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 14402625//1
Respondent Deleted User [View all comments by this respondent]
Agent Deleted User
Response Date 30 Oct 2017
Comment

Sites and Policies Plan Part 2: Site Allocations Plan: Main Modifications Consultation Land south of Bristol Road, Langford
Town and Country Planning Act (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012

We write on behalf of our client, Edward Ware Homes (EWH), to make representations to the Proposed Main Modifications to the Sites and Policies Plan Part 2: Site Allocations Plan (SAP) prepared by North Somerset Council (the Council).

EWH have a land interest on land to the south of Bristol Road, Langford which is the subject of a current outline application (17/P/1200/O) for up to 41 dwellings and is one of the additional sites proposed for allocations as part of the SAP Main Modifications. Our clients EWH also have a further land interest at Langford. Site Location Plans for both sites are provided at Appendix 1 of this letter.

APPENDIX 1: SITE LOCATION PLANS

These representations expand upon representations made previously in respect of the SAP. Accordingly, these representations consider the following issues:

Background to SAP Examination;

Additional Site Selection;

Deliverability of Identified Sites;

Paragraph 14 – Plan Making;

MM1 – Policy SA1 and supporting text;

MM26- Land to the south of Bristol Road, Churchill; and

Land to the south of Langford, Bristol.

Background

The Council submitted the SAP for examination on 24th February 2017. The SAP underwent examination by the Planning Inspectorate from 16-18 May 2017. Following the close of the hearings the Inspector (Ms Wendy Burden) wrote to the Council on 26th June 2017 setting out further work that she considered necessary in relation to the delivery of housing.

To secure the delivery of Core Strategy (CS) Policy CS13, the Inspector considered the need for the Council to test the provision of additional sites for up to 2,500 homes within the SAP. Specifically, she noted:

The additional sites for up to 2,500 dwellings are not a proposal to increase the overall housing target identified in Policy CS13.

The identification of additional sites would help to provide flexibility and certainty that the CS housing requirement can be met since:

o Due to constraints on sites allocated in the SAP it is not certain that they will be developed by 2026;

o Additional sites are required to make up for those which are unlikely to be delivered.

The increased choice and flexibility provided by additional allocations in the SAP would assist the Council in demonstrating that they have a fiveyear housing land supply.”

The Inspector made other conclusions regarding the application of the Sedgefield methodology and appropriateness of a 20% buffer for persistent under delivery which are of relevance.

All the above point to the Inspector’s concerns that the sites identified within the submitted SAP draft are heavily constrained and additional sites, up to 2,500 new homes, should be considered to ensure there is sufficient choice and flexibility.

Within the letter the Inspector also notes that the Council has agreed to test three areas for additional allocations:

• “Sites which are broadly consistent with the Core Strategy spatial strategy (sites within or adjacent to Weston, the towns and service villages, but not infill villages, countryside or Green Belt).

Sites which have been considered through the SAP examination process.

Sites which are in the development pipeline as these are more likely to be deliverable and could potentially contribute to 5 year supply.”

Additional Site Selection

It is clear from the discussion above that the thrust of the Inspector’s comments were to consider potential additional sites for up to 2,500 additional units. However, the Council’s approach as outlined within paragraph 3 of their letter to the Inspector dated 26th June 2017 the Council considered it necessary to create a “clear cut-off”. We consider this was a fundamentally flawed approach as it restricted the range of options that could potentially be considered by the Council to only those already within the system (i.e. live application or pre-application). We consider that the Council should have made a formal call for sites at that point so as to allow a wider range of sites to be considered.

The Council could have then proceeded with an initial sift which would have excluded any sites which had been submitted which weren’t “broadly consistent with the Core Strategy spatial strategy.”

As a result of this constrained assessment methodology, the phase 2 assessment contained options which allowed for a potential additional 1,812 new homes across 28 sites. This figure is clearly significantly short of the 2,500 figure which the Inspector asked the Council to consider.

The reassessment work culminated in a reduction of 6 sites from the 28 and a recommendation to allocate the remainder which would boost the allocation total by an additional 821 dwellings.

MM1 – Policy SA1 and supporting text

Table 1 of the October 2016 Publication Version SAP sets out the projected housing delivery across the plan period, comprised of completions, allocations, sites with planning permission and a windfall allowance, and is supported by a spreadsheet, referred to as CD1a, showing the projected annual delivery of these sites.

Whilst the identified supply figure of 21,051 homes, if deliverable, meets the Core Strategy OAN, it does not meet the total plan period requirement when the under-delivery to date and a 20% buffer over the next five-years are applied in line with the Inspector’s recommendations. Indeed, with reference to our table below, when the past shortfall and the buffer are included the overall housing need across the plan period rises to 23,616.

It is for this reason, together with some uncertainty about the deliverability of the sites already identified (most notably the delivery trajectories advocated by the Council at Weston Villages strategic allocation), that the Inspector considered that additional land should be allocated for a further 2,500 homes through the Main Modifications process. However, the Council has as noted above only found additional land for 821 new homes.

SEE ATTACHMENT FOR TABLES

As shown in row H of the table, the result of this failure to respond to the Inspector’s request means that the identified supply in the SAP for the remaining plan period remains well below the actual requirement, undermining the delivery of the Core Strategy to 2026.

In fact, due to a revised “lapse-rate”1 and review of the rate of delivery of existing sites (‘commitments’), the identified supply for the remaining plan period has actually shrunk from 13,849 to 13,438. The shortfall is therefore 1,331 dwellings.

Critically, the Main Modifications also fail to address the uncertain deliverability of the plan in the short term, over the next five years. The supporting annual trajectory has been updated and is referred to as CD4a. Although all of the new allocation sites found for the additional 821 homes are projected to be delivered within the next five years, this document shows a total 5-year supply of 9,149 homes, and therefore that there is still not enough housing to meet the authority’s five-year housing need of 9,524. The failure of the Main Modifications and supporting evidence to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply renders the SAP unsound.

Deliverability of Identified Sites

For the purposes of simplicity in comparing the SAP identified housing supply with the Inspector’s request, the above discussion assumes that the Council’s housing trajectory is reliable.

However, whilst the projected supply of 9,149 homes versus our identified need of 9,524 equates to a 4.8-year housing land supply, our view is that this is not a wholly accurate figure because the trajectory is over-optimistic.

We agree with other representations, including that made by Neil Tiley of Pegasus Group (Hearing Statement ref. HS-2-1a) in the examination hearings, that the deliverable supply from existing commitments and originally identified site allocations is less than identified by the Council due to a combination of site-specific constraints and unachievable projected build-out rates on strategic sites.

‘Paragraph 14’ Plan-Making

For these reasons, more work needs to be done to identify further sites which are available, suitable and deliverable over the next five years and the remainder of the plan period to meet the identified housing requirement.

The ‘Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development’ established in paragraph 14 of the NPPF should be seen as the ‘golden thread’ in the planning process:

“For plan-making this means that:

Local planning authorities should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area;

Local Plans should meet objectively assessed needs, with sufficient flexibility to adapt to rapid change, unless: any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole; or specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be restricted.”

MM26 - Land south of Bristol Road, Churchill

Pegasus made representations on this site in August 2017 and a copy of these representations are appended to this statement at Appendix 3:

EWH are pleased that their land interest on land south of Bristol Road, Langford is proposed for allocation for 41 residential units. The site is highly sustainable and readily available for residential development.

Whilst it is positive that the site is to be allocated, the Council proposes a site allocation boundary which is less than that defined by the application site area. We have undertaken a comparison of the two redlines and this is provided at Appendix 3.

It is understood from the Councils Executive Report (5th September 2017) and from discussions with officers during the on-going planning application that the reasoning for this is associated with the A38 being identified as a key strategic corridor linking the airport with Bristol, the M5 and Weston-super-Mare as part of the on-going work associated with the West of England Joint Spatial Plan and Joint Transport Study. The Council have indicated that the reduction in red line is to safeguard land adjacent to this network so as not to restrict the ability for the highway to be improved.

At the time of writing these representations the Council have confirmed that the proposed reduction in red line has not been informed by any transport modelling work or assessment and as such is their best estimate of what might be required. It is also clear that at present there are no defined proposals for what any upgrade of road infrastructure might include and nor is the residential growth, in the form of a new garden village, certain.

Our representations in August were accompanied by an opinion from TPA and we again append this opinion to this statement.

As the assessment notes the site has been the subject of pre-application engagement and is now the subject of a planning application (ref 17/P/1200/O). The pre-application meeting and feedback was provided in early January 2017 with the application validated on 15th May 2017.

Both activities followed the West of England Joint Spatial Plan: Towards the Emerging Spatial Strategy consultation which ended on 19th December 2016. Indeed, the preapplication response referred to the fact that this site was located within an area identified for potential new transport infrastructure. The pre-application response did not discourage an application based on potential conflict with the JSP.

The key point is that the JSP identifies the site as being within an area potentially required to deliver new transport infrastructure. The JSP is still at an early stage with many components, including projects identified within the Emerging Joint Transport Strategy, having limited detail or information provided about them to ascertain detailed requirements or land needs.

As noted above further detailed considerations on transported related matters are considered by our transport consultants which is appended to this statement. In summary, the key points are:

The alignment of a new road around Churchill/Langford, if indeed it is required, has not yet been determined and any alignment shown within consultation documents to date are indicative. Indeed, to deliver meaningful improvements to the width of the A38 the Council would have to Compulsory Purchase a number of existing properties.

The JSP also highlights the possibility of a new Junction 21A on the M5 with a new strategic connection between the M5 and Churchill. There is no commitment to the nature of these improvements or when they would be delivered.

The assessment confirms there are “no anticipated highway capacity issues” with the highway network associated with the site a point shared by the Transport Statement accompanying the current application. As such improvements are not required now or in response to the current application.

There is no mention of the need for improvements at the junction or for a ‘bypass’ around the village in the Joint Local Transport Plan (LTP), dated March 2011.

The site assessment suggests that ‘existing highway bordering the site may influence development potential, particularly taking into account future potential for any works to this junction.’ Initial design and capacity assessment work suggests that the junction between the A38, A368 and Dinghurst Road is currently operating within capacity.

Our transport consultants (TPA) prepared two indicative junction arrangements which can both be accommodated within available land (highways or Parish Council) and these are provided at Appendix 5:

Option 1: larger signalised junction (Ref: 1610-97_SK04); and

Option 2: a roundabout junction (Ref: 1610-97_SK05).

These junctions were designed following junction modelling work. The existing signalised junction between the A38, A368 and Dinghurst Road was modelled in LinSigv.3 with:

i. Signal timings/phasing and junction layout obtained from NSC;

ii. Saturation flows based on geometries;

iii. Optimised as it would in reality due to the presence of MOVA;

iv. 2015 recorded traffic flows at the junction growth to 2017 using TemPRO;

v. An additional 20% background traffic added to base flows on all arms of the junction to account for JSP growth on the A38 corridor. This is considered to be significantly over and above typical TemPRO growth for the area to 2036.

Based on the above parameters, the existing signalised junction arrangement is forecast to operate over capacity in the 2036 PM peak scenario. As such, we considered potential junction improvements using land within the control of NSC, Highways England and Churchill Parish Council. This resulted in the attached improved signalised option (see attached 1610-97/SK04, now including dimensions, as discussed) and a roundabout option (1610-97/SK05).

The signalised option shown at SK04 includes additional and/or longer lanes on all arms of the junction and changes to the signal timings. This demonstrates that a two-lane approach on the A38 Bristol Road can be provided without the need for additional land within the application site. As a result, the junction is forecast to operate within capacity in the 2036 AM and PM scenarios.

It is clear that following the modelling work undertaken by our consultants that even in the scenario where all of the growth as currently envisaged as potential by the current consultation version of the JSP occurs up to 2036, the A38, A368 and Dinghurst Road junction operates within capacity with the exception of it being over capacity in the 2036 PM peak scenario. However, improvements to the junction can be made using Highways England, Highway Authority and Parish Council land is used in either of the two scenarios’ that we have prepared. These options do not require any land take from the application site.

Given the conclusions of this work there should be sufficient confidence to ensure that there is no need to reduce the red line as the Council is currently proposing, which as discussed above is based on no formal technical assessment.

Land to the south of Langford, Bristol

This site is located to the south of the village of Langford settlement boundary. The proposed site is south of the southern fringe of Langford, which forms part of the settlement of Churchill as defined by the Core Strategy. It is understood that this land has not previously been promoted or assessed by the Council. However, it is now available for development.

As the Council is aware our clients have successfully secured consent on land to the west of Says Lane, Langford for 43 dwellings and have a further application pending (17/P/1200/O) for 41 units which has been discussed above and is proposed for allocation.

We believe both sites to be suitable for residential development and this third parcel of land would be complimentary to these other sites. Churchill is identified as a Service Village within the settlement hierarchy and as such is a suitable location for residential growth, due in part to the range of services and facilities available within the village.

It is acknowledged that this parcel of land is closer to the boundary of the AONB than EWh’s other land interests at Churchill. EWH have already began preparatory work for a landscape assessment of the site and this will underpin any future site layout option for the site.

The Council has been asked by the Inspector to consider the identification of sufficient land to accommodate 2,500 for allocation, The Inspector in making these recommendations has sought to boost the supply of housing and increase flexibility and choice.

We believe that the Council should have undertaken a more thorough assessment and review of opportunities in and around its most sustainable settlements to understand what their capacities might be to accommodate additional development. With the key focus being on identifying the least environmentally sensitive and those which are best related to the adjacent settlements.

We believe that a greater strategic overview needs to be taken and from this viewpoint sites such as this offer a credible option to deliver significant proportions of development.

Sites like this can be designed in such a way to link into the existing sites and given our client’s other land interests at Churchill this can be easily achieved.

Conclusion

We proport that the Main Modification MM1 to policy SA1 and supporting text of the SAP fails to adequately address the housing need and that further site allocations are needed to provide a source of supply for delivery over the remaining plan period, and critically for the next 5 years.

Whilst we are supportive of Main Modification MM26 which allocates EWH site on land south of Bristol Road, Churchill we consider that no valid justification has been provided to justify for a reduced red line. In fact, the modelling work we have undertaken clearly demonstrates that the existing junction can be improved to account for the forecast level of growth using land not associated with the application site.

The EWH site on land south of Langford is readily available for residential development and had the Council taken a less restrictive approach to potential land availability, sites such as this would have been made available by land owners/promoters and the Council would have got significantly closer to meeting its existing shortfall.

We would be pleased to provide any further information and would welcome the opportunity to discuss the site in more detail. We also request to be kept informed of any updates to the examination process, including the opportunity to make verbal representations at hearing should it arise on behalf of our client.

SEE ATTACHMENT FOR APPENDICES

 

Attachments