A MAJOR housing blueprint which sets out where thousands of new homes will be built across Sandwell will not be published for at least another two years.

Sandwell Council is still working on its updated ‘local plan’ which shows where up to 11,000 new homes will be built in the borough by 2041 with the existing plan already long out of date. 

The chief planning document, which is being compiled by Sandwell Council two years after the authority was forced to abandon a Black Country plan after counterparts in Dudley controversially pulled out.

The new ‘local plan’ in Sandwell will not be adopted until 2026 according to the council’s own deadline – even without any further delays.

The council has been warned that while it could still use its out-of-date policies to make decisions on planning applications – it will run a greater risk of being challenged by developers and government inspectors.

This could prove costly for Sandwell’s taxpayers with the council running the risk of covering legal costs if its decisions are reversed.

The draft plan – which shows where up to 11,000 new homes will be built by 2041 – was published nearly 12 months ago and then went out to the public at the end of last year.

This included several huge 500 and 600-home plans in Wednesbury, Rowley Regis, Tividale, Smethwick and West Bromwich.

‘Local plans’ are made up of several documents and used by the council to reach decisions on planning applications as well as appeals.

Sandwell’s ‘local plan’ includes a Black Country-wide strategy and specific policies for West Bromwich, Tipton and Smethwick. The ‘local plan’ was adopted in Sandwell in 2011 and ran up to 2021. Tipton and Smethwick’s plans are 15 years old and also in urgent need of review.

The ‘site allocations’ document for Sandwell – which includes not only earmarked land for new homes but also shops and jobs and what land should be protected, expired in 2021.

The council said its housing blueprint was only “partially” out-of-date – despite expiring more than two years ago – but the extra delays were reaching a point that the plans would be “wholly” out-of-date. 

The full plan should be published this summer but it would take between 18 months and two years before it was ratified – leaving plans up in the air until at least 2026.

The government has said the council can give ‘local plans’ some weight when making decisions – despite them being expired – but this means that decisions are at greater risk of challenge and being overturned by inspectors. The risk will increase the longer the plans are out of date.

Dudley Council’s decision meant Sandwell Council was left to abandon the Black Country and draw up its own blueprint – jeopardising six years of work.

The plan, which cost Sandwell Council at least £472,000, was controversially scrapped in 2022 after Dudley Council, one of four local authorities alongside Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton producing the joint work, pulled out over concerns about plans to build thousands of new homes on the borough’s green belt.