A PLANNING inspector has been appointed to examine Wyre Forest District Council's planning blueprint of future development sites in the district.

The Government Planning Inspectorate has appointed Mary Travers to conduct the examination into whether the council’s draft Local Plan is "sound".

It follows the formal submission of the plan to the Secretary of State on April 30.

In February, Wyre Forest District Council agreed to submit its draft Local Plan to Government, despite accusations from public speakers that the consultation was a "sham".

The Plan pledges to deliver more than 6,000 new houses between 2016 and 2036 plus 29 hectares of employment land, with planned sites including Pearl Lane at Areley Kings, Coniston Crescent and Steatite Way in Stourport, and Carpets of Worth in Kidderminster.

After reopening for public consultation, land at Yew Tree Walk was removed as an allocated site for housing, while Green Belt land at Blakedown was added for additional railway station car parking and new homes.

Blakedown villagers spoke out at February's meeting, having previously raised concerns over the potential safety issues caused by increased congestion around the railway station.

But Councillor Fran Oborski, who is cabinet member for planning, said the time had passed to deliberate the sites included in the draft plan.

The council has since appointed an independent Local Plan programme officer to support the planning inspector and the council will now begin liaising with them to discuss the inspector’s requirements.

Ms Travers will decide on the timing of any public hearings, which are expected to take place later this year.

Councillor Oborski said: “I’m pleased by the speed with which the Planning Inspectorate has been able to confirm Ms Travers as the inspector to handle the Local Plan examination. And I’m glad that such a senior member of the Planning Inspectorate has been appointed.

“It is important to the council that we continue to progress the adoption of our Local Plan and I hope that the current pandemic will not delay that progress.

"To that end, we will be advised by the inspector on the most appropriate manner in which to hold any face to face hearings so that everyone can observe or take part in the proceedings whilst observing government guidelines on social distancing should they still be in place at that time.”

The Local Plan is the strategic framework that will guide the locations of proposed developments until 2036. It is used to help determine decisions on planning applications.