7 Oct 2012

Green Suggestions for the Local Plan

As folk will know the Local Plan is being discussed - numbers of houses and more - the trouble is the 'more' has not had much of a discussion. Greens presented a paper previously during the last consultation - as noted then housing is more than just quantity - quality is crucial - anyway I thought it was worth sharing some of the thoughts we discussed back in early September. This was not a complete list but went with earlier points raised. Clearly some of the items like points 11 and 12 are not within remit of planning but need to be considered as part of whole approach...
Since early September there have been meetings with planners to discuss these and other issues.....

1.     There is a need for a challenging definition of sustainable development – one suggestion is: “Living within the limits of the planet’s environment, resources and biodiversity – development should improve our environment and ensure that the natural resources needed for life are unimpaired and remain so for future generations.”[i]
2.     Any development proposals must show how the development increases the sustainability of the wider community in which it is situated – through improved transport, increased biodiversity, providing affordable housing, workspace, food growing space, energy efficiency etc. The criteria agreed would become a clear ‘Stroud New Build Standard’ which could be used by developers and local communities alike to decide if the threshold has been met. (i.e we shouldn’t look at a development as ‘sustainable’ in isolation – but in how it interacts and affects the community in which it is situated – e.g. in some villages additional housing may keep the school, shop or pub open).

3.     New development should include innovative ways of including our ageing population as active members of vibrant communities with appropriate housing design and community planning. Specific encouragement on development that include lifetime homes, shared facilities designed to support the needs of older people in a multi-age development (such as co-housing), mixed house and garden sizes.
4.     Planning presumption in favour of protecting local assets such as shops, POs, pubs etc. A presumption against change of use where this removes/reduces community assets and an opportunity for ‘community purchase’ before change of use and the loss of the asset is allowed.

5.     New developments to include high quality public and community space not dominated by car access and parking – but for children playing, relaxing, biodiversity, growing food, walking etc. Car parking kept to the periphery, developments only permitted which have a low % of total land allocated to car access and parking. (What %?) New development to include adequate convenient storage for bicycles, mobility scooters and pushchairs. Charging points for electric cars to also be included.

6.     Greenfield development over a certain size should require that the developer converts a proportion of Stroud District’s derelict brownfield sites either to productive employment space or through decontamination etc. back to greenfield[ii]. Greenfield development should also  include on-site biodiversity provision to ensure the overall impact is positive.

7.     New developments to be zero carbon,  include allotments or land for growing food, require strategies for reducing car dependence, sustainable urban drainage approaches (SUDS) and to encourage community building approaches such as co-housing.

8.     All developments over four housing units on any site must meet the condition that 30% of housing should be affordable.  At least half of the affordable housing to be either socially rented or shared equity. The Council to pursue ways of maintaining affordability, including the use of legal instruments and working through Community Land Trusts and similar mechanisms. There should be a presumption against converting small properties into large, expensive ones through large extensions.

9.     A planning presumption in favour of householder renewable energy, including householder wind turbines up to 25kw and community owned/benefit wind turbines up 500kw throughout the District (including AONB) unless there are clear reasons why this is not suitable. Community owned wind turbines could be subject to the approval of a neighbourhood poll.

10.  Ending of the Council Tax discount for second and empty/derelict homes. Compulsory purchase to be used to bring long-term unoccupied homes back into use.

11.  Unused employment land and buildings to be subject to business rates, with the money used to provide grants and loans to bring employment premises back into affordable use. Rate rebate to be available for creative and socially beneficial interim use[iii].

12.  A clear target to be set for the District of two new jobs for each new house until the current out-commuting in-balance is ended. This may include a focus on mixed-use development, more live-work provision and the development of employment land in tandem to housing development.

13.  If there is any significant housing development West of Stonehouse, it should include a new railway station on the line to Bristol.

14.  Some presumption in favour of ‘low impact communities’ and self-build schemes – as allowable exceptions on suitable sites outside development limits and on land not zoned for housing within development limits.  Such development would have[iv]:
a.     A carbon footprint at least 40% below the local average, including code for sustainable homes level 5 or better;
b.     Demonstrable car use less than one third of conventional housing units;
c.     Workspace for 10% of resident adults (20% in rural areas);
d.     35% of units to be affordable;
e.     Inclusive provision for creative ageing;
f.      Provision for on-site food production and/or a green Food Plan;
g.     Shared facilities also available to the wider local community.

15.  Encourage mixed use developments as the norm, and live-work units as a percentage (33%?) of all housing in a development. This can be additional room in the house for office and home working, small units added to homes, as either ground floor workspace, garage-like annexes, or clustered units adjacent to a housing scheme[v].

16.  Communities are able to allocate areas of land as key biodiversity, landscape, recreation or food production sites through the neighbourhood planning process. This will enable key sites to be protected for wildlife, present or future allotments, buffers to prevent separate communities being merged through ribbon development etc.

17.  Major development  to include a ‘planning for real’ approach involving local stakeholders, including young and older people. Developers should show how they have taken this participation into account in their plans and provide adequate justification if participatory derived ideas are not being included.

[i] See TAN6 – One Planet Policy
[ii] Many brownfield sites have high biodiversity which can be maintained. They do however suffer from planning uncertainty, leading to lack of investment in a more permanent use and can be considered locally as an eyesore or create other problems for the local community.
[iv] see attached LISS Eco Cluster Proposal
HS41 If it can be demonstrated that a significant environmental benefit will result low impact housing may be permitted as an exception to the prevailing policy of restricting residential development in the countryside.
In such circumstances a Planning Obligation will be sought to ensure that the low impact nature of the development will remain in perpetuity. The development will have to be removed if it ceases to be low impact.
Low impact housing will only be permitted if it is close to a village that has a range of social and community facilities. These must include a school and food shop. Low impact housing will not be acceptable in or adjacent to, designated landscapes and protected or designated national and county wildlife sites.

[v] Code 6 homes must have offices - we want to see an extra practical space that occupants can adapt to their need, with ground floor access, power and water connected.

No comments: