Site Allocations Plan - Main Modifications Consultation

Document Section Site Allocations Plan - Main Modifications Consultation 1. General comments [View all comments on this section]
Comment ID 14824321//2
Respondent Oliver Matthews [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 31 Oct 2017

OBJECTION Rectory Farm, Site allocations plan consultation, October 2017.

This letter forms the second of two representations submitted by Rectory Farm Yatton in respect of the consultation of NSDC SAP (both dated 27th October 2017). This submission specifically relates to the latest evidence base, NSDC position statement, new site assessments, questionnaires and Inspectors Responses (ID4, ID5, CD2 CDa CD2b, CD2c, CD2d, CD3) and the now consulted on Draft Allocations Plan Modifications (Oct 17).

Rectory Farm OBJECTS in the strongest possible terms to the content of NSDC’s interim response (CD2) to the Site Allocations Plan (SAP) and updated evidence, assessment and methodology as proposed.   

Each matter has equal weight and material importance and are presented below in no set order.

Inspectors Response (Ref ID4) and NSDC Interim Response (Ref CD2) and SAP Modifications

1.The Inspectors letter (ID4) to NSDC dated 26th June 2017 identifies very clearly in paragraphs 7 - 26 the methodology applied in requiring an additional 2,500 dwellings to be tested.

The concluding instructions in paragraphs 27 – 28 require NSDC to test and propose modifications which will include the assessment and meeting of the additional shortfall in housing numbers (2,500 dwellings).

The Inspector is absolute and matter of fact in their requirement of this test, it is not a target.

This is necessary to achieving a flexible supply to achieve the delivery of 20,985 over the plan period.

Rectory Farm objects wholeheartedly to the content of NSDC interim response dated 20th July (CD2) in which it attempts to water down and renegotiate the findings and concluding instructions of the examination.  Such a position holds the Inspectors judgement in contempt and seeks to overturn principles that have already been established in a forum that does not exist.

The Inspectors response is clear that the Core Strategy Spatial Strategy and existing evidence base is the starting point. It does not preclude any new sites that can demonstrate their sustainability and deliverability credentials from also being considered in making up this 2,500 assessment and deficit.

Rectory Farm does not consider that NSDC has tested all potential sites in the development pipeline.   NSDC has taken a blinkered and unsustainable approach to this exercise omitting any new sites from being considered beyond 26th June 2017.   It stands to reason that new sites being brought forward by land owners / developers until the Inspectors Response (ID4 dated 26th June 2017) would have assumed NSDC had already presented a sound evidence base and that they would stand no reasonable prospect of being considered favourably within the SAP and consequently had not made themselves available sooner.   In the context of the Inspectors Report (ID4) it appears wholly relevant and necessary to now update, include and assess the sustainability and development credentials of all new sites that have subsequently made themselves available as part of this new wider allocations assessment process.

There is nothing that prevents these new sites being more sustainable in fact than those existing sites already identified. Until they are equally and fairly assessed this cannot be robustly assessed and considered.

2.Rectory Farm objects to any reduction from the 20% buffer in housing need.  As you will already be familiar there is extensive policy and case law on this matter which consistently puts onus on under-performing authorities (of which NSDC is already established as being) to provide a 20% buffer.   There is no flexibility for a negotiation on this matter and again the position has been clearly set out by the Inspector (ID4).   I wish to highlight other Local Plan’s including North Devon on which the same Inspector has also have recently determined with a similar buffer.  Consistency must be applied in this instance. Para 9 of ID4 provides further clarity on this point.

3. NSDC has failed in its attempt to assess an additional 2,500 dwellings as instructed in ID4.   Part 2 of the table submitted on 20th July 2017 as part of the interim statement identifies the sites that will be assessed (CD2a).   The total yield on this table is 1,812.  This is still some 688 short of the Inspectors instruction in assessing 2,500 dwellings.   This again demonstrates the pre-determination of NSDC in its method and failure to comply with the most basic and fundamental of the Inspectors instructions.

To meet the assessment of 2,500 dwellings NSDC must update its assessment to include other sites not previously considered within the evidence base that have presented themselves as development opportunities.   Rectory Farm, Yatton being one of a number than fit this criteria.

4. NSDC has failed to include within its evidence base sustainable housing sites that have consistently been put forward for development.   I have written representations dated 16th August 2017 separately to NSDC in respect of Rectory Farm, Yatton which has been submitted numerous times over the last 18 months and at each and every stage NSDC has failed to include or recognise the site in any way.   It has not been tested either for or against development whilst providing an opportunity for circa 100 – 110 dwellings outside of flood zone, sssi, greenbelt or any other environmental designation.  The site abuts the development boundary and accessed from a substantial adopted highway.   The Plan’s evidence base must be considered unsound on the basis of its consistent omission from the evidence base.   The site is highly sustainable, deliverable and achievable and meets all three of the tests as set out within the Inspectors letter dated 26th June (ID4).

Rectory Farm Objects in the strongest possible terms to Rectory Farm’s continued emittance from consideration or assessment within the SAP evidence base. On this basis the Plan is considered unsound.

5. NSDC has sought to omit any new sites either as applications or pre-application beyond the 26th June 2017 (CD2). This is a self appointed deadline and is only a reflection of NSDC not wishing to fairly assess new information which has been submitted on sites which are immediately deliverable and wish to be fairly assessed.  This approach is objected on the strongest possible terms.   You cannot expect developers and land owners to have sought to engage an application or pre-app at very significant cost and risk at a period before your response dated 26th June.  At this point in time NSDC’s response would have been on the basis that they believed they had a sound allocations plan and consequently would have been negative and disengaged.  It is only in the context of The Inspectors decision (ID4) dated 26th June that circumstances have provided opportunity for new sites to present themselves so as to be assessed fairly as part of the updated assessment database.   These are highly sustainable sites which can immediately assist in meeting the shortfall in housing need and must be included and assessed equally with all other sites.   Such a blinkered inflexible approach as proposed by NSDC is objected to.

NSDC should be welcoming new sites and opportunities to come forward and present themselves especially given their shortfall in housing numbers of 1,800 when they are required to test 2,500.   This further reaffirms NSDC failure to take this matter serious and robustly evidence its decision making. 

6. Of the sites identified in Part 2 of the new sites to be assessed (CD2a) it is evident that no sites whatsoever are in Yatton.   Yatton is a higher order service village (as recognised within the adopted Core Strategy) with services and infrastructure that warrant considerably more growth and development than some of its comparative neighbours.   It has a main line railway station, schools, library, shops, supermarket, bank, library and pharmacy.    It is therefore notable that Rectory Farm Yatton is still absent from any assessment when the settlement itself clearly can support additional growth. This remains a significant oversight on which I have written to your separately.

Rectory Farm Yatton has recently attended Parish Council meetings (31st July) and is now engaged in the Neighbourhood Plan Process. On both accounts the development proposals emerging in this location have been positively received. It is therefore galling that NSDC has not been open to considering such a sustainable site from being fairly assessed as part of this process. This frustration and objection is further compounded by NSDC failure to even meet the required assessment of 2,500 dwellings when there are known available sites which can assist in meeting this total assessment target.

Further, despite having formally submitted a pre-app application on 19th July 2017 (and paying a substantial fee) no response, advise or timetable whatsoever has been provided by NSDC in response (as at 16th August 2017).

7. Of the new sites assessed in Part 2 of the table submitted by NSDC (CD2 &CD2a) it is notable that there are two very large sites of 450 houses in Nailsea and 350 in Portishead.  Whilst I comment in part on their sustainability and appropriateness further down this submission NSDC’s interim response puts the onus on delivery of sites within the first 5 years.  It is very clear that both of these sites whilst potentially contributing to a 5 year supply they will not be completed within the 5 year period.   I have seen no evidence that any site of this size has been developed from pre-app or even application stage with such high delivery rates; this will only further compound the lack of delivery further downwards in the first five years.  Again, sites such as Rectory Farm Yatton comprising circa 100 dwellings should therefore be at the forefront of the assessment of new sites and considered favourably well in advance of these more substantial developments that cannot be delivered within the 5 years.  

This matter is further considered on a site by site basis later in this submission.

8. Paragraph 6 of NSDC interim response (CD2) provides a time table for site assessment.   This table does not work and is incorrect.  The dates jump about and is factually inaccurate.  It is objected to in the strongest possible terms. Had sites that are now in pre-app or application stage been provided with a fair and reasonable timetable to provide a response (it is a two page assessment sheet that is proposed!) they could have been immediately returned and considered as part of this evidence base.   Again NSDC are attempting to blinker and bluff their way through robustly assessing available, deliverable and sustainable sites which immediately in front of them and should be considered fairly as part of this process.

Further in respect of Rectory Farm, Yatton given its consistent representation and submission for the last 18 months NSDC could and should have provided the opportunity within this assessment for the oversight to be corrected.   Once again this has failed to be the case.   Notwithstanding event that the site is in formal pre-app, a fee of £3,000 paid for this service, highways, drainage, ecological, viability, layout and architectural, housing trajectory all having been submitted in support of this process.   Again the actions of NSDC are again objected in the strongest terms.

9. Paragraph 15 of NSDC interim response (CD2) is objected to.  The figures totally omit and overlook the instruction to assess 2,500 dwellings and even dismisses altogether “Option A” of 2,500 dwellings giving you apparently no choice whatsoever but to accept a watered down methodology.   This approach is fundamentally flawed and objected to and appears to pre-determine a softening of the Inspectors instruction. 

10.NSDC has failed to notify those participating stakeholders within the registered online data base of their interim statement dated 20th July 2017.  No email update or online notification has been provided.   It appears that NSDC are attempting to quietly bluff its way through this matter without full engagement of all interested parties. I question why such data base and subscription exists if NSDC are not going to use this means to advertise consultation or publication of important new material.

11. Para 12 is CD2 is objected to. Dwellings that are not yet completed cannot be “banked” as certain completions. Any dwelling not already completed may not come forward and cannot be relied upon, hence the need for a buffer.

New Site Assessment (NSDC Further assessment of residential sites dated July 2017) / Questionnaire and Housing Trajectory (CD2a, CD2b, CD2c, CD2d) & Proposed Modifiacitons (Oct 2017).

Rectory Farm Objects in the strongest possible terms to a number of the site specific assessments that have been undertaken by NSDC as part of the Further Assessment of Residential Sites dated July 2017 and sites that have thereon followed into the SAP Modificaitons. In assessment of a number of the new sites critical flaws in the assessment conclusions and sites deliverability are highlighted by Rectory Farm below. The assessments are objected as unsound and unfeasible. The assessments are in part fundamentally flawed, unjustified and unsubstantiated when considering comparable evidence, planning status, environmental policy and policy.  

Consequently Rectory Farm has grave concerns relating to the deliverability of a number of sites that NSDC has assessed positively for development in response to the Inspectors requirement for the need for 2,500 more houses (ID4).  

The sites below are identifies in no specific order but are of equal concern and objection:

Land North of Youngwood Lane Nailsea OBJECT

    • Housing delivery trajectory of 120 per annum from 2019 onwards is unrealistic. No new site within NSDC housing trajectory for the balance of NSDC Ref ED23 provides such high yields within the early years of delivery.   Persimmon Homes on its most established site in WSM is projecting 125 dwellings per annum.   It is unrealistic to anticipate anything beyond 50 – 75 dwellings per annum from this site which would make it broadly in line with the yields approved from other comparable developments in ED23.

Land at Old Mill Road, Portishead OBJECT

    • Commencement in 2019 is unrealistic.   This site is a brown field site with no planning and no developer. There are existing leases which restrict the commencement of development until March 2019.
    • A yield of 150 dwellings per annum is totally unrealistic between 2019 / 2021. Such a yield is not being achieved on any development site within NSDC (even established PLC Greenfield Sites).  
    • A yield of anything more than 25 – 50 dwellings in the first year given the brownfield clearance is considered highly unlikely.
    • Portishead’s total annual completions in 2016 was 42 dwellings (NSDC AMR 2016). To suggest that this single site can over triple the total annual yield is totally unrealistic and objected to.
    • The site is only in pre-app discussions. No developer is signed up
    • Loss of employment and protected business / retail space and jobs. Contrary to Core Strategy policy.
    • Location is Flood Zone 3. Sequential test should be applied.  Harbour Road / Serbert Way, Portishead OBJECT

      Harbour Road / Serbert Way, Portishead OBJECT
    • B Class employment allocation in SAP. Contrary to Core Strategy to release employment land / job loss (Policy DM60)
    • Care Home (use class C2) should not be considered as part of C3 housing delivery
    • Brownfield development – yield of 50 dwellings in first year unrealistic in trajectory (2018/19).   Application only at pre-app stage. 2018/19 delivery totally unrealistic.
    • Delivery of 50 dwellings in first annum too high based on all other comparative evidence.
    • All of the site is within Flood Zone 2. Sequential tests therefore apply. 173 Kenn Road Clevedon:   OBJECT.

      173 Kenn Road, Clevedon OBJECT
  • The site is safeguarded for business / employment use. Its allocation would therefore be contrary to employment policies as set out within the adopted Core Strategy.
  • The potential housing yield is identified as 60. The housing trajectory adds up to 75. This is inaccurate.
  • This is a brownfield site. Delivery from 2019 (assuming allocation adoption by early 2018) appears very optimistic given planning is not in place, site clearance, existing land uses and end user is a elderly care operator (use class C2) which does not fit into the C3 Residential category and therefore should not form part of the residential housing yield.

Broadleaze Farm Winscombe OBJECT

  • Fluvial flood risk
  • Best and most versatile land loss
  • No house builder in place.
  • 80 dwellings in first year (2019/20) with no developer identified or permission in place is unrealistic. 80 dwellings in first year of production is too high given site set up, pre planning conditions and requirements. More realistic delivery 2020/21.

Co Housing Project St Andrews Congresbury OBJECT

  • Within conservation area
  • Extensive tree coverage (TPO by virtue of location within the conservation area)
  • SAP identifies part of site as local green space (possible Village Green Status)
  • Access not confirmed

Court Farm, Clevedon OBJECT

  • Part of the site is within Greenbelt. National Planning Policy protects all Greenbelt (save for its exceptional circumstances of which this does not meet)
  • Part of the site is within Flood Zone 3.   A sequential test must therefore be applied.

Harbour Road Gordano Gate Employment Allocation Horses Head OBJECT

  • Site is within Flood Zone 3
  • SAP allocates it for Employment Uses (B use class) under Policy SA4
  • All 93 dwellings to be built in 2018. This trajectory is totally unrealistic.   In 2016 the total housing yield achieved in Portishead was 42 dwellings (NSDC Annual Monitoring Report 2016). The delivery of 93 dwellings in the first year of development is totally unfounded and has not been achieved on any other sites within NSDC’s recent development history.


Overall Housing Trajectory of New Sites Assessed


Of the deliverability information provided by developers (NSDC table) 106 dwellings were unable to either respond or provide deliverability trajectories.   By virtue this must demonstrate their inability to justifiably be allocated or considered for development with any reasonable certainty that they will be developed within a five year period.   The only reasonable response by NSDC to overcome this significant additional deficit is by widening the assessment net to include new sites not previously considered but that are now within pre-app or application stage (ie post 26th June 2017).

Rectory Farm Yatton Deliverability Questionnaire

Rectory Farm, whilst not invited to do so, submitted to NSDC the attached (and completed site assessment questionnaire) on 25th July 2017.   I would be grateful if Rectory Farm, Yatton can now be accepted and assessed fairly and equally by NSDC in light of the above representations.

Rectory Farm is of the view that the current methodology and evidence base is fundamentally inaccurate, incorrect and unsound and should be immediately modified in response the above matters in advance of the SAPs resubmission to the Inspector.

I would be grateful if you can please acknowledge receipt and acceptance of this representation in writing.