Achieving Sustainable Development
As the recent planning reforms have slowly been introduced and their effects are now becoming evident, the key buzzword seems to be the issue of sustainable development, and certainly this is the golden thread running through the policies contained within a National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Much discussion has revolved around what actually is sustainable development. The NPPF describes it as three separate dimensions; these being economic, social and environmental.
In relation to the economic role of sustainability, a development must contribute towards building a strong, responsive and competitive economy in order to support growth and innovation.
With regard to the social element of sustainability, a development should support strong, vibrant and healthy communities by providing housing to meet the needs of present and future generations.
With regard to environmental sustainability, any development should look to protect and enhance the natural, built and historic environment.
By looking at all three of these elements together, developments should be located close to local services where they can be supported by the local community, and support local growth where a supply of housing is required.
8,000 Dwellings Earmarked
Stratford District Council originally earmarked in their 2012 Draft Core Strategy for the allocation of 8,000 dwellings throughout the district; however, at the 1st April 2011, 2,400 of the 8,000 were already accounted for and therefore leaving a 5,600 quota to be filled. 560 of these dwellings were to be allocated in Stratford-upon-Avon, 1,680 dwellings were to be located in the Main Rural Centres; 2,240 dwellings were to be located in Local Service Villages; with the remaining 560 dwellings to be allocated within the smaller settlements which are the settlements that are not either Main Rural Centres or Local Service Villages.
Local Service Villages are defined as villages which have key services and have reasonable access to public transport, these include:
Alderminster, Alveston Bearley, Bishops Itchington, Brailes (Upper and Lower), Claverdon, Clifford Chambers, Earlswood, Ettington, Fenny Compton, Gaydon, Great Alne, Halford, Hampton Lucy, Harbury, Ilmington, Lighthorne Heath, Long Compton, Long Itchington, Long Marston, Mappleborough Green, Moreton Morrell, Napton-on-the-Hill, Newbold-on-Stour, Northend, Oxhill, Pillerton Prior, Priors Marston, Quinton (Lower), Salford Priors, Snitterfield, Stockton, Tanworth-in-Arden, Tiddington, Tredington, Tysoe (Upper & Middle), Welford-on-Avon, Wilmcote and Wootton Wawen.
In order to develop in one of the Local Service Villages, sites should adhere to either of the following criteria.
- It is a site allocated for development in Neighbourhood Plans or the DPD.
- The re-use and redevelopment of land and properties within existing settlements.
- Opportunities for regeneration within and adjacent to existing settlements.
- Local choice schemes which meet housing needs identified by the local community.
As there has been an allocation of 560 dwellings in smaller settlements of the district, you would be forgiven in thinking that infill development within a smaller settlement would be acceptable to help meet the 560 housing quota. In reality, we have learnt from the District Council through a number of pre-application enquiries that when an infill site is put forward as a potential site for housing within a smaller settlement, the District Council often look unfavourably upon the proposals due to them deeming smaller settlements to be unsustainable in terms of the NPPF as they are not located near local services, transport links or shops. Such proposals therefore need to be brought about through ‘local choice’ schemes where a housing need is identified by the local community.
Since the Stratford-on-Avon District Council published their Draft Core Strategy 2012, they have revised their housing quota to 9,500, yet this is still to be officially confirmed. The division of this quota across the settlement hierarchy is also unclear and should hopefully be unveiled shortly.
It should be noted that many Parish Councils are in the throes of preparing their Neighbourhood Development Plan, which provides power to Parish Councils to set their own policies in relation to the type of development and where development is to be located within their settlements. Once a Neighbourhood Development Plan has been adopted by the District Council, the policies within it will take precedence over the presumption of sustainable development; thereby bringing planning powers back to local areas.