Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Stage

1. North Somerset Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Document

North Somerset Issues

North Somerset wide Issues

North Somerset stretches from the edge of Bristol to the Mendip Hills AONB. The principal settlements are Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead but it includes a variety of different villages and rural areas, including a significant area of floodplain. It is a diverse area with a range of constraints (see map below) and opportunities. The Local Plan needs to identify what the key issues are which affect the district, in relation to areas which are special and unique as well as locations where there are opportunities for change, and to
suggest what the Local Plan could do to make a difference.

Seven broad locations have been identified within North Somerset as a starting point for the identification of the main planning issues affecting different communities. The potential of the Local Plan to address the issues identified will then be explored. The order in which the issues are listed should not be taken as an indication of the priority given to them.

Map showing constraints within North Somerset

Constraints plan image

Weston-super-Mare
Weston-super-Mare is the largest town in North Somerset containing the greatest range of services, facilities and good access to transport facilities. The town is continuing to grow as development continues at Weston Villages and other locations, with jobs encouraged through the Enterprise Area near junction 21 of the M5, including the Food Enterprise Zone at Weston Airfield.

What are the key issues?
1. How to support urban regeneration of the town centre and adjacent areas, particularly on vacant or underused land to reduce pressure ongreenfield sites.
2. How to increase the attractiveness and vibrancy of the town centre for residents and visitors and to tackle the changing requirements of retail and tourism.
3. How to support economic growth through making the town an attractive location for investment. The approach to growth at Weston has been employment-led to ensure that jobs and housing are delivered in tandem to improve self-containment and to reduce out-commuting.
4. How to improve the life prospects of residents from communities experiencing poverty, ill health or poor access to jobs and services.
5. How to encourage more journeys by public transport, cycling and walking, in particular to link the town centre and central/outer Weston areas and to address congestion issues particularly related to the M5 motorway.
6. How to protect and enhance the environment and heritage of the town.
7. A need for ongoing urban intensification, focused in the town centre and along the A370 corridor.
8. How to achieve higher urban densities without compromising on design infrastructure or quality of place.

How can these issues be addressed through the Local Plan?

  • Working with other agencies to review land uses, unlock brownfield sites and co-ordinate infrastructure delivery. Policies can be included to promote residential development on previously developed or underused sites and increase densities on sites or to intensify commercial uses where appropriate.
  • Policies promoting increased densities at the most accessible locations such as town centres and rail stations whilst seeking to protect local character, environment and functioning of the area. This is discussed further in the section 5: Urban living.
  • Reassess the approach to retailing and other uses, including policies to allow opportunities to re-use or redevelop underused buildings such as hotels, care homes and former shops.
  • Policies to ensure high standards of urban design when considering redevelopment proposals, and to consider the role of open spaces, local green spaces and strategic gaps in protecting the character of valued areas.
  • Reassess the existing employment-led approach to ensure it remains fit for- purpose (see Section 6: Employment).
  • Policies to promote and enable better pedestrian and cycle connectivity between different areas of the town, such as between the town centre and Weston Villages and Hutton Moor, and to improve the public realm along and adjacent to key transport corridors.

Question 1:

Do you agree with these or are there other challenges or issues which we have not included and how might the Local Plan address these?

Clevedon
Clevedon is an historic seaside town located on the outer edge of the Green Belt with generally low-lying floodplain to the south. Clevedon is preparing a Town Vision to identify the key challenges and opportunities faced by the town. Some of the actions from this may feed into policies or proposals within the Local Plan. The key challenges below may be revised in light of the findings of the Town Vision.

What are the key issues?
1. How to help to promote and increase the attractiveness of the town centre to both users and investors such as retailers/other businesses.
2. How to protect and enhance the heritage of the town, particularly with respect to the seafront and Hill Road areas to maintain the historic character of these areas.
3. How to encourage greater integration between the Town Centre, Hill Road and the Sea Front.
4. How to encourage the retention of business/employment uses both within the town and to the south at Clevedon 5/20 and west of Kenn Road to ensure there are opportunities for residents to work locally, rather than commuting.
5. Is there a need to review accessibility by car and public transport to the motorway network and Bristol?
6. If the proposed contingency housing site identified in the JSP to the east of M5 J20 is ever brought forward in a future review of the plan, how could this be successfully integrated into the town?

How can these issues be addressed through the Local Plan?

  • To include policies and allocations which will stimulate investment in the town centre to encourage economic growth and vitality.
  • Inclusion of policies to promote schemes for enhancement of the environment and heritage of the town and also to ensure the retention of elements of local character in any development proposals.
  • To consider the approach to the safeguarding of the potential contingency site east of Clevedon.
  • To identify new housing sites within the town.
  • To identify employment opportunities to address local needs, particularly sites well located in relation to the primary road network.
  • Consider the opportunity for small scale Green Belt amendments.

Question 2:

Do you agree with these or are there other challenges or issues which we have not included and how might the Local Plan address these?

Nailsea and Backwell
Nailsea and Backwell lie on the outer edge of the Green Belt. Backwell is located on the A370 and is separated from Nailsea by the railway line and station and the strategic gap. Nailsea is preparing a Town Vision to identify the principal issues facing the town. The key challenges below may be revised in light of the findings of the Town Vision.

What are the key issues?
1. The area has been identified for strategic growth in the JSP, and the Local Plan needs to test the scale of development proposed and how it can be most effectively assimilated into the communities of Nailsea and Backwell.
2. The impact of the proposed strategic road infrastructure, its location and alignment, phasing, delivery and implications on the wider
network.
3. The environmental implications of development on internationally protected habitats and floodplain areas.
4. The need for new transport infrastructure, including new roads, the potential future role of the rail station, opportunities for public transport improvements, cycling and walking.
5. The need to increase the wider range and type of housing in Nailsea, particularly affordable housing.
6. Further improvement and enhancement of Nailsea town centre. Opportunities for residential development in the town.
7. The potential strategic growth at SW Nailsea is remote from the existing town centre. Could some development be better located in
relation to existing services and facilities?

8. The need to encourage a range of local employment opportunities including start-ups and small businesses.

9. The need to improve opportunities for sport, leisure, community and cultural activities and events.
10. The need to retain the village character of Backwell, support and enhance the village centre and address traffic issues on A370.

How can these issues be addressed through the Local Plan?

  • Identifying the policies and allocations to guide the masterplanning and delivery of the strategic development locations, including new road corridors and public transport, housing, services, facilities and other infrastructure and phasing. This is discussed further in section 4: Garden villages and new communities.
  • Consider the opportunity for local Green Belt amendments.
  • Identify opportunities for public transport improvements, particularly the role of the station as a transport hub.
  • Reassess the policy approach to addressing local housing needs at Nailsea, and identify potential allocations.
  • Identify policies and allocations to support local economic growth, including new development areas and potential redevelopment
    opportunities.
  • Identify further opportunities to improve Nailsea town centre.

Question 3:

Do you agree with these or are there other challenges or issues which we have not included and how might the Local Plan address these?

Portishead
Portishead has had a recent period of regeneration around the dock with a marina and associated housing and other uses on a previously derelict and industrial area. There is little scope for further growth as the town is now tightly constrained by Green Belt. The Town Vision being prepared will help to identify the principal issues. The key challenges below may be revised in light of the findings of the Town Vision.

What are the key issues?
1. To ensure the retention of sufficient local employment opportunities within the town.
2. To improve accessibility to the M5 and Bristol through highway and public transport improvements.
3. To support public transport access to Bristol through the delivery of the Portishead rail line and other public transport improvements.
4. To identify opportunities for residential development, particularly on brownfield sites.
5. Investigate opportunities for allocating land for employment on the edge of Portishead.

How can these issues be addressed through the Local Plan?

  • To support successful delivery of the re-opened Portishead rail connection and to encourage bus improvements, particularly to Bristol.
  • To identify potential measures to reduce traffic congestion on routes to Bristol.
  • Examine the potential for allocating additional employment land, possibly through small-scale Green Belt releases.
  • To assess future land-use needs of the Royal Portbury Dock.
  • To consider residential development opportunities, particularly on previously developed land.

Question 4.

Do you agree with these or are there other challenges or issues which we have not included and how might the Local Plan address these?

Green Belt
Around 40% of the land in North Somerset is designated as Green Belt. The current extent is defined on the Policies Map. It was established in the early 1950s and has been a valued and effective planning tool, checking the sprawl of Bristol, preventing settlements merging, safeguarding the countryside from encroachment, preserving the setting and special character of historic towns and assisting in urban regeneration. Both the government and the council attach great importance to the Green Belt and no strategic changes to accommodate large scale housing proposals are being put forward in this Plan. The current approach to new residential development in the Green Belt takes a variety of forms – villages are either insets where the main part of the village within the settlement boundary is taken out of the Green Belt as is currently the case at Long Ashton and Easton-in-Gordano and Pill, or have villages have settlement boundaries but are “washed over” by Green Belt.

What are the key issues?
1. Maintaining the importance and value of the Green Belt and preventing the sprawl of Bristol especially from large scale speculative housing proposals.
2. Should there be more opportunity for communities within the Green Belt to address their local housing and other needs?
3. The implications of the proposed expansion of Bristol Airport in terms of factors such as noise, surface transport, parking, built development and Green Belt changes.
4. The potential for considering the future of land parcels in the Green Belt now contained by the South Bristol Link Road.

How can these issues be addressed through the Local Plan?

  • Through ensuring that the Green Belt and its boundaries are fit for purpose in the long-term. Consider minor changes such as a result of anomalies or existing built development.
  • Consider the options relating to how settlements in the Green Belt are defined in the Local Plan (through settlement hierarchy and settlement boundary reviews – see chapter 3)
  • Consider allocating sites and review boundaries in consultation with parishes/town councils for specific local needs and in exceptional circumstances.
  • Consider the options for the expansion of the Airport in terms of the policy approach and amendments to Green Belt boundaries (see Chapter 7: Bristol Airport).
  • Consider local Green Belt changes in locations identified as making only a limited contribution to Green Belt purposes. This include
    consideration of the land inside the South Bristol Link in conjunction with Bristol City.

Question 5.

Do you agree with these or are there other challenges or issues which we have not included and how might the Local Plan address these?

Central parishes
This area comprises the largely rural area in the south of the district lying outside the Green Belt. Much of the area is low lying floodplain. It contains a variety of villages of different sizes and characteristics, several of which have experienced significant growth pressures in recent years. There is currently further growth proposed in the JSP on the A38 to M5 corridor which will affect several existing communities.

What are the key issues?
1. The impact and location and alignment, phasing, delivery and implications on the wider network of the proposed new highway
infrastructure proposed for the A38 to M5 corridor.
2. The form, location, design and proposed delivery of the Garden Village proposals at Banwell and Churchill.
3. The environmental implications of development on internationally protected habitats and floodplain areas.
4. Further growth proposed through the Joint Spatial Plan. How will the individual character and environment of existing villages be protected?
5. Traffic congestion issues on several parts of the network such as through Yatton.
6. The potential to improve the distribution of secondary schools across North Somerset by considering a new school at Yatton.
7. To support local employment opportunities such as Thatchers.

How can these issues be addressed through the Local Plan?

  • Identify the policies and allocations to guide the masterplanning and delivery of the strategic development locations, including new road corridors and public transport, housing, services, facilities and other infrastructure and phasing. This is discussed further in Section 4: Garden Villages and new communities.
  • Identify policies and allocations to deliver the housing requirement at sustainable locations. See section 3: Settlement hierarchy and
    settlement boundaries.
  • Consider policies and allocations to support local economic growth.
  • Consider the allocation of a secondary school site at Yatton.

Question 6.

Do you agree with these or are there other challenges or issues which we have not included and how might the Local Plan address these?

Mendip Hills
The southern edge of the district is in the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is an area of national landscape importance where planning policies ensure that the priority is to conserve, protect and where possible enhance the natural beauty.

What are the key issues?
1. The opportunity to address local needs, particularly affordable housing.
2. To role of tourism and pressures for holiday accommodation.
3. Increased pressures for recreation arising from the proposed new developments.
4. Issues raised through equestrian uses and stables.
5. The impact of the proposed new strategic development locations at Banwell and Churchill on views from and into the AONB.

How can these issues be addressed through the Local Plan?

  • To reassess the policy context to ensure priority is given to the protection and enhancement of the AONB when considering proposals
    for development.
  • To identify policies and allocations designed to avoid or mitigate the landscape impact of the strategic development locations on the
    AONB. This is discussed further in section 4: Garden Villages and new communities.
  • To assess policies related to tourism, holiday accommodation and equestrian uses, and their impact on AONB objectives.

Question 7:

Do you agree with these or are there other challenges or issues which we have not included and how might the Local Plan address these?