Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Stage

2. North Somerset Local Plan 2036 Sustainability Appraisal: Scoping Report

Task A3

4. Task A3 - Key sustainability issues and the North Somerset Local Plan.

4.1 Through analysis of the baseline data set out in the previous chapter, several key sustainability issues affecting North Somerset have been identified.

4.2 Where possible, the following table (Table 10) sets out the role of the North Somerset Local Plan in tackling these identified issues. Also considered, as required by the SEA Directive, is the likely evolution of each issue without the implementation of this Plan. Such scenarios will be considered in more detail in later SA stages, when predictions are made about the effects of individual policies.

Table 10: Current and likely future Sustainability Issues in North Somerset and the role of the North Somerset Local Plan.

Key Issue

Likely evolution of the issue without the plan

Scale of challenge

Potential role of the North Somerset Local Plan

Social:

Improve health and well-being across the District

Moderate

Continuation of current trend, although other strategies and initiatives may well impact on this trend.

This are issues arising from the fact that the elderly is a larger proportion of the population than regionally and nationally and the working age population is correspondingly smaller.

There are disparities between life expectancy ages across the District.

The Local Plan can ensure that the location of new development promotes improved health and well-being through: infrastructure that will lead to increased physical activity, access to good quality open space, reducing fear of crime, considering the needs of the elderly, air quality and access to services and facilities.

Meeting local communities needs for housing, including affordable housing

Major

Speculative development which is not where most needed within the District. Affordable housing not provided where a policy is not in place to enforce this.

Significant housing growth required over the plan period.

Planning has an important role to play in delivering the right quantum of housing in the right places. Policy requiring an appropriate level of affordable housing will be required. Spatial policies set out within the Local Plan to direct policies to the most appropriate locations.

Need for new health and community facilities other than to meet future housing growth

Moderate

Continuation of current trend of over-subscribed services, although other strategies and initiatives may well impact on this trend.

Improved access to health and welfare services for the existing population is required.

To ensure that need created through new development is catered for and does not add to existing problems in provision. Plan could allocate or safeguard sites for new facilities to be provided through other funding streams that address the needs of the existing communities.

Provision and Protection of green open space, sport, recreation and tourism facilities

Major

Green open space designation is under threat from the scale of development required in the district over the plan period.

Planning has an important role to play in the protection of valued open space, sport and recreation facilities, tourism and indeed the provision of new facilities, primarily through new development.

Policies to protect existing designations and or improve existing facilities where required.

Economic:

Better and more sustainable access to jobs, services, facilities and amenities for all

Moderate/Major

Continuation of current trend, although other strategies and initiatives may well impact on this trend.

There is a specific need to address inequality, where access to local jobs and services, is worse for some(principally in the older urban parts of the District) than for most residents of the district

New employment land provision, housing and associated community facilities could help reduce deprivation within the most disadvantaged parts of the District.

The plan will also sit alongside the complementary education, health, economic development plans, programmes and policies.

Safeguarding and increasing jobs and productivity

Meeting the future needs of businesses for additional land and premises.

Major

The achievement of the right balance between the distribution of housing and employment across all settlements in North Somerset during this plan period.

Planning has an important role to play to maintain a ready supply of sites and premises to meet local requirements for business expansion and inward investment.

This will be important to enable the council to take the pro-active steps towards restoring a closer balance between employment and housing in a manner that would not conflict with the longer-term objectives.

Allocation of employment sites alongside new housing sites.

This policy requirement is demonstrated through the identification of the J21 Enterprise Area.

This would contribute to resolving the issue of out-commuting within the District.

Protection of Protection of Town centres/ retail centres.

Their role as economic drivers and centres of job provision should be protected.

District and local centres provide accessible facilities for their communities.

Moderate

Town Centre vitality is influenced by factors outside of the role of planning. Policy restrictions, both within centres and elsewhere, could affect how they adjust to these influences.

Town centres face pressures both from the rise of online retailing and provision of out-of-town shopping centres.

The Local Plan presents the opportunity to provide updated policy to protect and bolster the evolving role of town centres in the District in providing jobs and contributing to a strong local economy.

Environmental:

Reduce the need to travel by car.

Out-commuting impacting on congestion/air quality at motorway junctions and on key routes in urban / rural areas creating pinch points particularly in peak hours.

Moderate/Major

Additional growth will lead to increased congestion/ deterioration in air quality.

A high proportion of people out-commuting for employment to Bristol and surrounding areas largely by car. Large parts of the District are rural in nature where public transport, walking and cycling links are usually sparser.

Acceptable distances/ frequency for public transport should be enforced.

The Plan allocations will focus on jobs and growth which would facilitate working closer to home and reduce the need for out-commuting.

The Plan can promote development sites which allow for walking, cycling and use of public transport and will require the early implementation of infrastructure and facilities to facilitate walking, cycling and public transport use.

The land use aspects of the Local Transport Plan should be safeguarded in the Local Plan, for example park and ride sites and cycle routes.

The Plan can consider the possibility of additional development in key villages to help them become more sustainable and reduce the need for and length of travel by car.

Improve air quality and reduce all kinds of pollution

Moderate

Continuation of current trend, although other strategies and initiatives may well impact on this trend.

Planning has an important role to play in ensuring that new development does not lead to lessening of environmental quality and to ensure that development is not introduced into areas of existing poor environmental quality unless it improves them.

The Plan can seek to not allocate development sites in areas where any facet of environmental quality is poor. The Plan can require mitigation measures for developments for certain types of problem, e.g. noise/ light. This is likely to include that associated with planned Bristol Airport expansion.

Protect, conserve and enhance internationally, nationally and locally recognised biodiversity, landscape character (including Mendip Hill AONB)

Moderate

Continuation of current trend, although other strategies and initiatives (for example, local Biodiversity Action Plan) will also have a critical influence on future patterns.

There are significant areas of both statutory and non-statutory nature conservation sites across the District. There is scope for the improvement of some of these areas.

The Plan should ensure that biodiversity and landscape assets are protected and enhanced in new development.

The scope of influence of the Plan is restricted to managing development requiring planning permission. Changes to both landscapes and natural habitats arising from changing agricultural or management practices cannot be addressed through the Plan.

Protection of historical / cultural assets that could be threatened by development and land allocations and by neglect through being unoccupied /underused.

Major

Continuation or an increase in historic areas, monuments and buildings on the at-risk register.

The District has many listed buildings, archaeological sites and conservation areas, some of which are 'at risk'.

Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas and Scheduled Ancient Monuments and their immediate surroundings can all be protected when determining site allocations. The Plan can also highlight the importance of regenerating threatened assets and identify potential new uses for them.

Address flooding and flood risk including issues with coastal change and increased risk due to climate change

Moderate/Major

Continuation of the current trend, although the extent to which new development is at risk has been reduced by national planning policy elevating the issue of flood risk.

There is a conflict between flood risk, employment/ housing growth required for the District.

Flood risk taken into consideration when allocating employment and housing sites.

The protected green space can mitigate flood risk from nearby development where integrated with sustainable drainage systems (SuDS). The Plan can mitigate the impact of development on the qualifying features of the international designations in the Severn Estuary and elsewhere.

High levels of carbon saving needed to help mitigate climate change

Likely to affect biodiversity and have socio-economic impacts.

Major

Unsustainable increase in carbon emissions associated with new development.

The scale of proposed development could generate significant additional CO2 emissions, making it harder to reach carbon reduction targets.

Need to ensure that new development minimises its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Policies requiring low/zero carbon development or development that produces more renewable energy than it uses through opportunities including heat networks and other measures to support the delivery of environmentally sustainable development will be considered.

Pressure on the countryside/ greenfield and Green Belt sites from planned development.

Major

The extent of such sites is, to an extent, likely to diminish irrespective of the Plan because the NPPF, and previous national guidance, already promote the reuse of previously developed land ahead of greenfield sites. Major brownfield opportunities in the District are now reaching exhaustion.

Policy needs to enforce the prioritisation and use of vacant previously developed/ brownfield sites. Policy needs to protect Green Belt designation.

The Plan will need to identify development sites that reuse vacant previously developed land. However, there will be other factors to take into consideration in deciding a site's suitability for redevelopment; the existence of previously developed land is not a reason alone to allow development.

With no major new brownfield opportunities anticipated, there will be increased pressure on greenfield land but also an increased expectation that urban re-development will contribute at higher densities than in recent decades.

High levels of carbon saving needed to help mitigate climate change

Likely to affect biodiversity and have socio-economic impacts.

Major

Unsustainable increase in carbon emissions associated with new development.

The scale of proposed development could generate significant additional CO2 emissions, making it harder to reach carbon reduction targets.

Need to ensure that new development minimises its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Policies requiring low/zero carbon development or development that produces more renewable energy than it uses through opportunities including heat networks and other measures to support the delivery of environmentally sustainable development will be considered.

Pressure on the countryside/ greenfield and Green Belt sites from planned development.

Major

The extent of such sites is, to an extent, likely to diminish irrespective of the Plan because the NPPF, and previous national guidance, already promote the reuse of previously developed land ahead of greenfield sites. Major brownfield opportunities in the District are now reaching exhaustion.

Policy needs to enforce the prioritisation and use of vacant previously developed/ brownfield sites. Policy needs to protect Green Belt designation.

The Plan will need to identify development sites that reuse vacant previously developed land. However, there will be other factors to take into consideration in deciding a site's suitability for redevelopment; the existence of previously developed land is not a reason alone to allow development.

With no major new brownfield opportunities anticipated, there will be increased pressure on greenfield land but also an increased expectation that urban re-development will contribute at higher densities than in recent decades.

 

Question 3. Are there any additional sustainability issues within North Somerset that need to be considered in the development of the New Local Plan document?