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West Bergholt Neighbourhood Plan


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View Comments (14) 15. Housing and Planning

15.1 Objectives

  • To support expansion to meet the identified needs of the parish.
  • To involve the local community in all aspects of development planning through consultation and participation.
  • To provide for a mixture of tenure type reflecting the housing needs of the community.
  • To conserve and protect the existing character and environmental setting so that new development is satisfactorily integrated into its surroundings and new residents can take advantage of the characteristics of our location.

15.2 Background & Intent

West Bergholt is an attractive place to live due to the surrounding countryside combined with accessibility to larger towns, travel hubs and employment areas. There are many long-term residents of the village, including families going back several generations.

There is a growing elderly population and house prices are higher than the national average. Older residents do not wish to move from the village, but a number would like to move to smaller homes that are more suitable for their circumstances. As a result, some remain in larger homes that could be more suitable for family accommodation.

Housing is split between the original irregular pattern of housing in the Lanes area of the village with the newer styles of estate type development characteristic of the 1960's, 70's and 80's.

15.3 Evidence

15.3.1 Tenure type and demand for housing

There is a long-standing need for affordable housing for local people, particularly for young adults wishing to live independently and for young families.

Consultations have shown that residents want West Bergholt to remain a village and that its character should not be harmed by inappropriate new housing development, particularly that which might add to traffic and parking problems around the village.

Yet the majority of residents accept the need for new homes. There is a desire for a mixture of housing types, with highest support for small family homes for sale followed by affordable homes for local people to rent, and lowest support for large family homes for sale.

Residents state that good design is important and new houses should not have a harmful impact on existing homes.

Overall there are a number of aspects to consider here including tenure type, number of dwellings required, wider sustainability issues and pressure from outside the village. As the population gradually ages, there is a need for limited housing to support new families, either from within the village or from outside. This helps maintain the balance of the age pyramid. Secondly there is a need to identify the right balance of housing type, and thirdly because there is little room inside the current settlement boundary there is a need to consider changes to its boundary.

There are currently 1500 dwellings in the parish with planning permission in place for a handful more (Nov 2018). The majority of homes are owner occupied.

The Neighbourhood Plan seeks to ensure a supply of sufficient homes to meet local needs and contribute to the retention of a sustainable community. An appropriate housing mix must suit elderly residents as well as first time buyers and those needing affordable homes. Valued parts of the landscape will be protected by building as far as possible on brownfield sites or sites where development will not have a harmful impact on the countryside.

There is limited space for new development within the settlement boundary and many houses within the area have inadequate parking facilities, leading to on-street parking.

Residents value the countryside and wish to protect it from inappropriate development.

15.3.2 Village Design Statement

The Parish Council produced a Village Design Statement (VDS) in 2011 and this was adopted as Supplementary Planning Guidance by Colchester Borough Council subsequently. The VDS provides a detailed description of the existing character and main features of design in the village of West Bergholt and a guideline for how this should be respected in any new development.

The VDS was a product of consultation with the community and a derivative document of the successful Parish Plan.

The VDS describes how the residents of West Bergholt would like new development – including new buildings, change of use, alterations or improvements to buildings or the landscape – to contribute to the unique character of the village.

The VDS contains 37 policies and the most important strategic ones have been incorporated within the general Housing Planning Policies at the end of this section.

15.3.3 West Bergholt's Distinctiveness

Residents value the countryside around the village and wish to protect it. To demonstrate West Bergholt's distinctiveness Map PP12 has been produced to show visually the location of important views of the landscape surrounding West Bergholt, photos from these views are in the supporting documents (Appendix 2). These views greatly assist in demonstrating an understanding of the location of the village and to assist in ensuring the countryside between West Bergholt and Braiswick is maintained free of development in that any development of this area is considered such as would completely alter the character of the area and cause severe harm to the setting.

Indeed, when approaching from Braiswick, intrinsic views of the village over the dominant arable fields are softened and it is substantially enclosed in views from the south east into the village, West Bergholt sitting on a plateau above the River Colne, giving a strong sense of natural separation. As a result, PP22 has been developed to seek to ensure such separation remains to the part of the parish to the south east of the settlement boundary, as shown on Map PP22.

Policies have been developed to maintain this distinctiveness with the community so as to reflect local aspirations, and are grounded in an understanding and evaluation of the area's defining characteristics as Map PP12 clearly demonstrates, noting that the Neighbourhood Plan seeks to play an important role in identifying the qualities of the area and how this should be reflected in the location of development areas, to check the unrestricted sprawl of built-up areas; to prevent neighbouring areas merging into one another and to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment.

15.4 Summary of SWOT

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Character housing areas of a mixed style, age and tenure.
  • Popular facilities are conveniently located for existing housing.
  • Existing Village Design Statement.
  • Village separate from Colchester by natural and man-made boundaries.
  • All housing areas close to attractive landscapes.
  • Well established village character.
  • Green spaces well distributed amongst housing.
  • Active and experienced Parish Council Planning Committee.
  • Dedicated & committed Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group.
  • Minimal opportunity for downsizing.
  • Limited opportunity for affordable housing.
  • Commuter village leading to overinflated property market.
  • Gentrification of the village affecting the availability of affordable homes.


Opportunities

Threats

  • Mixture of development sites available for consideration.
  • Local landowners willing to contribute to the village.
  • Opportunity to influence own destiny with Neighbourhood Plan.
  • Opportunity to redress the balance of housing types.
  • Chance to develop housing stock for younger people.
  • Chance for older people to downsize and free up family properties.
  • A tendency for new housing to be expensive, executive homes.
  • Land on all sides of the village vulnerable to speculative development.
  • Attractiveness of village leads to housing shortages.
  • Most new housing at inflated prices.
  • Most developments on small scale to avoid the requirement to build affordable homes.

15.4.1 Identifying Housing Needs

Colchester's adopted Core Strategy outlined that the Borough needs to allocate and build 19,000 homes between 2001 and 2023, an average of 830 homes a year. In line with national policy contained in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the Council is required to ensure sufficient housing land is supplied to meet local housing needs.

The Council has developed a new Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) target for the submitted Emerging Local Plan of 920 houses a year which takes into account the requirements of the NPPF 2012; and will ensure the Borough provides a five-year supply of specific deliverable sites and identifies a supply of specific developable sites or broad locations for growth, for years 6-10 and, where possible, for years 11-15.

The target of 920 homes a year reflects a comprehensive evidence base which includes the following:

  • Objectively Assessed Housing Need Study produced by Peter Brett Associates (PBA) in July 2015 and updated November 2016 for Braintree, Chelmsford, Colchester and Tendring Councils.
  • Review of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) work in Chelmsford, Colchester, Braintree and Tendring to bring it into compliance with the NPPF and PPG - HDH Planning and Development Ltd, December 2015.

These figures reflect the OAN of 920 dwellings per annum which has been endorsed by the Local Plan Inspector (letter dated 27th June 2018). Accordingly, it is considered that the figure is fit for purpose despite the publication of the revised NPPF and PPG, updated population projections and the current consultation on the standard methodology.

Colchester Borough Council has determined the Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) for the district using projected growth figures provided by the Government and in its Housing and Economic Development Needs Assessment (HEDNA), CBC set an OAN figure for the district of 11,152. The emerging District Plan provides for 7,210 for existing commitments and 7,853 new allocations, totalling 15,063 over the Plan period.

A target for West Bergholt, (considered by Colchester Borough Council as a Sustainable Settlement as it has a sufficient population base and a range of community facilities and infrastructure to support appropriate growth), has been set in the emerging Neighbourhood Plan Policy ss15 in the publication draft Local Plan of 120 dwellings. This is higher than the 100 proposed during early consultation on the Neighbourhood Plan. The Neighbourhood Plan has sought to take account of the emerging Local Plan and its predicted levels of growth for the area.

15.4.2 Housing Supply & Tenure Type

The household Neighbourhood Plan Survey indicated over 40% preference for the following types of development:

  • Starter/low cost homes for first time occupiers/young families
  • Small, mixed group, developments
  • Warden assisted or sheltered housing
  • "Downsizing" housing

Following this, the 'Issues & Options' Questionnaire indicated support for around an additional 100 new dwellings, of which the majority would be 'of type, style and numbers deemed necessary to meet the Parish's needs.'

Then in November 2015, a full 'Housing Needs Survey' was commissioned from the Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE). Their report indicated that 53 people had given details of different local accommodation required in the next five years and beyond. Whereas some of this could be provided by the commercial sector as houses to buy (34%), there remained a need for rental accommodation and shared ownership.

Furthermore, the timescales that this need was predicated on were:

  • Next 5 years: 25 units 5 – 10 years: 28 units

The survey only covered up to 5 years or over. However, we may assume that local need would be similar between year 11 and year 15 of the plan making a total of around 75 homes needed to satisfy local need. Whereas this would accommodate local need it is reasonable to assume that some additional housing would be required from people wishing to move into the village – say a further 25 units making a total of 100 units over the 15-year lifetime of the plan. This is not inconsistent with the CBC policy ss15 and accords with the Issues and Options support by the results of village surveys. This equates to an average building rate of around 6 or 7 houses per annum.

15.4.3 Housing Location

A number of sites were assessed for their suitability and availability for housing development during the Plan period. The Report on the Assessment of Potential Housing Sites (see supporting documents in Appendix 2) explains the methodology used and sets out the individual assessments.

Initially with over 20 sites being put forward in the Local Plan "call for sites" there was a need to strategically sift the broad locations. Colchester Borough Council in their settlement boundary review and the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group both assessed sites being proposed. Three broad areas were considered and the section below is a summary of finding taken from Colchester Borough Council's Settlement Boundary Review.

  • Area 1 Expansion to the north east of B1508 Colchester Road (within limits of existing built development boundaries opposite playing fields/Treble Tile pub).

Development in this area, within the limits of the existing built development to the north-west and south-east, would fill in gaps along Colchester Road. Development would be closest to the existing facilities and services in the village although there would need to be provision made for safe crossing of Colchester Road. Development in this location could also provide additional sports pitches in the same area as the existing Cricket Club Ground, with the potential to share some facilities.

  • Area 2 Expansion to the south/south-east of West Bergholt

Development in this area could be considered to fill in gaps along the existing settlement boundary. For example, small areas of land with access off existing roads to the south of the village could be considered. However, due to identified constraints, larger scale expansion beyond the existing settlement boundary and built-up limits towards Colchester is not considered suitable.

  • Area 3 Expansion to the west of West Bergholt

This area has been considered, similar to the areas above, as any potential development would be located around one of the three main roads in West Bergholt. Development to this side of West Bergholt would be within 400m of the main facilities in the village. However, it is not clear if access to the land is possible without taking access off Cooks Hall Road or Hall Road, which are both rural roads located at the southern and northern ends of the broad area of search.

Although the broad sifting of sites was helpful to determine an initial view, to assist a more definitive focus of where new housing might be developed, a number of principles have been devised in consultation with Colchester Borough Council, in that development:

  • should only be considered if abutting the existing CBC Local Plan 'settlement boundary'.
  • should not reduce the separation of the village from Colchester.
  • should not encroach on (or visually affect) the 'area of the parish to the south east of the settlement boundary'.
  • should be close to the main village amenities.
  • should be able to contribute to addressing 'Transport, Highways and Infrastructure' needs.
  • should be located such that any traffic impacts are satisfactory, or any adverse impacts are satisfactorily mitigated
  • may continue within the settlement boundary but only where a limited number of "windfall" sites present themselves.
  • any development abutting the settlement boundary should provide for a mix of housing and incorporate areas of open space.
  • Development should consist of smaller housing units which respect the identified needs of the community including affordable housing, housing for downsizing and starter housing.

These principles have been applied to the areas of development put forward to date as part of Colchester's Local Plan preparation and those sites identified as the most appropriate taking all matters into account, including CBC and community surveys and the RCCE survey, it was decided to make the appropriate allocations on two sites, and those preferred for housing development are contained in two locations off of Colchester Road, one opposite the Poor's Land and the other opposite the Treble Tile Public House.

These sites are also deemed supported in Colchester Borough Council's emerging Local Plan and the paragraphs from the latest publication draft of the Local Plan are reproduced below:

  • Para 14.223 There are a number of constraints which restrict the availability of sites suitable for development. To maintain the current settlement pattern, development will continue to be located around the three main roads with facilities located centrally where possible.
  • Para 14.224 There is currently limited inter-visibility between Colchester and West Bergholt. However, there is a relatively high potential for visual coalescence of settlements and any new built development on land to the south of the village may undermine the sense of settlement separation. Development to the south of the village towards Colchester on Colchester Road is therefore not considered suitable due to the high potential of visual coalescence.
  • Para 14.225 Development to the north of the village on Colchester Road/Nayland Road would extend new development away from existing key facilities and into open countryside, which is not considered sustainable.

These sites are in the ownership of parties which have indicated their commitment to deliver housing and this is evidenced in the supporting documents (see Appendix 2).

Both sites are located in Flood Zone 1, an area with a low probability of flooding.

15.4.4 Details of the Housing Sites

A 12-metre strip of land parallel to the highway boundary of Colchester Road will be retained and integrated into the design and layout of the scheme to respect the semi-rural nature of the village in this location.

The site boundaries will generally follow the topography of the field boundaries.

The density of the development will be within the range of 20-25 dwellings per hectare on average, with the desirability of maintaining the Parish's prevailing character and setting (including residential gardens), noting the importance of securing well-designed, attractive and healthy places to live in.

Further, the tenure mix as discussed in Chapter 10 reflects the need for space with those wishing to downsize preferring bungalows and a garden to tend whilst younger families desire garden space for health and socialising. This is a chance to improve on the planning mistakes of the past.

The proposed sites are shown above in pink on Map PP13/2.

Given the locations one could expect new residents to be accessing the village amenities by foot, therefore means of crossing Colchester Road safely is essential. Thus, new mini roundabouts are proposed to be installed at the junctions of the new development areas with Colchester Road, and a new zebra crossing sited to allow access to the rest of the village safely, including the nearby school, church and sports fields.

15.4.5 Energy

Whilst energy efficiency targets are set nationally in the Building Regulations, West Bergholt's Neighbourhood Plan will encourage developers to demonstrate how they have followed the 'energy hierarchy' in reducing energy demand before implementing renewable energy schemes or make the most of solar gain and passive cooling through the orientation, layout and design of the development.

There is much to be explored and many different ways in which the community could benefit from renewable energy using such as wind turbines, battery pods and community renewable heat initiatives. Whilst policies will be developed to encourage the use of cycling, walking and public transport - all forms of sustainable transport, the Neighbourhood Plan will also include a policy for the installation in new developments of an electrical infrastructure that will support as a minimum community charging points for electric vehicles.

15.5 The Plan's Approach

A number of policies allocates sites. Each of the site allocation policies have a number of criteria designed to ensure that new development reflects and respects the character of West Bergholt and to enable it to integrate into the prevailing character of the locality in which it is located as identified in the Village Design Statement which helps to identify the key characteristics of our parish.

These measures will help to ensure that a high standard of development and design is achieved in West Bergholt and will discourage development that looks out of place and is poorly integrated with its surroundings.

As the objectives relate in part to the use and development of land only, Planning Policies alone have been developed.

Commentary on policies

Policies below relate to sites at Sites A and B.

The site allocation policies, together with other Planning Policies, are intended to ensure that a high quality of design and a good standard of amenity for all existing and future occupants of land and buildings is achieved in line with this core planning principle in the NPPF.

15.5.1 Affordable Housing

New housing developments will be required to include at least 30 percent affordable homes.

15.5.2 Planning Applications

Any development proposals for sites allocated in this Plan will need to obtain planning permission from Colchester Borough Council, which will consider the application against its own policies and national policies together with the policies of this Plan.

15.6 Policies

Policy No.

Housing Planning Policies

PP13:

Housing Sites

The settlement boundary is shown on Map PP13/1. The minimum number of dwellings to be provided over the Neighbourhood Plan period will be 120. These dwellings will be provided on Site A and Site B as shown on Map PP13/2.

Development on land on the North East side of Colchester Road and identified on Map PP13/2 as Sites A and B for one, two and three bedroomed dwellings suitable for first time buyers, homes for older people or small families will be supported.

The density of the development should be within the range of 20-25 per hectare on average.

A mix of housing tenure will be encouraged. It is expected that the development will include at least 30% affordable housing including affordable rent or shared ownership.

Satisfactory access must be provided.

A 12-metre strip of land parallel to the highway boundary of Colchester Road will be retained and integrated into the design and layout of the scheme to respect the semi-rural village aspect.

Landscaping will be an important and integral part of the design and layout of the scheme. It is expected that all principal roads will incorporate a minimum 1 metre wide green verge to each side and the development should include an appropriate amount of public open space.

In order to ensure that a stock of smaller dwellings is retained to meet the village's needs, permitted development rights will usually be withdrawn for extensions through the imposition of conditions on any grant of planning permission.

The provision of land for a cemetery indicated on Map PP13/2 will be supported.

The provision of land to accommodate sports facilities adjacent to the cricket club as indicated on Map PP13/2 will be a requirement of the developer of this site.

PP14:

Design

All new development should be of a high-quality design and sustainable construction is encouraged. Account should be taken of the guidance and principles in the Village Design Statement, which seeks to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness. In particular new development and any additions or extensions to existing dwellings will be expected to:

  • Have an acceptable visual impact on the valley sides; and
  • Give careful consideration to the impact on views across the village; and
  • Provide or retain garden sizes appropriate to the size of the development and reflective of the character of the area in which the development sits; and
  • Buildings must respect and be in harmony with their surroundings in respect of plot width, layout, building lines, materials, height, proportion and scale; and
  • Planning applications must show contextually the impact of their proposals on adjacent buildings by means of adequately detailed plans with accurate street elevations; and
  • There should be no unacceptable adverse impact upon the amenities of the occupiers of nearby residential properties; and
  • Details of all boundary walls, fences and gates around the site shall be as submitted drawing but should not lead to urbanisation

In addition, any infrastructure required for new development will be expected to be provided in a timely manner and before the development is substantially occupied.

PP15:

Energy Hierarchy

Developers will be required to demonstrate how they have followed the energy hierarchy in reducing energy demand before implementing renewable energy or make the most of solar gain and passive cooling through the orientation, layout and design of the development.

PP16:

Infill and Redevelopment Sites

Applications for residential developments on infill and redevelopment sites within West Bergholt village will only be supported subject to proposals being well designed and where such development meet all the following criteria:

  1. fills a small restricted gap in an existing frontage or on other sites within the built-up area of the village where the site is closely surrounded by buildings; and
  2. does not reduce the privacy or amenity of adjoining properties or is inconsistent with the character of the area; and
  3. where the scheme is for one dwelling, the proposal must be in keeping with its wider surroundings in relation to the historic development patterns or building/plot sizes.

PP17:

Dormers

Dormers should be used sparingly and be subservient in nature.

PP18:

New Agricultural Buildings

Any new agricultural buildings should have a high-quality design and be constructed from suitable materials and be sited appropriately within their setting taking account of the surrounding landscape.

PP19:

Change of Use of Agricultural Buildings

Change of use of agricultural buildings to residential must not have any adverse effect or cause any disturbance to the occupiers of any nearby properties. Buildings must be suitable for conversion without substantial rebuilding or expansion.

PP20:

Essex Parking Standards

Compliance with Essex Parking Standards will be sought for new or altered dwellings. Designs that cannot satisfactorily show how parking cannot be accommodated on the site and which would result in spill over parking on the adjacent highway will be resisted.

PP21:

Rural Exception Sites

Proposals for affordable housing on rural exception sites will be supported if it meets all of the following criteria:

  1. Is justified by evidence of need through a local housing needs survey for the village
  2. Is located outside the shaded area on Map PP22
  3. Is appropriately located and designed to respect its surroundings and does not affect open land which is of particular significance to the form and character of the settlement.

PP22: Coalescence

Development will not be supported in the area shown on Map PP22 if individually or cumulatively it would result in increasing the coalescence between West Bergholt village and Braiswick, reducing their separate identity by reducing the separation between these two settlements.

PP23:

Sustainable Transport

All new developments will provide on-site, or contribute towards, appropriate measures to assist walking, cycling, public transport use as well as other highway improvements and links to village facilities. All proposals are to include provision for electric vehicles.

PP24:

Highways Network

Colchester Road (in the vicinity of the two development sites), will be the subject of speed reduction and accessibility improvements. New mini roundabouts are to be installed at the junctions of the new development areas with Colchester Road, and a new zebra crossing sited to allow access to the rest of the village safely including the school and sports fields. This is to be funded by the developers of Site A and Site B.

PP25:

Infrastructure

Any planning applications for new development within the Neighbourhood Plan Area must demonstrate how they can contribute towards the delivery of infrastructure and other development projects prioritised by the community. This may be through planning conditions, via a section 106 agreement or through payment of any Community Infrastructure Levy.

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