Congresbury Neighbourhood Development Plan

4.1 Housing

4.1 Housing

The population of Congresbury grew by just over 450 people between 1901 and 1961.  During the 1960’s the population of the village doubled to 3397 people as shown by the 1971 census.  A large part of this growth was due to the action of Axbridge Rural District Council in the post-war years to build the Southlands council estate to ensure that local working people had homes in which they could afford to live.  Also the addition of estates in Park Road, Stonewell, Silverstone Way, Yew Tree Park, Silver Street and north of the River Yeo in Cobthorn, Verlands, Weetwood and Wrington Mead.

Sheltered housing for the elderly was built in Chestnut Close and Yeo Court and a number of smaller developments were all completed by the mid-1970’s, Bramley Square and Cadbury Square (Redland Housing) completed by the end of the 1970’s.  The 1980’s saw little new housing in Congresbury except for small scale development like The Lyes, off Park Road, Silver Mead, and part of Well Park.  The early 1990’s saw the development of the Gypsy/Roma/Traveller site at Moorland Park, and the ‘rural exception’ affordable housing at Station Close and the Gooseham Mead development near the river.

housing in property 1

Total household properties reported in Congresbury[1]

There have been a number of developments over the past 20 years, but the population has barely grown.  A reduction in household occupancy and change in demographics has been a key factor.  The increase in house prices has led to market housing being unaffordable for many families.

 people per household congresbury

Average number of people per household

Some 70 new dwellings were created between 2001 and 2011.  Developments included Millennium Mews with 13 homes to rent (built adjacent to the settlement boundary) and Southlands Way with 7 properties a mix of one bed homes and live/work units.  During the recent years, Congresbury has grown by 65 dwellings; significant developments include 10 properties at Kent Road, 29 adjoining Mill Lane and 14 dwellings on land north of Venus Street.

Apart from the 70 dwellings built and 119 consents during 2014-2018; approval has been given so far for 13 additional single dwellings either by way of agricultural or other ‘prior determination’ or acceptable ‘infill’.  This means that completed and consented development in the past four years already exceeds the total for the previous 25 years.  Appendix D “How Congresbury Has Grown” report contains further information.

Recent years have seen an increase in the number of applications submitted for development on sites outside the settlement boundary.  The reason for this has been the uncertainty in planning policy created by the successful legal challenge to the North Somerset Core Strategy adopted in April 2012 and several key policies being remitted as a result.  Following several stages of examination by the Planning Inspectorate, the modified Core Strategy was re-adopted in January 2017.  However, the increase in the total housing requirement to 20,985 for the plan period 2006-2026 has resulted in a backlog and an inability for the North Somerset Council to demonstrate a five-year supply for housing development.  As a consequence, a number of large scale developments outside settlement boundaries have been approved within North Somerset, contrary to policy, either by the Council or by the Planning Inspectorate at appeal.

A notable exception was dismissal of the appeal for development on land off Brinsea Road, south of Silver Street (Appendix F).  The appeal for development on land south of Wrington Lane was also dismissed, although a duplicate application had already been granted by North Somerset Council (Appendix G).  In addition the appeal for up to 24 dwellings on land to the east of Brinsea Road was also dismissed in December 2017 for reasons that the proposal would cause harm to the character and appearance of the area and judged on the evidence, the appeal site would not provide an easily accessible location relative to local services and facilities and would not maximise opportunities to reduce the need to travel and encourage active travel modes and public transport (Appendix H).

4.1.1  Current policy context

(a) North Somerset Core Strategy (adopted January 2017)

Policies of most direct relevance:

  • CS1 Addressing Climate Change and carbon reduction
  • CS2 Delivering sustainable design and construction
  • CS3 Environmental impacts and flood risk management
  • CS4 Nature conservation
  • CS5 Landscape and the historic environment
  • CS6 Green Belt
  • CS12 Achieving high quality design and place making
  • CS13 Scale of new housing
  • CS14 Distribution of new housing
  • CS15 Mixed and balanced communities
  • CS16 Affordable Housing
  • CS17 Rural exception schemes
  • CS19 Strategic gaps
  • CS32 Service villages
  • CS33 Smaller settlements and countryside

(b) Policy SA1 in the Site Allocations Plan (April 2018).

This policy has, in Schedule 1, identified sites within the village for residential development.  These are:

  • Land south of Cadbury Garden Centre – allocated for 21 dwellings
  • Land off Cobthorn Way – outline planning consent for 38 dwellings
  • Land off Wrington lane – outline planning consent for 50 dwellings
  • Venus Street – Full planning permission for 14 dwellings. This site is now built out.

(c) West of England Joint Spatial Plan

The submitted plan proposes the need to identify additional capacity for up to 44,000 homes for the West of England  in addition to the existing commitment of 61,500 for the sub-region. This requirement, following the outcome of the examination process, will inform the new North Somerset Local Plan for the period 2018-36.  While there are no proposals for major expansion of Congresbury, large scale ‘garden village’ developments are being considered at Banwell close to the M5 and at Churchill/Langford which would impact on Congresbury.  These proposals are subject to Government Inspectors’ examination.  At the same time, all towns and service villages are expected to bring forward proposals which help to meet the need for housing in the region (particularly more affordable housing) and enable the Council to reach the target for new dwellings in the current planning period.

 

1. Source: Census and Hispop. The red dot represents estimated data. [back]

Policy H1 – Sustainable Development Location Principles

  1. Congresbury Neighbourhood Plan supports sustainable development in line with the principles of Core Strategy policy CS14: Distribution of new housing
  2. New developments should be located where residents are able to walk safely and cycle reasonable distances to village facilities and services, have easy access to public transport and therefore minimising the use of private vehicles.
  3. To preserve the unique identity of the village and to protect the landscape and rural character, any new developments should be located within the settlement boundary.
  4. There should be no development in the strategic gap between Congresbury and Yatton unless it meets the criteria set out in Policy SA7 of the Site Allocations Plan 2018.
  5. There should be no development south of the line formed by Silver Street/Mead and Venus Street/Nomis Park in accordance with Policy EH2 of this plan.
  6. Preference will be given to site locations which will not significantly increase the traffic on already congested narrow village roads and have the least impact on the two junctions of B3133 and A370 at Smallway and the High Street. Given the cumulative effect of out-commuting and the limited capacity of the Smallway and High Street junctions, the total number of new planning consents for residential development to 2036 should not exceed 150 dwellings.
  7. Where there is no adverse effect on neighbours or the character of the area, infill development within the settlement boundary should be considered to increase residential density in sustainable locations close to the village centre. However, no building in the village should exceed three storeys in height.

Justification for Policy H1

Congresbury is a village with a distinctive character and a high degree of community cohesion.  Any new development needs to respect and enhance the character of the village and to be in a sustainable location with good access to village amenities. Core Strategy policy CS32 currently allows sites of up to 25 dwellings to come forward adjacent to settlement boundaries in Service Villages. However, the Congresbury Neighbourhood Development Plan has allocated additional housing sites in sustainable locations around the village to meet its housing need up to 2036.

Some of the new housing sites are outside the existing settlement boundary as defined through the Site Allocations Plan 2018. The Congresbury Neighbourhood Development Plan has therefore undertaken a comprehensive review of the settlement boundary of Congresbury to incorporate the new housing allocations.

The new housing allocations and reviewed settlement boundary, which positively plan for the village until 2036, mean that the Policy CS32 approach of allowing development adjacent to settlement boundaries will no longer apply to Congresbury once the Congresbury Neighbourhood Development Plan is adopted.  

The village is subject to constrictions on development such as the green belt to the north of the village, floodplain to the south and west of the settlement and landscape considerations to the south and the east of the village.  Congresbury has a desire to maintain its character, protect the landscape and rural character and therefore needs to resist uncontrolled development in the rest of the village.

Included in this is the strategic gap between Congresbury and Yatton which not only protects the sensitive moor environment for future generations but also prevents the merging of the two villages.  Any development beyond the southern edge of the village (Silver Street and Venus Street) is resisted as it is too remote from the village centre, therefore unsustainable, and would have significant negative impact on the open landscape.  It is felt that the potential ‘garden village’ at Churchill/Langford proposed in the West of England Joint Spatial Plan could adversely affect Congresbury.  A distinct gap must be established between Congresbury and Churchill/Langford to maintain the village identity and character.  This is further examined and illustrated in Policy EH2.

The Highways and Transport Evidence Base Report (Appendix E) states that the two junctions of A370 / B3133 Smallway and A370 / B3133 High Street are operating over or close to capacity and therefore preferred developments will be in areas that will have the least impact on these junctions. Consideration is also needed with regard to traffic from surrounding villages such as Churchill and Langford.  Approved and proposed developments in these locations will significantly increase the traffic along the B3133 thereby exacerbating congestion at the A370/B3133 junctions.

It is considered that in order to ensure that the village network is effective new residential development must not exceed 150 dwellings in total including the sites allocated in this plan and small and large windfall sites, for the period up to 2036.  This is in addition to approval for approximately 140 new homes, which have been granted since 2015.

Policy H2 – Sustainable Development Site Principles

  1. New development should not exceed more the 25 dwellings on any one site to ensure sustainable small scale residential development that respects and enhances the character of the village and should be located within the settlement boundary Proposals for new residential development adjacent to the settlement boundary will not be permitted.
  2. There is a recognised need for affordable housing and there should be no development of 5 or more dwellings without the full onsite provision of a minimum of 35% affordable housing (for rent or shared ownership). Self-build or co-housing schemes can be subject to different criteria.
  3. Consistent with Core Strategy policy CS15, new development should have regard to the needs of first-time buyers as well as the needs of elderly and disabled residents.
  4. All housing should aim to minimise carbon footprint and energy requirements and aim for Passivhaus or ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating level of construction.
  5. The fitting of photo-voltaic panels to domestic property will be encouraged where appropriate in terms of architecture and location. New developments of more than 5 dwellings should include proposals for obtaining a minimum of 10% of their energy needs from renewable sources (or higher if required by emerging policies).

 Justification for Policy H2

The recognised need for affordable housing is outlined in the North Somerset Core Strategy Policy CS16 and Affordable Housing Supplementary Housing Document.  During the consultation for the Plan, local residents expressed a need for affordable housing to enable young persons to afford to stay in the village.  The Plan is aiming to provide small sites for development and therefore it is essential that these have a minimum of 35% affordable housing.  The exception to this could be self-build or co-housing schemes if justified by social and community benefit and viability considerations. The June 2015 Strategic Housing Market Assessment for the wider Bristol Housing Market Area (SHMA) (i.e. the NSC, Bristol City and South Gloucestershire council areas (available at https://www.n-somerset.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/ED7-wider-Bristol-housing-market-area-report-2015.pdf) identified that there was a need for 85,000 new dwellings in the period 2016–36.  The SHMA indicated that the total affordable housing need for the same period is 29,000 homes across the Bristol Housing Market Area.  The North Somerset HomeChoice Register (http://www.homechoicensomerset.org.uk/) records the number of eligible people needing affordable housing.  In the last 12 months the number of new applicant households applying to join the register with at least one priority housing need was 928, which compares to an average 444 lettings per year.

North Somerset district is home to an above average proportion of older residents (North Somerset Housing Strategy 2016–21).  The Strategy indicates that an additional 4,600 homes specifically for older people with varying levels of support, ranging from leasehold schemes for the elderly through to housing for people suffering from dementia, will be required over the period 2016 – 2036.  Congresbury has a limited supply of bungalows and many are located at the fringes of the village, therefore any development with a proportion of suitable houses for older residents will be supported.

All housing should aim to minimise carbon footprint and energy requirements and aim for Passivhaus or ‘Excellent’ BREEAM rating level of construction.

The fitting of photo-voltaic panels to domestic property will be encouraged where appropriate in terms of architecture and location.  New developments of more than 5 dwellings should include proposals for obtaining a minimum of 10% of their energy needs from renewable sources.  This is consistent with the Climate Change Act 2008, the Paris Conference of the Parties (COP) Agreement 2015 and North Somerset Council carbon reduction target.

Policy H3 – Potential Housing Site Allocations

A - South of Station Road (A370), adjoining Station Close – 15 dwellings

The site behind the MediterranevM restaurant is part brownfield/ part greenfield.  Access would be from Station Close.  Development of this site would help community cohesion as Station Close is currently an isolated development.  The site is sustainable with good access to village facilities and public transport.

Designs here should respect the setting of these non-designated heritage assets and integrate into the character of Congresbury village both in terms of scale and materials. Site layout should maintain key views towards these assets, enhancing the area rather than separating it from the core village.

Due to the potential of archaeology on this site an archaeological DBA will be required with any application in accordance to paragraph 189 of the NPPF, with the potential for further field evaluation.

B - South of Station Road (A370), adjoining Church Farm – 20 dwellings

The site, east of the Strawberry line, is on land containing the derelict remains of the old Station Master’s house plus the adjoining field.  It is closer to village amenities than site A.  Any development would need to respect the wildlife and heritage value of the Strawberry Line and the remains of the old Congresbury Railway Station.

There is known archaeology on the site associated with the old railway. Enhancement project should be encouraged to potentially provide some interpretation of the old railway. Due to the potential of archaeology on this site an archaeological DBA will be required with any application in accordance to paragraph 189 of the NPPF.

C - Bristol Road (A370), opposite Tesco Express store – 25 dwellings

The site is currently in agricultural use.  Development on a part of this site would provide up to 25 dwellings and would have a reasonably safe access onto the A370, with good  sight lines.

The site is within the setting of the scheduled monument and within the setting of 2 listed buildings. The development is likely to impact their setting but providing the scheme is well designed in keeping with the character of Congresbury and providing any development on the site is no more than 2 – 3 storeys this should reduce the impact of the potential development on the setting of the listed buildings.

Due to the potential of archaeology on this site an archaeological DBA will be required with any application in accordance to paragraph 189 of the NPPF.  Further investigations are likely based on the moderate potential here.

D - Smallway (B3133) south of Wyevale Garden Centre –20 dwellings

This site is separated from a neighbouring site that has been identified in Schedule 1 of the Site Allocation Plan April 2018 by a long narrow strip of land, but access would be from the B3133. 

The sightlines for traffic are restricted by a bend in the road and the access is close to the Smallway junction.  Redesign of the Smallway junction needs to be considered and any development in the area should have careful regard to safety and capacity issues and ensure a safe pedestrian route is included any public rights of way enhanced.

The site is within the setting of the scheduled monument and within the setting of 2 listed buildings. The development is likely to impact their setting but providing the scheme is well designed in keeping with the character of Congresbury and providing any development on the site is no more than 2 – 3 storeys this should reduce the impact of the potential development on the setting of the listed buildings.

There is potential for further archaeology on this site and a DBA will be required.

Map 3: Neighbourhood Plan Proposed Housing Site

Congresbury Map 3

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Justification for Policy H3

The sites have been allocated as they are considered to be in sustainable locations.

Many areas of the village were considered for possible development and it was concluded that there is scope for development west of the village centre, along the A370.  This area has good pedestrian access to the school and public services, easy access to bus services along the A370 towards Weston and Bristol as well as access to the Strawberry Line cycle route to Yatton Station.  Drivers would also be able to access the A370 without putting greater pressure on the junctions and traffic heading towards the M5 would not have to travel through the village at all.  Development towards the west (sites A and B) would also help to reduce the isolation of the rural exception social housing site at Station Close.  Any development of these sites must respect the wildlife and heritage value as both sites are close to the Strawberry Line a recognised green corridor.

Sites C and D (north of the village centre) are in a sustainable locations and development there could help provide a range of affordable and lower cost dwellings close to amenities and public transport.  Site C has direct access onto the busy A370 and is close to a light controlled pedestrian crossing providing pedestrian access to the rest of the village.  Site D will access onto the B3133 a busy and often congested road and could potentially aggravate existing highways problems at the B3133/ A370 Smallway junction.

It is considered that any development east of Park Road would harm the important landscape of the Yeo Valley.  Access from Park Road would also be a problem and would affect the operation of the A370/B3133 High Street junction.

No development beyond the southern edge of the village (Silver Street and Venus Street) has been allocated as it is too remote from the village centre and would have significant negative impact on the open landscape and natural village boundary.  As previously outlined this has been demonstrated by the following planning appeals:  (1) Appeal Ref APP/D0121/W/15/3004788 (Appendix F) was dismissed in November 2015 for development on land off Brinsea Road (south of Silver Street;  (2) Appeal Ref: APP/D0121/W/17/3176151 (Appendix G) for up to 24 dwellings on land to the east of Brinsea Road was also dismissed in December 2017 for reasons that the proposals would cause harm to the character and appearance of the area and judged on the evidence, the appeal sites would not provide an easily accessible location relative to local services and facilities and would not maximise opportunities to reduce the need to travel and encourage active travel modes and public transport.

North Somerset Council commissioned a Landscape Sensitivity Assessment by Wardell Armstrong in March 2018.  The assessment looked at the areas surrounding selected settlements within North Somerset which included Congresbury (available at http://www.n-somerset.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Landscape-Sensitivity-Assessment-2018.pdf).  The document provides part of an evidence base to support the preparation of the North Somerset Local Plan to 2036.  The allocation of non-strategic growth needs to be managed carefully as part of this process to ensure the important characteristics of the landscape are not unacceptably harmed.

The choice of site allocations has taken this report into consideration especially with regard to the protection of highly sensitive areas which are defined in the report as ‘High sensitivity land’ – This land generally has low capacity for housing development.  If this land was developed for housing it could result in substantial harm to the landscape’.  The conclusions are in the detailed map illustrating the areas of sensitivity reproduced below.  The conclusions have been added into the site assessments in Appendix I.

All sites proposed for housing allocations are small sites accommodating 25 dwellings or less.  This is a positive limitation on the size of developments to ensure that the character of the village is maintained, to ensure more effective assimilation into the village, to maintain the green belt to the north of the village and to maintain strategic gaps between settlements.

Map 4: Identified Landscape Sensitivity Assessment Areas (Wardell Armstrong – Landscape Sensitivity Assessment March 2018)landscape map

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Policy H4 – Affordable Housing Site

Allocation of Site E as a 100% Affordable Housing Site

F          The Causeway, corner of Dolemoor Lane, by Broadstones Playing Fields – 10 dwellings

These two fields provide a sustainable location close to village amenities with access from the end of The Causeway.  One of the fields is administered by the Parish Council on behalf of the Hannah Marshman Trust.  This site would be allocated for 100% affordable housing for rent or shared ownership in order to comply

with the spirit of the original legacy.  The lower part of the site has a tendency to flood and should be kept

as a wildlife area.  Houses within this scheme should be allocated based on the following criteria to ensure local need is met in the first instance:

  1. Applicants are approved by the Council as being in need of Affordable Housing; and
  2. Are unable to afford to buy or rent appropriate property locally on the open market; and
  • In the opinion of the Council fall into one or other of the following categories (in order of priority):
  1. a) Either the applicant or partner has continuously lived in Congresbury for a minimum of 3 years immediately preceding the date of bidding.
  2. b) Either the applicant or partner has previously lived in Congresbury for 10 years continuously, not more than 5 years ago, immediately preceding the date of bidding.
  3. c) Either the applicant or partner has continuously lived in Congresbury for between 12 months and 3   years immediately preceding the date of bidding.
  4. d) Either the applicant or partner has been continuously employed in Congresbury for at least 12 months immediately preceding the date of bidding.
  5. e) People dependent upon or giving support to a household in Congresbury.
  6. f) Either the applicant or partner has a close relative living in Congresbury for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of bidding.
  7. g) Residents of adjacent parishes in North Somerset who fit the above criteria in the priority order listed.
  8. h) After a rented property has remained void for 6 weeks occupancy will be allowed for other residents of North Somerset eligible for Affordable Housing.

The site is potentially within the setting of particularly the grade I listed buildings. The development will also be within views to and from the conservation area. The site layout should match the urban grain of the village and the design should also be in keeping with the village rather than being segmented off from the remaining village style.

Due to the potential of archaeology on this site an archaeological DBA will be required with any application in accordance to paragraph 189 of the NPPF.

Justification for Policy H4

Site E will be allocated as 100% affordable housing to meet local need.  The properties would be available in the first instance for people with a local connection to Congresbury, if there are any unfilled properties these would be cascaded out to wider settlements in the locality and then lastly to those with a local connection to North Somerset.

There is a need for affordable housing in North Somerset as highlighted by the register below:

Total North Somerset housing register need as of 1st June 2018

 Property Type Need

 

Band

           

Age Group

Bed Need

A

B

C

D

Emergency

Grand Total

General needs

1

35

134

707

253

1

1130

 

2

13

93

597

331

 

1034

3

9

57

298

142

 

506

4

4

13

58

22

 

97

Sheltered need

Aged 60+

1

16

82

291

163

 

552

 

2

4

12

10

4

 

30

 

Grand Total:

81

391

1961

915

1

3349

 

There are no exact figures of the need for affordable housing in Congresbury and the numbers which would have a local connection to Congresbury.  However, North Somerset Council HomeChoice Register provides an indication.  Of those registered on HomeChoice (an average of 3500 households) 620 households have selected Congresbury as an area of choice (and 19 of these applicants are living in Congresbury -June 2018 data).  This is a reflection at the time of application; however an applicant’s views can change over time.  This data does not provide a complete record of applicants seeking affordable housing and does not include the need for other types of affordable housing including for example intermediate housing products such as shared ownership.

Over the last 18 months as stated in the HomeChoice Stock report 2016/17 out of 148 rented properties there have been only 5 vacant affordable homes in Congresbury, of which 1 was family vacancy (1 x1 bed), 4 non family (2x 2 bed only).

The initial postcard survey of local residents resulted in many respondents stating that the village requires more affordable housing to enable young people to remain in the village.  See Appendix C for further detail.

Policy H5 – Changes to Settlement Boundary

The Settlement Boundary for Congresbury has been amended to reflect the policies H1, H2, H3 and H4 for proposed housing allocations and extended to encompass recent developments.

Map 5: Existing and Proposed Settlement Boundary

 Congresbury Map 5

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Justification for Policy H5

Settlement boundaries are a well-established planning tool for directing development to the towns and other settlements.  The settlement boundaries in North Somerset have been well established through a succession of planning documents and are reviewed when new plans are prepared.  The primary function of the settlement boundary is to prevent sprawl and concentrate development appropriate to the scale and needs of that community. Any revised settlement boundary will include recently approved developments and the proposed sites identified through the Plan process.

It is appropriate to review the Congresbury settlement boundary as part of the Plan, taking into account the emerging Joint Spatial Plan and associated Local Plan, which will be in force up to 2036. The proposed changes to the settlement boundary are made on the assumption that the current Core Strategy policy CS32 will no longer apply and that development adjacent to the settlement boundary will only be permitted in accordance with Policy CS33.