Site Allocations Plan - Main Modifications Consultation

Document Section Site Allocations Plan - Main Modifications Consultation 1. General comments [View all comments on this section]
Comment ID 17924353//1
Respondent Deleted User [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 30 Oct 2017
Comment

This is a joint response by the development industry consortium to the North Somerset Council Site Allocations Plan: Main Modifications consultation.

This statement is agreed by:

Paul Davis on behalf of Persimmon Homes
Robert Wilding on behalf of Gladman Developments Ltd
Lucy White on behalf of Redcliffe Homes
Dr Tom Rocke on behalf of MacTaggart and Mickel Homes
Jeff Richards on behalf of Taylor Wimpey
Peter Stockall on behalf of St Modwen
Mark Jackson on behalf of Gleeson Homes

Introduction

Background following the close of EiP

This representation is a joint response submitted by the development industry consortium in response to the current consultation on the Main Modifications of the Sites and Policies Plan Part 2: Site Allocations Plan (SAP). Public consultation commenced on 18th September and closes on 30th October 2017.

This representation is focussed on the issue of housing only and responds to modifications AM6 and MM1. Participants of the development industry consortium may submit their own individual representations on other aspects of the Site Allocations Plan.

Following the SAP hearings in May 2017, the Inspector (Mrs Wendy Burden), issued a Note (ID-4) to North Somerset Council (NSC). The Note provided written guidance to the Council in relation to the additional housing sites requested during the Matter 2 (Housing) Hearing session. The Inspector concluded that ‘I therefore look to the Council to test the allocation of additional sites within the SAP which would have the capacity to accommodate up to 2,500 dwellings, and which have a realistic chance of being delivered by the end of the CS period in 2026.’

In response the Council:

  • Provided the Inspector with a timetable for their response on 20th July 2017;
  • Consulted on 28 sites which would have provided 1,189 dwellings between 1st and 21st August 2017;
  • The development industry consortium responded in detail and raising significant concerns about a number of the proposed new sites and a copy is attached at Appendix 1;
  • On 5th September 2017, the North Somerset Executive Committee approved the inclusion of an additional 22 sites for 821 dwellings. The Council informed the Inspector on the 6th September 2017 and provided a new housing trajectory (CD4a); and
  • Provided a full schedule of Modifications to the Inspector who requested the current consultation be carried out.

    The “Current Trajectory of All Sites” contained within CD4a Schedule 1 as updated September 2017 identifies North Somerset Council’s current identified housing supply. This is explored in more detail in Chapter 4 of this representation.  

 

Methodology

Inspector Burden’s letter to the Council (ID-4) establishes firm and clear advice to NSC on the approach which needs to be adopted in order to achieve a sound plan.

ID4 reaffirms the verbal advice provided by Inspector Burden to the participants at the Site Allocations Examination. In light of her conclusions that the Sedgefield approach is the correct approach to calculating the 5 year housing land requirement and a 20% buffer must be applied to that requirement, she has found that the Council was unable to demonstrate a 5 year supply of housing and moreover she concluded that:

“there are sound reasons for considering that there are a number of sites within the SAP which are unlikely to come forward for development in the timescale envisaged by the Council, either within the first five years after adoption of the SAP, or in the remaining period of the CS to 2026.” (Paragraph 13, ID4).

Within this context, the Inspector concluded that a 20% non-implementation allowance should be applied to the overall residual housing requirement, and that “a level of up to 2,500 units would…provide more certainty that the 20,985 dwellings required by the CS would be delivered by 2026” (paragraph 20, ID4).

At no point in her letter to the Council does the Inspector invite further discussion on the calculation of the additional housing allowance. Indeed, in reply to the Council’s initial response at the Examination that finding sites for an additional 2,500 dwellings would be ‘challenging’, she reiterated that the Council should aim to provide them. NSC’s role at this stage is therefore limited to testing the provision of additional allocations and draft proposed modifications to the Plan to achieve the additional site allocations. It is within this context, we comment on the provisions of CD2.

Paragraphs 1 and 2 of NSC’s response to the Inspector (CD2) broadly agree with the Inspector’s assessment of what is required. However in paragraph 7, the Council expresses concerns regarding the derivation of the additional housing requirement and revisits the calculation of the additional site allocations allowance seeking to reopen the examination debate and the Inspector’s findings (ID4). That approach is fundamentally wrong. It is our collective view that:

  • Option (a) is not an appropriate basis for calculating the allowance for additional site allocations;
  • Option (c) is wrong because it assumes the 5,665 is guaranteed and can be treated in same way as completions; and
  • Option (d) relates to 5 year supply only.

    Therefore, in our view the only realistic and appropriate option is (b). The Inspector is absolutely clear in paragraphs 2, 3, 20, 22 and 27 of her letter to the Council (ID4) that the figure to be tested is up to 2,500 dwellings. This is necessary to achieve a flexible supply capable of delivering the adopted housing requirement of 20,985 over the plan period, which itself is not based on an up to date OAN and is not NPPF compliant. The emerging West of England Joint Spatial Plan and the Government’s proposed formula for OAN would result in a further uplift to OAN (1,305 dpa Government figure). The need to boost housing supply is not limited to this Core Strategy and therefore the Council needs to take a proactive stance now

    In testing the 2,500 figure, the Council must not fall into the trap of only considering sites which are broadly consistent with the Core Strategy. This could rule out sites in the development pipeline which are nevertheless deliverable. The Inspector also made it clear during the Examination that it would be necessary to revisit the strategic gaps designated in the emerging SAP. The assessment should identify all sites within the development pipeline and carry out a balancing exercise to assess deliverability against policy. This should take account of the Inspector’s comments in paragraphs 23 and 26 of ID4. In addition paragraph 23 of ID4 says Policy CS14 does ‘not constitute a strait jacket to be achieved’’, but is a ‘broad distribution of new dwellings’ and further says sites which are broadly consistent with the CS spatial strategy is a ‘starting point’.

    The Council has not assessed omission sites which are in accordance with the Core Strategy yet are not in the ‘development pipeline’. This approach is contrary to paragraph 24 of the Inspector’s letter. Omission sites should not be dismissed at this stage simply on the basis they have not met the Council’s threshold for being in the ‘development pipeline’. We note the sites which were being assessed in the August 2017 consultation included those with recent EIA screening requests or pre application ‘discussions’ (rather than formal pre application submission). It could be argued that omission sites which have been promoted through the correct channels over a significant period of time have a greater evidence base demonstrating deliverability and will be ready for application submission ahead of some of these sites now being assessed. There are also omission sites at appeal which are considered to be in broad accordance with the Core Strategy, but have again been dismissed as they are not current applications

    The Inspector recommended a collaborative approach between the Council and developers to establish delivery trajectories for housing sites (para.25 of ID4). However, the Council has not been willing to accept submissions from the development industry for sites which step outside the Council’s narrow definition of qualifying sites

    By not fully testing all potential sites the Council have underestimated the potential supply. Looking at the sites in Part 1 of CD2a and assuming the 27 sites are in the figures, there are 9,221 units on remaining sites in 4 categories. Further accepting the removal of green belt sites (7,760), taking account of the Congresbury appeal being dismissed (80) (2nd application was approved and included in the Council’s five year housing land supply statement), double counting of the Cox’s Green application (28), the ‘Land north of Chestnut Drive, Claverham’ application (85) being withdrawn, that leaves 1,268 units on non-green belt sites which should be included in any assessment. Adding this 1,268 to the 1,812 units the Council have identified (CD2a Part 2) produces a total of 3,080 which if discounted by 20% gives a total of 2,464

    Setting aside Green Belt sites, the process by which sites had been selected as being broadly in conformity with the Core Strategy (and therefore included in Part 2 for further assessment), or deemed to be contrary to the Core Strategy framework (and therefore consigned to Part 1 and not subject to further assessment) is neither transparent nor robust

    Moreover, some sites that were previously identified in ED36 (such as Weston Business Park, Laney’s Drove) as being in conformity with the Core Strategy framework and therefore to be considered further, are now excluded from further consideration on the basis that they are now considered not to be in conformity with the Core Strategy framework. Given that the Core Strategy framework has not changed in the interim, it is difficult to comprehend the justification for this reassignment

    The categorisation of sites identified in CD2a as ‘town’, ‘village extension’ and ‘countryside’, and indeed the reassignment of some sites to a different category from that to which they were assigned in ED36, is therefore arbitrary, lacking in transparency and unjustified by evidence. The importance in the Council’s approach of a site’s categorisation as to whether it is taken forward for further consideration under Part 2, or rejected as a potential development opportunity at the Part 1 stage, is a significant flaw in the site selection process in their Further Sites Assessment consultation. It is therefore imperative that all non-Green Belt sites in the development pipeline are properly considered, and not rejected on the basis of an arbitrary and non-transparent process of categorisation that is neither supported by evidence nor justified

    In allocating additional sites the Council should seek to maximise housing supply from a wide range of sites by size and market location (as encouraged by the Inspector in paragraph 25 of her letter of 26th June, ID4). The Council should also take measures to improve the delivery of existing sites. All this will help to provide choice for house builders and avoid market saturation of particular house types or in certain locations, thereby maximising delivery rates. In addition, the Housing White Paper emphasises that a good mix of sites provides choice for consumers, allows places to grow in sustainable ways and creates opportunities to diversify the construction sector. 

Individual Site Assessments

Purpose

This Chapter sets out the development industry’s comments in relation to specific sites where agreed by all contributors. In their representation to the Further Sites Assessments consultation, the development industry provided detailed comments on each of the 28 individual sites which were assessed by the Council as being broadly in conformity with the adopted Core Strategy. For this representation, we will only focus on the 22 sites which have now been recommended for inclusion in the SAP by North Somerset’s Executive Committee.

The Council only produced site assessments for those sites which were on the Part 2 list, but we consider that the Council should have widened its net to include sites in Part 1 which are in the development pipeline. Accordingly, the Council should publish site assessments for these sites and liaise with the development industry regarding their delivery rates if these are not already known.

However, in terms of the deliverability of sites, again the Inspector was clear that the majority of the new sites identified should be deliverable within the 5 years but this does not need to be case for all sites, providing they are delivered by 2026. However, it is then important that the majority of sites are deliverable in 5 years.

Detailed Site Assessment Comments

  • Dauncey’s Hotel, W-S-M – We note that the Council has not received a response from the agent or developer for this site. As such, there is uncertainty as to whether this site is currently available or deliverable. At this stage, we suggest that it could be included in the plan period but should not count towards 5 year supply.
  • 26 Lower Bristol Road, W-S-M – Pre-application requested in June 2017. There is currently a vacant care home on site. The site is within the Boulevard/ Montpelier Conservation Area and close to/ potentially overlooking the Bristol Road Baptist Church Listed Building. Both have the potential to constrain development potential. Topography of the site is fairly steep which is likely to reduce the developable area. This site could be identified for development subject to a thorough review of the site constraints and resultant capacity.
  • Queensway/Midhaven Rise, W-S-M – The development industry consortium notes that this site will require the relocation of the playing pitch and identifies that it will not deliver in the five year period. At this stage, we suggest that it could be included in the plan for residential development subject to a replacement pitch being provided but this site should not count towards 5 year supply
  • Land at Wilson Gardens/Scot Elm Drive, W-S-M – The development industry consortium agree that this site has the potential to deliver in 5 years.
  • Waverley House, Clevedon – The development industry agree that this site will deliver in 5 years but note for the record that this scheme as per the other Clevedon proposals is for apartments with no affordable provision.
  • 2-6 Bay Road, Clevedon – The application is for a change of use from a nursing home (C2) to 19 self-contained flats (C3) and was submitted by Cherry Rose Limited in May 2017. The site is currently operating as Bay View Residential and Nursing Home. At this stage, we understand the applicants are undertaking a viability appraisal to support the planning process. At this stage, we suggest that it could be included in the plan period but, until viability is confirmed, it should not count towards 5 year supply.
  • Court Farm, Clevedon –The site lies immediately adjacent to the Grade II* Historic Park and Gardens of Clevedon Court, a Grade I listed building with other listed buildings and boundary wall along the public highway. The listed wall abuts the southern boundary of the proposed allocation and the proposed site is viewed within the context of this significant heritage asset. In the absence of any due consideration of the impact of the proposals (also noting the incorrect ‘green’ grading in SA4 of the Sustainability Appraisal – ‘not close to any heritage assets’) on the heritage asset and any necessary mitigation, the capacity of the site cannot be relied upon. The development consortium agree that this site will not come forward within the next five years or within the remainder of the plan period.
  • Weston College, Nailsea - The development industry consortium notes that there has been no agent response. The Council assessment notes an ownership dispute will not be resolved in the short term and therefore cannot be considered deliverable at this stage.
  • North of Youngwood Lane – An application for outline planning permission was registered in July 2016 and is awaiting determination. In the light of this the development industry consortium agree that, if this site were identified in the SAP, it has the potential to make a significant contribution in the 5 year period and to deliver during the plan period.
  • Harbour Road/Serbert Way, Portishead – The development industry consortium agrees that this site has the potential to deliver in 5 years.
  • Land at Wyndham Way, Portishead – The application is for 33 dwellings, not 35 as specified in the Council’s housing trajectory (CD4a). The development industry consortium agrees that this site has the potential to deliver in 5 years.
  • Site V2 Harbour Road, Portishead – The development industry consortium agree that this site has the potential to deliver in 5 years.
  • South of Cadbury Garden Centre – The development industry consortium agree that this site has the potential to deliver in 5 years.
  • Shipham Lane, Winscombe – The development industry consortium agree that this site has the potential to deliver in 5 years.
  • Coombe Farm, Winscombe – The development industry consortium agree that this site has the potential to deliver in 5 years.
  • Broadleaze Farm, Winscombe – The application is contrary to Policy CS32 of the Core Strategy. The site is in close proximity to the Mendip Hills AONB and has potential to cause adverse impact to it. Potential access issues (legal) to address. We also note that there are drainage constraints.
  • Cox’s Green, Wrington – During the recent S.78 appeal (September/October 2017) into a scheme for 59 dwellings relating to this site and adjoining land, the Council withdrew its objection to the appeal proposals during the course of the Inquiry. The development industry consortium agree that this site has the potential to deliver in the five year period.
  • South of Bristol Road, Churchill – We note that there is a flood risk objection to this site but the development industry consortium agree that this site has the potential to deliver in 5 years.
  • F Sweeting & Son, Sandford – This site is detached from settlement, it is not currently available (currently in use as a haulage yard) and lies adjacent to the AONB. Objections have been submitted to the planning application from various consultees including: Environment Agency, Internal Levels IDB, Noise and Highways. Council assessment also recognise constraints in terms of pylon corridor, Towerhead Brook, contamination, archaeology, ecology, AONB, safe access, sustainability and viability. In addition, the Council confirm that a response was received from the Agent / Developer which cannot confirm the deliverability of this site. The development consortium agree that this site will not come forward within the next five years or within the remainder of the plan period.
  • Barrow Hospital (66 units) – The development industry consortium agree that this site has the potential to deliver in 5 years.
  • Barrow Hospital (14 units) - The development industry consortium agree that this site has the potential to deliver in 5 years.
  • Winford Coach Station - The development industry consortium agree that this site has the potential to deliver in 5 years.

    The development industry consortium are in agreement that only 14 out of the 22 sites which have been recommended for inclusion in the Sites Allocations Plan (totalling 821 dwellings), have the potential to be delivered within the next five years. The combined total of the 14 sites which would contribute to the 5YHLS position is 611 dwellings. This is circa 25% of what the Inspector had requested the Council to identify in ID-4.

    A more detailed look at the 22 sites outlined above can be found in a table at Appendix 1.

Five year housing land supply

North Somerset Housing Trajectory Update - September 2017

It is agreed between the parties that the Council must deliver a five year supply of 9,524 dwellings based on the Sedgefield methodology and a 20% buffer in recognition of the persistent under-delivery of housing within North Somerset. The Site Allocations Plan Schedule 1 of sites (CD4a - September 2017) demonstrates that through the Main Modifications the Council can only demonstrate a deliverable supply of 9,149 dwellings from 1st April 2017 – 31st March 2022. The Council, even on their own deliverable supply figures, acknowledge that they are 375 dwellings short of this requirement and this is an agreed position by the Council as can be seen in Appendix 3. The Inspector addressed the lapse rate issue in relation to the small consented sites at para. 16 of her Note to the Council (ID-4). The development industry argued that a 17% lapse rate should be applied. The Inspector favoured the development industry’s position and maintained that “a 10% lapse rate is adopted by the Council, but evidence indicates this is optimistic for North Somerset.” Despite this conclusion, the Council have ignored this advice and have kept the lapse rate at 10% in their updated housing trajectory. Application of a 17% lapse rate would reduce the Council’s deliverable supply by 113 dwellings.

The Weston Villages (Locking Parklands and Winterstoke Village) were discussed at length during the Matter 2 Hearing session. Significant concerns were raised by participants of the development industry consortium in relation to the Council’s delivery rates on these two sites. The Council are still purporting highly ambitious delivery rates from these two strategic sites, despite the Inspector favouring the development industry’s position and the updates provided by participants who are actively involved in the detailed delivery of the two strategic sites. We would note that since the hearing sessions, a major proportion of the Parklands Village element of the Weston Villages (notably the Mead land and the North Somerset land) is still not in control of house builders, and commencement of the North South link road which will open up the Council’s land and assist in the delivery of the wider Parklands Village has been further delayed until next year.

The highest completions recorded nationally from an SUE is 610 d.p.a., whereas the national average per year is around 350 d.p.a. House builders would have to build houses at unprecedented rates to achieve such an ambitious target. The revised delivery rates of 690 dwellings (2019/20), 700 dwellings (2020/21) and 750 dwellings (2021/22) are simply unachievable.

North Somerset Council position (September 2017): 4.80 years
Development Industry position (September 2017): 3.20 years

PLEASE SEE ATTACHMENT FOR FULL TABLES

The development industry’s position has increased from 2.97 years (April 2017) to 3.20 years (September 2017) following the inclusion of the additional 22 sites in the Main Modifications version. The development industry’s deliverable supply is still some 3,071 dwellings short of the minimum five-year requirement.

Recent and forthcoming appeals

By their own admission North Somerset continue to accept that they cannot demonstrate a 5YHLS:

  • The Council accepted at the recent ‘Land off Cox’s Green, Wrington’ appeal (3156081) in a Statement of Common Ground dated 11th September 2017 that they could not currently demonstrate 5YHHLS and a Housing Land Supply Note was agreed between the parties during the inquiry (Please see Appendix 3)
  • It has also been agreed between the parties for the forthcoming Land off Stowey Road, Yatton inquiry (APP/D0121/W/17/3170103) starting on 31st October 2017 that the Council cannot demonstrate a 5YHLS.
  • On 4th October 2017, the Council published the Agenda for the 11th October 2017 Planning and Regulatory Committee. The Officer Report for Land to the north of Leafy Way and Bartletts Way, Locking confirms there is no 5YHLS.

Conclusion on Five Year Supply Position

There still remains a significant difference between the five-year deliverable supply of NSC and the development industry consortium, despite being 5 ½ months on from the conclusion of the SAP EiP hearing sessions. The Council, even on their own judgement of their deliverable supply, acknowledge that they cannot currently demonstrate a 5YHLS. In their September 2017 Housing Trajectory Update, the Council’s deliverable supply for 1st April 2017 – 31st March 2022 totals 9,149 (4.8 years).

The development industry’s supply position has risen marginally from 2.97 years to 3.2 years since April 2017. The Inspector requested that the Council identify additional sites to ‘close the gap’ between the Council’s position and the development industry. The Council has been unwilling to accept that an additional 2,500 dwellings are required to achieve a sound plan. Moreover, the Council has adopted a narrow definition of qualifying sites for assessment and inclusion within the plan.

The development industry accepts that the Inspector’s request for the Council to identify additional land was intended to address any shortcomings in the identified supply highlighted by consultees.

However, in the absence of a comprehensive assessment of housing land by the Council to identify all suitable and deliverable land, the development industry maintains its objections to the original allocations and recommends delivery rates are amended accordingly to reflect a more realistic housing trajectory for the plan.

Overall Conclusions

The overall conclusions of the development consortium are that:

  • The council has not paid sufficient regard to the Inspector’s conclusion following the previous hearing sessions that they should test the allocation of sites which would have the capacity to accommodate up to 2,500 dwellings.
  • Even if all 821 units identified by the Council are delivered in 5 years it represents only 32.8% of the 2,500 (but the consortium consider this is optimistic and only 611, or 24.4% are realistically available).
  • The Council cannot deliver a five year housing land supply and the Proposed Modifications do not sufficiently close the gap between the calculations of housing land supply produced by the Council and the developers (paragraph 20 ID4).
  • All this is as a result of the Council not fully examining the full potential of the possible available supply, and fundamentally failing to ‘work closely with the development industry’ to understand the position on the ground as specifically recommended by the Inspector (para. 25 of ID4).

    The development industry consortium therefore invites the Inspector to hold further Hearing sessions as there remain significant issues as summarised above (and additional matters including strategic gaps and employment sites flagged within our individual submissions) which North Somerset Council have yet again failed to address, despite the Inspector’s recommendations at the Hearing sessions in May 2017 and within her Post Hearings Note to the Council.

 

PLEASE SEE ATTACHMENT FOR FULL TABLES AND APPENDICES

Attachments