North Somerset Local Plan 2038 Preferred Options

North Somerset Local Plan Preferred Options: Consultation Draft March 2022

3. Strategic Policies

 

Local plans must contain strategic policies which set out the overall strategy for the pattern, scale and design quality of places and make sufficient provision for the growth and supporting infrastructure required whilst conserving and enhancing the natural, built and historic environment and addressing climate change.

The Local Plan contains 12 strategic policies:

  • SP11 Green infrastructure and historic environment
  • SP9 Employment
  • SP7 Green Belt
  • SP5 Towns
  • SP3 Spatial strategy
  • SP1 Sustainable development
  • SP2 Climate change
  • SP4 Placemaking
  • SP6 Villages and rural areas
  • SP8 Housing
  • SP10 Transport
  • SP12 Minerals

SP01: Sustainable development

Development in North Somerset should demonstrate how it contributes to the achievement of sustainable development reflecting environmental, social and economic objectives that need to be pursued in mutually supportive ways. Where proposals accord with the Local Plan (or Neighbourhood Development Plan), they will be approved without delay, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

Within North Somerset this requires new development proposals, where appropriate, to demonstrate how they:

  • Address the climate emergency;
  • Support delivery of zero-carbon development;
  • Support decentralised renewable energy generation;
  • Prioritise active travel and effective public transport to make these modes the natural choice over car use wherever possible;
  • Support economic development in locations that are, or will be made, accessible by sustainable modes;
  • Support regeneration particularly in town centres;
  • Deliver the mix and type of housing to meet local needs including affordable and specialist needs housing;
  • Create healthy, safe and cohesive communities and reduce inequalities;
  • Ensure active travel and public transport access to a wide range of services, facilities, jobs and recreational opportunities and support the creation of 20 minute communities;
  • Deliver essential infrastructure in step with development;
  • Prioritise good design and placemaking;
  • Retain and enhance locally important natural and historic assets, landscapes and townscapes;
  • Promote the optimal use of land including prioritising use of previously developed land;
  • Protect and enhance green infrastructure, biodiversity and geodiversity, particularly protected habitats and species;
  • Minimise development in areas at risk of flooding outside the towns and not increase flood risk elsewhere and
  • Avoid adverse environmental impacts such as ground, water and air pollution.

Justification

The presumption in favour of sustainable development is at the heart the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and relates to both plan making and decision-taking. The planning system must contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. This Local Plan acknowledges this important national policy requirement.

For plan-making this means that plans should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area, align growth and infrastructure, improve the environment, mitigate climate change (including by making effective use of land in urban areas) and be sufficiently flexible to adapt to rapid change. For decision-taking this means approving development proposals that accord with an up-to-date development plans without delay; or where there are no relevant development plan policies, or the policies which are most important for determining the application are out-of-date, granting permission unless there are clear reasons as set in the NPPF for refusing development.

SP2: Climate change

Development proposals must demonstrate how they will address climate change mitigation and adaptation, encourage the decarbonisation of energy and transport, and support the delivery of a carbon neutral North Somerset by 2030.

In order to reduce the overall environmental impact of development, proposals will be supported where they:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and store carbon.
  • Deliver a net zero energy standard in new buildings.
  • Minimise energy use and demonstrate that residual energy demand can be met with renewable forms of energy.
  • Maximise the generation of energy from renewable and low carbon sources of energy.
  • Are designed to adapt and be resilient to the impacts of local climate change.
  • Reduce the risk of flooding both now and in the future, taking account of predicted sea level rises and the impact on areas vulnerable to coastal change.
  • Maximise water re-use and the protection of water resources.
  • Prioritise active travel and effective public transport over car use wherever possible.
  • Deliver green infrastructure and enhance biodiversity.
  • Prevent and minimise waste, and encourage re-use, recycling, and resource recovery; and
  • Encourage the reuse of existing buildings and structures.

Justification

North Somerset Council declared a climate emergency in 2109 and has a target of being carbon neutral by 2030.

Government advice requires that 'the planning system should support the transition to a low carbon future in a changing climate. It should help to shape places in ways that contribute to radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, minimise vulnerability and improve resilience; encourage the reuse of existing resources, including the conversion of existing buildings; and support renewable and low carbon energy and associated infrastructure' (NPPF paragraph 152).

This policy sets the overall strategic framework to help deliver the Council's climate change objectives.

SP3: Spatial strategy

The Local Plan makes provision for a minimum of 20,085 new dwellings and 70ha employment land within North Somerset over the plan period 2023-2038.

Priority will be given to locating new residential and mixed-use development in or close to urban areas where there is an existing or proposed wide range of facilities, services and jobs, and there are opportunities to encourage active travel, particularly at locations which are currently, or have the potential to be, well served by public transport. Employment opportunities will be encouraged at accessible locations well-related to the urban areas and where sustainable transport opportunities can be maximised. Residential development in areas at risk of flooding will be minimised outside the towns. The amount of development at villages and in the countryside will relate to local community needs.

Justification

This policy sets out the overall approach to where development will be located within North Somerset over the plan period, prioritising the most sustainable locations for growth consistent with government advice. It focuses development at the towns and urban areas, maximising the use of previously developed land, and optimising opportunities to encourage walking and cycling and access to effective public transport. Development at villages and in rural areas is relatively less sustainable as a higher proportion of trips are likely to be made by car and while a proportionate amount of development will take place in these areas, it should reflect local community needs. Sensitive areas and land at risk of flooding will be protected.

The adopted plan will need to make provision for the North Somerset housing requirement of 20,085 dwellings in full. For the Preferred Options a total capacity of 18,064 dwellings has been identified (excluding windfall). The consultation will help inform how this shortfall might be addressed.

SP4: Placemaking

Development will be supported which demonstrates that a robust design process has been carried out including as appropriate collaboration with local communities to produce proposals which:

  • Are of high quality architecture, landscaping, design and layout;
  • Reflect, protect or enhance local character including local heritage;
  • Contribute positively to addressing the climate and nature emergencies and are future-proofed against changing climatic conditions;
  • Integrate green infrastructure principles and support biodiversity net gain;
  • Use land efficiently in terms of layout and density, as appropriate to the location, to create compact, connected and sociable places;
  • Enable healthy lifestyles and encourage active travel; and
  • Support the creation of socially, economically and environmentally sustainable communities.

Proposals which fail to demonstrate that they have effectively assessed all of these requirements will not normally be permitted.

Justification

This policy applies to all development as development of all types and scales needs to respond to its local context, embody high quality architecture and create safe, attractive and desirable buildings and spaces which function well and foster a positive sense of community.

Government advice emphasises the importance of good quality design and placemaking, emphasising local community involvement and how it contributes to sustainable development, creating better places in which to live and work and making new development more acceptable to communities. The placemaking principles need to be considered at the outset and should be used to guide the design of development and how it fits into and enhances the local environment and how places function. Proposals should demonstrate a robust design process from initial site assessment stage, which addresses the 10 characteristics of good design as set out in the National Design Guide. This can be set out in design and access statement submitted with the application. The use of other assessment tools such as 'Building for a healthy life' can also be used to demonstrate this. This policy supports the objectives of the West of England Placemaking Charter.

In many parts of North Somerset there is a clear identity and character which development proposals can respond to and seek to complement or enhance. Even where the local character is less well defined or as positive, new development should still seek to have a positive impact on placemaking and regeneration and the character of the immediate location. Proposals should demonstrate how they respond to their context and draw inspiration from the positive characteristics of their surroundings including local heritage, in the design of buildings, structures and spaces, having regard to other relevant guidance or character appraisals. This includes developing bespoke creative design solutions which provide variety and choice and enhance the local character and sense of place. Good quality placemaking can support the creation of safe, healthy communities in terms of physical and mental wellbeing and making places more inclusive.

New development will be expected to use land efficiently. Higher densities should be investigated in accessible locations such as places well related to local facilities or at transport hubs and to help support the creation of walkable communities.

Proposals should demonstrate how they have maximised opportunities for physical activity and recreation including active travel through the design of private and public spaces and green and blue infrastructure.

Involving the local community in the design of new development is an important consideration. It is expected that Community Engagement Statements submitted for major applications (10 or more dwellings or 1,000 square meters of floorspace) will set out the type of engagement undertaken (such as workshop whether online or in person, web based questionnaire or document etc), the questions asked, responses given and how the proposals have been amended to take account of comments made. If no amendments have been made then the CES should explain the reason for this.

Masterplanning, parameter plans and design codes are important tools in ensuring development on larger sites or within specific areas is delivered in a consistent and comprehensive manner. These will usually be prepared by applicants and developers in collaboration with local communities, the local planning authority or in combination. Once agreed, development proposals will be expected to demonstrate how the design guidance has been applied.

SP5: Towns

Proposals for new development within the settlement boundaries of Weston-super-Mare, Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead as defined on the Policies Map will be supported provided that they:

    • Make a positive contribution to the built environment and sense of place and the creation of safe and attractive environments including green infrastructure and supporting biodiversity;
    • Support and enable walking, cycling and improved public transport, particularly in relation to connecting residential areas to the town centre, local centres, employment areas, educational establishments and other destinations;
    • Optimise housing densities, particularly at town centres and at accessible locations such as transport hubs; and
    • Can be successfully served by infrastructure such as transport, education and health facilities.

Town centres will be the primary focus for a wide range of retail, leisure, educational, cultural, community and other services which support, maintain or enhance their viability and vitality and their role and function.

Justification

The four towns within North Somerset each have their own distinct character and identity. They are the most sustainable locations within North Somerset given their range of services, facilities and jobs, and accessibility from surrounding areas. Sequentially, they are the first places to consider in terms of considering future development opportunities, particularly the re-use of brownfield land and buildings. However, they are also the most densely populated parts of the district and it is essential that any new development is of a form and character which complements and enhances urban life through high quality design and placemaking.

The town centres are the focus of the urban areas and have an important role in serving wider catchments. Traditional retail has declined and the plan needs to provide a framework to allow them to grow and diversify in a way which will allow them to adapt and respond to a rapidly changing environment.

SP6: Villages and rural areas

New development within the settlement boundaries of villages as defined on the Policies Map will be supported where:

  • It results in a form, design and scale of development which is high quality, respects and enhances the local character, contributes to placemaking and the reinforcement of local distinctiveness, and can be readily assimilated into the village;
  • The size, type, tenure and range of housing reflects local community needs;
  • It will not cause significant adverse impacts on local services and infrastructure, including cumulative impacts;
  • The location of development maximises opportunities to reduce the need to travel and connects to local facilities by high quality walking and cycling infrastructure, with good public transport connections for longer trips; and
  • The uses complement the defined local centres and contribute to their vitality and viability.

Outside settlement boundaries new residential development will be restricted to replacement dwellings, residential subdivision, residential conversion of buildings where alternative economic use is inappropriate or unfeasible, dwellings for essential rural workers.

Other uses may be acceptable outside settlement boundaries provided that:

  • Suitable alternative sites are not available within settlement boundaries;
  • There are no suitable previously developed land or buildings;
  • Uses are well related and accessible by safe walking and cycling to the communities which they serve; and
  • Development is of an appropriate scale and design and does not adversely affect the landscape or character of the area.

The re-use of previously developed land in rural areas will be supported where:

  • Through good design it significantly enhances the local environment;
  • It delivers at least net zero carbon development through high standards of building design and use of renewable energy;
  • Makes a positive contribution to green infrastructure and biodiversity; and
  • It connects to existing active travel and public transport networks.

Justification

Development in the rural areas is relatively less sustainable given a lack or services, facilities and job opportunities and the distances involved in travelling which will encourage car use. However, there will be local needs to be addressed and development is focused on the more sustainable settlements. Outside settlement boundaries, more restrictive policies will apply. Within these areas, replacement dwellings, residential subdivision and conversions are acceptable in terms of reusing resources and previously developed land, but new greenfield development or infilling is not as this would lead to a more dispersed, unsustainable pattern of development. Dwellings for essential rural workers may be permitted where a need has been demonstrated.

The policy approach allows rural buildings to be converted to dwellings, subject to criteria, in terms of reusing an existing resource. However, it would not be appropriate to subsequently replace a rural conversion with a replacement dwelling as this would be tantamount to the approval of a new dwelling in an unsustainable location.

SP7: Green Belt

The Green Belt in North Somerset will continue to check the unrestricted urban sprawl of Bristol, preserve the openness of land and meet the national purposes of Green Belt. It will protect rural settlements maintaining their character and separate identities.

Changes to the Green Belt made in this plan are a result of exceptional circumstances and will enable development at the following locations:

  • Yanley Lane (Woodspring golf course)
  • East of Backwell
  • South of Clevedon Road, Portishead

Development of land released from the Green Belt will be required to meet exceptional sustainability standards and compensate for the loss of Green Belt. These requirements will be set out in the detailed allocations and planning guidance.

An extension to the Green Belt is proposed to the south of Nailsea to prevent the merger of Nailsea and Backwell and further encroachment into the countryside.

Villages in the Green Belt which do not contribute to openness will be inset from the Green Belt.

Opportunities to enhance the beneficial use of the Green Belt will be sought and supported provided they do not conflict with the purposes of the Green Belt or constitute inappropriate development.

Justification

Both Government and local people attach great value to the Green Belt. Releases of Green Belt land for development made in this plan are a result of exceptional circumstances. Land used for development will be kept to a minimum with phased releases and will be expected to deliver exceptional standards of sustainability, compensate for the loss of the 'green resource' by introducing innovative design for green spaces, wildlife habitats, street trees and sustainable drainage solutions as well as improve the accessibility and environmental quality of the remaining Green Belt.

The Green Belt is regarded as a multifunctional asset which not only carries out the traditional purposes set out nationally by maintaining openness and protecting land from inappropriate developments, it also ensures productive farmland and forestry, provides recreational and healthy lifestyle benefits to residents and visitors, a space to enjoy the beauty of the landscape, a home for wildlife and contact with nature and an environment to support the wider environmental and climate change objectives for reducing CO2, flooding and air pollution. Opportunities to enhance these will be sought where possible.

A new area of Green Belt will be introduced to the south of Nailsea and west of Backwell to ensure further encroachment into the countryside is contained and environmental and recreational benefits of the Green Belt are available to residents and visitors.

SP8: Housing

Land will be identified to secure the delivery of a minimum of 20,085 dwellings within North Somerset 2023-2038.

The Council will seek to ensure the creation of mixed and balanced communities with a mix of house types and tenures to support a range of household sizes, ages and incomes to meet identified housing needs.

The Council will seek the delivery of a minimum of 40% affordable housing from all sites of 10 or more dwellings, and from sites of 5 or more dwellings within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The precise size and type of affordable housing to be provided on individual sites will be determined through negotiation, guided by the Local Housing Need Assessment or other evidence and taking account of viability. The expectation is that the first 25% will be First Homes with the remainder 90% social rented and 10% shared ownership.

Housing schemes for 100% affordable housing to meet local needs outside settlement boundaries will be supported where:

  • The development meets an identified local need demonstrated by an up-to-date needs survey or other evidence; and
  • The site search has followed a sequential approach with priority given to sites within settlement boundaries, previously developed land, sustainability principles and avoiding sensitive locations.

The broad distribution of new dwellings in accordance with the spatial strategy will be as follows. This distribution will be used to identify the housing requirement for neighbourhood plans with the target for specific neighbourhood areas calculated proportionately in relation to the number of existing dwellings.

Location

Dwellings

Weston-super-Mare

6,980

Wolvershill (north of Banwell)

2,800

Clevedon

226

Nailsea

1,781

Portishead

572

Yatton

391

Backwell

1,120

Yanley Lane (Woodspring golf course)

2,500

Villages and rural area

1,676

Total

18,046

Justification

The minimum number of new dwellings required in North Somerset over the plan period is informed by the Local Housing Needs Assessment and using the government's standard method as set out in national guidance. At February 2022 the annual requirement was 1,339 dwellings pa or 20,085 over the plan period.

The adopted plan will need to make provision for the North Somerset housing requirement of 20,085 dwellings in full. For the Preferred Options a total capacity of 18,046 dwellings has been identified (excluding windfall). The consultation will help inform how this shortfall might be addressed.

The overall distribution of housing reflects the spatial strategy and the assessment of potential development opportunities.

Affordable housing is defined as housing for sale or rent for those whose needs are not met by the market. It includes housing for rent, starter homes, discounted market sales housing and other affordable routes to home ownership. Addressing affordable housing needs is an important component of sustainable development. Within North Somerset the Local Housing Needs Assessment identified total affordable housing need 2023-2038 as 4,802 households. The proposed 40% target will be tested in terms of viability and deliverability on both a district-wide basis and for sub-areas.

The detailed delivery of affordable housing will be set out in a Supplementary Planning Document.

NPPF advises that strategic policies should set out a housing requirement for designated rural areas which reflects the overall strategy for the pattern and scale of development and any relevant allocations. For North Somerset this can be derived from the table of the spatial distribution of growth. For neighbourhood areas within specific categories (such as villages and rural areas), the approach will be proportionate, based on the number of existing dwellings.

SP9: Employment

Around 70ha of land is allocated for business purposes across North Somerset over the plan period to meet needs and aspirations across a range of economic sectors, to contribute to sustainable patterns of development and commuting, and to provide a range of local employment opportunities. This includes new employment allocations provided as part of the mixed-use strategic locations at Wolvershill (north of Banwell) and Yanley Lane (Woodspring golf course).

The towns (and Yanley Lane strategic location) will be the main focus for employment growth given their accessibility, labour markets and range of services and facilities. Opportunities to provide business development which supports self-containment and reduces out-commuting through the re-use of land and premises will be encouraged, especially where it supports the vitality and viability of town centres.

The role of Weston-super-Mare as the principal economic centre will be strengthened and reinforced with employment opportunities provided in step with housing growth.Allocation of business land is focused on the J21 Enterprise Area in addition to provision at the strategic locationat Wolvershill (north of Banwell).

New business development will be supported within villageswhere it is of an appropriate scale and character. Priority will be given to the reuse of existing business sites and other brownfield land.

Elsewhere new employment opportunities will be focused on the reuse of previously developed land or the expansion of existing premises where this does not have an adverse impact on the character or appearance of the locality.

The broad distribution of new employment land in accordance with the spatial strategy will be as follows.

Location

Employment land (ha)

Yanley Lane (Woodspring golf course)

10

Weston-super-Mare includingWolvershill, (north of Banwell))

48

Other towns and villages

13

Total

70

Note: Figures do not sum due to rounding

 

Justification

Supporting the economy is a key element of delivering sustainable development, economic growth and prosperity. The local plan seeks to support a strong and robust economy by making provision for identified needs including providing additional flexibility and choice to accommodate future opportunities. Provision is made to facilitate growth across a range of sectors and to support sustainable patterns of growth and commuting across North Somerset.

Planning for business growth is inherently uncertain. The national and local economy is currently responding to changes resulting from exit from the European Union and the pandemic. This creates uncertainties as well as opportunities for the economy within North Somerset, and brings with it new ways of working, changes across business sector makeup, and in the way business operates, all of which have an influence on land use planning and which will need to be considered when the plan is reviewed.

Key land use implications include changes in the way town centres operate, the more flexible use of commercial space, and a potential migration of businesses and their workforce away from established economic centres to relatively more peripheral locations, influenced by technological advances in communications and increasing use of remote working practices. The provision of employment land closer to areas of population may become more important, with the potential to support more sustainable commuting patterns.

Scale of employment land provision

The North Somerset Employment Land Review (2018) forecast growth of around 15,400 jobs 2016-2036. This compared to actual growth of 31,853 jobs from 2000 to 2019 reflecting a period of comparatively high employment growth. Current evidence published in the West of England Employment Land and Spatial Needs Assessment (ELSNA: 2021) indicates reduced employment growth for North Somerset taking into account the effects of the pandemic on the economy and a potential marked shift in the distribution of future jobs growth across the West of England area.

To inform the provision of employment land in the local plan, forecasts of employment change are translated to floorspace and land requirements and provide an indication of the potential future demand for floorspace. Some caution is however required when considering this evidence and the appropriate level of provision to be made in the plan. This should be considered alongside other factors in setting the scale of employment land provision within the plan.

The overall scale of provision is informed by a review of extant business site allocations, their suitability for business use and compatibility with the plan's spatial strategy, as well as an approach to accommodate business uses as part of the key growth areas proposed in the plan. This is in line with the recommendations of the ELSNA to protect existing employment land for continued employment use.

The provision is made up of:

  • around 40ha of land carried forward from the Site Allocations Plan (2018),
  • around 30ha of additional land to be identified at the strategic growth areas including Wolvershill (north of Banwell), Yanley Lane (Woodspring golf course) and at Nailsea/Backwell.

This provision, when compared against the forecasts, provides a reasonable supply of sites and some flexibility in the event that economic recovery is stronger than anticipated and there is greater demand for business space in line with national policy. The provision is also intended to support sustainable patterns of land use and commuting, particularly at the main towns where commuting pressures are greatest. By identifying more land than evidence currently suggests may be needed, we can ensure that a range of site sizes and locations are available to accommodate varying business needs. This also builds in a provision to offset any loss of existing business premises and encouraging the gradual replacement of unsuitable premises with more modern buildings.

The Employment Topic Paper, published as background to this consultation provides a more detailed summary of the evidence. Reference should also be made to the 2018 North Somerset Employment Land Review and the 2021 West of England Employment Land and Spatial Needs Assessment.

Supply and demand will be monitored over the plan period with future review taking into account the latest evidence.

Distribution of employment land provision

In line with the overarching spatial strategy, provision is made for business development at or well-related to the urban areas including the main towns of Weston-super-Mare, Nailsea, Portishead, and Clevedon, and the strategic location at Yanley Lane (Woodspring golf course), as well as smaller-scale provision and a supportive policy to meet local business needs elsewhere across North Somerset. Provision of additional employment in these locations has the potential to contribute to increased self-containment, reducing out-commuting and supporting objectives of reducing carbon emissions associated with commuting.

Evidence indicates that the provision of the sites identified will be attractive to the market and that there is a realistic prospect of delivery over the plan period. At this stage, a broad employment land quantity is indicated for the strategic development locations at Wolvershill (north of Banwell) and Yanley Lane (Woodspring golf course) and the allocations at Nailsea and Backwell. Specific sites for employment use are not yet identified but will emerge following detailed masterplanning. The identification and testing of specific site options will be informed by consideration of the employment land evidence and recommendations.

SP10: Transport

New development must be located and designed to minimise the carbon impact of transport through limiting the need to travel and prioritising walking and cycling (active travel) and the use of public transport opportunities.

In order to facilitate the delivery of net-zero emissions and reduce the adverse environmental effects of transport, development proposals and transport schemes must address the following principles in line with the following hierarchy:

1. Delivery of attractive, safe, and inclusive routes for walking and cycling which are well integrated into existing networks and provide access to effective and frequent public transport.

2. Delivery of better local bus, rail and rapid transit services and infrastructure supporting uptake in public transport use within and between towns in North Somerset and further afield including, first and last mile provision, reallocation of highway space and new or improved bus stops.

3. Delivery of infrastructure to facilitate the use of electric vehicles.

4. Improvement of safety on the transport network for all users.

New transport infrastructure will be considered where it also supports active travel and public transport, benefits community connectivity, public realm or provides safety improvements or is required to support economic development.

Adequate parking for motor vehicles and cycles must be provided and managed to meet the needs of anticipated users (residents, workers and visitors) in usable spaces.

Justification

Transport infrastructure includes roads and motorways, public transport facilities including rail facilities and bus routes, footpaths, cycleways and bridleways and vehicle parking.

The approach to transport has a significant role to play in terms of delivering sustainable patterns of development consistent with the climate emergency ambition. The priority is to maximise the opportunities for active travel and access to effective public transport and so discourage the overall number of car trips. Active Travel refers to the movement of people or goods by using the physical activity of a person for movement. That is, mainly walking and cycling. Active travel also helps to address the growing health emergency as a range of diseases can be significantly reduced by increased physical activity. However, there will still be a need for highway improvements to address local issues and to make provision for electric vehicles.

Transport infrastructure is also important in terms of supporting economic development such as haulage and freight such as through the port and airport.

SP11: Green infrastructure and historic environment

New development proposals will be supported where they make a positive contribution to the protection and enhancement of valued landscapes and the natural and historic environment. Proposals should reflect the character, distinctiveness, diversity and quality of North Somerset's landscape and townscapes through good design and management.

New development will, where appropriate, be expected to:

  • Conserve and enhance the landscape and scenic beauty of the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the wildlife and cultural heritage, including ensuring that development in its setting is sensitively located and designed to avoid or minimise adverse impacts;
  • Maintain and enhance the green and blue infrastructure network;
  • Protect the character of the undeveloped coast and identify opportunities to improve public access;
  • Respect the landscape types and character areas identified in the North Somerset Landscape Character Assessment;
  • Protect the character and separate identity of settlements, including the protection of the strategic gaps as defined on the Policies Map;
  • Protection of the best and most versatile agricultural land;
  • Conserve, restore and enhance priority habitats, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species;
  • Secure biodiversity net gain;
  • Support the establishment and delivery of North Somerset Nature Parks to protect and enhance habitats, mitigate the impacts of development proposals and encourage opportunities for public access and environmental education;
  • Retain existing trees and support new planting and woodland creation;
  • Preserve and enhance conservation areas, listed buildings, buildings of local significance, scheduled monuments, other archaeological sites, registered and unregistered historic parks and gardens;
  • Retain and enhance aspects of the historic environment which contribute to the distinctive character of North Somerset and
  • Improve access to the countryside through increased and enhanced public rights of way.

Justification

North Somerset contains outstanding wildlife habitats and species. These include limestone grasslands, traditional orchards, wetlands, rhynes, commons, hedgerows, ancient woodlands and the Severn Estuary. Key species include rare horseshoe bats, otters, wildfowl and wading birds, slow-worms and water voles.

National guidance requires great weight to be accorded to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Within the AONB the scale and extent of development should be limited, while development within its setting should be sensitively located and designed to avoid or minimise the impact.

The Council will preserve and where appropriate enhance the historic environment recognising the positive contribution it makes to the character and distinctiveness of North Somerset through the diversity and quality of heritage assets. This includes wider social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits including promoting community cohesion and identity through a legacy of having created a unique sense of place.

SP12: Minerals

Mineral resources will be protected through the identification of a Minerals Safeguarding Area for carboniferous limestone as defined on the Policies Map. Existing and recently permitted carboniferous limestone workings will be safeguarded from inappropriate development which could adversely affect mineral production.

The Council will plan for a steady and adequate supply of aggregates, by encouraging provision of recycled aggregate, seeking to maintain a land bank for crushed rock of at least ten years, and allocating areas for mineral working where necessary, having regard to the need to promote deliverability of permitted reserves of crushed rock.

Justification

NPPF paragraph 209 states that 'it is essential that there is a sufficient supply of minerals to provide the infrastructure, buildings, energy and goods that the country needs. Since minerals are a finite natural resource, and can only be worked where they are found, best use needs to be made of them to secure their long-term conservation.'

North Somerset primarily contributes to minerals supply by the winning and working of carboniferous limestone, producing aggregate (crushed rock). The aggregate is mainly used for building and repairing roads and producing asphalt, concrete and concrete products.

The NPPF para 210b advocates taking account of recycled materials 'so far as practicable'. Some aggregate is produced in North Somerset from recycling of construction, demolition and excavation waste. However it is difficult to obtain comprehensive reliable data, and the quantity of recycled aggregate produced from known sources is relatively low.

In the West of England (WoE) quarries in North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are the providers of crushed rock. Currently there are three active quarries in North Somerset, run by two operators. These are:

  • Stancombe Quarry near Backwell.
  • Durnford Quarry near Long Ashton.
  • Freemans Quarry off the A38 near Bristol Airport.

National Planning Policy Guidance on Minerals paragraph 060 states that as part of the Managed Aggregate Supply System, at local level, mineral planning authorities are expected to prepare Local Aggregate Assessments (LAAs)to assess the demand for and supply of aggregates.

The LAA is an annual assessment of the demand for and supply of aggregates in a mineral planning authority's area. It should include a forecast of the demand for aggregates based on both the rolling average of 10 years sales data and other relevant local information.

Paragraph 213 of the NPPF states that minerals planning authorities should plan for a steady and adequate supply of aggregates by various means, including preparing LAAs, and using landbanks of aggregate minerals reserves principally as an indicator of the security of aggregate minerals supply, and to indicate the additional provision that needs to be made for new aggregate extraction and alternative supplies in mineral plans.

Para 213(f) indicates that landbanks of at least 10 years for crushed rock should be maintained.

Para 083 of the NPPG states that 'aggregate landbanks should be recalculated each year. The length of the aggregate landbank is the sum in tonnes of all permitted reserves for which valid planning permissions are extant, divided by the annual rate of future demand based on the latest annual Local Aggregate Assessment'.

Annual LAAs for WoE are produced jointly by the four unitary authorities. The latest emerging 2011-2020 West of England Local Aggregates Assessment identifies a ten year average for sales of crushed rock in the WoE of 3.47 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) for 2011-2020 inclusive.

In preparing LAAs, it is also appropriate to consider other factors such as average sales over the last three years to identify the general trend of demand (NPPG paragraph 64).

For WoE the 3 year average (2018-20 ) for sales of crushed rock was 3.99mtpa, (higher than the 3.47 mtpa 10 year average), because levels of sales in 2019 and 2020 were higher than in most of the 2011-2020 decade. However, it is not considered that this necessarily points to a rising trend, because the 2018 sales (3.38mt) were lower than in 2017 (3.59mt). It is considered better to base levels of provision of crushed rock on the 10 year average sales, (so the 3.47mt figure) rather than the 3 year average, especially as it is over a longer period.

Based on a long-standing agreement, the required crushed rock provision for the WoE is split 60%/40% between South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.

On this basis, given the 10 year average in the emerging WoE LAA for 2011-20 of 3.47mtpa, the annualised required level of crushed rock provision for North Somerset can be calculated as 40% of 3.47mtpa, which is 1.39mtpa, If this was to be extrapolated, the total crushed rock requirement for North Somerset for 2021-2038 inclusive (18 years) would be 25.02mt. To allow for a ten year landbank at the end of that period, a further 10 years requirement can be added on (13.9mt), so, on that basis, the total North Somerset crushed rock requirement for that 28 year period (to 2048) would be 38.92mt.

The 38.92mt figure is based on the 10 year sales average in the latest emerging LAA for 2011-20. Later annual LAAs are likely to give different 10 year averages, and hence different figures. Therefore it is simpler and more meaningful to aim to maintain a ten year landbank (with the landbank to be measured annually, and based on 40% of the 10 year average sales figure in the latest annual LAA.) NPPG paragraph 83 states that 'aggregate landbanks should be recalculated each year. The Council will annually monitor, and seek to maintain, a 10 year landbank for crushed rock in North Somerset.

At the end of 2020 (relevant to the latest emerging LAA) there were significant remaining permitted reserves at the working quarries in North Somerset, and a landbank of over ten years for crushed rock. However, assuming a theoretical drawdown of 1.39mtpa going forward, there would not be sufficient permitted reserves to provide a ten year landbank for crushed rock in the district at the end of the plan period in 2038. NPPF paragraph 213(f) indicates that landbanks of at least 10 years for crushed rock should be maintained.

Partly having regard to the need to maintain a ten year landbank throughout the Local Plan period, this Local Plan allocates land for extensions to two quarries in the district. It is likely that any granting of planning permission for mineral working on those extensions would significantly increase permitted reserves in the district. The requirements of all relevant policies in this Plan will be considered in determining planning applications, including for example LP15 and LP16 on the allocations, and DP30, on mineral working.

Calculation of the district's landbank does not take account of the deliverability of the remaining permitted reserves at individual quarries, which is affected by any constraints at the quarries, and their operational capacity, etc. Such deliverability is important for maintaining a 'steady and adequate supply of aggregates' referred to in the NPPF paragraph 213.

The Council has taken account of such factors in making the minerals allocations in the Local Plan.

Paragraph 210(c) of the NPPF advocates safeguarding of mineral resources by designation of Mineral Safeguarding Areas and use of appropriate policies, so that known locations of specific minerals resources of local and national importance are not sterilised by non-mineral development where this should be avoided, (whilst not creating a presumption that the resources defined will be worked).The council has taken account of this and includes appropriate policies in this Local Plan.