Site Allocations Plan 2006 - 2026: Publication Version November 2016

Site Allocations Plan Publication Version November 2016

2. Policy Context

2.1 The preparation of the Site Allocations Plan has taken into account the relevant national and local planning policy context. The Plan has also been informed by a detailed evidence base.

National policy

2.2 National planning policy is set out within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the accompanying Planning Practice Guidance, which covers elements of spatial planning and how the planning system should operate. This policy framework covers broad topic areas such as plan preparation, housing, employment, town centres, built heritage, Green Belts and biodiversity and the creation of strong, safe and prosperous communities.  Local authorities are required to take national policy into account by ensuring that their plans and policies are consistent with this national guidance. National planning policy is also material to the consideration of individual planning applications and appeals.

2.3 Some of the key NPPF requirements that are relevant to this Site Allocations Plan are to:

  • allocate sites to promote development bringing forward new land and where necessary providing detail on the scale, form access and quantum of development;
  • deliver a wide choice of high quality homes that people want and need and increase the supply of housing;
  • create sustainable, inclusive and mixed communities;
  • plan proactively to meet the needs of businesses and support an economy fit for the 21st century;
  • promote the vitality and viability of town centres and meet the needs of consumers for a high quality and accessible retail service;
  • ensure that proposed development is viable and deliverable.

North Somerset Core Strategy

2.4 The Core Strategy sets out the strategic planning framework for guiding the location and level of development within North Somerset up to 2026.  It provides the context for the more detailed policies and site specific proposals contained within this Site Allocations Plan.  The North Somerset Core Strategy was adopted in April 2012.  As a result of a legal challenge the Core Strategy housing requirement was remitted back to the Planning Inspectorate together with a number of other policies which may require adjustment as a consequence of any change in the housing target.  In September 2015 the Secretary of State confirmed the new housing requirement in Policy CS13 as 20,985 dwellings 2006-2026.  

2.5 In November 2015 the Council consulted on its proposed changes to the remaining remitted policies.  The Council’s approach was that the housing shortfall identified as 1,715 dwellings could be accommodated in accordance with the spatial strategy, and therefore minimal changes were required to the other remitted policies.  This was subsequently tested at examination.

2.6 Hearings were held in June 2016 and at the conclusion of the hearing sessions on 23 June 2016, the Inspector concluded verbally that the spatial strategy within the plan remains sound notwithstanding the increase in the adopted housing number.  However, in order to make the plan sound, more flexibility is required in the wording of the settlement policies.  The Council published proposed main modifications to some Core Strategy Policies setting out a more flexible approach to development adjoining settlement boundaries. No change is proposed to either policy CS6 (Green Belt) or CS19 (Strategic Gaps) but changes are proposed for policies CS28 (Weston-super-Mare), CS30 (Weston Villages), CS31 (Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead), CS32 (Service Villages) and CS33 (Smaller settlements and countryside).

2.7 All representations received to the main modifications consultation were submitted to the Inspector for his consideration. The Inspector’s Report is anticipated in October, with adoption in November 2016. At that point North Somerset will have re-established a  fully adopted Core Strategy which will provide a clear planning context for the preparation of the Site Allocations Plan and the assessment of development proposals.

2.8 The Core Strategy has a number of key objectives that will significantly influence the content of the Site Allocations Plan:

  • Deliver sustainable housing development across North Somerset to meet housing needs, through the provision of a minimum of 20,985 new homes 2006 – 2026 in accordance with the identified settlement hierarchy and spatial strategy;
  • Ensure that major development proposals are delivered in tandem with the necessary improvements in physical and social infrastructure such as flood mitigation, healthcare facilities etc;
  • Prioritise employment growth throughout North Somerset to support greater self-containment, in particular by ensuring that in Weston-super-Mare housing development is delivered in step with employment growth and brownfield opportunities in  all four towns are maximised;
  • Focus strategic development at Weston-super-Mare as part of an employment-led strategy to deliver improved self-containment, stimulate investment, regenerate and revitalise the town centre to create a thriving and vibrant retail, leisure, tourist, cultural and commercial centre;
  • Continue to support North Somerset’s existing Green Belt in order to prevent the sprawl of Bristol and its encroachment into valued countryside and to preserve the character of existing settlements, valued strategic gaps between settlements and  characteristic green spaces.