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, we will focus in this article upon 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 LDP and deliver 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 Consultancy, 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 relatively 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 Consultancy are very familiar with the policy and able to discuss the relevant areas with the LPA to ensure applications are appropriate with regard to the LDP.

South Staffordshire Council began the review of their current LDP in 2018.  Initially started with an Issues and Options consultation (in 2018) before progressing to a Preferred Options Consultation (in 2021).  At the end of 2022, a Public Plan Consultation ran for 6 weeks in November and December and the Publication Plan 2022.  The next steps, from here, include submission to The Secretary of State examination by an independent planning inspector.  This was initially scheduled for submission in Spring/Summer 2023 (yet to be agreed).  Despite this, note that the review is currently paused within the outcome of the Government’s proposed changes to National Planning Policy.

All planning applications will continue, in the meantime, to be assessed against the existing policy for now but, as the Local Plan View progresses, particularly through examination, the emerging plan with gain more weight within the determination of applications as it nears adoption.

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 Cannock Chase Local Plan (Part 1) 2014 us provides the context and process of setting strategic and management policy for the LPA.  This policy includes the Core Strategy (Section 1) which contains the strategic context and core policies, and the Rugeley Town Centre Area Action Plan (Section 2).

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 these 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 Consultancy, 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 LPS is currently progressing a Local Plan review.  The Council approved the Cannock Chase Local Plan 2018 – 2039 Regulation 19 document in September 2022.  Further consultation dates will be added to the Council’s web page once they have been agreed in 2023, however, at the time of writing there are no further consultation dates available.  A Regulation 19 document is the document that will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination in public.  It is the version that the Council seeks to adopt, subject to that examination, as the future framework for decision making on planning.

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 (with one as long as two years) because of the councils backlog of work.

Stafford Borough are also undertaking a Local Plan review with the latest consultation being the Preferred Options Consultation which ran October to December 2022.  The consultation sought views on draft policies and proposals for new development across Stafford Borough over the next 20 years.  The next stage is for the Council to process responses received as they progress towards a Draft Local Plan which will be prepared for submission for independent examination through The Planning Inspectorate.  The Council, currently being at the preferred option stage, state a planned adoption date of October 2024.

Until then, the current Local Plan will remain the basis for decision making with emerging policy gaining greater weight as it progresses towards adoption, having gone through examination, where there are no outstanding objections.


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 includes the Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent Core Spatial Strategy. In January 2021 the Council resolved to undertake a new Local Plan for the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme.  It is stated that the final plan (the conclusion of all earlier stages of plan production, evidences and responses to consultation) should be consulted upon in early 2024 and submitted to The Planning Inspectorate later in 2024.  It is hoped that examination can be concluded in 2024, assuming the plan is found sound by The Inspectorate and that the Council can move forward to adopt the Local Plan.

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. The Council submitted the Lichfield Local Plan to The Planning Inspectorate on 30th June 2022 for independent examination.

Despite this, the Council’s website advises that examination has been paused for a maximum of 12 months as at October 2022.  We are, therefore, awaiting further updates albeit it is noted that the examination library has been updated as recently as March 2023 with documents such as Statements of Common Ground between Lichfield District Council and Tamworth Borough Council.  This was also accompanied by a monthly progress update, dated February 2023, to The Planning Inspectors allocated to the examination.  For now, however, any development proposals will continue to be considered to be against the existing LDP.

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.

Tamworth, as a Council, acknowledge that processing of an application may currently be delayed where a site visit which requires access through or in a property is required in order to assess the application effectively.  Extensions of time may be requested until the time a site visit could be completed.  Despite this, it is unclear whether this is still occurring or is as a result of the remnants of Covid 19 Social Distancing Measures.

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?

We can assist with all aspects of planning advice from pre-application to submission and even (if needed) appeal. 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 Development Appraisal 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.

As a result of our increasing workload in Staffordshire we are currently sourcing an office base in Staffordshire so, once this is confirmed, we will of course share details with you all.  In the meantime, 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.