Local Plan Review - Publication Plan

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11. Community services, facilities and infrastructure

Retail

11.1 The role and function of town centres nationally is changing as people shop and undertake leisure activities in different ways than they have done in the past, particularly within a post-Covid-19 context. As such, retail centres are adapting to accommodate the increasing pressures being placed upon retail services with this squeeze being felt in all locations. The Local Plan seeks to support and enhance the respective role of each centre, including – where appropriate – diversifying the range of uses in-centre that do not compromise its primary shopping function by remaining attractive, diverse, and accessible to those wishing to use them. This is especially important in South Staffordshire as the retail offer is localised and concise, reflecting the rural, village-based nature of the district.

11.2 It is for these reasons that this plan will support new retail and town centre developments across the district that accord with the NPPF's 'centres first' approach. Furthermore, the NPPF supports the identification of a centre's hierarchy as well as designated centres so as to require main town centre uses to be appropriately located. The centres hierarchy in South Staffordshire is refreshed through this Local Plan due to the need to promote a vibrant and viable centres hierarchy that is able to respond to the changing needs of local communities. As such, a centres hierarchy along with updated retail impact assessment and sequential test thresholds, have been established thorough the commission of a Retail Centres Study.

11.3 Qualitative rather than quantitative improvements should be encouraged within designated centres. This will assist in ensuring the proper protection and recognition of retail facilities and services within the district, enhance their character, attractiveness, preserve their heritage conservation, and lead to the centre becoming more economically successful. This includes provision for other town centre uses, as healthy centres usually have a good mix of higher and lower order shops and a balance between provision that ensures flexibility. Expanding centres beyond their more traditional retail roles is considered a key mechanism by which to survive and flourish. This was reflected through the Government's decision to amend the Use Class Order in September 2020. Nevertheless, the retention of majority E class use will be an important element of supporting the longevity of centres, ensuring that units are occupied, and the retail function remains primal.

Policy EC8: Retail

Proposals will maintain and enhance the vitality and viability of South Staffordshire's network of centres in line with national policy, taking into account any local regeneration strategies where appropriate as well as the requirements of this policy and other settlement specific policies/guidance. This includes proposals being accessible by a choice of means of transport including walking, cycling and public transport.

The council will seek to support and deliver public realm enhancement schemes, parking provision, highways measures and sustainable transport infrastructure as defined in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP).

Proposals should be appropriate in scale and type to the role of centres, respect their (historic) character, environment, and local distinctiveness. Proposed uses will make a demonstrable positive contribution to the overall role and functionality of the centre by maintaining/enhancing the centre's retail, cultural and/or community offer.

Proposals should be of a high-quality design and accord with the design policies of this plan alongside any design SPDs and the NPPF.

Development proposals must accord with all other relevant plan policies.

Designated Centres

The council will designate, protect, and where possible enhance, a network of centres consisting of Large Village Centres, Village Centres, and Neighbourhood Centres. The Retail Centres Hierarchy, or network of centres for South Staffordshire is set out below. The boundary of each designated centre has been produced within the Local Plan Policies Map. These boundaries will be kept under review.

Centre

Location

Large Village Centres

Codsall

The Square, Station Road

Penkridge

Market Street

Wombourne

High Street

Village Centres

Brewood

Market Place

Codsall

Birches Bridge

Coven

Brewood Road

Cheslyn Hay

High Street

Great Wyrley

Quinton Court

Kinver

High Street

Pattingham

The Square

Perton

Anders Square

Neighbourhood Centres

Bilbrook

Duck Lane, Bilbrook Road, Lane Green Road

Cheslyn Hay

Glenthorne Drive

Essington

Hill Street

Featherstone

The Avenue

Great Wyrley

Tower View Road

Great Wyrley

Walsall Road North

Great Wyrley

Walsall Road South

Huntington

Stafford Road

Kinver

Potters Cross

Penkridge

Boscomoor Shopping Centre

Shareshill

Church Road

Swindon

High Street

Wheaton Aston

High Street

Wombourne

Bull Lane

Wombourne – Blakeley

Common Road, Giggetty Lane

Womboune

Planks Lane

There is a presumption in favour of accommodating E class uses and other Main Town Centre uses within the Large Village Centres. Such uses will be supported as complementary offers in Village Centres where their function is to primarily to serve the village and in Neighbourhood Centres where their function is to primarily serve the day-to-day needs of immediate local residents.

A small quantity of retail provision is to be delivered on each of the SUEs as described in Policies SA1, SA2, SA3, and SA4 to support the existing Retail Centres Hierarchy. Each of which will be reviewed for inclusion on the Retail Centres Hierarchy as part of the next Local Plan review process.

Other Town Centre Uses

Proposals that reduce the concentration of E-class uses within a centre will not be supported, unless it is demonstrated that it supports wider significant regeneration of the centre and does not impose undue dominance of non-Main Town Centre uses. Consideration will be had to the number, proximity and continuance of other non-E class uses, and the compatibility of the proposal with nearby uses.

Proposals for other uses, including residential, will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, subject to the creation/preservation of a satisfactory residential environment and ensuring the functionality of the centre is not undermined.

Residential uses will not be permitted at ground floor level (except for the provision of access arrangements). Changes to residential use on the first floor or above will be supported as long as they do not compromise the ability of the ground floor unit to operate either as existing or by making future retail accommodation impractical. For example, consideration will be given to loss of storage space, preparation areas and delivery areas.

Proposals for hot food takeaways are expected to:

  1. not result in significant harm to the amenity of nearby residents or highways safety; and
  2. not result in harmful cumulative impacts due to the location of existing or consented proposed outlets.

Out-of-Centre Proposals

The council will not permit proposals in edge-of, or out-of-centre locations for retail and other Main Town Centre uses unless they satisfy the sequential test and impact assessment. This includes proposals for the expansion of existing uses and applications to vary existing conditions.

A sequential test will be required for new Main Town Centre uses outside of a designated centre in line with national policy and guidance.

An impact assessment will be required for all retail uses that exceed the following net floorspace thresholds both in, edge-of, and out-of-centre:

  • Convenience floorspace – 500m2
  • Comparison floorspace - 300m2

The impact assessment must be prepared in line with national policy and guidance.

Catchment areas for both sequential tests and impact assessments will be considered on a case-by-case basis to reflect the application/site specific circumstances under consideration.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • South Staffordshire Retail Centres Study (2021)
  • Rural Services and Facilities Audit (2021)
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

No

Yes

No

No

No

Protecting community services and facilities

11.4 The presence of community facilities within our villages is key to maintaining community cohesion, quality of life and reducing the need to travel. Community services and facilities are often the cornerstone of villages and include pubs, shops, post offices, banks and building societies, community buildings and meeting places, sports venues, cultural buildings, places of worship and health facilities. Having a policy that protect against the loss of community services and facilities is therefore critical. This policy ensures that specific criteria must be met for development that would result in the loss of a community facility to be supported, including a robust marketing exercise confirming that the use is no longer viable and ensuring that alternative provision is accessible.

Policy EC9: Protecting community services and facilities

The council will support the development and retention of local services and community facilities to meet local needs and to promote social wellbeing, interests, interaction, and healthy inclusive communities. Development proposals that would result in the loss of uses, buildings or land for community services and facilities will only be supported where both of the following criteria can be clearly demonstrated:

  1. Appropriate alternative existing provision will remain of at least equivalent quality and accessibility to local residents served by the existing facility, particularly by active travel methods.
  2. The use is no longer viable and is incapable of being made viable or adapted to retain a viable service or facility including as a community run enterprise. A marketing exercise for a minimum of 12 months at a realistic price will be required to demonstrate that the use or premises is unviable. This includes marketing the premises for an alternative community service and facility uses.

Development for the relocation of community services and facilities will only be permitted where alternative provision is made of at least equivalent quality and accessibility to local residents served by the existing facility, particularly by active travel methods, prior to the loss of the existing facility.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • Rural Services and Facilities Audit 2021
  • Assets of Community Value
  • Open Space Standards Paper 2019
  • Indoor Sports Facilities Needs Assessment 2020
  • Playing Pitch Assessment Report 2020
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

No

Yes

No

No

No

Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport

11.5 Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport is situated within the Green Belt in a quiet rural area surrounded by attractive countryside. The site is served by rural roads as there is a lack of strategic road access or public transport services. The council supports the existing General Aviation role of the airport and also recognises the importance of the existing non-aviation uses on the site for the viability of the airport. The council considers that continuing the current general aviation role of the Airport with a 'gentle evolution' within the existing defined role and boundaries to be the right balance to supporting adaptation, where necessary, whilst respecting the character of the surrounding rural environment.

11.6 The Government's General Aviation Strategy (2015) identified the importance of General Aviation as a flourishing, wealth generating and job producing sector of the economy. National planning policy identifies the importance of maintaining a national network of General Aviation airfields and recognising the need for adaptation to meet changing circumstances.

11.7 The council will continue to work with the Airport owners and operators to deliver a sustainable future for the airport. The replacement of obsolete wartime buildings with new high-quality development will generally be supported, subject to being consistent with other Local Plan policies. The existing non-aviation uses on the site are accepted but the overall aim is that existing buildings should be used for aviation uses related to the General Aviation role of the airport.

Policy EC10: Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport

The council supports the role of Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport as a General Aviation airport.

Development proposals, including the replacement of existing outdated buildings and high-quality infill development directly related to the General Aviation role of the airport and situated within the developed area of the site (as defined on the policies map) will be supported. New development unrelated to this role will not be supported.

The council will support the continued occupation of the site by existing non-aviation businesses that play an important role in ensuring the viability of the airport.

The council will resist development proposals that would have a detrimental impact on the environment and the amenity of nearby residents including the physical expansion of the site, extensions to runways and the operation of commercial passenger and freight services. Development proposals relating to the existing uses required for safe and efficient operation of the airport will be supported.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • Department for Transport – General Aviation Strategy (2015)
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

No

Yes

No

No

No

Infrastructure

11.8 The council and its partners will ensure that development within the district contributes towards the creation of sustainable communities, and where appropriate infrastructure is provided. Infrastructure can be very large schemes such as a new road, or much smaller such as a piece of play equipment or signage.

11.9 Other infrastructure requirements of new development include the availability of utilities such as telecommunications, electricity, gas, water and wastewater treatment facilities. The council will work with the organisations responsible for delivering this essential infrastructure in the district.

11.10 The council have produced an Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) which sets out the infrastructure requirements across the district and how it will be delivered. The council, alongside its partners, will work towards ensuring the delivery of the infrastructure requirements set out in the Plan.

EC11: Infrastructure

Planning permission will only be granted for proposals that have made suitable arrangements for the improvement or provision of infrastructure necessary to make the scheme acceptable in planning terms.

The council will work with infrastructure providers, agencies, organisations and funding bodies to enable, support and co-ordinate the delivery of infrastructure to support the delivery of the growth identified within this Plan.

Developers and landowners must work positively with the council, neighbouring authorities and other infrastructure providers throughout the planning process to ensure that the cumulative impact of development is considered and then mitigated, at the appropriate time, in line with their published policies and guidance.

New development will be required to deliver or contribute towards the timely provision of essential supporting infrastructure either directly as part of the development, or through an appropriate financial contribution.

The infrastructure requirements for the strategic sites allocated within this Plan will be set out via their corresponding policies, master planning process and IDP.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • Infrastructure Delivery Plan
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Sustainable transport

11.11 Active travel gives people an opportunity to be physically active as part of their daily routine, which can contribute to improved health and help to prevent or manage a range of chronic diseases. Using active travel also incorporates physical activity into everyday tasks, which can reduce the need to find extra time or money to exercise specifically for the health benefits.

11.12 Making shorter journeys using active means of travel can contribute to reducing congestion by fewer motorised vehicles on the road, also reducing pollution and carbon emissions. In urban areas, journey times can often shorter when walking or cycling as users are able to take advantage of paths not accessible to motor vehicles.

11.13 The internal design of new developments should prioritise walking and cycling, as well as public transport, over private vehicle movements, to ensure that they encourage shorter internal journeys to take place by these modes.

11.14 The council will continue to work with partners to seek opportunities to deliver a rail-based parkway on land safeguarded at the strategic allocation Land at Cross Green.

11.15 In 2022 the Government launched a new executive agency called Active Travel England. The agency builds on the Government's commitment towards boosting cycling and walking and deliver a healthy, safe and carbon-neutral transport system.

11.16 Chapter 9 of the NPPF 'promoting sustainable transport' describes how planning policies should consider the potential impacts of development on transport networks as well as promote more sustainable modes of transport.

11.17 Staffordshire County Council is responsible for roads and public transport in the district. Whilst National Highways are responsible for the motorways and a number of major A roads within the district. The council will continue to work with partners including Staffordshire County Council, neighbouring highways authorities, National Highways, Network Rail, Bus and rail providers and Active Travel England to promote sustainable transport schemes and new infrastructure across the district.

EC12: Sustainable transport

The council will work proactively with partners to promote sustainable transport measures and deliver high quality transport infrastructure and links across the district. This includes opportunities to improve bus and rail services and connections including making provision from increased demand from new development within the district.

The Local authority will work with Staffordshire County Council to prepare a Local Walking & Cycling Infrastructure Plan to identify strategic opportunities for walking and cycling improvements throughout the district.

Developers of major developments or where a proposal is likely to have significant transport implications will be required to demonstrate they have maximised opportunities for sustainable travel and will make adequate provision to mitigate the likely impacts through provision of a Transport Assessment and Travel Plan. All other developments will be required to submit a Transport Statement where appropriate.

All new developments will be required to demonstrate all of the following:

  1. Designed to maximise opportunities for walking, cycling and the use of public transport, ensure the safe movement of vehicles and minimise the impact of parked and moving vehicles on residents, business and the environment. Developments should adhere to the standards set out within LTN 120 or subsequent additions.
  2. Safe access and an acceptable degree of impact on the local highway network.
  3. Provision of safe, direct routes within permeable layouts that facilitate and encourage short distance trips by walking and cycling between home and nearby centres of attraction, and to bus stops or railway stations, to provide real travel choice for some or all of the journey. Travel routes should link into existing travel networks beyond the development site where possible. The long-term management of the public realm including transport infrastructure must be ensured.
  4. Protection of existing rights of way, cycling and equestrian routes (including both designated and non-designated routes and, where there is evidence of regular public usage, informal provision). If it is demonstrated that the loss of such as route is unavoidable, the development should provide suitable, more appealing or at least equal replacement routes.
  5. Adequate provision to mitigate the likely impacts (including cumulative impacts) of their proposal including environmental impacts (such as noise and pollution) and impact on amenity and health. This will be achieved through direct improvements and Section 106 contributions.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • Infrastructure Delivery Plan
  • Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan 2021-2031
  • Staffordshire Bus Service Improvement Plan 2021
  • South Staffordshire Integrated Transport Strategy 2017
  • Cycle Infrastructure Design (LTN1/20)
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Broadband

11.18 The availability of fast and reliable broadband is now an essential component of everyday life and as such will be a requirement for all new residential and commercial development in South Staffordshire. This will allow residents and businesses to have the most up to date speeds, improve commercial opportunities, facilitate working from home and improve residents' connections to essential online services and online social connections.

11.19 The NPPF sets out how Local Plans should support high quality communications including full fibre broadband connections. In the wider national context, Building Digital UK (an executive government agency) is tasked with driving the expansion of gigabit connectivity to all parts of the country. The council will work with partners including Staffordshire County Council and network providers to promote the role out of a gigabit-capable broadband (or the next fastest possible) network across the district.

11.20 Providing broadband infrastructure at the development stage will ensuring that residents and businesses are able to access high speed broadband when they move into new developments. It will also avoid the cost and disruption to future occupiers of retrofitting if the infrastructure is not fit for purpose.

EC13: Broadband

New developments in South Staffordshire District must provide gigabit-capable connectivity through the developer installing full fibre connectivity. If this is not achievable, it must be demonstrated as such through a connectivity statement, in which case the next best alternative technology should be applied. As a minimum the developer should be required to provide appropriate ducting within the highway to facilitate a provider delivering a service at a later date.

Support will be given to proposals which involve community groups or organisations seeking to improve broadband infrastructure within their area.

Development proposals should be consistent with other Local Plan policies.

Key Evidence
  • Infrastructure Delivery Plan
Implementation

Local/national Funding

Development Management

Partners

Section 106 agreement

Supplementary Planning Document

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

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