BMSDC Joint Local Plan - Pre-Submission Reg19 (interactive) 2020
14 LOCAL POLICIES – ECONOMY
Policy background and explanation
14.01 In the 2019 NPPF, chapter 6 'Building a strong, competitive economy' is clear when it sets out "Significant weight should be placed on the need to support economic growth and productivity, taking into account both local business needs and wider opportunities for development."
14.02 The purpose of this section is to provide a planning framework which;
- Encourages development of employment sites and other business growth, of the right type, in the right place and encourage investment in skills and innovation in order to increase productivity.
- Encourage inward investment to the Districts by supporting infrastructure improvements that will enable the continued growth of the Port of Felixstowe and strengthen the Districts' links to the Port of Felixstowe and the rest of the UK.
- Supports the tourism sector as one of the key drivers of economic growth.
- Provides sufficient flexibility to be responsive to changing behaviours, innovation and sectoral advancements to enable business to be competitive and improve productivity.
Supporting A Prosperous Economy
14.03 Alongside the major strategic employment sites located in the towns, Ipswich Fringe and along the transport corridors, the rural economy also plays a fundamentally important role in the prosperity of the Districts as a whole, and the vitality of local communities. Many of the rural employment sites have grown organically over time responding to changes in demand and will inevitably continue to change. The aim of the Plan is to provide a framework to effectively manage development requirements for employment land.
14.04 The policy on small scale employment and flexible working practices recognises the importance of micro and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) scale of businesses in the two districts, where their predominantly rural nature means it offers benefits such as where these can thrive in the home. It seeks to accommodate Micro and SME operators positively by making provision for small scale employment and flexible working practices in appropriate locations. The provision to enable remote working, in particular through telecommunications connectivity, will be addressed in the contributions, infrastructure and services policy.
- Proposals for employment use must:
- Be sensitive to the surroundings, including any residential and other amenity, landscape and heritage assets;
- Demonstrates high-quality sustainable design;
- Minimise impact from development on climate change through the implementation of sustainable construction practices and /or renewable energy technologies;
- Maximise the use of sustainable and active modes of transport through footpath and cycle route improvements as part of development, or to be sited where it can be easily accessed by public transport;
- Provide adequate servicing, access and off-road parking for its type, mix, use and location;
- Where necessary, provide contributions to the enhancement of the digital infrastructure network;
- Have good highway access and not have severe impact on highway network;
- Protect and enhance biodiversity and geodiversity affected by the development.
- 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 LPA to agree the required assessment work in support of any proposal.
- Change of use to small scale employment use, predominantly residential curtilage, is supported where:
- There is no direct sales from the site;
- The direct and indirect effects of the scale of the business activity, including the employment of non-residents at the business, must remain incidental to the overall use of the site for residential purposes;
- The hours of operation are compatible with residential use; and
- The business does not involve significant noise, dust, fumes or other emissions, outdoor storage or frequent delivery/collection (more than twice daily) which could adversely affect local amenity.
Policy background and explanation
Ensuring an Adequate Supply of Land and Premises for Economic Growth
14.05 The policy for ensuring an adequate supply of land and premises for economic growth aims to ensure that a continuous range and diversity of appropriate employment sites and premises are available throughout the plan period. The Councils consider that availability of employment opportunities – particularly in rural areas – is essential to maintain sustainable communities. The loss of individual premises or land in employment use in itself may not appear to be significant, but the cumulative loss of several such units can be damaging to the local economic resilience. The policy seeks to retain viable employment use on existing employment premises, but also enable other commercial uses, such as small scale retail, services and other facilities.
14.06 Overall, the Council expects that employment land and premises will remain in employment use throughout the plan period. Where a business is unable to make premises work viably, this does not mean that the premises is inherently unsuitable for employment use as an alternative operator or another business use may be able to operate successfully from the premises.
14.07 The policy aims to achieve a balance between ensuring there is sufficient choice in the employment land and premises market over the long term and being proportionate in the type and level of evidence required to support a change of use of small premises.
14.08 On some sites it may be appropriate to undertake a "land swap" whereby employment land/premises can be redeveloped with another use and the employment uses can be developed elsewhere on a new site. This could be beneficial for businesses to provide modern premises, and it could be beneficial for local amenity if employment uses were relocated away from residential areas. Where a land swap is agreed, the Council will require demonstrable economic benefit to the locality in terms of retention and enhancement of economic opportunities.
- In order to protect the operation of existing businesses, proposals for development in the vicinity of land and premises in lawful business, commercial and employment activity may only be approved where such activity would not be compromised through amenity conflicts arising from the proposed development.
- The Councils shall resist the loss of identified employment sites, as well as other land and premises in lawful employment/commercial use. Proposals that would lead to the full or partial loss of employment sites or premises will be required to demonstrate:
- That the possibility of re-using or redeveloping the land for other commercial, employment, business or community uses have been explored by a period of sustained marketing for 6 months by an independent qualified assessor. This must be undertaken at a realistic asking price, on a range of terms and in an appropriate format. The approach for the marketing campaign must be agreed by the Development Management case officer from the outset;
- The proposal would not give rise to amenity conflicts with existing or proposed employment uses/activities in the vicinity of the site.
- Where relocation of an employment use is proposed which would result in full or partial loss of the existing employment site to an alternative use the proposer will need to demonstrate that there would be an overriding environmental or community benefit from redevelopment or change to another business or community use, which outweighs the benefit of the current employment use continuing. In this situation the Council may also seek contributions to help offset the economic impact of the loss of business opportunities. Contributions may include any combination of:
- Alternative land or premises;
- Financial contributions towards infrastructure installations to enable the delivery of replacement employment premises on Strategic Employment Sites;
- Financial contributions towards skills, training and qualifications for displaced employees.
14.09 The aim of the policy is to promote competitive town centre environments that provide customer choice and a town centre offer. It is also aimed at supporting the viability and vitality of town centres in the Babergh and Mid Suffolk districts.
14.10 In accordance with the NPPF a threshold of 2,500m2 has been set for requiring retail and leisure development outside of town centres, which are not in accordance with an up to date plan, to provide an impact assessment. The level of detail to be included in the impact assessment should be proportionate to the scale and type of proposal and should be agreed between the Council and applicant on a case-by-case basis. Furthermore, in dealing with such applications (regardless of its size) paragraph 86 and 87 of the NPPF states that Local Planning Authorities should apply a sequential test to focus main town centre uses in town centres, then in edge of centre locations and only if suitable sites are not available (or expected to become available within a reasonable period) should out of centre sites be considered. The primary frontages and town centre boundaries for Hadleigh, Stowmarket and Sudbury are set out in the relevant Policies Maps.
14.11 To maintain and improve the vitality and viability of the town centres a mix of uses will be supported whilst safeguarding retail uses. These types of uses could include but are not limited to: "above the shop" homes; leisure and cultural activity including support for evening economy and improvements to the public realm, such as tree planting and green infrastructure. Proposals that implement adaption measures to combat climate change will be encouraged.
- Within Town Centre Boundaries consideration is given to ensuring that development proposals do not eliminate separate access arrangements to upper floorspace, which could be used for residential, community or employment uses.
Where an application for Class E (retail and leisure development outside of town centre boundaries), is in excess of 2,500m² an impact assessment will be required. A sequential test in accordance with the NPPF will be applied for any applications for main town centre uses. Applications which would have a significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of nearby centres will not be supported.
14.12 The NPPF para 83. states the Local Plan should enable sustainable rural tourism and leisure developments which respect the character of the countryside.
14.13 The Plan seeks to provide a diverse range of accommodation across the District to cater for the tourist demand. Tourist accommodation particularly that which is in permanent buildings can sometimes come under pressure to be occupied for full time residential use. New tourism accommodation should therefore be restricted by planning conditions and/or legal agreements so that it is retained for the benefit of the tourism economy and not lost to residential use. Planning conditions will limit the occupation of new self-catering tourist accommodation units to a continuous period of 28 days by one person or persons within one calendar year. The owners/operators of the accommodation will be required to maintain an up to-date Register of all lettings, which shall include the names and addresses of all those persons occupying the units during each letting. The Register will be required to be made available at all reasonable times to the Local Planning Authority.
14.14 Proposals to remove holiday occupancy must include appropriate evidence where it can be fully and satisfactorily demonstrated that there is no demand for the tourist accommodation. Marketing evidence must be provided with details on:
- why the property is being marketed;
- the location, links to transport networks and general setting;
- advertising methods – particulars should be set out in a bespoke, well-designed brochure with professional photos. Evidence of advertisements in both local and national publications/ online advertisement and/ or targeted mailing will be demonstrated;
- guide price/rent; and
- guide terms.
14.15 Proposals for tourism and tourist accommodation development needs to consider all environmentally sensitive characteristics of both districts. This includes but is not limited to: future proofing all development from the impact of climate change; protecting and enhancing heritage assets and their setting and protecting and enhancing biodiversity and geodiversity, as a result of development.
- Proposals for new tourism and leisure facilities, or improvements/extensions to existing facilities, will be supported where proposal(s):
- Enhance the district's ability to attract and cater for visitors, increase local employment opportunities and provide for environmental improvements;
- Improve the range, quality and accessibility of facilities;
- Are accessible by public transport and facilitates walking and cycling;
- Includes facilities which are open to the wider community, to enhance both accessibility and the range of facilities available;
- Uses brownfield land and or avoids the best and most versatile agricultural land.
- Enhances the vitality and viability of settlement centres.
- Protects the landscape, biodiversity and the historic environment.
- In addition to the criteria above, proposals in the countryside may be supported where the proposal:
- Increases access, enjoyment and interpretation of the countryside, appropriately, sensitively and sustainably;
- Provides appropriate parking and access and ensures the associated traffic movement would not compromise highway safety;
- Improves accessibility for existing settlements, which are not well served by public transport;
- Reflects the intrinsic quality and respects the character of the countryside by having regard to the Councils Landscape Guidance and any other relevant documents endorsed by the LPA;
- The proposal must follow a hierarchy of seeking firstly to avoid impacts, mitigate for impacts so as to make them insignificant on the local ecology, biodiversity, trees and hedgerows, or as a last resort compensate for losses that cannot be avoided or mitigated for;
- Is of an appropriate scale for their context; and
- Safeguarding and where possible enhancing the historic interest of the asset including its setting.
- In rural locations applications for new tourist accommodation will be considered on an exceptional basis. In addition, applications must:
- Demonstrate an overriding business need to be in that location.
- Be sympathetic to the character of the area and meet environmental standards;
- Protect and enhance heritage assets and their setting;
- Protect and enhance biodiversity and geodiversity as a a result of development;
- Minimise the impact of development on climate change, through sustainable construction practices and/or renewable energy technologies; and
- Be accessible by a range of transport modes.
- In addition to criterion at 1 (a – f) proposals to extend or upgrade tourism facilities must provide a balanced mix of economic, social and environmental benefits. New tourism development will be controlled by planning conditions which take account of the individual business models and or locational ecological impacts.
- The Councils will only support the removal of a holiday occupancy condition if evidence is provided that there is no demand for the ongoing use of the tourist accommodation, as evidenced by a sustained marketing for 6 months.