Site Allocations Plan 2006 - 2026: Publication Version November 2016

Site Allocations Plan Publication Version November 2016

3. Evidence base

3.1 The plan has been informed by an extensive evidence base, including the evidence used to support the Core Strategy process.  Some of the key documents are as follows:

Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessments (HELAA)

3.2 The North Somerset HELAA (November 2014) identifies potential sources of land supply which could be considered through the plan making process for residential or economic use.  These are assessed in terms of their suitability, availability and achievability.

Assessing the Sustainability and Settlement Hierarchy of Rural Settlements In North Somerset

3.3 This provides a consistent framework for assessing the relative sustainability of settlements and locations and which will help inform both decision-making on development proposals and through the plan making process.

Employment Land Review

3.4 The review – Review of extant employment allocations of the NSRLP – was prepared in 2015 as part of the preparation of the Site Allocations Plan.  This study reviewed each of the remaining employment allocations attached to saved Policy E/5 of the Replacement Local Plan (2007).  A methodology was applied to this assessment and each of the sites were scored accordingly in terms of their suitability across a range of factors and suggestions made for either the retention or de-allocation of sites in the Sites Allocations Plan. 

Sustainability Appraisal (SA)

3.5 The NPPF states that the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development and that, to this end, economic, social and environmental gains should be sought jointly and simultaneously through the planning system. It indicates that plans need to take local circumstances into account, so that they respond to the different opportunities for achieving sustainable development in different areas

3.6 It is a legal requirement under Section 39(2) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act (2004) that new plans and other specified planning documents must be subject to a process of sustainability appraisal. Local Plans are also legally required to be subject to a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) under the European Directive 2001/42/EC (the Strategic Environmental Assessment or SEA Directive) transposed by the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 (the SEA Regulations).

3.7 Preparation of the SA of the Site Allocations Plan involves two key stages:

(i) Production of a Scoping Report. This has involved updating and building upon the version produced for the Core Strategy published in 2007. This identifies the key sustainability issues facing North Somerset and the sustainability objectives which will be used to appraise likely significant effects of this Plan

(ii)Production of a Main SA Report, which demonstrates that the process of Sustainability Appraisal (incorporating the requirements of the EU Directive on Strategic Environmental Assessment) has been carried out properly, and highlights the findings of this process

Habitat Regulations Assessment / Appropriate Assessment

3.8 As required by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, which relate to Articles 6(3) and (4) of the Habitats Directive, before a local authority can authorise a plan or project which is likely to have a significant effect on the integrity of a European site it must make an appropriate assessment of the implications for that site in view of its conservation objectives. Screening considers whether significant effects are likely, and hence whether an Appropriate Assessment is necessary.

3.9 “European sites” are Natura 2000 sites. They include Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Ramsar sites, under the EC Birds and Habitats Directives. Within or adjoining North Somerset these sites are 

  • The Severn Estuary European Marine Site (SPA/SAC/Ramsar)
  • The Mendip Limestone Grasslands (SAC)
  • The Avon Gorge Woodlands (SAC)
  • North Somerset and Mendip Bats (SAC)

3.10 A Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) will be submitted at the Publication Plan stage.  The Core Strategy has indicated the need for HRA of the Site Allocations Plan, including consideration of the potential for possible effects on bats associated with the Bats Special Area of Conservation (North Somerset and Mendip Bats SAC). Guidance on development relating to the Bats SAC is to be prepared.