BMSDC Joint Local Plan - Pre-Submission Reg19 (interactive) 2020

Ended on the 24th December 2020
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09 - Spatial Distribution

Context

09.01 The Councils need to plan the right locations to meet the identified local housing and economic needs across the district areas. Growth has many key benefits, including the securing of greater local investment, adapting and enhancing the local environment to modern living contexts, creating local job opportunities and ensuring local people have suitable and affordable homes to live in.

Housing

09.02 Since the 2001 Census, both Districts have delivered housing growth predominantly in the rural areas (approximately 60%). In recent years, both Babergh and Mid Suffolk Districts have experienced difficulty in meeting the identified housing targets for the respective areas and have had a limited number of allocated sites. The Councils are working to address this, including the production of an 'Action Plan' to focus upon the timely delivery of new housing. This Plan has identified a supply of development from April 2018 up to March 2037. In constructing the spatial distribution of this Plan, the Councils have been mindful of the inherent market strengths within the area and have sought to ensure that the most suitable and deliverable sites are proposed. In many instances, this requires the complex alignment with infrastructure improvement programmes and investment to ensure that growth is planned in a sustainable manner.

09.03 A significant number of Neighbourhood Plans (NPs) are emerging throughout the Plan area, with a range of local issues and objectives being planned for. The District Councils have produced minimum housing requirement figures for these areas to assist the NP groups in the formation and progression of those plans. In identifying the respective NP requirement figures, the Councils have been mindful of their duty to ensure that the overall district Plan requirement figures can be met.

09.04 Planning permissions yet to be completed as of 1st April 2018 are counted, leaving a residual amount to be found from new development locations. The total housing numbers in the Plan have been identified by combining the outstanding dwellings with planning permissions as of 1st April 2018, with new development locations set out in the Plan.

(4) 09.05 Cumulatively, allocations of importance to delivery of the Plan (in particular key infrastructure delivery and meeting local housing need) will be attributed to new housing growth in the following criteria:

  • Key sites in the Ipswich Fringe
  • Settlements along the A14/mainline railway corridor (Mid Suffolk)
  • Settlements along the A12/mainline railway corridor (Babergh)
  • Settlements requiring new school and/or healthcare sites.

(1) 09.06 The transport corridors of the A12, A14, A140 and railway lines within the area have a strong effect upon market forces and demand for both housing and employment land. Compatible growth along these areas can help to reduce the need to travel by ensuring closer location of where people live, relative to shops, services and employment. However, Babergh and Mid Suffolk are both rural districts, with a wide variety of settlement types and it is important that all communities throughout the area are helped to maintain vitality and services. Consistent with national planning policy, this Plan seeks to create flexibility and diversity with policies for appropriate rural growth.

Spatial approach

09.07 The spatial distribution of housing set out in this Plan seeks to secure a balance to growth in the strategic transport corridor areas, as well as ensuring that other market towns and rural communities' benefit from appropriate growth. A diversity of site sizes and locations are proposed which will help to maintain delivery at the scale to meet district targets. The Councils will closely monitor the ongoing annual delivery rates of housing across the Plan area and will take appropriate, pro-active action, if it is required to address delivery performance issues.

09.08 The specific new development locations are identified on the Policies Maps at the end of the document. The new development locations have been identified with consideration to consultation responses, the availability and deliverability of sites, the preferred spatial distribution pattern, the sensitivities and constraints of the area (eg. flood zones, heritage features and landscape designations etc) and the infrastructure capacity and opportunities (eg. schools and healthcare etc). Sites judged to perform best overall against the above criteria and evidence base outcomes have been proposed in this document.

09.09 Windfall sites are defined as sites not specifically identified in the development plan. As evidenced in the latest Annual Monitoring Report[19], in the last four years, the volume of windfall dwelling completions has been significant, with a total of approximately 600 dwellings in Babergh and approximately 1,000 dwellings in Mid Suffolk. In addition to the supply of housing land identified in the Plan, the Councils have also included an allowance for new 'windfall' development of 500 dwellings (28 dwellings per annum) for each district. This is considered a measured and reasonable allowance given the recent historic rates of windfall and abundance of new allocations identified in the Plan.

(2) 09.10 Whilst a new settlement approach has been discounted in this Plan, the Councils are mindful to give consideration to the longer term prospect of planning for a new settlement at the Plan review (due to be undertaken within 5 years of this Plan adoption). Some of the key criteria for the broad location of a new settlement would likely include:

  1. Significant land for a genuine discrete new settlement, or the realistic prospect for transformational development, both in nature and scale, of an existing settlement;
  2. Opportunities for significant re-use of brownfield land;
  3. Opportunities for improvement and integration of strategic transport routes;
  4. Accessibility to job concentrations, or the realistic prospect for significant new employment land located with new homes; and
  5. Opportunities to optimise new infrastructure delivery.

(71) Policy SP04 - Housing Spatial Distribution

From April 2018 to March 2037, the broad distribution of new additional housing provision will be as follows:

Babergh

Settlement Hierarchy

OPPs*

(at 01/04/18)

New homes

(2018-2037)

Total homes

(2018-2037)

Ipswich Fringe

289

1,757

2,046 (21%)

Market Towns and Urban Areas

1,731

1,430

3,161 (33%)

Core Villages

1,288

1,411

2,699 (28%)

Hinterland Villages

582

284

866 (9%)

Hamlets

146

193

339 (4%)

'Windfall'

-

500

500 (5%)

Total

4,036

5,575

9,611

*Outstanding planning permission. (% may not sum due to rounding)

Mid Suffolk

Settlement Hierarchy

OPPs*

(at 01/04/18)

New homes

(2018-2037)

Total homes

(2018-2037)

Ipswich Fringe

526

1,192

1,718 (14%)

Market Towns and Urban Areas

1,124

2,842

3,966 (31%)

Core Villages

1,464

3,297

4,761 (38%)

Hinterland Villages

517

750

1,267 (10%)

Hamlets

200

204

404 (3%)

'Windfall'

-

500

500 (4%)

Total

3,831

8,785

12,616

*Outstanding planning permission. (% may not sum due to rounding)

All identified home numbers are minimum figures. Allocations and settlement boundaries are identified on the Policies Map.

Neighbourhood Plans

In order to assist with delivery of the overall district housing need requirements, designated Neighbourhood Plan areas will be expected to plan to deliver the minimum housing requirements set out in Table 4. Neighbourhood Plan documents can seek to exceed these requirements, should the unique characteristics and planning context of the designated area enable so.

Table 4 – Minimum housing requirement for NP Areas

Babergh

(6) 09.11 The numbers contained within the table include outstanding planning permissions (OPPs) granted as of 1st April 2018. If outstanding planning permissions granted as of 1st April 2018 expire during the lifetime of the Plan, then the corresponding offset number of dwellings, will need to be identified within the same Neighbourhood Plan area to meet the total homes requirement

Neighbourhood Plan Area

Identified OPPs

(as of 01/04/18)

Total homes required

Aldham

1

13

Assington

38

38

Bentley

32

52

Boxford

8

13

Capel St Mary

142

792

Chelmondiston

13

52

Chilton

11

161

Copdock and Washbrook

36

274

East Bergholt

12

241

Elmsett

8

49

Glemsford

37

37

Great Waldingfield

7

39

Hadleigh

125

871

Hartest

12

12

Hitcham

5

17

Holbrook

58

65

Lavenham

98

118

Lawshall

3

23

Leavenheath

4

44

Little Cornard

3

3

Little Waldingfield

4

4

Long Melford

217

367

Newton

23

23

Sproughton

84

1,514

Stoke by Nayland

1

27

Stutton

11

65

Whatfield

1

1

Woolverstone

16

26

Mid Suffolk

(2) 09.12 The numbers contained within the table include outstanding planning permissions granted as of 1st April 2018. If outstanding planning permissions (OPPs) granted as of 1st April 2018 expire during the lifetime of the Plan, then the corresponding offset number of dwellings, will need to be identified within the same Neighbourhood Plan area to meet the total requirement.

Neighbourhood Plan Area

Identified OPPs

(as of 01/04/18)

Total homes required

Ashbocking

4

19

Battisford

3

12

Beyton

11

30

Botesdale & Rickinghall

43

194

Debenham

16

261

Diss & District (covering the parishes of Brome & Oakley, Palgrave and Stuston)

49

64

Drinkstone

1

1

Elmswell

480

834

Eye

291

663

Fressingfield

38

56

Haughley

7

199

Hoxne

13

43

Laxfield

35

97

Mendlesham

86

161

Needham Market

311

512

Old Newton with Dagworth

11

141

Redgrave

2

11

Stowupland

191

652

Stradbroke

67

282

Thorndon

55

75

Thurston

490

1,489

Walsham le Willows

8

90

Wilby

7

7

Woolpit

18

717

Economic

Economic Growth

09.13 Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council's support a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by supporting economic activity and encouraging investment in skills and innovation in order to drive and increase productivity (Joint Strategic Plan 2016 – 18 / Open for Business, Economic Strategy, 2018).

09.14 Overall, the Lichfields Sector Needs Assessment (2017) indicates that Babergh and Mid Suffolk have modest net additional employment land requirements. In quantitative terms, there is considered to be adequate land to meet baseline objectively assessed need (OAN) over the plan period, given the modest baseline forecast in both areas. The allocations are predominantly on the former Sproughton Sugar Beet site / Sproughton Enterprise Park and the Stowmarket Mill Lane/Gateway 14 site, supported by small parcels of available land across the Districts' identified employment locations along the strategic transport corridors, a number of which have planning permission. Planning permissions yet to be completed as of 1st April 2018 have been assumed, leaving a residual amount to be found from new development locations

09.15 However, whilst the baseline land forecast indicates modest land requirements over the Plan period, it is important that there is flexibility to meet the changing demands of the economy, there is a general qualitative need to improve premises options and update or replace ageing stock to meet modern energy efficiency performance demands, architectural attractiveness and premises format needs. Availability of sites with good infrastructure in road, rail, and high-speed broadband and 5G is important for maintaining economic prosperity. The future prosperity of the Districts is dependant upon the diversity of available employment land and, where possible, retaining the existing economic base. This is not necessarily in terms of maintaining a land area, but rather being flexible in securing business retention and expansion in challenging economic circumstances.

09.16 Flexibility to accommodate net strategic growth on strategic employment sites is essential to securing the future prosperity of the area. There are 9 main Strategic employment areas:

  • Stowmarket
  • Sudbury
  • Villages around Ipswich (Claydon & Great Blakenham, Sproughton, Wherstead)                           
  • Acton
  • Eye
  • Hadleigh
  • Needham Market
  • Raydon
  • Woolpit

09.17 It is important that the flexibility to enable economic investment is balanced with the need to safeguard the network of sites, which have a central role in supporting economic activity across Babergh and Mid Suffolk. Proposals for net additional land must demonstrably enhance overall economic position and will not jeopardise the ongoing retention of the existing employment uses. There is a need to ensure that employment opportunities exist throughout the Districts' villages, to help to create sustainable communities and reduce the rate of out-commuting. The economic importance of supporting the retention of a network of medium and small-scale clusters; both the larger single user occupied and the clusters of local businesses that provide local employment opportunities throughout the villages. Cumulatively these sites ensure the economic sustainability of Babergh and Mid Suffolk. Detailed policies to address the protection in the diversity in the type, scale and location of employment sites are set out in Part 2.

(3) 09.18 With the aim of supporting key employment sectors in the locality there are 3 enterprise zones designated across Babergh and Mid Suffolk:

  1. Stowmarket Enterprise Park, Gateway 14, Mill Lane - a designated Enterprise Zone (EZ) site that extends to approximately 52 ha, of which 34 ha is developable land. The Enterprise Park sits within Gateway 14. The EZ site is also a designated Food Enterprise Zone (FEZ). This designated Enterprise Zone site will focus upon providing serviced employment land for development focussed upon business and employment use and distribution.
  2. Sproughton Enterprise Park - The site is around 52 hectares and lies on the western edge of the Ipswich built up area. The site is allocated for employment uses in the current Babergh Core Strategy. The previously developed area is estimated to be in the region of 35.5ha, and the EZ is 14ha.
  3. The Orwell Food Enterprise Zone at Wherstead, offers business incentives to businesses in the food and beverage industries.

Policy background and explanation

Context

09.19 Babergh and Mid Suffolk are located within the Ipswich Economic Area (IEA), along with Ipswich and Suffolk Coastal (now part of East Suffolk). Within the IEA, the A14 road and rail corridor is the main arterial route for goods between Europe and the distribution warehouses in the English midlands. The corridor also aligns with the key commercial property market in the IEA from Felixstowe westwards to Stowmarket (Lichfields, 2017). The Cambridge Economic Area adjoins further to the west at Bury St Edmunds. The A140 and A12 also provide key arterial routes for the movement of goods and business activity. Elsewhere in the IEA the commercial centres of Hadleigh and Sudbury contain localised markets. Rural and agricultural areas make up the rest of the IEA with 11,300 square kilometres (or 4,366 square miles) classified as rural representing 94% of the total area (Lichfields, 2017).

09.20 Spatially in Mid Suffolk, commercial activity is concentrated in and around the A14 corridor. The largest hub is at Stowmarket, followed by Needham Market, Great Blakenham and Claydon. The District's industrial market is relatively strong within Stowmarket, particularly focussed on manufacturing, distribution and logistics activity (Lichfields, 2017) including Muntons, PPG, Bacton Transport and Truck East. There is also a major employment hub on the former WWII airfield site at Eye to the north of the District which hosts manufacturers, wholesalers and agriculture businesses. Villages such as Mendlesham and Woolpit accommodate industrial estate employment. Outside the main centres, the majority of rural employment sites in Mid Suffolk are relatively small and have grown organically in the location to serve local needs.

09.21 Babergh District is also largely rural in nature, with the economic hubs located in the market towns of Sudbury and Hadleigh. Employment is concentrated around the Ipswich administrative area at Copdock Interchange Retail Park and Farthing Road Industrial Estate (Sproughton). Many smaller settlements contain clusters of businesses, such as at Bildeston. There are clusters of tourism businesses at Lavenham and Long Melford. The remainder of the District comprises rural businesses with diverse property needs.

09.22 The approach set out in the Plan seeks to maintain the geographical range and diversity of employment land across the District areas, whilst also recognising that there is a need for policy flexibility to enable the demands of future economic needs and investment to be accommodated. A balance must be struck between safeguarding existing sites, which are vital to the area, whilst supporting new investment, which will enhance the overall economic base.

09.23 Across Babergh and Mid Suffolk employment sites tend to comprise of the following:

Strategic Employment Locations

  • These employment sites are of strategic importance to the District wide economy. They are functioning well and will remain the main core of industrial land and premises within the Districts. The business estates in these areas are generally operating at capacity.
  • Sudbury, Hadleigh, Acton, Claydon and Great Blakenham, Sproughton, Wherstead, Stowmarket, Needham Market, Woolpit & Eye.
  • Within the Strategic sites are three (Food) Enterprise Zones: Sproughton Sugar Beet Regeneration site, Mill Lane/Gateway14 Stowmarket, and at Wherstead.

09.24 Strategic Regeneration opportunities are provided at the former Sugar Beet Factory at Sproughton and Brantham Regeneration Site in the South of Babergh; both of which have a long-established industrial heritage.

Business and Enterprise Hubs

  • Cumulatively important, the hubs provide a network of over 100 smaller sites are dispersed throughout the Districts, providing lower-cost premises to SME businesses in the many small settlements.
  • Clusters containing multiple, often self supporting businesses.
  • Often converted from agricultural use these areas have developed organically over time.

(28) Policy SP05 – Employment Land

  1. In order to support and encourage sustainable economic growth and ensure a continuous range and diversity of sites and premises are available to meet current and potential future economic needs the strategic employment sites (as identified on the policies map) shall be protected and their proposed expansion supported in principle:
    1. Stowmarket - Charles Industrial Estate; Gipping Employment Corridor; Mill Lane
    2. Sudbury – Chilton Industrial Estate, Delphi Site Churchfield Road (part Chilton parish) and Northern Road; Wood Hall Business Park
    3. Villages around Ipswich
    4. Claydon & Great Blakenham – Gipping and Claydon Business Park
    5. Wherstead – Wherstead Business Park
    6. Sproughton – Former Sugar Beet Factory Site; Farthing Road Industrial Estate
    7. Acton – Bull Lane
    8. Eye – Eye Airfield
    9. Hadleigh – Lady Lane
    10. Needham Market – Lion Barn
    11. Raydon – Notley Enterprise Park
    12. Woolpit – Lady's Well; Lawn Farm; Brickworks; Woolpit Business Park
  2. The ongoing economic led regeneration at Brantham and at the Former Sproughton Sugar Beet Factory regeneration sites is supported. Development at the Brantham site must be sensitive to the estuarine/coastal location, which is in close proximity to the AONB, in relation to landscape, biodiversity, potentially flood risk, and, where relevant, the historic environment. This site could offer significant potential for biodiversity net gain as well as landscape improvements to reflect its location close to the AONB and coast. Similarly, regeneration at the Former Sproughton Sugar Beet Factory, must be sensitive to landscape, biodiversity (with consideration given to potential for biodiversity new gain) and heritage assets and sensitivity.
  3. Existing employment uses should be retained. These sites will generally be expected to continue to provide for local employment over the plan period. If sites are to be redeveloped for alternative non-employment uses, the alternative provision (a "land swap") and / or contributions to enable alternative employment provision must be secured.
  4. Applications for full flexibility or for a single or flexible use involving one or more of the uses within Class E on the strategic employment sites will be considered on their individual merits. This will apply to all unimplemented extant relevant permissions (prior to September 2020) whether in full or in part. Prior to submission applicants should engage with the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to agree the required assessment work in support of any proposal
  5. In determining applications for new employment development weight shall be given to proposals which make provision for skills and training packages which are supported by the LPA.
  6. To ensure a deliverable supply of employment sites to meet accommodate the changing needs of the economy, development of net additional employment uses along the strategic transport corridors (A12, A14 and A140) shall be supported in principle, subject to:
    1. The applicant demonstrates that any proposal is deliverable and would enhance provision which can not be accommodated on existing employment sites;
    2. All proposals demonstrate adequate highway capacity and access. There must be included sufficient off-road parking for the use on site to the satisfaction of the LPA;
    3. All proposals ensure provision of accessibility to public transport, including walking and cycling provision
    4. The site design and layout must be sensitive to the surroundings, including any landscape, heritage and biodiversity assets;
    5. Prioritisation must be given to development on brownfield PDL.
    6. All new buildings must demonstrate high-quality design, by having regard to the relevant policies of the Plan.

RETAIL

Town centres, Retail & Leisure

09.25 As Babergh and Mid Suffolk are largely rural Districts, the towns and core villages within them serve an important function in the provision of shopping, employment and leisure opportunities. However, there is also a substantial influence of neighbouring major retail centres Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Colchester which are located just outside the Plan area. The Councils' Retail and Town Centres Study (2015) has been used to identify the strengths, opportunities of key retail centres and the capacity for further retail and commercial leisure development in the Plan area.

09.26 In order to maintain the vitality and viability of existing town and retail centres, new retail,leisure and community facilities will be directed sequentially to the towns in Babergh and Mid Suffolk and to the core and hinterland villages as defined in the settlement hierarchy.

09.27 The sequential approach ensures retail development will be in sustainable locations with good means of accessibility supported by regular public transportation. Where proposals are in out of town locations, developers will be required to provide evidence to justify location by demonstrating there are no suitable alternative sites within or adjacent to a town centre.

09.28 A number of town centres fall within Conservation Areas where a number of Listed Buildings are present therefore development proposals will need to take into consideration the effect it may have on the townscape.

(7) Policy SP06 – Retail and Town Centre Use

  1. Proposals for new retail and town centre uses[20] in the Plan area should be supported in the defined town centre areas. Settlements with a defined area are in Sudbury, Hadleigh, Stowmarket, Needham Market, Eye and Debenham.
  2. A sequential test should be provided for retail and town centre uses proposed outside of the defined town centre areas.
  3. In order to protect and enhance the historic environment of the settlements, development proposals will need to demonstrate they have been designed with the setting and townscape taken into consideration.

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