Site Allocations Plan - Main Modifications Consultation

Document Section Site Allocations Plan - Main Modifications Consultation MM26 [View all comments on this section]
Comment ID 698049//5
Respondent Mendip Hills AONB unit [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 24 Oct 2017
Comment

North Somerset Site Allocations Plan – Main Modifications Consultation

With reference to the above consultation and the Executive Committee decision on 5 September 2017 to include an additional 22 housing sites comprising 821 dwellings within the North Somerset Site Allocation Plan, comments from the Mendip Hills AONB Unit as follows:

Included within the additional 22 housing sites are a number of proposed housing sites adjacent to or in close proximity of the nationally protected landscape of the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Land off Shipham Lane, Winscombe as set out on the Site Allocation Plan: Further Assessment of Residential Sites sheet is partly within the Mendip Hills AONB.

These sites include:

  • MM22 Land off Shipham Lane, Winscombe (outside settlement boundary and part of site within the Mendip Hills AONB) – proposed units 28.
  • MM23 Land adjoining Coombe Farm, Winscombe (outside settlement boundary and adjacent to Mendip Hills AONB) – proposed units 24.
  • MM24 Broadleaze Farm, Winscombe (outside settlement boundary and adjacent to Mendip Hills AONB) – proposed units 80 (74).
  • MM29 Station Road, Sandford (outside settlement boundary – not related to settlement boundary and adjacent to Mendip Hills AONB) – 16 units.
  • MM26 Land south of Bristol Road, Churchill (outside settlement boundary) – 41 units.

Further, Land north of Greenhill Road, Sandford was granted planning permission at appeal – proposed units 118.

Thus, there are proposals for a cumulative total of 307 (301) dwellings on the northern edge of the Mendip Hills AONB.

The Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000 confirmed the significance of AONBs and Section 85 places a statutory duty on all relevant authorities to have regard to the purpose of conserving and enhancing natural beauty when discharging any function in relation to, or affecting land within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Potential development proposals outside of the boundaries of AONBs that may have an impact within the designated area are also covered by the ‘duty of regard’. The primary purpose of the AONB designation is to conserve and enhance natural beauty. The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership produced the AONB Mendip Hills Management Plan 2014-19 as required by the Act on behalf of the joint local authorities. The Management Plan under paragraph 1.4 sets out a Statement of Significance on the special qualities of the Mendip Hills AONB and these qualities include views in and out of the AONB, settlements of Mendip stone largely confined to the spring line, retaining dark skies and a sense of tranquillity.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) under paragraph 115 sets out that ‘great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty.’ Further, with regards to Land off Shipham Lane, Winscombe, the NPPF sets out that ‘Planning permission should be refused for major developments in these designated areas except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest and meets with other considerations as set out under paragraph 116.’

Within the Site Allocations Plan: Further Assessment of Residential Sites assessment sheets, whilst it is identified on a number of sites that ‘Site development may have some adverse impact’ on the Mendip Hills AONB, there is no analysis of the impact of development proposals on the special qualities and landscape characteristics of the nationally protected landscape and regard to the purpose of conserving and enhancing natural beauty. Of particular concern are the suburban densities proposed immediately adjacent to the Mendip Hills AONB which do not reflect surrounding village densities and impact on landscape characteristics of settlement edges. Further, consideration must also be had to the potential cumulative impact of the proposed housing sites on the tranquillity of the Mendip Hills AONB and in particular highways considerations and cumulative impact on the road network system.  One of the issues impacting on the Mendip Hills AONB is that routes across the AONB are frequently used as short cuts by through traffic, affecting both tranquillity and the environment of the nationally protected landscape. We further highlight strong concerns regarding the inclusion of MM29 (Land at Station Road, Sandford), a proposal for 16 units of suburban design adjacent to the Mendip Hills AONB outside of the settlement boundary and contrary to the spatial strategy and Policy CS33 of the adopted North Somerset Core Strategy.

Should you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact the Mendip Hills AONB Unit.

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