Proposed Submission Core Strategy

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Part 3 - Spatial Strategies

7. OVERALL SPATIAL STRATEGY

Scope and Issues

(2) 7.1 This chapter considers how the Vision should be carried forward in terms of the broad nature and scale of development and change across Rother district up to 2028. It considers where the main areas of change, and restraint, should be. It also sets out broad development principles to guide the location and form of development.

7.2 Development within the district is seen in the context of the wider sub-region and region. Regard is given to the relationship with larger towns and cities which act as centres of employment, shopping and service provision for parts of the district. In particular, consideration must be given to links with neighbouring Hastings, which is part of the same strategic housing and labour market area.

7.3 Rother district itself is a diverse area, with varying circumstances. In common with other Sussex coastal towns, Bexhill and Rye have particular needs for regeneration, although each has its own context. For example, the international nature conservation designations and areas of flood risk around Rye have a major bearing on its growth potential; Bexhill’s low economic activity and a relatively older age profile impact on its economic vitality.

7.4 Virtually all the inland parts of the district lie within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Here, priority is given to the conservation of natural beauty, although regard should still be given to the social and economic needs of the area. The historic town of Battle lies a few miles inland of Hastings, with a surrounding rural catchment. There are also many villages spread across the district, reflecting the dispersed settlement pattern of the area.

7.5 It follows that the spatial strategy needs to combine the strategic imperatives facing the district as a whole with the local factors affecting particular areas and settlements.

Aim and Objectives

7.6 Chapter 6 identifies the following Strategic Objective to guide the pattern of activity and development across Rother district:

‘To achieve a pattern of activity and development that contributes to the Sustainable Community Strategy and the ‘Spatial Vision’, and responds to local circumstances/environmental resources.’

(3) 7.7 The following objectives elaborate upon this:

  1. To guide sustainable development and help build more sustainable communities, with a balance between homes and jobs;

  2. To maintain and enhance the character of settlements, the relationship between them and with their landscape settings;

  3. To give particular attention to promoting economic regeneration and growth for the Hastings/Bexhill area;

  4. To give particular attention to supporting the ‘market town’ roles and environmental qualities and settings of Battle and Rye;

  5. To promote vital, mixed communities in the rural areas, whilst also giving particular attention to the distinctive characteristics of the High Weald AONB and the intrinsic value of the wider countryside

7.8 More locally specific objectives and strategies are elaborated upon in chapters 8 - 11.

Scale of development

(1) 7.9 There is a general high demand for housing in the South East region, in-migration being the main “driver” for housing growth in East Sussex. However, environmental designations, as well as relatively low economic growth, constrain sustainable growth.

(1) 7.10 The South East Plan sets a target for Rother district to provide 5,600 net additional dwellings between 2006 and 2026 as an appropriate contribution to the wider demand for housing. As explained in chapter 3, the South East Plan currently provides the statutory context for local planning, and hence is the starting point for consideration of the scale of housing growth appropriate locally. It further highlights that there have been significant changes in circumstances since the South East Plan was prepared, and adopted. These have warranted a fuller review of the appropriate scale of development for the district.

The economy

7.11 Nationally, and internationally, the economy has taken an unexpected major setback in the last few years. As a consequence, forecasts of economic growth are much reduced. This is particularly significant for the Sussex Coast sub-region, where economic growth was already relatively weak – and hence where, the South East Plan set a priority for sustainable economic growth and regeneration.

7.12 An Employment Strategy and Land Review carried out jointly with Hastings Borough Council in 2008 highlighted the need for a “step change” in economic performance, as well as a need to significantly increase the supply of business accommodation to meet pent up and future potential demand.

7.13 It concluded that an additional 100,000 sq.m. of business floorspace would be an appropriate target to improve the balance between homes and jobs and meet economic objectives, with most development in the first half of the Plan period.

7.14 The Employment Strategy and Land Update: May 2010 reviews the earlier Study. It suggests that the Hastings/Bexhill area remains one of areas of greatest need for regeneration, and that, in the absence of some previously planned significant rail or trunk road transport improvements, economic activity needs to be strongly fostered in order to achieve future prosperity. It also concludes that an increase in economic activity rates are likely, with the consequence that the previously recommended scale of business land release, of some 100,000sq.m. across the district, which would support of the order of 2,500 jobs, is still broadly appropriate.

7.15 Rother and Hastings Councils have agreed a common approach as the basis for joint working to secure a more prosperous future for the Hastings and Bexhill, recognising the close relationship between the towns, whose centres are only 5 miles apart, and with only a small gap between the urban areas.

7.16 This agreement addresses shared issues of regeneration, accessibility, and use of land on the urban fringes, especially where a countryside park between the towns is being jointly promoted.

(2) Rother and Hastings Councils’ shared approach to future prosperity for the Hastings and Bexhill area

Economic regeneration and growth will be generated through joined up working concentrating on:

  1. increasing economic activity and investment, supported by the development of high quality education opportunities and integrated skills training;

  2. securing investment in and otherwise assisting areas of socio-economic need, with particular regard to increasing employment opportunities;

  3. ensuring a range of housing supply across Hastings and Bexhill to support sustainable growth, including for economically active people and families;

  4. developing the economic, and healthy lifestyles, role of culture, sports, arts, tourism and leisure,

  5. increasing transport infrastructure capacity, via a ‘local transport strategy’ for Hastings and Bexhill prepared in association with East Sussex County Council, notably by early construction of the Bexhill Hastings Link Road, improved access to the A21 at Baldslow and a new railway station at Glyne Gap, as well as measures to foster more sustainable travel patterns; and

  6. implementing the Pebsham Countryside Park, together with other cross-boundary urban fringe development/management schemes.

7.17 In line with this approach, and activity of the local regeneration company, Sea Space, it is envisaged that a large part of further employment land supply will be by implementation of mixed-use development sites at North East Bexhill, already identified in the Local Plan.

(1) 7.18 The smaller market towns and villages have varying employment development potentials. Battle, as well as Robertsbridge, benefits from relatively good access to London. While Rye is more distant from larger centres, it is only 22 minutes from Ashford International, with its fast trains to London and Europe. Rural areas of the district have seen job growth in the past, with significant use being made of former agricultural buildings.

(1) 7.19 It is acknowledged that the commercial property market across the district is relatively weak compared to much of the south-east. This can help businesses in terms of rents, but acts as a brake on the creation of new units. Hence, simply allocating sites will not be sufficient to bring about development. Hence, the strategy needs to focus on retaining and improving the effective use of existing employment sites, supplemented as appropriate by new allocations at suitable locations as part of mixed-use developments.

7.20 A broad strategy response to stimulate economic activity in the district is put forward in Chapter 16: Economy.

Housing

(1) 7.21 A range of factors need to be balanced to determine the most appropriate scale of residential development, with ‘drivers’ for growth on the one hand, including demographic projections and housing market pressures, and supply constraints, notably environmental designations and infrastructure availability on the other. Critical in balancing these is the vision that local communities have for their area. These factors are reviewed, and their implications for housing development reassessed, in the Background Paper on ‘Overall Housing Provision’.

(4) 7.22 This assessment, supported by the Sustainability Appraisal, concludes that the South East Plan requirement for 5,600 dwellings to be built in Rother 2006 – 2026 (with over 70% in the coastal parts, mainly Bexhill) is no longer sustainable.

(2) 7.23 There are two main reasons for this; firstly, the South East Plan assumed that the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road would be built by now, yet the earliest it can now be built is the very end of 2014. Secondly, the recent recession and ongoing weak national economic growth forecasts, mean that the prospect of actually increasing on past build rates, as implied by the South East Plan target of 280 dwellings/year) (compared to actual house-building between 1991 and 2011 of only 245 dwellings per year), is both likely to be unduly optimistic and, moreover, unlikely to be matched by requisite job growth.

7.24 The cancellation of other transport infrastructure improvements that would have given a boost to economic regeneration at Bexhill and Hastings, notably capacity increases in the Hastings to Ashford railway line and A21 improvements, also impacts on the potential for sustainable growth.

(2) 7.25 Environmental factors have been very influential in setting the levels of development in Rother. Most notable are:

  • the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This covers 82% of the district, including all the inland parts, where national policies giving priority to conservation of the ‘natural beauty’ of the landscape limit major growth;
  • international and national nature conservation sites. The low-lying marshlands to both the south-east and south-west of the district have overlapping international designations. In total, these cover 14% of the district, and have particular impacts on Rye and its environs;
  • areas vulnerable to flood risk. The low-lying position of most coastal settlements makes them heavily constrained by flood risk considerations, while some inland settlements are also vulnerable.

7.26 Even so, the balance of homes and jobs may be assisted by housing investment, while affordable housing remains a local priority. This is elaborated in the Affordable Housing’ Background Paper.

7.27 Local communities needs and aspirations for more affordable housing and jobs, as well as for improved services and facilities, have also been reviewed, notably through work on ‘Local Action Plans’ as well as through dialogue with Town and Parish Councils, and in Bexhill, the Town Forum Executive. Further detail of such needs and aspirations are contained in the town and Rural Areas chapters, as well as in their respective Background Papers.

(8) 7.28 It is concluded that an appropriate overall target for net additional housing in the district over the period from April 2011 to March 28 (17 years) should be some 3,700 - 4,100 dwellings, or an average of 218 - 241 dwellings/year.

7.29 For monitoring purposes, including calculation of the housing trajectory and land supply, the mid-point of 3,900 dwellings (an average of 229 dwellings/year) will be applied.

(1) 7.30 It is noted that, allowing for completions 2006-2011, the above housing figures represent 81%-88% of the South East Plan target 2006-2026. The reasons for this lower housing target are fully set out in the Background Paper on ‘Overall Housing Provision’, but most critically relate to delay in construction of the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road (upon which it is still contingent, as discussed further below), lower economic growth and more detailed investigations.

Distribution of Development

(1) 7.31 The distribution of development has been determined by looking closely at local circumstances across the district against the backcloth of strategic issues, most notably the strategic Vision and Objectives, as well as demographic and economic projections. It has been subject to Sustainability Appraisal (SA).

(1) 7.32 Particular regard is given to the role of settlements in terms of seeking to locate most development in locations that offer a range of employment, services and facilities - thereby supporting community life and existing services.

7.33 Furthermore, as highlighted by the SA, this approach should assist in providing opportunities to reduce the need to travel by car, thereby reducing carbon emissions - and encouraging walking and cycling. It is also cost efficient, maximising the use of existing facilities and infrastructure and by reducing the need for new ones.

(2) 7.34 Service provision is taken only as a starting point, as it is recognised that some larger settlements are unsuited, mainly for environmental reasons, to accommodate the levels of growth suggested by this approach, while other, smaller settlements may benefit from some growth to ensure their continued sustainability.

7.35 The overall spatial distribution of development outlined in Figure 8 below also takes account of the location of existing commitments, the combined effect of these and any further requirements on the scale of population increase – with the aim of ensuring that it is not disproportionate, and on the degree of ‘local housing needs’.

(2) 7.36 In all cases, the distribution of development is also need to be mindful of valuable environmental and heritage assets, as well as infrastructure availability. A better understanding of opportunities for development has been achieved via work on the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA).

7.37 Bexhill was identified for growth in the South East Plan. With worsening levels of deprivation relative to other parts of the country, it remains the case that Bexhill and Hastings need to regenerate economically. Additional transport infrastructure capacity is critical to achieve such growth however.

7.38 The degree of growth at Battle and Rye is moderated due to the high environmental factors that bear upon them. Battle is not only heavily constrained by its historic form and AONB setting, but also by traffic congestion. While it already has a major housing development planned, there are limited opportunities either for further employment sites in accessible locations or for major retail growth in the town centre.

7.39 The opportunities for further development at Rye are very limited by its historic form and topographic setting, as well as the virtual enveloping presence of international nature conservation designations, the AONB and flood risk areas (which also affect parts of the town itself). Added to this, the town seeks to prioritise social and economic challenges and, like Battle, manage its very important heritage. The SHLAA identified very little potential for further outward growth, while the yield from existing allocations may not fully materialise.

7.40 A much more limited estimate of the potential for sustainable growth in the Hastings Fringes has emerged in the latter stages of the Core Strategy. Most notably, a large scale site at Breadsell Farm promoted in the draft Hastings Core Strategy, which would have justified some development on adjoining land in Rother district, is no longer being promoted by the Borough Council. Also, the prospect of a new railway station in at Wilting (which may have facilitated some housing development) has also receded with publication of Network Rail’s development strategy 3.

(1) 7.41 Rural communities in particular are keen to ensure that development in villages contributes to their character and sustainability of services, as well as meets local needs (such as for affordable housing, play areas, community halls, etc). Hence, development in rural areas should be set at a level which allows for limited growth, reflecting individual settlement’s needs, opportunities and service provision.

7.42 Further explanation of the development potential and overall strategies for the towns and villages is contained the relevant area sections and the respective background papers.

7.43 The overall impact of the distribution of new development proposed set out below (and in chapter 12 for individual villages) is to maintain the existing settlement pattern. It both supports the role of the main service centres in ways compatible with their context and provides for the sensitive evolution of smaller settlements, with a focus on enabling them to meet local needs locally.

(25) Policy OSS1: Overall Spatial Development Strategy

The Strategy for the Overall Spatial Development is to:

  1. Plan for an additional 3,700 – 4,100 dwellings (net) in the district over the period 2011-2028;

  2. Plan for some 100,000 square metres of gross additional business floorspace;

  3. Identify suitable sites in accordance with the following spatial distribution:

    1. focus new development at Bexhill, giving particular attention to promoting economic regeneration and growth of the Hastings and Bexhill area, including through mixed use developments;

    2. provide for some development in Battle and Rye that helps maintain their small market town roles and is consistent with their respective environmental constraints and settings;

    3. facilitate the limited growth of villages that contain a range of services and which contributes to supporting vibrant, mixed rural communities, notably in relation to service provision and local housing needs, and is compatible with the character and setting of the village;

    4. allow for small-scale infill and redevelopment, and otherwise enable local needs for housing and community facilities to be met, in other villages; and

    5. give particular attention to the ecological, agricultural, public enjoyment and intrinsic value of the countryside, and continue to generally restrict new development to that for which a countryside location is necessary or appropriate to promoting sustainable land-based industries and sensitive diversification, primarily for employment uses.

7.44 As stated above, the level of housing growth in line with this strategy is set as a range, 3,700 - 4,100 dwellings. This also provides a degree of flexibility when individual sites are assessed. The exact distribution will be refined when allocations are subsequently out forward.

(1) 7.45 The broad locations for development in are set out in the respective area chapters, while the distribution within the district is set out in the table below.

(8) Figure 8: Approximate Development Levels

Approximate development levels 2011-2028
Housing Employment

Bexhill

2,050 – 2,250 dwellings

60,000sq.m.

Hastings fringes

45-80 dwellings

At least 3,000sq.m.

Battle

400-440 dwellings

10,000sq.m.*

Rye

250-350 dwellings

10,000-20,000 sq.m.

Villages

950 -1,000 dwellings

10,000sq.m.

Total

3,700 – 4,100 dwellings

93,000 – 103,000sq.m.

(* includes sites on Marley Lane)

7.46 The distribution of development between individual villages is set out in the Rural Areas chapter. Actual numbers and areas will be subject to further detailed investigation of potential sites.

7.47 Given the need for regeneration, especially in the coastal towns, most business development should be in the first 10 years of the plan period.

(6) 7.48 The Key Diagram (Map1) illustrates the main elements of the development strategy, including settlements identified as having development potential.

Future Allocations and ‘Windfall’ Sites

(1) 7.49 The overall spatial strategy advocates a total of 3,700 – 4,100 net additional dwellings over the period 2011 to 2028.

7.50 The table at Appendix 3 summarises the local housing targets together with the housing land supply position at April 2011. Taking account of outstanding planning permissions, there is a need to provide for a further 2,400-2,800 dwellings in the District as a whole between 2011 and 2028.

(1) 7.51 Sites for new development will be set out in due course through a Development and Site Allocations DPD. Existing Local Plan housing (and other) allocations will be subject to review as part of the Site Allocations DPD. These allocations amount to some 1,750 dwellings which, if these are all carried forward, would still require some additional 770 – 1,170 dwellings need to planned for to meet the overall target.

7.52 Government Guidance in PPS3 expects local planning authorities to identify sufficient sites to meet its housing requirements for 15 years from the date of adoption, of which at least 5 years are capable of immediate development. This means that while sites with outstanding planning permissions contribute to the requirement, no allowance is normally allowed for future windfall sites.

7.53 PPS3 states ‘Allowances for windfalls should not be included in the first 10 years of land supply unless Local Planning Authorities can provide robust evidence of genuine local circumstances that prevent specific sites being identified’.

7.54 In fact, there is a strong track record in Rother of both large and small (essentially brownfield) windfall sites coming forward. Moreover, these have made a significant contribution to housing numbers in past years. Typically, windfall sites are small-scale and within ‘development boundaries’ (which are discussed further below).

(1) 7.55 Sites for 6+ dwellings should be allocated for development, drawing on the detailed work in the SHLAA, although the prospect of some larger windfall sites will still exist. However, as allocations are not normally made for sites of less than 6 dwellings, there will inevitably by some continuing supply of small-site windfalls.

(1) 7.56 However, there are several reasons that suggest that even small windfall sites will not continue at the same rate as has been experienced over the previous years. These reasons include:

  1. A less buoyant housing market, the effects of which are likely to be felt in the opening years of the plan period;

  2. Changes to the PPS3 definition of ‘previously developed land’; meaning that there is not the same presumption nationally that garden land, which has been a significant source of windfall sites, may be developed residentially;

  3. The continuing reduction of the stock of suitable building, including former agricultural buildings.

(3) 7.57 Given Rother’s past record of windfall development, some small allowance for windfalls in the last five years of the plan period is appropriate. This ‘windfall allowance’ is equivalent to a much lower rate than has been experienced in recent years within the district, thus acknowledging that they will not necessarily continue at the same rate. On the basis of a 50% fall in past (2000-2010) small sites windfalls, a total windfall allowance would amount to 225 dwellings. Hence, the outstanding requirement for further allocations is at least 550-950 dwellings

(7) 7.58 The Council will continue to monitor and review the contribution of windfalls to overall supply and the extent to which they may either reduce the need for allocations, impact on the need to release sites, or provide a contingency for certain sites not being developed.

7.59 Further consideration of the general timing of development is contained in chapter 19.

Bexhill Hastings Link Road

7.60 The greatest risk to achieving the level of development that the strategy seeks arises from further delay, or cancellation, of the Bexhill Hastings Link Road, presently scheduled for opening at the end of 2014.

(1) 7.61 Transport assessments confirm the views of the highway authorities that the existing highway capacity would not support the proposed growth of Bexhill, in combination with that in Hastings, and that the construction of the Link Road will provide the necessary capacity; it follows that the scale of development at Bexhill would be curtailed, largely irrespective of siting, due to the inevitable exacerbation of congestion on the A259 between the town and Hastings and on the wider network without the Link Road

7.62 Of wider significance, any delay or cancellation of the Link Road would have significant consequences on the area’s capacity for economic growth – which is a priority.

7.63 At this point, the County Council, as scheme promoter, has indicated its strong commitment to the Link Road, which has planning permission, such that there is a sufficient degree of certainty to plan on the basis of its timely construction.

7.64 Notwithstanding this, regard is given to the potential for slippage, which would occur if the Secretary of State does not approve the scheme in the current bidding round.

(6) 7.65 The response to this situation should recognise that higher levels of growth at both Battle and Rye would not be sustainable, while diverting further growth to villages would be incompatible with the strategy for limited growth of villages, and the priority to conservation of the High Weald AONB.

7.66 It should also recognise the potential benefits of development, especially for employment uses, to Bexhill. This leads towards maximising the capacity of the existing transport network and facilitating ready access by other means of travel, especially along the main corridors.

(13) Policy OSS2: Bexhill to Hastings Link Road and development

Early construction of the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road is strongly supported as an integral, and critical, component of the development strategy for Bexhill and for the economic regeneration of the wider area.

In the event that the Link Road is significantly delayed or not built, then the following amendments to the overall development strategy will apply:

  1. The potential to achieve construction later in the plan period will be reviewed in conjunction with East Sussex County Council;

  2. The development targets for Bexhill will be reduced (as will those for the district in line with this), but that the development requirements for other towns and villages will be unaffected;

  3. For Bexhill:

    1. continue to promote strategy elements not dependent upon the Link Road, as highlighted in chapter 8;

    2. not release the already allocated major greenfield sites for housing or business development at North East Bexhill until construction is confirmed, subject to the potential for a partial release if it is satisfactorily demonstrated that the transport impact is acceptable;

    3. not release other major greenfield sites for housing or business development, subject to (d) below;

    4. determine the actual scale of development allowable without the Link Road in conjunction with East Sussex County Council and Hastings Borough Council, and for this to inform development allocations across the town within the Development and Site Allocations DPD, having full regard to the potential for non-car travel and site specific circumstances;

    5. subject to (d) above, assume a continuation of a pre-Link Road development rate, as set out in chapter 8, for development planning and monitoring purposes.

Development boundaries

7.67 ‘Development boundaries’ around settlements are a well-established planning policy tool in East Sussex. They provide a clear and readily understood indication of where development would, and would not, be allowed in principle. Within development boundaries there is a presumption that infilling, redevelopment and changes of use will be acceptable subject to other policies of the plan.

(1) 7.68 They help to focus development and investment into sustainable locations and to protect against intrusive development beyond the substantially built-up areas of towns and villages.

(1) 7.69 Consideration has been given to whether to retain such prescribed limits, or whether to rely on a criteria-based policy. It is found that the level of certainty they afford, for all involved in planning, continues to be highly valued. They reflect the established settlement pattern and provide a useful reference for the application of policies specifically designed to help meet local needs, such as those relating to community facilities and affordable housing. Therefore the use of development boundaries is maintained. Current boundaries will be reviewed, in conjunction with the consideration of proposed land allocations, as part of the forthcoming Development and Site Allocations DPD. The relevant factors are set out in the following policy, OSS7.

(14) Policy OSS3: Use of Development Boundaries

Development Boundaries around settlements will continue to between areas where most forms of new development would be acceptable and where they would not.

Existing development boundaries will be reviewed by the Development and Site Allocations DPD, having regard to the:

  1. existing pattern, form and function of settlements, including of closely ‘linked’ settlements and important ‘gaps’ of countryside between them;

  2. character and settings of individual towns and villages;

  3. sensitivity to further development both within the main built up confines and in more rural fringes;

  4. the amount of land needed to fulfil development needs and requirements;

  5. availability of local infrastructure and services;

  6. accessibility to facilities and services, and avoiding scattered and ribbon development;

  7. environmental considerations, including the need to conserve designated areas of national and local landscape, archaeological, geological, ecological or historical importance;

  8. following physical features, unless this may suggest a potential for development that is inappropriate.

Sustainable Development Principles

7.69 At the heart of planning, at all levels, is the principle of ‘sustainable development’. In essence, sustainable development is about ensuring a better quality of life for everyone both now and in the future. It means a more inclusive society that achieves and shares the benefits of increased economic prosperity, in which the environment is protected and improved and there is a less wasteful use of natural resources.

7.70 PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development sets out the key principles, based around themes of social cohesion and inclusion, protecting and enhancing the environment, prudent use of natural resources and sustainable economic development. Other PPSs elaborate on these in relation to housing and creating balanced communities (PPS3), sustainable economic growth (PPS4), environment and the countryside (PPS7), transport (PPG13) and development and flood risk (PPS25).

7.71 The Government’s vision for sustainable development includes these statements:

“The coalition Government is committed to sustainable development. This means making the necessary decisions now to realise our vision of stimulating economic growth and tackling the deficit, maximising wellbeing and protecting our environment, without negatively impacting on the ability of future generations to do the same.

“Sustainable development recognises that the three ‘pillars’ of the economy, society and the environment are interconnected. The Government has initiated a series of growth reviews to put the UK on a path to strong, sustainable and balanced growth. Our long term economic growth relies on protecting and enhancing the environmental resources that underpin it, and paying due regard to social needs. As part of our commitment to enhance wellbeing, we will start measuring our progress as a country, not just by how our economy is growing, but by how our lives are improving; not just by our standard of living, but by our quality of life.”4

7.72 Key considerations in relation to the social, economic and environmental impacts of development provide the basis for assessing the sustainability of development. These are set out in core ‘delivery’ policies for the key aspects of sustainable development; that is, resource management, economy, communities, housing, environment and transport, and supplement policies for particular spatial areas within the district.

7.73 General development principles applicable to the identification of sites and the determination of planning applications for the development of land are set out below.

(10) Policy OSS4: Location of development

In assessing the suitability of a particular location for development, when both allocating land for development and determining planning applications, sites and/or proposals should accord with the relevant policies of this Core Strategy and in the context of:

  1. the spatial strategy for the particular settlement or area, and its distinct character;

  2. the capacity of existing infrastructure and services, and of any planned or necessary improvements to them;

  3. the local need for affordable housing;

  4. needs and priorities identified in approved Local Action Plans;

  5. the low carbon and renewable energy potentials of the site;

  6. the character and qualities of the landscape;

  7. making effective use of land within the main built-up confines of towns and villages, especially previously developed land, consistent with maintaining their character;

  8. any constraints relating to land stability, contamination, air quality, agricultural land quality and coastal erosion, and the ability to satisfactorily address these;

  9. the deliverability of development, including consideration of land ownership patterns and the viability of development;

  10. the need for and access to employment opportunities.

General development considerations

7.74 In addition to the above criteria, the suitability of a specific development proposal also needs to be considered in terms of the extent to which it delivers appropriately high standards that conserve landscape character and bio-diversity, makes most efficient use of finite water and energy resources, as well as fosters local identity and safeguard amenities.

7.75 All development should be capable of accommodating the reasonable expectations of likely occupiers, including in terms of indoor and outdoor space, personal safety and not be unduly affected by adjacent intrusive uses and buildings. They should cater for practical needs, such as parking and access, refuse and recycling facilities and open space.

7.76 At the same time, the amenities of neighbouring properties needs to be protected, in terms of loss of light and privacy, avoiding an overbearing presence and otherwise causing intrusion such as through noise, activity at unsocial hours, lighting, etc.

7.77 Environmental impacts need to be carefully addressed, such that landscape character is conserved, inappropriate fragmentation of the countryside avoided, important trees, woodlands and hedgerows retained, and where appropriate, supplemented by new landscaping, and wildlife habitats protected and encouraged.

7.78 Good design should respect the character of its setting, whether urban or rural, and make a positive contribution to reinforcing local distinctiveness. This relates not only the layout and design of buildings, but also the treatment of external areas, which should respect landscape character. Key design principles are set out in chapter 17.

7.79 Density standards are not advocated as development should respond to its setting and accord with the principles of good design. This includes looking at higher densities in more accessible locations. Minimum standards can also lead to inappropriate cramming, although unduly low densities may also be inappropriate in failing to make effective use of development land.

7.80 The need to ensure that infrastructure and facilities required to service development are available or will be provided is addressed in chapter 19, while drainage matters are covered in chapter 13, and meeting the transport and access demands created is addressed in chapter 18.

7.81 The following policy addresses those general development considerations concerned with ‘fitness for purpose’ and local amenities, and complement other policies relating to other factors.

(5) Policy OSS5: General Development Considerations

In addition to considerations set out by other policies, all development should meet the following criteria:

  1. it meets the needs of future occupiers, including providing appropriate amenities and the provision of appropriate means of access for disabled users;

  2. it does not unreasonably harm the amenities of adjoining properties;

  3. it respects and does not detract from the character and appearance of the locality;

  4. it is compatible with both the existing and planned use of adjacent land, and takes full account of previous use of the site;

  5. in respect of residential development, is of a density appropriate to its context, having due regard to the key design principles.


3 See Kent RUS using this hyperlink: www.networkrail.co.uk/browse%20documents/rus%20documents/route%20utilisation%20strategies/kent/kent%20rus.pdf
Route Utilisation Strategies (RUS) are produced by Network Rail (NR). RUSs consider existing capacity, infrastructure capability and train operations, followed by forecasting future demand and providing recommendations as to how this should best be accommodated. 4 Coalition Government: ‘Vision for Sustainable Development’. published on 28th February 2011, viewable at http://sd.defra.gov.uk/gov/vision/
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