Proposed Submission Development and Site Allocations (DaSA) Local Plan

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(1) Part A: Development Policies


(1) 2. Resource management

Water efficiency

2.1 The Council's adopted Local Plan Core Strategy policy SRM2 relating to Water Supply and Wastewater Management supports effective management of water resources by a number of measures including by (v) Ensuring that all development incorporates water efficiency measures appropriate to the scale and nature of the use proposed.

2.2 Water is recognised as being a finite resource and, in common with the rest of south-east England, Rother is identified as an area of 'serious' water stress[1].

2.3 This is clear evidence that water efficiency measures are needed in this area, as well as being consistent with the overarching South East River Basin Management Plan: Water for life and livelihoods Part 1: South East River Basin District Management Plan (2015). This specifies key actions for the catchment basins to meet the objectives of the Water Framework Directive including regulating the amount of water extraction and states: 'Dealing with unsustainable abstraction and implementing water efficiency measures is essential to prepare and be able to adapt to climate change and increased water demand in future'.[2] Amongst other recommendations, it encourages that: 'Local government sets out Local Plan policies requiring new homes to meet the tighter water efficiency standard of 110 litres per person per day as described in Part G of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations 2010.'[3]

2.4 Furthermore, the Environment Agency's Rother Abstraction Licensing Strategy (2013) states 'Water efficiency and the reduction in household water demand are crucial elements of good water resource management planning especially as the South East is under increased pressure from climate change and population growth.'

2.5 Locally, while both water suppliers, Southern Water and South East Water, have indicated that they can accommodate the level of planned development in the district, it is acknowledged that there will inevitably be pressure to manage existing water resources more effectively, not least because of restrictions on abstraction, notably on the Pevensey Levels, and the cumulative effects of development across the wider area.

2.6 The Government has said that Councils may, through their Local Plan, apply the optional standard for water efficiency in new homes as provided for by the Building Regulations where there is a clear need and does not prejudice the viability of development and housing delivery.

2.7 The need is clear and, having regard to the marginal additional costs of adopting the higher standard[4], it is evident that this is an achievable standard for house builders to implement. It will also benefit new home-buyers in terms of reducing their water usage, and associated costs.

(7) Policy DRM1: Water Efficiency

New development should plan positively to minimise its impact on water resources. All new dwellings are required to be designed to achieve water consumption of no more than 110 litres per person per day.

2.8 This policy will be implemented through the Building Regulations.

2.9 To meet the regulatory requirements[5], it will be necessary to demonstrate compliance via a calculation of the water usage (from mains supply) of sanitary appliances and white goods provided and installed. All products supply datasheets which outline the water consumption based on output of litres/minute. Applicants can calculate the estimated use with the methodology in the Water Efficiency Calculator[6] or use Table 2.2 in Building Regulations Part G 2015 which sets out the maximum fittings consumption levels.

2.10 The provision of water efficient appliances would also be welcomed in a wide range of developments, including residential extensions and alterations and those for commercial and other uses. Rainwater and grey-water storage and recycling measures would also contribute to effective water usage; hence, their provision would also be regarded as a positive factor in the consideration of proposals, where consistent with design and heritage considerations.


Renewable and low carbon energy

2.11 The Government's National Planning Policy Framework expects local planning authorities to have a positive strategy to promote energy from renewable and low carbon sources. Core Strategy Policy SRM1: 'Towards a Low Carbon Future' provides a strategy to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

2.12 The Core Strategy's approach was supported by a 'Low Carbon & Renewable Potential Study' (2010) and a further Background Paper has been prepared to provide further evidence on opportunities for 'Energy from Renewable and Low Carbon Sources'. Both of these are published on the Council's website.

2.13 Core Strategy Policy SRM1(iii) sets out the Council's strategic position, to:

Support stand-alone renewable and low carbon energy generation schemes, particularly those utilising solar, biomass and wind energy technologies, that:

  1. do not have a significant adverse impact on local amenities, ecological and heritage assets or landscape character, and
  2. in respect of locations in or adjacent to the High Weald AONB and other sensitive landscapes, are generally small in scale;

2.14 Government policy advises that when drawing up a Local Plan, local planning authorities should consider identifying suitable areas for renewable and low carbon energy generation, adding that applications for such developments in identified areas should expect favourable consideration, while those outside these areas will need to demonstrate that the proposed location meets the criteria used in identifying suitable areas. This is subject to a qualification that schemes for wind turbines should be in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a local or neighbourhood plan, and that communities' concerns are addressed.

Wind energy

2.15 The Council's recent Background Paper indicates the potential for wind turbines, based on prevailing wind speeds. Further consideration has been given to this potential. However, the High Weald's historic and intricate landscape pattern, with particularly sensitive elevated ridges, make it very difficult to identify suitable locations other than through detailed assessment of a specific scheme. Areas outside the High Weald AONB, including the west/north-west of Bexhill and western edges of Hastings, have raised concerns about the impact of schemes on the rural setting of settlements and on the open and essentially undeveloped Strategic Gap between Bexhill and Hastings. Hence, no clearly suitable areas are identified.

2.16 A smaller scheme (in number and size) is not necessarily ruled out. However, such a smaller scheme would only be acceptable where it would be consistent with relevant designations, notably for the conservation of the High Weald AONB and/or the Strategic Gaps, and other planning policy considerations.

Energy from biomass

(1) 2.17 There is support for utilising the district's potential for biomass as a fuel, largely in terms of promoting sustainable woodland management and utilising a local renewable resource. However, due to their highly fragmented nature and limited accessibility, the potential woodland resource is not likely to support large-scale biomass plants. Furthermore, much of the woodland is Ancient Woodland, for which both national and local nature conservation policies are strongly protective.

(1) 2.18 Nevertheless, small-scale biomass boilers may be viable using local wood fuel. They may serve a single user, such as a school or commercial building, or a single dwelling. Providing working chimneys or flues in buildings to accommodate boilers or wood burners may be appropriate, particularly in rural settings.

2.19 In all cases, the level of demand generated for wood fuel must be compatible with, and where practicable promote, sustainable woodland management.

Solar energy

2.20 Much solar equipment falls outside planning control. Where permission is required for proposals in the High Weald AONB, on a Listed Building or in a Conservation Area, Core Strategy policies EN1, EN2 and EN5 would require that the objectives of such designations should always be respected. Commercial "solar farm" opportunities are very limited; one in the south-west of the district, outside the High Weald AONB, has been implemented, taking advantage of the nearby electricity sub-station. No other suitable proposals have come forward.

2.21 Given the constraints and uncertainties associated with the respective energy resources potentially available in the district (which includes heat pumps, etc.) a flexible approach is appropriate, as set out in Core Strategy policy SRM1. Particular policies that may be relevant are the above-mentioned Core Strategy policies and related policies in this Plan, notably those in the Environment chapter.

(6) Policy DRM2: Renewable Energy Developments

Proposals for low carbon and renewable energy schemes, including community-led initiatives, will be supported where they accord with Core Strategy policy SRM1, where applicable, and with other polices in this Plan, including DEN1, DEN2, DEN3, DEN4 and DEN7.

Proposals for large-scale stand-alone wind turbine schemes would be incompatible with the objectives of environmental designations across the district, although smaller schemes will be considered in accordance with the paragraph above.

2.22 Proposals for community-led initiatives for renewable and low carbon energy, including those proposed as part of a Neighbourhood Plan, will be supported, having regard to the above policy.

Energy options in new development

2.23 Core Strategy Policy SRM1(i) promotes renewable and low carbon energy through its requirements for an energy strategy for residential developments of 10 or more dwellings and non-residential schemes of at least 1,000sqm of floorspace, while larger schemes, of 100 dwellings (or 50 flats), are required to consider the potential for combined heat and power generation (CHP). However, it recognised that these thresholds may need to be reviewed.

2.24 Based on experience to date, the requirement for an energy strategy is perceived as an unduly onerous expectation from smaller schemes and has not been secured. Furthermore, the Government has updated the Building Regulations in relation to energy standards of buildings. Also, the threshold for assessing CHP potential is recognised as too low. In fact, it is unlikely to be viable for any of the allocations in this Plan.

2.25 It is still considered that developers should have specific regard to the energy demands of their developments, which may relate to building orientation, layout, means of energy and heat generation. (Water efficiency requirements are set out in Policy DRM1.)

(6) Policy DRM3: Energy Requirements

The extent to which a proposal incorporates renewable and low carbon energy technologies will be a factor weighing in the favour of a proposed development.

Proposed developments of more than 100 dwellings or 10,000sqm of non-residential floorspace should demonstrate that due regard has been had to energy efficiency, including through the use of renewable and low carbon energy technologies, as part of their Design and Access Statement.

2.26 This policy supersedes Core Strategy policy SRM1(i) insofar as it updates the thresholds provided for by that policy.



(2) 3. Communities

Retention of sites of social and economic value

(1) 3.1 Community facilities, shops, employment sites and premises, tourist attractions and accommodation all play an important social and economic role within the District, making a positive contribution to maintaining and developing sustainable communities.

(1) 3.2 At the same time, commercial pressure for such sites and premises to change to alternative higher-value uses, notably housing, is strong. This often leads to local objections about the loss of facilities, particularly shops and public houses, and the lack of sufficient job opportunities, especially for young people, when proposals come forward to convert or redevelop such sites for other purposes. Erosion of sustainable communities is at the heart of concerns.

3.3 It follows that it is vital to provide a clear policy framework to ensure that such sites of social and economic value are normally retained, and their loss resisted unless it is evident that they cannot be maintained or that their continued use would perpetuate real harm to local amenities in some way.

3.4 This general approach is already established through the Local Plan Core Strategy; Policy CO1 sets the principles for retaining sites and premises currently or last in community use, as does Policy EC3 for employment space and Policy EC6 in respect of tourism accommodation, while Policy RA1 looks to retain local shops, services and public houses in villages. It is noted that Core Strategy policy EC3 is updated by policy DEC3 of this Plan, as set out in chapter 5.

3.5 However, while laying down basic principles, these policies do not go so far as to detail the requisite marketing and viability evidence required to properly consider a proposal that would result in the loss of such a valued use or facility.

(1) 3.6 To satisfy the policy test regarding whether there is a reasonable prospect of continued use, marketing will normally be required. A comprehensive, sustained campaign must be undertaken, offering the premises for sale or for rent, at a realistic valuation of the premises for the permitted use. Ordinarily, the marketing campaign should run for a period of at least 18 months before the planning application is submitted; the premises should be offered for sale locally and regionally, in appropriate publications including through appropriate trade agents. Details should accompany relevant planning applications, including a minimum of two independent valuations of the building in its current condition/state.

3.7 Sites should be advertised with the option of an alternative commercial or community facility, or restaurant or other use falling within the 'A' or 'C1' use classes, appropriate to the site and in line with other policies in the Local Plan. Where applications relate to a public house, the property should be advertised free of tie and restrictive covenant. Applications should also have full regard to the provisions set out in the CAMRA Public House Viability Test.

(1) 3.8 In terms of financial viability evidence, the Council will require submission of trading accounts, normally for the last three full years in which the business was operating on a full-time basis. In schemes affecting tourism accommodation, consideration will also be given to the adequacy of marketing measures to attract holiday lettings. Where an applicant wishes to make a case that a site is not, or is not capable of being, financially viable, evidence should demonstrate the viability of alternative commercial or community facilities, where appropriate. The Council would normally obtain independent verification of the viability evidence submitted, to be undertaken at the developer's expense. Applications should also be accompanied with supporting information to demonstrate how the applicant has brought forward measures to improve viability of the business over the short/medium/long-term. The Council's National and Local List of Planning Application Requirements expands on the evidence to be supplied in support of a proposal under this policy.

3.9 In order that the sustainability of a social or economic use is not prejudiced, the policy below embraces consideration of the need to retain adequate amenity space (internal and external) and parking where their loss would threaten to undermine retention of a community or economic use. Areas such as gardens, car parks and function rooms attached to public houses and community facilities in particular can be subject to residential redevelopment pressures.

(4) Policy DCO1: Retention of Sites of Social or Economic Value

In accordance with the presumptions set in the Local Plan Core Strategy, proposals that involve the loss or diminution of sites of social or economic value*, including those last in such use, must demonstrate that there is no reasonable prospect of a continued use, backed by:

  1. evidence of a comprehensive and sustained marketing campaign, which clearly indicates a lack of demand for the existing use (or as an alternative commercial or community facility, where appropriate), based on marketing, normally at least 18 months, that offers the land or unit/s for sale, or rental, at a realistic valuation of the site/premises for that use; and
  2. evidence that clearly demonstrates that the unit is not or is not capable of being financially viable, including alternative commercial or community facilities, where appropriate.

Proposals should not result in the loss of facilities or features which may undermine the viability of its use, including, but not limited to, car parks, gardens and function rooms.

[* This includes a community facility, public house, shop, tourist accommodation or attraction and an employment use.]


(1) Equestrian developments

3.10 The Rother area continues to be a popular area for equestrian activities. Its countryside provides an attractive environment for horse riders and there is a good network of bridleways throughout the District. Equestrianism is recognised as a countryside pursuit and has a role in supporting the rural economy.

3.11 While there is a limited number of larger commercial centres in the District, it is small-scale facilities for individual and private pursuit that predominantly come forward as planning applications. Typically, proposals for stables will include a tack room as well as external hard-standing and manure bays, but may also include a sand school, fencing and jumps, as well as new access from the highway.

3.12 Core Strategy Policy RA2 is supportive of recreation and leisure facilities in the countryside where they are compatible with the rural character of the area.

3.13 A balance needs to be struck between meeting the desires of the equestrian community and at the same time safeguarding the intrinsic value and locally distinctive rural character and landscape features of the countryside. This is especially the case in the High Weald AONB, the conservation and enhancement of which is afforded great weight.

(1) 3.14 The High Weald landscape is particularly vulnerable to development, including on the fringes of settlements. New buildings and hard surfaces – access roads or sand schools – are not always easily accommodated without some impact on the fields, small woodlands and farmstead meadows which make up the essential character of the AONB.

3.15 Much of the rural area beyond the AONB is also sensitive for other reasons; notably, the lower and open Levels extending eastwards towards the Romney Marsh are ecologically sensitive and subject to national and international protection. More generally, equestrian developments can have ecological impacts, for example, through habitat or species loss, nutrient enrichment, or the use of lighting. Where this could be an issue, proposals may need to be accompanied by an ecological management plan in accordance with Policy EN5 of the Core Strategy.

3.16 Other than the possibility of utilising former farm or other commercial buildings for new uses, there is limited scope within the countryside to accommodate further commercial equestrian enterprises. However, there is scope for equestrian development in the countryside that is limited in scale, although there is a need to manage the increasing pressures from proposals for new isolated stables and, at the other extreme, from a cumulative impact of stabling and equestrian facilities in a concentrated area.

3.17 Ideally, new development should be sited close to existing built development and close to the bridleway system. Mobile field shelters can often be an appropriate way of catering for equestrian uses, although this is not always practicable.

3.18 Where applications come forward in more remote locations and permanent buildings are required, new development will be expected to meet a number of criteria aimed at protecting the character of the countryside and the amenities of both local residents and users of the countryside.

(1) 3.19 Particular control is necessary over the location of any new equestrian development and the size, siting and design of all new buildings and associated facilities. Floodlighting will rarely be acceptable for private/ domestic stables in the countryside, particularly in the AONB and in those areas identified as having "dark skies". Any lighting necessary for commercial uses will need to be carefully designed in accordance with Policy DEN7. Extensive access roads or excavations other than of a minor nature to enable the formation of a sand school (or manège) are not appropriate in the countryside.

(1) 3.20 In assessing applications, adequate provision should be made for the safety and comfort of horses in terms of land for grazing and exercising. Such provision will help to address the issue of the excessive sub-division of fields and over grazing/loss of soil structure. While there is not a common standard applicable throughout the plan area, depending on how the horses are kept and the nature of the land, a desirable guideline would suggest stocking at a density of one hectare per horse.[7]

3.21 The policy below aims to accommodate equestrian developments whilst setting out the key considerations, notably in terms of the potential harm to the character of the countryside and particularly the High Weald AONB so they are sensitive to their context.


(6) Policy DCO2: Equestrian Developments

Proposals for equestrian developments should, individually and cumulatively, safeguard the intrinsic and locally distinctive character and amenities of the countryside, with particular regard to the conservation of the High Weald AONB.

In addition, proposals should accord with the following criteria, as applicable:

  1. the siting, scale and design, including materials and boundary treatment, of any new buildings or facilities should be appropriate to their rural setting;
  2. proposals should not be sited in particularly prominent or isolated locations where new development would not be appropriate;
  3. commercial riding schools, livery stables and related facilities should be satisfactorily integrated with existing buildings;
  4. any associated floodlighting, earthworks, new access routes or ancillary structures, including storage facilities, manure bays, hard-standings, fencing and jumps, should not have an adverse impact on the surrounding countryside, biodiversity or local residential amenities;
  5. adequate provision should be made for the safety and comfort of horses in terms of the land for grazing and exercising, notably in the consideration of stabling proposals. Where possible, commercial riding schools, livery stables and other commercial facilities should have satisfactory access to the public bridleway network without the use of unsuitable roads and in all cases not adversely impact on road safety.

In some circumstances, conditions (such as the removal of permitted development rights for fencing and external storage) may be applied where it is considered that there is the need to control potential adverse landscape impacts which can arise from the poor management of sites. Permission may also be subject to the removal of excessive or inappropriate fencing which has already taken place.



(4) 4. Housing

Affordable Housing

4.1 Affordable housing is defined in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as housing for sale or rent, for those whose needs are not met by the market.

4.2 The requirement for affordable housing to be a part of new developments is a recognised means whereby the planning system can contribute to improving access to housing for households not able to purchase or rent on the open market. In this way it promotes balanced and inclusive communities.

(1) 4.3 In light of the relatively high median house price/earnings affordability ratio in Rother – see Figure 1 below - the provision of affordable housing is a strategic matter covered by Policy LHN2: 'Affordable Housing' in the Local Plan Core Strategy.

Figure 1: House price to earnings ratios

House price to earnings ratio (2017)

England

7.91

South East

8.81

Hastings

8.65

Rother

9.27

Source: ONS (April 2018)

4.4 The Core Strategy sets requirements for the proportion of on-site affordable housing that is expected to be provided as part of all but smaller developments. Given that the affordability ratio remains as high as it was when the Core Strategy was prepared (and the lower quartile affordability ratio is actually higher), then these requirements remain appropriate.

4.5 The Core Strategy sets variable thresholds for requiring the provision of on-site affordable housing, these being lower in the rural areas (being sites of 5+ dwellings), somewhat higher in the small market towns of Battle and Rye (10+ dwellings) and 15+ dwellings in Bexhill and the Hastings Fringes. Financial contributions were to be sought in the Rural Areas from sites of less than 5 dwellings. These thresholds essentially reflected the amount and site sizes of housing provided for in respective areas, with the lower threshold in rural areas heavily influenced by the contribution of smaller (i.e. non-major) developments in the High Weald AONB.

4.6 Given that the scale and distribution of housing sites, both in this Plan and in Neighbourhood Plans, are required to conform generally to the Core Strategy's development strategy, these thresholds for affordable housing provision remain essentially appropriate.

4.7 However, while the 2012 NPPF did not specify affordable housing thresholds, the 2018 NPPF states that on-site provision for affordable housing should not be sought from residential developments that are not major (i.e. less than 10 dwellings), other than in designated rural areas[8] (where policies may set out a lower threshold of 5 units or fewer).

4.8 It can be seen that the more recent minimum thresholds in national policy virtually align with the adopted Core Strategy's approach. The one exception is for very few villages (notably Camber and Rye Harbour) that are outside the AONB, where national policy sets a threshold of 10, rather than the Core Strategy's threshold of 5. Having regard to the very limited scale of housing proposed in these villages, coupled with their lower land values, the threshold is amended to be consistent with the 2018 NPPF. This does not have any real impact on affordable housing supply.

4.9 The 2018 NPPF reinforces the Core Strategy's presumption for on-site affordable housing provision. In view of the relatively poor affordability for households on lower incomes and the focus on 'non-major' developments in AONBs, coupled with the wider definition of affordable housing under the 2018 NPPF, this is still considered appropriate, even on sites of 6-9 dwellings in the AONB.

4.10 There may be exceptional cases where affordable housing cannot be provided on site, in which event a financial contribution equivalent to the increased value of the development without on-site provision will be required. Financial contributions will not be sought on very small schemes, below the 2018 NPPF's thresholds.

4.11 As the thresholds set out in Policy DHG1 below are the same as or slightly higher than those originally set through the Core Strategy, this limited amendment to align with latest Government policy is not considered to have any prejudicial effect on the viability of developments and, in some cases, will improve it. Moreover, this approach is supported by the Plan-Wide Viability Study results, which demonstrate that this approach does not prejudice viability.

4.12 Consequently, part (v) of Core Strategy Policy LHN2 is amended only in respect of the affordable housing thresholds in the Rural Areas, as shown below, with new wording underlined and deleted wording shown as strikethrough.

(v) In the Rural Areas:

(a) In the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 40% on-site affordable housing on schemes of 6 5 dwellings or more (or 0.2 hectares or more); or

(b) Elsewhere, 40% on-site affordable housing on schemes of 10 or more dwellings (or 0.3 hectares or more). A financial contribution, on a sliding scale up to the equivalent of providing 40% affordable housing, in lieu of on-site provision on all residential schemes of less than 5 dwellings.

4.13 Policy DHG1 below incorporates these amendments to Core Strategy policy LHN2 and, hence, effectively supersedes that policy.

(8) Policy DHG1: Affordable Housing

On housing sites or mixed use developments, the Council will expect the following percentages of affordable housing within the district:

  1. In Bexhill and Hastings Fringes, 30% on-site affordable housing on schemes of 15 or more dwellings (or 0.5 hectares or more);
  2. In Rye, 30% on-site affordable housing on schemes of 10 or more dwellings (or 0.3 hectares or more);
  3. In Battle, 35% on-site affordable housing on schemes of 10 or more dwellings (or 0.3 hectares or more);
  4. In the Rural Areas:
    1. In the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 40% on-site affordable housing on schemes of 6 dwellings or more(or 0.2 hectares or more); or
    2. Elsewhere, 40% on-site affordable housing on schemes of 10 or more dwellings (or 0.3 hectares or more).

Where it can be demonstrated that these requirements would either render otherwise suitable development unviable, or where the local need for affordable housing would no longer justify the above levels, the Council will respectively expect the proportion of affordable housing to be the most that does not undermine viability, or is needed locally. An exception to this may be made when the main purpose of the housing is to support business development, where job creation is a priority.

In normal circumstances, the full affordable housing obligation should be met on-site, and of a comparable design quality to the market units onsite. Affordable units should be 'pepperpotted' individually, or in small clusters. In all cases, planning permission will be subject to a legal agreement to ensure nomination rights and that the affordable housing will remain available.

(1) 4.14 To meet this policy requirement, where the affordable housing requirement results in a number of units which is not a whole number, the number of units required on-site will be rounded down to the nearest whole figure. The 'unmet' proportion of a unit will be funded through an in-lieu contribution equivalent to the cost of providing that part unit on-site. For example, a 9 unit development in the High Weald AONB would require the provision of 3.6 affordable units to meet the 40% requirement. In this circumstance, 3 units should be provided on site and an 'in lieu' financial contribution will be sought towards the cost of the outstanding 0.6 unit.

Rural Exception Sites

(1) 4.15 The delivery of affordable housing in rural areas has been low over recent years, being generally a reflection that housing development opportunities are limited in these areas. The Council has a 'Rural Exception Sites' Project specifically established to tackle the lack of affordable rural housing.

4.16 Rural exception sites are small sites which may exceptionally be granted consent outside settlement development boundaries contrary to normal planning policies, specifically to meet local needs. These sites are a proactive step towards helping to address the issue of affordable housing shortages in rural areas.

4.17 Core Strategy Policy LHN3 presently sets out the policy for rural exception sites within the District. The Council has undertaken a recent Scrutiny review[9] relating to the delivery of housing across the district, which has concluded that the inclusion of a modest amount of market housing on exception sites may boost their delivery in the rural areas. This approach is in line with the NPPF which makes specific allowance for the provision of some market housing to facilitate the delivery of rural exception sites.

4.18 Therefore, in order to boost the delivery of affordable housing in the Rural Areas, an additional paragraph is added to Core Strategy policy LHN3 in respect of allowing a modest amount of market housing on rural exception sites to bring such sites forward. The opportunity is taken to make two minor clarifications to the first and last paragraphs of the policy. These changes to Core Strategy policy LHN3, as shown underlined below.

In exceptional circumstances, planning permission may be granted for small sitescale residential development outside development boundaries in order to meet a local need for affordable housing in rural areas. Such development will be permitted where the following requirements are met:-

(Criteria unchanged)

In all cases, planning permission will be subject to a legal agreement to ensure that the affordable housing accommodation remains available to meet local housing needs in perpetuity, and that people with the greatest local connection are given highest priority in both initial and future occupancy.

A modest amount of enabling open market housing will be acceptable where it is demonstrated, with viability evidence, that it is the minimum necessary for the delivery of a suitable scheme, having regard to the criteria above.

4.19 Policy DHG2 below incorporates these amendments to Core Strategy policy LHN3 and, hence, effectively supersedes that policy.

(6) Policy DHG2: Rural Exception Sites

In exceptional circumstances, planning permission may be granted for small scale residential development outside development boundaries in order to meet a local need for affordable housing in rural areas. Such development will be permitted where the following requirements are met:-

  1. it helps to meet a proven local housing need for affordable housing in the village/parish, as demonstrated in an up-to-date assessment of local housing need;
  2. it is of a size, tenure, mix and cost appropriate to the assessed local housing need;
  3. it is well related to an existing settlement and its services, including access to public transport;
  4. the development is supported or initiated by the Parish Council;
  5. The local planning authority is satisfied that the identified local housing need cannot be met within the settlement development boundary; and
  6. The development does not significantly harm the character of the rural area, settlement or the landscape, and meets other normal local planning and highway authority criteria, in line with other Council policies.

In all cases, planning permission will be subject to a legal agreement to ensure that the affordable housing accommodation remains available to meet local housing needs in perpetuity, and that people with the greatest local connection are given highest priority in both initial and future occupancy.

A modest amount of enabling open market housing will be acceptable where it is demonstrated, with viability evidence, that it is the minimum necessary for the delivery of a suitable scheme, having regard to the criteria above.


Access to housing and housing standards

(1) 4.20 It is vital that new homes meet the needs of their occupiers, and future occupiers, in terms of the both the internal and external space available. Also, within the context of seeking balanced communities, it is important to acknowledge the generally ageing population and the need to build homes that are capable of meeting the needs of people who are less mobile or who may become less mobile.

4.21 This Section is made of three complementary parts to help ensure widespread access to housing, covering:

  1. internal space standards,
  2. accessible and adaptable housing, and
  3. housing for older people.

4.22 National policy expects councils to plan for a mix of housing and meets the needs of different groups in the community (such as affordable housing, families with children, older people, students, people with disabilities, service families, travellers, people who rent their homes and people wishing to build their own homes).

4.23 The Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) sets out the new approach for the setting of technical standards for new dwellings. These provide for 'optional' standards above the basic minimum set out in the Building Regulations to be applied in relation to water efficiency and access, and gives local councils the ability to "opt in", through their local plan, to these, as well as to a nationally described internal space standard for residential dwellings. The PPG indicates that the application of these 'Optional Technical Standards' requires the gathering of evidence to determine whether there is a local basis for setting them[10], as well as consideration of how the of setting of optional standards affects viability and delivery of development[11].

4.24 The Council's adopted Core Strategy looks for a housing mix to meet the needs of all households (through Policy LHN1), while Policy CO5 promotes initiatives and developments which enable older people to live independently in their own home, as well as increase the range of available housing options with care and support services in accessible locations.

Internal Space Standards

4.25 The Government's internal space standards[12] sets out requirements for the Gross Internal (floor) Area of new dwellings at a defined level of occupancy as well as floor areas and dimensions for key parts of the home, notably bedrooms, storage and floor to ceiling height.


4.26 The standard requires that:


  1. the dwelling provides at least the gross internal floor area and built-in storage area set out in Figure 2 below
  2. a dwelling with two or more bedspaces has at least one double (or twin) bedroom
  3. in order to provide one bedspace, a single bedroom has a floor area of at least 7.5m2 and is at least 2.15m wide
  4. in order to provide two bedspaces, a double (or twin bedroom) has a floor area of at least 11.5m2
  5. one double (or twin bedroom) is at least 2.75m wide and every other double (or twin) bedroom is at least 2.55m wide
  6. any area with a headroom of less than 1.5m is not counted within the Gross Internal Area unless used solely for storage (if the area under the stairs is to be used for storage, assume a general floor area of 1m2 within the Gross Internal Area)
  7. any other area that is used solely for storage and has a headroom of 900-1500mm (such as under eaves) is counted at 50% of its floor area, and any area lower than 900mm is not counted at all
  8. a built-in wardrobe counts towards the Gross Internal Area and bedroom floor area requirements, but should not reduce the effective width of the room below the minimum widths set out above. The built-in area in excess of 0.72m2 in a double bedroom and 0.36m2 in a single bedroom counts towards the built-in storage requirement
  9. the minimum floor to ceiling height is 2.3m for at least 75% of the Gross Internal Area

Figure 2: Minimum gross internal floor areas and storage (sqm)

No. of bedrooms (b)

Number of bed spaces (persons)

1 storey

dwellings

2 storey

dwellings

3 storey dwellings

Built-in storage

1

1

39



1

2

50

58


1.5

2

3

61

70


2

4

70

79


3

4

74

84

90

2.5

5

86

93

99

6

95

102

108

4

5

90

97

103

3

6

99

106

112

7

108

115

121

8

117

124

130

5

6

103

110

116

3.5

7

112

119

125

8

121

128

134

6

7

116

123

129

4

8

125

132

138

4.27 The Council has not previously collected and recorded data on internal floorspace as there has not been any adopted space standard within the District in the past. However, research has been undertaken to support the case for the adoption of the Standards. Although the figures show that presently there is a low compliance against every standard, many of the dwellings are very close to meeting the standards. Further details on the research can be found in the supporting background paper[13].

4.28 It is therefore considered that it is necessary to adopt the Nationally Described Space Standards (NDSS) to ensure that new dwellings are built to ensure adequate living accommodation for residents.

4.29 Accompanying viability evidence[14] indicates that the introduction of the standards will not have a material impact on the deliverability of housing schemes within the District.

4.30 It should be noted that these are minimum space standards and that developers are encouraged to normally exceed them. Larger internal areas may help in meeting the needs of more accessible homes (see Policy DHG4) and to support home working.

(5) Policy DHG3: Residential Internal Space Standards

The Council adopts the Government's nationally-described space standard.

All new dwellings (including changes of use and houses converted into flats) should provide adequate minimum internal space in line with the standard.


Access standards

4.31 The Government has introduced, through amendments to the Building Act 1984[15], a three tier standard for accessibility in Part M (access to and use of buildings) of Schedule 1 of the Building Regulations, involving a mandatory baseline (i.e. minimum) requirement and two optional standards:

  1. Mandatory baseline - M4(1) – visitable dwellings
  2. Optional Standard - M4(2) – accessible and adaptable dwellings
  3. Optional Standard - M4(3) – wheelchair user dwellings

Figure 3: Main differences between Part M 'Building Regulations' M4(2) - accessible and adaptable dwellings and M4(3) wheelchair user dwellings.

M4(2) Accessible and adaptable dwellings

M4(3) Wheelchair adaptable dwellings

In addition to all the baseline requirements –

M4(1), dwellings built to M4(2) must comply with the following:

  • All occupants must be able to approach bin stores.
  • Drainage for all paved areas must be installed with suitable falls to ensure there is no standing water.
  • Access to upper floor flats should be available by lift.
  • Dwellings should have provision for a future stair lift.
  • Principal living areas are to have low level windows no more than 850mm from floor level.
  • Bedrooms must have minimum direct route to the window at least 750mm wide.
  • Walls must be adapted to allow for future grab rails in bathrooms/stairwells.
  • Drainage must be provided for future level access shower room on the ground floor.
  • Ground floor level window handle locks must be between 850mm-1200mm.

In addition to all the M4(2) requirements –

M4(3), dwellings must also comply with the following:

  • Scooter/wheelchair storage must be provided.
  • Where there is a rise across the development over 300mm a stepped approach must be also be provided along with a ramp. Ramps must have a gradient of no more than 1:15.
  • Communal entrances – power assisted doors should be provided in certain circumstances. (Provisions for the future powered doors must be installed to private principal entrances).
  • Bedrooms must have minimum direct route to the window at least 1,000mm wide.
  • Provisions for through floor lift must be provided.
  • Stairs are to be installed in accordance with the guidance followed for ambulant person's stairs.
  • Living spaces including bedrooms have a minimum size, plus there is detailed guidance for kitchen worktop length and location of fittings (these vary depending on the number of persons per dwelling).
  • All bedroom ceilings must be capable of taking a load of 200kg for a possible future hoist.
  • Door entry systems required at principal entrance with answering systems in the main bedroom and in the lounge.

4.32 Having regard to national Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) advice about relevant data and factors, available evidence suggests that the introduction of the optional accessibility standard M4(2) is justified within the district due to its ageing population and forecast increase in the number of people with mobility issues and limiting illnesses. Further evidence is set out in the relevant background paper[16].

(1) 4.33 By 2028, older person households (i.e. aged 65+) will constitute over 45% of all households in the district. Moreover, the increase in older person households account for over 90% of the net increase in households over the period 2017-2028.

4.34 Furthermore, the proportion of the district's population projected to have life-limiting illnesses[17] is projected to be over 25% of the population by 2028,. By 2030 it is predicted that 13,918 people over 65 in Rother will be unable to manage at least one self-care activity on their own compared to 10,410 in 2018 (POPPI, 2018), meaning homecare help is likely to be required within people's own homes. Projections[18] for the district indicate that, by 2028, 22.8% of the population will have a disability, up from 20.8% in 2016.

4.35 In view of this evidence regarding future households, which clearly impacts on the type of housing to be provided and bearing in mind the Public Sector Equality Duty as well as the general view that planning policies should enable people to continue to live in their home as far as is practicable, then it follows that the norm should be for all new homes, regardless of tenure, to meet the optional Building Regulation for accessible and adaptable homes. Exceptions should be rare, but may exist where the requirements would be incompatible with the requirements to retain key characteristics, notably the elevational character and appearance, of Listed Buildings or Conservation Areas.

4.36 The Whole Plan Viability Study indicates that the impact on development viability across the district of a 100% requirement for M4(2): accessible and adaptable dwellings is relatively limited, particularly as it becomes more common across the country over time. It is noted that in some instances flatted developments may provide a smaller proportion of accessible housing, making use of the ground floor accommodation for M4 (2) where a clear viability case is made.

4.37 Part M4(3) of the Building Regulations distinguishes between (3a) wheelchair adaptable (a home that can be easily adapted to meet the needs of a household including wheelchair users) and (3b) wheelchair accessible (a home readily useable by a wheelchair user, including step-free access). Local Plan policies for wheelchair accessible homes (M4(3)(b) should be applied only to those dwellings where the local authority is responsible for allocating or nominating a person to live in that dwelling.

4.38 Data from the Council's Housing Register indicates that there are around 200 people with a mobility issue, with around 9% requiring the use a wheelchair inside and outside the home. Therefore, it is considered appropriate that schemes where affordable housing is triggered by Policy DHG1 and there is a specific identified need for wheelchair accessible housing identified on the Housing Register, that 5% of the total housing is provided as M4(3)(b) dwellings. The obligation to provide M4(3) units will only apply where the 5% requirement triggers the provision of a whole dwelling unit, i.e. every 20th unit in housing schemes.

4.39 In terms of viability, the Whole Plan Viability Study indicates that the policy requirements set out in Policy DHG4 below, alongside the other policy requirements in the Plan, do not prejudice the viability of sites. Evidence also indicates that there will be cost savings over time as more dwellings get built to these accessibility standards.

4.40 M4(2) and M4(3) dwellings will be secured via planning condition to allow the Building Control body to check compliance of a development against the optional Building Regulations standards.

(8) Policy DHG4: Accessible and Adaptable Homes

The Council adopts the Optional Buildings Regulations for Accessible and Adaptable Homes.

All dwellings are required to meet M4(2): Category 2 – Accessible and Adaptable Dwellings.

Where there is an identified need on the Housing Register, sites that provide affordable housing in line with Policy DHG1, are as part of the affordable housing requirement, expected to provide 5% of the total housing requirement to meet M4(3): Category 3 - Wheelchair Accessible Dwellings.

Only in circumstances where it can be robustly demonstrated by the applicant that it is not practicable or financially viable to deliver the provisions above or where the requirements are clearly incompatible with conserving and enhancing historic character, will new development be exempt from either or both of these policy requirements.


Specialist housing for older people

4.41 Population estimates[19] show that 31.7% of the population of Rother are currently over 65 years old, with over 50% of the population of over 65's residing in Bexhill. In 2028, households whose head is over 65 years old will equate to almost 50% of all households within Rother, up from 45% in 2016[20]. This equates to an extra 4,178 households where the head of the household is over 65 in 2028, while it is also forecast that the number of households where the head of the household is 75+ will increase by 40% over this period and that there will be a large increase in the number of over 75s living alone by 2028, of over 12%.

4.42 These proportions, coupled with large forecast increases in the number of people with limited mobility and limiting long term illnesses, will inevitably lead to an increase in the need for suitable housing that can be adapted to allow people to stay in their own homes for longer – as covered in the preceding sub-section – but also a need for more housing with care.

4.43 There is already a range of housing options in the District, including sheltered, supported and extra care housing, in addition to residential and nursing care homes. However, this provision will need supplementing to meet the increasing level of demand, as the "bulge" of 45-74 baby-boomers in 2015 moves through age cohorts.

4.44 Evidence shows that there is an increasing trend of over 65's in the District who are unable to manage at least one self-care activity on their own, being predicted to rise to 13,918 in 2030 up from 10,410 in 2018.

4.45 Currently there is not a wide choice of options in all parts of the District, although Bexhill has several retirement housing schemes and a new extra care housing scheme in Sidley. There is also a good supply of residential care homes in Bexhill. Specific schemes for older persons' housing are identified as allocations within this Plan in Bexhill, Fairlight, Northiam and Westfield, details of which can be found in the respective chapters.

4.46 The East Sussex Bedded Care Strategy Bedded Care Strategy & Integrated Estates Strategy 2018 estimates future need for older people's specialist housing and accommodation within the County. The overall need identified within the Strategy for the district is in the order of some 800 dwellings for older people to 2027, alongside a net need of around 250 beds for residential/nursing care over the same period.

4.47 The need for older persons housing set out in the Bedded Care Strategy is based on the continuation of existing trends in Rother.

4.48 However, planning policies adopted at the local level to seek a 100% of mainstream housing to be built to M4(2) (accessible and adaptable dwellings) in line with Policy DHG4 will likely have an impact in reducing the future need for housing for older people. M4(2) dwellings are specifically those which are "capable of adaptation over time". It seems reasonable therefore, that a proportion of the current demand will be met by a greater supply for M4(2) housing.

4.49 Therefore, specific site allocations for older person's housing in-conjunction with the increased access standards for new dwellings set out elsewhere in this Plan all contribute towards meeting the needs of older people as set out Core Strategy Policy CO5. In addition, Policy DHG5 below supports further schemes for specialist housing for older people where they meet the needs set out in the East Sussex Bedded Care Strategy on sites in the larger villages and towns in the district. Schemes should be sustainably located with good footway/footpath access to everyday services and public transport.

(4) Policy DHG5: Specialist Housing for Older People

Schemes comprising of specialist housing for older people to meet the needs set out in the East Sussex Bedded Care Strategy will be supported on suitable sites in the larger villages and towns.

As well as the provision of higher access standards (as set out in policy DHG4) and specialist housing schemes (provided for as site specific allocations within this Plan), regard should be had to the "walkability" to services and public transport in the siting of housing schemes for older people.


Self-build and Custom Housebuilding

4.50 'Self-build' housing is where an individual, or a group of individuals, purchases a plot of land and design and build a house to live in. They do most or all of the build themselves. 'Custom-build' is where an individual, or a group of individuals, purchases a plot or plots of land and employs/commissions a builder, architects and, in some cases, a project manager to oversee the build.

4.51 The Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015[21] places a duty on councils to keep a register of people and organisations interested in self-build or custom build projects in their area and have regard to it in planning for such projects. Council's must also give suitable development permission to enough suitable serviced plots of land to meet the demand for self-build and custom housebuilding in their area. The level of demand is established by reference to the number of entries added to an authority's register.

4.52 This is the primary source of data regarding the demand of plots is the Council's Register, which was set up in April 2016. Figure 4 below shows that since the Register was introduced there have been 108 individuals who have registered their interest in self and custom-build housing.

Figure 4: Number of Entries on the Self & Custom Housebuilding Register

1 April 2016 to 30 October 2016 (Base Period 1)

48

31 October 2016 to 30 October 2017 (Base Period 2)

36

31 October 2017 to 31 March 2018 (Base Period 3 - on-going)

24

Combined total as at 1st April 2018

108

4.53 From the data gathered through the Register, it is estimated that self and custom-build could account for up to 10% of the total housing target for the District, although it is noted that the Council does not presently apply a local connections test and a proportion of those individuals on the Register have also indicated that they are interested in undertaking a self-build project elsewhere.

4.54 Analysis of the self-build Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) exemption applications between 1st of April 2016 to 31th March 2018 indicate that 21 self-build projects have been undertaken, although completions for individual dwelling schemes are over four times the self-build CIL exemptions over the same period. As these CIL exempt self-build projects have come forward within the existing built-up areas, it is expected that this is likely to continue in future, and these are already accounted for within the existing windfall allowance set out in the Core Strategy.

4.55 To further understand the type of demand of self and custom housebuilding in the District, the Council sent out a targeted questionnaire to people on the Register.

4.56 Responses showed that the majority of people would prefer a detached dwelling in a single plot in the countryside location. It is expected that these interests will largely be met by the market. However, the questionnaire results also indicated that there was interest in plots being set aside as part of a larger site for self-builders.

4.57 Therefore, having regard to current overall likely demand, it will be expected that reasonably-sized housing schemes, of 20+ dwellings, include a proportion of self and custom-build plots, being at least 5%. A significant increase in demand relative to supply during the plan period may trigger an increase to 10% in order that the Council meets its obligations to provide sufficient sites.

4.58 In order to ensure that serviced plots identified for self-build are delivered, the Council will utilise appropriate planning conditions and where necessary, secure their provision via a legal agreement associated with any planning permission.

4.59 To ensure that self and custom housebuilding is of high quality design, attention is drawn to with the requirements of Core Strategy Policy EN3. On sites with multiple serviced plots, it may be appropriate for the applicant to support their application with a Design Code. A Design Code should be prepared by the plot provider at the outline planning stage and should provide the Council as well as potential self and custom housebuilders with a clear set of design rules and parameters that future development will have to comply with. Design Codes will vary depending on the amount of development proposed and the context of the site.

4.60 Sites with self and custom housebuilding plots should make the serviced plots available and undertake a comprehensive and sustained marketing campaign, offering the plots for sale at a prevailing market price. The marketing campaign should run for a period of at least 12 months, in appropriate publications including through appropriate trade agents.

(8) Policy DHG6: Self-build and Custom Housebuilding

The Council will support Self and Custom Housebuilding projects subject to compliance with other relevant Local Plan policies.

On sites of 20 or more dwellings, provision for 5-10% of the total number of dwellings to be provided should be made available as serviced plots for self and custom housebuilders.

Plots should be made available and marketed through relevant marketing agencies for a period of at least 12 months. If the plots are not sold within this time period, the dwellings may be released for conventional market housing in line with the terms set out in the relevant legal agreement.

Where appropriate, the Council will seek to ensure that self/custom build homes are developedin accordance with an agreed design code.


External residential areas

4.61 In planning new residential developments, it is important to appreciate that schemes will provide the living environment for people for decades to come. Therefore, all new residential development should be capable of accommodating the reasonable expectations of likely occupiers, in accordance with Local Plan Core Strategy Policy OSS4. This applies to the external areas of dwellings, which should provide not only sufficient outdoor amenity space but also cater for practical needs, such as parking and refuse/recycling facilities.

4.62 The provision, layout and treatment of external areas should be seen as an integral part of the wider design approach to residential developments, which respects the character of its setting, whether urban or rural, and makes a positive contribution to reinforcing local distinctiveness. Key design principles are set out in Policy EN3 and Appendix 4 of the Core Strategy.

4.63 Gardens should be of an appropriate size to provide sufficient, useable amenity space. This will normally mean a minimum rear garden depth of 10 metres. This requirement has a dual purpose, as it also aids the achievement of appropriate separation distances between dwellings to maintain levels of privacy and to prevent a cramped form of development that could otherwise adversely affect the amenity of existing and future residents. Garden space for apartment complexes may benefit from individual design solutions to the provision of external amenity space, such as courtyards or communal spaces of appropriate and usable size.

4.64 A number of considerations may affect garden size, including the relationship with adjacent properties and land uses. Where usability of external space is constrained, such as by sloping ground, orientation, the presence of large trees or where there is a strong, well-established spacious character, larger gardens are more appropriate. Overlooking towards and from neighbouring properties must also be considered.

4.65 In a limited number of cases, a rear garden of slightly less than 10m in depth may be accepted where either an appropriate and proportionate level of private amenity space is provided to the side or front of the dwelling or there are particular reasons why the future occupiers of the dwelling(s) will have a lesser requirement for amenity space. In such cases, the overall layout of the site and separation distances between dwellings must be acceptable and not result in a cramped form of development.

4.66 East Sussex County Council's 'Guidance for Parking at New Residential Development' and 'Guidance for Parking at Non Residential Development' has been adopted for use by the Council in the assessment of parking provision in new development proposals. It is expected that car parking and cycle storage provision accords with the prevailing adopted standards in these documents. Moreover, parking provision should be wholly integrated into the layout and design of the proposed scheme and respect and be informed by the character of the locality.

4.67 Developments should not be dominated by hardstandings - especially extensive parking in front of terraced houses - or verge parking. The visual impact of parking on the character of the locality and on residential amenities should be mitigated by appropriate use of soft landscaping as part of the overall design.

4.68 Refuse and recycling storage and collection facilities should be considered at the beginning of the design process in new development to ensure that:

  • Adequate refuse and recycling facilities are provided to serve the development.
  • Storage of wheelie bins, communal waste bins and refuse sacks do not detract from the street-scene, obstruct access or detract from residential amenity.
  • There is convenient access, both for occupiers of the properties and for the collection vehicles and workers.

4.69 Useful operational guidance has been produced on behalf of the East Sussex Waste Partnership and should be referred to. It is available to view or download at: http://www.rother.gov.uk/article/4961/Overview-of-the-service.

(7) Policy DHG7: External Residential Areas

An integrated approach to the provision, layout and treatment of external areas of dwellings should be taken in accordance with relevant Core Strategy policies and with specific regard to the following:

  1. Private External Space: Appropriate and proportionate levels of private usable external space will be expected. For dwellings, private rear garden spaces of at least 10 metres in length will normally be required. In relation to flat developments and complexes, an appropriate level of usable communal amenity space should be provided.
  2. Car parking and cycle storage: Provision for car parking and safe and secure cycle storage should be made in accordance with Core Strategy Policy TR4 and East Sussex County Council's 'Guidance for Parking at New Residential Development' and 'Guidance for Parking at Non Residential Development'. Its siting and design should be considered at the outset and be appropriate to the location, layout and design approach of the development, respecting and being informed by the character of the locality.
  3. Waste and Recycling: Sufficient bin storage and collection points must be provided on all new residential developments and changes of use. Their siting and design should be considered at the outset, be integral to the development, respect the visual amenities and streetscape character of the dwelling and area, and be fully accessible for collection.

Extensions to residential gardens

4.70 Some householders and other property owners, particularly in countryside locations, seek to enlarge the extent of land in residential use surrounding their dwelling either to accommodate outbuildings, parking or for use as garden.

4.71 While such extensions can be acceptable, a prime objective in rural areas is to conserve the intrinsic value and locally distinctive character of the countryside. In the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, great weight will be given to the conservation of its landscape and scenic beauty, including respect for historic field boundaries. The erosion of countryside character, albeit incrementally, and the potential suburbanising effect caused by the enlargement of garden areas should be avoided.

4.72 Hence, any extensions to gardens should be modest in scale (such as to provide sufficient outside area for the reasonable enjoyment of the dwelling or to accommodate essential services) and create a logical new boundary to a natural feature such as a hedgerow, watercourse or woodland or otherwise constitute a "rounding off", which is acceptable in its impact on the rural character of the area.

4.73 Where a garden extension is acceptable, conditions will normally be attached to mitigate the visual impacts including, soft landscaping and, where the dwelling's curtilage is extended, removal of permitted development rights for the erection of outbuildings and provision of hard surfaces.

4.74 The following policy, DHG8, applies to all extensions to the external residential area, whether for garden use or for ancillary purposes to the dwelling.

(3) Policy DHG8: Extensions to Residential Gardens

Extensions to the gardens of existing dwellings in the countryside will not be permitted unless the extension:

  1. is modest in area and the change of use and associated domestic paraphernalia does not harm the rural character of the area; and
  2. is to a natural boundary or is a logical rounding off.

Extensions, annexes, alterations and outbuildings

4.75 Extensions and alterations to dwellings, including annexes and outbuildings, are often means of enabling people to better meet their housing needs without moving.

4.76 Smaller proposals often don't need planning permission (although generally require approval under the Building Regulations), but more significant proposals generally do require permission and will be considered in terms of:

  • impact on the amenities of neighbouring properties;
  • relationship with the character and appearance of the principal building; and
  • compatibility with the general character of the locality.

4.77 The overall approach to these considerations is set out in the Local Plan Core Strategy, notably Policy OSS4, which requires all development to not unreasonably harm the amenities of adjoining properties and respect the character and appearance of the locality, and Policy EN3 (supplemented by Appendix 4 – Key Design Principles), which requires high quality design.

Extensions, alterations and outbuildings

4.78 Extensions, alterations or new outbuildings can, through their height, size and location, impact on adjoining properties in terms of:

  • a loss of sunlight or daylight through overshadowing of habitable rooms or gardens;
  • having an overbearing presence through their size and position (generally referred to as its "massing"); and
  • result in overlooking or loss of privacy.

4.79 In assessing proposals, the Council uses the Building Research Establishment's principles in 'Site Planning for Daylight and Sunlight: A Guide to Good Practice'. In relation to whether there is an overbearing massing, this tends to arise most commonly where two-storey rear extensions are proposed, particularly on narrow width terraced properties or closely-sited semi-detached properties.

4.80 Overlooking is most commonly an issue where windows to habitable rooms would directly face those in a neighbouring property, particularly when considering first floor side extensions, and should be avoided. In exceptional cases, obscured glazing may be considered where potential overlooking problems cannot be overcome, or windows should be set at an angle to avoid direct overlooking.

4.81 In considering these factors, regard should be given to any significant change in level between properties, as this may increase the impact of an extension on the amenity of neighbours' homes.

4.82 To ensure that an extension or other building relates appropriately to the principal dwelling and will contribute positively to the character of its locality, the design approach should draw on an analysis of local character and distinctiveness, undertaken in line with Core Strategy Policy EN4. Where relevant, drawings (elevations and sections) should show proposals in the context of adjacent buildings.

4.83 Traditional or contemporary design approaches can be appropriate in a particular context; their success dependent on how well they are thought out and detailed. Traditional designs will be expected to follow the distinctive vernacular characteristics of the host building - for example, simple building forms with relatively narrow roof spans, matching storey heights, a materials palette of brick, clay tile (including handmade clay tile in historic areas), timber weatherboarding, steeply pitched roofs, open eaves, small module windows, and traditional joinery styles. Meanwhile, contemporary designs will be expected to demonstrate design flair, a skilled handling of materials and crisp detailing.

4.84 In all cases, even where the existing building is architecturally unremarkable, proposals should demonstrate basic design principles of scale, form, massing, height and proportion in relation to the existing dwelling and the wider area.

4.85 A good general principle is to ensure that extensions, especially side extensions, do not dominate the existing dwelling but, rather, are "visually subservient", such that they do not detract from the property's architectural integrity or the character of the street or lane. This can often be achieved by a combination of an appropriate elevational width and scale in relation to the existing dwelling, the setting back of the extension from the front wall of the house, and stepping down of the roof ridge height. Particular care needs to be taken if an extension is proposed to only one side of a property to ensure that a visually balanced front elevation is created. Side extensions should normally seek to maintain external access to rear gardens.

4.86 In relation to side extensions, particular care should be taken to avoid infilling the gaps between detached or semi-detached houses where these are an important characteristic of the locality, creating a visual rhythm and density to the street, as it may result in a cramped, 'terracing effect' and detract from the character of the dwelling and the street scene.

4.87 Detailing and materials can be critical to a successful extension or otherancillary building. Every effort should be made to retain any distinctive architectural features and materials that contribute positively to the character of the building.

4.88 Retaining sufficient external private space to meet the continuing requirements of the dwelling is an important consideration in proposals for extensions and outbuildings, including the retention of usable and meaningful amenity/garden space and sufficient space for off-street parking and refuse/recycling facilities. This is covered specifically by Policy DHG7.

4.89 Alterations to roofs to create attic-level accommodation require careful design. Some roofs may not be suitable for conversion if their pitch is too shallow and sufficient headroom cannot be achieved without protruding above the ridgeline.

4.90 Successful dormer windows are achieved where they are appropriately positioned within the slope of the roof (and not on the hipped part of a roof) and have due regard to the arrangement and proportions of existing windows. This normally means aligning them over, or set slightly in from, windows in the elevations below, and being smaller sized than those below. Overly large or box-like dormers are inappropriate for the majority of domestic properties, as they give the house a top-heavy appearance. Several dormer windows in a roof slope may also be harmful in terms of design or character.

4.91 For historic and other vernacular buildings, and in historic areas, the design and details of extensions and alterations will be carefully scrutinised to ensure that they are consistent with the specific architectural character and form of the existing dwelling and the character and appearance of the area.

4.92 Converted traditional farm buildings, including barns and oasthouses, are particularly vulnerable to inappropriate extensions, garages, sheds and other outbuildings that undermine the intrinsic character of the building as an example of a particular building typology or would domesticate and detract from the character of the countryside setting.

4.93 Modest single storey outbuildings which are ancillary to the main dwelling and reflect its character and materials can contribute to the character of a locality. The siting of outbuildings, including garages, needs careful consideration in terms of both the relationship with the main house - particularly if it is of heritage value – and the wider street-scene – avoiding cramping or cluttering the site or adversely affecting the amenities of neighbouring properties. Discreet siting is generally preferred, as siting buildings in front of the main house often dominates the plot frontage, detracting from the appearance of the dwelling in the street scene.

4.94 In rural areas, especially within the High Weald AONB, it is important that outbuildings conserve landscape character and qualities and do not 'suburbanise' this sensitive countryside.

4.95 The following policy provides a practical, "checklist"-type, approach without being overly prescriptive or detailed.


(6) Policy DHG9: Extensions, Alterations and Outbuildings

Extensions, alterations and outbuildings to existing dwellings will be permitted where:

  1. they do not unreasonably harm the amenities of adjoining properties in terms of loss of light, massing or overlooking;
  2. they respect and respond positively to the scale, form, proportions, materials, details and the overall design, character and appearance of the dwelling;
  3. they do not detract from the character and appearance of the wider street-scene, settlement or countryside location, as appropriate, in terms of built density, form and scale;
  4. they leave sufficient usable external private space for the occupiers of the dwelling in accordance with Policy DHG7;
  5. they fully respect and are consistent with the character and qualities of historic buildings and areas, where appropriate;
  6. in the case of extensions and alterations, they are physically and visually subservient to the building, including its roof form, taking into account its original form and function and the cumulative impact of extensions; and
  7. in the case of outbuildings, they respect and respond positively to the character, appearance and setting of the main dwelling within its plot and the wider street-scene or general locality, through their siting, scale and massing, design and appearance and materials.

Annexes

4.96 A residential annexe is defined as accommodation ancillary to the main dwelling within the residential curtilage that provides additional semi-independent accommodation for members of the same family, often older family members who may need assistance with health care. There are an increasing number of people who, although capable of living relatively independently, would benefit from living close to relatives or carers on whom they can rely for help and support. While this may sometimes be met through the purchase of a nearby property, in other situations residential annexes provide for the carer or relative to be on hand at short notice to provide care and support, including through shared facilities.

4.97 Where it is needed, the general principle is to support such accommodation in a way that enables it to be most effectively incorporated into the dwelling and site. An annexe can be provided in the form of an extension to the dwelling, the conversion of an existing outbuilding or in some cases a new detached building.

4.98 An extension to the dwelling is normally most appropriate, as this better integrates the annexe into the dwelling for use of shared facilities and providing ready access (including internal linkages), normally also minimising the impact on neighbours, and provides advantages for the longer-term use of the annexe, reducing pressure for future, inappropriate development. For this reason, a sequential approach is taken for proposals for annexes: firstly looking at whether the required accommodation can be provided in the form of an extension to the dwelling; if not, considering whether an existing outbuilding within the residential curtilage could be converted; if not, then considering the potential for a new separate annexe building located in close proximity to the existing dwelling. Exceptions to this approach may be where the extension of an existing dwelling would not be appropriate; for example, in some cases relating to listed buildings, non-designated heritage assets or historic agricultural buildings.

4.99 In all locations, considerations of character, scale and design and amenity impacts will be similar to those set out for extensions, alterations and outbuildings above. The size of the annexe will need to be demonstrated to be that necessary to meet the intended purpose, normally with a single bedroom only, and demonstrate that it will be capable of being incorporated into the use of the dwelling in the longer term.

(3) Policy DHG10: Annexes

The creation of residential annexes will be considered in accordance with a sequential approach in the following order:

  1. an extension to the dwelling;
  2. the conversion of an existing outbuilding within the residential curtilage that is located in close proximity to the dwelling; and
  3. a new building located within the residential curtilage in close proximity to the existing dwelling and with a demonstrable link to the main dwelling, such as shared vehicular access, communal parking and amenity spaces, where appropriate.

All proposals will be assessed against the criteria of Policy DHG9 to ensure that they are appropriate in terms of the existing dwelling, surrounding area and amenities of occupants of nearby properties.

In all cases, the occupation of the annexe shall be managed by planning condition or exceptionally a legal agreement to ensure that the accommodation is tied to the main dwelling, cannot be used as a separate dwelling and cannot be sold separately.


Boundary treatments, accesses and drives

4.100 Boundary treatments, as well as accesses and drives, play a significant role in defining the character and appearance of a locality. They can make a positive contribution to the successful integration of new development and to reinforcing local distinctiveness.

Boundary treatments

4.101 The height of boundary treatments, as well as any gates or gate piers, needs sensitive consideration. They should be similar in height to the prevailing height of existing boundaries in the area. Also, where there is a repeated style of boundary treatments, for example low walls, railings or an open plan, boundary-free approach, then the Council will normally expect any development proposal to follow the predominant style in the vicinity and to maintain and strengthen the existing character of the street scene.

4.102 In terms of the forms of enclosure, close-boarded fencing provides screening for privacy and has less impact when used to enclose rear gardens not subject to public view, but is not always appropriate. Open post-and-rail fencing on frontages has the advantage of maintaining the natural and open character, while estate railing can also be an appropriate boundary treatment in certain rural areas. However, the predominant boundary type in the rural areas consists of mature trees, hedges and ditches, which are in keeping with the rural scene and provide a continuity of characteristic landscape. In contrast, the construction of close-boarded fences and walls along road frontages can punctuate and detract from the more natural and open character of rural areas and lanes, particularly in the High Weald AONB. The same may apply in urban areas where hedges predominate.

4.103 If a more solid enclosure is necessary, in some instances it may be appropriate for a fence or wall to be set back from the boundary with sufficient space for the planting and future maintenance of a hedge in front with sufficient room that, when mature, it will sit 'in-line' with any existing adjoining hedging or other boundary line. The future retention of the hedge would be subject to a planning condition.

4.104 More generally, hedges and trees that define historic field boundaries are regarded as important components of landscape character, especially within the High Weald AONB, as noted in the Environment Chapter; hence, their retention is normally expected. To reinforce local character, in specifying any new hedging, where a particular type of hedging or tree species is predominant, new planting should be of the same species. In the AONB and other rural areas, native species of planting, such as a traditional mixed hedge of hawthorn, field maple, beech, and hornbeam is characteristic, sometimes with trees such as oak, native cherry or ash. Meanwhile, in suburban, village and town centre areas, the Council would normally seek species such as laurel, hazel, holly, yew, box, hornbeam and beech.

4.105 Occasionally, there may be a stretch of historic brick or stone walling denoting an historic estate boundary; such boundaries should be retained and conserved.

When is Planning Permission required?

Under current legislation, planning permission for new boundary treatments or alterations to existing boundary treatments is required if one or more of the scenarios below is met:

  • The boundary treatment to be erected would be over 1.0 metre high and adjoining a highway used by vehicles, or over 2.0 metres high elsewhere.[22]
  • The boundary treatment is within the curtilage of a Listed Building.
  • The boundary treatment is within a Conservation Area and is to be completely demolished, where it is over 1.0 metre high and next to a highway (including a public footpath or bridleway) or public open space; or over 2.0 metres high elsewhere.
  • There is a condition attached to the planning permission for the property which restricts the erection of a boundary treatment, or a landscaping condition which requires the type of hedge or tree planting to be agreed by the Council prior to a development being started.

4.106 The following policy sets out clear criteria for proposals for boundary treatments.

(5) Policy DHG11: Boundary Treatments

Planning permission for new or altered boundary treatments, including fences, walls, gates and gate piers and hedges will be supported where:

  1. the proposal does not involve the loss of existing boundary structures of historic or architectural interest; or
  2. the proposed boundary treatment, by virtue of design, height, and materials or species, is consistent with the character of the locality;
  3. in the rural areas, the proposal would not, by virtue of its siting or appearance, adversely impact on the undeveloped character of the countryside, nor, by virtue of its design and appearance, introduce a suburban or urban feature into the rural area; and
  4. the proposal is considered acceptable in terms of highway safety.


Accesses and Drives

4.107 A key issue for consideration in proposals involving a new access or driveway is the effect on highway safety. As well as the effect on vehicle users, the effect on pedestrians and cyclists should also be considered. In some situations (usually for larger schemes a site access may need to include a separate footway/cycleway.

4.108 A particular issue can arise where a new access or driveway or the required sight lines would result in the loss of some boundary feature, often a hedge, which contributes positively to the character of the street scene. This will require balancing of amenity, character and highway safety considerations. Careful siting is required to minimise the amount of any hedge loss and such loss would be expected to be mitigated by replanting with matching species behind the sight lines of the access. Consideration should also be given to the effect of removing any landscape features on biodiversity and whether there are opportunities to improve the biodiversity value of the site, in accordance with Policy DEN4.

4.109 Where a new access is to be created, care should also be taken in the design and choice of materials to match the character of the locality, for example in the width of the access and corner radii (subject to highway safety requirements), surfacing materials, provision or not of any kerbing materials, and treatment of verges, particularly to ensure that the works would not suburbanise the character of the rural areas. In urban areas, the hard surfacing of front gardens, especially small gardens, for vehicle parking can have a significant impact on the appearance of buildings and the wider landscape. Usually there will be a preference for the use of permeable surfacing but if this is not proposed, the inclusion of appropriate drainage to minimise water run-off onto the highway will be necessary, in accordance with Policy DEN5.


When is Planning Permission required?

Planning permission to form a new access, or to improve an existing access, is required if the access would be on to a classified road (A, B or C Class).

Permission is also likely to be required if the access drive would cross land which is in another use (for example a residential driveway across agricultural land) or if significant alterations in ground levels are required in order to construct the access or if the works also require the laying of hard-standing which is not permitted development.

Irrespective of the need for planning permission, any works to a Public Highway such as altering the verge or pavement or providing a dropped kerb will require a separate Crossover Licence from the County Highway Authority, or, for the A21 and the A259, consent from Highways England.

(i) The Council will always advise applicants, where they believe planning permission isn't required, to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate for a Proposed Use or Development to ensure that this has been formally agreed by the Council.

(4) Policy DHG12: Accesses and Drives

Proposals for new drives and accesses will be supported where:

  1. they are considered acceptable in terms of highway safety, including for pedestrians and cyclists;
  2. by virtue of their location and design and materials (including any soft landscaping) they would maintain the character of the locality, particularly in the rural areas; and
  3. they involve the relocation of an existing access, if there are highway benefits of relocating the existing access, and the existing access will be stopped up.


(1) 5. Economy

Shopfronts, signage and advertising

5.1 Shopfronts[23], signage and advertisements form an integral part of commercial streets and of town and village centres in the District. They play an important role in helping to create an attractive retail environment and, as such, contribute to economic vitality. The importance of a high quality public realm in contributing to local character and sense of place is set out in Core Strategy policy EN4.

(1) 5.2 While advertising and signage generally convey important information and are valuable in promoting business activities, they can have a significant impact on the appearance of buildings and areas. Unduly prominent or poorly designed signage can detract from the character of a building, the townscape or village street scene or of the countryside within which it is located. Furthermore, if uncontrolled, it can lead to roadside clutter and distract drivers.

5.3 In order to protect the amenities of an area, it is important that all signs and advertisements, whether on a building or freestanding, are carefully designed and of an appropriate scale, detail, materials and colours.

5.4 Traditional shopfronts, such as the late Victorian/early Edwardian ones found in the planned shopping streets of Bexhill-on-Sea or those inserted into the medieval buildings of the market towns of Battle and Rye, are important because they provide active frontages and make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of those historic centres. Without careful attention though, it is easy to gradually erode the character of traditional shopfronts and historic street-frontages and to lose or obscure important building features.

5.5 It follows that there should be a general presumption that the original fabric and detailing of historic shopfronts, such as stallrisers, cornices and pilasters, windows and decorative tiling, should be retained and restored. More generally, any new shopfront should relate well to the building and to its overall setting in the street scene, in terms of its proportions, design, relationship to upper storeys, fascia height and width, mullion treatment, materials and colour. Most common issues relate to the introduction of unsympathetic deep fascias and internally illuminated signage.

5.6 Canopies and blinds may be successfully integrated into a traditional shopfront if carefully detailed and not unduly dominant. However, the use of modern materials such as acrylic sheeting, perspex, aluminium or plastic, is rarely appropriate for traditional shopfronts on historic buildings in a Conservation Area.

5.7 There is particular concern around the introduction of solid external roller shutters, which can have a "deadening", inhospitable effect on the street scene. Where security measures are essential, alternatives such as the use of an internal lattice shutter or laminated glass represent more sensitive approaches.

5.8 Fascia signs are the most common form of advertisement on a building and should be designed to appear as an integral part of it in terms of their positioning, height, size, design and materials. Similar considerations apply to hanging signs, while modern projecting, usually illuminated box signs, can be particularly cluttering and discordant features on shopfronts and in the street scene.

5.9 Where shops or other commercial premises lie within a Conservation Area, it is particularly vital that shopfronts, signage and advertisements are well designed and detailed, and relate to their surroundings. Projecting box signs are very unlikely to be appropriate within Conservation Areas.

5.10 The Council has adopted specific guidance for shopfronts and signage within Bexhill-on-Sea Town Centre Conservation Area, in recognition of the special architectural character of the shopping terraces that were constructed within a very short period of time at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century.

5.11 The illumination of all signs and advertisements needs sensitive consideration and to be restrained in their quantity and brightness. Within the town centres of Bexhill, Battle and Rye, some night-time illumination of shops and other commercial premises helps to promote a vibrant and safe evening economy. Elsewhere, the illumination of signs on buildings, including hanging signs, is normally only justified where it relates to late opening premises such as a public house, restaurant, chemist or similar. At the same time, consideration must be given to the amenity of residential properties.

5.12 In rural areas, the amount and siting of advertisements, especially illuminated signage, need to be strictly controlled, in the interests of maintaining the generally undeveloped landscape character and amenities of the countryside, preventing "clutter", maintaining highway safety and dark skies. Hence, unless there are exceptional circumstances which justify an alternative approach, advertisement should be limited to a location close to the premises it serves.

5.13 In view of the sensitivity of the District's historic town centre retail areas, villages and largely AONB countryside, it is intended that further guidance on signage and advertisements will be produced to be read alongside the following policy, DEC1.


(4) Policy DEC1: Shopfronts, Signage and Advertising

Any proposal for a new shopfront, an alteration to existing shopfront (including external blinds), or signage on buildings, will be permitted where:

  1. it relates appropriately to the architectural and historic character and appearance of the building in which the shopfront is located,
  2. it relates to its overall setting in the street scene, and impact on public safety, and
  3. it has due regard to its proportions, size, design, visual relationship to upper storeys, materials, colour, height and width, and illumination.

Particularly within Conservation Areas, the loss of features or fabric of historic, architectural and/or socio-cultural merit or the installation of external roller shutters will not normally be acceptable.

Free-standing signage and advertisements will be permitted where they have an acceptable impact on highway safety and amenity, including on the scenic, architectural and historic character of the locality. In rural areas, they should not detract from landscape character nor introduce unnecessary "clutter" into the countryside. Other than in exceptional circumstances, such advertisements should also have a close physical relationship to the premises that they serve.


Holiday Sites

5.14 Tourism contributes significantly to the local economy. The overarching policy approach set by the Core Strategy, at policy EC6, is to support tourism activities and facilities, including by increasing the supply of quality serviced and self-contained accommodation, while ensuring compatibility with other policies, especially those that protect environmental character and amenities. Its strategies for Bexhill, Battle and Rye all have tourism elements, as does that for the Rural Areas, which gives priority to the conversion of redundant traditional farm buildings for tourism uses.

5.15 A detailed policy for holiday accommodation provided by chalets or lodges, caravan and campsites is set out below, as this makes up a significant and dynamic part of the tourism sector, being historically concentrated on static caravan sites situated near the coast but now taking more varied forms and being more dispersed.

5.16 Care must be taken in the siting, scale and form of holiday sites, as they can impact adversely on the special character of the countryside, particularly on an otherwise undeveloped coastline, much of which is designated as being of ecological importance, or in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), which are the very assets that makes the district attractive to visitors. In addition, coastal areas are also most often vulnerable to flood risk.

5.17 Given these environmental constraints, the provision of new holiday centres or large static caravan/chalet sites would be most unlikely to be satisfactorily accommodated locally.

5.18 The upgrading of existing holiday sites, for example replacing static caravans with chalet or lodge-style units, can be positive in terms of better meeting customer needs so long as the impact on the wider landscape is unaffected. This may, exceptionally, involve a sensitive, limited expansion.

5.19 Changing leisure patterns bring other demands, including for short stay breaks in low key, high quality, self-catering accommodation. Such accommodation may take the form of small lodges or more unusual structures such as shepherd huts or tree houses. Where a scheme involves limited ancillary facilities and generates minimal traffic, as well as not detracting from its setting, these may also be accommodated.

5.20 In addition, visitor accommodation serving other countryside uses, for example existing fishing lakes or equestrian facilities, may also be considered where any new buildings can be assimilated into the landscape and the accommodation is wholly ancillary to and an integral part of the principal leisure use.

5.21 Relative to static holiday accommodation, there is more scope for further seasonal touring caravan and camping pitches on temporary small-scale sites in the summer months, including new forms of camping, as seen in the rise of 'glamping' and the use of yurts for example.

5.22 The siting of such developments should be visually contained within the rural landscape, not adversely impact on the particular characteristics of the High Weald AONB or sensitive ecological areas and have no unacceptable impacts in terms of traffic, access and other environmental impacts.

5.23 As set out in the 'Biodiversity and Green Space' section, there is a need to give careful consideration to tourism accommodation proposals, including ones to upgrade or extend existing permanent and seasonal sites, as well as new sites, where this is likely to generate increased recreational pressure on the Dungeness Complex[24] of 'Natura 2000' sites. This will be most relevant to proposals in the Camber, Rye Harbour and Winchelsea Beach areas, where otherwise suitable proposals must also maintain the integrity of the ecological interest of the Complex; this may involve restricting the scale, length of season, the provision/retention of recreational space and provision of guidance about the sensitivity of sites.[25]

5.24 Some significant areas of the district are at risk from coastal and/or fluvial flooding. For both permanent and seasonal accommodation, the provision/extension of sites, or extension of occupancy periods, is unlikely to be agreed in undefended areas of high flood risk unless a Flood Risk Assessment has satisfactorily demonstrated that the appropriate standard of flood defence will be provided and the development would not impede flood flows or otherwise prejudice floodplain storage.

5.25 Fluvial flooding from rivers can occur at any time of the year and therefore highly vulnerable uses such as touring and static caravans and tents should normally be located outside the floodplain or be adequately defended, with any residual flood risk mitigated for on the site. Flood Risk Assessments will also be required for applications in flood risk areas, included those with flood defences, to assess any residual flood risk to the site. These should have regard to the impact of hard-standings and other impermeable surface treatments. To safeguard people, restrictions on occupation will be imposed where there is a high risk of flooding.

5.26 While there has been a trend to move away from seasonal controls on permanent sites to allow all-year-round use, it is essential that holiday sites remain available as tourist accommodation and do not develop, or become seen, as low cost homes to be purchased or occupied by persons without a permanent residence elsewhere. As well as the loss to the tourism economy, permanent residential occupation has infrastructure impacts, notably on highways and local services, including schools.

5.27 On sites with static units established practice is to impose conditions on any new permissions to the effect that any unit is only occupied for holiday purposes and not as any person's sole or main place of residence; also, that the owners/operators of the site should maintain an up-to-date register of the names and main home addresses of all occupiers of the units and make this available to the Council.

5.28 Seasonal sites will be limited to holiday use and the occupation period will be restricted to prevent use all year round (normally to between April and October).

(7) Policy DEC2: Holiday Sites

All proposals for camping, caravan and purpose-built holiday accommodation must:

  1. safeguard intrinsic and distinctive landscape character and amenities, paying particular regard to the conservation of the High Weald AONB and undeveloped coastline, and be supported by landscaping proposals appropriate to the local landscape character;
  2. conserve or enhance sensitive habitats and species;
  3. not significantly detract from the needs of agriculture;
  4. not unreasonably harm amenities of residents in nearby dwellings;
  5. not be in an area at risk of flooding, unless a site specific flood risk assessment has demonstrated that the development will be safe and will not increase flood risk elsewhere; and
  6. accord with other relevant policies of the Plan.

Proposals for static caravan, chalet or lodge accommodation must also:

  1. be of a modest scale for low key, high quality accommodation that requires only limited ancillary facilities; or
  2. comprise a limited amount of accommodation to enhance an existing countryside recreational use and be wholly ancillary to that use; or
  3. where within an existing site, either:
    1. result in a significant improvement to the appearance and quality of accommodation of that site, or
    2. be a limited extension of that site to a natural boundary, and make a significant improvement to the appearance and quality of accommodation.

Touring caravan or tented camping proposals should be of a small scale appropriate to the area. Where the temporary use of land is permitted, any ancillary facilities necessary to serve the site will only be permitted on a similar temporary basis or, if of a permanent nature, where they are compatible with the local character of the area.

For all proposals, in order to prevent the residential use of holiday accommodation, their use will be restricted to holiday/leisure purposes only and will be subject to occupancy conditions relevant to the site.


Existing employment sites and premises

5.29 Planning for improved job opportunities is a fundamental part of the Council's overall development strategy as contained in its adopted Local Plan Core Strategy. It sets targets for the amount of additional business floorspace on employment sites[26], alongside those for housing growth. The business floorspace targets are expressed as minima, reflecting the objectives of the strategy to increase overall prosperity, improve access to a wider range of jobs and increase economic activity to a realistically achievable level, without setting a cap on economic growth.

5.30 Core Strategy policies EC2 – EC5 provide a strategic framework for how business floorspace targets are to be met. Policy EC2 identifies the need for a broad range of supply to be available. It looks for the majority of space to be on sites opened up by the construction of the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road (now open and called Combe Valley Way) and to an increase in the supply of high quality sites, as well as a spread of small and medium-sized sites and premises across the District, especially in settlements with good strategic access. This includes access to the sea, provided at the Port of Rye. It also sees mixed-use developments as a potentially valuable opportunity to deliver jobs growth in parallel with housing, including in relation to providing offices in central locations. Policy EC4 supports working from home, subject to consideration of character and amenity impacts.

5.31 Core Strategy Policy EC3 recognises that existing employment sites will continue to provide the large majority of accommodation to meet the needs of businesses. On this basis, it puts forward a policy to make effective use of existing sites and premises in terms of:

  • retaining land and premises currently (or last) in employment use in such use unless it is demonstrated that there is no reasonable prospect of its continued use for employment purposes or it would cause serious harm to local amenities;
  • permitting intensification, conversion, redevelopment and/or extension having regard to other policies of the Plan;
  • facilitating access/environmental improvements, where appropriate; and
  • in circumstances where a continued purely employment use of a site/premises is demonstrated not to be viable, looking firstly at mixed-use schemes in order to make most effective use of the property for employment purposes; if a mixed use scheme is not viable, prioritise alternative community uses, affordable housing and then market housing, subject to local needs.

5.32 At the same time, policy EC3 is made subject to a full review of existing and potential sites for employment use, in tandem with looking to allocate sites, to ensure that the requirements are secured in an effective way.

5.33 This Review has been completed and its findings form the basis of the further consideration of Policy EC3 – set out below - as well as the allocation of additional sites.

5.34 The Review also has regard to Core Strategy Policy EC4, which provides for:

  • continuing to give priority to the re-use and adaptation of suitable buildings in the countryside for employment (including for tourism purposes), in accordance with the Rural Areas policies;
  • incorporating an appropriate level of business development within residential allocations and developments, to contribute to the overall development strategy, where such accommodation is otherwise appropriate in the site circumstances; and
  • facilitating (where permission is required) business activities operating from residential properties wherever there is no adverse impact on local character and amenities, including by traffic generation.

5.35 Core Strategy Policy EC5 further requires particular regard to meeting the needs of key sectors, notably "enviro-industries", engineering, financial and business services and other growth and knowledge-based businesses, and those that are directly related to sensitive land management.

Employment Sites Review

5.36 The Employment Sites Review has been published and is available to view under 'Background Evidence Studies' in the Planning Policy section of the Council's website. It firstly identifies the national and local policy framework for the review, including the employment land requirements of the Core Strategy (which are adopted and not themselves being reviewed), then undertakes an assessment of the function and capacity of all the more significant estates and areas, supplemented by a sample of 13 smaller areas distributed across the District. It then looks at potential of committed, allocated and vacant sites and, finally, at options for providing additional land.

5.37 The main findings of the Review are:

  1. Of the 21 larger areas/estates (over 2ha in towns or 1ha in rural areas), there is a good distribution across the District, albeit the amount in Rural Areas is skewed by the size of the British Gypsum's operational area. Harbour Road, Rye is by far the largest estate, with Beeching Road, Bexhill being the only other estate over 10ha;
  2. Looking at the typologies of the areas, there is a severe lack of high quality office and business park sites capable of attracting inward investment of high-growth companies and/or headquarters;
  3. There is a very high occupancy level across both the larger areas/estates and the sample of small business areas;
  4. All of the identified sites perform valuable functions, a few of which have the potential for intensification of space within their current boundaries, but only a couple have scope for outward expansion;
  5. Of the 7 areas/estates with intensification potential, 3 of these are already recognised through planning permissions, with Harbour Road, Rye having by far the greatest potential, with over 15,000sqm of floorspace benefiting from an outstanding planning permission;
  6. The main estates in Bexhill and Battle - Beeching Road, Bexhill and Station Approach, Battle – are both identified as having potential for redevelopment although the former may also meet an unmet retail requirement, so a net loss of B-class space is more likely;
  7. For all the business areas that are the subject of Neighbourhood Plans, further consideration of both development needs, in terms of local business needs and market potential, should be undertaken as part of those plan-making processes;
  8. For Bexhill, the earlier 2006 Local Plan (Policy BX3) allocation for 'land north of Sidley' will provide for enough further high quality space to meet the needs of the town and the wider area, but should be complemented by other provision for modern office and light manufacturing/workshop space via intensification at Elva Way and as part of the approved mixed-use development off Barnhorn Road;
  9. Also at Bexhill, the option of a high tech/R&D/office scheme in a "campus" setting at the former Northeye site a little to the west of the town is mooted;
  10. For the Hastings Fringes, it finds that the Core Strategy business floorspace requirement may be appropriately met by the outstanding 2006 Local Plan allocation (Policy HF1) to the north of Burgess Road on the Ivyhouse Lane Estate, but supplemented by a further small extension to marry in with ones proposed by Hastings Borough Council on adjoining land;
  11. Existing sites are expected to meet some two-thirds of the 10,000sqm Core Strategy requirement for Battle (which embraces sites in Marley Lane, albeit some sites are in Sedlescombe parish), while a previously allocated site on the south side of Marley Lane is still expected to come forward to contribute to the balance;
  12. There is found to be scope for intensification (and possibly expansion) at the Rutherfords Business Park, as well as at the Station Approach Business Area; hence, it is recommended that these are further investigated through the on-going Battle Neighbourhood Plan;
  13. For Rye and Harbour Road, it notes that the lower end of the minimum floorspace target is already provided for by outstanding planning permissions at Harbour Road Industrial Estate but adds that, given its strategic role, identified opportunities for further intensification would most appropriately be provided for by an enabling policy, which would also need to fully acknowledge the need to not adversely impact on the surrounding nature conservation designations;
  14. At the same time, encouragement is given to Rye Town Council, through its Neighbourhood Plan, to consider the potential to promote higher density office-led schemes in more central locations;
  15. The Rural Areas have seen most business development in recent years, as well as accounting for the greatest amount of floorspace with full planning permission, which together approximate to the minimum floorspace target;
  16. These findings point to the role that rural areas are playing in meeting the accommodation requirements of businesses and, hence, to the economic growth of the District, and it is recommended this trend should not be frustrated;
  17. There are obvious difficulties in identifying further sites in rural areas, due to both development economics and environmental constraints, compounded by the fact that supply is very fragmented and tends to be occupier-led; and
  18. Hence, for the Rural Areas, the most appropriate approach is regarded as taking a criteria-based approach to further business development, supported by continued application of the policy of resisting the loss of existing business sites and floorspace to other uses unless there is very clear evidence that it is not needed and the application of Core Strategy Policy EC4.

5.38 The finding in respect of drawing on the potential of existing sites and premises in rural areas is directly relevant to the Core Strategy Policy EC3. Indeed, it is clear from the assessment of the business estates and areas in the towns as well, that the continued presumption to retain existing employment sites is justified across the District.

5.39 Notwithstanding this, there are a few instances where retaining employment sites are not found to be warranted. Alternative proposals are put forward in the relevant settlement sections in this Plan or can be expected to come through the relevant Neighbourhood Plan.

5.40 The following policy, overleaf, effectively supersedes Core Strategy Policy EC3 as the strategic policy in respect of existing employment sites.

5.41 In implementing this policy, cross-reference is to be made to Policy DCO1, in the Communities Chapter, in relation to the marketing that would be expected in order to establish whether there is a reasonable prospect of continued business use of a site.

5.42 There are policies for the future employment use of existing sites in the Bexhill, Hastings Fringes, Rye Harbour and Marley Lane chapters, while certain sites are proposed for redevelopment for other uses at Beckley Four Oaks and Rye Harbour, as set out in the respective chapters.

(7) Policy DEC3: Existing Employment Sites and Premises

Effective use of existing employment sites will be secured by:

  1. land and premises currently (or last) in employment, including tourism use, being retained in such use unless it is demonstrated that there is no reasonable prospect of its continued use for employment purposes or it would cause serious harm to local amenities;
  2. permitting intensification, conversion, redevelopment and/or extension of existing sites and premises having regard to other policies of the Plan;
  3. facilitating access/environmental improvements, where appropriate; and
  4. where continued employment use of a site/premises is demonstrated not to be viable, permitting complementary enabling development as part of an overall scheme to make most effective use of the property for employment purposes; and if a mixed use scheme is not viable, prioritising alternative community uses, affordable housing (where affordable housing would be sought in line with Policy DHG1) and then market housing, subject to local needs.

The approach to demonstrating if there is a reasonable prospect of continued employment use is set out in Policy DCO1.



(1) 6. Environment

Landscape character and the High Weald AONB

Landscape character areas

6.1 The importance attached to maintaining and reinforcing landscape character across Rother district is clearly set out in the Environment chapter of the Local Plan Core Strategy. Its 'Landscape Stewardship' policy, EN1, identifies the principal landscape assets and provides an over-arching framework to ensure that new development makes a positive contribution to the landscape character of the area in which it is to be located.

6.2 Landscape character varies across the district. At a national scale, much of Rother falls within the 'High Weald' national character area (NCA), with the south-eastern part in the 'Romney Marshes' area and a small swathe of land west of Bexhill in the 'Pevensey Levels' area. The boxes below summarises the key characteristics of each NCA in Rother district[27].

High Weald

  • a well-wooded landscape rising above the Low Weald;
  • distinctive and scattered sandstone outcrops;
  • main roads and settlements are sited along prominent ridgelines with a dense network of small winding lanes linking scattered villages, hamlets and farms;
  • the legacy of the early iron industry has left extensive areas of coppice woodland and hammer ponds;
  • high forest, small woods and copses, and a network of hedges, shaws link small irregular fields created from cleared woodland;
  • flower rich meadows bordered by species rich hedgerows;
  • heavy clay soils have reduced the impact of agricultural change in the area and it is still, in the main a quiet pastoral landscape with mixed farming predominating;
  • the cultivation of fruit and hops, together with the associated distinctive oast houses;
  • distinctive red tile, brick, local stone and timber building materials, often including hung tiles and white weatherboarding are characteristic of historic settlements, farms and cottages; and
  • recent 'suburbanisation' of farmstead buildings is eroding the distinctive local style in many places.

Romney Marshes

  • flat open agricultural landscape with distinctive drainage dykes, marshes and open skies;
  • extensive arable fields, open wet pasture land. Narrow straight roads and dispersed settlements. Open character and remoteness;
  • high nature conservation value in wet grazing marshes;
  • former sea cliffs mark the post glacial shoreline;
  • the Royal Military Canal at the base of these cliffs;
  • 20th century development in the coastal strip; and
  • the sharp contrast between shingle coast, low lying agricultural land and the raised cliff.

Pevensey Levels

  • low lying tract of reclaimed wetland;
  • open landscape with extensive grazed wet meadow windswept with few trees; and widely spaced roads and isolated settlements provide a sense of remoteness.

6.3 Within these regional areas, the East Sussex Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) provides more detailed descriptions at a local level, reflecting the particular pattern of elements derived from geology, landform, topography, flora and fauna, physical features and settlement. The LCA Index Map, as it relates to Rother is reproduced below. The key features and "action priorities" for each character area are identified in the Assessment document.

Figure 5: Local Landscape Character Areas in Rother

H:\- 6.0 LOCAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK\6.3 Site Allocations DPD\Draft DASA Chapters\HW AONB\LCA Map_Amended.jpg

(1) 6.4 Due to their nature conservation status and consequent very limited development, the Pevensey Levels and Romney Marshes enjoy a high degree of tranquillity, at least for the most part. Even though never far from a farm, some small-scale scattered dwellings or settlement, the same is true of large swathes of the High Weald. East Sussex County Council published 'Remoteness at the Local Scale – An Application in East Sussex' some time ago; its identified 'areas of remote countryside' and areas of exceptional remoteness' are still helpful maintaining the peace and tranquillity of remote rural areas.

6.5 Particular care will be taken, over and above the regard to the features of local landscape, to the feeling of remoteness that exists when a site is physically and visually separated from the noise and activity of urban areas, as well as from associated features and activities (such as busy roads, pylons, sport and leisure venues, etc.).

6.6 One aspect of this rurality is the existence of "dark skies"; that is, the relatively limited amount of night glow from street lights and other sources. Characteristics of tranquillity and dark skies are valued by local people. A separate policy in relation to lighting, put forward in the Environmental Pollution section, provides a policy basis, and associated guidelines to assist in maintaining these characteristics.

The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

(1) 6.7 The High Weald is of national as well as local landscape value, as reflected by its status as an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'. In fact, it is regarded as one of the best surviving and most coherent medieval landscapes in northern Europe. The primary purpose of AONB designation is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Area. "Natural beauty" is seen as embracing both landscape character and its aesthetic experience.

(1) 6.8 The policy for the management of the AONB is set out in the High Weald AONB Management Plan, published on the High Weald AONB website. This defines the natural beauty of its landscape in terms of the interplay of the components that make it distinctive. These are:

Geology, landform, water systems and climate

  • Sandrock outcrops
  • Gill streams

Settlement

  • Dispersed settlement pattern
  • Historic farmsteads

Routeways

  • Droveways
  • Sunken lanes

Woodland

  • Ancient woodland
  • Archaeological remains

Field and heath

  • Unimproved grassland
  • Heathland
  • Historic field boundaries

Regard to landscape character and the High Weald AONB

6.9 A proper understanding of the local landscape, which will include its historic characteristics, is necessary in order to produce developments that respect landscape character. In assessing landscape impact of development proposals, the characteristics of the relevant Landscape Character Area and, where appropriate, the High Weald components provide a clear assessment framework for evaluating the siting, layout and design (including materials) of development.

6.10 Existing landscape features that are important to local character should normally be retained, while new features should be typical of the locality, fit naturally into the landscape and complements existing features.

6.11 National planning policy highlights the need to recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside as well as the wider benefits from natural capital and ecosystem services. Valued landscapes, which clearly include AONBs and their settings, should be protected and enhanced, which resonates with the specific provision that great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing the landscape and scenic beauty of AONBs. The National Planning Policy Framework further states that the scale and extent of development within AONBs should be limited, with planning permission not forthcoming for major developments 'other than in exceptional circumstances'. It adds that circumstances where exceptional circumstances may exist should include consideration of the need for the development, the potential to meet it in another way and the net effect on the landscape and wider environment.

6.12 While a certain level of development has already been accepted through the Local Plan Core Strategy as being capable of being satisfactorily and sustainably accommodated in and around the towns and villages within the AONB, the scope for sustainable development was found to be limited. In particular, given that the High Weald is essentially an intricate, small scale and historic landscape, it is believed that there is little further opportunity to accommodate major development without compromising AONB objectives.

(3) Policy DEN1: Maintaining Landscape Character

The siting, layout and design of development should maintain and reinforce the natural and built landscape character of the area in which it is to be located, based on a clear understanding of the distinctive local landscape characteristics (see Figure 5 above), in accordance with Core Strategy Policy EN1.

Particular care will be taken to maintain the sense of tranquillity of more remote areas, including through maintaining 'dark skies' in accordance with Policy DEN7.

(7) Policy DEN2: The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

All development within or affecting the setting of the High Weald AONB shall conserve and seek to enhance its landscape and scenic beauty, having particular regard to the impacts on its character components, as set out in the High Weald AONB Management Plan.

Development within the High Weald AONB should be small-scale, in keeping with the landscape and settlement pattern; major development[28] will be inappropriate except in exceptional circumstances.

6.13 These policies elaborate on the relevant Core Strategy policies in respect of promoting landscape-led approaches to the consideration of the suitability of development proposals, both generally and with specific regard to the High Weald AONB. They should be read in conjunction with Core Strategy policies EN1-EN5 and RA2, as well as other policies in this Plan, notably those relating to sustainable drainage and biodiversity and green space. It is also noted that developments for housing, businesses, certain energy developments, recreation and tourism uses are each the subject to separate policies in the Local Plan, with the emphasis on locations outside of environmentally sensitive areas and, where appropriate within them, on a small scale.


(1) Strategic Gaps

6.14 Strategic Gaps are regarded to be of strategic importance in terms of guiding the location of development. The particular objectives of the Gaps are:

  • To maintain the separate identity and distinctiveness between settlements.
  • To maintain the strategic settlement pattern.
  • To prevent the coalescence of settlements.

6.15 Their protection through local plans is an established policy tool. Development within these Gaps has been strictly limited to maintain their openness, although does allow for agricultural buildings, conversions and the replacement of an existing building.

6.16 The principle of these Strategic Gaps has been carried forward in the Council's adopted Local Plan Core Strategy (2014) where policies HF1 and RY1 highlight the need to maintain the Gaps between:

  • Bexhill and Hastings/St Leonards
  • Crowhurst and Hastings/St Leonards
  • Battle and Hastings/St Leonards
  • Fairlight and Hastings/St Leonards
  • Rye and Rye Harbour

6.17 The Council has undertaken a full assessment of the extent of the five identified Gaps, as set out in the Strategic Gaps Landscape Assessment, March 2016, which is published as a Background Paper. The Gaps between Bexhill and Hastings/St Leonards, Crowhurst and Hastings/St Leonards and Battle and Hastings/St Leonards, although defined separately in Policy DEN3, effectively form one contiguous Gap on the Policies Map. The extent of each Gap is summarised below.

Bexhill and Hastings/St Leonards

(1) 6.18 The Gap between the two towns is relatively small, being particularly narrow along the A259 corridor, and hence highly vulnerable to development pressure. The perception of the Gap between Bexhill and Hastings has been subject to considerable change recently with the construction of Combe Valley Way, which opens up the countryside between Bexhill and Hastings/St Leonards. The Gap encompasses the Combe Haven valley and its tributary valleys in order to protect this open landscape between the two settlements.

Crowhurst and Hastings/St Leonards

6.19 The construction of Combe Valley Way has increased the vulnerable area of the Gap between Hastings/St Leonards and the village of Crowhurst, while the area between the built up edge of Crowhurst and the Hastings to London railway line is also included as it contributes to the open area between the settlements.

Battle and Hastings/St Leonards

(1) 6.20 The Gap between Battle and Hastings/St Leonards provide an important function in maintaining the separate identities of Battle and the built up area of Hastings/St Leonards. The break in the ribbon development between the edge of Telham and the Hastings Borough boundary at Breadsell Farm is highly sensitive to change particularly in more open areas and the higher ground and ridges.

Fairlight and Hastings

6.21 The Gap between the Hastings Borough boundary and the edge of Fairlight Cove provides an important function in protecting the general openness of the area between the Hastings Country Park and the edge of the settlements of Fairlight and Fairlight Cove. The area south of Battery Hill and Hill Road and to the east of Coastguard Lane, including The Close, is vulnerable to incremental change and infill development; hence, it is also included to conserve the area's open character.

Rye and Rye Harbour

6.22 The open Gap between Rye citadel and Harbour Road industrial area/Rye Harbour village provides an important function in retaining their distinct identities. The area is fragile and vulnerable to encroaching development, as well as incremental changes in landscape management. The retention and protection of this Gap is important to the conservation and enhancement of local landscape character and views, notably with regard to the setting of the Citadel. The Gap also incorporates the sensitive riverside margin adjacent to the River Brede and River Rother.

(11) Policy DEN3: Strategic Gaps

The Strategic Gaps are identified on the Policies Map between the following areas:

  1. Bexhill and Hastings/St Leonards
  2. Crowhurst and Hastings/St Leonards
  3. Battle and Hastings/St Leonards
  4. Fairlight and Hastings/St Leonards
  5. Rye and Rye Harbour

Within these Gaps, development will be carefully controlled and development will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances. Any development must be unobtrusive and not detract from the openness of the area.

Enhancement of the Gaps through effective landscape management which strengthens and reinforces their significance as protected landscape areas will be supported.

Figure 6: Strategic Gap at Bexhill

Figure 7: Strategic Gap at Fairlight

Figure 8: Strategic Gap at Rye

(1) Biodiversity and green space

Context

6.23 The biodiversity interest in Rother is substantial and wide-ranging. There are large areas of internationally designated sites, many nationally-important Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), covering about 9% of the district in total, as well as some 60 Local Wildlife Sites. Ancient woodlands, of which Rother has the highest concentration in the South-East, are also associated with biodiversity interest. Many nationally-defined 'Habitats and Species of Principal Importance'[29] (also referred to as "Priority Habitats and Species") are also represented, often beyond the internationally, nationally and locally designated sites.

6.24 Core Strategy Policy EN5 provides an over-arching policy commitment to protect and enhance the biodiversity, geodiversity and green space. This relates not only to designated sites, but also to sites of local biodiversity value and the array of multi-functional green spaces that make up the 'Green Infrastructure' of the district, which variously provide recreational opportunities, flood management, climate change mitigation and 'green' corridors, as well as for nature conservation.

6.25 The policy at the end of this section supplements Core Strategy Policy EN5, highlighting the expectations of the Council in relation to conserving biodiversity when considering planning applications.

Internationally protected sites

6.26 Internationally important wildlife sites in and around the district are shown on Figure 9 below. The two sites extending into the district are the Pevensey Levels, to the south-west, which are designated as being of international importance as a wetland habitat and as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC); and the Dungeness Complex of Natura 2000 sites[30], on the eastern side of the district, which are designated for their value for birds and as wetland habitats.

6.27 Only in exceptional circumstances could a proposal that would impact negatively on an international wildlife site be permitted - where there are no alternative solutions and the proposal is necessary for imperative reasons of over-riding public interest. The policies in this Plan have been assessed to determine that they will not adversely affect the integrity of any of the international sites.[31]


Figure 9: Internationally Important Wildlife Sites

6.28 In relation to the potential impact of tourism policies on the Dungeness Complex of Natura 2000 sites, which was an issue first highlighted through the Core Strategy's 'Habitat Regulations Assessment' (HRA), the Council, in partnership with Folkestone & Hythe District Council and with advice from Natural England, has prepared a 'Sustainable Access and Recreation Management Strategy' (SARMS).

6.29 The SARMS provides a strategic, cross boundary approach to managing recreational pressure and disturbance, both in relation to additional usage resulting from development and more generally to ensure sensitive management of the Natura 2000 sites. It identifies a need to raise the profile of the nature conservation value of the strategy area in a way that will also benefit the visitor economy, to improve visitor education and, in some areas, change behaviour to support the habitats and species of the protected sites. The SARMS can be viewed in the HRA section of the Council's website, while the Strategy area, which covers the protected sites as well as a wider area of functional land providing an important supporting role, is shown at Figure10 below.

Figure 10: SARMS Strategy Area

6.30 Further HRA assessment has refined the Core Strategy's approach to controlling the quantity and rate of run-off within the hydrological catchment of the Pevensey Levels, which is reflected in Policy DEN5 of this Plan.

Nationally protected sites and irreplaceable habitats

6.31 SSSIs and irreplaceable habitats[32] including ancient woodland; and aged and veteran trees outside Ancient Woodland, are highly protected. National policy gives a very strong presumption against any development that would have an adverse effect on such areas. This is reflected by Natural England and Forestry Commission advice for planning authorities on protecting ancient woodland and veteran trees from development[33].

6.32 Whilst Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are landscape designations for the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, the term 'natural beauty' includes conservation of flora, fauna and geological and physiographical features of an area. Furthermore, some of the key High Weald character features are also Priority Habitats (ghyll woodland, sandstone outcrops, ancient woodland, heathland, wildflower meadows and ponds). Hence, particular consideration should be given to biodiversity gains that meet AONB objectives.

6.33 Information on nationally and internationally protected sites is available from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. The Ancient Woodland Inventory for Rother district is available on the Council's website.

Locally designated sites

(1) 6.34 'Local Wildlife Sites' (previously known as Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCIs)) and 'Local Geological Sites' (previously known as Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites (RIGGS)) are identified and selected locally using agreed criteria. Information on locally designated sites is available from the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre and East Sussex County Council.

Biodiversity Opportunity Areas

6.35 Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (BOAs) have been identified in recognition that a focus on protecting designated sites alone will not sustain biodiversity in the long term. These areas are seen as offering the greatest potential to benefit wildlife, taking into account existing concentrations of Priority Habitats and Species, often being buffers around existing reserves or linkages between designated sites.

6.36 There are nine separate BOAs within, or partially within, the District, Within these areas, consideration should be given to whether development will affect habitat connectivity and integrity, either positively or negatively; and whether there are opportunities to achieve the aims of the BOAs, including enhanced habitats and linkages to off-site habitats via green corridors. Further information on the BOAs is available from the Sussex Local Nature Partnership[34] and within the Council's Green Infrastructure Study and its Addendum.

Protected species

6.37 European Directives give protection to several species (generally referred to as 'European Protected Species'); the most commonly occurring in Rother include great crested newt, bats and dormouse. There are also varying degrees of protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act for other species, certain rare plants and for bird nesting habitats (limiting their removal to outside of the bird breeding season). Protected species that can be found in Sussex include badgers, water vole, common lizard, grass snake, slow worm and Roman snail.

Biodiversity opportunities in development

6.38 Proposals which are focused primarily on conserving or enhancing biodiversity or geodiversity will be supported in principle. These could include developments that increase public understanding and enjoyment of biodiversity and green spaces, such as through "green corridors" and interpretation facilities. This approach accords with the NPPF in terms of the regard to biodiversity.

6.39 The NPPF looks to the planning system to not only minimise impacts on biodiversity but also to pursue opportunities for net gains in biodiversity, as well as to promote the protection and recovery of protected species populations. Core Strategy Policy EN5 part (ix) also promotes habitat restoration and creation.

6.40 There will be opportunities for supporting biodiversity in virtually all developments. This may range from retaining and enhancing existing biodiversity features including hedgerows and ponds, providing landscaping and amenity green spaces that support biodiversity, creating new habitats (including as part of SuDS), ensuring adequate buffering of, and management regimes for, existing priority habitats within or adjacent to a site, and in maintaining and restoring ecological networks and habitat connectivity.

6.41 Provision for biodiversity will largely depend on the particular local context and also on the scale of development. Larger developments will generally provide more scope for biodiversity gains. In order that opportunities specific to a particular site are properly considered and, where appropriate, incorporated into the development planning and design processes, larger developments (of more than 2 hectares or 50 dwellings) will be expected to produce a "green infrastructure master-plan" as an integral part of proposals. Such masterplans should include measures for the on-going management of habitats and other green spaces and should deliver multiple benefits where possible and appropriate, including provision for biodiversity, recreation, and other ecosystem services such as flood protection.

6.42 Table 1 in the Council's Green Infrastructure Study Addendum provides advice on biodiversity opportunities within the landscaping of a development scheme to enhance its biodiversity value and ensure net gains for nature. Table 2 provides an overview of the biodiversity opportunities by settlement, while Table 3 indicates some actions that developers should consider incorporating within built fabric to help conserve species that rely on buildings and ancillary developments for nesting.

(1) 6.43 Ecological surveys and reports will be required to be submitted with planning applications for major development or where the development impacts on any designated site, Priority Habitat or protected species. These need to be undertaken by a suitably qualified ecologist in accordance with prevailing guidance[35]. It is important to be aware that survey work needed to inform such assessments and any necessary mitigation/ compensation measures will be seasonally restricted.

6.44 The Council has already adopted open space standards through the 'Open Space, Sport and Recreation Study', as applied in Core Strategy Policy CO3. These standards, which include accessible natural or semi-natural green-space, apply in both urban and rural areas, where practicable and appropriate in the environmental context.

6.45 Separate policy consideration is given to landscape conservation, including the High Weald AONB, elsewhere in the Section. The Combe Valley Countryside Park is considered in the Hastings Fringes Chapter.

(9) Policy DEN4: Biodiversity and Green Space

Development proposals should support the conservation of biodiversity and multi-functional green spaces in accordance with Core Strategy Policy EN5 and the following criteria, as applicable:

  1. proposals where the principal objective is to conserve or enhance biodiversity or geodiversity will be supported in principle;
  2. development proposals should seek to conserve and enhance the biodiversity value of international, national, regional and local designated sites of biodiversity and geological value; irreplaceable habitats (including ancient woodland and ancient or veteran trees); and Priority Habitats and Species, both within and outside designated sites. Depending on the status of habitats and species concerned, this may require locating development on alternative sites that would cause less or no harm, incorporating measures for prevention, mitigation and (in the last resort) compensation.
  3. in addition to (ii) above, all developments should retain and enhance biodiversity in a manner appropriate to the local context, having particular regard to locally present Priority Habitats and Species, defined 'Biodiversity Opportunity Areas', ecological networks, and further opportunities identified in the Council's Green Infrastructure Study Addendum.
  4. larger developments of more than 2 hectares or 50 dwellings (whichever is the smaller) should produce a Green Infrastructure masterplan as part of their proposals.
  5. all developments within the strategy area of the Dungeness Complex Sustainable Access and Recreation Management Strategy should have regard to the measures identified in that Strategy.

Sustainable Drainage

6.46 There has been a heightened awareness, nationally, in recent years of the risk of flooding following serious flood events and an increasing number of more localised "flash floods". Effective drainage systems are crucial, and their design needs to be considered from the beginning of the development process.

6.47 National planning policy directs development away from areas of highest flood risk and, when deciding planning applications, seeks to ensure that flood risk is not increased elsewhere and that opportunities are taken to reduce the causes and impacts of flooding. Depending on the nature and location of a development, related Guidance expects sustainable drainage systems to be considered and, for major development, for them be provided unless demonstrated to be inappropriate.

(1) 6.48 The general aim is to discharge surface run-off as high up the hierarchy of drainage options as reasonably practicable, namely, firstly, into the ground (infiltration); secondly, to a surface water body; thirdly, to a surface water sewer, highway drain, or another drainage system; and, only then, to a combined sewer. This hierarchy supports a general presumption in favour of using sustainable drainage systems.

6.49 The Council's overarching Core Strategy policies on managing flood risk (Policy EN6) and on flood risk and development (Policy EN7) follow this approach. It is considered appropriate to elaborate on this policy approach, particularly in relation to promoting the effective development of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS).

6.50 East Sussex County Council has the responsibility of being the 'Lead Local Flood Authority' (LLFA), with the Environment Agency retaining responsibilities for managing flood risk from 'main rivers' and the coast. The County Council's 'Local Flood Risk Management Strategy' should be referred to in developing SuDS - see links to this and related guidance in the box below.

Further information on SuDS

Systems

people and wildlife. A guide for local authorities and developers.'


6.51 The Government's Non-Statutory Technical Standards for Sustainable Drainage, referred to above, relate to the design, maintenance and operation of SuDS. The requirements of the standards include: peak runoff rates discharged from a development in a range of rainfall events must not exceed the peak greenfield runoff rate from the site for the same event. For brownfield sites, peak runoff rates must remain as close to greenfield runoff rates as possible, and not exceed the pre-development rate of discharge. The volume of surface water discharged from the development site must also be closely managed, and not exceed the greenfield runoff volume for a certain rainfall event. Furthermore, unless an area is designated to hold and/ or convey water, the drainage system must be designed so that flooding does not occur on any part of a site or building (during a 1 in 30 year and a 1 in 100 year rainfall event respectively).

6.52 SuDS are required regardless of pre-existing risk. The requirement is therefore in addition to the requirement to address existing areas of flood risk on-site, as set out in national guidance and Core Strategy policy.

6.53 As well as providing effective drainage solutions, SuDS can be designed and implemented in ways that deliver other Local Plan objectives, such as:

  • the provision of habitats and support for biodiversity;
  • reinforcing local landscape character and design of the development itself;
  • provision of open space/ recreation;
  • promotion of water use efficiency and quality; and
  • reducing risks of land instability.

6.54 The type of SuDS approach should have regard to all relevant factors (flood risk, compatibility for infiltration, groundwater, runoff characteristics, ground stability, topography, soils, geology, contamination issues, existing infrastructure and archaeology) as well as the potential for wider benefits. CIRIA's SuDS Manual C753 and the latest guidance from the LLFA will be key references.

6.55 Ground conditions will often dictate the appropriateness of SuDS techniques and a ground investigation is likely to be required to assess the suitability of using infiltration measures and assessing the required volume of on-site storage required.

6.56 Where relevant, in any drainage strategy design, all watercourses, including 'ordinary watercourses', should be retained as an open feature within a designated corridor where possible, ideally as open space. Developers should consider the potential flood risk arising from them including in circumstances where no flood mapping currently exists. Furthermore, where possible and practical, culverted watercourses should be reinstated to an open channel ('daylighting'), to minimise upstream flood risk caused by blockages to culverts and enhance the biodiversity. Investigations will be necessary, however, to ensure that downstream flood risk is not increased by culvert removal. Any proposals to alter or divert an ordinary watercourse, including daylighting of culverts, will require consent from the LLFA.

6.57 Applicants should submit sufficient information to enable proper consideration of drainage proposals. For major schemes, seeking pre-application advice from the LLFA is strongly recommended as is, for minor development, reference to its 'SuDS Decision Support Tool for Small Scale Development'. It should be noted that the use of good design, such as minimising hard surfaces; and attenuation measures, such as green roofs, rainwater harvesting and permeable paving, can help to reduce runoff.

6.58 Proposals should include a consideration of the management of the flood risk impacts of the construction phase of the development, as well as demonstrate that maintenance measures will be in place for the lifetime of the development, which may be secured by a legal agreement.

6.59 The Fairlight/Pett Level area has been recognised as an area of drainage concern. At Fairlight Cove, issues of ground water affect land stability and cliff erosion, and a specific policy (DEN6) is included in the Land Stability section which restricts the use of soakaways in a zone near the cliff face. There is a wider drainage capacity concern both in the village and downstream at Pett Level, where there is a history of flooding from the Marsham Sewer in periods of wet weather, caused by run-off into the sewer from the Marsham catchment. Hence, it is also appropriate to restrict the rate of run-off from sites within the drainage area of Fairlight and Pett Level (see Figure 11 below) to the greenfield rate, in both flow and volume, in order to prevent an adverse cumulative effect of excessive flows downstream. Care also needs to be taken in relation to further discharge into the Lower Waites Lane sewer, and consequently, all small-scale planning applications in Fairlight and Fairlight Cove should be accompanied by a SuDS report, generated by the County Council's online tool (see paragraph 6.57 above). In addition, East Sussex County Council (as the Lead Local Flood Authority) will consider the Fairlight/Pett Level area as a candidate site to be included in a project to identify Areas of Critical Drainage Concern in East Sussex in line with the objectives of the East Sussex Local Flood Risk Management Strategy. This project is to give a focus on areas with particular water-related problems and emphasise the need for all new development proposals to be considered in terms of their wider impact on water infrastructure in the catchment.

6.60 The Pevensey Levels hydrological catchment area (see Figure 12) has particular drainage requirements, necessary to mitigate surface water and water quality concerns within the designated Pevensey Levels Ramsar site (wetland of international importance). This is recognised by Core Strategy Policy SRM2, which requires SuDS for all development that creates impermeable surfaces in the catchment area.


6.61 Analysis of the 'Review of Consents'[36] suggests that the essential issue affecting water quality in the Ramsar site is insufficient water levels and consequent failure to replenish supporting ditches, with negative impact on ecology. Therefore, within the catchment area, a minimum of two types/stages of SuDS treatment is required in order to remove pollutants and sediments effectively. SuDS selection should be in accordance with 'Water, People, Places'[37], which advises on appropriate techniques to prevent runoff from reducing the quality of a receiving body of water.

6.62 More generally, the East Sussex Local Flood Risk Management Strategy (LFRMS) subdivides the county into one of four 'Drainage Risk Areas', each with its own characteristics based upon the different ground conditions present and their ability to drain surface water. Having regard to changing topographies, more than one Drainage Risk Area may be present in a settlement. The standing advice in the LFRMS, tailored to the characteristics of the area, should be used to inform drainage strategies as part of new developments. However, it does not replace site specific assessment.

6.63 The County Council has also produced Surface Water Management Plans for Bexhill, Battle and Rye, which identify flood risk that arises from local flooding from surface runoff, groundwater, and ordinary watercourses. Where development is proposed within or close to identified 'flooding priority areas' and 'hotspots' in these plans, consultation with the LLFA is recommended.

Figure 11: Fairlight and Pett Level Drainage Area

Figure 12: Pevensey Levels Hydrological Catchment

(9) Policy DEN5: Sustainable Drainage

Drainage should be considered as an integral part of the development design process, with Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) utilised unless demonstrated to be inappropriate. In particular:

  1. peak run-off rates from development should remain as close to greenfield runoff rates as possible, and not exceed the existing rate/ volume of discharge as a minimum;
  2. new development should utilise opportunities to reduce the causes and impacts of all sources of flooding, ensuring flood risks are not increased elsewhere, that flood risks associated with the construction phase of the development are managed, and that surface water run-off is managed as close to its source as possible;
  3. drainage should be designed and implemented having regard to the latest East Sussex Local Flood Risk Management Strategy (LFRMS) and related guidance;
  4. SuDS should be designed and implemented to be 'multi-functional' and deliver other Local Plan policy objectives where appropriate, such as: the provision of habitats and support for biodiversity; reinforcing local landscape character; enhancing the design of development; provision of open space/ recreation; promotion of water use efficiency and quality; and reducing risks of land instability;
  5. applicants should demonstrate that arrangements are in place for on-going maintenance of SuDS over the lifetime of the development;
  6. within the Pevensey Levels Hydrological Catchment Area, SuDS designs should incorporate at least two stages of suitable treatment, unless demonstrably inappropriate; and
  7. within the Fairlight and Pett Level Drainage Area, as shown on Figure 11, surface water run-off from development shall be no more than the greenfield rate, in terms of volume and flow; and at Fairlight Cove, drainage proposals should accord with Policy DEN6.

Land stability

6.64 Issues of land stability and subsidence have a raised profile in recent years, generally associated with increasing climate change. However, stability issues can also be linked to local ground conditions, flood events and the legacy of former land filling or mining.

6.65 The National Planning Policy Framework looks to the planning system to play its part in ensuring that sites are suitable for their new use taking account of ground conditions and land instability. Supporting Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) states that planning authorities may need to consider identifying areas where particular consideration of such risks is needed, potentially limiting development in those areas or ensuring that there is appropriate land remediation or mitigation. Specific circumstances may warrant the removal of permitted development rights.

6.66 Core Strategy Policy OSS3 already requires that issues of land stability, along with contamination, air quality, agricultural land quality and coastal erosion, are considered in assessing both the suitability of land for development and in determining the details of schemes.

6.67 Useful information on 'natural ground stability', such as may be due to shrink-swell, landslides, running sands, soluble rocks, compressible ground or collapsible ground, can be obtained from the British Geological Survey[38].

6.68 Developers may be required to demonstrate that they have investigated risks and where there is likelihood of instability, a full land instability risk assessment report is expected to be submitted with a planning application. This should be undertaken by a competent person[39] and should demonstrate the degree of instability, appropriate measures to mitigate those risks, and an implementation and future monitoring plan. Further information on the steps developers should take if they suspect land stability to be an issue is contained within the Planning Practice Guidance.

6.69 Consideration will be given to whether the proposed development, taking account of pre-existing land stability, should proceed. Regard will be given to the impact of proposed drainage on ground stability, as well as of any mitigation, such as retaining walls. All works should be both effective and environmentally acceptable. Building Regulations will address the detailed design of buildings and their foundations.

6.70 Locally, the greatest issues of land stability are at Fairlight, where there have been long-standing issues of coastal erosion. These are considered further below. Elsewhere, land stability issues have affected parts of South Undercliff and Military Road, Rye.


Coastal erosion – Fairlight

6.71 The Council is the 'Coastal Risk Management Authority' and has long recognised the specific problems of coastal erosion at Fairlight Cove. Measures have been undertaken to manage this through the construction in 1990 of a rock bund at the sea edge below Sea Road and, in 2007, the construction of a rock bund below Rockmead Road, together with slope grading and the installation of slope drainage and deep well pumps in 2007, designed to operate for 50 years, consistent with the 'Hold the Line' policy of the Shoreline Management Plan (SMP). A further bund linking these is also now in place, having been created in 2016.

6.72 While these engineering works control erosion and land loss they do not prevent it, and the erosion is also affected by the variable quality of the ground and the impact of ground water. Despite a number of studies of the source of water, the complexity of the geology makes it very difficult to come to clear conclusions. The situation is further complicated, if not aggravated, by the lack of a surface water drainage system at Fairlight, to which Policy DEN5, in part, relates.

6.73 It remains prudent to limit development that may have an effect on the loading near the cliff or on the flow of water in the ground near the cliff edge.

6.74 A report by the East Kent Engineering Partnership in 2015[40] recommended that:

'sensible measures need to be put in place to restrict development near to the cliff top via set back lines and not permit soakaway drainage within 50m of the cliff face. The limit of development should be reviewed every 10 years or so and should be part of Planning Policy.'

6.75 Hence, it is appropriate to define a coastal zone in line with the above-mentioned Report (which also approximates to the earlier SMP erosion line) within which neither soakaways nor development that would add to the loading will be permitted (see Figure 13 below). A structural engineer's survey and geo-technical report will be required for new development in the coastal zone to demonstrate that there would be no increase in ground loading.

6.76 The definition of the development boundary for Fairlight Cove, as shown in the village chapter is drawn back to exclude the coastal zone shown on Figure 13.


Figure 13: Fairlight Coastal Zone Buffer

(4) Policy DEN6: Land Stability

Development will only be permitted on unstable or potentially unstable land, including former landfill sites and coastal margins, where:

  1. the nature of the instability has been properly assessed; and
  2. any remedial measures required to ensure that the development does not add to the instability of the site or surrounding land, are environmentally acceptable and are normally implemented prior to the commencement of building works.

Soakaway drains will not be permitted within a coastal zone within 50 metres of the cliff face at Fairlight Cove, as shown on Figure 13.


Environmental Pollution

6.77 Rother is a largely rural district with over 82% of the land lying within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). As well as the three towns with their active town centres and employment areas, there are also large and small villages, quieter residential neighbourhoods and more tranquil countryside areas, including important ecological sites.

6.78 Environmental pollution issues will vary depending on the location and type of development involved. However, in all cases it will be appropriate to consider the effect of proposals, including any cumulative effects, in terms of their potential to contribute to or be adversely affected by pollution through lighting, noise, odour, contaminated land, hazardous and non-hazardous substances and/or airborne particulates. The general approach is to ensure that such impacts of new development are properly assessed at an early stage to keep their effects to a minimum.

6.79 Other legislation, notably the Environmental Protection Act 1990, makes noise, odour and light nuisance the subject of criminal law. At the same time, planning can play a complementary role. Core Strategy policies seek to protect amenity and the character of an area and also to support economic growth. In this context, it is important that all development has regard to its potential impacts on the noise environment, on dark skies, where these prevail, and on land, air and water quality.

Noise

6.80 Many developments have the potential to affect the acoustic environment. They may involve the introduction of new noise sources, or new noise-sensitive developments near existing noise sources. It is necessary for the Council to carefully manage development to ensure that noise does not give rise to unacceptable adverse effects on health and quality of life, or on the character of areas.

6.81 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that planning policies and decisions should aim to avoid noise from giving rise to significant adverse impacts[41] on health and quality of life as a result of new development and mitigate and reduce potential impacts to a minimum.

6.82 At the same time, development, including existing businesses, will often create some noise and should not have unreasonable restrictions put on them. Further details of broad approaches to mitigation are contained within the Government's Planning Practice Guidance.


6.83 Local noise guidance has been prepared by the Sussex Air Quality Partnership and is used by councils across the county.[42] This document provides detailed guidance for developers on the preparation of noise reports and also mitigation measures. Nationally, noise guidance for new residential development has been produced by the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC), Institute of Acoustics (IOA) and Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).[43]

6.84 The Council normally requires technical information to be provided with planning applications in the form of a 'Noise Impact Assessment'[44] where new noise-generating development or noise-sensitive development is proposed or for plant installation. These should be prepared by suitably qualified acousticians.

6.85 General guidance to local residents on issues of noise can be found on the "Environment issues" pages of the Council's website.

Lighting

6.86 Artificial light can be an essential aid to safety, can facilitate a thriving night-time economy and also increase the period of the day and evening when sport and leisure facilities are available to use. Well-designed lighting can highlight architecturally or culturally significant buildings and features, creating visual interest and instil a sense of civic pride. However when poorly located, designed, maintained, or otherwise used incorrectly, artificial light can impact on people's health, wildlife behaviours and safety, result is a waste of energy, distract road users and affect the character and amenities of places, both in built-up areas and the countryside.

6.87 The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has found that only 22% of England has pristine night skies, completely free of light pollution.[45] When the two darkest categories are combined, almost half of England has what most people regard as dark skies. Yet light pollution continues to affect the character of rural areas and there is significant variation between and even within regions. Rother was found to be the 24th darkest English district out of 326 districts and boroughs. Dark night skies are a valued characteristic of the district's countryside and contribute in particular to the special landscape qualities and natural beauty of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

6.88 Common sources of potential light pollution include sports venues (e.g. equestrian uses, golf driving ranges, tennis courts, football pitches, multi-use games areas), industrial, commercial and retail areas, street lighting and illuminated signage.


6.89 Nationally, approximately half of all complaints regarding light nuisance arise from domestic external security lighting. Such lighting is not normally subject to planning control, while operational lighting for roads benefits from permitted development rights. Illuminated advertisements, which generally require consent, are dealt with in Chapter 5 in relation to 'Shopfronts, signage and advertising'.

6.90 The national objective to limit the impact of light pollution from artificial light on local amenity, intrinsically dark landscapes and nature conservation is set out in the NPPF. Applying these principles and related national guidance to local circumstances, proposals should consider:

  • the need for the lighting, its duration, intensity and direction;
  • the impact of light levels outside the development;
  • the effect on the use or enjoyment of nearby buildings or open spaces;
  • the impact on nature conservation, including any protected sites or species[46]; and
  • whether the development is in an intrinsically dark landscape where it may be desirable to minimise new light sources.

6.91 The 'Guidance Notes for the Reduction of Obtrusive Light' (Institute of Lighting Professionals (ILP), 2011)[47] provides a useful framework for considering the impact of lighting. It defines a typology of "environmental zones" that may be applied to Rother District as below:

  • E1: the Pevensey Levels and the Dungeness Complex of international nature conservation sites, the High Weald AONB outside of towns and villages[48];
  • E2: within settlements and elsewhere outside areas in E1 and E3;
  • E3: within Bexhill and the town centres of Battle and Rye.

6.92 For larger developments involving outdoor lighting or those developments in or adjacent to sensitive locations, the Council may require a full lighting assessment and strategy to be submitted prepared by a qualified lighting engineer. In addition to the ILP Guidance Notes, guidance on the design of sports lighting is available from Sport England.[49]

6.93 Where planning permission is granted, appropriate conditions will normally be attached to control the lighting scheme including for example: specification of lighting type, height, angle etc.; hours of operation; retention of screening vegetation; use of new planting or bunding, details of a future scheme of maintenance and post installation checks.


Air pollution/ particulates

6.94 No part of Rother District is defined as an 'Air Quality Management Area'; hence, there is no expectation for focused planning policies to address air pollution. Also, there is a separate statutory framework for consideration of the level of airborne pollutants. Nonetheless, it may be appropriate to incorporate measures that minimise air pollution as part of developments, such as traffic management schemes. It is also noted that green spaces, particularly treed areas, can provide an important service in filtering pollutants. Guidance on the consideration of air quality through the planning system is available from Environmental Protection UK and the Institute of Air Quality Management (IAQM).[50]

Odour

6.95 Odour may arise as an issue in various proposals, such as restaurant and takeaway uses where cooking smells may affect the amenity of nearby residents, or where existing odour-generating uses could affect new development.

Contaminated Land

6.96 The NPPF confirms that where a site is affected by contamination, responsibility for securing a safe development rests with the developer and/or landowner. It requires planning policies and decisions to ensure that sites are suitable for the proposed new use, taking account ground conditions, including from pollution arising from previous uses and any proposals for mitigation including land remediation. After remediation, as a minimum, it requires land not to be "contaminated land" under the Environmental Protection Act 1990; and that adequate site investigation information is presented. Further details of the role of planning in dealing with land affected by contamination are contained within the Government's Planning Practice Guidance while the national position is carried through by Core Strategy by Policies OSS3 and OSS4, which require development to take full account of a site's previous use and for the suitability of sites to be considered in the context of any contamination.

6.97 Previously used (or brownfield) land has the potential to be impacted by historical contamination and this should be fully investigated at an early stage of any development proposal. Developments involving ground works on or in the vicinity of sites where contamination is known or suspected will also require investigation. In Rother, this can commonly include, but not be limited to, proposals involving the conversion of former agricultural buildings. Any investigation and assessments must be carried out by a suitable qualified person. Regard will be given to the Land Forum National Quality Mark Scheme.[51]

6.98 Reference is made to the legacy of contamination at Rye Harbour in Policy RHA1 in chapter 11.

Hazardous substances

6.99 Sometimes pre-existing hazards need to be taken into account by development proposals. Key factors are the distance, risks and nature of the proposal. In these cases, pre-application advice should be sought from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency. The Council will use the advice of the HSE in its decision making process, including where applications are near "notifiable installations" such as high pressure gas mains and overhead power cables.

6.100 Any site that needs to use or store hazardous substances at or above specified controlled quantities, requires hazardous substances consent (HSC) before it can operate. Further advice is available within the Government's Planning Practice Guidance.

(7) Policy DEN7: Environmental Pollution

Development will only be permitted where it is demonstrated that there will be no significant adverse impacts on health, local amenities, biodiversity or environmental character as a result of lighting, noise, odour, contaminated land, hazardous and non-hazardous substances and/ or airborne particulates associated with development, including where appropriate, the cumulative impacts of existing and proposed developments. In particular:

  1. in relation to noise, consideration will also be given to the character of the location and established land uses; also, in the case of new noise-sensitive development, users of the new development should not be likely to experience unacceptable adverse effects resulting from existing levels of noise; and
  2. in relation to lighting, the proposed scheme is necessary and the minimum required, and is designed to minimise light pollution including light glare and sky glow and to conserve energy, through the use of best available technology, having regard to the lighting levels recommended by the Institute of Lighting Professionals (ILP) for the relevant environmental zone.

7. Implementation

Comprehensive development

7.1 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) underlines the purpose of the planning system as being to achieve sustainable development with three interdependent economic, social and environmental objectives, which should be pursued simultaneously to secure net gains across each objective.

7.2 Securing such gains should draw upon the extensive evidence base that identifies local needs for different uses and services at the settlement and site level for the benefit of the community. Core Strategy Policy OSS4 states in part (iv) that development should be 'compatible with both the existing and planned use of adjacent land'.

7.3 This may involve bringing together land in different ownerships to ensure that the range of needs are met effectively within a logical overall area or it may involve bringing together a mix of uses for an appropriate and sustainable approach to site development (for example commercial, community or recreational uses in addition to residential development). Mixed use developments are promoted in the NPPF, including as a means of supporting community facilities, new habitat creation or improved public access to the countryside.

7.4 Hence, where a site comprises separate land ownerships, the expectation is that developers and land owners should work positively together to achieve wider goals of sustainable development and the full benefits for the local community. The need to demonstrate that proposals will secure the provision of infrastructure to serve a whole site is carried forward by policy DIM1, below.

7.5 Reference is also made to the Core Strategy Policy LHN2 'Note' relating to treating a site as a whole for the purposes of delivering affordable housing.

7.6 The approach to land-use mix should ensure the overall viability of proposals, while also ensuring that socially, economically and/or environmentally important elements, that will typically be less commercially attractive, are not "isolated". Hence, they may be required to be effectively cross-funded, normally by residential or other commercial elements, to enable the delivery of development that is sustainable and acceptable in planning terms.

7.7 The policy is to be applied in all cases where a comprehensive approach to development is necessary for the proper planning of an area. This will include allocations where appropriate and also other "windfall" sites that come forward for planning permission.


(3) Policy DIM1: Comprehensive Development

Comprehensive proposals for the development of sites will normally be required, including where sites are in multiple ownerships.

In exceptional circumstances, proposals for part of a site may be permitted, but only where it demonstrably has regard to, and facilitates, an integrated scheme for development of the entire site.

Application of this policy will include regard to the provision of appropriate land uses, affordable housing, access, sustainable transport, green space/ open space, sustainable drainage and other infrastructure (secured directly or through funding contributions), taking account of the site as a whole.


Development boundaries

7.8 Development boundaries differentiate between the substantially built-up areas of towns and villages, where further development, including redevelopment or intensification, would be acceptable in principle, and the countryside (i.e. outside development boundaries) where it would not. Development boundaries both positively focus growth on sustainable settlements and help to protect the surrounding countryside from unnecessary and intrusive development.

7.9 The principle of the continued use of 'development boundaries' around settlements,

has been reaffirmed by Core Strategy Policy OSS2, which also sets out the basis for their definition.

7.10 The supporting text to Policy OSS2 clarifies that 'within development boundaries there is a presumption that infilling, redevelopment and changes of use will be acceptable subject to other policies of the plan.' At the same time, proposals within development boundaries are still subject to a number of other policies to ensure that development does not adversely impact on other interests of acknowledged importance.

7.11 While land outside development boundaries is regarded as 'countryside' for planning policy purposes, this is not an absolute restriction on development. The potential for development outside development boundaries to support vital rural communities and also conserve or enhance its intrinsic qualities is recognised. There are specific policies to promote a sustainable rural economy, including farming, tourism and to meet recognised local needs for facilities or affordable housing both in the Core Strategy and, in some cases, elaborated upon in this Plan.

7.12 As the criteria in Policy OSS2 imply, development boundaries are policy lines; they do not seek to define settlements as such. There may be fringe areas of settlements as well as some smaller settlements and enclaves of development in the countryside that are excluded in order to maintain the overall rural character of the locality. While development boundaries will normally follow physical boundaries, on occasion, the full depth of property curtilages may be excluded to make clear a policy statement that backland or in-depth development is unacceptable, often because of its additional visual or amenity impact.

7.13 This approach is consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework, which highlights the need to recognise 'the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside' and the need to manage patterns of growth to realise opportunities for walking, cycling and use of public transport, with significant development focused on locations which are or can be made sustainable.

7.14 The substantial AONB coverage of the District is a further key justification for carefully managing development in the countryside.

(10) Policy DIM2: Development Boundaries

The development boundaries of settlements, defined in accordance with Core Strategy Policy OSS2, are shown on the Policies Map.[52]

New development shall be focused within defined settlement boundaries, principally on already committed[53] and allocated sites, together with other sites where proposals accord with relevant Local Plan policies.

In the countryside (that is, outside of defined settlement development boundaries), development shall be normally limited to that which accords with specific Local Plan policies or that for which a countryside location is demonstrated to be necessary.

Figure14: Settlements with Development Boundaries

Settlements with Development Boundaries in the Plan

Settlements with Development Boundaries in Neighbourhood Plans

Bexhill

Battle

Hastings Fringes

Rye

Beckley Four Oaks

Burwash

Brede and Cackle Street

Burwash Common

Broad Oak

Burwash Weald

Camber

Crowhurst

Catsfield

Etchingham

Guestling Green

Flimwell

Fairlight

Hurst Green

Icklesham

Netherfield

Iden

Robertsbridge

Northiam

Sedlescombe

Peasmarsh

Stonegate

Pett

Ticehurst

Rye Harbour


Staplecross


Three Oaks


Westfield


Winchelsea


NB. Until such time as Plans are in place, the development boundaries of the 2006 Rother District Local Plan continue to be saved, even though in some cases, they may not accommodate the housing requirements of the Core Strategy.


[1] Environment Agency paper 'Water Stressed Areas - Final Classification' published in 2013.

[2] South East river basin management plan - Part 1 (Water Resource Sustainability Measures p58).

[3] South East river basin management plan - Part 1 Changes to natural flow and levels of water (p44).

[5] Part G of Schedule 1 and regulation 36 to the Building Regulations 2010 as amended.

[6] The Water Calculator is an online tool which can be used to assess the efficiency and water consumption of many products.

[7] Managing Land for Horses, Kent Downs AONB Unit (2011)

[8] National Parks, AONBs and areas designated as 'rural' under Section 157 of the Housing Act 1985.

[9] Insert weblink to relevant reports & minutes

[10] Link to relevant background paper

[11] Link to whole plan viability study

[13] Insert link to relevant background paper

[14] Insert link to relevant background paper

[15] Through the Deregulation Act 2015

[16] Insert link to background paper

[17] Limiting long-term illness projections (dwelling-led), 2016-2031, ESCC Projections June 2018

[18] Disability projections (dwelling-led), 2016-2031, ESCC Projections June 2018

[19] 2017 Population Estimates, ONS

[20] Household projections by type and age (dwelling-led), 2016-2031 - Projections April 2018

[22] Different provisions apply to schools. For further detail see: The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended), Schedule 2, Part 2, Class A.

[23] The term "shopfront" is taken to mean the built frontage of a variety of commercial premises, including shops, financial and professional services, restaurants/cafes, drinking establishments and hot food take-aways.

[24] This comprises the Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site, and the Dungeness Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

[25] For further information see Dungeness Complex – Sustainable Access and Recreation Management Strategy (SARMS) (Oct 2017)

[26] Employment sites' are defined as those providing for business uses falling with Class B of the Use Classes order together with similar 'sui generis' uses.

[27] See Countryside Character Volume 7: South East and London, The Countryside Agency, 1999

[28] 'Major development' will be defined taking account of the nature, scale and setting of a proposal and whether it could have a significant adverse impact on the purposes for which the AONB was designated.

[29] As listed under Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006

[30] The Dungeness Complex of Natura 2000 sites comprises three overlapping international designations - the Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site, and the Dungeness Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

[31] See DaSA Local Plan Habitats Regulations Assessment

[32] The NPPF defines irreplaceable habitats as including ancient woodland, ancient and veteran trees, blanket bog, limestone pavement, sand dunes, salt marsh and lowland fen.

[33] 'Ancient woodland and veteran trees: protecting them from development' at: www.gov.uk

[34] http://sussexlnp.org.uk/boas.php

[35] CIEEM Technical Guidance on Ecological Impact Assessments and Report Writing, BS42020:2013 – Biodiversity Code of Practice for Planning and Development

[36] Under the Habitats Directive

[37] South East Lead Local Flood Authorities 'Water, People, Places'

[38] BGS can produce a site-specific 'Natural Ground Stability Report' which briefly describes any natural ground stability hazards if they are present.

[39] As defined in Annex 2: Glossary of the NPPF,2018

[40] Study Report: 'Fairlight Cove Coast Protection Works Phase 3' (Quote from page 40)

[41] With reference to the Explanatory Note to the Noise Policy Statement for England (DEFRA)

[42] Planning Noise Advice Document Sussex (July 2015), available at: http://www.rother.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=20868&p=0

[43] ProPG: Planning & Noise (Professional Practice Guidance on Planning & Noise): New Residential Development (May 2017), available at: http://www.ioa.org.uk/publications/propg

[44] See the Council's Planning Validation Checklist

[45] CPRE: Night Blight: Mapping England's Light Pollution and Dark Skies (2016)

[46] Guidance is available from the Bat Conservation Trust on artificial lighting and wildlife.

[47] Available at: https://www.theilp.org.uk/documents/obtrusive-light/

[48] As defined by settlement development boundaries

[49] Artificial Sports Lighting Design Guidance Note (Sport England, 2012), available at: https://www.sportengland.org/facilities-planning/design-and-cost-guidance/artificial-sports-facilities/

[50] Land-Use Planning & Development Control: Planning For Air Quality (January 2017) available at: http://www.environmental-protection.org.uk/policy-areas/air-quality/air-pollution-and-planning/

[51] A scheme developed by the Land Forum to provide visible identification of documents that have been checked for quality by a Suitably Qualified and experienced Person, see: https://www.claire.co.uk/projects-and-initiatives/nqms

[52] Towns and villages with development boundaries are listed in Figure 14.

[53] That is, sites with planning permission (or resolution to grant permission subject to a legal agreement) as identified in the Local Plan Monitoring Report.

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