BMSDC Joint Local Plan - Pre-Submission Reg19 (interactive) 2020
Ended on the 24th December 2020
16 LOCAL POLICIES – HEALTHY COMMUNITIES & INFRASTRUCTURE
Policy background and explanation
16.01 Access to high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and recreation makes an important contribution to the health and wellbeing of communities. Furthermore, open spaces can play an important historical, environmental and local amenity role. The protection of designated open spaces (as defined by the Policies Maps, includes allotments, amenity green space, accessible natural green space and sports and recreation facilities) is given by the Councils in the interest of maintaining distinctive, attractive, healthy and functional places. The Councils Open Space Assessment (2019) examines existing and projected needs for open space, sport and recreation provision with the Districts. The study identifies that the majority of parishes in Babergh and Mid Suffolk have some form of open space deficit. Therefore, the Plan places priority on protecting high quality open spaces, especially where there is an existing shortfall of supply in that locality. However, this study does not take into account the rural nature of the Districts, which includes access to the countryside and natural green spaces via a national network of Public Rights of Way.
16.02 This policy seeks to offer protection to designated open spaces as defined on the proposal maps.
16.03 Open spaces includes:
- Allotments which are valuable community spaces which offer people opportunities for food production.
- Amenity green space is defined as spaces which are open to free and spontaneous use by the public but are not formally managed for a specific function such as a park or playing field; nor managed as a natural or semi-natural habitat.
- Sports and recreational facilities include (but are not limited to) parks and gardens, outdoor sports facilities, play spaces and formalised sports clubs' space (such as playing pitches and golf courses).
- Accessible natural green space covers a variety of partly or wholly accessible spaces including meadows, woodland and copses all of which share a trait of having natural characteristics and wildlife value, but which are also open to public use and enjoyment. Individually or collectively all of these spaces can contribute to the overall visual amenity of an area.
16.04 Neighbourhood Plans can designate Local Green Spaces in accordance with the criteria set out in paragraphs 99 to 101 of the National Planning Policy Framework.
16.05 However, it is not the intention of the policy to stifle change or growth, particularly where such change is in the interests of the space or the users of the space. Therefore, there is flexibility within the policy that allows appropriate development, change of use, land swap and other options that could result in enhanced amenity green space provision (of all typologies).
16.06 Proposals for the total or partial loss of open space(s) must provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that an open space is surplus to requirements. It is expected that this is supported by sufficient engagement with the local community.
16.07 There is also the need to ensure that open space (of all types) is incorporated into new development, but particularly on sites of 1 hectare or more. This does not necessarily mean formal play areas, as the flexible policy requires consideration of the most suitable open space to meet local needs and aspirations. Where suitable the Councils will also seek open space provision as part of non-residential uses of 1 hectare or more. This will normally be required to be provided on the development site itself, but in appropriate cases off-site provision may be agreed by the LPA. The acceptability of off-site open space provision will be dependant on its proximity and accessibility to the community it serves.
- The total or partial loss of designated open spaces (as defined on the Policies Maps) may be permitted where:
- The development will support the enjoyment and functionality of the space, be sensitive to its character and function and would not result in detrimental impacts on local amenity or distinctiveness;
- The space is demonstrably no longer performing a role as a functional or visual public amenity, or is surplus to requirements;
- An alternative space of equal or greater quality, accessibility and quantity can be provided to serve the communities' needs; or
- The development is for alternative sports and recreation provision, and the applicant can evidence that the benefits of the new provision clearly outweigh the loss of the current or former use.
- Proposals improve the biodiversity interest of designated open space, including as part of wider ecological networks, and improve accessibility for all.
- Developments in excess of 1 hectare will be required to provide on-site open space provision to meet identified needs/deficits, unless there is a Council preference to make improvements to existing open space within the locality in an equally or more accessible location than the proposed development.
- Open space provision is to be provided in line with the open space standards identified in the Open Space Assessment (as amended).
Policy background and explanation
16.08 The aim of the policy is to support and safeguard key services and facilities within the Districts, which play an important role within the community.
16.09 While it is not the intention of this policy to protect facilities which are not economically viable or feasible (either in its current or future form), the loss of community facilities must be justified. This needs to be demonstrated through submission of evidence as identified in the policy. This required evidence must be agreed through discussion with the LPA to ensure that consultation is considered appropriate and robust.
16.10 For the purpose of this policy community services and facilities include: village and public halls, community centres, places of worship, cinemas, libraries, leisure centres, museums, public houses, restaurants, cafés, convenience shops, banks, building societies, and post offices. Schools and healthcare facilities are addressed in separate policies in this Plan.
- Provision of New Facilities
- Proposals for new community services and facilities or improving existing facilities will be supported where the proposal is well related to and meets the needs of the local community, would reduce the need to travel to other settlements. The facility should be a proportionate scale to the settlement and would not adversely affect existing facilities. Proposals, particularly those located in the countryside, must demonstrate evidence of the community need for / benefits of the new facilities and good accessibility to the community to be served.
- Development should be of a high-quality development and sympathetic to the surrounding landscape and townscape, with no adverse effects on heritage assets and their settings.
- To minimise the impact of development on climate change, sustainable construction practices and/or renewable energy technologies should be incorporated into proposals.
- Loss of facilities
Development involving or comprising of the loss of an existing community facility, service or a premises, which is currently or last used to provide such use, will only be permitted if either;
- Compensatory provision of an alternative or improved facility will be, provided in an equally accessible or improved location; or
- The applicant can sufficiently demonstrate that the service or facility is not viable or valued by the community, either in its current or future form and is not needed for an alternative community use.
- Evidence to demonstrate that a service or facility is not viable, either in its current or future form should be agreed with the Council in advance (before being gathered) and should include:
- A sustained marketing period of 6 months, undertaken at a realistic asking price and on a range of terms and in an appropriate format by an independent qualified assessor; and
- Regard to any material considerations, designations or adopted plans for the area.
- Conversion of community facilities or premises into residential dwelling(s) will only be permitted where it complies with the relevant Plan policies.
Policy background and explanation
16.11 This policy has aims to ensure accessibility for all and to deliver sustainable development. It also seeks to provide a suitable policy framework for more detailed considerations of planning around transport and accessibility.
16.12 The National Planning Policy Framework states that developments that will generate significant amounts of traffic should provide a travel plan, to set out measures to facilitate sustainable modes of transport. SCC have produced new guidance for Travel Plans, for use as a material planning consideration. Furthermore, the National Planning Policy Framework, paragraph 34 states that:- 'Plans should set out the contributions expected from development. This should include setting out the levels and types of affordable housing provision required, along with other infrastructure (such as that needed for education, health, transport, flood and water management, green and digital infrastructure).
16.13 With regards to home to school transport contributions are already being secured through the planning process, where relevant to the development. This is done in accordance with the Department for Education (DfE) publication 'Securing developer contributions for education' (April 2019), which should be read in conjunction with the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) advice on planning obligations (revised March 2019). Paragraph 19 of the DfE guidance. It is therefore appropriate for the policy to require development contributions to provide for home to school transport where necessary.
16.14 The health benefits of 'Active Transport' are widely understood and supported, as such Sport England have recently published 'Active Design' which seeks to promote sport and physical activity in new and existing developments, to create an active environment, through designing and adapting where we live to encourage activity in everyday lives.
16.15 In relation to Public Rights of Ways, the County Council are also preparing a new strategy, "Rights of Way Improvement Plan: Green Access Strategy, which will also need to be considered in light of development proposals.
16.16 Future alternative transport solutions (such as driverless and autonomous vehicle technology) which for example will be used in the future as an alternative to taxis or public transport. Although not specifically covered within the policy, they are measures which would be encouraged as they develop in the future.
- Development proposals that are expected to, or likely to cause a significant increase in transport movements:
- Will be required to provide a travel plan in accordance with the County / National Guidance to mitigate the highway impact of development and help maximise sustainable transport;
- Should also be supported by a transport statement or transport assessment. As indicative thresholds a transport statement will be required for residential developments between 50 and 80 dwellings and a transport assessment should accompany residential developments of over 80 dwellings, however other circumstances will also be considered. Non-residential development will be considered on a case by case basis.
- All developments are to maximise the uptake in sustainable and active transport in accordance with the transport hierarchy. This will prioritise the following modes of transport in order – walking, cycling, public transport and car sharing. Where possible, active travel to be tied in with the green infrastructure network thereby providing additional positive effects for access to green spaces and wildlife habitats.
- Proposals for all development shall, where relevant, incorporate:
- Pedestrian routes suitable for disabled persons and those with impaired mobility;
- Cyclists facilities, including routes, secure and covered cycle parking, showers and changing facilities;
- Public transport, such as new or revised services, and physical measures such as bus stops, improvements to bus and railway stations, and access to bus and railway stations to reduce dependency on private vehicles;
- Incentives to use sustainable modes of transport;
- Linkages to existing pedestrian and cycle networks;
- Enhancement to the Public Rights of Way network and protection of the existing network;
- Facilities to allow for multi-modal interchanges;
- Access to car park facilities in accordance with the relevant parking guidance;
- Electric vehicle charging in line with current parking guidance;
- Servicing and emergency vehicles; and
- Sustainable modes of transport for freight.
- Development will be expected to contribute to the delivery of sustainable transport strategies for managing the cumulative impacts of growth.
- Where necessary development will be expected to provide home to school transport contributions.
Policy background and explanation
16.17 Infrastructure is defined on the Council's Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) CIL Position Statements and the supporting Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IPD). The provision of infrastructure is fundamental to maintaining quality of life, economic prosperity and the environmental assets of the districts. The aim of this policy is to secure an appropriate level of infrastructure, including developer contributions and obligations. Applicants will be expected to demonstrate that existing, planned and / or committed infrastructure is sufficient to accommodate development.
16.18 There are a wide range of infrastructure types including transport, telecommunications, security, green infrastructure, waste management, water supply, waste water, flood and coastal change management, minerals, energy supply as well as community facilities (such as health, education, police, emergency services and cultural infrastructure). The Councils have worked closely with infrastructure providers to ascertain infrastructure requirements related to growth planned in the Plan and will continue to work with service providers, statutory bodies and neighbouring authorities to ensure the timely and coordinated delivery of infrastructure. The Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) provides an up to date position on known infrastructure capacity and requirements.
16.19 In the event that essential infrastructure cannot be appropriately delivered to support new development, this policy will be used to restrict development from being commenced or, in certain cases, from being permitted, in the absence of proven infrastructure capacity. In cases where the cumulative impact of schemes on strategic infrastructure could prevent schemes being developed, a coordinated approach will be used to pool resources to address requirements and where this cannot be achieved the policy of restriction shall apply.
- When determining planning applications, adequate regard must be given to the Council's latest Infrastructure Delivery Plan and consultation responses received from infrastructure providers. All new development must be supported by, and have good access to, all necessary infrastructure. Planning permission will only be granted if it can be demonstrated that there is, or will be, sufficient infrastructure capacity to support and meet the necessary infrastructure requirements arising from the proposed development.
- Development proposals must consider all of the infrastructure implications of a scheme, including existing commitments to infrastructure provision at the time of application submission and determination, and cumulative impacts if the proposal forms one of a number of growth projects in a locality and or infrastructure catchment area.
- Conditions or planning obligations, as part of a package or combination of infrastructure delivery measures, will be required for relevant proposals.
- Applicants must demonstrate that adequate consideration has been given to the timing and level of infrastructure provision to the satisfaction of the LPA and relevant infrastructure providers. As such, development may need to be phased either spatially or sequentially to ensure the provision of infrastructure in a timely manner. Restrictions on planning permissions and or/ planning obligations may be used to secure satisfactory phasing arrangement.
Policy background and explanation
16.20 New development must provide for the educational needs of new residents. Educational needs include provision for early years, primary, secondary and post 16 education as well as Special Educational Needs. The NPPF (paragraph 94) sets out that importance should be placed on the need to provide new school places. It also states that local planning authorities should take a proactive, positive and collaborative approach to meeting this requirement, giving weight to the need to create, expand or alter schools. This involve both the expansion of existing schools where feasible and identification of opportunities to create new schools. Further to the above, paragraph 104 of the NPPF states that, in relation to education facilities, planning policies should minimise the number and length of journeys. Therefore, early years settings and schools will aim to be placed in the best possible location to promote sustainable modes of travel and enable good access.
16.21 The Councils have worked closely with SCC through the IDP to identify the educational requirements needed to accommodate growth in the Plan. The IDP highlights that in order to accommodate planned growth, a combination of school expansions and new schools will be required. The Councils will support the creation of well-designed new schools. The delivery of new schools and school expansions is important for the delivery of the Plan, and as such they are to be protected for that use. Similarly, with high demand for school places within the Districts it is important that existing educational facilities are offered a level of protection.
16.22 Similarly, the Council has worked closely with the relevant healthcare providers to establish the required health provision for the lifetime of the Plan. This includes meeting the needs of the identified ageing population in the Plan area. Whilst taking account of changing models of current and future healthcare provision, it is assumed that the ongoing healthcare needs of the population will need to be met at a level deemed acceptable by the relevant healthcare providers, on a continuous basis.
- Sites proposed, or in current health and educational use, will be protected for that use. The change of use, or re-development of educational establishments and their grounds, will not be permitted unless:
- It can be clearly demonstrated that the use of the site is genuinely redundant and the same use is not viable, or community use(s) can be found;
- Satisfactory alternative and improved facilities will be provided; and
- For educational uses, the area of the site to be redeveloped is genuinely in excess of Government guidelines for playing field provision, taking into account future educational projections.
- Further to the above, in order to prevent land-locking of schools, development adjacent to existing schools should not compromise the ability of the school to expand to an appropriate size in the future.
- The Councils will respond positively to and support appropriate and well-designed applications regarding the creation of new health and/or education facilities, and extensions to existing facilities. The Council will be supportive of proposals that enable dual use of new facilities within school grounds which can also be used by the community and agreed under a Community Use Agreement. As expressed in the NPPF, the Council will apply the presumption in favour of the development. The Councils will engage in pre-application discussions with promoters to develop a collaborative approach to suitable applications, and ensure that early years settings and schools are placed in the best possible location to promote sustainable modes of travel and enable good access. Where necessary, the Councils will utilise planning obligations to help to mitigate any adverse impacts of an educational development and assist in delivering development that has a positive impact on the community.
Policy background and explanation
16.23 The aim of the policy is to provide a policy framework for securing an appropriate level of infrastructure, including developer contributions and obligations. Applicants will be expected to demonstrate that existing, planned and/or committed infrastructure is sufficient to accommodate new development proposals.
16.24 Planning obligations are legally binding agreements entered into between a Local Planning Authority and a developer, which are intended to make development acceptable that would otherwise be unacceptable. Used effectively, planning obligations can increase the quality of development, however they must be reasonable and proportionate and directly relevant to planning and the proposed development.
16.25 The Councils have Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) in place. This means that some types of new development must make a payment which will be used to fund infrastructure required to support development in the District. The amount of levy payable depends upon the size type and location of the new development. A portion of CIL is also paid to the relevant Parish Councils in which development takes places. However, CIL cannot be the single source of funding for infrastructure. This is because certain types of infrastructure (such as new primary schools) need to be delivered through section 106 planning obligations.
- The required infrastructure will be provided through a combination of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), Planning Obligations, Developer Contributions.
- When making planning decisions, regard will be given to the Infrastructure Delivery Plan, the consultation responses received from infrastructure providers and the associated Plan evidence base. Applicants are required to mitigate the additional impacts their development will place on infrastructure through Planning Obligations and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) contributions.
- The delivery of planned growth set out in The Plan is dependent upon the availability of infrastructure to support it. The required infrastructure will be provided through a combination of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), Planning Obligations, Developer Contributions and where appropriate funding assistance from the Councils / other provider organisations. Planning applications will be expected to include appropriate infrastructure provision.
- Applicants shall adhere to the relevant documents endorsed by the Council detailing the types and priorities of infrastructure provision required for the districts.