Proposed Submission Core Strategy

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2. POLICY CONTEXT

National Planning Policies

2.1 The Core Strategy for Rother district must be in line with national and regional planning policies unless there are reasons justifying a local exception. It should also aim to carry forward the ‘sustainable community strategy’ for the area. The main policy imperatives are highlighted below.

(1) 2.2 National planning policy is mainly set out in a series of Planning Policy Statements (PPSs) and Guidance Notes, but is also contained in circulars, ministerial statements and other strategy documents.

2.3 An important, overarching policy statement is PPS 1 Delivering Sustainable Development. This sets out a number of key principles for development to ensure that development plans, and decisions taken on planning applications, contribute to the delivery of sustainable development. In summary, the key principles are as follows:

  • Development plans should ensure that sustainable development is pursued in an integrated manner, in line with the principles for sustainable development
  • Local planning authorities should ensure that development plans contribute to global sustainability by addressing the causes and potential impacts of climate change
  • A spatial planning approach should be at the heart of planning for sustainable development
  • Planning policies should promote high quality inclusive design in the layout of new developments and individual buildings
  • Development plans should contain clear, comprehensive and inclusive access policies – in terms of both location and external physical access
  • Community involvement is an essential element in delivering sustainable development and creating sustainable and safe communities

2.4 Other PPSs deal with particular topics or issues, including climate change, housing, the economy, the historic and natural environment, and flood risk.

2.5 PPS12: Local Spatial Planning is specific to the preparation of all documents that form Local Development Frameworks (LDFs). It sets the basic parameters for the process, timeframe and broad content of respective documents.

The South East Plan

2.6 The South East Plan covers the period to 2026 and was approved by the Government in May 2009. For the region as a whole, it aims to deliver a healthier region, a more sustainable pattern of development, a dynamic and robust economy, reduced levels of social exclusion, and a more bio-diverse environment with a reduced level of natural resource consumption.

2.7 The Plan also includes a sub-regional strategy for the ‘Sussex Coast’ area from Chichester to Rye. Its extent in Rother district is shown on Figure 1.

Figure 1: South East Plan ‘Sussex Coast’ Sub-Region within Rother District

Figure 1

2.8 As can be seen, this sub-region embraces Bexhill and Rye and the adjacent coastal areas (as well as neighbouring Hastings). Generic South East Plan polices apply to the remaining inland parts of the district, including Battle.

2.9 Policy SP4 identifies the Sussex Coast as an area in need of regeneration. This is carried forward into the specific Sussex Coast Strategy, which prioritises the social and economic regeneration of the towns in the sub-region. Policy SCT2 specifically highlights Hastings/Bexhill as warranting continuing priority in investment decisions of the public and private sectors.

2.10 The South East Plan states that Bexhill is one of only a couple of areas of strategic scope for additional greenfield development in the Sussex Coast sub-region. This is reflected in the housing provision for the Rother part of the Sussex Coast sub-region, being 4,000 dwellings over the period 2006-2026, equivalent to an annual average of 200 dwellings.

2.11 The remaining, inland parts of Rother are identified as needing to accommodate 1,600 dwellings (80 dwellings per annum) over the same period. Hence, for Rother as a whole, the Plan requires 5,600 dwellings (280 dwellings per annum) between 2006 and 2026. It adds, at Policy SCT5, that there may be some flexibility in the precise split between the two sub-areas of the district.

Government’s proposed changes to the planning system, and the South East Plan

2.12 Draft legislation in the Localism Bill proposes to abolish regional spatial strategies, including the South East Plan. Removing this regional tier of planning, and its associated “top-down” housing targets, is a strong commitment of Coalition Government.

2.13 However, at this time, the South East Plan remains effective, and a statutory part of the ‘development plan’, with which the Core Strategy should generally conform.

(1) 2.14 Even so, it is clear that there is increasing discretion for local planning authorities to re-consider their existing housing targets and to establish the right level of development for their area. Therefore, while evidence underpinning the preparation of the South East Plan is relevant background material, the Council has supplemented this through further examination of more recent information in order to determine the most appropriate future levels of development. Further details of this evidence can be found in the relevant background papers, with details on policies in the appropriate chapters of the Core Strategy.

Sustainable Community Strategy

2.15 The Council works with key organisations in both Rother and East Sussex through Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs). They have produced an Integrated Sustainable Community Strategy for East Sussex 2008-2026, called ‘Pride of Place’.

2.16 The Sustainable Community Strategy for East Sussex sets out the vision for East Sussex to 2026 to address the inequalities in the county, create successful people and businesses and a sustainable environment.

2.17 Local priorities are around supporting children and young people, community safety, cultural and leisure activity, reducing environmental impacts, employment and skills, health improvement, tackling congestion, affordable housing and sustainable construction.

2.18 The Government expects that spatial planning objectives in LDFs should align not only with national policies, but also with the local priorities set out in the Sustainable Community Strategy. The Council has worked closely with the Rother LSP to ensure that this alignment has been achieved.

Other strategies and plans

2.19 Other relevant policies, plans and programmes, as well as sustainability objectives, which may impact upon the Core Strategy have been taken into account, notably through the ‘Sustainability Appraisal’ (SA) process. These are referred to in the relevant chapters and listed in the SA. Their influence on the Core Strategy is also reviewed in the Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report.

2.20 Of particular note are the existing Minerals Local Plan and Waste Local Plan, prepared by East Sussex County Council, as well as its emerging ‘ Waste and Minerals Development Framework’. The latter is subject to a separate consultation process, but will, when adopted, be part of the statutory ‘development plan’ and should be read in conjunction with the Council’s LDF.

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