Planning Consultancy in Staffordshire

 A snapshot of Staffordshire and the planning system

Staffordshire as a county covers some 1,000 + square miles, and given the size and the area it covers the county is split into nine Local Planning Authorities (LPA), being:

  • South Staffordshire District Council
  • Cannock Chase District Council
  • Stafford Borough Council
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council
  • Lichfield District Council
  • Staffordshire Moorlands District Council
  • East Staffordshire Borough Council
  • Stoke-on-Trent City Council
  • Tamworth Borough Council

Each of these LPAs have their own policies and/or local development plans and operate independently to each other. In terms of the LPAs that we at Eldnar currently cover, and we will focus on in this article, include South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase, Stafford Borough, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Lichfield District and Tamworth Borough.

From our Planning Consultancy background, we can summarise what to expect if we submit a planning application on your behalf to any of the LPAs we cover in Staffordshire.

We will explain the current situation of the LPAs in terms of size, towns, current Local Development Plan (LDP) position and any other important elements to note.

South Staffordshire

As suggested in the name, this District covers the very south of the county and borders with Shropshire and Worcestershire counties. The main administrative town in South Staffordshire is Codsall, and other key towns are Penkridge and Cheslyn Hay. It covers an area of approximately 157 square miles and the population estimate is at circa 112,000.

Local Planning Current Position

The South Staffordshire Core Strategy was adopted in 2012 and the Site Allocations Document was adopted in September 2018. Together, these two documents create the Local Development Plan (LDP) and delivers the planning strategy for South Staffordshire. The plan at present has a strong focus on sustainability and protection of the green space within the area, whilst also seeking to achieve required housing numbers and employment space. In order to comply with the relevant policy, it is important to enlist the assistance of a planning consultant, such as Eldnar, who frequently work with the policy to provide you with the best approach to compliance.

From our perspective, when applying for permission with South Staffordshire, the adopted policy is followed reasonably by the council, but from our experience the council are pragmatic in that they are willing and open to discussions surrounding how applications can be successful by way of reasoned justification to ensure compliance with policy.  As planning consultants, we at Eldnar are very familiar with the policy and able to discuss the relevant areas with the LPA to ensure applications are appropriate to policy.

The LDP is currently being reviewed as a whole and the next round of consultation on the LDP is due to take place this year. There is no timeline available on when the council aim to have a new policy in place by. As the consultation is in its infancy, it is likely to be a couple of years until any change is brought about. Therefore, planning applications will continue to be assessed against the existing policy for now.

Cannock Chase

Cannock Chase district immediately neighbours South Staffordshire District. The main town within the district is Cannock, with other key towns being Rugeley and Hednesford. A large amount of the district is within Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It covers an area of approximately 30.5 square miles, making it one of the smallest LPAs in terms of land mass in Staffordshire. There is a population of circa 101,000 people (mid 2019 estimate).

Local Planning Current Position

The current LDP for Cannock Chase is made up of part 1) Core Strategy & Rugeley Town Centre AAP and part 2) site allocations & planning standards. The two documents together create the LDP which was adopted in 2014 and covers the period 2006 to 2028. Part 1) provides the context and process of setting strategic and management policy for the LPA whilst Part 2) identifies sites for development and the standards to be applied in order to help deliver the strategic policy. The adopted LDP has a main aim of delivering the objective and programmes of the Chase Community Partnership.

When applying for planning permission with Cannock Chase it is important to firstly consider your location as such a large area of the LPA is covered by either the Cannock Chase AONB or green belt. Given this options for development are restricted not only by the LDP but also by the National Planning Policy Framework. This is where it is highly important to seek advice from a planning professional, such as us at Eldnar, in order to review whether you are within these areas and if so, how you can achieve your objectives, if possible, through compliance with policy.

The LDP is currently under review, with a target for adoption in 2023. There have been several recent consultations taking place but there are no further consultations proposed at the time of writing this article. However, should further consultations open up, we would be able to represent you at a public consultation and we would also be able to advise, as the new policy emerges, on how it may impact any planning or development objectives you may have.

Stafford Borough

The Borough of Stafford covers a large amount of the west of Staffordshire, with the main town being Stafford and other key towns being Stone and Eccleshall. It covers an area of approximately 231 square miles and is one of the largest LPAs in Staffordshire (along with the Moorlands) in terms of land mass. The population is estimated to be around 137,000 people (mid-2019).

Local Planning Current Position

Stafford Borough have their own Local Development Policy which is, as a whole known as The Plan for Stafford Borough. This is comprised of Part 1 and Part 2, with part 1 being adopted in June 2014 and Part 2 being adopted in January 2017. The LDP is supported quite heavily backed up by several neighbourhood plans for surrounding towns and overall seeks to manage where new development of all types can take place over the next 20 years. Part 1 provides principles and policies, and part 2 provides details on settlement boundaries and further emphasises neighbourhood plans importance. The assistance of a planning professional in this situation is ever more important as understanding both the LDP and neighbourhoods plans and how they all will have to be considered is no easy task without a sound planning knowledge.

From our experience as a consultant submitting applications in Stafford Borough, it is very important to plan well in advance of anything you wish to do. The timing of response from the LPA is somewhat slower than other LPAs we deal with and thus a proactive application is definitely encouraged. Recent applications have been taking anywhere between 6-12 months because of the councils backlog of work.

With regard to an update of the LDP, Stafford Borough have been recently consulting on the New Stafford Borough Local Plan 2020-2040. There appears to be no target date for an adoption of the new plan and thus any applications for the time being will be based on the current plans. However, should further consultations open up, we would be able to represent you at a public consultation and we would also be able to advise, as the new policy emerges, on how it may impact any planning or development objectives you may have.


Newcastle under Lyme covers the west of the county, with the main town being Newcastle-under-Lyme. There is strong association with the potteries in this LPA. It covers an area of approximately 81.5 square miles. The population is estimated to be around 130,000 people (mid-2019).

Local Planning Current Position

The existing LDP for Newcastle-under-Lyme consists of several documents, including a joint core spatial policy with the neighbouring LPA, Stoke-on-Trent. This should be closely followed, as per all LDPs but there is a clear timeline stating that the LPA are reviewing and creating a new LDP and aim to have this published by 2024. However, as we have seen in other counties and LPAs this often slips as the process moves forward. Consultations for the new LDP are currently taking place and during public consultation, and we would be able to represent you at a public consultation and we would also be able to advise, as the new policy emerges, on how it may impact any planning or development objectives you may have.

Reviewing the online planning page for the Borough there appears to be a very clear and helpful guide on the planning process from start to finish. Worthy of note is that Newcastle-under-Lyme do not have a current 5-year housing land supply. This means that applications surrounding new residential properties will be looked at with a tilted balance assessment. If you do believe you have a site that may have potential for residential development, we are happy to assist with a site appraisal in light of the lack of housing supply. We are also happy to discuss any other planning queries you may have.

Lichfield District

Lichfield District Council is located immediately east of South Staffordshire and is in close proximity to Birmingham, being part of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. The main town is Lichfield, with other notable towns/areas being Fazeley, Burntwood and Alrewas. The district is one of the smallest in terms of land mass, and although the data is not available, is likely to have a higher population that most areas of Staffordshire due to the proximity to Birmingham.

Local Planning Current Position

The existing LDP for Lichfield is one document and was adopted in February 2015 to cover the period 2008 – 2029. Again, like all other LPAs, as there is legislation for LDPs to be updates every 5 years, Lichfield are in the process of updating their development plan. They are a good way through the process and public consultation has already taken place. However, until formal adoption all planning applications will continue to be assessed against the existing policy.

From our experience with the council the council appear to be up to speed validating and generally engaging with their case work.

Tamworth Borough

Tamworth Borough Council covers a small area in the very south-east of Staffordshire, with the main town being Tamworth. This is the smallest LPA within Staffordshire in terms of land mass with a population estimated to be around 77,000 people (mid-2019).

Local Planning Current Position

Tamworth Borough have their LDP, which is known as the Adopted Local Plan 2006 – 2031. This was adopted in February 2016. There are several supporting documents to the Adopted Local Plan including housing trajectories, infrastructure delivery plans and monitoring framework. Overall, the plan sets out the vision and framework for the future development of the area and provides good guidance on whether applications could potentially be approved. However, interpretation of policy is something that can require specialist knowledge and that is where a planning consultant can very ably assist.

The council are very clear on their website that at present they are experiencing some delays in the processing of planning applications at present. However, as consultants, we proactively follow up with the council to ensure reasonable progress is being made on applications.

With regard to an update to the LDP, there was a review of the plan in March 2020 and there appears to be no further indications of updates in the near future. Thus, all applications will continue to be assessed against the existing LDP for the time being.

What can we do as planning consultants?

Throughout this guidance, we have commented on how we as planning consultants actively working within several of the Staffordshire Local Planning Authorities, can assist with all aspects of planning advice. It is important to understand that we are able to interpret the current policy and legislation efficiently, yet comprehensively and explain how that will impact upon your development objectives. We are able to advise what may be achievable within the parameters of policy, or where something is not achievable, we are able to provide any potential alternative options.

If you are unsure of what your objectives may be for a site, we are also able to provide an initial review of the site, including how the current policy may impact it. If and when you move towards applying for permission, we can also support this and use our network of suppliers to gain any surveys that may be required, be it highways, architects or ecology and provide an all-encompassing package of works to achieve your objectives. If you wish to have an initial discussion with us, please do book one of our 15-minute mini chats through the contact page of our website.