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 17925921//1
Respondent Deleted User [View all comments by this respondent]
Agent Pegasus (Kate Holden)
Response Date 30 Oct 2017
Comment

Claverham Works, Bishops Road, Claverham, BS49 4NF

Sites and Policies Plan, Part 2: Site Allocations Plan Main Modifications Consultation
Town and Country Planning Act (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012

Introduction and Background

We write on behalf of our client, Newland Homes, 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 SAP underwent examination by the Planning Inspectorate from 16-18 May 2017. Following the close of the hearings the Inspector wrote to the council setting out further work that she considered necessary to identify additional housing sites to make sure the council can meet its housing requirement over the plan period. The council have undertaken further work, and at Executive Committee on 5 September 2017 an additional 22 sites were approved for inclusion in the plan.

The basis of this representation is that the additional land identified is still not sufficient to enable North Somerset Council to be able to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, rendering the SAP unsound. For this reason, additional sites need to be considered for allocation within the plan totalling 1,331 dwellings.

The land known as ‘Claverham Works’ in Claverham could accommodate in the region of 100 dwellings. The brownfield site was not previously submitted through the ‘call for sites’ as it was in use. It is being promoted by our client for residential use following the closure of Claverham Ltd. (owned by Aerospace Systems) which previously occupied the site.

The latter part of the representation will set out why the residential development of the site represents sustainable development and should be included in the SAP to contribute to the 5-year housing land supply. It will also explain why the proposed allocation of the southern part of the site, as a ‘Local Green Space’ under policy SA5 should be deleted in accordance with the emerging Neighbourhood Plan, and thus can be included for consideration for residential development.

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, 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 only found additional land for 821 new homes.

SEE ATTACHMENT FOR TABLES AND APPENDICES

 

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.”

Claverham Works

The site is located to the eastern edge of Claverham with residential properties to the west behind a belt of trees, open agricultural fields to the east/north and Court DE Wyck Primary School to the south. It is accessed from a lane off Bishops Road to the north of a tree lined drainage ditch.

The site comprises of 5.75 hectares of land containing 9,114 sqm of existing factory buildings (Class B2). The factory, operated by Claverham Ltd and owned by UTC Aerospace Systems, has been planned for closure for several years, and the completion of phased closure has now taken place. Until this time it was in active class B1 use by Claverham Works Ltd, a specialist aviation manufacturing company with contracts in the defence and industry sectors. The site did not feature in the Employment Allocation Review (March 2016), which was a background evidence document used to inform the selection process for safeguarding employment sites as it is understood the Council was aware of the intention to relocate from this site. It is also understood that given the specialist nature of the existing employment accommodation, the Council (and the Neighbourhood Plan group) appreciated that there was no realistic prospect of retaining the site in employment use.

Indeed, marketing commenced in April 2017 including the erection of ‘for sale’ boards, Estates Gazette advertisement and e-marketing and entry on the JLL database. Only two unconditional offers were made by commercial developers, but neither has been backed up by tenant interest.

The closure of the factory therefore represents an opportunity for the development of the site, which is now proposed by our client for the erection of 102 residential dwellings. The freehold also contains a Village Hall building to the south, which is on a long-lease to the Parish Council and is not considered for development potential. A site plan together with the proposed extent of allocation is attached at Appendix 1.

APPENDIX 1: SITE LOCATION PLAN

The site can be described in broadly three parts; a field to the south containing the Village Hall, the factory and ancillary development (including car parking) to the central area, and a further field separated by trees to the north. The factory buildings include a Grade II Listed house, formerly in use as ancillary offices, a Grade II Listed Chapel and a stone barn. The site contains a number of existing trees and hedgerows along field boundaries and a small pond to the south-west corner. The entire site is closely connected with the existing settlement in landscape terms and has the capacity to accommodate development.

The central part of the site is proposed to be partially allocated as Potential Development Site PS1 under policy D3 of the emerging Claverham Neighbourhood Plan. The supporting text to the policy makes clear that this allocation, whilst outside the defined settlement boundary, is supported as redevelopment for residential purposes would represent sustainable development and bring the site into “good social use”. The Neighbourhood Plan was approved by the Council to proceed to referendum on 24th October 2017.

The southern part of the site which was previously proposed for allocation as a Local Green Space known as “May Day Field” (ref. LGS1) is no longer supported in the Neighbourhood Plan for this function. This is because for the purposes of policy ENV4, the examiner was not satisfied that the “site is demonstrably special to the local community in terms of access rights and the longevity of the community events that have taken place recently.”

Accordingly, the site known as the ‘Grass area adjacent to Village Hall, Claverham’ should be removed from Schedule 3 of the SAP for the purposes of policy SA5. The deletion of this proposed designation would facilitate a greater quantum of residential development to come forward on the site to contribute to the 1,331 dwelling shortfall.

The entire site is under the control of our client and is immediately available. The allocation of the whole site (less the village hall) within the SAP would represent a logical extension to Claverham and builds on the proposed Neighbourhood Plan allocation to deliver additional housing needed to meet the identified requirement. Any proposed development would retain the existing landscape features where appropriate to establish landscape buffers as set out in Neighbourhood Plan policy D3. The extension of these principles to the northern field will also ensure that the landscape impact of the development in this area will be suitably mitigated.

Site Assessment

Using the same methodology employed by the Council for the residential sites originally assessed for inclusion in the SAP, the table attached at Appendix 2 provides an assessment of the development of Claverham Works for 100 dwellings against the high-level and subrequirements.

APPENDIX 2: ASSESSMENT OF THE DEVELOPMENT

As set out above, paragraph 14 of the NPPF requires that Local Plans should respond with sufficient flexibility to meet identified housing needs unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the NPPF as a whole.

Using the traffic light system, the table shows that of the 16 sustainability criteria, the impact of the proposal is assessed as being beneficial/neutral on 8 counts (green), and of negligible impact (amber) on 7 counts. Only 1 red is given. The NPPF ‘test’ is therefore passed.

Although we are promoting the allocation of the site through the plan-making process, our client has recently submitted a request for pre-application advice in respect of a proposal for 102 dwellings on the site. This submission provides further information about the nature of the proposed development and a more detailed assessment of its impact.

Delivery of the Site

It is likely that a planning application will be submitted in advance of the SAP concluded.

Following grant of consent, a build-out rate of 50 units a year is envisaged. To reiterate, the site is available now, suitable for development and deliverable. The site is in single ownership and with an established vehicular access. Having assessed the site in detail, there are no known constraints that would compromise its delivery.

Conclusion

The Main Modification MM1 to policy SA1 and supporting text of the SAP fail 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.

Claverham Works is a sustainable site which is suitable for development of in the region of 100 dwellings. It is available now and can contribute to the 5-year housing land supply shortfall. We have assessed the suitability of the site using the Council’s own methodology and shown it to meet the paragraph 14 ‘test’ for inclusion in the emerging SAP.

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