South Norfolk Village Clusters Housing Allocations Plan (Reg. 18 Draft)

Ended on the 2nd August 2021
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Introduction and Background

The South Norfolk Village Clusters Housing Allocations Plan (The Village Clusters Plan) aims to deliver sustainable growth within the villages of South Norfolk. The Village Clusters Plan is being developed alongside the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP) and in accordance with Government's national planning policies and guidance. The main aim of the Plan is to allocate a series of smaller sites, typically within the range of 12 to 50 homes, across the 48 Village Clusters in South Norfolk, to accommodate at least 1,200 new homes in total. The Plan also defines the Settlement Limits for the villages within these clusters, making provision for further smaller sites and incorporating revisions to reflect development that has occurred, or has been permitted since the boundaries were last updated.

This consultation draft sets out the proposed Objectives for the Village Clusters Plan as well as a set of Core Policies that would apply to all of the Preferred allocation sites. It is proposed that those Core Polices would cover the issues of standard requirements to deliver sustainable development, housing mix on the Preferred sites, and design standards.

The Council has assessed almost 450 sites for possible inclusion in the Village Clusters Plan and, following that assessment, this consultation categorises them as 'Preferred', Shortlisted (or 'Reasonable Alternative') or Rejected (or 'Unreasonable Alternative'). We are seeking your views on those sites and asks whether there are any sites which we have not yet assessed, which landowners or developers would like to submit for consideration.

The consultation draft Plan has been prepared alongside a draft Sustainability Appraisal (SA) and Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA).

National Policy

Government planning policy is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). In terms of rural housing, paragraph 78 of the NPPF states that:

'To promote sustainable development in rural areas, housing should be located where it will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities. Planning policies should identify opportunities for villages to grow and thrive, especially where this will support local services. Where there are groups of smaller settlements, development in one village may support services in a village nearby.'

  • This underpins the Village Clusters Plan, which looks at settlements both individually, but also, importantly, as part of a cluster of settlements many of which share local facilities and services.

Paragraph 68 of the NPPF notes the importance of small and medium sized sites, up to 1 hectare in size, in contributing to meeting housing needs, particularly in terms of the ability to deliver those sites quickly. This paragraph also encourages Councils to have Local Plan policies which support windfall development on non-allocated sites. The scale of sites sought through the Village Clusters Plan, both the potential allocations and the review of smaller sites as Settlement Limit extensions, helps deliver on these requirements.

The Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP)

South Norfolk Council is working with Broadland Council and Norwich City Council to produce the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP). Amongst other things, the GNLP identifies how many homes need to be built between 2018 and 2038,. The basis for calculating the future requirements is the Government's December 2020 'standard method' for identifying local housing need. More details on the GNLP can be found at www.gnlp.org.uk.

The GNLP strategy focuses most of the planned growth in a strategic growth area that covers the Broadland Growth Triangle to the north east of Norwich, Norwich and its wider urban area, and the A11 corridor including Hethersett and Wymondham. This strategic growth area is also referred to as the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor. The GNLP does however also allow for further growth in the Main Towns and the larger 'Key Service Centre' villages (such as Hingham, Loddon/Chedgrave and Poringland/Framingham Earl) outside of this strategic growth area. The draft GNLP also requires some development to occur on smaller sites in the Village Clusters, as described in the GNLP such provision is made as it 'has the benefit of supporting small-scale builders, providing choice for the market and helping to ensure the delivery of housing in popular village locations.'

Overall 5.5% of the GNLP growth is assigned to the Village Clusters in South Norfolk. Half of that growth has either already been built during 2018/19 and 2019/20, or is on sites which already have planning permission, or are allocated in the current South Norfolk Site Specific Allocations and Policies (2015). To meet the remaining requirements of the GNLP, the South Norfolk Village Clusters Housing Allocations Plan needs to identify sites for at least a further 1,200 new homes.

Non-housing sites in the South Norfolk Village Clusters, such as employment allocations or stand-alone sites for specific uses, such as sports and recreation facilities, are still dealt with through the GNLP.

Village Clusters

There are 48 Village Clusters in South Norfolk. Some contain a single parish, whilst others contain multiple parishes. In line with the approach set out in the GNLP, each one is centred around the local Primary School. Where that primary school is within a larger settlement outside of a Village Cluster, the remaining rural parishes still form a cluster in the Village Clusters Plan e.g. Brockdish, Needham, Wortwell and Startson are within the catchment of Harleston Primary School, but those four parishes from a cluster in this this Plan. The Primary School catchment has been taken as a proxy for social sustainability, However the Council also recognises that many other facilities are important to local communities and has also undertaken an audit of other facilities and services within the clusters, to inform the Site Assessment process (see details below).

The sites within the Village Clusters are split into two categories

  • new Allocations, these are sites typically proposed for between 12 to 50 dwellings, which will go to meeting the 1,200 dwelling requirement in the GNLP, noted above; and
  • Settlement Limit Extensions, for sites smaller than 12 dwellings, these will not count towards the 1,200 dwelling requirement, but will help ensure that the 'windfall allowance' in the GNLP is achieved.

The threshold of 12 dwellings is consistent with the GNLP and reflects the fact that sites smaller than this are less likely to achieve the required element of affordable housing. Settlement Limit extensions offer the opportunity for 'self-build' development, as encouraged through Government policy, particularly where those sites have been proposed by the site owner who wishes to build or commission their own home.

This Consultation

The current consultation is under Regulation 18 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012. Comments can be submitted between 9am on 7th June and 5pm on 2nd August..

Regulation 18 is part of the evidence gathering stage of preparing a Local Plan, before the Plan is formally submitted for an Examination in Public, which is currently timetabled to happen in 2022. Therefore, we are seeking your input to help shape the final draft of the Village Clusters Plan. In this consultation we are seeking your views on various aspects of the draft Plan including:

  • The Objectives of the Village Clusters Plan;
  • the Core Policies, which would apply to all of the Allocation sites, including whether we need them and, if we do, what you think they should cover

We also need your input on the sites that have been put forward to the Council and our assessment of them:

  • The Preferred Allocation sites, including the number of houses proposed and what a policy for that site might need to contain to ensure a high standard of development;
  • The Shortlisted (or Reasonable Alternative) and Rejected (or Unreasonable) Allocation sites, including whether you agree with the Council's assessment of the site, or whether you think these sites should be preferred, and why;
  • The Preferred, Shortlisted (or Reasonable Alternative) and Rejected (Unreasonable) Settlement Limit Extensions, including whether you agree with the Council's assessment of the site.
  • Any further sites which we should consider? Whilst we have already assessed around 450 sites, if you have a site that you would like the Council to consider, this is your opportunity to submit it. Please bear in mind that we are primarily looking for smaller sites, typically around 12 to 25 houses, close to the existing Settlement Limits and well related to village services and facilities.

As well as the sites put forward to us, we are seeking views on the Settlement Limits themselves. The Settlement Limit is important because the planning policies which apply inside the Settlement Limit are generally supportive of new development, subject to the usual Planning consideration such as design, landscaping, access, neighbour amenity etc., whereas, outside Settlement Limits, much more restrictive planning policies are applicable. We have already suggested amendments to Settlement Limits to reflect development which has happened since they were last defined in the 2015 Local Plan, or where it makes sense to change them to fit with a nearby Preferred Allocation site. However we are asking whether you agree with these proposed changes and/or whether there are further changes we should make?

The sites and Settlement Limit proposals are set out by cluster within this draft Plan. Maps for preferred sites are included within the document.

Maps showing all preferred, shortlisted (Reasonable Alternative), rejected (Unreasonable Alternatives) and the extent of settlement limits, including any proposed changes, have been published alongside of this document.

As part of this consultation you also have the opportunities to make comments on the evidence document that support the plan, including the draft Sustainability Appraisal and Habitat Regulations Assessment.

Existing Planning Policies and Neighbourhood Plans

Whilst we are continuing to prepare the GNLP with our partner authorities, and preparing this separate South Norfolk Village Clusters Housing Allocation Plan, this is in the context of other planning documents which already exist, or are also being prepared.

Currently Local Plan Policies for the village cluster settlements in South Norfolk are set out in variety of documents, these include:

  • The Joint Core Strategy for Broadland, Norwich and South Norfolk (2014), which sets out the strategic planning policies covering the three. Districts;
  • The South Norfolk Site Specific Allocations and Policies Document (2015), which sets out allocations for housing and other uses
  • The South Norfolk Development Management Policies Document (2015) which sets out a number of non-site specific policies applicable many types of development (highways, parking, design, landscaping, neighbour amenity etc.) as well as criteria based polices for various different types of development, and policies applying to particular landscape designations.

When adopted the GNLP will replace the existing Joint Core Strategy (JCS) and will also replace the parts of the South Norfolk Site Specific Allocations and Policies relating to the larger settlements in South Norfolk. The Village Clusters Plan will then replace the remainder of the Site Specific Allocations and Policies document. However, the 2015 Development Management Policies Document will remain in place.

Some Town and Parish Council have, and are continuing to, produce Neighbourhood Plans, which sit alongside the Local Plan and when adopted, are also used to determine planning applications. Most of these Neighbourhood Plans include more detailed Development Management policies, which aim to shape development proposals to better reflect local circumstances. However, currently two Neighbourhood plans, Dickleburgh and Diss and District (covering Burston, Roydon and Scole) are proposing to make their own allocations and our approach to these clusters is set out in the specific chapters below. For more information about Neighbourhood Plans in South Norfolk, please visit www.south-norfolk.gov.uk/residents/planning-and-building/planning-policy/neighbourhood-plans.

To find out more about the Village Clusters Housing Allocations Plan, please visit our Virtual Exhibition.

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