Core Strategy-Examination into consequential changes of remaining remitted policies Proposed main modifications

Document Section Core Strategy-Examination into consequential changes of remaining remitted policies Proposed main modifications Policy CS28, Modification CC-MM04 [View all comments on this section]
Comment ID 11221409//4
Respondent Deleted User [View all comments by this respondent]
Agent Grassroots Planning
Response Date 05 Sep 2016

According to the most up-to-date SHLAA evidence and annual monitoring report, the number of completions in Weston-super-Mare (excluding the Weston Villages) is 2,895 dwellings (April 2016). When considering the SHLAA, the estimated capacity is 2,973 dwellings (although by our calculations this actually resulted in 2,962 dwellings); given the overall identified requirement for WSM is 6,300 dwellings, this results in 432 dwellings needing to come forward via the permissive policy. With the current restriction of 75 dwellings per site, this equates to 5 – 6 sites coming forward of roughly this size to address the current shortfall in allocations.

We are pleased to see some flexibility included within the wording of policy CS28 which allows sites to come forward adjacent to the settlement boundary on Weston-super-Mare. This is in line with the permissive policy that we suggested in our previous representations to the remitted policies and hearing statements. However, we consider that the threshold of 75 dwellings is inappropriate and sites should instead be thoroughly examined and allocated through the Site Allocations Document, due to go to examination later this year, or alternatively the threshold should be removed because it has no evidential basis. Sites should be considered on their own merits and the impacts of them assessed through the development management process and infrastructure to support them provided accordingly.

Furthermore, whilst we understand the rationale behind the ‘larger sites must come forward as allocations’ we have continually promoted the site at Oldmixon Road for residential development on the edge of Weston-super-Mare since 2014 and this has been given limited consideration by the council, even though it is clearly a sustainable site.

The site was previously considered for allocation by officers in a draft version of the Sites and Policies Development Plan Document Part 2: Site Allocations, which was then removed by local councillors in February 2016 as it was felt that the site would be seen as an ‘extension to the infill village, Hutton’.

Therefore we request that if the Inspector has requested that this policy be included within the remitted policies then its spirit is followed through in decision making by the council – namely that no ‘in principle’ objection should be raised to sites that lie adjacent to settlement boundaries and to those which do not lie within specially protected areas. To suggest that there will be flexibility to allow sites on the edge of Weston-super-Mare to come forward in sustainable locations does not seem to marry with the way our client’s application has been dealt with in this instance, although the site clearly lies on the edge of WSM in a highly accessible location.

Furthermore, if development is not going to be considered in this location (in light of NSC refusing permission for the site at Oldmixon Road), then one must consider the alternative locations that the permissive policy would apply to.

When looking at the other potential available opportunities for development in Weston-super-Mare it appears that the town is restricted by a number of physical factors, such as the sea, the Mendip Hills AONB, flooding issues to the south and to the north as well as Worlebury Woods and Golf Course, and the M5 creating a natural urban boundary line to the east. These constraints were identified in our previous representations. This will make the identification of 5-6 sites with a capacity of circa 75 units impossible to find and simply push development further away from the key facilities provided in the town centre and outlying centres such as Old Mixon.

Whilst we are pleased that some form of permissive policy has been incorporated into the remitted policies, we are concerned at how this will be taken forward in decision making in light of the way NSC has dealt with the application at Oldmixon Road. We therefore assert that ideally instead of a permissive policy which allows sites of up to 75 dwellings to come forward, these should be simply allocated in the forthcoming Site Allocations document to ensure that the council has the best chance of achieving the required housing target and achieving the planned supply, or alternatively the cap of 75 should be removed to allow larger sustainable sites to come forward, of which there is a limited supply in WSM anyway.

The current proposed allocations are included in a draft version of the Sites and Policies Plan 2016, therefore these have not yet been thoroughly examined and may be removed in the examination process. Furthermore, many of these sites are coming through the development management process rather than through an allocations document because of the excessive delays in its preparation. We therefore request that a number of additional allocations are put forward by the council in the Site Allocations Document to ensure the plan will be found sound at examination.