Core Strategy - Adopted January 2009

4. Spatial Strategy for Waveney - How we get there

4.1 The spatial strategy (CS01) seeks to deliver the spatial vision and objectives for the District and has been shaped through consultation and the sustainability appraisal of options and policies. It provides a broad indication of the overall scale of development in the District and the infrastructure needed to support it. The strategy proposed for Waveney has an essential role in achieving the appropriate balance between protection and improving the quality of life for all, including ensuring that necessary change and development is sustainable in the interests of future generations. Policies CS02 to CS17 seek to deliver the spatial strategy and provide the context for the preparation of the other Development Plan Documents.

1st East Logo4.2 The spatial strategy reflects the priority regeneration status of the District as identified in the East of England Plan (May 2008), with a particular focus on delivering a sub-regional approach to the regeneration of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. 1st East urban regeneration company will be key to the delivery of the sub-regional elements of the spatial strategy. Fundamental to the delivery of economic, social and environmental regeneration in Lowestoft will be the ability to provide flood protection and mitigation measures (Policies CS05 and CS03).

4.3 The spatial strategy reflects the existing and future role and function of settlements in Waveney. The emphasis on regeneration, as opposed to growth, means it is not anticipated that the general size of settlements will change significantly. However, in some cases, in accordance with the spatial vision, their functions need to be enhanced or strengthened.

4.4 Most new development in Waveney will take place in Lowestoft followed by the market towns. The towns are regarded as the most suitable locations for future development by virtue of their existing access to services and facilities, thereby providing the opportunity to reduce out-commuting and the need to travel. Development in the towns is seen as contributing not only to their regeneration, through provision of additional services and facilities, but also to the rural areas they serve. Directing development to the market towns, may help to claw back lost services and facilities and help to make them more self-contained and sustainable in their own right.

4.5 Adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change are an integral part of the spatial strategy and cut across all policies. The strategy and policies will have an important role in assisting in the implementation of the Suffolk Climate Action Plan, which seeks a 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2025 and a climate-resilient Suffolk.

4.6 A high quality environment has a key role in delivering the spatial strategy. It is important for the quality of life of Waveney residents and improves the perception and attractiveness of the area for visitors and investment.  Green infrastructure, such as open space, biodiversity, geodiversity and other semi-natural features will be protected and enhanced across the District. In particular, a network of green wildlife corridors and spaces will be protected and enhanced in Lowestoft, the market towns and larger villages. (Policy CS16). Green infrastructure also has a role in our adaption to climate change and contributing to carbon neutral development.

4.7 Healthier communities is a key priority in the Waveney Sustainable Communities Strategy and the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Primary Care Trust (PCT) review of the provision and delivery of health care is integral to the spatial strategy. Accessibility will be improved through provision closer to home, via new community resource centres/sites providing a comprehensive care approach for the individual, along with other services and facilities. Mobile services will provide outreach to the rural areas. This new approach will focus on Lowestoft and the market towns in accordance with the spatial strategy (Policy CS01).

4.8 Suffolk County Council is currently undertaking a review of how schools are organised in Suffolk, moving from a three-tier education system to a two-tier, of primary and secondary schools. As part of the strategy, the existing rural primary schools are to be retained. Although many of them are not in the most sustainable settlements, their protection will assist in meeting the objective of improving access to services and facilities in rural areas. The review is being carried out in three phases with Lowestoft in Phase 1 and Beccles and Bungay in Phase 2. It will be important to guide any future education provision to the most sustainable and accessible locations in accordance with the spatial strategy. (Policy CS09).

4.9 Lowestoft will accommodate approximately 70 to 80% of the housing growth for the District (Policy CS11). In accordance with the findings of the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (Nov 2007) it is expected that, over and above the implementation of existing planning permissions, this can almost exclusively be accommodated on previously developed land. The Housing Market Assessment (September 2007) advises that 30% of housing delivered across the District should be social housing, mainly for rent although up to 10% should be intermediate housing such as shared equity.

4.10 It is also expected that approximately 70 to 80% of the additional jobs to be provided in the District (5,000) will be accommodated in Lowestoft. This focus will seek to provide an alignment between the growth of employment and housing. The Lake Lothing and Outer Harbour area of Lowestoft will accommodate most employment growth (Policy CS07) and will have a key role in fulfilling Lowestoft’s role as a Strategic Employment Location, as defined in the East of England Plan i.e. supporting port expansion, regeneration and economic diversification. An Area Action Plan is being prepared to assist in bringing about this change. Fundamental to the delivery of regeneration will be the need to address flood risk. The Council will continue to work with the Environment Agency and other partners to develop and implement a strategic approach to reduce the level of risk. Lowestoft is well positioned to capitalise on the growth in offshore wind energy in the North Sea and to diversify the local economy into the renewable energy sector and research and development sectors. To this end the area around Ness Point will be identified in the Area Action Plan for the development of a renewable energy cluster of businesses (Policy CS08).

4.11 As a ‘major town centre’ in the Region, Lowestoft will be the focus for most retail and leisure growth in the District (Policy CS10). Retail development as part of mixed-use schemes will be important to the regeneration, including cultural and tourism, prospects for the town. The primary focus for delivery will be the town centre and to the south and east towards the water frontage of Lake Lothing and the outer harbour.

4.12 Integral to the regeneration of Lowestoft and the wider sub-region with Great Yarmouth are a range of transport measures (Policy CS15). These would include measures to reduce congestion, improve safety and enhance connectivity between north and south Lowestoft and with Great Yarmouth. In developing the Core Strategy, the sustainability appraisal highlighted the importance of bringing about behavioural change to increase the use of sustainable modes of transport. Bringing about this change will be integral to the future growth and transport strategy for Lowestoft.

Market Towns
4.13 The market towns in Waveney have a key role to play in acting as service centres for the surrounding rural populations and villages. They provide a focal point for employment, shopping and community facilities, serving as a hub for rural public transport. Response to the consultation highlighted that the market towns were struggling to fulfil this function and that their role could be further undermined if development was dispersed across lower order settlements in the rural areas. Feedback suggested a two-fold strategy of supporting the market towns and some flexibility in the rural areas by allowing only small-scale development where appropriate. Improving transport accessibility to the market towns from the surrounding rural areas will be important in achieving their regeneration. The Council also tested whether there was a role for identifying Beccles as the largest of the market towns that should therefore take a larger proportional share of future development. Feedback suggested that the amount of development in the market towns should reflect the opportunities for development on previously developed land.

4.14 The results of the Strategic Land Availability Assessment (Nov 2007) indicate the potential for 15% to 25% of housing to take place in the market towns with most growth in Beccles and Halesworth. Less development would be expected in Bungay and Southwold/Reydon. There was also considerable support for affordable housing being focused on the market towns, rather than dispersal into the rural areas.

4.15 The market towns will also have the role in meeting the job growth target for the District, providing approximately 20% of the target. To this end existing employment areas will continue to be protected. In addition, further employment land will be identified, to meet local needs and attract inward investment.

4.16 The vitality and viability of the market towns will be strengthened through a focus on development within their town centres (Policy CS10). The Retail and Leisure Study (Aug 2006) defined Beccles as second in the District retail hierarchy. As such, outside Lowestoft, most retail development will be directed to Beccles town centre.

4.17 Integral to the self-containment of communities is community empowerment and the provision of supporting facilities such as community halls, playing fields and leisure facilities. Meeting existing deficiencies and making additional provision is a key part of this strategy towards which developers will be expected to contribute (Policies CS04 and CS14).

Larger villages
4.18 The East of England Plan (May 2008) identifies villages, smaller than market towns, as being able to play the role of Key Service Centres. Key Service Centres are defined as larger villages with a good level of services. These could include a primary or indeed secondary school, a doctors surgery, shops to meet everyday needs, local employment opportunities and frequent public transport to larger centres.

4.19 'Other rural settlements', defined by the East of England Plan (May 2008), are villages that have very few, if any services, and are dependent on larger centres for their everyday needs. The vast majority of the villages within rural Waveney would therefore be defined as 'other rural settlements'. This settlement pattern emphasises the reliance of rural Waveney on its market towns.

4.20 The Council's analysis of services in villages of more than 300 people reveals that only one village, Kessingland, meets all the criteria for a key service centre. Kessingland's population is equivalent in size to that of the market towns of Halesworth or Bungay, but it lacks the same level of services. Services and facilities are perhaps not as great as the analysis implies because of the village's dependence and proximity to Lowestoft. In addition, there are limited opportunities for development and drainage and flooding issues need to be resolved. The Council does not consider that Kessingland could perform the role of a Key Service Centre.

4.21 Therefore, in order that the vast majority of rural Waveney is not deprived of at least the potential for some additional housing, services and facilities, and to assist in diversifying the rural economy, 'Larger Villages' have been defined, as a sub-division of the catch-all 'other rural settlements' category contained in the East of England Plan (May 2008). The aim of 'Larger Villages' is that they can provide a focus to assist in both maintaining and enhancing the provision of services in rural areas. This will require a partnership approach with service providers supporting the hierarchy of settlement approach. Small-scale development will also be supported in the larger villages to assist the local economy and provide for affordable housing.  It is expected that only up to 5% of future housing in the District will be in the 'Larger Villages'.

Outside the Larger Villages
4.22 Outside the larger villages the objective is to safeguard the countryside for its own sake and to protect the existing service provision. Development in these locations is likely to be unsustainable, because of poor levels of public transport and few services and facilities. Exceptions to this approach will be development of an appropriate scale that assists the agricultural industry or diversifies the local economy. The reuse of existing buildings will be encouraged in preference to new buildings (Policy CS07). Conversion of existing buildings should be in conformity with policies CS17 (Built and Historic Environment) and CS16 (Natural Environment); for example bat surveys will be required where appropriate. Infill housing development of 1 or two dwellings may be acceptable as a means of allowing some, albeit limited, opportunities for housing in the rural areas, subject to the character and form of the settlement and access to services and facilities.  Affordable housing may also be acceptable, subject to an identified housing need, minimising impact on the environment and consideration of access to services and facilities.

4.23 Appropriate sites to deliver the spatial strategy will be identified in the Site Specific Allocations document and the Lake Lothing and Outer Harbour Area Action Plan. Detailed policies, including physical limits to settlements, will be included in the Development Management Policies document.

Policy CS01 - Spatial Strategy 

Most new development such as housing, employment, retail, services and facilities will take place in the main town of Lowestoft, followed by the Market Towns. The focus for development will be on previously developed land within the built-up areas, with more than 50% of housing and 60% of employment expected to be delivered on brownfield sites. An integral part of the strategy will be to protect and enhance local distinctiveness and the green infrastructure of the District, such as open space and biodiversity.

Lowestoft (including Carlton Colville and Oulton):
Lowestoft will be a focus for regeneration, particularly around Lake Lothing and the Outer Harbour area. The town will accommodate approximately 70 to 80% of the housing growth for the District and 70 to 80% of the additional 5,000 jobs. Of particular importance will be the development of a renewable energy cluster of businesses and growth of the knowledge economy. Most retail growth will take place in Lowestoft through the expansion of the town centre towards the Lake Lothing and Outer Harbour water frontage. Priority will be given to the delivery of infrastructure, such as flood protection measures and transport improvements, as essential to facilitating economic and social regeneration.

Market towns:
The market towns of Beccles with Worlingham, Halesworth, Bungay and Southwold with Reydon will accommodate approximately 15-25% of the District housing growth and 20% of the additional jobs. Most housing development will be accommodated on previously developed sites in Beccles and Halesworth. All the market towns will experience further employment development on previously developed and greenfield sites. As the largest market town, Beccles will provide the focus for most retail development after Lowestoft. An increase in public transport and demand responsive transport, particularly between the market towns, larger villages and more remote rural areas will continue to be promoted to improve rural accessibility to services and facilities.

Larger Villages:
A small amount of new housing, employment and services and facilities development will be focused on a number of designated larger villages. Up to 5% of the housing growth will be focused in these villages. Where a local housing need is demonstrated, the priority will be for affordable housing. Most development will take place on brownfield sites within the villages but some development may be needed on greenfield sites on the edge. The larger villages are Barnby/North Cove, Kessingland, Blundeston, Wangford, Corton, Wrentham and Holton.

Outside these locations, development will be regarded as being in the open countryside where the objective is to preserve the countryside for its own sake. Exceptions to this overall approach will be infill housing development and affordable housing that meets a local need, both subject to the character and form of the settlement and access to services and facilities. Other exceptions will be developments of an appropriate scale that contribute to the continued viability of the agricultural industry and/or diversify the local rural economy.