Draft Housing in Clusters and Small Scale Residential Development in the Countryside

Draft Housing in Clusters and Small Scale Residential Development in the Countryside Supplementary Planning Document

1 Introduction

1.1 East Suffolk Council has two adopted Local Plans - the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan (September 2020) and the Waveney Local Plan (March 2019). The Local Plans set out strategies and policies for growth, including housing. Planned housing growth is focused largely upon the urban areas and defined larger settlements and villages. However as part of those strategies both Local Plans also provide opportunities for some limited housing to come forward in the countryside. This includes the opportunities provided by the policies that are the subject of this Supplementary Planning Document:

    • Suffolk Coastal Local Plan - Policy SCLP5.4 Housing in Clusters in the Countryside
    • Waveney Local Plan - Policy WLP8.7 Small Scale Residential Development in the Countryside

1.2 Whilst the two policies have similarities, they have differing backgrounds and differences in certain parts of the detailed criteria. The policies are explained below.

SCLP5.4 - Housing in Clusters in the Countryside

1.3 The strategy of the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan seeks to focus housing growth towards the Major Centres, Towns, Large Villages and Small Villages (as identified under Policy SCLP3.2 Settlement Hierarchy). This includes applying Settlement Boundaries to those defined settlements and allocating sites for development in a number of locations. New development within Settlement Boundaries will be acceptable in principle, as per Policy SCLP3.3 Settlement Boundaries.

1.4 Policy SCLP5.3 Housing in the Countryside sets out the limited circumstances where housing would be acceptable outside of Settlement Boundaries and allocated sites, including housing development in 'clusters' in the Countryside. The geography of the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan area is such that there are many small, dispersed communities and clusters of housing outside of the defined settlements. Such communities do not have the level of services and facilities to support larger scale new housing development (and hence do not have Settlement Boundaries) but a small amount of development may help to meet local housing needs, enable people to stay within rural communities and help to sustain these rural communities and any services and facilities that exist within them. Policy SCLP5.4 therefore provides for a limited amount of housing development to come forward in these locations - referred to as 'clusters'.

1.5 Other policies in the Local Plan also provide for other circumstances under which housing could come forward in the countryside, such as affordable housing, conversions or rural workers dwellings, however the guidance in this SPD is focused on Policy SCLP5.4.

1.6 The full text of SCLP5.4 is shown below. This should be read alongside the supporting text contained in paragraphs 5.21 - 5.28 of the Local Plan.

Policy SCLP5.4: Housing in Clusters in the Countryside

Proposals for new dwellings within 'clusters' in the countryside will be supported where:

a. The proposal is for up to three dwellings within a cluster of five or more dwellings;

Or

The proposal is for up to five dwellings within a cluster of at least ten existing dwellings which is well related to a Major Centre, Town, Large Village or Small Village;

And

b. The development consists of infilling within a continuous built up frontage, is in a clearly identifiable gap within an existing cluster, or is otherwise located adjacent to existing development on two sides;

c. The development does not represent an extension of the built up area into the surrounding countryside beyond the existing extent of the built up area surrounding, or adjacent to, the site; and

d. It would not cause undue harm to the character and appearance of the cluster or, result in any harmful visual intrusion into the surrounding landscape.

Where more than three dwellings are proposed under criterion b) above, applicants must be able to demonstrate that meaningful and effective community engagement has taken place in the development of the scheme and that the mix of dwellings proposed would meet locally identified needs.Particular care will be exercised in sensitive locations such as within or in the setting of Conservation Areas and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Consideration will also need to be given to the features of Landscape Character Areas in accordance with Policy SCLP10.4.The cumulative impact of proposals will be a consideration in relation to the criteria above.

A 'cluster' in the context of this policy:

  • Consists of a continuous line of existing dwellings or a close group of existing dwellings adjacent to an existing highway; and
  • Contains 5 or more dwellings.

Policy WLP8.7 - Small Scale Residential Development in the Countryside

1.7 The strategy of the Waveney Local Plan largely focuses housing growth towards the larger settlements, including Lowestoft, the Market Towns and the Larger Villages and Smaller Villages, through allocating sites for development in a number of locations and by applying Settlement Boundaries to those locations (see Local Plan Policy WLP1.1, Table 2 and Policy WLP7.1). New development within Settlement Boundaries will be acceptable in principle, as per Policy WLP1.2 Settlement Boundaries. 'Other rural settlements' are not defined and do not have Settlement Boundaries.

1.8 The strategy of the Local Plan expects that 10% of the plan area's housing growth will take place in the rural areas and that, in turn, 10% of the housing to be delivered in the rural areas is to be located in settlements within the Countryside (Policy WLP7.1). The Local Plan recognises that small scale developments can support communities by delivering housing types and sizes that are needed locally and provide opportunities for members of the existing community to live nearby and retain their social connections. The Local Plan also recognises that small scale developments can also provide social and economic benefits to the countryside. Policy WLP8.7 is therefore intended to provide for a limited amount of housing in the countryside as part of this strategy.

1.9 Other policies in the Local Plan also provide for other circumstances under which housing could come forward in the countryside, such as affordable housing, conversions or rural workers dwellings, however the guidance in this SPD is focused on Policy WLP8.7.

1.10 The full text of WLP8.7 is shown below. This should be read alongside the supporting text contained in paragraphs 8.37 - 8.42 of the Local Plan.

Policy WLP8.7 - Small Scale Residential Development in the Countryside

Small scale residential development in the Countryside of up to three dwellings will be permitted where:

  • The site constitutes a clearly identifiable gap within a built up area of a settlement within the Countryside;
  • There are existing residential properties on two sides of the site; and
  • The development does not extend further into the undeveloped Countryside than the existing extent of the built up area surrounding the site.

Small scale residential development in the Countryside of up to and including five dwellings will also be permitted where:

  • There is clear and demonstrable local support;
  • The scheme demonstrates meaningful and robust consultation with the Parish Council, local community and other stakeholders;
  • Following consultation, it can be demonstrated that any planning impacts identified by the local community have been fully addressed and therefore the scheme is supported by the community;
  • The site is adjacent or within the built up area of the settlement within the Countryside; and
  • The scheme when considered cumulatively with other developments in the Countryside would not result in a level of development which would be contrary to the strategy outlined in Policies WLP1.1 and WLP7.1.

For all small scale development in the Countryside the design of the scheme will need to respect and reflect the character of the settlement and existing built up frontage including:

  • Housing density is reflective of the density in the village and surrounding built up area; and
  • The ratio of the building footprint to the plot area is consistent with existing properties nearby which characterise the village.

1.11 Both Policies SCLP5.4 and WLP8.7 include a number of criteria. These criteria define in principle locations where development would be appropriate, including appropriate sites, as well as other requirements to ensure new development coming forward under these policies is appropriate to the local area.

Purpose of this Supplementary Planning Document

1.12 The purpose of this Supplementary Planning Document is to provide guidance on the application of policies SCLP5.4 and WLP8.7. This includes further guidance on how the individual criteria of each policy will be applied and how each of the relevant criteria are to be met for development to be considered acceptable. Guidance is also provided on how policies SCLP5.4 and WLP8.7 relate to other policies in the Local Plans.

1.13 The SPD covers the whole of the administrative area of East Suffolk except that part of the former Waveney district lying within the Broads for which the Broads Authority is the local planning authority. The guidance relating to SCLP5.4 only will only apply in the Suffolk Coastal Local Plan area and the guidance applying to WLP8.7 will only apply in the Waveney Local Plan area. The list below outlines which policies the chapters apply to:

  • Chapter 2 – SCLP5.4 (Suffolk Coastal Local Plan area only)
  • Chapter 3 – WLP8.7 (Waveney Local Plan area only)
  • Chapter 4 – SCLP5.4 (Suffolk Coastal Local Plan area only)
  • Chapter 5 – WLP8.7 (Waveney Local Plan area only)
  • Chapter 6 – SCLP5.4 and WLP8.7
  • Chapter 7– SCLP5.4 and WLP8.7
  • Chapter 8 – SCLP5.4 and WLP8.7

1.14 Other policies within the Local Plans cover other various scenarios when development within the Countryside may be appropriate. These policies cover development such as affordable housing in the Countryside, rural workers dwellings, replacement dwellings, residential annexes and conversions. This SPD only relates to policies SCLP5.4 Housing in Clusters in the Countryside and WLP8.7 Small Scale Residential Development in the Countryside.

1.15 As a Supplementary Planning Document, once adopted this document will be a material consideration when determining planning applications.