North Somerset Local Plan Preferred Options: Consultation Draft March 2022

5. Development Management Policies

Design and Place-making

Policy DP1: High quality design

For all proposals, indetermining whether the design is acceptable account will btaken of whether:

  • The siting of all elements of the scheme, soft and hard landscaping, levels, density, form, scale, height, massing, detailing, colour and materials are appropriate and make best use of the characteristics of the site and its surroundings, its heritage and natural value and are appropriate to its use and position within the landscape and/or townscape;
  • Building materials and finishes are of a high quality, sustainable, attractive and durable, and appropriate to the context and proposed design;
  • The site integrates with the surrounding pattern of streets and paths, provides good links to public green and urban spaces and continues strong characteristic local development patterns where they contribute positively to local character including plot and building frontage widths;
  • The proposals incorporate landscape features including trees and hedgerows (with suitable space to reach maturity), which will support biodiversity and access to wildlife corridors and green space and which will future-proof the development against changing climatic conditions and help carbon capture;
  • The design creates safe environments for all, that benefit from natural surveillance, visible streets and open spaces, lighting and other security measures. Achieving Secured by Design certification will help to demonstrate how designing out crime has been taken into account;
  • The design promotes accessible buildings and spaces;
  • The design responds to existing drainage patterns, minimises water and energy consumption and incorporates SuDS as appropriate;
  • On major developments, the layout should use landmarks, focal points, views, clear routes, lighting, public art and signage in order to assist people to navigate throughout the proposed development, supported, where appropriate, by the production of masterplans and associated design principles. The use of design coding or other similar process should be considered if appropriate to the delivery of the development;
  • Where part of a wider proposed development, the design should take into account the future development potential of adjoining sites that are identified for development and not prejudice the comprehensive and coordinated development of a larger site of which it forms part;
  • Proposals visible from main approaches into settlements should aim to protect and enhance views from the approach, particularly regarding retention, provision, and/or enhancement of green areas, open spaces, trees and vegetation;
  • The design and layout should not prejudice the living conditions for the occupiers of the proposal or that of adjoining occupiers through loss of privacy, overlooking, overshadowing or overbearing impact;
  • The proposal should not prejudice the retention of private amenity space and should include high quality and usable private amenity and play space appropriate to the type of proposal and character of the area. This can be provided as gardens for any new separately occupied dwelling, or as private balconies, or communal gardens and roof terraces accessible to all dwellings not provided with their own private space;
  • Private areas should create defensible spaces, allowing exclusive access and provide areas for personal use and storage;
  • Account is taken of adverse weather conditions particularly in relation to the likely impacts of climate change;
  • Provision is made for the storage of waste and recycling materials in secure locations that are an integral part of the design and that enable easy collection from the public highway; and
  • Proposals for lighting schemes should not have a harmful impact on the living conditions of residents, significantly increase sky glow, cause glare or light trespass or impact on biodiversity.

Major development proposals should be accompanied by Design and Access Statements, parameter plans and Community Engagement Statements, providing evidence of effective community involvement in the development of the design.

Management plans should be submitted for the long-term maintenance of all shared public and private spaces and facilities including private drainage installations and SuDS and services that the developer intends to provide instead of the Council.

Where relevantdevelopment proposals should have regard to the design guidance set out in Supplementary Planning Documents and other documents.

Justification

The National Planning Policy Framework Chapter 12 Achieving well designed places, the National Design Guide and National Model Design Codes all emphasis that bad design which doesn't respond well to its local and wider context will not be supported.

While Policy SP4 Placemaking sets the overall context for the design of high quality, accessible and functional buildings and spaces, DP1 focusses on the more detailed aspects of design and the requirements for different forms of development to ensure that all proposals respond to their local context and enhance the local environment.

The four Supplementary Planning Documents - Residential Design Guides 1-4 currently provide more detail on various aspects of the policy. These will be reviewed and additional or replacement guidance may be prepared as necessary.

This policy along with SP4 seeks to encourage development proposals which reflect community aspirations and values in order to facilitate development which sits well within the local community and benefits from a sense of community participation and ownership. Including community consultation in the development of proposals is encouraged for all applications, but a proportionate approach needs to be applied which could include design workshops/design days/local or village character appraisals for larger major or sensitive applications. For smaller applications engagement with neighbours may be relevant. The Community Engagement Statement should set out how the applicant has involved the local community, the feedback given and how this has been incorporated into the final design, or why changes have not been made. This could be incorporated into the Design and Access Statement if appropriate to the nature and scale of the proposal.

The design and access statement will need to provide sufficient information to identify the main placemaking considerations. A robust design process should be demonstrated which sets out clearly how the characteristics of the site and surrounding area have been considered at the outset and followed through to final design. Proposals should clearly set out how density, layout and design features will respond to the site characteristic in order that a proper assessment can be made of the site capacity and impact on the criteria in this policy. This may include the use of parameter plans.

Where relevant, recommendations of a Design Review Panel will be taken into consideration.

Policy DP2: Residential development within settlement boundaries

Proposal for new dwellings within predominantly residential areas within settlement boundaries will be permitted provided that:

  • The siting of the building(s) on the new plot(s) and layout respects the existing street scene;
  • The plot sizes of both the new and existing property are in keeping with nearby properties;
  • Gardens are an appropriate size for both the proposed new and existing dwelling;
  • The design, form, scale and building materials are in keeping with the area;
  • Parking standards should be met for both the existing and proposed properties;
  • It would not harm the street scene and local area such as through the loss of characteristic boundary features, original estate layout landscaping or visually important trees; and
  • The living conditions of the occupiers and adjoining properties would not be prejudiced.

Justification

The development of plots of land within an existing residential area can be an emotive issue for existing residents. Whilst the use of gardens and other spaces for additional housing can play a role in increasing the supply of housing in built up areas and in some instances make good use of the land the development of sites and gardens for additional housing can sometimes lead to a harmful change in the character of the residential area. In traditional suburban areas and villages this can adversely affect the character of the area by increasing density, altering the street scene, reducing the amount of mature trees and shrubs, causing a loss of biodiversity, increasing the need for car parking both on street and on site as well as increasing domestic paraphernalia.

Gardens are excluded from the definition of previously developed land, however this does not by itself prevent development on gardens. North Somerset Council's policy approach set out above aims to only permit development if it is in keeping with the character of the area and complies with the other policies in the plan and design guidance. North Somerset Council's design guides provide more detail on what is acceptable development.

Policy DP3: Residential extensions

Proposals to extend existing residential properties and construct new outbuildings which are ancillary to the main residential use will be permitted provided they:

  • Respect the massing, scale, proportions, materials and overall design and character of the existing property;
  • Do not harm the street scene or local area such as through the loss of characteristic boundary features, original estate layout landscaping or visually important trees;
  • Would not prejudice the living conditions of occupiers of adjoining properties and ensures the retention of adequate private amenity space; and
  • Accord with the parking standards.

Justification

This policy relates to residential extensions and new outbuildings which are ancillary to the main residential use. Extensions to residential properties can play an important role in upgrading the existing housing stock. However, in assessing the suitability of any proposal there are three main issues to consider; the effect of the proposal on the existing house, the impact on the setting, street scene and local area and the effect on the quality of life for the occupiers and neighbours.

Residential annexes are dealt with in a separate policy. Where appropriate, proposals will also be assessed against Green Belt, conservation area and listed buildings policies.

Existing design guides (revised as appropriate) provide more detail on what is acceptable development.

Policy DP4: Houses in Multiple Occupation and residential subdivision

The sub-division of dwellings and other buildings, including extensions and outbuildings, to form self-contained accommodation or Houses in Multiple Occupation will be supported where:

  • The proposals will not have a harmful effect on the character and living conditions of residents of the property, adjoining properties and local area;
  • A satisfactory standard of accommodation and living conditions is provided and that the proposal does not create an over-intensive use of the site;
  • The development will not singularly or cumulatively contribute to an unacceptable change in the balance of types of properties in one street or area; and
  • Parking should accord with the parking standards.

Justification

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are dwellings lived in by more than one family or groups of individuals who share facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom. They provide a valuable source of accommodation to meet the needs of some of our local population.

Additionally, the subdivision of large properties to create self-contained flats can help to meet housing need particularly considering the growing number of single person households.

However, in some instances their provision can be detrimental to the amenity of existing residential areas. For example, large numbers of flats can lead to problems such as a shortage of on street parking and bin storage areas, particularly where over intensification of a site has occurred.

In addition, areas with high numbers of flats or a concentration of HMOs can be associated with low levels of owner occupation which, in some instances, can lead to lower standards of maintenance and environmental decline, thereby prejudicing environmental improvement and regeneration objectives.

Furthermore, the cumulative impact of converting larger dwellings to flats or HMOs can have a detrimental impact on maintaining mixed and balanced communities by reducing the number of family homes available within an area and increasing the numbers of single person households. This can in some instances be associated with problems of noise and antisocial behaviour.

Currently, planning permission is not needed to convert a dwelling house to a HMO for fewer than six people. However, when planning permission is required to convert a house into a HMO we will look carefully at the existing situation within that particular street.

The impacts of HMOs will be monitored and planning applications will be refused for conversions of existing houses to those in multiple occupation or self-contained flats where the balance of housing types would be adversely affected.

Policy DP5: Climate change adaptation and resilience

All development will need to demonstrate that the vulnerability to climate change has been taken into consideration through the provision of a climate change adaptation statement.

The climate change adaptation statement will contain:

1) Evidence to demonstrate how climate-related risks are to be addressed and reduced, through development proposals which:

  • Avoid areas vulnerable to increased flooding, taking account of the latest climate projections, as set out Flood Risk Policy DM9;
  • Incorporate measures to improve resilience to potential flood risk;
  • Minimise flood risk to the wider area through the integration of Sustainable Drainage Systems;
  • Incorporate measures to mitigate high temperatures at building and site level, reducing the potential for urban heat island effects, through for example provision of natural ventilation and green infrastructure for shading;
  • Consider the availability of water and wastewater management, incorporating measures to improve water efficiency and protect water quality;
  • Consider whether construction materials used are suitable for the lifetime of the development; and
  • Will not result in a detrimental impact on air quality.

2) Evidence to demonstrate that nature-based solutions, which enable carbon sequestration (storage) are integrated into proposals, through development proposals which:

  • Protect existing and provide new green and blue infrastructure;
  • Protect existing and provide a net gain in biodiversity;
  • Encourage sustainable land use practices which protect soil quality; and
  • Protect spaces for local food production, including allotments, community orchards, community gardens and identify opportunities for community composting.

When incorporating new trees and other green infrastructure into new development, species should be selected which will be suitable in a changing climate.

These features must be considered from the outset as part of the overall design of the development.

A Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) will be prepared to set out the detail for how these policy requirements will be implemented.

Justification

The NPPF states that in order for our communities to be resilient to the impacts of climate change, we need to adapt to the changes it will bring. A demonstration of adaptation measures, which improve the resilience of communities, reduce inequality, and bring a range of social benefits is required. The NPPF guides local authorities to take into account the long-term implications for flood risk, coastal change, water supply, biodiversity and landscapes, and the risk of overheating from rising temperatures.

Climate change adaptation statements will set out the measures to increase the resilience of that development to climate change. Changes will include warmer wetter winters, drier summers, more frequent intense periods of rainfall, more extreme weather events and sea level rise. This in turn will lead to increased risks of flooding, coastal erosion with loss of intertidal habitat, drought, overheating, air pollution, water shortages, nature degradation with reduced ability to store carbon and reduced soil condition with consequential impacts on food production.

Climate change resilience and adaptation strategies should be incorporated into the design of development proposals, to ensure long-term resilience to the effects of climate change. Evidence of this will ensure that the development can cope with the predicted impacts of climate change. Taking action to address climate change at the design stage will be far less costly than not acting over the medium to long term. Measures must address climate change risks, likely to occur over a minimum of 100 years, which is considered to be the lifetime of a development.

Adaptation measures can be implemented at a variety of scales, from individual building up to community and regional scale. Specific measures will vary from development to development. Measures that will have benefits beyond site boundaries, and that will have a cumulative impact in areas where development is to be phased, should also be pursued.

Much of the evidence provided within the climate change adaptation statement will also relate to other policy requirements. This includes the requirements for minimising flood risk, provision of SuDs, enhancing and protecting green infrastructure, protecting best and most versatile agricultural land and the requirement for Biodiversity Net Gain. The climate change adaptation statement can therefore cross reference to the evidence provided to comply with these policies in the Plan.

Policy DP6: Net zero construction

All development must be designed to reduce its impact on the environment and create high quality internal and external spaces for people to use. Proposals must demonstrate that all resources are used efficiently, as part of the construction and operation of a building.

All developments must follow the principles of the energy hierarchy, to ensure that the design of a building prioritises energy reduction through highly energy efficient fabric measures, lighting, ventilation, and orientation. Once energy demand is minimised and efficiency design measures are in place, renewable energy technologies will be used to meet residual energy demand.

All new buildings will be required to achieve net zero operational energy compliance in respectof both regulated and unregulated energy now and net zero embodied carbon by 2030.

All major development should set out how embodied emissions have been taken into consideration through the production of an embodied carbon assessment.

Net zero operational energy: residential

In order to demonstrate net zero operational energy, all new residential buildings must demonstrate through an energy statement, that the following have been achieved:

  • No on-site use of fossil fuels;
  • Energy use is minimised, to be demonstrated through:
    • Space heating demand of less than 15kWh/m2/year
    • Operational energy use of less than 35 kWh/m2/year; and
  • On-site renewable energy generation is maximised, equivalent to at least the on-site energy demand.

Alternatively, compliance can be demonstrated throughPassivhaus Plus Standard accreditation, using the Passivhaus Planning Package.

Net zero operational energy: non-residential

In order to demonstrate net zero operational energy, all new non-residential buildings must demonstrate through an energy statement, that the following have been achieved:

  1. No use of on-site fossil fuels;
  2. Energy use is minimised appropriate to the end use;
  3. On-site renewable energy generation is maximised, equivalent to at least the on-site energy demand; and
  4. The end users to report their energy use in operation for 5 years post-completion.

Alternatively, compliance can be demonstrated by using BREEAM Excellent level accreditation, with outstanding level for energy use (Credit Ene01) or through an alternative compliance route with prior agreement.

Renewable Energy Offsetting - residual energy demand should be met through on-site renewable energy schemes, but if this is not technically feasible, the requirement may be met elsewhere by means of offsiterenewable energy generation. The offset mechanism will require prior agreement with the Council.

The retention of existing buildings will be given preference to the demolition of existing buildings. Retrofitting energy efficiency measures in existing buildings will be supported and significant weight will be given to the benefits of development resulting in considerable improvements to energy efficiency and reduction in carbon emissions in existing buildings. All proposals must demonstrate high standards of insulation.

All development must demonstrate measures to minimise potable water use and should aim to achieve an estimated water consumption of no more than 100 litres/person/day. All measures will optimise water use systems and may include rainwater harvesting and other mechanisms for recycling and reusing water on-site

All development will need to demonstrate measures to reduce the risk of the building overheating.

Energy use intensity and space heating targets should be prioritised regardless of a district heating connection and all reasonable efforts should be made meet these requirements prior to any building connecting to district heating network.

A Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) will be prepared to set out how the specific requirements of this policy can be implemented.

Justification

The Climate Change Committee report The Sixth Carbon Budget: Buildings states that the built environment is estimated to account for 40% greenhouse gas emissions (both direct and indirect) in the UK. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment is therefore essential to contribute to the ambition of carbon neutrality by 2030, as set out in the Climate Emergency Declaration.

Using resources efficiently means using the Earth's limited resources in a sustainable manner, whilst minimising impacts on the environment. Resources are finite and can only be replenished at a certain rate and efficiency allows more to be created with less input.

Net Zero Operational energy in this context refers toa building where no fossil fuels are used, all energy use has been minimised and it meets the local energy use target (measured in kWh/m2/year) with all energy use generated on or off-site using renewable energy that demonstrates additionality. Any residual direct or indirect emissions from energy generation and distribution are 'offset'.

Net Zero Embodied Carbon in this context refers to a building where the sum total of greenhouse gas emissions and removals over the entire lifecycle are minimised, meeting local carbon targets (measured in kgCO2e/m2) and with additional 'offsets' equals zero.

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) sixth carbon budget report suggests that in order to deliver net zero by 2050 as required by the Climate Change Act (2008), all new development should target net zero as soon as possible to avoid additional emissions and catalyse the wider decarbonisation.

A buildings energy use is now considered to the best measure for net zero compliance, whilst reducing emissions onsite is no-longer a good measure of sustainable design. This is because the electricity grid is decarbonising. Total energy use and space heating metric targets are considered to be the best mechanism to model and monitor net zero compliance in new buildings. One of the key advantages is that these can be checked once the building is occupied without further modelling or analysis. The net zero operational energy approach follows the principles of the energy hierarchy.

The space heating and total energy metric targets used to demonstrate net zero operational energy, are based on the recommendations from the Climate Change Committee (CCC) report UK housing - fit for the future, (2019) industry best practice (RIBA, CIBSE and LETI) and also align to Passivhaus certification standards. The CCC report highlights that we must build new buildings with ultra-low energy use. The report recommends a maximum space heating demand of 15-20kWh/m2/year by 2025 at the latest. The London Entergy Transformation Initiative (LETI) guidance on meeting net zero recommends a maximum limit total energy use of 40 kWh/m2/year.

The thresholds for this policy will be confirmed following viability appraisal.

The cost of achieving net zero operational energy for residential buildings was calculated for the Cornwall County Council Climate Emergency DPD, Energy review and modelling (Etude, 2021). This report found that it was technically feasible to meet net zero operational standards with an increased construction cost of less than 3% than a home compliant with Building Regulations Part L 2021.

If buildings are constructed now which do not achieve net zero standards, then these will need to be retrofitted at a later date in order to meet net zero requirements. This will be both far more costly and inconvenient. A report written for the Committee for Climate Change 'The costs and benefits of tighter standards in new buildings' (Currie & Brown, 2019) found that the cost of retrofitting to net zero standards was likely to be between £16,000 and £25,000 per dwelling. Retrofit costs would be significantly more in non-domestic buildings. The report also found that the cost of running a home built to net zero operational energy standards would be around 10 - 50% lower than one built to Part L 2021 standards.

Renewable energy offsetting must only be used where it is demonstrated as not technically viable to meet the residual energy demands through onsite renewable energy generation. This is to ensure that new buildings are as energy efficient as possible and will not need retrofitting in the future. The UK Green Business Council guide - Renewable Energy Procurement and carbon offsetting guidance for Net Zero Carbon Buildings should be used to determine the best approach.

Greenhouse gas emissions are produced at all phases of the development process. As well as the emissions associated with the use of a building, there is carbon embodied into the extraction, manufacture and transportation of building materials, construction, maintenance, repair, replacement, demolition, and eventual material disposal. This is demonstrated through the London Energy Transformation Initiative LETI embodied carbon model. A report by RICS (2017) suggested that embodied carbon makes up 35-51% of the total emissions of a building and this will rise to 70% as operational energy decarbonises.

In order to demonstrate that net zero embodied carbon has been achieved,

by 2030, targets for the embodied emissions associated with new development will need to be achieved. Maximum limits for carbon dioxide emissions equivalent per metre squared will be required for residential buildings and different limits will be set for non-residential buildings, according to their end use. Achieving these targets will need to be demonstrated through an Embodied Carbon Assessment.

The report for the West of England Authorities Embodied carbon of domestic and non-domestic buildings, (WSP 2021) demonstrates that significant reductions in embodied carbon can be achieved at no net additional cost. This can be achieved through better design (including durability to replacements), better onsite management (to avoid wastage), better choice of materials (with lower embodied carbon) and though the removal of unnecessary finishes.

In order to demonstrate that measures to reduce the risk of the building overheating have been integrated into all developments, the Good Homes Alliance Tool and Guidance - Overheating in New Homes should be used.

The four-principle approach set out in this policy is compatible with Part L Building Regulations and the Future Homes Standard (FHS) without conflict. This is because the metrics used within Building Regulations and the proposed FHS calculate both the energy and the carbon intensity of a building.

Policy DP7: Large scale renewable energy generation

Proposals for wind turbines and solar photovoltaic arrays will be supported in principle within the Search Areas shown on the Policies Map, subject to the other requirements of the Plan and it being demonstrated that there are no adverse impacts on living conditions including those from vibration, noise, shadow flicker, glint, glare and air quality.

Proposals for wind turbines and solar photovoltaic arrays at locations outside of the Search Areas may also be acceptable, although these locations are likely to be subject to additional constraints.

Proposals for wind turbines of the appropriate number and size as identified within the maps are encouraged in order to make the most efficient use of the available wind resource at that location.

Particular support will be given to renewable and low carbon energy generation developments that are led by and/or meet the needs of local communities. Support will be given to community energy schemes which provide energy for local facilities or development areas. Where community support is identified for a specific technology at a given location, this will be identified as a preferred location for that technology.

Any proposals which include renewable energy of equal to or greater than 1MW generation capacity should include energy storage, or private wire supply of the energy.

Priority will be given to developments on previously development land. On greenfield sites the proposal should support continued agricultural use and biodiversity improvements.

Proposals for wind and solar PV farms to re-power at the end of their operational life will be permitted, as long as the turbines and/or solar panels are replaced with new equipment of either the same or larger installed capacity, and subject to compliance with statutory, site-specific, and other constraints.

Proposals for biomass and bioenergy developments will be approved provided they are of a scale and type which is appropriate to the location and do not have a detrimental impact on air quality. Support will be given to community energy schemes. These developments should be located away from urban areas (and preferably in areas off the gas grid).

The development of heat networks will be encouraged provided that:

  • They use renewable and low carbon forms of energy generation; and
  • Individual developments make all reasonable efforts to meet net zero through onsite measures, before connecting to a heat network.

Development proposals within 0.5km of an existing heat network fed from a renewable source of energy should connect to this network.

Proposals for development that will host energy intensive activities and are likely to generate excess heat (or power) are expected to be located within 0.5km of a heat demand cluster, as identified on the Policies map. Where wind and solar PV farms are proposed within 0.5km of an identified heat demand cluster, these proposals should investigate providing electricity for powering heat pumps to these areas, as part of a private wire/district heat network.

Justification

Accelerating the decarbonisation and decentralisation of the energy system in the UK is essential to mitigating climate change. It can also bring wider environmental and economic benefits and improve the security of our energy supply. North Somerset has the opportunity to increase renewable energy generation and facilitate development to enable a more flexible, smart, decentralised energy system. Fossil fuel-based energy installations will no longer be acceptable.

The purpose of developing this new policy is to encourage increased levels of renewable energy generation across the district. This is an important part of the Climate Emergency Declaration and the aim of carbon neutrality by 2030.

Large-scale renewable energy generation are defined as those installations which are freestanding or standalone, are not building-mounted or wired through a building to support the onsite energy balance.

The Search Areas for a range of renewable energy technologies have been reproduced from the Renewable Energy Resource Assessment Report (AECOM, 2021). For wind turbines this will include wind turbines of 500kW (small), 1MW (medium) and 2MW (large) scale wind turbines. The mapping which accompanies the report primarily identify opportunities for large-scale developments of larger than 5MW generation capacity. The reason for this, is that this is considered to be the minimum size of development that could be financially viable without additional incentives.

The Search Areas on the Policies Map identify the locations with likely best potential for wind turbine and solar PV developments once constraints have been applied. These include both primary constraints (e.g., international nature conservation/heritage designations) and local constraints. Local constraints for wind turbines will include wind speed, residential/ noise buffers, topple distances and for solar PV arrays will include land orientation and inclination. The Search Areas also exclude land slivers, Fire Breaks and Tracks and parcels of land too small to support a large-scale development.

Further consideration will be given to refining the Search Areas, particularly for solar PV developments. This may include excluding areas with issues of grid capacity and landscape sensitivity, Best and Most Versatile Agricultural Land, AONB, Natural England's Solar Impact Risk Zones, flood risk zones and potentially land inside the Green Belt.

Community energy projects are particularly encouraged for the wider benefits of involving the local community in local leadership, control, and local engagement. These schemes can be fully owned/ controlled by the community or through a partnership with commercial or public sector parties. Community energy projects can include community-owned renewable electricity installations such as solar PV panels, wind turbines or hydroelectric generation.

Where community support is demonstrated for a specific technology at a given location, this will be identified and included as an allocation through a Neighbourhood Plan or in the Local Plan.

The NPPF states that when located in the Green Belt, elements of many renewable energy projects will comprise inappropriate development. In such cases developers will need to demonstrate very special circumstances if projects are to proceed. Such very special circumstances could include schemes which support rural diversification, can be visually contained, demonstrate local community benefits and those which provide significant biodiversity enhancements.

Energy storage has a vital role to play in enabling a zero carbon electricity system. Energy storage is required to reduce the impact from intermittency of electricity output which varies according to weather conditions and to address grid capacity constraints. Renewable energy storage provides reserves for use when demand is high, when supply is low, or at times of system stress.

Policy DP8: Efficient use of land

All new development proposals must demonstrate that they have made effective and efficient use of land. Proposals will be supported which:

  • Enable the reuse and regeneration of previously developed land;
  • Ensure that all parts of the site have a positive purpose; and
  • Prioritise higher densities at more accessible locations such as town centres, local centres and transport hubs.

The minimum target density will be 40 dwellings per ha, but this should be higher at accessible locations. In all cases density should respect and complement the character of the surrounding area.

Justification

Encouraging development on vacant and previously developed land has both a positive role in encouraging the recycling and regeneration of land and also reduces the pressure for development on greenfield sites. Redevelopment can also help increase the effectiveness of existing infrastructure.

The NPPF does not specify minimum density targets and considers that density levels should be set by local authorities to reflect local circumstances. Within North Somerset the target is a minimum of 40 dwellings per ha. Within accessible locations such as town and local centres and transport hubs we will be looking for higher densities as this can help increase vitality and viability in these areas, support public transport and provide different types of accommodation.

There may be instances where encouraging increased density may compromise the character of the surrounding area, or be constrained by other factors. In areas of low density housing, for example, a new development may appear incongruous. In such circumstances the design approach will be to make effective use of the last subject to no adverse impact on the surrounding area or the living conditions of residents. In other areas, the ecological or heritage value of the site may be important and this will influence the proposed density.

Policy DP9: Flood risk

All development must consider its vulnerability to flooding, taking account of all sources of flood risk and the impacts of climate change, up to 100 years ahead on residential or mixed use sites and 60 years ahead on non-residential sites.

Applying the Sequential Test where required, proposals for development must seek to avoid development in areas at risk of flooding unless for compatible uses in line with national policy.

Where required, the Exception Test will also be applicable. Flood resilient construction should be utilised to manage any residual risk.

Where either of these tests are required, development will only be permitted where it is demonstrated with clear evidence submitted with the planning application, that the tests are satisfied. The search for alternative sites should not necessarily be restricted to sites only capable of accommodating the proposed scale of development, and opportunities to provide development on more than one, sequentially preferable site should be explored.

In all cases, the precautionary principle will be applied when considering development proposals within areas at current and future risk of flooding.

As a starting point for the assessment of flood risk in relation to any proposed development, the North Somerset Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) and its mapping should be taken into account.

Detailed, site-specific Flood Risk Assessments (FRA) are required for all development within flood zone 3b, zone 3a, and zone 2. A FRA is also required on sites that coincide with areas identified as having Areas of Critical Drainage as identified on the SFRA mapping. The preparation of FRA should take into account national guidance and the North Somerset SFRA. Within flood zone 1, anFRA is required on sites greater than 1ha in area.

Justification

The Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England (EA 2020) provides 3 long-term government ambitions to achieve the vision of 'A nation ready for, and resilient to, flooding and coastal change - today, tomorrow and to the year 2100'. These ambitions are:

1. Climate resilient places: working with partners to bolster resilience to flooding and coastal change across the nation, both now and in the face of climate change.

2. Today's growth and infrastructure resilient in tomorrow's climate: Making the right investment and planning decisions to secure sustainable growth and environmental improvements, as well as resilient infrastructure.

3. A nation ready to respond and adapt to flooding and coastal change: Ensuring local people understand their risk to flooding and coastal change, and know their responsibilities and how to take action.

The Level 1 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment highlights that approximately a third of North Somerset is at high risk of flooding from rivers and the sea. There are significant areas of surface water flood risk and the levels and moors are an area of special drainage need. Groundwater flooding is also present in parts of the district. Climate change will increase this risk and development needs to reflect and respond to the level of risk and must be resilient to future predicted risks.

Policy DP10: Sustainable drainage

New development should not increase the risk of flooding elsewhere. Proposals must demonstrate that:

  • Surface water is managed close to its source and on the surface where reasonably practicable to do so;
  • Priority is given to integrating drainage infrastructure into green infrastructure;
  • Water is seen as a resource and is re-used where practicable, offsetting potable water demand, and that a water sensitive approach is taken to the design of the development;
  • The features that manage surface water are commensurate with the development in terms of size, form and materials and make an active contribution to making places for people;
  • Surface water management features are multi-functional wherever possible in their land use;
  • The run-off from all hard surfaces shall receive an appropriate level of treatment in accordance with Sustainable Drainage Systems guidelines, SUDS Manual (CIRIA C753), to minimise the risk of pollution;
  • Where reasonably practical, all hard surfaces are permeable having regard to groundwater protection;
  • Essential flood prevention and drainage works for developments that include new housing must be completed at the latest prior to first residential occupation, except in the case of phased developments where alternative arrangements are agreed; and
  • The drainage systems have sufficient space for access for maintenance for the lifetime of the development.

Justification

Sustainable drainage (SuDS) is now required for all major developments and is equally suitable for use in minor developments and is likely to be the only option in some rural areas. Best practice SuDS provide multiple benefits such as allowing rainfall to soak into the ground, storing rainfall in extreme events and slowly releasing it to not increase flood risk. It can improve water quality before discharging into rivers and rhynes and be an attractive part of the green infrastructure of new developments. SuDS also provide an opportunity to add to the biodiversity of new developments by creating aquatic habitats.

One of the North Somerset Green Infrastructure Strategy objectives is to manage water sustainably through the optimisation and improved use of green infrastructure to deliver an improved water environment by working with natural processes to help reduce flood risk, manage drought, improve water quality and improving connectivity to reduce the loss and quality of aquatic habitats and wildlife. Sustainable drainage in new developments meets all these aims.

 

Policy DP11: Rivers, watercourse and springs

Development proposals affecting rivers and watercourses must demonstrate that:

  • The design has taken account of, and enhanced, the setting and views of the river or watercourse;
  • It has contributed to preserving and enhancing the physical, natural, historically and culturally distinctive landscape of the North Somerset Levels and Moors;
  • It will support improvements to the quality of the river or watercourse, including through the design and treatment of adjacent areas;
  • It will enhance the natural resources of the river and offer opportunities for re-naturalisation of the river such as the removal of culverts;
  • It enables where possible opportunities for greater public access, including associated tourism and recreational facilities; and
  • It provides suitable buffer strips for maintenance activities.

The continuity of flows from springs must be managed and maintained such that flood risk is not increased and water quality is not compromised.

Justification

North Somerset has a distinct and unique character which is defined by many watercourses, canalised and embanked rivers and rhynes where water is ever-present. The network of waterbodies support important populations of aquatic invertebrates, macrophytes and water voles and are important corridors for foraging bats. The Levels and Moors is an area of special drainage need and water levels are actively managed for agriculture, ecological benefit and to manage flood risk. Active operations also include regular vegetation management by the Environment Agency and Internal Drainage Board to retain open water habitat and volume of water storage that supports the aquatic wildlife in times of drought and reduces risk to properties in times of excess water. Springs are the source of many watercourses and the natural drainage paths they create should be protected within the landscape to ensure a healthy flow into watercourses.

Ensuring that these features are protected, maintained and enhanced through development is essential to managing flood risk, protecting ecology and maintaining the landscape character that makes up large parts of North Somerset. Development should relate to and respect the landscape setting of the waterbodies and is an opportunity for enhancement and improved public access. The removal of culverts increases open water habitat and reduces maintenance burdens.

Policy DP12: Development in the Green Belt

Proposals for development in the Green Belt will be determined in accordance with national policy.

The overall aim of Green Belt policy is to preserve the openness of the Green Belt in terms of both its spatial and visual aspects. When determining the impact on the openness of the Green Beltfrom proposed development regard will be taken of the form (including bulk, height and floorspace), siting and overall scale of the development on the site, the location, visual character of the site and surroundings. In addition, the effect of the proposal on the open and rural character of the area in general, prominence, visual and physical impact and plot size will need to be taken into account. The impact of lighting schemes can harm openness and schemes should minimise obtrusive light in terms of sky glow, glare and light trespass.

Limited infilling in villages

  • Infilling within the settlement boundary of the villages which have been inset from the Green Belt is acceptable in principle, subject to the other policies in this plan.
  • Infilling outside of settlement boundaries and in the smaller settlements and hamlets which do not have settlement boundaries is inappropriate development and likely to harm the openness of the Green Belt.

Extensions, replacement buildings and out-buildings

  • An extension will not normally be regarded as disproportionate provided it does not exceed 50% of the gross floor area of the original building.
  • A replacement building will normally be regarded as materially larger if it is more than 50% larger than the gross floor area of the original building.
  • In North Somerset 'original' relates to the building as existing on 26th July 1985 or for buildings constructed after this date as so built. Any permission granted within a five-year period prior to 26 July 1985 but not implemented prior to that date will be considered, if built after 26 July 1985 to from part of the original building.
  • In the case of proposals to extend replacement building the floorspace of the original building that was on site on or prior to 26 July 1985 will be used, not that of the replacement building.
  • Proposals for domestic outbuildings and garages within existing residential curtilages are not considered to be inappropriate development provided they are small scale, single storey and of a scale and height subordinate to the original dwelling. They should not adversely affect the openness of the Green Belt. Account will be taken of the scale and number of outbuildings already on the site and the scale by which the original dwelling has increased.

Facilities for outdoor activities

To be considered appropriate, facilities for outdoor sports, outdoor recreation, cemeteries and burial grounds and allotments, proposals should be directly related to the existing or proposed outdoor use and be of a scale and size proportionate to that use. Developments should be sensitively designed to reflect the character of the area and minimise harm to the openness and purposes of the Green Belt.

Material change of use

In addition to the examples quoted in the NPPF a change of use from agricultural to equestrian use would not be regarded as inappropriate provided it preserves the openness of the Green Belt and does not conflict with the purposes.

Renewable energy

Proposals for renewable energy projects will need to demonstrate very special circumstances. Applicants should provide details of the wider environmental benefits associated with increased production of energy including a clear demonstration of how the project contributes to the ambition of carbon neutrality by 2030.

Justification

This policy augments national policy set out in the NPPF by setting out local definitions and criteria for assessing the appropriateness of any proposal for new building or development within the Green Belt.

NPPF defines the construction of new buildings in the Green Belt as being inappropriate development, unless it comprises 'limited infilling in villages' (paragraph 149). The Local Plan defines what limited infilling in villages means in North Somerset.

All Green Belt villages in North Somerset have been assessed to determine their contribution to the openness of the Green Belt. The majority of villages were identified as settlements where new development within the villages is unlikely to harm openness and therefore settlement boundaries are identified, and are inset from the Green Belt. Limited infilling in villages is acceptable in principle within these settlements.

The remaining smaller settlements and hamlets have been assessed as having an open character which contributes to the openness of the Green Belt. Infilling in these locations would be inappropriate development in the Green Belt.

The policy sets out effective criteria and definitions for assessing proposed extensions and replacement buildings and the impacts on openness. It seeks to clarify terms and ensure planning applications are dealt with consistently.

The determining factor for assessing extensions will be the size of the proposed extension in relation to the original building. The policy makes reference to original buildings as existing on 26 July 1985. This is the date of adoption of the Avon Structure Plan which defined the extent of the Bristol and Bath Green Belt.