The Dunston Estate is currently agricultural fields between Stafford and Penkridge split by the West Coast Main Line. But the 160 hectare site could be used to meet demand for new housing in South Staffordshire in the coming years.
The site was put forward by Rigby Estates as a potential development site to South Staffordshire Council as part of its latest consultation on the Local Plan, which will set how the district is set to develop in the years leading up to 2037. The authority is aiming for a target of 8,845 new homes across the district – including up to 4,000 to meet the needs of the Greater Birmingham Housing Market Area.
Options put forward in the consultation included “significant growth on all potential open countryside sites around Wheaton Aston; very large urban extensions north of Penkridge and south of Stafford; and a new garden village around Dunston”.
A document put forward on behalf of Rigby Estates, in response to the consultation, revealed how the Dunston Estate, which is south of the Dunston village could provide space for up to 3,000 new homes, employment areas, a primary school and a railway station.
There could also be a “local centre”, two “neighbourhood centres” and more than 35 hectares of open space.
The document said: “The local centre will provide a range of local services and facilities, which could include shops, restaurants, public house, hairdressers and potentially a GP surgery. A diverse mix of uses will contribute towards making this area an active and vibrant place throughout the day.
“It will also ensure that the garden village is self-sufficient and reduce residents need to travel to access day to day facilities. The local centre is positioned adjacent to the proposed primary school.
“Two further neighbourhood centres are shown to the west of the site at the existing Dunston Heath Farm and to the south along the edge of the A449. The provision of smaller local centres will ensure there are local services and facilities within a walkable distance available to all residents within the garden village.
“The southern centre is proposed for roadside type retail and leisure uses (convenience store, coffee shop, public house); whilst the western centre is proposed as a small business village type development.
“(A) new railway station with two platforms, a shelter and associated parking is proposed at the centre of the site connecting to the West Coast Mainline, between the existing stations at Stafford and Penkridge. This will further enhance the sustainability of the settlement by increasing access for job opportunities for the existing and future residents via sustainable modes of transport.
“This is one of the council’s key aspirations for any new settlement in the borough, and there is a longer-term aspiration for the West Coast Mainline to support more localised rail services if/ when HS2 is complete. An alternative park and ride facility could also be provided for Stafford station, if Network Rail or other key stakeholders determine that a station here is not practicable.
“The land is designated as open countryside and is not located within the Green Belt. This is a significant benefit of the site, considering that approximately 80 per cent of the district is made up of Green Belt land, including the other sites proposed for a new settlement. As such it is the only candidate site for a new settlement that is not located within the Green Belt.”
The next stage of consultation on South Staffordshire’s Local Plan was due to take place later this year, but the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the process.
A statement on the South Staffordshire Council website said: “Consultation is an important part of the Local Plan review process, and so the next stage of public consultation planned for Autumn 2020 has now been put on hold.
“This will also give us time to consider the impact of new and updated evidence. We are working with our elected members to look at realistic timescales and once a new timeframe has been discussed and agreed we will publish details well in advance of any public consultation or events being held.
“It is very important that we continue to work on the review, so that at the right time, we will be able to provide a strong planning framework for the future of South Staffordshire which will provide much needed homes and jobs, and which will help revitalise the economy.”