Draft Local Plan
7. SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES
Housing related policies including provision of new market and affordable homes, specialist housing, mixed use development and provision for Travellers.
SO3 - Plan for housing that meets the needs of the Borough's population and contributes to creating inclusive, balanced, sustainable communities
7.1 One of the overarching principles of the planning system is to support the provision of strong, vibrant and healthy communities through the supply of housing to meet the needs of present and future generations. The importance of achieving this principle is established in Strategic Objective 3, which looks to deliver a plan for housing that meets the needs of the Borough's population and contributes to creating inclusive, balanced, sustainable communities.
7.2 This chapter includes new policies against which planning applications for residential development will be considered, setting out a clear framework for delivering the appropriate scale and type of housing, in appropriate locations, to meet the needs of the Borough's changing communities over the Plan period up to 2033.
Strategic Housing-led Development
7.3 Strategic large-scale residential-led development is proposed at Dunton Hills Garden Village to meet a significant proportion of the Borough's housing need whilst providing supporting services and facilities. This new community will form a new village for the 21st century, fitting with the spatial strategy to maintain the Borough's character of villages surrounded by countryside and accessing Brentwood market town.
7.4 Although residential-led, a mix of supporting uses will be provided to create a self-sustaining community. This is to include employment, local shops, schools, healthcare, open spaces and sports facilities.
POLICY 7.1: DUNTON HILLS GARDEN VILLAGE
The Council will work in partnership with the local community and other stakeholders to bring forward a new Borough village for the 21st Century within the A127 Corridor at Dunton Hills. Applying garden village principles, a new self-sustaining community will be created providing for 2,500 new homes, at least 5 hectares of employment land, local shops, community facilities, open green spaces, schools and healthcare services. A Masterplan will be produced to agree the form, mix and siting of development, to form part of the Brentwood Local Development Plan.
7.5 Dunton Hills Garden Village will provide a new settlement consistent with the Borough's character and spatial strategy. Linked to Brentwood and other Borough villages such as West Horndon, this new community will provide for a significant proportion of the Borough's full objectively assessed need for market and affordable housing. Development of this size allows the necessary critical mass to provide for local services and infrastructure that otherwise could not come forward with several smaller sites. Development would also contribute towards new employment land provision. In addition to 2,500 new homes, made up of a range of types to suit needs, provision shall be made for Gypsy & Traveller pitches designed into the wider development in a sensitive and appropriate way (see Policy 7.10).
7.6 Most importantly, this mixed-use development can be achieved in a sustainable manner in line with the spatial strategy and national policy and guidance. Although the site lies within Green Belt, development here can contribute to Green Belt purposes, such as restricting urban sprawl. The wider boundaries of the development are clearly defined physical features (A127, A128, railway line), which limit the potential for future unrestricted urban sprawl and deny any merging with nearby settlements.
7.7 The permanent boundaries to be established by development will be defined by a separate Masterplan to form part of the Brentwood Local Development Plan, along with other details such as the mix of development, locations, phasing and design etc. Ultimately, once the new community is in place it will be critical that recognisable and defensible Green Belt boundaries are created that are in keeping with local landscape character. The development footprint will be de-allocated from Green Belt.
7.8 The A127 Corridor provides an opportunity for growth in the Borough that brings along new services, facilities and infrastructure. These same opportunities are not possible in the A12 Corridor considering the higher impact on existing services and lack of contained land to provide for similar development numbers. It is recognised that the A127 highway is constrained and further work will need to be undertaken with the Highways Authority and Highways England to determine opportunities to improve capacity and traffic flow.
7.9 Work will continue with adjoining authorities and other bodies as part of the Duty to Cooperate. This includes consideration of growth along the wider A127 Corridor as well as proposed development to the Brentwood border in Basildon.
7.10 Land around West Horndon village remains a reasonable alternative because it can provide for similar development numbers towards local needs. However, it has not been selected as a preferred site in this Draft Plan owing to the impacts on the existing village, which would not be consistent with the emerging spatial strategy. It has also been considered that proposed redevelopment within West Horndon village will bring forward significant residential development, altering the character of the village but utilising brownfield land. Further development of Green Belt surrounding West Horndon is deemed disproportionate when considering the size of the existing village and how this fits with the spatial strategy for our Borough of villages.
7.11 Consideration has also been given to the emerging West Horndon Neighbourhood Plan. The neighbourhood plan area covers the entire parish, which includes land east of the A128 where Dunton Garden Village would be sited. The Council will continue to work with West Horndon Parish Council and the local community to ensure both the Local Plan and neighbourhood plan are consistent and provide for local needs in line with national policy and guidance.
Housing Type, Mix, Size and Tenure
7.12 It is important that new housing development addresses local needs and contributes to the creation of mixed and balanced communities. A core planning principle in the NPPF is that every effort should be made objectively to identify and then meet the housing needs of an area. This means providing sufficient good-quality housing of the right types, mix, sizes, and tenure in the right places, which will be attractive to and meet the identified needs of different groups in society, including families with children, first-time buyers, older people, people with disabilities, and people wishing to build their own homes. Well designed housing should also be accessible and adaptable to meet people's changing needs and helping to sustain independent living.
7.13 The amount and distribution of housing to be delivered in the Borough between 2013-2033 is established through Policy 5.2. Policy 7.2 seeks to ensure that residential development proposals delivering this housing do so in a way that contributes to the rebalancing of the housing stock to ensure it better reflects the identified needs and demands for housing of the existing and future communities of the Borough.
POLICY 7.2: HOUSING MIX, TYPES AND TENURES
All development should deliver an inclusive, accessible environment throughout.
Residential development proposals of six or more dwellings or 0.2 hectares or more must provide an appropriate mix of dwelling types, sizes, tenures and specialist accommodation to meet the specific needs of existing and future households in the Borough, to provide choice, and contribute towards the creation of sustainable, balanced and inclusive communities, taking in to account the latest Strategic Housing Market Assessment and the Council's Housing Strategy.
Developments of 20 or more dwellings will be expected to provide a minimum of 5% of dwellings that are suitable or easily adaptable for occupation by the elderly or people with disabilities to the requirements of Building Regulation M4(2) or M4(3). Development proposals should be accompanied by a design and access statement setting out the principles of inclusive design, and adaptability, including the specific needs of disabled people, has been integrated into the proposed development.
Developments of 100 or more dwellings will be expected to provide a minimum of 5% self build properties. The inclusion of self build properties on smaller sites will also be encouraged. Where a development site has been divided into parts, or is being delivered in phases, the area to be used for determining whether this policy applies will be the whole original site.
The final housing mix, type and tenure will be subject to negotiation, account will be taken of the nature, constraints, character and context of the site and development viability. Conditions may be used to ensure particular housing types provided, remain available in perpetuity and by tenure. Applicants will be required to provide sufficient evidence to support their proposals.
7.14 Housing provision should respond to the local market changes and the needs of the local area, providing accommodation for people with different needs and at different stages in their lives. The NPPF requires local planning authorities to plan for a mix of housing based on current and future demographic trends, market trends and the needs of different groups in the community. Across the Borough there is a need to rebalance the housing market to provide a range of housing that will meet the changing needs of communities.
7.15 The housing mix to be provided by an individual development proposal should have regard to relevant upto-date and robust evidence. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment provides a detailed assessment of the housing required to meet existing and future needs across the Borough. Proposals should respond to other up-to-date and relevant local evidence where available, such as the Council's Housing Strategy.
7.16 The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2013) indicates that Brentwood has a higher than average proportion of owner occupation at 76.7%, almost 10% above the national level. The housing stock is dominated by larger properties with around 40% of all owner occupied properties comprising three bedrooms and almost 38% comprising four or more bedrooms, a very high level compared to less than 22% which are one and two bedroom units.
7.17 The SHMA concludes that there is a need for a higher proportion of two bedroom units to create a better housing offer and address the increasing need for smaller properties due to demographic and household formation change. Broadly, it recommends that future market housing delivery should be 65% one and two bedrooms while 35% should be larger units of three and four bedrooms. A summary of the recommended property size requirements for all tenures is set out in Figure 7.1. Recommendations in the SHMA, along with any additional information relating to housing mix and type, will be used to inform negotiations between the Council and applicants to determine the appropriate mix of housing on schemes of six or more dwellings or 0.2 hectares, subject to consideration of site character and context and development viability.
7.18 Given that the Borough's population is ageing and the vast majority of existing housing comprises mainly older, inaccessible properties we must ensure new homes are accessible and adaptable, designed to meet the changing needs of different occupiers at different stages of their lives.
7.19 Evidence in the SHMA 2013 indicates an above average proportion of the Borough's households contain older persons (27.1%). The proportion of the Borough's population living beyond 65 years of age is forecast to rise from 18% in 2012 to 22% in 2033 and for those aged 85 years from 3% to 5% over the same period.
7.20 Additionally the SHMA 2013 indicates that 17.1% of households in the Borough contained a member with a disability/limiting long term illness. The largest group of people were those with a walking difficulty. Furthermore, 63.2% of households with a wheelchair user in the Borough did not live in suitably adapted premises. As such, it is appropriate that a small proportion of new homes provided are suitable for wheelchair users to provide the opportunity for households containing a person with a disability to move.
7.21 Recognising that a number of elderly person households and those from other sectors of the community are likely to have a need for adaptable or accessible homes over the lifetime of the Plan, as part of providing a mix of housing to meet local housing needs, the Council will seek to secure from developments of 20 or more dwellings a minimum of 5% of new housing built is suitable, or easily adaptable for occupation by the elderly or people with disabilities (Building Regulation M4(2) or M4(3) standard).
7.22 The development of self-build properties by individuals or community groups (including Community Land Trusts) can also contribute to meeting the need for additional housing within the district, and provide a more diverse housing stock. Policy 7.2 proposes that larger housing schemes should include an element of self build plots, to facilitate this diversity.
7.23 The final mix of housing/types will be subject to negotiation with the applicant. Applicants will be expected to provide robust evidence relating to the identified level of housing need, financial viability or deliverability to support their proposals.
7.24 Efficient land use is essential in a Borough like Brentwood where land is scarce, and enables new homes to be provided without encroaching on the countryside. Good design makes it possible to develop in a way that is sympathetic to local character, uses land efficiently and creates or maintains a high quality living and working environment. The right density will depend on the scheme, dwelling mix, site characteristics and location.
POLICY 7.3: RESIDENTIAL DENSITY
Proposals for new residential development should take a design led approach to density which ensures schemes are sympathetic to local character and make efficient use of land.
Residential densities will be expected to be 30 dwellings per hectare net or higher unless the special character of the surrounding area suggests that such densities would be inappropriate; or where other site constraints make such densities unachievable.
Higher densities, generally above 65 dwellings per hectare net, will be expected in town and district centres or other locations with good public transport accessibility, subject to Policy 10.4.
7.25 The Council considers it reasonable to expect proposals to achieve densities of at least 30 dwellings per hectare except where this would harm the special character of an area, have an adverse transport impact or cause harm to residential amenities. Densities of 65 dwellings to the hectare or more will generally be expected in locations with good public transport accessibility.
7.26 To determine how much land is required to meet housing requirements, consideration has been given to the number of homes a given area can sustainably accommodate based on site and location characteristics. Efficient land use is critical to the delivery of this plan. Without it there will be more pressure to release Green Belt to accommodate new development or, alternatively, the number of new homes delivered will fall short of that planned and what would otherwise have been provided.
7.27 The Council needs to allocate land in order to facilitate the provision of new homes in line with its proposed spatial strategy, housing figure and distribution of residential development as set out in policies 5.1 and 5.2 of this Plan. Policy 7.4 sets out major sites (sites of 10 units or more) to be allocated for residential development.
POLICY 7.4: HOUSING LAND ALLOCATIONS
Sites (with potential capacity for 10 or more homes) allocated for residential development over the Plan period 2013-2033 are set out in Figure 7.2, and identified on the Proposals Map. Where indicated, a mix of uses, including residential may be sought or appropriate. Further detail is set out in Appendix 2.
Proposals for housing submitted on these allocations in accordance with the phasing indicated, will be approved where the proposed scheme is in accordance with other relevant policies in the Plan. Planning applications in advance of its phasing will only be approved where:
- early release would not prejudice the delivery of other allocated sites phased in an earlier time period;
- the site is required now to maintain a five year supply of deliverable sites; and
- infrastructure requirements of the development can be fully and satisfactorily addressed.
7.28 Comprehensive assessments of potential sites have been carried out by the Council, independent technical specialists and other bodies. The Council's Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA, 2010) has provided the starting point for considering sites as part of the plan making process, which has then been supplemented by other sources and more up to date information where possible, such as:
- sites submitted by landowners and developers;
- sites proposed by parish councils and members of the public; and
- other sites known or owned by the Council.
7.29 In line with the spatial strategy sites have principally been selected on the basis of a sequential approach to sustainable land use, as depicted in Figure 5.4. This prioritises the selection of brownfield and other appropriate sites in the urban area. The second tier looks at brownfield sites in the Green Belt adjoining the urban area. The third tier gives preference to larger scale strategic sites which provide opportunities for new self-sustaining communities with new services, facilities and infrastructure. The fourth tier allows for limited greenfield sites in the Green Belt which comprise urban extensions within reach of services and infrastructure and with defensible boundaries.
7.30 In addition to the sites ability to deliver the spatial strategy the sites have also been assessed against criteria, including (but not limited to) the following:
- whether sites are suitable for housing;
- accessibility to public transport, services and facilities;
- infrastructure provision;
- impact on Green Belt, landscape, visual amenity, heritage, transport and environmental quality including wildlife, flood-risk, air and water pollution;
- impact on highways; and
- whether the site is likely to come forward over the Plan period.
7.31 A Sustainability Appraisal carried out for each site, together with technical analysis and modelling, has enabled the Council to reach an informed judgment on the above and related matters. Previous unimplemented allocations have also been reviewed.
7.32 An estimate of how many dwellings each site should accommodate has been made by adopting a density and developable area based on location, area characteristics and site circumstances. This is broadly consistent with Policy 7.3 (Residential Density). Site constraints, such
as topography and potential or desirability for mixed use, are also taken into account. The numbers set out in the draft policy provide a guide and are not necessarily a cap depending on the appropriateness of increased density or more efficient land use in line with policies in this Plan. Density details for each site are set out in Appendix 2.
7.33 Policy 7.4 sets out the sites that have been allocated for housing development. The sites under the heading of urban area comprise brownfield and appropriate land. It is necessary to maximise density in order to use land efficiently and reduce pressure to release greenfield sites.
7.34 There are two sites allocated as brownfield sites in Green Belt. These are previously developed sites adjoining the existing urban area which are within reach of services and infrastructure. These need to provide for an appropriate level of residential density across the site to efficiently make use of allocated land. Allocating these brownfield Green Belt sites for larger residential provision utilises land more efficiently and provide sustainable urban extensions without use of greenfield land.
7.35 The Dunton Hills Garden Village strategic site comprises an area of land which is bounded by the A127, A128, railway line and the borough boundary. This site is capable of delivering a new self-sustaining community with new services, facilities and infrastructure. Site reference 200 (land east of A128, South of A127) includes the entire landholding, which is not proposed to be developed in its entirety. A separate Masterplan will determine detail of development footprint, among other things. Further details are set out in Policy 7.1.
7.36 Greenfield Green Belt sites comprise urban extensions to the Brentwood urban area (including Shenfield, Pilgrims Hatch and the Brook Street area), and one site in Ingatestone. These each have defensible boundaries and are within reach of existing services and infrastructure.
7.37 For each allocated site the Council has estimated when it is likely to come forward over the lifetime of the Plan. Delivery ultimately depends upon external factors such as finance availability house builders, mortgage availability for purchasers, and landowners' aspirations. A housing trajectory for all site allocations is set out in Appendix 3.
7.38 The NPPF requires that local planning authorities identify whether there is a need for affordable housing in their area and to ensure their local plan meets such need in the housing market area. Affordable housing is defined as social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Eligibility is determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices.
7.39 There is a significant need for additional affordable housing within the Borough as set out in the SHMA.
7.40 The Council secures the majority of affordable housing built in the Borough by requiring developers to provide affordable dwellings as part of market housing development. In areas excluded from the Green Belt, Policy 7.5 sets out the proportion of affordable housing the Council will seek to secure on such development schemes. In very special circumstances affordable housing may also be delivered on sites within the Green Belt as set out in Policy 7.6.
National Policy Context
7.41 The Government's Planning Practice Guidance was introduced in November 2014. This set national policy guidance on affordable housing provision, among other things. Guidance included a threshold on the size of development that local planning authorities should not seek affordable housing contributions through section 106 agreements. As a result of a successful High Court challenge by West Berkshire Council and Reading Borough Council, the Government made a series of amendments to national Planning Practice Guidance which removed the nationally imposed affordable housing thresholds and related financial requirements.
7.42 The current absence of replacement or revised national guidance will result in some uncertainty pending clarification from Government of its full response to the decision. The Government has stated publically that it is disappointed with the judgment and intends to appeal the decision.
7.43 The Government has recently launched a consultation on proposed changes to the NPPF which amongst other things seek to broaden the definition of affordable housing, to expand the range of low cost housing opportunities and to support delivery of starter homes. This includes allowing local planning authorities to secure starter homes as part of their negotiations on sites.
7.44 In parallel the Housing and Planning Bill of these proposals may, in due course, have a consequence on the content of the Brentwood Borough Draft Plan and Policies 7.5 Affordable Housing and 7.6 Affordable Housing in Green Belt. The Council will keep the situation under review and recognise that it may be necessary to respond to changes to national legislation, policy and guidance as the Local Plan is progressed towards adoption is introducing a statutory duty on local authorities to promote the delivery of starter homes, and a requirement for a proportion of starter homes to be delivered on all suitable reasonably-sized housing developments.
7.45 It is recognised that the implications of these proposals may, in due course, have a consequence on the content of the Brentwood Borough Draft Plan and Policies 7.5 Affordable Housing and 7.6 Affordable Housing in Green Belt. The Council will keep the situation under review and recognise that it may be necessary to respond to changes to national legislation, policy and guidance as the Local Plan is progressed towards adoption.
POLICY 7.5: AFFORDABLE HOUSING
In order to ensure sufficient high quality affordable homes are provided to meet local needs, residential development proposals in areas excluded from Green Belt will be required to:
- Provide a minimum of 35% affordable housing on sites of 11 or more dwellings, or on sites of greater than 1,000 square metres gross residential floorspace irrespective of the number of dwellings.
- Supply on-site affordable housing, where possible, which should be seamlessly integrated and distributed throughout the development rather than grouped in one area. Where a fraction of an affordable dwelling is required by policy, such provision will be collected through a financial contribution of broadly equivalent value to providing it onsite.
- Provide a residual requirement through negotiated alternative mechanisms, such as off-site provision or financial contributions, where it can be clearly demonstrated that it is not possible to deliver all affordable housing on-site.
- Ensure that affordable housing has regard to meeting the requirements of Policy 7.2 relating to type, mix, size and tenure of residential development.
- Confirm that the design of affordable housing meets required standards and be equal to that of market housing in terms of appearance, build quality and materials, with consideration of Policy 10.4 relating to quality of design.
- Agree the tenure of affordable housing with the Council and ensure affordable housing is provided to eligible households whose needs the Council agrees are not met by the market.
- In agreement with the Council, affordable housing will:
- Meet the needs of eligible households including availability at a cost low enough for them to afford, determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices; and
- Include provision for the home to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision.
- Varying the housing mix and design of the scheme, to the satisfaction of the Council, in order to reduce costs whilst having regard to the requirements of other policies in the Plan, particularly Policy 10.4, and the objective of creating a balanced housing market;
- Securing public subsidy or other commuted sums to assist delivery of affordable housing; and
- Where development cannot deliver the full affordable housing requirement, the developer must provide evidence, at cost to the developer, why targets cannot be met and the Council will negotiate with the developer to establish a level of affordable housing provision that is achievable.
This Policy contributes towards Objectives SO7 and SO8
7.46 On-site delivery of affordable housing will be sought on residential development proposals of 11 or more dwellings, or for schemes providing greater than 1,000 square meters gross residential floorspace irrespective of the number of dwellings; this threshold accords with the now revoked guidance on "Small Sites Exemptions", as despite its removal from national planning guidance it is considered appropriate and justifiable given the Borough's characteristics. No affordable housing provision will be sought from proposals for residential annexes, residential extensions, and occupancy restricted accommodation such as tied agricultural workers dwellings or dwellings provided through Starter Homes Exception Sites.
7.47 Where the policy seeks on-site provision of affordable housing, alternative off-site provision may be negotiated where it can be demonstrated that on-site provision is not possible or not appropriate. In lieu of on-site provision, off-site provision, which must be agreed with the local planning authority, may comprise a combination of financial contributions, land with planning permission for housing and/or completed dwellings. In all cases, the scale and nature of provision will be of broadly equivalent value to that which would have been required on-site.
7.48 The affordable housing requirements established through Policy 7.5 are considered to be robust and capable of being achieved in the majority of circumstances. It is however accepted that there may be occasions whereby circumstances conspire to mean that the delivery of affordable housing in line with the policy requirements may compromise development viability. The obligation will lie with the developer to provide a robust financial justification to support any proposals failing to meet identified policy requirements. The Council will consider such requests on the basis of an open book financial appraisal of development viability. If it is deemed necessary to independently verify the appraisal the developer will be liable for reasonable costs incurred to the local planning authority in doing so. Where it is demonstrated that scheme viability prohibits meeting the full policy requirements for the provision of affordable housing and/or other planning obligations, the Council will enter into negotiations to vary the proportion and/or mix of affordable housing provision.
7.49 Where there is reason to believe that a proposal has been formulated with a view to circumventing affordable housing requirements, the Council reserves the right to renegotiate the affordable housing provision that should be delivered. In determining the potential dwelling capacity, the Council may have regard to a range of matters including site layout, forms and/or mix of development and the housing density that might be appropriate, reflecting on the context of the site and having regard to the need to make efficient use of land. Where a proposal site is subject to phasing, is sub-divided or where there is a reasonable prospect of adjoining land coming forward for residential development, the Council may consider the site(s) taken as a whole for the purpose of determining the appropriate affordable housing provisions.
7.50 The tenure mix of affordable housing should reflect what people in housing need require across the Borough and be based on evidence including, but not limited to, the Council's Housing Register, SHMA and Housing Strategy. The tenure mix of affordable housing shall be provided in agreement with the Council.
7.51 Affordable housing will be secured through planning conditions and obligations, including Section 106 agreements. Planning conditions and obligations will also be used to ensure that affordable housing remains at an affordable price for future eligible households.
7.52 Delivery will be by developers, registered providers and specialist housing providers working in partnership with local authorities and, in certain circumstances, the Homes and Communities Agency. Early pre-application discussions will be expected in all affordable housing negotiations. The Council's approach to affordable housing delivery is to balance provision across the Borough.
7.53 A growing number of households in the Borough cannot afford to buy or rent on the open market. House prices in Brentwood are among the highest in Essex. The Council has identified in its Housing Strategy (November 2013) the need for more homes that people can afford. Figures show that the lowest priced 3 bedroom houses available as at January 2016 range from £300,000 for second hand to £425,000 for new build. This is beyond what the majority of those who work in the Borough can afford.
7.54 A shortage of affordable housing leads to overcrowding, poor health, inability to achieve a decent standard of living and personal aspirations such as living independently, having children, being part of the family or social network of choice - all factors that contribute to the sustainability of neighbourhoods.
7.55 Between 2001 and 2014 only 15.4% of homes built in the Borough were affordable homes. This is less than might otherwise have been achieved were there are no minimum thresholds. While recognising viability varies depending on site size and location, requiring developers to provide some affordable housing whenever a new home is built will increase the scope for providing affordable homes.
7.56 The SHMA identifies that there is a significant need for the provision of additional affordable housing accounting for approximately 65% of the demographically derived housing requirement; the tenure mix balance of which recommended is 65% social and affordable rent and 35% intermediate housing. Practical and policy considerations, notably limited public funds and the desirability of achieving a mix of tenures and extending choice, make provision on this scale unrealistic. There continues to be a strong demand for market housing which will need to be built in order to deliver affordable housing. Therefore, the policy aims to maximise affordable housing provision, including both rented and shared equity/ownership schemes, taking into account viability and wider policy considerations.
7.57 The SHMA suggests that a proposed overall affordable housing target of 35% over the plan period can be justified to be negotiated on all suitable sites, subject to viability and the critical balance of tenure mix.
7.58 The Council is committed to offering the greatest choice possible of housing in the Borough and in addition to policies within the Local Plan the Council's Tenancy Strategy sets out a framework for registered providers of affordable housing (RPs) to follow concerning the management of their existing housing in the Borough and the development of new housing. In addition the Council's Rents Policy aims to ensure a more consistent approach is taken to rent setting for households which recognises the local need within the Borough for differing levels of housing provision.
7.59 The Council recognise the significant need for additional affordable housing throughout the Borough. Sometimes a need for affordable housing in rural locations exist that cannot be met on sites within areas excluded from the Green Belt, such as villages. Affordable Housing Policy 7.6 attempts to address this need.
POLICY 7.6: AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN GREEN BELT
In very special circumstances the development of small scale low cost rural housing may be permitted in the Green Belt where all of the following criteria are met:
- the site is within or adjacent to a settlement;
- the site is accessible to a range of local services, such as shops, primary schools, healthcare and public transport;
- there is a demonstrable local need within the village settlement that cannot be met another way;
- homes provided are 100% affordable unless it can be demonstrated that a small element of market housing is necessary to deliver a significant amount of affordable housing;
- the housing is provided for people with a strong and demonstrable local connection;
- safeguards are in place to ensure homes remain affordable in perpetuity; and
- the development is small-scale, does not exceed that required to meet current need and respects the character of the settlement and surrounding landscape.
A person with a strong local connection should meet the following criteria:
- existing local residents requiring separate accommodation;
- close relatives of existing local residents who have a demonstrable need to either support or be supported by them; or
- people whose work provides an important and necessary local service.
In the context of this policy "local" means a parish or ward, or in exceptional circumstances, adjacent parishes or wards.
This Policy contributes towards Objectives SO7 and SO8
7.60 For rural housing the effect of higher prices on homes in rural areas is that low income households are squeezed out of the market unless there is a ring fenced supply of affordable homes. Right to buy has eroded this supply (Taylor Review of Local Economy and Affordable Housing). A characteristic of Brentwood is that it comprises distinct rural and urban communities. This effect is compounded by lower than average salaries for local workers in traditional rural industries. Retaining these households is important as benefits extend to local labour force retention, maintaining sustainable rural communities and family and community networks and providing informal care and support. Addressing these factors will be crucial for the Council to deliver its Place and Prosperity ambitions.
7.61 The NPPF requires planning authorities to be responsive to local circumstances and plan housing development to reflect local needs, particularly for affordable housing, including through rural exception sites where open market housing would not normally be permitted. In the Borough this is typically on sites on the edge of villages and towns, within the Green Belt.
7.62 Policy 7.6 sets out the circumstances in which exception sites for affordable housing in the Green Belt may be considered appropriate. Small scale development means less than 10 units. Any site released under this policy would be an exception to Green Belt policies. All rural affordable housing proposals should be supported by a local housing needs survey conducted at parish or neighbourhood level. The survey should provide evidence on the number, type and size of homes needed. Preference will be given to sites with good access to local facilities and the ability to travel by non-car modes. In the case of Policy 7.6 small scale development comprises development of ten dwellings or fewer, or 1,000 square meters or less.
7.63 To ensure priority for the affordable housing is given to people in local housing need, the Council will require the affordable housing provider to enter into a nomination agreement with cascade provisions, under which applicants with a connection to the parish or ward (through residence, employment or close family) are given first priority for newly created housing, followed by those with a connection to neighbouring parishes or wards, and then those in the wider locality. This approach to delivery will be kept under review to ensure its consistency with the most up to date Housing Strategy.
7.64 Exception sites should ideally be solely for the provision of affordable housing but this may not always be possible. Applicants proposing an element of open market housing as part of a scheme should be prepared to submit viability appraisal evidence to the Council at an early stage as part of pre-application discussions and as a minimum, as part of a planning application. Where agreement is not reached external consultants may be appointed to undertake a further independent viability assessment. The applicant will be required to meet the costs of the assessment being prepared.
7.65 Reflecting national trends, the Borough's population is ageing. Just under a fifth of the population is over 65 and more than a quarter of households contain someone of this age. The forecast change in population by broad age groups for the next 15 years predicts the highest increase for the over 65 age group, an increase of 26.7%, 4,000 more people; with the most significant growth seen in those aged over 90. This group will impact on demand for supported housing, support services and need for adaptations.
POLICY 7.7: SPECIALIST HOUSING
Proposals for specialist residential and supported accommodation will be permitted where all of the following criteria are met:
- the proposal has all necessary facilities close by such as shops, public transport, health and leisure facilities and, where appropriate, employment and day centres;
- the proposal would not result in the over concentration of residential homes in any individual street;
- evidence is provided demonstrating the suitability of the premises to meet the particular needs of the group to be housed;
- where appropriate the scheme shall provide sufficient integrated accommodation to allow for the level of support required for the client group for whom the scheme is intended;
- the proposal provides appropriate landscaping and amenity space; and
- the proposal is in accordance with Policy 9.9 New Development in the Green Belt
Where appropriate, a condition will be imposed restricting occupation to persons requiring supported accommodation.
7.66 Policy 7.7 is intended to support the provision of specialist accommodation in the Borough.
7.67 There appears to be a general desire among older people to remain in their own home for as long as possible. Part of the response to an ageing population is to provide choice so that should people wish to move they can find somewhere which suits their needs and aspirations. Older people generally remain fit and active longer than they did in the past. However, particular types of accommodation and support will be required in order to meet the needs of a growing number of frail elderly people. Other groups with specific needs also require specialist accommodation. Providing a greater range of housing within the Borough will assist more people to continue living locally and free up housing for others.
7.68 It is important to ensure that people living in residential homes and other specialist accommodation are part of the community where they live and have access to facilities, like shops, healthcare and public transport. At the same time, it is best to avoid having too many specialist residential schemes in one street since this may adversely affect the balance of the community and put pressure on local services. In determining whether there is a need for a particular type of specialist housing the Council will have regard to up to date information on local need and provision, such as the SHMA and evidence collated by Essex County Council and local health practitioners.
Housing Space Standards
7.69 Following the Government's Ministerial Statement (March 2015) in response to the Housing Standards Review Consultation, a number of changes have been introduced to technical housing standards in England, including the introduction of optional higher standards in relation to internal space and inclusive access. However, the standards are optional and only apply if local authorities include them in their local plans. Therefore, the Council is consulting on the standards as part of the plan making process.
POLICY 7.8: HOUSING SPACE STANDARDS
Nationally Described Space Standards, as reproduced in Figure 7.3, will apply to all new housing development, subject to viability.
7.70 In order to ensure that homes meet the needs of local residents, whatever their income level, it is important that internal space standards are also improved alongside the overall housing type, mix, size and tenure.
7.71 Research has found the UK to have the smallest average dwelling sizes in Europe. The government recognises this to be an issue and has proposed national minimum space standards to bring consistency across the country. Minimum standards mean that dwellings are more likely to meet the needs of residents. However, the viability of applying the standards will be taken into account.
7.72 The Council will consider the appropriateness of applying these standards to development in the Borough through consultation. Other options include considering the case for locally derived space standards either at a Borough or County level.
Mixed Use Development
7.73 The benefits of mixed use are widely recognised. Locating a variety of land uses close together, such as retail, employment, leisure and residential, contributes to the vitality and vibrancy of centres, reduces the need to travel and enhances community safety. Improving links between homes, businesses, local shops, community and leisure facilities can bring jobs and essential services closer to where people live and vice versa. As well as being more convenient, mixed use can deliver local economic benefits.
POLICY 7.9: MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT
Major development proposals within Brentwood Town Centre, Borough district centres at Shenfield Hutton Road, Ingatestone High Street and Warley Hill Brentwood station area, as defined on Proposals Map, will be required to provide an appropriate mix of uses. Proposed development should:
- contain an appropriate mix of ground floor uses such as A1, A2, A3, A4, A5 of Use Classes Order 1987 (as amended) with active street frontages and complimented by B1 and D1 where appropriate;
- ensure main pedestrian entrances enable access to all accommodation from public space; and
- demonstrate potential commercial related problems, such as noise and smell, will be overcome satisfactorily to protect amenities of surrounding residents (existing and proposed). Mixed use development will be sought except where:
- proposed development makes efficient use of the site, is considered to be of sufficient density and has active street frontages that make a multiple use impractical or undesirable;
- access to more than one use is physically impossible; and
- overall balance of uses in the immediate area or street is considered sufficient to ensure economic variety and diversity.
Planning permission will not be granted for change of use which results in an unacceptable mix of uses or the loss of a use that will have the same effect.
7.74 The nature of mixed-use development varies depending on location. The variety of uses increase and physical distribution of uses becomes more concentrated closer to Brentwood Town Centre. This is also true to a lesser extent in the Borough's district shopping centres. In these areas the mix of uses will be assessed at a local level within a street or locality. In Brentwood Town Centre the mix of uses will be addressed on individual sites. In all cases, successful mixed-use development depends on the complementary nature of uses within the development itself and its immediate surroundings. Residential development can also give rise to demand for additional community facilities. For example, a community hall, medical facilities, education or local shopping provision may be required, or improvements to existing provision made, to meet the needs of new and existing residents.
7.75 For the purposes of this policy, definitions of major development as set out in DCLG statistical returns are used, such as 10 net residential units and above, 1,000 sqm of floorspace (of whatever use), or sites in excess of 1 ha.
7.76 There are some changes of use from office or business use (B1) that are permitted development under the General Permitted Development Order 1995 (as amended). These do not require an application for planning permission to be made to this Council. However, they may require an application to be made for a determination as to whether prior approval is required for specified matters.
Gypsy and Travellers
7.77 The Council has a duty to identify land to meet the local needs of Gypsies and Travellers. National planning policy and guidance seeks to ensure fair and equal treatment for Travellers. In doing so, it advocates that local planning authorities develop strategies to meet identified need through the identification of land for sites. It also requires that local planning authorities maintain a five year supply of deliverable land for traveller accommodation.
POLICY 7.10: GYPSY AND TRAVELLER PROVISION
Provision will be made for Gypsy and Traveller sites within the Borough to meet identified needs. Provision should be made for a minimum of 84 pitches between 2013 and 2033.
Gypsy and Traveller sites will be identified to meet this provision, through a combination of allocations to ensure a five year land supply is maintained throughout the plan period, and the grant of planning permissions in accordance with the following criteria:
- The site does not give rise to unacceptable harm to the Green Belt;
- The site is well related to existing communities and accessible to local services and facilities, such as shops, primary and secondary schools, healthcare and public transport;
- The site is serviced by a suitable access road;
- The location would not result in unacceptable living conditions for its occupants;
- The proposed accommodation would not harm the character and/ or appearance of the area and/ or result in unacceptable visual impact; and
- The site is located, designed and landscaped to minimise any impact on the environment.
The Council proposes to allocate three existing sites to provide for six pitches, as set out in Figure 7.5.
Dunton Hills Garden Village is identified as a broad location for future provision to be planned in an integrated way as part of a mixed use development (see Policy 7.1). Provision will be made for 20 pitches as part of this strategic allocation.
7.78 89% of the Borough is within Green Belt, which limits development opportunities to meet local needs. There is also a lack of available land in urban areas as elaborated on in the spatial strategy chapter. This limits options available for providing new pitches in suitable locations. Despite constraints the preferred approach aims to ensure that the target for Gypsy and Traveller pitch provision will be met throughout the Plan period through allocations, maintaining a five year land supply and identifying a broad location for further provision.
7.79 The Essex Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) (July 2014) identifies a need for 84 Gypsy and Traveller pitches to be provided within Brentwood Borough between 2013 and 2033, with a recommended five year new pitch provision of 59 between 2013-2018. Since July 2013 permanent planning permission has been granted for a total of 17 pitches, resulting in a residual requirement of 67 pitches to be provided to 2033. Figure 7.4 sets out these recent permanent planning permissions.
7.80 The level of need for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation, as identified in the Needs Assessment, will be used to inform the determination of planning applications together with the proposed generic criteria as set out in Policy 7.10 for considering future planning applications and allocations. Those existing sites with temporary planning permissions are set out in Figure 7.5, which are proposed to be permanently permitted to contribute towards local need within Policy 7.10.
7.81 In August 2015 the Government made amendments to the National Planning Policy for Traveller Sites document which deals with planning issues relating to Gypsy and Travellers. The amendments changed the definition of what 'Gypsies and Travellers' mean in planning terms, and importantly no longer allows for them to have permanently ceased to travel. In addition the amendments also clarify how to deal with sites within the Green Belt, making it clear that the need for the protection of the Green Belt is unlikely to be outweighed by considerations such as unmet need for sites and personal circumstances. As this amendment took place since the publication of the GTAA, these changes may effect the current pitch requirement as set out in the 2014 GTAA, and potentially reduce them. A review of the GTAA is being undertaken during 2016 in light of these changes, and so the level of need for Brentwood Borough may be subject to change.
7.82 The Council has a good track record of positively considering appropriate windfall sites, as evidenced by the high level of approvals over recent years. Policy 7.10 sets out criteria which will be used to determine 'windfall' proposals for Gypsy and Traveller pitches which come forward over the Plan period. To help meet needs the policy proposes to allocate for permanent use a number of existing temporary sites in addition to guiding future provision through the identification of a broad location.