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South Holland Local Plan - Adopted July 2006
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Chapter 4
HOUSING
   
4.1 One of the key responsibilities of the Council is to ensure that there is sufficient housing land to meet the requirements of the District over the period of the Local Plan, 2001-2021.  The strategy of the Plan advocates a sequential approach to the identification of new sites for housing.  This approach is complemented by the promotion of higher densities for housing development, good quality design, managed land release through phasing and making the best use of previously developed land.  The Plan aims to focus development in urban areas and to maximise access to services, facilities, employment and to help reduce the need to travel.  The monitoring of housing land through land availability and urban capacity studies are therefore fundamental to the application of this approach.
4.2 The strategic aims of these policies are:
 
  • to comply with the Government's national planning policy in Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 "Housing" which includes promoting sustainable development and managing the release of housing land
  • to conform generally with the emerging Lincolnshire Structure Plan to 2021, which requires provision for 7600 new homes in South Holland over the period 2001-2021, with  provision being concentrated mainly in urban areas
  • to continue to address the acknowledged over-allocation of housing land and the imbalance between urban and rural areas.
4.3 Regional Planning Guidance for the East Midlands (RPG8) 2002, now replaced by RSS8 (2005) has reduced the strategic housing requirement for Lincolnshire and the Structure Plan has allocated the District with the same proportion as before but lower overall total, down from 470 dwellings per annum to 380 dwellings per annum.  This provision is more concentrated in urban areas than before (up from 67% to 75%) with a reduction in rural areas (down from 33% to 25%) to encourage a more sustainable and focussed pattern of development.
4.4 In order to address the strategic housing aims for the District, the Plan aims to direct the majority of housing development through new permissions towards the Main Town of Spalding, as the District’s most sustainable settlement.  However the policies also aim to bring forward some new development in the Area Centres, firstly on small brownfield sites within the defined settlement limits.  Given the sustainable development objectives of the plan, and the constraints on overall housing numbers the spatial strategy does not provide for major growth of the smaller villages.  Based upon the findings of our settlement services and facilities study, some limited growth is allowed for to meet the needs of certain rural communities, namely the Group Centres which can provide for a range of activities together.  Currently there are still a high number of outstanding permissions and high completion levels in the rural areas and to ensure the Plan complies with the Structure Plan’s pattern of development the policies remain strong on preventing widespread development in these rural locations.
 
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4.5 In order to plan, monitor and manage a sustainable distribution of development it is necessary to focus growth primarily in Spalding and then the other towns.  These areas will in turn serve their rural hinterlands and provide a range of necessary facilities and services for local communities.
4.6 Only limited development is anticipated within the Other Rural Settlements. Many lack an adequate range of services and facilities to meet the needs of residents directly.
4.7 Within the defined settlement limits of the towns and larger villages the principle of infill housing is acceptable.  Such development may only involve one or two houses but in total can provide a significant contribution to the District’s housing requirements, and help to reduce reliance on greenfield sites whilst following sustainable objectives regarding the location of development.  However, proposals for new housing will be carefully considered to ensure that public and private open spaces which contribute to the character, historic street pattern and visual amenity of the settlement are maintained.   Problems can also occur if the development would cause loss of privacy to other residents or harm the setting of nearby buildings or the overall streetscene.  The design, scale and mass of new buildings should respect their surroundings and integrate well with the street scene.  The Council will ensure that such infill development does not harm the character and setting of any settlement.
4.8 The Plan also aims to make provision for the re-use of currently unused or under-used accommodation above ground floor level for multiple unit residential accommodation in suitable buildings.  Such proposals must ensure that a satisfactory standard of accommodation can be achieved, with consideration given to factors including noise, car parking, residential amenity and separate access.  This reuse can contribute not only to the regeneration of areas, but can provide suitable accommodation for affordable housing provision.
4.9 In order to establish how much housing can be accommodated in the towns and main village of Donington we have undertaken an Urban Capacity Study (which is available as a background paper).   The aim of the study was to guide considerations on housing provision in the District, to enable the Council to identify land and buildings that were potentially suitable for allocation in the emerging Local Plan, to provide an estimate of how much additional housing could be accommodated within the defined urban areas, and to help identify the amount of any additional housing requirement that may need to be provided by urban extensions.  This information will be updated periodically in accordance with the Government's requirement to 'plan, monitor and manage'.  The key results are to be found appended to this Local Plan (Appendix 1).
4.10 The Urban Capacity Study theoretically identified a significant amount of potential development that could occur through making more intensive use of land in residential areas.  This includes development on backland sites and within existing residential curtilages and gardens.  However, where this sort of development would represent over-intensification it will be resisted in order to protect the general character and amenity of the built environment and prevent the loss of amenity to adjoining residential properties.
 
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4.11 The Urban Capacity Study also revealed that with the exception of Spalding there is a limited range of unconstrained/modestly constrained brownfield sites available.  This can be attributed to the historic development of such sites and also to the lack of sites due to the rural nature and lack of industrial heritage of the District.  The findings reveal that some greenfield land within the urban areas or urban extensions would also need to be identified to enable the Council to adequately meet the RSS and Structure Plan strategic requirement to 2021.  Development of previously developed land is not enough on its own to fulfil the Council’s need to achieve the appropriate levels of housing completions and have an adequate land supply.  Capacity sites may only be capable of delivering a modest contribution in the future.
 
The Housing Requirement
4.12 Whilst the emphasis of the Plan strategy is on the use of brownfield sites there is insufficient supply from such sources to meet the Structure Plan requirement, as identified in the urban capacity study.  In accordance with the spatial strategy the Local Plan therefore sets out a range of housing allocations.  A number of greenfield urban extensions to the towns have been allocated and these are considered to be the most appropriate solution to meet the Structure Plan requirements, together with the development of brownfield windfall sites.
4.13 The table below reveals the current land availability situation compared with the emerging Structure Plan requirements of 7600 dwellings to 2001-2021.  As at 1 April 2004 there was an identified land supply of 3897 dwellings, leading to an over allocation of 97 dwellings to 31 March 2011.  This land supply is made up of dwellings already constructed, those under construction or with a planning permission not yet started.  However, to 2021 the supply is 4430 due to some sites being phased beyond 31 March 2011.  The remaining requirement of 3170 dwellings will be met through the allocation and phasing of sites identified in Policy HS3 and through smaller sites coming forward under the other housing policies. Policy HS1 indicates the need to permit this number of dwellings during the remainder of the plan period. In the event of monitoring showing a level of non-implementation or reduction in commitments due to review of extant permissions higher than that indicated in the table below, then permissions for additional dwellings may be granted to achieve the overall Structure Plan requirements for the District. Policy HS2 refers to monitoring and phasing of housing and those figures refer to the aggregate of planning permissions and provisions of the Plan which we are relying on to achieve those Structure Plan requirements.
 
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Table: Housing Land Availability and the Emerging Strategic Housing Requirement
 
Time Horizon 2001-2011 2001-2021
(a)  Emerging Strategic Housing Requirement
(pro-rata to 2011)
3800 7600
(b)  Housing Supply
  • Completions 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2004
1976
  • Under Construction at 31 March 2004
446
  • With Planning Permission Not Started at 31 March 2004

(Discounted to take account of opportunities for review of extant permissions in accordance with para 40 of PPG3) (2298 – 290)(2001-2011 figure further reduced by 533 to discount phasing on Wygate Park beyond 31 March 2011)

1475 2008
(c)  Total of figures in (b) 3897 4430
Remaining requirement (a – c) -97 3170
   
4.14 We are committed to the aim of ensuring that local people have the opportunity to access a decent home and another essential feature of this Plan is the requirement for the provision of 'affordable housing' in appropriate circumstances.
4.15 Generally we are committed to securing an appropriate mix of dwelling size and type in new developments, to avoiding housing developments which make inefficient use of land, to providing for higher average housing densities, and to providing for more intensive housing development in and around existing centres and close to public transport- all in contributing to creation of sustainable communities.  Higher densities should not mean poor quality design and layout leading to unattractive development.  Designs need to be imaginative, resulting in housing schemes that enhance, rather than detract from the qualities of the existing surrounding environment and help to create a sense of place and community.
4.16 PPG3 states that local authorities should avoid the inefficient use of land and should avoid developments of less than 30 dph, encourage developments of between 30-50 dph and seek higher densities of developments at places that are highly accessible such as close to the town centre. 
4.17 We will seek to achieve densities within this range and applicants will be encouraged to provide higher densities where appropriate.  The Council recognises that the appropriate density for development will vary from site to site and will be determined by many characteristics, such as location, character of site, and its surroundings and type of housing proposed.
4.18 The Plan therefore aims to ensure that higher densities are achieved in the most sustainable locations, namely the towns and especially Spalding.  However the average density achieved for the District will still currently be suppressed by development in the smaller settlements, as the large pool of unimplemented permissions are built out.  High densities are also often not appropriate in these locations to ensure the traditional character and form of the village layout remains.
 
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4.19 In order to meet the Plan's other objectives we propose that exceptionally some new housing may be permitted where:
 
  • affordable housing, to meet demonstrable local needs, would be provided on land that would not otherwise be released for residential use, as set out in Policy HS9.
  • the development proposes the reuse of upper floors or under used buildings for multiple residential units.
  • new housing would form part of enabling development to, for example, achieve town centre regeneration, or achieve identifiable community benefit, or to secure the future of a listed building.
  • it would deliver specific elements of community and/or transport infrastructure in support of the growth of Spalding as the District’s Main Town. Such proposals will be assessed carefully in terms of their contribution to the creation of sustainable communities as set out above.
   
  Policy HS1 - The Housing Requirement
  Provision will be made for 3170 additional dwellings to be permitted in the District between 2004-2021 to comply with the Structure Plan housing requirements, of which 2730 will be in the Structure Plan urban areas and 440 will be in the Structure Plan rural areas.
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Monitoring And Phasing Of Housing
4.20 Monitoring is a critical component in developing and implementing a policy framework to achieve overall land use objectives for the District and is the key to successful forward planning.  A requirement of the new Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 is for Local Planning Authorities to produce an Annual Monitoring Report (AMR) for submission to the Secretary of State.  The AMR will review plan progress against targets and will be the basis on which the housing policies of the Plan will be reviewed regularly in accordance with the requirements of PPG3. 
4.21 The Plan aims to provide 2810 dwellings by 2011 at an average of 400 per annum (pa).  The build rate for the District (average, 2001-04) is 659 pa, far in excess of this average and the average Structure Plan requirement (2001 to 2021) of 380 pa.  The policies, phasing and assumptions built into the strategy of the Plan will ensure this target of 2810 is achieved.  However, if through regular monitoring the build rate falls below 400 pa we will review the allocations in the Plan and bring forward land allocated post 2021 or look at the phasing arrangements to slow down the rate of development if build rates and completions remain well above this figure. The major allocations will be subject of development briefs which will include details of phasing. We will use conditions on planning permissions to control phasing of large developments. If there is already an adequate supply of housing and if it is likely that granting further permissions would lead to an excessive build rate then any planning applications in the District will if necessary be refused as being premature. In applying this approach we will have regard to the lead-in times required for the development process before completions are achieved. The AMR will track progress on the delivery of housing against the strategy of the Plan. We will consider producing a Supplementary Planning Document on housing land monitoring and management procedures. 
 
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4.22 The housing trajectory contained within the AMR sets out the current and potential future build rates and compares these with the Structure Plan annual and overall targets.  The trajectory will show build levels in the District up to 2021.  The trajectory will also assess any future shortfall or surplus of housing over the plan period by comparing this to planned build rates.  Monitoring the levels of completions and new permissions against this trajectory will show if the policies and assumptions we are using are appropriate.
4.23 The application of the plan-monitor-manage approach and the conclusions drawn from the AMR will ensure Structure Plan targets and pattern of development are being met.  If the AMR identifies that extensive development is occurring in locations contrary to the plan’s strategy we will look to review and strengthen our policies accordingly.  The phasing of allocated sites will ensure a continuous supply of housing land throughout the plan period and prevent extensive levels of development occurring up to 2011.  The current number of permissions in each settlement will also be used as part of the assessment of applications to ensure local housing needs in line with allowances are met.   Periodically monitoring the amount of development will therefore ensure the allowances for each tier of the hierarchy are not exceeded and development occurs on a gradual basis in line with existing infrastructure, and new infrastructure provided as part of and in step with development.  As the housing requirement for the Rural Area is necessarily restricted and is expressed globally, there is a danger that it could be ‘used up’, such that some remaining settlements would have no development potential.  In order to meet the needs of the whole of the Rural Area, the monitoring process will take account of the distribution of rural housing.  It will also take account of the identified need for affordable housing across the whole of the Rural Area.
4.24 Under the 2004 Act, Local Plans will be replaced by Local Development Frameworks.  This process will also inform the level of growth required for the remainder of the plan period and enable further review of sites and policies to meet current strategic requirements.
4.25 PPG3 advises Local Planning Authorities to give priority to development of brownfield sites before looking at greenfield sites.  This can be achieved by managing the release or phasing of sites over the plan period in order to control the pattern and speed of growth.  This will also provide greater certainty and enable the planning of community infrastructure provision to meet the needs arising from proposed development.  Throughout the District a number of sites already have a current planning permission and it is likely that many of these sites will be built during the next 3-4 years.  However should any of these applications lapse, applications for their renewal will be reviewed and considered in light of the overall spatial strategy, other policies and current build rates, especially in the rural areas where there is a large existing bank of commitments.  The development of sites will be carefully monitored to assess whether the phasing objectives are being achieved and ensure that a continuing supply of housing land is coming forward. 
 
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4.26 In order to manage the controlled release of housing land the plan period has been divided into 2 phasing periods, 2004-2011 and 2011-2021, as shown by the table in policy HS2.  During phase 1, the Plan places greater emphasis on the urban areas to bring the balance of development more in line with the Structure Plan spatial strategy.  The table shows that the Plan makes a considerable contribution towards meeting the requirements of the Structure Plan by 2011.  Therefore less development will come forward during phase 2.  Applications for new development will be considered against the other policies of the Plan and the Council may impose a planning condition to ensure development occurs at a gradual pace and in step with infrastructure provision. If necessary the Council will refuse permission where there is already an adequate supply of housing land and/or a need to align with the assessment of infrastructure needs.
4.27 Annual reviews of the UCS will also be used as part of our overall monitoring framework to ensure the assumptions we have used in the study are accurate, enable any necessary amendments to be implemented or identify trends that are occurring.  Regular updating will ensure the study remains robust.  This overall monitoring framework is essential to track and assess the performance of the identified capacity, levels of completions and new permissions.  The Council will also monitor housing land availability at least annually and the results will be used to review the proposed phased release of housing sites.  This exercise will be carried out in liaison with housebuilders.
   
  Policy HS2 - Monitoring and Phasing of Housing
  The supply of housing will be monitored to ensure the requisite numbers of dwellings are being completed and that there is an adequate and continuing supply of land for housing throughout the plan period.  Provision for new development will be made on the basis of the number of new dwellings required on average per annum during the two phasing periods, 2004-2011 and 2011-2021. 
 
  Phase 1 2004-2011 Phase 2 2011-2021
Commitments 1924 530
New Permissions 885 2285
Total (rounded) 2810 2810
Average per annum 400 280
  Planning permissions on sites allocated under Policy HS3 and on any other large sites coming forward will be granted subject to phasing conditions, with a view to achieving completion rates in accordance with this table. In the case of any application in the District, permission may be refused on grounds of prematurity if existing permissions and other sources of supply already provide for likely completions in accordance with this table for at least a five year period.
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New Housing Allocations
4.28 The table in Policy HS3 identifies sites that have been allocated to ensure that the Structure Plan housing requirement for the District can be met. In the case of Holland Park, Spalding and land adjacent to the A151 at Holbeach the figures given are those for the number of dwellings expected to be completed during the plan period as part of the urban extensions shown for these areas on the proposals map.  In accordance with the Plan’s strategy, the proposed allocations of housing land seek to accommodate most of the District’s needs within or adjoining the existing urban areas, primarily in the main town of Spalding.  Some additional development is also proposed within the District’s other towns and larger villages, to meet identified local housing needs (primarily under other policies).  The allocations have been assessed with regard to their compliance with the spatial strategy, as well as having regard to their impact on the character and appearance of the surrounding area.
4.29 The Council will prepare development briefs for the urban extensions at Spalding and Holbeach and for major allocated housing sites, to guide new development.  The development briefs will aim to phase and control the progress of development to ensure housing,  associated community infrastructure and the link road are  delivered as part of an integrated strategy (rather than being independent of each other) and to ensure a continuous supply of housing land.  The Plan aims to bring forward the majority of this development during the second half of the plan period (given that there are already major sites, particularly at Wygate Park in Spalding as shown on the proposals map, benefiting from planning permission).   The timetable for production of these development briefs will be set out in the LDS.
4.30 The urban extension at Holland Park, Spalding will include 84 Ha to be developed for housing.  28 Ha of this will not be developed within the plan period, unless required in order to achieve completions in accordance with the strategic housing requirement on which this Plan is based. The urban extension will also be required to include major on-site provision of education and other community infrastructure, leisure and open space facilities together with completion of a link road (referred to in Policy TC1). The site lies adjacent the rail line which provides opportunity for a rail halt to serve the area and provision for this should be safeguarded.
 
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4.31 The urban extension at Holbeach will include 15 Ha to be developed for housing.  10 Ha of this will not be developed within the plan period, unless required in order to achieve completions in accordance with the strategic housing requirement on which this Plan is based. The urban extension allocation will also be required to include major provision of leisure and open space facilities and other community infrastructure. It is also expected to provide major improvements to the A151/A17 junction (to be a roundabout), in association where necessary with the development of employment land (referred to in Policy EC1). The Council will identify the type of leisure provision required having regard to existing and planned provision.
4.32 Other sites allocated for housing development are the next phase at Foxes Lowe Road/ Battlefields Lane, Holbeach, a site at Lime Walk, Long Sutton and two smaller sites north of Bridge Road, Sutton Bridge off Chestnut Terrace and off Withington Street (where this Plan has substantially de-allocated land that was allocated previously).
4.33 The Plan identifies a specific site for provision of a new health centre at Damgate, Holbeach which will be well related to other facilities given the location opposite the Community Centre. It will be a requirement of housing development on either of the allocated sites in Holbeach that a new health centre is provided. The requirements for the health centre will be agreed with the Primary Care Trust.
4.34 The numbers of units shown for each site are indicative only.  Exact numbers will depend on a variety of factors which will be carefully considered during discussions with developers.
4.35 In order to manage the controlled release of housing land the Plan aims to ensure that, as far as possible, brownfield land is brought forward before greenfield sites are released.  The availability and take up of housing land will be monitored to ensure that there is an adequate supply of land and that, in accordance with the plan-monitor-manage approach, allocations are reviewed and necessary adjustments are made to the phasing of sites.  A permission may not therefore be granted on an allocated site if construction rates are being significantly exceeded.  A site phased for a later stage in the plan process may be brought forward if construction rates are being significantly underachieved and the earlier release of greenfield sites is the only means to resolve this situation.
   
  Policy HS3 - New Housing Allocations
  Land is allocated for housing at the locations shown on the proposals map and in the table below, which also includes the housing elements of the urban extensions at Spalding and Holbeach.
  Sites will be phased in accordance with Policy HS2 and as set out in the table below. Development indicated for a later phase will only be brought forward to an earlier phase where monitoring indicates that completion rates are being significantly underachieved compared to the Plan’s strategy.
  Proposals for alternative uses on land allocated by this policy will not be permitted unless it is demonstrated that the site has become physically unsuitable for housing. 
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  Table: Housing allocations
 
Location Phase 1
2004-2011
Phase 2
2011-2021
Potential
Dwelling
supply
Affordable
Housing
Provision*
Spalding- to 2021 350 1100 1450 483
Holland Park 350 1100 1450 483
Holbeach- to 2021 100 200 300 100
Adjacent A151 30 120 150 50
Off Foxes Lowe Road 70 80 150 50
Long Sutton- to 2021 60 20 80 27
Off Lime Walk 60 20 80 27
Sutton Bridge- to 2021 30 0 30 10
Off Chestnut Terrace 15 0 15 5
Off Withington Street 15 0 15 5
4.36 The numbers indicated represent an indicative potential number of dwellings.
 
  • Based upon site delivering 33% affordable housing.
  • All allocations are greenfield sites with no planning permission at 1 April 2004.
  • The sites referred to should achieve overall at least 30 dph net housing density. If this results in a potentially greater capacity for these sites than the numbers indicated in the table to 2021, the numbers indicated in the table to 2021 are the maximum to be permitted. Any remaining land would come forward post 2021, unless we have to bring it forward under ‘Plan Monitor Manage’ due to other sources of housing supply under-performing.
 
New Housing In Spalding and the Area Centres (Other Towns and Donington) (Non-Allocated Sites)
4.37 The large majority of the District's population lives in the towns, about one third in Spalding.  These are South Holland's most sustainable settlements.  They each provide a focus for employment, commerce, retailing, recreation and culture.  They are also locations for existing major investment in infrastructure provision and buildings.  Concentrating new housing development in the towns encourages energy efficient land use patterns providing the potential to reduce journeys to work.  It also sustains and strengthens the service and shopping functions of the town centres, helps to achieve urban investment and renewal and provides for transport choice by enhancing opportunities for the use of public transport, cycling and walking to enhance accessibility to all sectors of society.  The consumption of greenfield sites for development is lessened, helping to protect the character of the countryside, minimising the loss of agricultural land and reducing the costs of infrastructure provision.
 
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4.38 Historically, Spalding, in contrast with other parts of the District, has not had an over-supply of housing land nor has house building taken place at an excessive rate.  It offers the greatest potential for future growth within the District.
4.39 The Council will permit, subject to Policy HS2, development within the defined settlement limits of Spalding (the Main Town), the towns of Holbeach, Long Sutton, Crowland, Sutton Bridge and the main village of Donington (the Area Centres).  Such development will be restricted to brownfield land unless it can be demonstrated that no suitable brownfield sites are available and that any proposal for the development of greenfield sites would not result in the loss of important open spaces or harm the character and/or appearance of either the immediate locality or of the settlement in general. The scale, nature and design of development will need to be in character with the settlement and its surroundings, and the amenities of the surrounding areas must be safeguarded.
   
  Policy HS4 - New Housing in Spalding and the Area Centres (Other Towns and Donington) (Non-Allocated Sites)
  Residential development will be permitted on suitable sites within Spalding and the Area Centres, where the following criteria are satisfied:
  1) The site is within the defined settlement limits, as shown on the proposals map; and
  2) The site constitutes brownfield land, unless it can be demonstrated that no suitable brownfield sites are genuinely available.
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New Housing In The Group Centres (Non-Allocated Sites)
4.40 In accordance with the Plan strategy, whilst most new development will be located in Spalding followed by the towns of Holbeach, Long Sutton, Crowland, Sutton Bridge and the main village of Donington, the intention is that some villages should continue to act as minor service centres for the surrounding areas. The Plan’s approach to rural settlements is therefore to support the maintenance of existing services and facilities while limiting housebuilding to that required to meet a specified local need.  Many villages, during the previous plan period, have been subject to significant levels of new housing development and many extant planning permissions remain (Data on these sites is held within the Council’s Housing Land Availability Study, which is produced annually).  Together with the oversupply of housing land, combined with the aim to protect the countryside and to maintain the character of villages the defined settlement limits have been drawn as tightly as possible.  This is to minimise the possibility of intensifying the density of development on the periphery of villages and to maintain a gradual transition from the built areas of the settlement to the countryside.
 
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4.41 Despite increases in car ownership and other changes, for example, in retailing patterns, there are many households without access to a private car or access to public transport and the provision of a basic level of services and facilities is considered vitally important for the social and economic well being of the local communities.  The retention of services and facilities also has the potential to reduce the number and length of motorised trips for basic necessities.
4.42 Those villages which act as minor service centres are identified as: Cowbit, Deeping St Nicholas, Fleet Hargate, Gedney Hill, Gosberton, Moulton, Moulton Chapel, Pinchbeck, Sutton St James, Weston and Whaplode.
4.43 Within these villages housing schemes are limited to infilling of brownfield sites within defined settlement limits.  Infill development on small windfall sites can make a valuable contribution to meeting the housing needs in these settlements.  The scale and location of such schemes is critical though to ensure they are well integrated into the street scene and village pattern of development, taking into account local character and distinctiveness. Also we will be mindful of the existing stock of extant planning permissions in the rural areas; where at least 5-10 years’ supply already exists, further planning permissions for housing will not normally be forthcoming at that stage.
   
  Policy HS6 - New Housing in the Group Centres (Non-Allocated Sites)
  Residential development will be permitted on suitable sites in Group Centres where:
  1) It is within the defined settlement limits as shown on the proposals map; and
  2) It is on brownfield land; and
  3) It is infilling or represents the replacement of an existing dwelling within the same site.
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New Housing In the Open Countryside including Other Rural Settlements
4.44 A number of other settlements are located within relatively remote rural areas. It is important that where limited services do exist they are retained for the benefit of the local population.  However some of the villages do not have, and are unlikely ever to have, basic services or facilities. All of these other rural settlements are regarded as locations where major new development should not be permitted and therefore defined settlement limits have not been made (i.e., previous development boundaries are removed).  These settlements are treated as lying in the open countryside and are considered under the following policy in order to protect their character, the countryside and in the interest of sustainable development.
 
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  Policy HS7 - New Housing in the Open Countryside including Other Rural Settlements
  Outside the defined settlement limits of Spalding, Area Centres and Group Centres, new housing development will only be permitted where:
  1) it is proven to be essential to meet the needs of agricultural, forestry or other workers and complies with Policy HS12; or
  2) the proposal is for small scale, rural exception affordable housing that complies with Policy HS9.
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Affordable Housing
4.45 The District Council considers the provision of affordable housing to meet the needs of local people to be one of the most important issues facing it.  We are committed to ensuring that local people have the opportunity of a decent home.  Some people cannot access the general housing market because their incomes are insufficient, so we will seek the provision of affordable housing to try and address these housing needs.
4.46 House prices in the District have risen significantly over recent years.  They are simply not affordable to many local people.  The substantial increase in house prices has not been matched by a similar increase in wage levels. The Council therefore defines ‘Affordable Housing’ as being homes provided to meet the needs of people who cannot afford to buy or rent suitable property on the open market and which are therefore homes made available at a rent or price below the normal market level, irrespective of size or type of dwelling, which are affordable (having regard to detailed formulae and other advice in its approved Supplementary Planning Guidance September 2005, which may be reviewed when necessary) and which are made available to meet demonstrated needs in the area (including needs evidenced in its Housing Needs Survey 2003 and updated figures based on the survey).
4.47 Affordable housing can be provided through 3 main routes:
 
  • Direct provision by the District Council;
  • Provision by Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) or Charities; or
  • Provision by Private Developers.
4.48 The Council is pursuing all of these routes to ensure maximum delivery.  We need to be innovative and look at different ways of delivering affordable housing, including through a range of tenures.  One of the ways we will address the shortfall is to seek provision through the planning process as part of development.  In addressing the community’s need for a mix of housing types, the Council will require affordable housing provision on the basis of evidence.  A major contribution to meeting need can, and must, be made through the planning process, although clearly not all of the need will be met that way.  The sites allocated for housing development by Policy HS3, together with developments brought forward under Policies HS4 and HS6 where they are of a size requiring affordable housing, will together provide the main contribution towards affordable housing provision in the District over the Plan period.
 
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4.49 Our Housing Needs Survey Update 2004 identified 530 affordable housing units are needed annually.  Re-lets in the existing stock are insufficient to meet this need and there remains a projected requirement for an extra 269 affordable homes annually from 2004, for at least 5 years in order to meet all the backlog of unmet need and address newly arising need over that period. However, we anticipate that it will take longer than five years to clear the backlog and hence that the annual requirement thereafter will be in excess of the 155 homes required to meet newly arising need. We will regularly monitor progress towards meeting need and when necessary we will reassess the amount of unmet need.
4.50 There is a shortfall in affordable housing in each and every sub-area of the District as shown in the Housing Needs Survey report.
4.51 Affordable housing can be provided in urban and rural areas and be for discounted sale, for shared ownership or for rent (or a combination of these) wherever a demonstrable need exists. This is irrespective of tenure, ownership or financial arrangements. There are a number of types of provision and each will have a role to play and may be suited to meeting a particular group of needs or income levels.  Properties must meet local housing need, which may require a range of affordable homes with costs that suit households of different income levels.  The number of properties in any development is also likely to affect the mix needed.  The homes must be suitable for the prospective occupants. Evidence suggests that in particular there is a requirement for significant proportions of both affordable rent and shared equity sectors to be provided overall in the District. We are particularly mindful of the need to increase the stock of low rent properties given that they may well be the only type of property ever affordable to some households. The Housing Needs Survey shows that new low cost market housing, unless in some way made available at a rent or price below the normal market level through the private or public sectors, will not contribute to meeting the need for 269 homes per annum referred to previously.  Low cost market housing has a role to play in adding to the overall range of housing types in the stock but can only be seen as additional to the identified affordable housing need. The Council’s priority is to rigorously pursue contributions of subsidised housing through Policy HS8.
4.52 The adopted Local Plan (1998) did not contain any policies specifically relating to affordable housing.  However the First Deposit Draft Local Plan (2001) contained policies which reflected the guidance given in PPG3 (2000) and Circular 6/98.  The Government also consulted on a draft revision to PPG3 during 2003, which it was proposed would replace Circular 6/98.  It proposed a general reduction of thresholds to 15 dwellings or 0.5 hectares with the potential to adopt lower thresholds, to address the housing needs of our communities. In particular, it emphasised the potential contribution of sites below the main threshold to help meet the needs in small rural settlements.  Some parts of PPG3 were subsequently changed in January 2005.  The Government has now consulted on further draft revisions in a paper “Planning For Mixed Communities” (and on a Draft PPS3).  This picks up on some of the earlier consultation issues.  In the interim, Circular 6/98, including its thresholds, remains in force. The policy set out below therefore continues to reflect guidance in PPG3 (2000) (as revised in January 2005) and Circular 6/98 but adopts a lower threshold than those that were set out in the First Deposit Draft given the evidence of need across the District set out in our Housing Needs Survey (2003) and updated figures based on the survey. In particular, the threshold is justified by the exceptionally high level of housing need in all areas and the limited number of larger sites that are likely to come forward in the District as a whole.
 
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4.53 The First Deposit Draft Local Plan recognised that a disproportionately large amount of housing land was located within the smaller rural settlements.  Very little of this large bank of planning permissions relates to affordable housing.  The Council’s aim is to achieve a more sustainable distribution of housing and therefore expects to see the majority of new permissions, and hence the majority of affordable housing provision, in the urban areas together with a reasonable number of affordable dwellings in the rural areas, particularly to meet local needs. For monitoring purposes, the minimum target for affordable housing provision through Policy HS8 (and preceding emerging policy) for the period 2004-2021 is to achieve completion of at least 1160 homes (on average at least 69 homes per annum) which has been calculated as follows:
   
  Table: Affordable Housing Minimum Target (Policy HS8 provision)
 
Source Estimated Number of
Affordable Homes
Existing Planning Permissions 280
Allocated Sites 620
Urban Capacity Sites 260
Total: 1160
  Note: Estimates are based on affordable housing provision of one third on qualifying sites. In turn these figures are based on assumptions, for example density. Sites developed solely for affordable housing will generate additional affordable homes not included in the above target. Rural exceptions housing is not included in this target and will be additional. We will refine this target if necessary through our Annual Monitoring Report. This is a minimum target for monitoring purposes and is not a maximum. If this target is exceeded, affordable housing will still be required where there is evidence of unmet need remaining.
   
4.54 Minimum targets for affordable housing provision have been set for individual major housing sites allocated in Policy HS3 and they are given in the table in that policy.
 
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4.55 The additional affordable homes provided by schemes comprising solely affordable housing will be additional to these numbers and not count towards the minimum target.
4.56 We will monitor affordable housing commitments and completions as part of a Plan-Monitor-Manage approach. As well as monitoring progress towards the overall numerical target, it will be necessary to look at the types of affordable housing provided in order to assess whether the specific social needs of South Holland are being met.
4.57 Where the application is for just 1 or 2 dwellings, but clearly forms part of a site for development of 3 or more dwellings, then the Council will seek the provision of affordable housing in accordance with this Policy.  The minimum density of development across the site will be expected to be in the range 30 – 50 dwellings per hectare in urban locations, to accord with PPG3, and should reflect our Urban Capacity Study.  The policies apply to all new planning applications for residential development, including applications for renewal of previous permissions.
4.58 Our normal requirement is for at least one third of the housing to be affordable housing and for it to be provided on site, within the development.  However, in a particular case there may be good planning reasons why, as an exception to this normal requirement, it would be preferable either for the affordable homes to be provided by the developer on another site or for the Council to accept a financial contribution to an affordable housing scheme on another site.  Also, if the proposed development consists of less than 9 dwellings the Council may accept a financial contribution to an affordable housing scheme on another site.  We will only accept off-site provision or financial contributions where they are linked to a specific, planned affordable housing programme.  The onus will be on the applicant to identify the affordable housing scheme where appropriate, or to discuss with the Council contributing to the Council’s own scheme for funding of affordable housing programmes.  Neither off site provision nor financial contributions will be a less expensive option than on-site provision, but will be equitable.  In calculating requirements for off-site provision or for financial contributions, regard will be had to the number of general market homes that the developer will achieve, the total number of dwellings (general market plus affordable) to be delivered across all sites which are part of the consideration and the site area(s) involved. The ‘one third’ affordable housing contribution refers to the provision of land at nil cost and in addition a capital contribution to the cost of the dwellings. Where applicants are seeking a reduction in the amount of affordable housing normally required it will be necessary for them to provide a robust financial appraisal of the development as part of the planning application to demonstrate why that reduction is justified. The Council will closely scrutinise such proposals. The Council will only seek less than one third of a residential development as affordable housing in exceptional circumstances.
4.59 In order to create and maintain an adequate supply of affordable housing, we will seek reasonable assurances that the dwellings provided will be made available for occupation by those people who are in need in that area. The measures necessary will depend upon the types of partners involved and the type of housing to be provided. For example, if a Registered Social Landlord (RSL) is involved who will manage the letting of dwellings, that provides some assurance. However, sometimes it will be necessary to use planning conditions as a means of control, or possibly planning obligations under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. In the case of 'rural exceptions sites', it will always be a requirement that the affordable housing remains available as such not just for initial occupiers but for all subsequent occupiers too.
 
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  Policy HS8 - Affordable Housing
  On residential development sites of three or more dwellings, or sites of 0.1 hectares or more, the Council will require the provision of a minimum of one third of the residential units as affordable housing on the site.
  The requirements of this policy will also apply to proposals for conversion of buildings to residential use.
  Any planning application which, on the grounds of viability, proposes a lower level of affordable housing provision than is required by this policy must be accompanied by evidence prepared by the applicant demonstrating that affordable housing at the level normally expected would impair the viability of the scheme and that the level proposed is the most that is achievable.
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Rural Exceptions
4.60 PPG3 (2000) as revised in 2005 allows limited opportunities for small-scale rural exception sites for affordable housing.  Under this Policy the Council, whilst it has not allocated such sites in this Plan, may exceptionally grant planning permission on land that would not normally be released for development.  This can provide a valuable opportunity to meet genuine local needs. The sustainability of proposals will be assessed with reference to the spatial strategy of the plan and our Settlement Services and Facilities Survey.  Settlements with little or no basic services and facilities, and open countryside locations that are not related to a village, will not normally be favoured for new affordable housing provision, although each planning application will be considered on its merits.  Particular regard will be had to the settlement hierarchy set out in Policy SG3. The size of the application site and the number of units proposed should be commensurate to the settlement to avoid over development.  We envisage rural exception sites to provide no more than 10 dwellings.  The need for such a site should be clearly demonstrated with reference to the Housing Needs Survey.
4.61 The Council will therefore give consideration to proposals on suitable small rural sites outside, but normally adjacent, to the defined settlement limits of villages, as an exception to normal policy.  Such locations, adjoining villages are more likely to be within reach of facilities and public transport than if based in the wider countryside, and should not result in sporadic development.  The Council will also consider granting proposals which are well related to the built up area of one of the Other Rural Settlements, where there are some services and facilities present in the village and where the housing is essential to meet local need; only very exceptionally will proposals be allowed in other, less sustainable, locations.  Some parishes have begun preparing parish plans and village appraisals.  Such documents utilise local knowledge and can help to identify what need exists and where sites could be located.  We will work closely with local parishes where the opportunity arises.
 
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4.62 There is evidence of substantial need for affordable housing in the District, and in particular there is a real challenge in trying to clear a significant amount of the backlog of unmet need. Therefore the Council may also consider as an exception granting permission for small-scale proposals which are outside but adjacent the defined settlement limits of urban areas and well related to the town, which comprise solely affordable housing to meet demonstrated local needs.
4.63 High standards of design will be required in order to minimise the impact of exceptions schemes on the countryside and on the settlements themselves. As with any other housing scheme, we will need to consider carefully the sustainability of proposals, including impact on community infrastructure.
   
  Policy HS9 - Rural Exceptions
  On rural sites not identified for development in the Local Plan, affordable housing to meet local needs may be exceptionally permitted. Proposed ‘exceptions site’ development must:
  1) meet an identified local need and be of an acceptable size, and in particular the occupant of each dwelling should meet the definition of local housing need;
  2) be subject to an agreement which ensures that it remains as affordable housing for local people and for second and subsequent owners / occupiers; and
  3) be in scale and character with the settlement in which it is to be located.
  The sustainability of proposals will be critically assessed with reference to our settlement services and facilities survey and spatial strategy.
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Open Space In New Residential Developments
4.64 Open space of sufficient size, type, quality and distribution is an essential component of new residential development for the purposes of play and recreation and for the quality of the residential environment. The standards for provision do not include landscape buffer strips or roadside verges as contributing towards open space. Open space for play and amenity areas should form an integral part of the scheme. Such areas should be a product of express design and not the occasional and oddly shaped area of land not capable of residential development.
4.65 New open space should be planned as an integral part of the development and wherever possible should incorporate existing natural landscape features.  The developer should take care to ensure that issues of security, residential amenity and privacy are fully addressed.  Where the development is small scale, meaning fewer than 15 dwellings, a contribution to nearby recreational or open space facilities may be appropriate rather than providing a very small area of open space on site which may be of limited value for play and recreation and problematic to maintain.
 
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4.66 Guidelines upon the provision of open space, its location and design and maintenance obligations have been published as supplementary planning guidance.  We will update this study and prepare a revised Supplementary Planning Document, as set out in the LDS.
4.67 We will implement this policy through our formal planning procedures, the provision of up to date supplementary planning guidance and through pre-submission discussions with developers. Conditions will state that, where an equipped play area is to be provided, this shall be completed before the adjacent plots are offered for sale. Also potential residents should be made aware of proposed equipment provision, either through a notice on site, or through inclusion within sales and promotional details.
   
  Policy HS11 - Open Space In New Residential Developments
  Proposals for residential development shall make provision for open space in accordance with the Council's adopted standards of not less than 14% of gross site area.
  Where developments are unable to provide open space requirements on site, or where the development is adjacent to or in close proximity to a sufficient sized area of existing open space the District Council will accept, in appropriate circumstances, financial contributions from developers for the provision of open space off site or enhancement of existing open space if required to meet the needs arising from the development.
  Developers will be required to ensure that long term future maintenance of the open space provided by the development is secured either by a maintenance agreement or adoption by the District Council.
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Agricultural, Forestry and Other Workers’ Dwellings
4.68 The only exception to policies which resist new housing development in the open countryside is where accommodation is required to enable a farm worker or other essential workers to live in the immediate vicinity of their workplace.  This is in accordance with national policy, outlined in PPS7, which advises that applications for development of this type be scrutinised thoroughly.   This policy applies to agricultural, forestry and other workers’ dwellings in the open countryside, and including the other rural settlements.  This policy is concerned with protecting the countryside from development, minimising the loss of agricultural land, avoiding the higher than average costs of infrastructure and service provision and helping in the consolidation of new development in the towns and villages, in accordance with the plan's strategies.
 
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4.69 Applicants will be required to demonstrate that there is a genuine need for the accommodation proposed which is essential to the efficient functioning of the unit and that such a functional need could not be fulfilled by the adaptation or extension of another dwelling on the unit, through the conversion of a traditional building on the unit or any other accommodation in the area which is suitable and available.
4.70 As well as demonstrating a functional need, an applicant must demonstrate that an enterprise to which the functional need relates is profitable, has been established for at least three years and is likely to remain so.  Permanent accommodation cannot be justified on agricultural grounds unless an enterprise is economically viable. 
4.71 Once functional need and economic viability are established, proposals will be subsequently assessed in relation to their size, siting and design, to ensure that the needs of the enterprise are met without detriment to the landscape.  The Council will consider the submitted details of the requirements of the enterprise to assess whether the size of the dwelling and its specification/construction costs are commensurate with the functional requirement of the enterprise and farm income.  Should a proposal be approved, the Council will consider using a condition to remove permitted development rights to ensure that a dwelling is not subsequently extended to a size which exceeds its functional requirement.  This will ensure not only that any development carried out at a later date does not have a materially harmful effect upon the rural character of the area but also that the dwelling is more likely to remain affordable on an agricultural income should the circumstances on the particular holding change.
4.72 Proposals should be sited so as to minimise the impact of the proposed dwelling on the landscape as well as being suitably located to meet the identified functional need.  Proposals should be sited close to existing buildings.  Curtilage and access requirements should also not detract from the landscape.  Where it is essential for functional reasons that new dwellings are sited away from existing buildings or outside existing domestic or enclosed areas, the siting of a proposal must have regard to existing features such as trees and hedgerows.  These should be utilised in a landscaping scheme to minimise the impact of a new dwelling in the landscape.  In addition, the design of proposals should in terms of scale, use of materials and landscaping, ensure that the dwelling does not detract from the character of the area.
4.73 Where planning permission is granted, an occupancy condition will be imposed to ensure that the dwelling is kept available to meet agricultural need.  The use of occupancy conditions ensures that the policy of protecting the open countryside from isolated residential development is not prejudiced and that these dwellings are maintained to serve local agricultural needs.
4.74 Proposals for a new house to accommodate a retired agricultural worker will not be acceptable and are not in accord with this policy.
 
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  Policy HS12 - Agricultural, Forestry and Other Workers' Dwellings
  Proposals for new permanent agricultural, forestry and other workers’ dwellings outside defined settlement limits will only be permitted where all of the following criteria are satisfied:
  1) It can be demonstrated that the accommodation needs cannot be met or located within defined settlement limits or through the re-use of a suitable traditional building or the extension of or adaptation of another dwelling on the unit. The history of the original holding will be investigated to establish whether any disposal of dwellings or buildings capable of conversion has taken place which would constitute evidence of a lack of functional need for a further dwelling.
  2) It can be demonstrated that the proposed accommodation is essential to the functioning of a financially sound enterprise which has been established for at least three years and that the dwelling is proposed to be located on and used in connection with that unit.
  3) The size and specification of the dwelling are commensurate with the functional requirements of the unit.
  4) The proposal would not cause harm to the character and appearance of the landscape and is sited close to existing buildings.
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Temporary Agricultural Workers’ Accommodation
4.75 This policy is designed to complement the preceding policy relating to the provision of permanent new agricultural workers’ dwellings in the countryside which serve well established enterprises.  New enterprises will be unable to satisfy the requirements of the previous policy and yet it is important that the accommodation requirements arising from a new enterprise are addressed or, indeed, the expansion of existing enterprises is addressed.
4.76 Applicants will be expected to demonstrate that there is a functional need for the accommodation together with evidence that there is a firm intention and ability to develop the enterprise.  In addition the Council will only grant permission for proposals that are considered acceptable in terms of their landscape and environmental impact.
4.77 Where proposals are acceptable, permission will be granted for an initial period of no more than three years and the occupancy of the accommodation restricted by condition.  Conditions will also be used to ensure that the accommodation is removed after the permission expires and the site restored, providing permission for a permanent dwelling on the site has not been granted. 
   
  Policy HS13 - Temporary Agricultural Workers' Accommodation
  Proposals for temporary agricultural workers’ dwellings will only be permitted where:
  1) The proposal is to satisfy the needs of a new agricultural activity or expansion where clear evidence exists of a firm intention and ability to develop the business concerned, together with evidence of sound financial planning; and
  2) There is a functional need for the accommodation proposed; and
  3) The need could not be met by:
    (i) An existing dwelling on the holding; or
    (ii) The conversion of an existing suitable building on or adjoining the holding; or
    (iii) Any available dwelling elsewhere in the vicinity; and
  4) It is sited to minimise its impact on the landscape- preferably adjacent to existing buildings- and would not cause unacceptable harm to the character or appearance of the area.
  The temporary accommodation will need to be removed from the site when not in use unless it can be shown that there is no alternative reasonable and acceptable location for storage out of season.
  Operators will be required to keep a register of all workers living in the accommodation and to make this register immediately available, on request, to the local planning authority.
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Accommodation For Transient Agricultural Workers
4.78 Seasonal agricultural workers, including those from overseas, have been employed on farms in the District for many years. However, the number of foreign workers has increased substantially over recent years.   The Council recognises that the demand for transient agricultural workers is no longer seasonal and that year round provision is now required.  In recent years agricultural and horticultural employers have found it increasingly difficult to recruit sufficient numbers of temporary workers, especially at periods of peak activity. Farmers consider that this constrains their ability to meet both domestic demand and some export markets, and that it opens up the UK to imports.
4.79 Accommodation for transient workers will be provided in a number of ways. Some workers will be accommodated within the District’s existing housing stock but the cumulative conversion of dwellings to houses in multiple occupation can reduce the availability of certain types of family housing and lead to wider amenity problems. 
4.80 Where it can be demonstrated that there is an essential and proven need for accommodation for agricultural workers that cannot be met elsewhere in the locality then the conversion of existing buildings, the erection of well designed new buildings or the siting of temporary structures to provide hostel type accommodation on the holding may be acceptable. This type of accommodation should preferably be located within close proximity to an established public transport route to prevent the social isolation of the transient workers. Proposals for such accommodation will be carefully scrutinised to ensure that they provide accommodation only for those workers who are employed on a temporary basis such as those employed through the SAWS scheme. Accommodation of this type is likely to be both unsuitable for permanent occupation by reason of the limited amenity standard and unsustainable in its location away from the services and facilities which permanent residents should have reasonable access to.
 
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4.81 In determining applications for hostel style accommodation at or close to the place of work the Council will require clear information relating to intended occupancy and tenure. Such accommodation should be relatively small in scale, normally housing no more than twenty workers to avoid wider amenity problems, reduce the demands on infrastructure, and ensure that the physical and visual impact of development is minimised. Planning conditions will be imposed restricting occupancy to a maximum of six months for an individual in any twelve month period and permission will normally be granted on a temporary basis to enable the Council to review overall trends in agricultural employment and associated accommodation needs. Particular care will be taken to ensure that adequate facilities including recreational and leisure space are provided to meet the welfare needs of residents. Conditions will be imposed relating to the management of the accommodation and the provision of regular transport to nearby settlements and facilities for residents.
4.82 Any new buildings should be designed to be in keeping with their setting and surroundings and sited and designed to minimise any harmful impact on the landscape or environment.  All accommodation should satisfy environmental health and housing requirements relating to the provision of a satisfactory and safe living environment for occupiers.
4.83 Regard will be had to the cumulative effect of proposals on the character of the area and the amenities of other residents.
4.84 The Council wishes to assist in supporting a healthy rural economy within the context of national and local planning policies. New buildings and structures can reduce the open character of the countryside and have an adverse impact on the landscape and the amenity of local residents. Therefore this policy aims to limit the impact of this type of development on the local area.
   
  Policy HS14 - Accommodation for Transient Agricultural Workers
  Accommodation for transient agriculturaland/or horticultural workers will only be permitted outside defined settlement limits where the following criteria are satisfied:
  1) It can be demonstrated that there is an essential and proven need for accommodation for agricultural workers employed on the holding that cannot be met elsewhere in the locality.
  2) The amount of accommodation is commensurate with the demonstrable needs and scale of the holding.
  3) The accommodation is provided to meet the temporary and not permanent accommodation needs of workers employed on the holding.
  4) Measures are included to protect the character of the local area including the retention of existing trees and hedges, new landscaping and improvement of boundary treatments.
  5) A satisfactory standard of accommodation and adequate communal leisure and recreational facilities are provided on site to meet the amenity needs of occupiers.
  6) Regular transport is provided for workers to nearby settlements and services.
  7) In the case of proposals for new buildings or temporary structures including static caravans, the need could not be met by utilising an existing dwelling on the holding or the conversion of an existing, suitable building on or adjoining the holding.
  8) Accommodation is sited adjacent to existing buildings to minimise its visual impact in the wider landscape and does not harm the character or appearance of the area.
  Planning permission will always only be granted on a temporary basis to enable the Local Planning Authority to review overall trends in agricultural employment and associated accommodation needs.
  Operators will be required to keep a register of all workers living in the accommodation and to make this register immediately available, on request, to the local planning authority.
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Agricultural Occupancy Clauses
4.85 Changes in farming practices have resulted in some agricultural dwellings no longer being required for that purpose.  Although it is not appropriate for them to remain permanently vacant, applications for the removal of the condition will need to be carefully assessed in order to establish whether there is a continuing need for an agricultural dwelling on the holding or in the locality.  Such assessment should be submitted with the application and particular attention will be paid to the attempts which have been made to dispose of the property for agricultural use.  The dwelling should have been advertised for a reasonable period, normally a minimum of six months, at a price which reflects the occupancy condition and genuine attempts made to sell the property to persons who could satisfy the occupancy condition.
 
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  Policy HS15 - Agricultural Occupancy Clauses
  Where planning permission has been granted subject to an agricultural occupancy condition, restricting occupation to certain persons, removal of the condition will only be permitted if it can be demonstrated that there is no longer a need for the dwelling on the holding/business or in the locality.
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Conversion Of Redundant Rural Buildings To Residential Use
4.86 Sometimes farm buildings in the open countryside are no longer required for their original use and owners may wish to seek new uses for them.  We are concerned that such structures, representing as they do a valuable resource, should not remain vacant or under-used or become derelict, detracting from the visual character of the countryside.  In order to diversify the rural economy, preference will generally be given to the adaptation of vacant rural buildings to employment uses.  This is because it is considered that residential use would have only a minimal economic impact on the rural economy.  Applications for conversion to residential use (barn conversions), therefore, will be examined with particular care.
4.87 We consider the creation of small scale local employment opportunities to be a priority in the rural areas of the District and for that reason we propose not to allow residential re-use of rural buildings unless we are satisfied that the building is unsuitable for employment use, or that there is no demand for such in the locality, or that the residential use would be ancillary to a scheme for business re-use.  Where it would be ancillary to a business scheme, we will consider requiring that the works necessary for the business enterprise be completed before residential occupancy begins.  We are mindful of the fact that residential conversions can often be detrimental to the fabric and character of historic buildings, but other policies in this Plan afford special protection to listed buildings and apply to proposals for their alteration or adaptation to new uses. A successful conversion to residential which meets the criteria of the policy could be encouraged as a means of retaining buildings of architectural or historic merit. Regard will also be had to the cumulative effect of residential conversions on the rural character of the countryside.
4.88 Proposals which involve rebuilding, rather than conversion or adaptation, will be regarded as new dwellings in the open countryside and will not be permitted.
   
  Policy HS16 - Conversion of Redundant Rural Buildings to Residential Use
  Proposals for the re-use or adaptation of existing buildings outside defined settlement limits to residential use will only be permitted where all of the following criteria are satisfied:
  1) The Council is satisfied that the building is unsuitable for employment use or that there is no demand for suitable employment use in the locality.
  2) The building is of permanent and substantial construction and is capable of conversion without significant rebuilding.
  3) The building is of architectural or historic merit, makes a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the landscape and conversion can be achieved without adversely affecting that merit.
  4) The design of the scheme, materials of construction and detailing are sympathetic to the character and appearance of the building.
  5) The building is capable of conversion to provide a reasonable standard of residential amenity without the need for significant extension or alteration.
  Permitted development rights for the future extension and alteration of buildings converted to residential use and for the erection of curtilage structures will be withdrawn. Special regard will also be had to the landscaping and boundary treatment of such development.
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Replacement Dwellings In The Countryside
4.89 We will permit the replacement of dwellings in the countryside providing the dwelling to be replaced has not by its condition or subsequent use abandoned its residential use, and provided that the existing dwelling is not of architectural or historic merit.  Where a dwelling has been demolished or has collapsed, or where because of its state of dereliction any new building work would in effect be creating a new dwelling, its replacement will not be permitted.  Temporary or mobile structures such as caravans are not acceptable for replacement with new permanent dwellings.
4.90 Replacement dwellings will be required to be of a similar scale to the original dwelling and of a design appropriate to its rural setting.  The floor area of the replacement dwelling should not exceed the floor area of the existing property by more than 20% and it should be designed in a vernacular style sympathetic to traditional development in the area.  Suburban styles of design including bungalows are unlikely to be acceptable.
4.91 The replacement dwelling should be located on the site of the dwelling which it replaces unless it can be demonstrated that a more appropriate alternative site exists.  A replacement dwelling may not be permitted, for example, where access is unsatisfactory and cannot be improved or where there is an unacceptable risk of flooding.
4.92 It is important to protect the rural landscape from the intrusion of large dwellings which could detract from the rural character of the area.  The policy aims to ensure that the replacement dwelling is complementary to its surroundings in all matters of design, siting and amenity. 
4.93 Permitted development rights will be removed so that control can be administered over the size and design of any future alterations or extensions to the dwelling or curtilage buildings to ensure that any development carried out at a later date does not have a materially harmful effect upon the rural character of the area.
 
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  Policy HS17 - Replacement Dwellings in the Countryside
  The erection of replacement dwellings in the countryside will only be permitted where all of the following criteria are satisfied:
  1) The original building has not been abandoned or allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair that it would not be capable of habitation without significant structural repair, and retains the appearance of a dwelling.
  2) The original building is not a temporary or mobile structure.
  3) The original building has a lawful dwelling house use.
  4) The original building is not of architectural or historic merit and is capable of repair, where restoration would be preferred to replacement.
  5) The replacement dwelling is of a similar scale and size to the original building and does not exceed the floor area of the original dwelling by more than 20%.   The floor area of any existing ancillary structures will not be included in this calculation.
  6) The replacement dwelling is positioned on a similar footprint to the original building unless it can be demonstrated that repositioning would benefit the character and appearance of the site and locality.
  7) The design of the replacement dwelling reflects the design of traditional, vernacular buildings in the area in terms of scale, character, materials of construction and architectural detailing.
  Permitted development rights for the future extension and alteration of replacement dwellings and for the erection of curtilage structures will be withdrawn. Special regard will also be had to the landscaping and boundary treatment of replacement dwellings.
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Change Of Use Of Property To Housing In Multiple Occupation (HMO) Use
4.94 Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are an important element of the local housing market which can provide an acceptable standard of accommodation at an affordable price.  In assessing the merits of individual HMOs there will be a need to balance their housing contribution against their impact on the surrounding area and residential amenities.
4.95 An HMO can be defined as a property occupied by persons who do not form a single household but who share certain facilities, such as kitchens and bathrooms.  HMOs are an intensive use and may result in planning problems, such as harm to the amenity of existing residents from noise and general disturbance, excessive demand for on-street parking and harm to visual amenity caused by loss of front gardens to create hard standings and refuse stores.    The size and location of the property will be considered in determining its suitability for HMO use.  Proposals to convert dwellings to HMOs in traditional, high-density streets of terraced and semi-detached properties will not normally be permitted.  Such streets often experience acute problems of on-street parking which would be worsened by increasing the density of occupation.  These properties also provide valuable family accommodation in lower price ranges, particularly for first time buyers.  The property should be of sufficient size and the proposal should meet environmental health guidelines relating to the provision of a satisfactory and safe living environment for occupiers.
 
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4.96 Regard will also be had to the cumulative effect of HMOs on the character of the area and the amenities of other residents.  The Council may require that a residential manager is provided in larger HMOs.
   
  Policy HS18 - Change Of Use Of Property To Housing In Multiple Occupation (HMO) Use
  Proposals for the conversion of properties to HMOs will only be permitted where all of the following criteria are satisfied:
  1) They would not result in the loss of family housing in high density residential streets of predominately terraced and / or semi-detached property built pre 1919.
  2) There would be no material harm to the amenity of existing, nearby residents by virtue of general disturbance, noise or overlooking.
  3) There would be no significant adverse impact upon the character or appearance of the area.
  4) Adequate provision is made for the storage and disposal of refuse.
  5) There would be no material increase in demand for on-street car parking that would exacerbate existing car parking problems.
  6) The property is of an adequate size for the proposed use and the layout, room sizes, range of facilities and external amenity space would ensure an adequate standard of residential amenity for future occupiers.
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Sites For Gypsies And Travellers
4.97 Government advice on gypsy and traveller site provision is set out in Circular 01/06 (ODPM).  Its main stated intentions are:
 
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  “a) to create and support sustainable, respectful, and inclusive communities where gypsies and travellers have fair access to suitable accommodation, education, health and welfare provision; where there is mutual respect and consideration between all communities for the rights and responsibilities of each community and individual; and where there is respect between individuals and communities towards the environments in which they live and work;
  b) to reduce the number of unauthorised encampments and developments and the conflict and controversy they cause and to make enforcement more effective where local authorities have complied with the guidance in this Circular;
  c) to increase significantly the number of gypsy and traveller sites in appropriate locations with planning permission in order to address under-provision over the next 3 – 5 years;
  d) to recognise, protect and facilitate the traditional travelling way of life of gypsies and travellers, whilst respecting the interests of the settled community;
  e) to underline the importance of assessing needs at regional and sub-regional level and for local authorities to develop strategies to ensure that needs are dealt with fairly and effectively;
  f) to identify and make provision for the resultant land and accommodation requirements;
  g) to ensure that DPDs include fair, realistic and inclusive policies and to ensure identified need is dealt with fairly and effectively;
  h) to promote more private gypsy and traveller site provision in appropriate locations through the planning system, while recognising that there will always be those who cannot provide their own sites; and
  i) to help to avoid gypsies and travellers becoming homeless through eviction from unauthorised sites without an alternative to move to.”
4.98 The location of gypsy sites is a difficult and contentious issue.  Whilst sites in urban areas could give occupiers easy access to a wide range of local facilities and services, such sites may often be more appropriate for general forms of housing where land use efficiency can be maximised
4.99 In both urban and rural areas it will be important to consider the effects of a proposed gypsy / traveller site on the amenities and character of the area as well as the effect on local residents.  Sites need to be capable of accommodating the proposed pitches, and the containment and landscaping of sites is also essential.  Demand for sites will normally be higher in rural areas and it is therefore important that there is a genuine, demonstrable need for such sites.
4.100 The Council’s previous Local Plan did not contain a policy relating to the provision of sites for gypsies and travellers.  The Council has recently been faced with a number of retrospective planning applications for such accommodation.  In order to assess future needs of gypsies and travellers the Council has established a Forum to bring travellers, the local community and other stakeholders together.  The use of a Forum, and through pro-active engagement with these groups, will help to alleviate any potential conflicts and provide wider understanding of the needs of all affected parties.  The Council has also undertaken an accommodation needs assessment (available as a background paper) which provides a sound base on which to determine and demonstrate how much accommodation is required and the nature of that accommodation.  We are seeking to identify suitable sites which could be allocated through the LDF process or subject of planning applications if necessary in advance of that.  We will have regard to the Government advice in Circular 01/06.
 
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4.101 The Council encourages gypsy and traveller groups (or any individual or other body seeking to address gypsy / traveller needs) to consult the authority at the earliest opportunity before acquiring land on which they wish to develop, and on which planning permission would be required.  The needs of gypsy and traveller groups will be taken into account when determining any resultant planning applications. Applications for permanent residential gypsy sites will be determined in accordance with the criteria in Policy HS19. Applications for transit sites or temporary stopping places will also be determined in accordance with these criteria but it may be possible for the criteria to be relaxed in such cases to reflect the particular proposals and the non-permanent nature of the accommodation offered.
   
  Policy HS19 - Sites for Gypsies and Travellers
  Planning permission will be granted for new gypsy and traveller sites where there is an unmet need, or a need arises unexpectedly, and provided that the following criteria are satisfied:
  1) The site is within reasonable distance of a school, shop and other local services.
  2) Sites should respect the scale of the nearest settled community and should avoid placing undue pressure on the local infrastructure.
  3) The site would not have a significant adverse effect on the amenities of existing local residents or adjoining land uses.
  4) The site is already, or is capable of being, successfully assimilated into both its immediate environs and the wider landscape.
  5) The use of the site would not prejudice highway safety or give rise to problems of parking and highway access.
  6) The site would have adequate connections to services including drinking water supply, electricity and waste water treatment.
  7) The site would not be at high risk of flooding or rapid inundation.
  Where planning permission is granted careful consideration will be given to the landscaping and boundary treatment of the site, to the treatment of hard surfaced areas and to lighting proposals. The development of any ancillary structures or buildings including stables will be strictly controlled.
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