Development and Site Allocations (DaSA) Local Plan - Options and Preferred Options

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Part A: Context

1. Introduction

1.1. This is a public consultation document. It is the first stage in drafting detailed policies and proposals to deliver sustainable development in Rother District, as set out in the Local Plan Core Strategy, September 2014.

1.2. The Core Strategy (paragraph 1.9) identified the need to prepare this Plan to both set out more detailed 'development policies' for certain topics to assist in determining proposals and to identify specific 'site allocations' for development.

1.3. The site allocations relate primarily to identifying sites needed to deliver the quantum of housing, business and retail development (to which the Council is committed through the Core Strategy), hopefully in a manner that also takes full account of environmental and social objectives.

1.4. This first version of the Plan provides a basis for local residents, businesses and other interested parties to comment on the policy options and preferred options before any firm decisions are taken. As explained further in Chapter 5, there will be a further public consultation and an independent examination of the Plan before it is finally approved, or 'adopted'. At that point, it will, with the Core Strategy, provide the basis for determining planning applications, superseding all policies from the earlier 2006 Rother District Local Plan that still remain in force.

1.5. This consultation document presents the Council's emerging thinking based on evidence available at present, but it is recognised that further refinement will be needed in the light of comments made through this public consultation. It indicates the alternative policy approaches and sites that have been considered and, normally, sets out preferred development policies and site allocations. In some cases, notably where further assessments and/or understanding of local priorities are needed, alternatives are presented without a recommendation.

1.6. To help people contribute effectively, a series of questions on which views are specifically sought included in the document and on a separate response form. Full details of the consultation are being published and distributed separately.

1.7. The Council is encouraging a full and wide-ranging discussion of the policy options and preferred options to ensure that it develops the best plan to meet the overall needs of the District and of its communities.

1.8. All comments made will be considered and the scope and content of policies reviewed in the light of them.


2. Strategic framework

The Core Strategy

2.1. The draft development policies and site allocations in this document flow from the overarching development strategy and strategic policies of the Rother Local Plan 'Core Strategy', which was formally adopted by the Council in September 2014. It covers the period 2011-2028.

2.2. The Core Strategy may be regarded as "Part 1" of the Council's Local Plan, with the Development and Site Allocations (DaSA) Local Plan being "Part 2". It will have the same time horizon as the Core Strategy.

2.3. This Plan is expected to help achieve the Core Strategy's 'Vision' and 'Strategic Objectives' and to facilitate delivery of its development targets. Indeed, there is a legal requirement for it to conform generally with the Core Strategy – as there is for Neighbourhood Plans (which are discussed more in Chapter 5).

2.4. Hence, the preparation of this Plan (or Neighbourhood Plans) is not an opportunity to change those strategic policies. Rather, it is to carry them forward in the most appropriate way.

2.5. The Core Strategy's Vision is for the District to be recognised for its high quality of life and a strong emphasis on developing vibrant, safe, balanced and inclusive communities. Sustainable growth, including economic growth which encourages young people to stay in the area, and greater prosperity for all are seen as vital to this. There are supporting visions, objectives and strategies for Bexhill, Rye, Battle and the Rural Areas of Rother.

Development targets

2.6. The Core Strategy sets targets for the numbers of additional homes and business floorspace over the plan period. These targets balance the need for more homes, improving economic opportunities and social well-being with maintaining the special character and particular environmental qualities of the District that make it an attractive place to live.

2.7. The housing development target for the District as a whole is for at least 5,700 new homes to be built over the plan period. The majority, some 3,100, are expected to be at Bexhill, with 475-500 extra dwellings at Battle, 355-400 dwellings at Rye, at least 100 dwellings on the fringes of Hastings and 1,670 dwellings across villages. Of course, there have been a number of homes built since the Core Strategy was prepared (with an April 2013 base date), as well as new planning permissions granted. Chapter 12 presents an update of housing requirements for all towns and villages for which a need for further allocations is indicated in the Core Strategy.

2.8. The Core Strategy also looks to provide for at least 100,000 square metres (sqm) of additional business floorspace over the plan period, with respective minimum requirements of 60,000sqm at Bexhill, 10,000sqm at Battle (including Marley Lane), 10,000-20,000sqm at Rye/Harbour Road, 3,000sqm in the Hastings fringes and 10,000sqm across the Rural Areas. Chapter 12 summarises the progress to date and outstanding quantitative and qualitative requirements.

'Core' development policies

2.9. In addition to its spatial strategies, the Core Strategy also sets out a number of overarching 'core', or strategic, policies that address key issues facing the District under the following themes:

  • Sustainable Resource Management
  • Communities
  • Local Housing Needs
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Transport and Accessibility
  • Implementation and Monitoring

2.10. The full list of Core Strategy's policy subjects, which should be read in conjunction with policies in this Plan, is reproduced at Appendix 1 for ease of reference.

National Planning Policy Framework

2.11. National planning policies are contained in the 'National Planning Policy Framework' (NPPF). Local planning policies should be consistent with national planning policies, unless there are reasons justifying a local exception. Similarly, it is a material consideration in determining applications.

2.12. The NPPF sees purpose of the planning system in terms of contributing to "sustainable development", which it defines in terms of three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – with gains sought in each simultaneously.

2.13. It includes a 'presumption in favour of sustainable development', which is applied in the local context through Policy PC1 of the Core Strategy.

2.14. The NPPF is supported by 'Technical Guidance', which provides additional guidance on development in areas at risk of flooding and a separate 'Planning policy for traveller sites', as well as extensive 'Planning Practice Guidance'.

Other development plans

2.15. Waste and Minerals: East Sussex County Council is responsible for waste and minerals planning. The 'East Sussex, South Downs and Brighton & Hove Waste and Minerals Plan', 2013, also forms part of the statutory development plan for the area and provides the strategic framework in relation to proposals for such uses. It will be supplemented by a 'Waste and Minerals Sites Plan'. This document is currently in production but, when adopted, it will supersede remaining allocations from the Waste Local Plan (2006) and the Minerals Local Plan (1999). The Inspector's report of the Examination of the Waste and Minerals Sites Plan was published on 7th November 2016. Of note, it proposes that an area known as Broomhill, near Lydd is safeguarded as a mineral resource. Further details are available from the County Council.

2.16. Marine planning: As acknowledged in the adopted Core Strategy, the Council will also have regard to the UK Marine Policy Statement, along with Marine plans and designations, as these are developed, to ensure integration with the marine planning regime. In particular, the Marine Management Organisation's (MMO) emerging South Inshore and South Offshore Marine Plans will establish a framework for marine and coastal activity that will operate in parallel to the terrestrial planning regime.

2.17. The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 establishes the local authority duty in this regard and Section 42 of the Act defines the marine area to include "the waters of every estuary, river or channel, so far as the tide flows at mean high water spring tide". Land use planning has responsibility to the mean low water mark, meaning Rother District Council shares responsibility with the MMO for the intertidal zone, which includes the tidal waters of any estuary, river or channel. Proposals within such areas will therefore need to be in accordance with current Marine Planning Policy[1].

2.18. Spatial components of particular relevance to policies within the South Marine Plans can be viewed via the publically accessible Marine Information System[2].

2.19. Development plans of neighbouring authorities: In line with the NPPF's 'duty to cooperate', the Core Strategy was prepared in collaboration with adjoining authorities in relation to cross-boundary strategic issues. Of note, it contains a shared vision for Hastings and Bexhill, mirroring that contained in the Hastings Planning Strategy, also adopted in 2014. Both Authorities' Local Plans are also supported by joint work to determine the development needs of our shared housing and economic market area. This cooperation has continued, with policies for sites in the Hastings Fringes in this document dovetailing with ones in Hastings. In addition, a joint 'Playing Pitch Strategy' has very recently been prepared.

2.20. A number of topic-based policies have also been prepared with regard to those of neighbouring authorities, whilst still recognising potentially different local contexts and priorities. Examples relate to the High Weald AONB and equestrian development. Cooperation will continue as part of the evolution of the DaSA Local Plan.

3. Structure of the document

The structure of this consultation document has the following structure:

Part B: Development Policies:

3.1. These complement the 'core policies' already included in the adopted Core Strategy (and those in the NPPF) and relate to topics where further elaboration is considered necessary to provide a proper basis for local development management.

3.2. They are laid out under the Core Strategy's thematic headings, as highlighted in Chapter 2. For the main part, these are generic policies that would apply to a relevant situation anywhere in the District, but also includes policies relating to certain localities, notably in relation to land inside or beyond development boundaries' (although individual boundaries are contained in Part C) and developments in the High Weald AONB, in 'Strategic Gaps' (being tracts of land between the settlements identified in Policies HF1 and RY1 of the Core Strategy) in the Pevensey Levels hydrological catchment and in parts of Fairlight where there are coastal erosion and drainage issues.

Part C: Site Allocations:

3.3. Chapters in this Part of the Plan set out site specific proposals that are being proposed to meet the requirements of the Core Strategy.

3.4. It covers Bexhill and villages that are not covered by ongoing Neighbourhood Plans – see Chapter 5 below.

3.5. These proposals not only deal with new housing development, but also include, for example, proposals regarding business and retail uses and open space.

3.6. All existing settlement development boundaries, again excluding those covered by Neighbourhood Plans, are also reviewed.

3.7. There is a specific policy in relation to the Rother Valley Railway.

Maps

3.8. The final version of the DaSA will contain a district-wide 'Policies Map', identifying the coverage of a series of component 'Inset Maps' and which identifies the location of spatial policies. For consistency, draft policies in this Options and Preferred Options document cross-refer to the Policies Map, which should be taken to relate to the individual (Inset) Maps for each site at this stage.

4. The plan-making process

Preparation of the 'Options and Preferred Options' document

4.1. Preparation of this first 'Options and Preferred Options' version of the Development and Site Allocations (DaSA) Local Plan has drawn on earlier evidence and views expressed during the Core Strategy process, as well further evidence gathering, assessments and consultations with neighbouring and local Councils. Consideration has also been given to information provided by landowners and other interests regarding sites they wished to be assessed as potential development sites.

Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment (SA/SEA)

4.2. This is a requirement of such land-use plans to help ensure that they contribute to achieving sustainable development. The SA/SEA assesses reasonable policy options, as well as the preferred policies, against sustainability objectives in accordance with a Scoping Report that is agreed with the Statutory Environmental Bodies – Natural England, the Environment Agency and Historic England.

4.3. Both the Scoping Report and the full SA/SEA Assessment, covering both development policies and site allocations, are published as separate documents accompanying this Plan.

(15) QUESTION 1: Do you have any comments on the supporting Sustainability Appraisal (SA/SEA) that is published alongside this document?

Habitats Regulations Assessment

4.4. A Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) was undertaken for the Core Strategy to consider the potential impacts of the development strategy on international sites of nature conservation importance - being primarily the Dungeness Complex of sites that straddle the Rother/Shepway boundary in the east of the District and the Pevensey Levels, straddling the Rother/Wealden boundary in the south-west of the District.

4.5. The HRA found that its policies for the quantum and distribution of housing, (specific to individual settlement level) and its core policies would be acceptable in terms of their impacts, subject to certain provisos. In particular, it sought:

  • the production of a suitable 'Sustainable Access Strategy' for the Dungeness complex of international nature conservation sites; and
  • the provision of sustainable drainage systems (SUDs) within the Pevensey Levels hydrological catchment.

4.6. In relation to the Dungeness Complex, a usage survey has been completed and a Sustainable Access Strategy is being prepared in partnership with Shepway District Council, Natural England and other stakeholders.

4.7. A further 'Screening Report' has been prepared for this Local Plan. This concludes that it is not considered likely to result in significant adverse effects on the integrity of European sites or associated sensitive areas, either in isolation or in combination (including with other plans and policies). This is subject to the requirement for continued conformity with Core Strategy policies. By implication, should policies emerge that deviate significantly from the Core Strategy, then the Plan may need to be screened in and re-assessed once more, as well as possibly subject to more detailed appropriate assessment.

Evidence documents

4.8. Several further studies have been undertaken, notably to provide a clearer basis for:

  • defining strategic countryside gaps defined in the Core Strategy;
  • calculating affordable housing financial contributions;
  • identifying playing pitch requirements;
  • applying 'green infrastructure principles;
  • determining the most appropriate approach to the future of existing employment sites and identification of further sites to meet Core Strategy targets;
  • identifying renewable energy opportunities; and
  • a landscape and ecologically-led approach to development at North Bexhill.

Contributing to the plan-making process

4.9. Full details of how to make representations, together with a Comments Form are available on the Council's website www.rother.gov.uk/dasa or from the Planning Policy Team (planning.strategy@rother.gov.uk).

4.10. Questions are asked at the end of each section about the policy choices to be made. In replying, you may wish to consider:

  • Is the policy/proposal needed?
  • Is the policy or proposal the best way of achieving the relevant Core Strategy objective or broad policy?
  • Is there anything that makes the policy or proposal unacceptable?
  • Are appropriate options put forward and is the best option chosen?
  • Are there any further development policies needed?
  • Are potential development sites considered in the right way?
  • Are the better options preferred and, if not, which should be preferred?
  • Are there other sites that should be considered?

4.11. After the current public consultation, the Council will carefully consider all comments made. It will report on the range of comments made and how the DaSA Local Plan is to be refined in response. This will cover reviewing the scope of policies, refining options and, if necessary, amending the wording of policies.

4.12. At that point, the final draft ('Proposed Submission') version of the DaSA Local Plan will be published and there will be a further opportunity to make representations, before it is submitted to the Government for public examination. The intention is to produce the proposed Submission Plan in late Spring/early Summer 2017.

4.13. The timing of the public examination will depend upon the number and nature of representations, and, whether further work is necessary. The Council's latest Local Development Scheme will contain the up-to-date programme of future stages.

4.14. If the Inspector finds the Council's submitted document to be "sound", it will then be adopted as part of the statutory development plan. At that point, the outstanding saved policies of the previous 2006 Local Plan, as listed in Appendix 2, will be formally superseded.

5. Relationship with neighbourhood plans

5.1. The Localism Act 2011 introduced neighbourhood planning in England to give communities more of a say in the development of their local area. It enables parish (including town) councils in parished areas and duly constituted 'neighbourhood forums' elsewhere to draw up a Neighbourhood Plan for their area. When adopted, they have the same status as local plans.

Neighbourhood Planning in Rother

5.2. There are nine neighbourhood plans now in preparation in Rother. These are at: Battle, Burwash, Crowhurst, Etchingham, Fairlight, Robertsbridge, Rye, Sedlescombe and Ticehurst. Figure 1 below highlights the various stages each emerging Neighbourhood Plan has reached in the process[3].

Neighbourhood plans contributions to meeting development targets

5.3. The National Planning Policy Framework states that a neighbourhood plan should support the strategic development needs set out by the Council's strategic policies – which, in Rother, are those polices contained in its Core Strategy (or any subsequent amendment to those). It further states that: 'Neighbourhood plans and order should not promote less development than set out in the Local Plan or undermine its strategic policies.' (Paragraph 184)

5.4. It follows that neighbourhood plans will play a significant part in meeting the overall housing target. Hence, it is expected that each neighbourhood plan will meet their housing target as a minimum.

5.5. Furthermore, given the need to be able to demonstrate that the DaSA and neighbourhood plans will together provide sufficient sites to meet the Core Strategy's requirements for housing and employment land, all the plans need to be in place at approximately the same time. Indeed, in view of the current pressure on housing land supply, it is vital for all communities to have plans in place as soon as practicable.

5.6. The Council will continue to support the efficient preparation of neighbourhood plans and encourage the early development of sustainable and deliverable sites in order to help contribute to both local and the District-wide housing land supply.

Different Stages of Neighbourhood Planning

Stage 1: Designating neighbourhood area

Stage 2: Preparing a draft neighbourhood plan

Stage 3: Pre-submission publicity & consultation

Stage 4: Submission of a neighbourhood plan to the local planning authority

Stage 5: Independent Examination

Stage 6: Referendum

Stage 7: 'Making' the neighbourhood plan (Bringing it into force)

Figure 1. Neighbourhood Planning in Rother at 1 November 2016

Stage

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Battle Town Council

Burwash Parish Council

Crowhurst Parish Council

Etchingham Parish Council

Fairlight Parish Council

Rye Town Council

Salehurst and Robertsbridge Parish Council

Sedlescombe Parish Council

Ticehurst Parish Council


[1] In the absence of an adopted plan for the South marine plan areas, this is the Marine Policy Statement.

[2] Expected to be live for the South Marine area (which includes Rother's coastline) from Spring 2017.

[3] As of the 1st October 2016

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