Local Plan Review - Publication Plan

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Part C: Homes and Communities

7. Delivering the right homes

Housing Mix

7.1 There is a significant mismatch between the district's existing housing stock and future housing need. The 2011 Census identified that 70% of homes in the district have 3 bedrooms or more, and almost 80% of the stock is detached or semi-detached. However, the Housing Market Assessment 2022 indicates that household sizes are decreasing, with the emergence of many more single person households, but also those with lone parents and couples with no children. South Staffordshire also has a rapidly ageing population, creating a pressing need to provide homes more suitable to meet the needs of older people. The council's housing mix policy must address this imbalance in the market. According to the Housing Market Assessment, in the market sector specifically, 75% of overall need up to 2040 is for properties with 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms (varying between approximately 70 and 80% on a locality basis). There is also a large need for affordable housing to meet a range of needs, for those unable to access a property on the open market. The Assessment and other local data such as the council's housing register, demonstrate that a variety of property sizes are required, and this varies between tenures as well as localities of the district.

7.2 The NPPF confirms that having established an overall housing figure for delivery, the council must then assess the size, type and tenure of housing needed for different groups in the community and reflect this in planning policies. The provision of a variety of homes to suit all needs and ages is also referenced in the National Design Guide as a key aspect of well designed, diverse neighbourhoods.

7.3 The council's housing mix policy offers a good balance between providing enough certainty to ensure the right types of homes are provided and development is viable, whilst also maintaining some flexibility to take site circumstances, local housing need and market changes into consideration. The latest Housing Market Assessment will be the primary piece of evidence used to guide the detail of housing mix on new developments, supported with other data from the council's housing register, parish need surveys and local Registered Providers.

Policy HC1: Housing Mix

The council will support development that creates mixed, sustainable and inclusive communities, and contributes to the objectives of the adopted Housing and Homelessness Strategy.

All new housing developments should provide a mixture of property sizes, types and tenures in order to meet the needs of different groups in the community. Proposals must contribute to better balancing the district's housing market, particularly by increasing the supply of 2 and 3 bedroom homes in all areas, especially on the open market.

On major development housing sites (excluding sites exclusively provided for self-build or custom housebuilding), the market housing must include a minimum of 70% of properties with 3 bedrooms or less, with the specific mix breakdown to be determined on a site-by-site basis and reflective of need identified in the council's latest Housing Market Assessment.

All major development must also contribute to meeting the needs of the district's ageing population in accordance with Policy HC4.

The provision of affordable housing will be required in accordance with Policy HC3. Affordable housing should provide a range of property sizes, with the specific mix to be determined on a site-by-site basis and reflective of need identified in the council's latest Housing Market Assessment, the council's housing waiting list, parish need surveys and information from local Registered Providers.

The housing mix of all major development sites will be secured via appropriate means e.g. condition or Section 106 agreement for outline applications, to provide a clear indication of the council's expectations at an early stage.

Sites of less than 10 dwellings should provide a mixture of property sizes and reflect the need identified in the council's latest Housing Market Assessment, where consistent with other local plan policies.

Any development that fails to make efficient use of land by providing a disproportionate amount of large, 4+ bedroom homes compared with local housing need will be refused, in accordance with the requirements of this policy and Policy HC2.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • Housing Market Assessment
  • Housing and Homelessness Strategy
  • Parish Need Surveys
  • Housing Register
  • Affordable Housing and Housing Mix Topic Paper
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Housing Density

7.4 National planning policy is clear that Local Plans should contain policies that optimise the use of land and should set out minimum density standards for locations well served by public transport. This is particularly key for a district like South Staffordshire which is 80% Green Belt. A joint study across the housing market area (the GBBCHMA Strategic Growth Study 2018) also recommended that all authorities achieved a minimum density of 35 dwellings per hectare on their land supply, to maximise housing supply and minimise the amount of new Green Belt release necessary to meet housing needs.

7.5 In response to this, Policy HC2 aims to ensure that the minimum density standard set out in the GBBCHMA Strategic Growth Study 2018 can be achieved by focusing minimum density standards on the district's larger settlements and infill locations. Elsewhere, the council will require housing developments to make an efficient use of land, whilst recognising that some flexibility in densities may be required to reflect matters such as the character and infrastructure capacity within the surrounding area. This allows the council to balance its obligations to others in the housing market area and minimise the need for Green Belt release, whilst still reflecting the district's rural character and infrastructure capacity issues.

Policy HC2: Housing Density

Housing developments, including rural exception sites, will achieve a minimum net density of 35 dwellings per net developable hectare in developments within or adjoining Tier 1 settlements, in infill locations within the development boundaries of other settlements in the district or in urban extensions to neighbouring towns and cities. Where it would help to support the delivery of local services and facilities, sites will be encouraged to exceed this minimum density standard where this could be done in a manner consistent with other development plan policies, particularly those relevant to the character of the surrounding area.

The net density on a site may go below the minimum density standard set above if to do otherwise would result in significant adverse impacts to the surrounding area's historic environment, settlement pattern or landscape character.

All housing developments should make efficient use of land, whilst ensuring they still meet the requirements of other local plan policies. In areas not covered by the minimum density standards set out above, the appropriate density of a scheme will be determined on a case-by-case basis. In doing so it will have regard to the location of the site relative to services and facilities and other development plan policies, such as those addressing local design, character and housing mix requirements. Housing applications will be refused where they fail to demonstrate how they have optimised a site's density in accordance with these principles.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • Housing Density Topic Paper
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

Affordable Housing

7.6 Increasing the provision of affordable housing is a key priority of the council, as expressed in the adopted Housing and Homelessness Strategy. South Staffordshire's housing market is characterised by rising house prices, with the average lower quartile priced house costing over 9.5 times the average lower quartile income (Hometrack, 2022). This leaves home ownership out of reach for many residents, and with private rental prices also increasing, this means there is a substantial need for affordable homes throughout the district which must be addressed through the council's affordable housing policy.

7.7 Taking into account both South Staffordshire's need and the contribution to meeting unmet needs in the wider Housing Market Area, the Housing Market Assessment 2022 recommends approximately 27% of new housing delivered up to 2040 should be provided as affordable housing. Just over half of this need is for rented homes, with the remainder split almost equally between First Homes and shared ownership.

7.8 The NPPF requires the council to assess the need for affordable housing and reflect this in planning policies, including the type of properties required. Affordable housing can only be required on major developments, and must be provided onsite unless an offsite/financial contribution can be robustly justified and contributes to the creation of mixed and balanced communities. From a design perspective, different tenures must be well integrated and designed to the same high quality, creating tenure neutral homes and spaces (National Design Guide).

7.9 The affordable housing requirements in this policy have been tested through the Local Plan Viability Study, and have been demonstrated to be viable. Schemes that comply with this policy are therefore assumed to be viable in line with the PPG. An Affordable Housing SPD will be adopted to provide further detail on the council's requirements for First Homes, integration of affordable housing, implementation of Vacant Building Credit, the calculation of financial contributions and any other matters requiring additional information.

Policy HC3: Affordable Housing

All proposals for major housing development will be required to provide 30% affordable housing. This includes any development which provides self-contained units for day-to-day private domestic use, regardless of use class and whether care is provided to residents.

The affordable housing should then be broken down by tenure as follows:

  • 25% First Homes
  • 50% Social Rent
  • 25% Shared Ownership

The council will consider what local eligibility criteria should be implemented for the delivery of First Homes and detail these in the Affordable Housing SPD. The mix of property sizes and types of affordable housing will be determined in accordance with Policies HC1 and HC4.

The council will apply a Vacant Building Credit and reduce the affordable housing requirement as required, in accordance with national policy and the Affordable Housing SPD.

Applications may be refused where a single site has been subdivided into smaller parcels in order to circumvent the affordable housing threshold. Where permission has been granted for a scheme and a subsequent application is made which clearly forms part of a single development, then the full affordable housing requirement will be required for the total number of dwellings proposed across all relevant applications.

The council requires new development to contribute towards mixed and sustainable communities, therefore affordable housing should be provided on site and fully integrated with market housing. This should be achieved by suitably pepper potting the affordable housing across the site, ensuring it is materially indistinguishable from market housing in both siting and design and otherwise provided in accordance with the Affordable Housing SPD.

Affordable housing will be secured in perpetuity and monitored via an appropriate legal means e.g. Section 106 agreement, subject to Right to Buy/Acquire, staircasing and mortgagee in possession provisions. Delivery must be phased with the market housing on site in accordance with triggers specified in the Section 106 agreement.

Shared ownership housing will be subject to staircasing restrictions in Designated Protected Areas in accordance with the relevant legislation, in order to safeguard new provision.

Offsite and/or financial contributions in lieu of onsite provision of affordable housing will only be acceptable in exceptional circumstances. In such cases, the applicant will be required to provide clear justification for not providing affordable homes on site, and demonstrate how an offsite contribution will contribute to mixed and sustainable communities.

Planning applications that comply with up-to-date policies in this plan will be assumed to be viable. Consideration will not be given to reducing the affordable housing contribution on the grounds of viability unless the applicant can first demonstrate to the satisfaction of the council that particular circumstances justify a viability assessment at application stage, as per the PPG.

Further guidance on the requirements of implementing this policy will be provided in the adopted Affordable Housing SPD.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • Housing Market Assessment
  • Housing and Homelessness Strategy
  • Local Plan Viability Study
  • Affordable Housing and Housing Mix Topic Paper
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Homes for older people and others with special housing requirements

7.10 The district has an increasingly ageing population, which is set to continue through the plan period. The Housing Market Assessment 2022 indicates approximately one third (34%) of the population will be aged 60 or over in 2040. This equates to a 30% increase on 2018 figures. The number of people with health issues and disabilities is also expected to increase over this period. An 8% increase in people aged 18-64 with impaired mobility is projected, as well as a 47% increase in people aged 65+ that are unable to manage at least one mobility activity on their own. The Assessment also confirms that 7.2% of the district's total housing stock should meet Building Regulations Part M4(2) in 2040. This amounts to 3,978 accessible and adaptable homes. The council is therefore seeking to provide a range of housing options for older and disabled people, in order to maintain the safety and independence of residents, allow them to stay in their own home for longer and reduce pressure on health and social care services. This will include both specialist and general housing types, as well as higher technical standards for accessibility.

7.11 The NPPF requires the council to assess and plan to meet the housing needs of older people and people with disabilities. The PPG goes on to confirm how the diverse range of needs of these groups must be considered. Authorities should make provision for specialist housing where a need exists (ranging from age restricted to extra care and care homes), alongside general housing options such as bungalows which are already suitable, and easily adaptable, futureproofed properties.

7.12 Policy HC4 provides flexibility for developments to provide a range of types of home for older and disabled people dependent on site circumstances. In terms of general (i.e. non-specialist) housing for these groups, the council's preference and expectation will be for contributions to be made in the form of bungalows in the first instance. This reflects the council's targets within the adopted Housing and Homelessness Strategy, their intrinsic suitability for older and disabled people, and the high demand for this form of property in South Staffordshire. The suitability of other single storey accommodation such as flats and maisonettes will be carefully considered by the council on a case-by-case basis. The requirements for higher access standards have been tested and shown to be viable through the Local Plan Viability Study.

Policy HC4: Homes for older people and others with special housing requirements

The council will continue to work with Registered Providers, developers and other stakeholders to secure homes which meet the needs of older people and other groups with specialist requirements.

All major housing developments will be required to demonstrate how the proposal clearly contributes to meeting the needs of older and disabled people. The council will expect housing, as part of the wider mix on the site, to be provided in the following forms, in order to provide a range of general and specialist housing options and meet the objectives of the adopted Housing and Homelessness Strategy:

  • Bungalows
  • Other age restricted single storey accommodation such as flats and maisonettes
  • Sheltered/retirement living
  • Extra care/housing with care and other supported living

Homes suitable for older and disabled people should be provided within both the market and affordable sectors, with the specific mix further guided by the council's latest Housing Market Assessment, local housing need surveys and the Housing Register.

All major developments will also be required to ensure 100% of both the market and affordable housing meets the higher access standards Part M4(2) Category 2: Accessible and adaptable dwellings of Building Regulations. Additional weight will be given to the provision of properties also accessible for wheelchair users.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • Housing Market Assessment
  • Housing and Homelessness Strategy
  • Housing Need Surveys
  • Local Plan Viability Study
  • Homes for Older and Disabled People Topic Paper
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Specialist Housing

7.13 The district has a rapidly ageing population and several other groups of the community in need of specialist accommodation to provide them with a comfortable and affordable home. The Housing Market Assessment 2022 indicates a need for 617 additional specialist homes up to 2040, including 440 sheltered homes, and 177 extra care units. A further 864 additional registered care spaces may also be required. In order to meet this need, the council will encourage provision of specialist housing and registered care schemes in sustainable locations to provide suitable homes for those that can no longer remain in their own property. It is important that schemes allow residents to feel a part of their community still, located close to services and their existing family, friends and support networks. Protecting existing provision will also be vital to safeguard against any increased shortfall of specialist housing.

7.14 The PPG sets out a range of types of specialist housing for councils to consider and confirms that authorities should ensure provision of specialist housing where a need exists. It is up to the council to decide on the most appropriate approach for this, including whether allocating sites for specialist housing is required. Considerations should include access to public transport, health services and other amenities. A positive approach to decision making should be taken where a specialist need has been identified.

7.15 The provision of specialist housing will be strongly supported in line with Policy HC5. Alongside this, a number of site allocations including a requirement for specialist housing provision have been made as set out in Policies SA1-SA5, to provide certainty of provision over the plan period.

Policy HC5: Specialist Housing

The council will enable and strongly support proposals for the provision of specialist housing of all tenures, particularly those that will contribute to meeting the needs of the district's ageing population, subject to the proposed development meeting all of the following criteria:

  1. Suitable in size and scale in relation to the existing settlement
  2. Well integrated with the settlement (in terms of siting and design) in order to promote and encourage interaction with existing communities
  3. Situated in a sustainable location within safe walking distance of key services, facilities and public transport links
  4. Suitable provision is made of attractive landscaping and high quality outdoor recreational spaces
  5. Suitable and safe parking provision for residents, staff, visitors and emergency services

Specialist housing may be in the form of age-restricted accommodation, retirement, sheltered, extra-care, housing with care, nursing/residential homes or other forms of supported living.

The loss of specialist accommodation will not be supported unless required to increase the overall quantity of specialist homes in the local area, or improve quality where existing provision is no longer fit for purpose (e.g. through redevelopment or relocation).

The council will work with Staffordshire County Council and registered providers in order to identify specific opportunities and sites for specialist housing.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • Housing Market Assessment
  • Housing and Homelessness Strategy
  • Homes for Older and Disabled People Topic Paper
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Rural Exception Sites

7.16 Housing affordability is a significant issue across the district and in many places is forcing young people away from the villages they grew up in because they are unable to find a home they can afford in their local area. Site allocations in this plan will deliver much needed affordable housing for South Staffordshire, but rural exception sites provide an opportunity to secure new affordable homes for local people and add to stock in areas not receiving significant allocations. They also play a significant role in helping to maintain the vitality of villages and sustain existing local services and facilities such as pubs, schools and shops.

7.17 The PPG confirms that councils should work proactively with landowners, Parish Councils, housing associations, community land trusts and other relevant bodies to bring forward exception sites. Sites should address the housing need of local communities and any form of affordable housing is permitted, provided there is specific evidence to support the proposed tenures. Market housing can be provided where essential for viability purposes and authorities are encouraged to set policies that specify a specific proportion in further detail.

7.18 A number of rural exception sites have been successfully developed in the past in South Staffordshire, none of which have required the provision of market housing in order to secure viability of the site. The council is therefore limiting the provision of market housing to rural exception sites developed on land outside the Green Belt, and up to a maximum of 10% of dwellings. Evidence must also be provided to demonstrate the market housing is necessary for viability purposes. Further detail is also provided in the policy on requirements for the process to ensure local communities are engaged and evidence is sufficiently robust to justify local need.

Policy HC6: Rural Exception Sites

As an exception to planning policies relating to the location of housing development in the district, small rural exception sites of 100% affordable housing to meet the identified needs of local people will be supported where all of the following criteria are met:

  1. The site lies immediately adjacent to the development boundary of the settlement
  2. An affordable housing need has been identified in the parish through a robust housing need survey, which considers all tenures of affordable housing identified in the NPPF definition, for the type, tenure and scale of development proposed. In parishes with more than one settlement, the survey should include data or be supplemented with additional information to demonstrate the housing need specifically in the settlement in which the development is proposed.
  3. The proposed development is proportionate in size and scale in relation to the existing settlement, having regard to its role in the settlement hierarchy
  4. The initial and subsequent occupancy is controlled through planning conditions and/or legal agreements to ensure the accommodation remains affordable and for local people in housing need in perpetuity.
  5. The proposed development respects the scale, character and local distinctiveness of its surroundings.

The council will work proactively with Registered Providers and community organisations to identify opportunities for rural exception sites to deliver affordable housing over and above the housing supply set out in this plan. The council will require Parish Councils to be engaged in the process and a Rural Housing Enabler commissioned to consult with local communities and provide an independent assessment of local need. Any housing need survey and supporting information submitted to evidence local housing need should be no more than 3 years old, at the point of application submission, to be considered an up-to-date, robust assessment.

In exceptional circumstances in areas outside the Green Belt, a maximum of 10% market housing may be permitted at the council's discretion, where it can be robustly demonstrated to be essential to the viability of the scheme. In such cases, the market housing must be fully integrated with, and of a consistent standard and design as, the affordable homes in accordance with the adopted Affordable Housing SPD.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • Housing Need Surveys
  • Housing Register
  • Housing and Homelessness Strategy
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

First Homes Exception Sites

7.19 First Homes were introduced as a new form of affordable housing in 2021, designed to assist first time buyers in taking their first step onto the housing ladder, by allowing properties to be purchased at a minimum 30% discount. South Staffordshire's Housing Market Assessment 2022 identifies a need for a range of affordable housing tenures, which does include a small requirement for First Homes. The council must ensure that any First Homes exception sites that do come forward integrate well with the existing settlement and provide an appropriate mix of tenures alongside First Homes to reflect affordable need in the district.

7.20 The detailed definition, eligibility and other criteria related to First Homes is set out in the PPG. Increased discount levels are permitted where evidence suggests this is required. Other local eligibility criteria can also be implemented, and the council will consider this further and detail this in the Affordable Housing SPD. First Homes exception sites primarily deliver First Homes alongside other forms of affordable housing and market housing where evidence justifies it. Sites should be proportionate in size to the existing settlement and councils are encouraged to set policies which specify their approach to determining this.

Policy HC7: First Homes Exception Sites

As an exception to planning policies relating to the location of housing development in the district, small exception sites of primarily First Homes to meet the needs of local people will be supported where all of the following criteria are met:

  1. An evidenced need for First Homes exists within the district which is not already being met within the local authority area
  2. The site lies outside the Green Belt and is immediately adjacent to the development boundary of the settlement
  3. The proposed development is of a proportionate size and scale in relation to the existing village, taking into account the size of the settlement having regard to its role in the settlement hierarchy
  4. No more than 10% of the site is provided as market housing and the applicant has sufficiently demonstrated this is required for the viability of the development where grant funding is unavailable and/or there are abnormal site costs
  5. The need for other affordable tenures has been considered and limited provision has been made on the site accordingly to reflect the significant need in the district
  6. The initial and subsequent occupancy of properties is controlled through planning conditions and/or legal agreements to ensure the accommodation remains affordable and for local people in housing need in perpetuity
  7. The proposed development respects the scale, character and local distinctiveness of its surroundings, and complies with any other local design policies and guidance

The council will consider what local eligibility criteria should be implemented for the delivery of First Homes and detail these in the Affordable Housing SPD.

In cases where a mixture of tenures is provided, all properties must be fully integrated and of a consistent standard and design, in accordance with the adopted Affordable Housing SPD.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • Housing Market Assessment
  • Housing and Homelessness Strategy
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Self-build and Custom Housebuilding

7.20 Data held by the council suggests a modest need for self-build and custom housebuilding plots in the district. As of 1 August 2022, there were 31 entries on the council's Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Register. Whilst the need is currently relatively low, the council is taking a positive approach to this form of housing in order to provide a range of housing options for residents and ensure sufficient plots are provided. The authority is seeking to respond positively to dedicated schemes, as well as working with housebuilders of major developments to reflect the need on the register within the mix of the scheme.

7.21 The NPPF confirms that authorities must assess the need for people that wish to commission or build their own home, and reflect this accordingly in policy. The PPG sets out further guidance on the council's legal requirements to keep a register of those looking to build or commission their own home and have regard to this register in plan-making. Authorities are permitted to apply a local connection test to entry to the register, and in these cases, the register will be split into Parts 1 and 2 to reflect this. The council are then bound by a duty to grant enough planning permissions to meet the need on Part 1 of the register only.

7.22 The council has implemented a local connection test since 2017, meaning therefore that the register is split into two parts. As of 1 August 2022, Part 1 of the register contains 23 entries, with the remainder on Part 2. The level of need will be kept under review to ensure sufficient plots continue to be provided over the plan period. Plots identified as self or custom build at planning application stage may be secured via an appropriate means, such as through planning condition or Section 106 agreement.

Policy HC8: Self-build and Custom Housebuilding

The council will support the provision of self-build and custom housebuilding schemes and plots throughout the district, where in conformity with other Local Plan policies, in order to ensure a wide range of housing options are available to residents and to meet bespoke needs. The council will work positively with developers, Registered Providers, self and custom build associations and other community groups to bring forward schemes in order to meet demand as evidenced on the self-build register.

Major developments will be required to have regard to the need on the council's self-build register, and make provision of self and custom build plots to reflect this. The council may require a design code to be agreed with the applicant and implemented for development of the plots.

Developers will be required to actively market plots at a reasonable price for a minimum of 12 months from the date the relevant planning permission is issued. If after this period, the plot has not been sold, the developer will be permitted to build out the plot as a standard property type, for the same tenure as was first approved. Requirements for marketing and notifying the council will be secured through a Section 106 agreement.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • Self-build and Custom Housebuilding register
  • Housing Market Assessment
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople

7.23 The Government's Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (PPfTS) - August 2015 details that Local Plans should set criteria-based policies for guiding allocations that have been proposed to meet an identified need; as well as well as for decisions on planning applications that are proposed on unallocated sites (e.g. windfall developments).

7.24 The council is unable to meet its full 5-year requirement (72 pitches) for gypsy and traveller pitches due to a lack of suitable site options to meet evidenced locally generated needs, with an assessment of site options through the Pitch Deliverability Study 2021 identifying 42 suitable pitch options towards this 5 year requirement. However, based on representations to our Preferred Options consultation in 2021, the decision was taken to delete Land at 122 Streets Lane (GT35) when taking account of a planning inspector's conclusions on the unsuitability of the site at a previous Section 78 Appeal. As a result, the Local Plan has suitable sites to allocate 37 pitches towards the 5 year identified needs of families, with further provision likely to come through windfall developments that will be considered against this policy (see Gypsy and Traveller Topic Paper for details of past delivery).

7.25 The PPfTS confirms that criteria based policies should be fair and should facilitate traditional and nomadic life of travellers while respecting the interests of the settled community. This policy is therefore needed to ensure that the new sites/pitches are located in the right areas, are well designed, function effectively, and meet the needs of our Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople communities', whilst also protecting the amenity of neighbouring residential areas, the Green Belt and landscape of the district.

Policy HC9: Gypsies Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

Applications for Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople pitches or plots will only be supported where all of the following criteria are met:

  1. Essential services such as power, water, drainage, sewage disposal and refuse/waste disposal are provided on site.
  2. The site is well designed and landscaped with clearly demarcated site and pitch boundaries using appropriate boundary treatment and landscaping sympathetic to, and in keeping with, the surrounding area. Where tree and hedgerow boundaries border the site these should be retained and where possible strengthened.
  3. A minimum 10% biodiversity net gain is demonstrated in accordance with Policy NB2.
  4. The amenity of the site's occupiers and neighbouring residential properties is protected in accordance with Policy HC11. Sites must be designed to ensure privacy between pitches and between the site and adjacent users, including residential canal side moorings. Proposals for caravans in residential gardens will be refused where they have an adverse impact on the amenity of neighbouring properties.
  5. The site can be safely and adequately accessed by vehicles towing caravans, is well related to the highway network, and provides adequate space within the site to accommodate vehicle parking and turning space to accommodate the occupants of the site.
  6. The proposal, either in itself or cumulatively having regard to existing neighbouring sites, is of an appropriate scale so as to not put unacceptable strain on infrastructure or dominate the nearest settled communities, to avoid problems of community safety arising from poor social cohesion with existing families.
  7. Pitches are of an appropriate scale for the size and number of caravans to be accommodated, without over-crowding or unnecessary sprawl. A single pitch to accommodate immediate family should only consist of one static caravan and one tourer caravan unless it can be demonstrated that additional caravans are necessary on the pitch to avoid overcrowding.
  8. Built development in the countryside outside the development boundaries is kept to the minimum required, in order to minimise the visual impact on the surrounding area. Where proposals are in the Green Belt, proposals will only be acceptable where they conform to Policy DS1. The proposed allocations of new pitches in the Green Belt set out in Policy SA6 will be acceptable in principle, subject to conformity with Policy SA6 and all criteria in this policy.
  9. Any amenity buildings proposed are of an appropriate scale and reasonably related to the size of the pitch or pitches they serve.
  10. Proposals are not located in areas at high risk of flooding.
  11. Where the proposal is for travelling showperson provision, the site is large enough for the storage, maintenance and testing of items of mobile equipment, and does not have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of neighbouring residential properties, including canal side residential moorings.
  12. Where the proposal is for a transit site, proposals avoid locations that are accessed via narrow country lanes and are in locations with good access to the strategic highway network.

Applications for pitches from individuals that do not meet the planning definition set out in Annex 1 of Planning Policy for Traveller Sites will also be considered in line with this criteria-based policy and other relevant policies on a case-by-case basis.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (2021)
  • Pitch Deliverability Study (2021)
  • Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople Topic Paper
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

No

Yes

No

No

No

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