’ of the River Mersey, from New Ferry through Birkenhead including the Wirral Waters dockland area, Seacombe, Liscard and New Brighton. 

The proposals set out in the Submission Draft will transform the LeftBank area addressing several decades of decline and the existing social and economic deprivation. It will also show how future development in the area will ensure that the right number of homes and employment floorspace will meet forecasted needs through to 2037. 

The Local Plan is important for showing where development is planned, and therefore where resources and possible additional infrastructure such as walking and cycling links, or new schools are needed. 

The plan will also ensure that Wirral protects its fantastic built heritage, its Green Belt and outstanding natural environment. 

Wirral currently has 144,596 households and is expected to grow by more than 6% so it is estimated the borough will need 13,360 new homes between 2021-2037 (up to 20% affordable) with 5,000 new homes to be delivered by 2026 and 49 hectares of land required for new jobs. 

Wirral Council’s Director of Regeneration and Place, Alan Evans, said: “Following the initial consultation when there was widespread opposition to Green Belt release and a desire to focus on urban regeneration we have used this opportunity to focus on major regeneration across Wirral’s LeftBank to help us achieve our housing and other development needs.”  

“No Green Belt release is proposed. At the heart of the Plan is the regeneration of the eastern side of the Borough. In particular, the Plan includes proposals for the comprehensive regeneration of Birkenhead based on the Birkenhead 2040 Regeneration Framework.”  

You can read the Local Plan, a summary document, and key evidence documents online at www.wirral.gov.uk/newlocalplan. Paper copies of the Local Plan and key supporting documents will also be available at all libraries throughout the consultation period for anyone who wishes to view/study them.   In addition, paper copies of the full range of evidence studies used in the preparation of the Local Plan will also be available at Birkenhead Central Library. 

Guidance on how to make a representation is available at www.wirral.gov.uk/newlocalplan and all libraries. In addition there will be drop-in events in each of Wirral’s four constituencies as set out below: 

Date and time

Place

17th May 2022- 2pm – 8pm

Wallasey Central Library, Earlston Road, Wallasey, Wirral, CH45 5DX

19th May 2022- 2pm – 8pm

West Kirby Leisure Centre, Grange Road, West Kirby, Wirral, CH48 4HX

24th May 2022 - 2pm – 8pm

Birkenhead Central Library, Borough Road Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 2XB

26th May 2022 - 2pm – 8pm           

Bebington Library, Civic Way Bebington, Wirral, CH63 7PN

Following the end of the publication period the Council will collate all the representations received before submitting them along with the Local Plan Submission Draft and evidence documents to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities who will appoint an Inspector to carry out an independent examination. This examination is expected to take place in autumn 2022. 

Every Local Planning Authority should have an up-to-date Local Plan in place and review it at least every five years. The Government has a target for all Local Planning Authorities to have up to date Local Plans in place by 2023.  

Additional information

According to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) Local Plans are ‘sound’ if they are: 

(a) Positively prepared – providing a strategy which, as a minimum, seeks to meet the area’s objectively assessed needs (e.g housing needs); and is informed by agreements with other authorities, so that unmet need from neighbouring areas is accommodated where it is practical to do so and is consistent with achieving sustainable development; 

(b) Justified – an appropriate strategy, taking into account the reasonable alternatives, and based on proportionate evidence; 

(c) Effective – deliverable over the plan period, and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic matters that have been dealt with rather than deferred, as evidenced by the statement of common ground; and 

(d) Consistent with national policy – enabling the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in this Framework and other statements of national planning policy, where relevant. 

Local Plans must also be legally compliant:  

  • The Local Plan should be included in the current Wirral Local Development Scheme and the key stages should have been followed.  
  • The process of community involvement in the preparation of the Local Plan should be in general accordance with the Council’s Statement of Community Involvement.
  • The Local Plan should comply with the relevant Acts and Regulations; in particular the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012.  
  • The Council is required to produce a Sustainability Appraisal Report and Habitats Regulations Assessment when they publish a Local Plan. This should identify the process by which the Sustainability Appraisal and Habitats Regulations Assessment have been carried out, and the baseline information used to inform the process and the outcomes of that process.  
  • The Local Plan should have regard to national policy specifically the National Planning Policy Framework. 
  • The Council is expected to provide evidence of how it has complied with the Duty to Co-operate introduced by the Localism Act 2011.