What is the Local Plan?

A Local Plan sets out the vision and a spatial framework for the future development of a council area, addressing needs and opportunities in relation to housing, the economy, community facilities and infrastructure.  It also acts as a basis for safeguarding the environment, adapting to climate change and securing good design.

Why does Warrington need one?

Local Plans are a statutory requirement and are the starting point for guiding decisions about individual development proposals, as Local Plans (together with any Neighbourhood Plans that have been made) are used in the determination of planning applications.

What would happen if we didn’t produce one?

Without an up-to-date Local Plan, Warrington could be subject to speculative development proposals. These proposals may result in unsustainable, unplanned, piecemeal development across the Borough without the required supporting infrastructure. There’s also a risk that if we fail to produce an up-to-date Local Plan, Central Government may intervene and take over the writing of the Local Plan. This would mean we’d have no control over what development is imposed on Warrington.

There is a lot of talk of ‘growth’. Why does Warrington need to grow? Can’t it stay as it is?

Central Government has made it clear through National Planning Policy that they are committed to securing economic growth, and the planning system is central to delivering this growth. Therefore, we must set out strategic priorities that will deliver sustainable development, making provisions for housing, jobs, retail, leisure and other commercial development, supported by the required infrastructure.

We have an increasing population and we recognise the benefits of growth, as long as this is supported by infrastructure, such as new roads, schools and health facilities.

How is the Plan Period chosen and why has it changed?

Government planning policy requires that the Local Plan covers a minimum of 15 years from the date of its adoption.  The proposed plan period of 2021 to 2038 (inclusive) meets this requirement, given that the Council anticipates the Plan will be adopted in late 2023.

The proposed plan period has changed from 2017 to 2037 in the PSVLP (2019) to 2021 to 2038 in the Updated PSVLP (2021).  The plan period has changed because the Council has had to re-establishing its housing requirement following the Government’s amendments to the standard methodology used of calculating a local authorities housing requirement.  By re-basing the plan period to 2021 we are reducing the plan period from 20 to 18 years.

What are the aims of Warrington’s Local Plan?

Our vision for the Local Plan can be broadly defined into six key objectives:

  • We want to enable the sustainable growth of Warrington 

We will continue with the ongoing regeneration of Inner Warrington, strengthen existing neighbourhoods and create new, sustainable communities.

It is our mission to ensure that everyone in our community has access to a home. The Local Plan will guarantee the increased supply of affordable homes for rent and low cost ownership for young families, and we will provide homes to meet the needs of our ageing population and residents with disabilities.

  • We will ensure Warrington’s revised Green Belt boundaries protect Green Belt in the long term 

Our priority is to protect as much Green Belt as possible, and the Local Plan details that almost 95% of Warrington’s Green Belt will remain untouched until at least 2050, preserved to be enjoyed for future generations.

While it’s not possible to meet Government housing figures without some development on Green Belt land, Green Belt has an important role to play for both existing and future neighbourhoods and communities.

  • We will strengthen and expand the role of Warrington Town Centre 

We want Warrington Town Centre to be a regional employment, retail, leisure, cultural and transport hub. Our aim is to boost the number of people who live in Warrington Town Centre and focus its future as a vibrant hub for all to enjoy. We also want to generate job growth, add to the provision of Town Centre office space, strengthen our tourism offer and support Warrington in its role as a regional transport gateway, improving links throughout the borough and beyond.

  • We will provide new infrastructure and services to support Warrington’s growth 

As we plan for Warrington’s future development, we also need to recognise there is a need for an investment in infrastructure which transforms the way people move around Warrington and travel into and out of the Borough.  The Local Transport Plan has been prepared at the same time as the Local Plan, to ensure that the planned growth for the next 18 years and beyond is supported by new transport infrastructure and services which reduce the reliance on using cars to get around.

The Council hasn’t always got things right and over time, infrastructure has not necessarily kept pace with new development in Warrington.  While the Local Plan is not about Warrington becoming a ‘New City’, it is about creating a transport plan that meets the needs of the town, alongside building schools, GPs, parks and community and cultural facilities to match housing.

  • We want to reflect and preserve Warrington’s distinctiveness through our Local Plan

Warrington is a complex network of different communities, neighbourhoods and spaces with a unique combination of urban development, waterways and countryside.  Different areas in the Borough have different characteristics and varying needs and it’s important we consider this when developing Inner Warrington, sub-urban Warrington, countryside settlements and visitor attractions.  We will do this while also protecting, enhancing and embracing our town’s historic, cultural, built and natural assets.

  • We want to minimise the impact of development on the environment 

Put simply, we want to make sure developments in line with the Local Plan have minimum impact on the environment.  We will do this by making sure developments are energy efficient, safe and resilient to climate change and make a positive contribution to improving Warrington’s air quality.

We also want to make it easier for you to do your bit to protect the environment, and as part of the Local Plan we would look to build a fit-for-purpose, replacement community recycling centre south of the river.

What are Warrington’s needs over the next 18 years?

Detailed work carried out by the Council shows that Warrington has a need to provide 14,688 new homes by 2038 and 316.26 hectares of employment land, along with the required supporting infrastructure.

How will the Local Plan meet the needs of local people?

We want to make sure our residents, in particular our young people, have access to affordable housing.  The Updated Proposed Submission Version Local Plan (2021) proposes that 20% of homes built in Inner Warrington and 30% elsewhere in the borough, will be affordable.  In Inner Warrington the Council will seek a 50/50 split between rented and low cost home ownership, with a 67/33 split in all other areas of the borough.  In accordance with the NPPF, the Updated PSVLP (2021) includes a specific requirement for 25% of affordable homes secured through market led development schemes to be ‘First Homes’ for first time buyers.  These are properties which are discounted by a minimum of 30% against market value.  The Council has increased this discount to 40% in the southern parts of the borough to ensure ‘First Homes’ are still genuinely affordable for first time buyers, given higher house prices in these areas.

The Council will seek to secure affordable housing provision in perpetuity; however, ‘staircasing’ – the process which allows occupiers to own a greater proportion of their home - will be supported where the value from the sale is re-invested in affordable housing in Warrington.

It is also vital we meet the needs of an ageing population.  The Updated Proposed Submission Version Local Plan (2021) is now seeking all new homes to meet standard M4(2) (accessible and adaptable dwellings) with 10% required to meet standard M4(3) (wheelchair user dwellings).  These requirements will have a positive impact in meeting older persons needs over the plan period.  In addition, the Main Development Areas also have specific requirements to make provision for specialist housing for older people.   This could include bungalows, easy access homes, sheltered/supported housing and wheelchair accessible homes.

The draft Local Plan aims to support new jobs and businesses, so that Warrington is an attractive place to work and invest in.  And it aims to provide excellent community facilities – new schools, medical centres, shops and roads – all of which will support thriving new communities.

Why do we need to build so many houses?

Central Government identifies the process that must be followed in setting Local Plan housing targets.  The proposed levels of housing need are based on a range of factors, including population, household projections, and affordability of housing.  The Council also needs to ensure that it provides sufficient new homes to support the number of jobs that will be created over the plan period.

What is the minimum number of homes needed and how is this calculated?

The minimum number of homes a Council is required to plan for is set by Central Government through its ‘standard methodology’.  The methodology uses the official household projections with an uplift required in areas such as Warrington where average house prices are not affordable for those on an average wage.  In line with Government Planning Guidance the Council has used the 2014 household projections and has set a base date of 2021 for calculating the average annual increase in the number of households and for the affordability data on average house prices and wages.  This results in a minimum requirement of 816 dwellings per annum.  The calculation is set out in the Council’s Local Housing Needs Assessment which has been prepared as evidence base for the Local Plan and is available on the Council’s web site.

Why are the 2014 household projections being used to set Warrington’s housing target, instead of the more recent 2016 or 2018 projections, which are lower?

On 20 February 2019, the Government confirmed that Councils should use the 2014-based household projections rather than the more recently issued 2016 or 2018 based projections when calculating housing need.  The Government re-confirmed use of the 2014 based projections at the end of 2020 when the new standard methodology was published.  The Government considers that the more recent figures do not accurately represent true household formation as they have been restricted by a lack of supply of new housing.  If the Council were to use the 2016 or 2018 based projections, the Local Plan would be considered unsound.

Why has Warrington’s target for new homes changed since 2019?

The Proposed Submission Version Local Plan (2019) set an annual housing target of 945 homes per annum.  However, in the period since the publication of the previous PSVLP, a number of factors have combined to result in the Council seeking to re-establish its housing requirement:

  • Economic Impacts of Covid 19 and Brexit – the Council recognises that its growth aspirations need to be re-considered following the onset of the pandemic and the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
  • Government’s review of the standard Housing Methodology – although the review concluded that the 2014 household projections should remain as the basis for the calculation, a number of Local Plan Examinations have clarified that the base date for the calculation should be the date at the point of submission of the Plan, requiring Warrington’s minimum requirement to be re-calculated.
  • Response to previous Regulation 19 Consultation – the Council has considered the large number of representations raising concern about the scale of development being proposed, the ability of the Council to deliver the infrastructure to support that growth and the impact on the Green Belt and the Borough’s built and natural environment.
  • Realism of level of housing delivery – the Council acknowledges there is considerable uncertainty as to whether the Borough can sustain a level of housing development significantly in excess of that which has been achieved over the last 20 years.

The Council has therefore updated its Local Housing Needs Assessment (LHNA) as the basis to review the Plan’s Housing requirement.  In parallel the Council has also updated its Economic Development Needs Assessment (EDNA) to ensure that the Plan’s housing and employment requirements are balanced.

The up to date minimum annual housing need for Warrington under the Government’s standard method is 816 homes per annum.  This represents the minimum number of homes that Warrington is expected to plan for.   This figure is lower than that calculated for the previous PSVLP (2019) due to the decrease in household projections over time and improving affordability of housing in Warrington when average wages are considered against average house prices.

The previous Plan target included an uplift to ensure the number of homes being planned matched the number of jobs anticipated to be created through the Council’s economic aspirations, as reflected in the Local Enterprise Partnerships Strategic Economic Plan. Through the update of the EDNA, the Council no longer considers this scale of jobs growth to be realistic.  The Council has therefore reviewed the latest set of employment forecasts form Oxford Economics and Cambridge Econometrics and considers that a mid-point between these two forecasts represents a more realistic position.

The LHNA models the increased working age population that would result from a housing requirement of 816 homes per annum up to 2038 (15 years post the estimated adoption of the Plan).  This increase in working age population is considered to be sufficient to support the number of additional jobs that are likely to be created in Warrington, taking into account the latest jobs forecasts for the Borough.

Setting the housing requirement of the Plan to the minimum requirement under the Government’s methodology therefore has the potential to meet Warrington’s future housing needs and support its continued economic growth, whilst minimising the impact on the Borough’s Green Belt compared to the previous proposed target.

Why is the figure of 16,157 homes referred to in the draft Local Plan if the target is 14,688?

We have included a contingency in the land requirement calculation for new homes of approximately 13%.  This is to allow for the possibility that some sites may not come forward as quickly as anticipated and reflects the approach being taken by other councils preparing local plans.

What is affordable housing? What is its definition, and what does this mean for me?

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (2021) (page 64) provides an extensive definition of affordable housing.

The definition of affordable housing has been broadened to reflect the range of needs to be addressed in order to meet increasing affordability pressures.  The Updated Proposed Submission Version Local Plan conforms with national requirements but also seeks to ensure that affordable property provided in parts of the Borough where property is more expensive are genuinely affordable.  This is explained further in the Plan (Policy DEV2) and the accompanying Local Housing Needs Assessment (2021).

 Why do we need so much more land for economic development?

As with housing, national planning policy requires we meet our need for economic development.  The Local Plan does this through providing land for new businesses moving into Warrington and to enable existing businesses to grow.  The amount of land reflects Warrington’s strong past economic performance, which is predicted to continue into the future.  The calculation for the land requirement is set out in the Council’s Economic Development Needs Assessment (EDNA) which has been prepared as part of the evidence base for the Local Plan and is available on the Council’s web site.

Why does development need to take place in our Green Belt? Shouldn’t it all be taking place in our urban areas?

The minimum number of new homes set by Government exceeds the amount of urban and brownfield land available in Warrington.  The Plan, therefore, proposes unlocking some areas of Green Belt land for development to meet our full need for homes and employment land.

Warrington has a need to provide 14,688 new homes by 2038 and 316.26 hectares of employment land by 2038.  The Council also needs to ensure it has made a contingency allowance in its land supply in the event that certain sites do not come forward as originally envisaged.  It is possible to deliver approximately 11,800 new homes and 39 hectares of employment land in existing urban and brownfield areas.  This means that land would need to be released from the Green Belt to meet our targets for housing and employment land.

Green Belt release can only be proposed when all urban and brownfield development options have been exhausted.  The Council must fully evidence and justify the exceptional circumstances required for Green Belt release, in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (2021).

National planning policy (NPPF - Paragraph 140) advises that the need for any changes to Green Belt boundaries should be justified, through the preparation or updating of plans and should be able to be retained beyond the plan period.  The revised Green Belt boundaries will ensure the long term integrity of the Green Belt.  The additional development capacity provided within the SEWUE and FFPS, together with anticipated future capacity within the Town Centre and wider existing urban area, will ensure the revised Green Belt boundaries will endure well beyond the end of the Plan period.

Does the Council’s assessment of the urban capacity take account of all available brownfield land?

The Council has sought to maximise the capacity of the existing urban area to accommodate new development, in order to demonstrate that all reasonable options have been identified for meeting Warrington’s development requirements before giving consideration to the release of Green Belt.

The Council has undertaken a detailed assessment of the urban capacity for new homes through its Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) and for employment through its Economic Development Needs Assessment (EDNA).  The Council has identified significant additional capacity for homes and employment that can be delivered through the regeneration plans for the Town Centre, Warrington Waterfront and parts of the wider Inner Warrington area. 

The Council has reviewed the density assumptions it has used in its urban capacity work and has increased the densities applied to sites in and around the Town Centre, where appropriate and this additional capacity has now been incorporated into the SHLAA to provide a comprehensive single source of data.  The Council acknowledges that certain brownfield sites may not come forward in the Plan period but these sites demonstrate that Warrington will still have significant brownfield capacity over the longer term.

Through this process the Council has identified a total capacity for 11,785 new homes within the Plan Period on sites within the existing main urban area of Warrington, the existing inset settlements and other sites identified in the SHLAA.  The Council’s Housing Trajectory, which is contained in Appendix 1 of the Updated PSVLP (2021) sets out in detail the components of the urban capacity.

How can we ensure that the development of brownfield land is prioritised?

It is not possible to ensure that all brownfield land is developed before any Green Belt is released. The Council needs to be able to demonstrate that it can provide the housing required for the first five years of the plan period with a high degree of certainty.  A number of brownfield sites and the larger proposed allocations would not deliver any housing within the first five years early years of the plan period due to the need to provide infrastructure and/or be decontaminated. Therefore some Green Belt land is required to ensure enough houses can be provided in the first five years of the plan period.

What about Fiddlers Ferry Power Station, a large brownfield site that will become available for development within the Plan period?

Whilst the Council were aware that the power station was likely to cease operating by 2025, at the time of the previous consultation on the PSVLP (2019), there was not sufficient certainty about the site owners intentions for the future use of the site or when it would become available for the site be included within the Council’s developable land supply. However, since then the Council has undertaken a comprehensive review of options for the Plan’s spatial strategy, which has included a re-assessment of all sites submitted for consideration through the Local Plan process, taking into account representations made to the previous consultations and the updated evidence base.  This has included reviewing the development potential of the Fiddlers Ferry Power Station (FFPS) site.  Scottish Southern Electric confirmed the closure of the Power Station in late 2019, with electricity production ending in the spring of 2020.  

The FFPS site is now proposed to be allocated for a mix of employment and residential development in the Updated PSVLP (2021).  The Fiddlers Ferry site will enable the regeneration of the largest available brownfield site in the Borough for employment development, together with the release of some Green Belt land to provide a new sustainable residential community and a major ecological and recreational resource.  It will be served by new community infrastructure and will maximise travel by walking, cycling and public transport.  Over half of the allocation site will be devoted to parkland and recreational space.

What are you doing to protect the Green Belt?

A full assessment of the performance of our Green Belt within Warrington has been carried out.  This will ensure the focus of release is on those parts of the green belt that are performing poorly.  The vast majority of Green Belt land (almost 95%) in Warrington will remain and will be strongly protected for at least the next 30 years.  In addition, there is a requirement for each allocation to provide a scheme of compensatory improvements to land which remains in the Green Belt, as required by national policy (see paragraph 142 of the NPPF).

Is the plan being shaped by the requirements of developers?

The Local Plan is being shaped by a number of groups.  This includes developers but also local communities, local interest groups, neighbouring councils, statutory consultees (such as the Environment Agency), infrastructure providers, and local businesses.

Why is infrastructure so important, and how can I find out more about it?

Infrastructure can take many forms and it is essential to support objectives of increased housing provision, economic growth, mitigating climate change, and of creating thriving and sustainable communities. 

In addition to housing and job opportunities, supporting infrastructure including green energy, utility services, transport, schools, open space, community, health and leisure services, are all needed. Policies INF1 to INF5 provide for the provision of infrastructure over the plan period.  Further details of how infrastructure will be delivered are included in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan which accompanies the draft plan and is available on the Council’s web site. In addition, the allocation polices (MD1 to MD6 and OS1 to OS6) contain requirements in respect of the delivery and phasing of development, to ensure the timely delivery of infrastructure, where this is necessary.

How are you ensuring Warrington has the roads and infrastructure in place to support new development?

A key element of the draft Local Plan is the need to deliver the infrastructure – including roads – to support new development.  Warrington Borough Council’s fourth Local Transport Plan (LTP4) was launched alongside the previous consultation on the draft Local Plan in 2019 and adopted in December 2019.  It will help the Council address local transport issues in Warrington by providing a framework for decisions on future investment.

The development of LTP4 has been informed by feedback from a series of transport summits that were attended by interested organisations and by comments received during consultation on the Local Plan Preferred Development Option in summer 2017.  It has also been informed by a thorough review of Warrington’s transport evidence base and the development of a Multi Modal Transport Model, used to test the impacts of the proposed development on the Warrington’s road and public transport networks.

The Local Plan closely reflects the Council’s new Local Transport Plan (LTP4) to ensure that growth over the Plan Period and beyond is supported by new transport infrastructure and services which reduce the reliance on the private car by promoting walking and cycling, whilst at the same time ensuring that the existing transport network is safe and efficient.  This is the only sustainable way to address the travel issues experienced in Warrington and such an approach will have major environmental benefits.  It will also promote active and healthier lifestyles and ensure that everyone is able to easily get to where they live, shop, study, work and access local services.

What about air quality? Won’t the development proposed through the draft Local Plan make air quality in Warrington worse?

The majority of Warrington has good air quality and meets the national standards.  There are, however, some locations which the Council has declared Air Quality Management Areas, close to the major roads where the standards are exceeded.  This is similar to other towns and cities of a comparable size in the UK.

The draft Local Plan takes air quality into careful consideration.  Detailed research carried out by the Council has found that over the Plan period, air quality would improve in Warrington, through a package of measures, both locally and nationally.  A copy of the Air Quality Report can be viewed on the Council’s website.

The Council has also produced an Air Quality Action Plan which sets out a series of measures to improve air quality.  This is also available on the Council’s website.  The current Action Plan is nearing is expiry date and is currently in the process of being updated.  The revised action plan is due to be published by the end of 2021.

What about the impact on our historic buildings and natural environment?

The Council is confident that the proposed level of growth can be accommodated without having a detrimental impact on the Borough’s environment, ecology and heritage.

The vast majority of environmental assets will continue to be protected.  Where a development site is allocated in the draft Local Plan and there are unavoidable impacts on the natural environment, extensive mitigation measures will be required.   In addition, there is a requirement for each allocation to provide a scheme for securing measurable net gains for biodiversity, as required by national policy (see paragraph 179 of the NPPF).

In preparing the draft Local Plan, Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) have been undertaken for all of the site allocations to identify any potential impacts on the Borough’s much valued heritage assets.  The findings of the assessments have informed policies within the draft Local Plan and identified where any mitigation is required.  The Council is committed to ensuring that Warrington’s heritage assets will continue to be preserved and enhanced.

Which areas have been identified for development?

The majority of future development will be directed towards the Town Centre, Warrington Waterfront and the remainder of the existing urban area in order to maximise urban capacity and encourage development on previously developed land.  This will ensure that the amount of Green Belt land which needs to be released is kept to a minimum.

The Updated PSVLP (2021) has re-assessed a range of options for possible locations to be released from the Green Belt.  Whilst, the main areas of proposed Green Belt release are still focused in south Warrington – South East Warrington Urban Extension (SEWUE); Thelwall Heys and South East Warrington Employment Area - where the assessment of the purpose of the Green Belt was generally weaker, the amount of land that is proposed to be development has been significantly reduced.

The size and extent of the SEWUE has been reduced from the Garden Suburb proposed in the previous PSVLP and the South West Urban Extension has been removed altogether, in response to the lower overall housing requirement and to address some of the concerns expressed during consultation.

Also it is now proposed to release some land from the Green Belt adjacent to FFPS, some of which is “brownfield” and is necessary to deliver the regeneration of the former power station site for a mix of employment and residential uses.

In addition, some Green Belt release is proposed in Warrington’s outlying settlements where the number of new homes can generally be accommodated by the existing infrastructure within the settlement.  New development will contribute to the expansion of existing infrastructure where required.  The Updated Proposed Submission Version Local Plan (2021) is proposing to allocate the same sites in outlying settlements, with the following two exceptions:

  • Burtonwood – this site has been removed given the uncertainty of the Bold Forest Garden Suburb urban extension that is proposed in St Helens.  This could have significant implications on the local highway network in Burtonwood.  Without an understanding of these impacts it is not considered appropriate to make an allocation in Burtonwood.
  • Lymm – Massey Brook Lane – the site promoter has requested that the site is withdrawn from the Local Plan process.

Although proposed to be allocated in the previous Proposed Submission Version Local Plan, it is no longer proposed to allocate Port Warrington or the Warrington Commercial Park.  Extending the Port would have resulted in the loss of part of Moore Nature Reserve, raised as a major issue during the previous consultation, and having undertaken additional transport modelling work, the Council has significant concerns regarding the potential impact of these proposals on the Western Link.

What is the status of the South East Warrington Urban Extension Deliverable Proposition document and Fiddlers Ferry Regeneration Vision document?

These documents have been prepared to help us understand how much development is realistic on these sites, the infrastructure requirements and to demonstrate that the allocation in the Plan is deliverable.  The documents illustrate how Local Plan policy requirements could be met and form part of the evidence base to support the allocation policies in the Updated PSVLP (2021).  The documents and the plans within them are purely illustrative.  They have no formal planning status and are not approved as Council Policy.  The documents are available on the Council’s web site.

The polices (MD2 and MD3) for both of these sites in the Updated PSVLP (2021) require more detailed Development Frameworks to be produced before any development can commence that will be subject to consultation with statutory consultees and the local community before being approved by the Council.

Why has the Peel Hall site been allocated in the Local Plan?

The Local Plan will ensure that as much use as possible is made of suitable brownfield sites and underutilised land.  The Council has carried out an exhaustive review of all potential brownfield housing sites within the existing urban area as well as looking to increase housing densities in the town centre and surrounding area.  However, there are insufficient brownfield sites to meet the minimum number of homes that Warrington is expected to plan for under the Government’s housing methodology.

Peel Hall is a greenfield site but it is not in the Green Belt.  The Council has allocated the site as suitable in principle for residential development In light of the need to make the most efficient use of non-Green Belt land, in accordance with Government Planning Policy.

However, the Council has significant concerns with how the developer has proposed to bring forward the site and defended its refusal of planning permission at inquiry earlier this year.  In the Council’s view the applicant has not demonstrated how the impacts of the development could be mitigated, in particular in terms of highways and air quality.

By allocating the site in the Local Plan, we can control how the site will be developed and ensure the required supporting infrastructure is delivered.  We know the existing road network cannot accommodate the level of growth proposed for the site without significant mitigation measures.

The Local Plan allocation policy will therefore ensure that no development will come forward until a scheme of highway mitigation measures and timetable for implementation have been agreed by ourselves and Highways England.  This means that although the site is allocated in the Local Plan it is not included in our deliverable housing supply in the first five years.

What consultation has been carried out so far, and what happened to my comments?

In 2017, the Council undertook a consultation around our Preferred Development Option (PDO) which looked at Warrington’s development needs for the future.  Consultation on the PDO was carried out between 18th July and 29th September 2017.

We learned a great deal from the PDO consultation and around 4,500 responses were received from residents, community groups, developers and other stakeholders.  Council officers read through, and carefully considered, every single representation, and these were taken into account in the preparation of the previous Proposed Submission Version Local Plan (2019).

Consultation on the previous Proposed Submission Version Local Plan under regulation 19 of The Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 was held between April and June 2019.  In total, around 3,200 responses were received, together with 2 petitions.

The vast majority of representations were made by Warrington residents and campaign groups, together with Parish Councils, MPs, Borough Councillors and community groups, concerned with the scale and location of development being proposed, in particular relating to the release of Green Belt land, and the impact of development on Warrington’s infrastructure.  The Council also received a significant number of representations from developers and landowners actively promoting sites through the Local Plan process.

The Council reviewed every representation; extracted the key issues that were identified, and has responded to them, were appropriate, in the preparation of the Updated Proposed Submission Version Local Plan (2021).  A report detailing the Council’s response to the key issues has been prepared and can be viewed on the Council’s website (see Evidence Base pages).

Who has the Council communicated with so far on the Local Plan, and how?

So far we’ve consulted and communicated with the general public, elected councillors, parish councils, Statutory Consultees (such as the Environment Agency and Highways England), Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Warrington Chamber of Commerce, the Local Enterprise Partnership, neighbouring authorities, developers and landowners as well as internal council departments including Highways, Livewire, Health, Education and Public Protection.

I cannot keep track of what is happening - Summary of work to date

Following the High Court ruling in February 2015 which quashed the housing target in the adopted Local Plan Core Strategy (2014), the Council sought to update its housing policies.  It became clear that the Borough’s needs going forward could not be met without a full review of the adopted Plan.

In October 2016, the Council’s Executive Board agreed to commence the process of reviewing the existing Warrington Local Plan.  The Council subsequently undertook a 6 week period of consultation on the scope of the review and the Council’s assessment of Warrington’s development needs.  The Council also invited developers, landowners, the local community and other stakeholders to submit sites they wanted to be considered as part of the Plan review.

Following the consultation the Council undertook the work necessary to progress to a Preferred Development Option (PDO) for accommodating Warrington’s development needs. Consultation on the PDO was carried out between 18th July and 29th September 2017.

Consultation on the previous Proposed Submission Version Local Plan under regulation 19 of The Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 was held between April and June 2019.

Having reviewed the responses to the consultation, the Council concluded there was the need to undertake additional evidence base work.  This was primarily to provide a greater understanding of the infrastructure required to support the development proposed in the Plan and to demonstrate that the required infrastructure was capable of being delivered in a timely manner.

However, in October 2020 the Council took the decision to pause work on the Local Plan.  This was due to the economic and wider impacts of Covid 19 and the Government’s proposed amendments to the standard housing methodology.

Work re-commenced following confirmation of changes to the Government’s housing methodology at the end of 2020.  The Council updated its evidence base to re-establish Warrington’s future development needs and subsequently re-assessed the Plan’s spatial strategy and potential allocation sites.

Having undertaken this work and considered in detail the key issues raised from the previous consultation, the Council is proposing a number of significant changes from the previous Proposed Submission Version Local Plan (2019).  These changes include:

  • a reduction of the Plan’s housing requirement;
  • the allocation of the Fiddlers Ferry site for employment and housing, following closure of the power station in March 2020;
  • the removal of some of the previous Green Belt allocation sites, including Port Warrington and the Business Hub, the South West Urban Extension, the Phipps Lane site in Burtonwood and the Massey Brook Lane site in Lymm; and
  • the reduction in size of the South East Warrington Urban Extension (previously known as the Garden Suburb).

Given the scale of changes being proposed, the Council has produced an Updated Proposed Submission Version Local Plan (2021), which is now subject to a further round of consultation prior to submission for independent examination.

What is the Plan doing about climate change?

The Council has taken into account all relevant national legislation and policies in developing the Local Plan. It has given detailed consideration to the potential impacts of the Local Plan on Climate Change through the Sustainability Appraisal process.  The Council has strengthened reference to Climate change in the vision and objectives of the Updated Proposed Submission Version Local Plan to reflect the Council having declared a Climate Emergency.  A number of the Local Plan policies include specific provision to reduce and mitigate the impacts of development on climate change and to ensure new development is resilient to the potential effects of climate change.  The Council has also published an addendum to the Sustainability Appraisal Report which gives specific consideration to the 2020 Heathrow Airport 3rd Runway High Court judgement.

What are we consulting on now?

This is the final consultation before we submit the Local Plan to the Planning Inspectorate, who will examine it on behalf of the Government.

The previous consultation asked for your feedback on the level of growth that Warrington will need to accommodate and locations for new development.  This consultation no longer seeks views on options, but instead presents the opportunity to comment on the proposed policy content of the draft Local Plan, with specifically-focused questions.  

The questions relate to whether the Plan complies with legal requirements, the ‘duty to cooperate’ and meets the ‘Tests of Soundness’.  These are the key issues that the independent Inspector will consider when assessing the Local Plan and they are explained in the Consultation Guidance Note which is available on the Council’s web site. 

We have framed the consultation in this way, to meet the requirements of the Planning Inspectorate and to ensure that your representation on the Local Plan is as effective as possible.

How can I respond?

We recommend that you make your representations by completing our online representation form with the aid of our guidance notes.  The form has been designed to meet the requirements of the Planning Inspectorate who will be carrying out the independent examination of the Updated Proposed Submission Version Local Plan (2021).

You can also response by email or in writing.  Full details on how to respond are on our website.

All responses should be received by the Council no later than 5pm on Monday 15 November 2021.

Please note that late representations cannot be accepted. 

What are the next steps?
  • 15 November 2021 - Consultation closes.
  • Consideration of all representations.
  • Submission to Secretary of State for independent examination in spring 2022.
  • Examination in Public (EIP) anticipated in summer/autumn 2022.
  • Adopted of Local Plan anticipated in mid-2023.
Who will make the final decision on Warrington’s Local Plan?

The final decision on the Local Plan and the development it proposes will be made by an independent Planning Inspector, appointed by the Government, following the examination, likely to be held in the summer/autumn of 2022.  We’ll then need to make the formal decision to adopt the Local Plan.

Transport Frequently Asked Questions - October 2021