The production of the Core Strategy has to be done in accordance with a set process. That process is specified through legislation and government guidance. At the moment we are at the ‘frontloading’ stage where we are asking partners, stakeholders and communities about their views on how the Black Country should look in 2021 and beyond and the issues that should be addressed.
The four Black Country local authorities will use the results of this early involvement to understand the issues facing the area and help collate the ‘strategic choices’ which set out the different development and implementation options that are being considered. These alternative options will have their environmental, economic and social consequences assessed against criteria using a technique called ‘sustainability appraisal’. The options and the results of the sustainability appraisal will be open to consultation so everyone can have a say on which is the preferred option to be worked up into the preferred spatial policy framework.
The four Black Country local authorities will then firm up the preferred strategy (with reasons why this strategy was selected), and ask its partners and the community for comments and suggestions for change. The next stage will be to incorporate the acceptable suggested changes on the preferred strategy into the final Core Strategy.
The Core Strategy will then be submitted to the Secretary of State for Examination. At this stage there will be a last opportunity for people to give their comments on the Core Strategy. An independent Planning Inspector will examine the Core Strategy to see whether it is ‘sound’, having regard to any representations received at that stage. The Inspectors report is binding which means that should the Inspector conclude that the Core Strategy is sound subject to changes then the four Black Country local authorities must make those changes to the Core Strategy.
The Black Country Core Strategy will then be adopted by the four Black Country local authorities. It will provide the strategic context for the preparation of other planning documents included in the Local Development Framework.