Site Allocations Plan March 2016

Retention of Economic Uses

In general it is desirable to maintain the overall stock of land and premises available to meet business needs over the plan period and beyond, not only those specifically allocated or safeguarded. It is recognised that due to pressures from competing, often higher value land uses, and weakened demand at periodic times throughout the economic cycle, that often such land is under pressure to be developed for other uses.  This can threaten the sustainable balance of land uses in certain areas, reducing local employment opportunities, increasing the need to out-commute, and impacting on the vitality and viability of areas. It also tends to have a cumulative impact that can be problematic in certain locations affecting the ability to achieve policy aspirations.

However under certain circumstances the loss of a site to other uses may be the only viable or suitable option for the site, particularly with a view to maximising the efficient use of land. Commercial property demands are changing both in terms of the types of premises and their location reflecting changing economic characteristics, not least the rapid increase in online shopping, the ability to work remotely including home-working, and the shifts in the economy e.g. from service based economy to manufacturing.

The planning system therefore has a role to play in recognising and facilitating these shifts and offering a land supply that can respond to these conditions. Policy SA 6 therefore allows for existing economic sites to be developed for other uses provided certain conditions are met. This is considered to be in line with the principles of the NPPF and reflects the earlier tried and tested policy approach established in the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan.

POLICY SA 6: Retention of Economic Uses

Land in existing economic use will be not be permitted to change unless it can be demonstrated that:

  • the loss of the site would not harm the range or quality of sites available for business use either across North Somerset as a whole and within the relevant sub-economic market area and,
  • by way of marketing or other means as agreed with the Council, the site does not offer a suitable location for the existing use, no alternative economic use can be secured appropriate to the site, and there is no realistic prospect of it being used in the plan period for the intended use, and,
  • the loss of the site would not adversely impact the ability to achieve wider economic aspirations including regeneration, business growth, and improved commuting patterns.

The Council will consider removing certain Permitted Development rights when granting planning permission for new economic development in order to avoid the future loss of these uses in certain areas and under certain circumstances.