East Suffolk Council - Waveney Local Plan (Adopted March 2019)

District-Wide Strategic Planning Policies

Housing

8.1 The National Planning Policy Framework requires local planning authorities to deliver a wide choice of high quality homes to meet the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing within the housing market area over the plan period. Local planning authorities should plan for a wide choice of homes based on current and future demographic and migration trends, market trends and the needs of different groups within the community in order to widen opportunities for home ownership and create inclusive and mixed communities.

8.2 The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2017) is a key piece of evidence in assessing housing need and planning for housing delivery. The assessment has been carried out with Babergh, Mid Suffolk and Suffolk Coastal District Councils and Ipswich Borough Council. The assessment identifies the need for affordable housing and the type and mix of housing required to meet the needs of the housing market area.

Housing Mix

8.3 The National Planning Policy Framework requires local planning authorities to identify the size, type and range of housing required. The National Planning Practice Guidance states that once identified, the objectively assessed need should be broken down by household size and type.

8.4 The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2017) applies a model to provide this break down of sizes and types of housing. A key finding was the need for smaller units across the District in the form of 1 and 2 bedroom properties. The assessment identified that across all tenures at least 35-40% of new housing should be 1 or 2 bed properties. This is consistent with the findings of the previous Strategic Housing Market Assessment which confirms a long term need for more smaller properties. Previous Local Plan policies have required between 30% and 40% of new units to be 1 or 2 bed and monitoring through the Authority Monitoring Report suggests this approach has been successful. Provision of smaller properties in rural areas is particularly important given affordability problems and under-occupancy of existing properties.

8.5 The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2017) provides a useful starting point for the consideration of the size and types of dwellings to be provided. However, needs can change and vary from site to site as local requirements change. There also may be a particular market demand for certain types of property in a specific location. Therefore, some flexibility is required. It is therefore advisable for developers to have pre-application discussions with the local planning authority to help determine the exact mix of properties on a development site.

8.6 Policy WLP8.1 sets out the Council's approach to securing a mix of dwellings on development sites. It requires at least 35% of dwellings to be 1 or 2 bed dwellings, and requires consideration of the findings of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment, unless evidence is submitted to satisfactorily demonstrate this is unfeasible. Such evidence may include the impact on the character of the area; evidence of lack of need or demand; or evidence of impact on viability.

8.7 The Strategic Housing Market Assessment also identified the need for different types of specialist housing including, sheltered housing and extra care housing. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment identified a potential need for 1,197 sheltered and extra care housing. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment also identifies a need for 905 additional spaces in care homes and nursing homes over the plan period. Larger sites, which are often developed by a number of developers, provide an opportunity to help deliver this need through the provision of a retirement community. The affordable housing policy (Policy WLP8.2) requires a proportion of affordable housing to be of this type. Given the growing market for this type of product it is likely that the market will deliver this type of housing on some of the other sites allocated in this Local Plan.

8.8 Neighbourhood Plans may identify specific localised needs for certain types of dwellings where supported by evidence which is consistent with the methodology and findings of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment. Neighbourhood Plans can take a more detailed approach to housing mix and type to that set out in Policy WLP8.1.

Policy WLP8.1 - Housing Mix

The mix of sizes and types of units on any particular site should be based on evidence of local needs including the Strategic Housing Market Assessment and in consultation with the local planning authority.

Proposals for new residential developments will only be permitted where at least 35% of new dwellings on the site are 1 or 2 bedroom properties, unless this can be satisfactorily demonstrated to be unfeasible.

Neighbourhood Plans can set out a more detailed approach to housing type and mix which reflects local circumstances and is supported by evidence.

Affordable Housing

8.9 House prices in Waveney continue to grow and remain high compared to average household incomes. This means housing is unaffordable to many people in the District.

8.10 Affordable housing is defined by the National Planning Policy Framework as social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing (including shared ownership, shared equity and discounted homes for sale), provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Starter homes are a type of affordable housing made exclusively available at 80% of market value to first time buyers under the age of 40, who often have difficulty in buying their own home.

8.11 The National Planning Policy Framework requires Local Planning Authorities to plan to meet the full objectively assessed need for affordable housing. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2017) calculates the affordable housing need in Waveney to be 208 dwellings per year. This amounts to 55% of the total annual need for housing. The Whole Plan Viability Assessment (2018) demonstrates that this level of affordable housing would make housing developments financially unviable. An affordable housing requirement which is harmful to viability is likely to create a barrier to development and impede delivery of any type of housing, or undermine the delivery of key infrastructure by reducing the amount of funds developers can contribute towards infrastructure. The Council has over allocated sites for housing in this Local Plan to help address this need. Furthermore, Policy WLP8.6 also allows affordable housing schemes in the Countryside where residential development would not normally be permitted.

8.12 The Strategic Housing Market Assessment provides further guidance on the type of affordable housing needed. The study indicates that 50% of affordable housing should be affordable rented and 50% should be intermediate affordable housing tenures.

8.13 The National Planning Practice Guidance states that affordable housing can only be a requirement on schemes above 10 units.

8.14 The Whole Plan Viability Assessment identifies differences across the District in how much affordable housing a development could provide whilst remaining financially viable. The assessment finds Lowestoft is the least viable part of the District and developments can generally provide 20% of dwellings as affordable housing. Southwold and Reydon is the most viable area and developments can provide 40%. The remaining parts of the District are able to provide 30% affordable housing whilst remaining viable. Proposals which provide higher levels of affordable housing than these amounts will also be supported.

Figure 35 - Affordable housing areas

figure 35

8.15 As the requirement for affordable housing, together with other policy requirements and the level of community infrastructure levy have been thoroughly tested at the plan making stage, it is considered that sites will be able to viably meet the requirements of the policy. In exceptional circumstances, some sites may not be able to viably deliver affordable housing to levels required. This could be due to changes in the housing market and the overall economy or unforeseen, abnormal costs. Policy WLP8.2 therefore allows, in exceptional circumstances, for a reduction or variation in affordable housing requirements to ensure development remains viable and the housing supply overall is not threatened. In these circumstances, a comprehensive viability assessment will be required which is in line with the detailed guidance on the assessment of viability in Appendix 5. These viability assessments will not be kept confidential except in exceptional circumstances. Before reducing the overall provision of affordable housing, the tenure and type of affordable housing should be first adjusted to secure viability.

8.16 Irrespective of viability, reductions in affordable housing provision on sites which are not allocated in this Local Plan or a Neighbourhood Plan and which do not make up part of the five year supply of housing, will not be permitted. These schemes may be sufficiently viable and able to provide affordable housing if brought forward at a later date. If there is no need for development at the time of application (due to the provision of a five year supply of housing) there would often be little benefit of the development coming forward early without affordable housing. Some unallocated sites may have wider sustainability benefits (for example the redevelopment of long-term derelict sites, or proposals for enabling development). In these cases, where a comprehensive viability assessment in line with the guidance in Appendix 5 is submitted, which demonstrates the site is not viable in the present market, a reduction or variation in the level of affordable housing may be permitted.

8.17 Affordable housing should preferably be provided on the site in order to create mixed communities. However, exceptionally on smaller sites, it may be preferable for a commuted sum to be paid for provision elsewhere in the locality.

8.18 The Strategic Housing Market Assessment identifies a significant need for new sheltered accommodation and extra-care housing. Policy WLP8.2 therefore states these types of housing should be provided as part of the affordable housing provision where there is a local need and where practicable.

8.19 Neighbourhood Plans may identify specific localised needs for affordable housing. Where local evidence has been prepared of affordable housing need and viability, Neighbourhood Plans can require a higher proportion of affordable housing to be provided to that set out in Policy WLP8.2.

Policy WLP8.2 - Affordable Housing

All new housing developments on sites with a capacity of 11 dwellings or more must make provision for a proportion of the total dwellings to be affordable housing as follows:

  • Housing developments in the Lowestoft and Kessingland area (excluding Corton) must provide 20% affordable housing;
  • Housing developments in the Southwold and Reydon area must provide 40% affordable housing; and
  • Housing developments in the remainder of the District must provide 30% affordable housing.

Proposals which provide a higher amount of affordable housing than set out above will also be permitted.

Of these affordable dwellings, 50% should be for affordable rent. Sheltered and extra-care housing should be included as affordable units where needed and where practicable.

Affordable housing should be preferably delivered on the site as part of a mixed tenure scheme. Exceptionally, on smaller sites, it may be agreed between the local planning authority and the developer for a commuted sum to be paid towards the provision of affordable housing elsewhere.

Affordable housing should be indistinguishable from market housing in terms of the location, external appearance, design, standards and build quality and should meet all requirements of the design policies.

In exceptional circumstances the level and tenure of affordable housing may be varied where it can be satisfactorily demonstrated through the preparation of a viability assessment in line with the guidance in Appendix 5, that a different tenure mix or lower percentages of affordable housing are required to ensure the site remains financially viable. Affordable housing provision will only be reduced on sites which are necessary to the overall supply of housing in the District unless the scheme has wider sustainability benefits.

Neighbourhood Plans can set out higher requirements for affordable housing provision where local evidence of need and viability support this.

Self Build and Custom Build

8.20 Self build and custom build housing is currently under represented in the housing market in Waveney and England as a whole. Self build projects are defined as those where someone directly organises the design and construction of their own home. This covers a wide range of projects including a traditional DIY self build home to projects where the self builder employs someone to build their home for them. Community-led projects can also be defined as self build. Custom build homes are where a person works with a developer as an individual or a group to help provide their own home. The developer may help to find a plot, manage the construction and arrange the finance for the new home. This is more of a hands-off approach but the home is tailored to match the individual's requirements.

8.21 Self build and custom build housing can help increase the supply and variety of housing on the market. It can also improve the overall design quality of new housing. As such the Government is keen to promote the sector. The National Planning Policy Framework states that Local Planning Authorities should plan for the needs of people wishing to build their own homes. The Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 requires Local Planning Authorities to keep a register of people who are interested in building their own homes. The Housing and Planning Act 2016 places a duty on Authorities to grant permission for sufficient serviced plots to meet demand evidenced by the register.

8.22 There are currently 127 people and 1 group on the register in Waveney. Policy WLP8.3 sets out the Council's approach to encouraging self build and custom build developments. In order to meet the need identified above, 5% of plots on all sites above 100 units should be made available for self build or custom build housing. Based on the sites allocated in this Local Plan, this will deliver approximately 260 serviced plots over the lifetime of the Plan. This will meet the need of the existing people on the register plus potential future additions to the register. Where serviced self build or custom build plots are made available on a site and are not taken up after a minimum of 12 months, the developer will be free to build out these plots themselves. The plots should be marketed in accordance with the marketing principles set out in Appendix 4 and the minimum 12 month marketing period should not start before the plots are serviced and development can commence. The policy also supports solely self build and custom build developments where they are in conformity with the other relevant policies of this plan.

8.23 Self and custom builders should be able to design and build their homes to their own requirements. This will create individual homes and can foster creative and innovative designs, where this is desired. Where groups of self or custom build plots come forward it is important that the individual designs contribute positively to their surroundings and there is a degree of coherence in the design and appearance of the group. As such, where groups of plots are concerned, a design code should be agreed which establishes some design principles to which each plot should adhere, whilst still allowing for freedom and creativity for individual plots. This will also provide greater certainty for self and custom builders that their individual designs will be granted permission. Design codes can address matters such as building heights; massing; position on plot; plot coverage; materials palette; landscaping; parking; and waste management amongst others. Proposals of five plots and above should have a design code in place agreed with the Local Planning Authority.

 

Policy WLP8.3 - Self Build and Custom Build

Proposals that would make a proportion of serviced dwelling plots available for sale to self builders or custom builders will be supported where in compliance with all other relevant policies of this Local Plan.

Developments of 100 or more dwellings will be expected to provide 5% self or custom build properties on site through the provision of serviced plots unless this can be satisfactorily demonstrated to be unfeasible. Once completed and available for development, the serviced plots should be marketed for a period of not less than 12 months. Marketing should be in accordance with the principles set out in Appendix 4. If, following this period, any of the serviced plots remain unsold, they may be built out by the developer.

Proposals which provide a higher amount of self or custom build properties than set out above will also be permitted.

Proposals for 5 or more self build or custom build dwellings in a single site location should be developed in accordance with a set of design principles to be submitted with any application and agreed by the Local Planning Authority.

 

Conversion of Properties to Flats

8.24 Conversion of larger properties to flats and smaller units can provide much needed smaller units of accommodation. However, where high concentrations of conversions to flats or houses in multiple occupation have taken place this can bring about amenity issues. These include on street parking, bin storage and increased levels of activity and disturbance. In some cases high numbers of flats can be associated with low levels of owner occupation which can result in lower maintenance standards and environmental decline. The cumulative conversion of larger dwellings to flats can reduce the number of larger family dwellings in an area which can result in unbalanced communities.

8.25 Some areas of Lowestoft have been subject to high numbers of flat conversions and are considered to be at saturation point when considering the above issues. In these areas further conversions should be resisted. The point at which saturation occurs will vary according to historical and local characteristics of the street, but 20% of properties converted to flats has been held to be a general guide.

Policy WLP8.4 - Conversion of Properties to Flats

Flat Saturation Zones are identified on the Policies Map.

No further conversions to self-contained flats/houses in multiple occupation will be permitted in Flat Saturation Zones on Lyndhurst Road, part of Denmark Road, part of London Road South and part of Kirkley Cliff Road, Grosvenor Road, Cleveland Road and Windsor Road where saturation levels are exceeded.

Outside the Flat Saturation Zones planning permission will be granted for conversion of existing buildings to fully self-contained accommodation where the saturation figure for the street does not exceed 20% and residential properties are above average size (i.e. above 160sqm original gross floorspace and include at least 5 bedrooms), no longer suited to family occupation or have a long established use (i.e. 10 years or more) as a House in Multiple Occupation or flats. The property should be located in a commercial, mixed use or other area close to services and facilities, be able to meet existing standards for parking, amenity areas, refuse bin storage and sound insulation and have no significant detrimental impacts to adjoining family houses.

Exceptional circumstances will need to be demonstrated for the conversion to Houses in Multiple Occupation or bedsits, as opposed to self-contained flats, to be permitted.

Gypsies and Travellers

8.26 Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (2015) emphasizes the need for Local Planning Authorities to use their own evidence to plan positively for gypsy and traveller needs. Waveney District Council along with Babergh, Mid Suffolk and Suffolk Coastal District Councils and Ipswich Borough Council have commissioned a Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople Accommodation Assessment. This identifies a requirement for 17 additional pitches for gypsies and travellers in Waveney over the period 2016-2036.

8.27 The Planning Policy for Traveller Sites defines gypsies and travellers as: "Persons of nomadic habit of life whatever their race or origin, including such persons who on grounds only of their own or their family's or dependants' educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily, but excluding members of an organised group of travelling showpeople or circus people travelling together as such".

8.28 Policy WLP8.5 sets out a criteria based policy to support the development and extension of gypsy and traveller sites. Given the differing accommodation needs and limited potential for development within built up areas, the policy allows for development of gypsy and traveller sites within the Countryside where residential development would not normally be permitted. However, there should still be good access to services and facilities and limited impact on the local character of the area. The impact on the landscape should be assessed using policy WLP8.35 Landscape Character, especially where rural sites are involved.

8.29 Neighbourhood Plans can positively allocate new sites for gypsies and travellers to help accommodate local needs.

Policy WLP8.5 - Gypsy and Traveller Sites

New sites to meet the accommodation needs of gypsies and travellers will be permitted within Settlement Boundaries and within the Countryside where:

  • The site will provide accommodation for gypsies and travellers, as defined in Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (August 2015 and any updates);
  • Schools, services and shops are within easy travelling distance, preferably by foot, cycle or public transport;
  • The site is (or can be) served by adequate water and sewerage connections;
  • The site is not located within Flood Zones 2 or 3;
  • There will be no adverse impact on the amenity of nearby residents or operations of adjoining land users; and
  • The development respects the scale of and does not dominate the nearest settled community and avoids placing an undue pressure on local infrastructure.

Neighbourhood Plans can allocate new sites for gypsy and travellers to help accommodate local needs

Affordable Housing in the Countryside

8.30 Housing development in rural areas in recent times has been constrained to protect the intrinsic quality of the countryside and promote sustainable patterns of movement. However, there is significant demand to live in villages across the Country. The desirability of the countryside as a place to live, together with low supply of new premises means that house prices in the rural areas are higher than the District average. This means that homes in rural areas can be unaffordable for existing residents which can then undermine family and social networks.

8.31 This Local Plan aims to allocate a greater proportion of housing in general to the rural areas. This new housing will include an element of affordable housing in line with Policy WLP8.2. However, in some circumstances this may not be enough to meet local need which can change frequently over time. Additionally, not enough affordable housing will be delivered through Policy WLP8.2 to meet needs. Although the Local Plan allows for extra windfall development within settlement boundaries of villages, there are unlikely to be opportunities of a scale which will deliver affordable housing.

8.32 The National Planning Policy Framework encourages Councils to allow for small scale developments of affordable housing in the countryside on the edge of villages to meet local affordable housing need. This land would generally otherwise be unsuitable for residential development. This therefore lowers the land value and makes solely affordable housing schemes more viable. To further support viability, the Framework supports the provision of a small amount of market housing on these sites where necessary. These proposals are commonly referred to as rural exception sites.

8.33 Policy WLP8.6 allows for affordable housing schemes in the Countryside adjacent to villages. Proposals must meet an identified local need by accommodating households who are either current residents, have existing family connections to the area or have employment reasons for being in the area. This will preferably be in the form of a local housing needs assessment. Developers are encouraged to work closely with the Council's Housing team to ensure appropriate evidence is provided with any planning application. Affordable housing provision on exception sites should have a tenure mix which is reflective of local housing needs identified in the local housing needs assessment.

8.34 Affordable housing on exception sites can be provided by many different providers including the Council, housing associations and housing cooperatives. Affordable housing could also be provided by self build co-operatives providing it is secured as affordable housing in perpetuity. If self build affordable housing takes the form of low-impact development where there is limited or benign environmental impact due to the materials used, management of land and lack of provision for motorised vehicles, the requirements for the development to be adjacent to a village could be relaxed.

8.35 Affordable housing proposals may contain an element of market housing to facilitate their delivery. A proposal should start from a position of 100% affordable housing with any market housing element being justified on the basis of a viability assessment which is prepared in accordance with the guidance in Appendix 5. The element of market housing must be subsidiary to the affordable housing in terms of floorspace and numbers. To be subsidiary, market housing should not account for more than one third of dwellings on the site.

8.36 Proposals should take into consideration the impact on the character and setting of the existing settlement and the landscape in line with Policy WLP8.35.

 

Policy WLP8.6 - Affordable Housing in the Countryside

Proposals for the development of affordable housing in the Countryside will be permitted where:

  • It is demonstrated there is an identified local need for affordable housing and this cannot be met through existing housing allocations in the Local Plan or relevant Neighbourhood Plan;
  • The scheme is adjacent to Corton, a Larger Village, a Smaller Village or other rural settlements within the Countryside;
  • The scheme incorporates a range of dwelling sizes, types and tenures appropriate to the identified local need; and
  • The location, scale and design standard of a scheme will retain or enhance the character and setting of the settlement.

A limited amount of market housing will be permitted as part of affordable housing developments in the Countryside where it is required to cross-subsidise the affordable housing. Where market housing is to be provided on site this will be subsidiary to the affordable housing element of the proposal and the amount of market housing required will need to be demonstrated through a viability assessment in accordance with the guidance in Appendix 5. The amount of market housing on the site should be no more than one third of dwellings on the site.

Where exception sites are brought forward with an element of market housing, both housing tenures should be built to the same design standards which contribute towards the character of the area. Market housing should be reflective of the size of the affordable dwellings proposed on the site.

Small Scale Residential Development in the Countryside

8.37 Approximately 10% of new housing to be delivered in the rural areas of the District is to be located in settlements within the Countryside. 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 National Planning Policy Framework advises against isolated dwellings in the Countryside. However, there are occasions where small scale development could occur which could provide social and economic benefits to the Countryside, with limited impacts on the environment or character of the area. Policy WLP8.7 therefore is intended to provide a limited amount of housing in the Countryside. However, it is not intended to enable development that will adversely affect the intrinsic character of a settlement or the surrounding landscape.

8.38 Policy WLP8.7 allows for small scale development of up to three homes within clearly identifiable small gaps in a built up frontage, on land which is surrounded by residential development (including its curtilage) on two sides (including the opposite side of the highway). This approach allows for development which does not encroach further into the countryside and is enclosed by surrounding residential dwellings, therefore limiting the effect on the landscape and character of the area.

8.39 The strategy set out in Policy WLP7.1 allows for small sites for housing to be developed in other rural settlements in the Countryside through Neighbourhood Plans or Neighbourhood Development Orders. For some small Parish Councils or Parish Meetings, Neighbourhood Plans or Development Orders may not be a feasible option due to lack of resources. Therefore, Policy WLP8.7 also allows for small scale development of up to five homes on the edge of these settlements where there is demonstrable public support.

8.40 In assessing whether there is demonstrable public support, planning applications should be supported by evidence of pre-application consultation which shows that there is genuine support from the local community and the Parish Council or Parish Meeting. Any relevant concerns raised by the community or the Parish Council or Parish Meeting should be addressed by the developer. If during the consultation stage of the planning application, planning objections are raised by the community, the application should be amended to address any relevant concerns. If all planning concerns raised by the community and the Parish Council or Parish Meeting have not been addressed the application will not be supported. To ensure the overall strategy for the District and the rural areas is met, the Council will not support development which cumulatively, when considered against other developments within the Countryside, would undermine the overall distribution of development set out in Policies WLP1.1 and WLP7.1.

8.41 Sites suitable for small scale development provide opportunities for custom and self build dwellings. Where these are of good design and in keeping with the surrounding properties and character of the area they will be supported.

8.42 The design of all small scale developments in the Countryside will need to respect and respond to the local context and character of the area as detailed in Design Policy WLP8.29. Proposals should take into consideration the impact on the character and setting of the existing settlement and the landscape in line with Policy WLP8.35.

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.

Rural Workers Dwellings in the Countryside

8.43 The accommodation needs of rural workers employed full time in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and other rural businesses can usually be met in existing properties either on the site or in nearby settlements. Occasionally it is essential for a worker to be in close proximity to the business, for example, where animal or agricultural processes require essential care at short notice, or where there is a need to deal with emergencies that could otherwise cause serious loss of crops or produce. The lack of available properties in the countryside can therefore occasionally necessitate the need for a new dwelling to serve this purpose.

8.44 Policy WLP8.8 allows for the development of a new dwelling in the Countryside for rural workers where it is essential for them to be in close proximity to their business. However, to avoid the proliferation of isolated dwellings in the Countryside the policy sets strict tests to ensure the dwelling is actually needed, the business is viable and there is no other suitable accommodation available which could serve the business.

8.45 Applications will be assessed taking account of the history of the enterprise. Evidence will need to demonstrate whether there are existing dwellings within the site/holding or nearby which could fulfil the need. If any dwellings or buildings on the holding suitable for conversion have been sold on the open housing market this is likely to constitute lack of evidence of essential need. To assess whether the existing business is viable, financial information from the last three years prior to the planning application will be required which show that the business was profitable for at least one of those years.

8.46 Where planning permission is granted for a rural workers dwelling, occupancy restriction conditions will be imposed to ensure the dwelling is used for that purpose and remains available for that purpose in the future. To avoid new isolated market housing in the countryside, which is contrary to the policy contained within the National Planning Policy Framework, proposals to remove occupancy restriction conditions will rarely be approved. Where applications are made for the removal of an occupancy condition, evidence will be required to demonstrate that there is no longer a need for the accommodation for either the business or for the wider local area. Evidence of marketing should be provided, following the guidelines in Appendix 4. In addition to this, the dwelling should be made available to a minimum of three registered social landlords on terms which would prioritise its occupation by a rural worker as an affordable dwelling.

Policy WLP8.8 - Rural Workers Dwellings in the Countryside

Proposals for permanent dwellings in the Countryside for rural workers where they are to support an existing and viable rural business will only be permitted where:

  • There is a clearly established functional need and this could not be fulfilled by another existing dwelling or accommodation in the area which is suitable and available for the occupied workers or could be converted to do so;
  • The need relates to a full time worker, or one who is primarily employed in the rural sector, and does not relate to a part time requirement;
  • The unit and the rural activity concerned has been established for at least three years, has been profitable for at least one of them and is financially sound and has a clear prospect of remaining so; and
  • The proposed dwelling is sensitively designed, landscaped and located to fit in with its surroundings and of a scale that reflects its functional role to support the agricultural activity.

Where a rural dwelling is permitted, the occupancy will be restricted by condition to ensure that it is occupied by a person, or persons, currently or last employed in local rural employment. Applications for the removal of an occupancy condition related to rural workers will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that:

  • There is no longer a need for accommodation on the holding/business and in the local area;
  • The property has been marketed to ensure proper coverage within the relevant sector for at least one year at a price which reflects the existence of the occupancy condition; and
  • The dwelling has been made available to a minimum of three Registered Providers operating locally on terms that would prioritise its occupation by a rural worker as an affordable dwelling and that option has been refused.

Replacement Dwellings and Extensions in the Countryside

8.47 Existing dwellings in the countryside contribute towards the range of dwelling types and sizes required to support a diverse community. Many of these make an important contribution towards the rural character of an area and it is important this is protected. However, housing needs to be adaptable to meet changing requirements of family life. It is recognised that there is some need for the replacement or extension of existing dwellings and this is a form of development in the Countryside that may be allowed as an exception to normal policies of control.

8.48 Policy WLP8.9 seeks to ensure that replacement dwellings and extensions to existing dwellings are of an appropriate scale, siting and design to not adversely affect the setting of the dwelling and wider countryside. Proposals should also be considered against the Historic Environment and Natural and Built Environment policies (Policies WLP8.34 to WLP8.40). To avoid isolated new homes in the Countryside, dwellings to be replaced must have been last used for residential purposes and have not been abandoned.

 

Policy WLP8.9 - Replacement Dwellings and Extensions in the Countryside

Proposals for the replacement of an existing dwelling in the countryside with a new dwelling will be permitted where:

  • The existing dwelling is not a building of architectural or historical value which makes a positive contribution to the locality;
  • There is no increase in the number of dwelling units;
  • It can be demonstrated the property was last used for residential purposes and has not been abandoned; and
  • The replacement dwelling is of a scale and design which is sensitive to its countryside setting, with its height being similar to that of the original dwelling.

Proposals for the extension of dwellings in the countryside will be permitted where:

  • They are in keeping with the height, scale and character of the original dwelling and will not adversely affect the character and appearance of the building, the plot of land on which it is located and the rural setting;
  • The proposed extension is considered along with the cumulative impact of existing extensions on the original dwelling.

Extensions to converted agricultural buildings which detract from the original form and character of the building will not be supported.

Residential Annexes in the Countryside

8.49 The National Planning Policy Framework seeks to avoid isolated new homes in the Countryside and Policy WLP1.2 restricts new residential development in the Countryside. Residential annexes can sometimes be regarded as new dwellings and therefore are subject to these policies of restraint.

8.50 Waveney has an ageing population which will mean increasing numbers of people will need to benefit from care. The provision of an annex to a house can allow an elderly or dependant relative to live with some degree of independence whilst benefiting from care and support from relatives. The provision of an annex can also allow for living arrangements/household types that cannot be accommodated in a traditional dwelling or through extension under policy WLP8.29.

8.51 It is therefore important to specifically allow for the provision of annexes in the Countryside. However, there is a risk that the provision of annexes in the Countryside could harm the character of the rural area and increase pressure for the annex to be let or sold as an individual dwelling in the future. To avoid this Policy WLP8.10 supports the provision of annexes in the Countryside where they form an extension to an existing dwelling in accordance with policy WLP8.9 or involve the conversion of an existing outbuilding. The policy also allows for a detached annex providing it is situated in such a location which would remove the possibility of it being let or sold as an individual dwelling in the future.

8.52 Applications should demonstrate how the annex has been designed to prevent the creation of an independent dwelling including the future use of the unit. The design of the annex should reflect the character of the existing dwelling and be subordinate in size, scale and provision of accommodation to the existing dwelling. In all cases, there will be no boundary treatments that physically separate the accommodation from the main dwelling or a separate vehicular access, and this will be managed by condition. In all cases, restrictions will be applied limiting the occupation of the residential ancillary accommodation by condition/planning obligation to remain ancillary to the main dwelling, preventing the sale of the residential ancillary accommodation on the open market separate to the main dwelling.

 

Policy WLP8.10 - Residential Annexes in the Countryside

In the Countryside residential annexes will be permitted where:

    • The annex forms an extension to the existing dwelling.
    • Only where a physically attached annex is not feasible will consideration be given to the conversion of a suitable existing detached outbuilding within the curtilage, and only where this is not feasible will consideration be given to new build detached residential ancillary accommodation which is closely related to the existing dwelling.
    • Residential annexes must be designed to reflect the character and setting of the original dwelling. The size, scale, design, location and provision of accommodation in the annex must be subordinate to the existing dwelling.

Conversion of Rural Buildings to Residential Use

8.53 There are a number of architectural and historically valuable rural buildings in the Countryside which occasionally become redundant or disused. Preferably these buildings should continue to be used for commercial purposes to support the rural economy. However, residential conversions may sometimes also be appropriate. The National Planning Policy Framework supports the re-use of redundant or disused buildings in the Countryside, where for residential purposes, it would enhance the immediate setting. Conversion of buildings in the Countryside can sometimes also help safeguard heritage assets.

8.54 Policy WLP8.11 supports the conversion of redundant rural buildings to residential use where the development secures or safeguards a heritage asset. The policy also allows for conversion of buildings which are locally distinctive and of architectural merit. It is unlikely that modern farm buildings would be considered locally distinctive and of architectural quality and therefore would not qualify for conversion under this policy. Conversion should not result in a residential curtilage which is harmful to the rural character of the area, and the aim should be about enhancing the quality of the setting in line with the requirements of the Framework.

8.55 Some complexes of rural buildings can be quite large and it is important that the conversion of farm buildings does not result in an unsustainable level of residential development in the Countryside which is contrary to the strategy set out in Policies WLP1.1 and WLP7.1.

8.56 Proposals for residential use in flood zone 2 and 3 will require a site specific flood risk assessment. Proposals should also be considered against relevant Climate Change, Design, Natural Environment and Historic Environment policies (WLP8.24 - WLP8.40).

8.57 The conversion of rural buildings to residential use should be designed to maintain or enhance the form, structure and character of the rural building and retain any important architectural features. Wherever possible proposals should utilise existing openings and keep new openings to a minimum. Where proposed extensions and alterations are essential they should not dominate the original building in size, scale, or use of materials. Essential extensions and alterations should not detract from the original building being retained. Proposals for residential use should not domesticate rural buildings through the addition of features such as porches, chimney stacks and inappropriate fenestration.

 

Policy WLP8.11 - Conversion of Rural Buildings to Residential Use

The conversion of redundant rural buildings in the Countryside to residential use will be permitted where it secures or safeguards a heritage asset or:

    • The building is locally distinctive and of architectural merit;
    • The conversion requires only minimal alteration;
    • The design maintains or enhances the structure, form and character of the rural building;
    • The creation of a residential curtilage does not have a harmful effect on the character of the countryside or settlement;
    • The conversion enhances the immediate setting of the area;
    • The site is served by an appropriate existing access; and
    • The development 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.

Employment

8.58 Projections for employment growth from the Employment Land Needs Assessment Update (2017) indicate a need to plan for 5,000 new jobs over the period to 2036. It is estimated that to meet this target, 43 hectares of employment land needs to be identified and developed.

8.59 There is some uncertainty about the number of jobs which need to be planned for and the amount of employment land required to support them. Economic projections themselves at a local level have limitations and cannot foresee new emerging sectors. The additional assumptions in the employment land evidence base around the impact of offshore wind are also uncertain as there are many variables which could affect the total number of jobs and demand for land. The conversion of jobs forecasts to land requirements is also subject to uncertainty as land and floorspace requirements can differ widely between sectors and over time as working patterns change. Furthermore, just because the number of jobs in some sectors decline over time (for example manufacturing) this does not necessarily mean that floorspace requirements will also decline. This is illustrated in the Employment Land Needs Assessment Update which shows that over the period 2001-2016 there was a net increase of over 50 hectares of employment land at the same time as limited growth in jobs.

8.60 It is therefore essential that the Local Plan ensures a flexible and responsive supply of land for employment development and a good range of existing employment premises in the right locations.

Existing employment areas

8.61 Central to meeting jobs needs and securing a supply of premises to accommodate these is protecting suitably located and designed existing premises in employment use. Rental and freehold values for non-employment uses are often much higher than employment uses. This means premises in existing employment uses can become under threat from conversion. Additionally, replacement new-build employment premises are difficult to make financially viable.

8.62 The conversion of existing employment premises to other uses reduces the supply of employment premises and reduces the choice in the market for premises, particularly for smaller local businesses. Furthermore, where non-employment uses are introduced into areas with a high concentration of employment uses, compatibility problems can arise. The noise and odours of surrounding employment uses may not be compatible with the new non-employment use leading to nuisance complaints which could undermine other existing employment uses in the locality. Additionally, some non-employment uses which attract large numbers of customers can introduce problems with car parking which can make it difficult for HGVs and other industrial traffic to circulate around the employment area.

8.63 However, not all employment premises need to be protected from conversion. Some premises are located in areas where there are already a good mix of uses or in areas close to residential properties where an alternative use may be more appropriate.

8.64 Policy WLP8.12 identifies existing employment areas and protects premises in employment uses within these areas from conversion and redevelopment to other uses. Premises within these areas can only be converted to a non-employment use (B class use) if marketing evidence demonstrates there is no demand for employment use for a period of 12 months. Details on the requirements of marketing evidence are found within Appendix 4.

8.65 The identification of existing employment areas has been based on evidence in the Existing Employment Areas Review (2017). This study identified all areas where there are clusters of employment uses and made recommendations on the most appropriate areas to be protected. The existing employment areas are identified on the Policies Map.

8.66 The policy also protects new premises constructed on sites allocated within this Plan and new premises constructed elsewhere during the life of the Plan, including those currently with planning permission for employment uses.

8.67 Outside of existing employment areas, existing premises will be able to convert to any use subject to compliance with other planning policies in the Local Plan.

8.68 Policy WLP8.12 also allows for quasi-retail uses such as car showrooms, tyre and exhaust centres and builders merchants on the main road frontages of employment areas. These uses are often not suitable in town centre locations due to their size and characteristics. If located within existing employment areas, conflicts between industrial traffic and general traffic can occur. Therefore a more appropriate location is on the main road frontages of these areas. These uses can sometimes improve the appearance of industrial areas, and by allowing them on existing employment areas, it provides a suitable developed location for these uses which are difficult to accommodate in the town centre.

Policy WLP8.12 - Existing Employment Areas

Existing Employment Areas are identified on the Policies Map.

Within Existing Employment Areas proposals involving the redevelopment or change of use of existing employment premises falling within use classes B1, B2 or B8, for uses not falling within use classes B1, B2 or B8 will only be permitted where:

  • Marketing evidence is provided which demonstrates the premises have been marketed for a sustained period of 12 months in accordance with the requirements set out in Appendix 4; and
  • The proposed use is compatible with the surrounding employment uses in terms of car parking, access, noise, odour and other amenity concerns.

Exceptionally, quasi-retail uses (not falling within use class A1) may be permitted on the main road frontages of Existing Employment Areas which have good access to a range of transport options. Such development should not be detrimental to the efficient and effective use of the remainder of the Existing Employment Area.

New development for employment uses which takes place during the plan period (including sites currently with consent for employment uses) will be treated as Existing Employment Areas for the purpose of this policy.

Outside of Existing Employment Areas the redevelopment or change of use of existing employment premises falling within use classes B1, B2 and B8 will be permitted.

Neighbourhood Plans may identify additional premises or clusters of premises outside of Existing Employment Areas within use classes B1, B2 and B8 for protection from redevelopment or change of use if local evidence supports it.

New Employment development

8.69 Given the uncertainty over land requirements for employment land there is a need for flexibility to allow additional land to come forward for the development of employment premises where a need can be justified.

8.70 Policy WLP8.13 allows new employment development adjacent to Existing Employment Areas for new and expanding businesses. For new employment development the policy requires it to be demonstrated that there is an additional need for the employment development over and above the needs identified in the Local Plan or, alternatively, there is no suitable land available within Existing Employment Areas, existing employment allocations or within settlement boundaries. In demonstrating an additional need, evidence submitted with a planning application should provide information on latest economic forecasts or bespoke forecasts for the relevant sector. The evidence of need should also justify the locational requirements for the development. In demonstrating there is no suitable land within Existing Employment Areas, allocations or within the settlement boundary, a review of land and premises available will be required together with evidence of the specific locational requirements of the proposed development. The review of land and premises availability should assess whether the alternative land or premises are suitable (with regard to specific locational requirements), available (the landowner is willing to sell at market value) and achievable (whether the alternative land is viable to develop).

8.71 Where existing businesses within Existing Employment Areas wish to expand onto adjacent land outside of the Existing Employment Area and outside of Settlement Boundaries, Policy WLP8.13 allows for this providing it can be demonstrated that the expansion cannot reasonably take place on land within the Existing Employment Area. In demonstrating this consideration will need to be given to the scope for expanding within the existing site or adjacent sites within the Existing Employment Area.

8.72 Proposals adjacent to existing employment areas will be considered carefully against the natural and historic environment policies in this Local Plan (Policies WLP8.34 to 8.40).

Policy WLP8.13 - New Employment Development

Proposals for new employment development falling within use classes B1, B2 and B8 will be permitted within Existing Employment Areas.

Proposals for new employment development falling within use classes B1, B2 and B8 outside of Existing Employment Areas but within Settlement Boundaries will be permitted where it would not have a significant adverse impact on surrounding land uses.

Proposals for new employment development falling within use classes B1, B2 and B8 will be permitted adjacent to Existing Employment Areas and outside of Settlement Boundaries where it would not have a significant adverse impact on surrounding land uses and where:

  • An additional need for employment development has been demonstrated; or
  • There is no land available within Existing Employment Areas, existing employment allocations or within settlement boundaries to accommodate the proposal.

Where expansion of existing premises falling within use classes B1, B2 and B8 cannot reasonably take place within Existing Employment Areas, development will be permitted on adjacent land outside of Settlement Boundaries providing it does not have a significant adverse impact on surrounding land uses

Conversion and Replacement of Rural Buildings for Employment Use

8.73 The overall spatial strategy of this Local Plan seeks to support and enhance the rural areas of the District and allocates more housing to the villages of the District than previous Local Plans have. In addition to agriculture there are a limited number of employment premises in the countryside in Waveney which help support the rural economy. Examples include the large 2 Sisters Food Group factory near Flixton, Becks Green between Bungay and Halesworth and Wren Business Centre on the edge of Wrentham. The National Planning Policy Framework encourages economic growth in rural areas and states that Local Plans should support growth and expansion of all types of business through conversion and new buildings and promoting the diversification of agriculture.

8.74 Policy WLP8.13 on new employment development will allow new development in rural areas where existing employment areas are defined, such as the examples above. Furthermore, Neighbourhood Plans can specifically allocate land for employment uses. To further support employment development in the rural areas, Policy WLP8.14 allows for the conversion, and in some circumstances the replacement of buildings in the Countryside to employment use. There is a large stock of farm and other buildings in the Countryside. Conversion and replacement of rural buildings allows new employment development to take place without the need to develop greenfield land which could potentially have a negative impact on the character of the Countryside and rural villages.

8.75 Rural buildings in the Countryside are often also heritage assets. Therefore, proposals will be considered carefully against the historic environment policies of the Local Plan (Policies WLP8.37/8.38/8.39) as well as national planning policy on the conservation of heritage assets.

 

Policy WLP8.14 - Conversion and Replacement of Rural Buildings for Employment Use

The conversion of rural buildings to employment use falling within uses classes B1, B2 and B8 will be permitted where:

  • There is good access to the strategic road network or would not generate significant traffic movements;
  • The proposal would not conflict with neighbouring uses; and
  • The proposal reflects the form and character of the existing building.

The replacement of rural buildings to employment use falling within uses classes B1, B2 and B8 will be permitted where:

  • The proposal is of a similar size and scale to the building that is being replaced;
  • There is good access to the strategic road network or would not generate significant traffic movements;
  • The proposal would not conflict with neighbouring uses;
  • The building to be replaced is of permanent design and construction; and
  • The proposal will result in a significant environmental gain in terms of improvements to visual amenity, landscape impact, pollution prevention or the setting of historic assets. 

Tourism

8.76 Waveney is home to a diverse range of natural and cultural tourist attractions and the tourism industry is a vital part of Waveney's economy. The East Suffolk Business Plan strives to build on the strength of the tourism economy and sets out the aims of increasing visitor numbers outside of the main tourist season and delivering and supporting cultural and sporting events for greater tourism opportunities. Supporting the industry is of great importance but it must not be at the expense of the assets and attractions that draw people in to the area.

8.77 The National Planning Policy Framework is generally supportive of tourism and states that local plans should support sustainable rural tourism which benefits the rural economy whilst respecting the character of the countryside. The East Marine Plan recognises the importance of tourism in coast areas and seeks to support tourism proposals and minimise harm resulting from development on tourism. The Broads Authority's Broads Plan (2017) and Tourism Strategy (2016) both seek to support year-round tourism in a sustainable way.

8.78 The Employment Land Needs Assessment Update (2017) predicts a significant growth in jobs in the tourism sector and recent Waveney Authority Monitoring Reports show a steady number of planning approvals for tourism development in Waveney.

 

New Self Catering Tourist Accommodation

8.79 Self catering tourist accommodation plays a vital role in Waveney's tourism sector. There is a broad spectrum of accommodation available including camp sites, chalets, log cabins, caravan sites and glamping sites, in different sizes and in varying locations. This creates a richness and diversity of choice for places to stay which can serve a great variety of visitors.

8.80 It is desirable to provide a diverse range of accommodation, including in rural areas. Policy WLP8.15 therefore allows for a flexible approach for small sites of up to 10 units to be applied. These smaller sites can be accommodated anywhere in the rural area subject to compliance with other policies of the Local Plan. Sites larger than this will require better transport links and facilities. Therefore medium sized self catering accommodation sites of between 11 and 79 units will also need to provide good access to the A or B road network and public transport.

8.81 In the interests of sustainable travel, larger developments of 80 units and above must be located in or close to Lowestoft, one of the market towns, or one of the coastal resorts of Corton, Kessingland or Southwold. They will need to demonstrate good connectivity with other tourist destinations and amenities, particularly by public transport, walking and cycling. A Transport Assessment must be provided for sites of this scale. Large developments should also provide on site commercial, recreational or entertainment facilities to serve day-to-day needs of tourists.

8.82 On medium and large scale sites proportionate amounts of secure, covered cycle storage should be provided. This should be similar to the cycle parking requirements for Caravan Parks set out in the Suffolk Guidance for Parking (2015) of 1 stand per 5 units/pitches of accommodation. Bicycle hire services for visitors will also be supported.

8.83 The criteria set out in Policy WLP8.15 apply to proposals to extend or enhance existing self catering tourist accommodation sites as well as proposals for new development. Where an expansion or enhancement is involved, the resultant number of pitches or units making up the proposed development as a whole will determine which criteria should be applied.

8.84 Tourist accommodation, particularly accommodation in the form of permanent buildings can sometimes come under pressure to be occupied for full time residential use. New tourism accommodation should therefore be restricted so that it is retained for the benefit of the tourism economy in the District and not lost to residential use. Furthermore, tourist accommodation comprising permanent buildings will only be permitted within Settlement Boundaries as defined by Policy WLP1.2, through conversions of existing rural buildings or on larger scale schemes where on-site facilities are provided such as a restaurant, shop or club house. This should limit the impact and future pressure for full-time residential use.

8.85 Planning conditions and/or legal agreements can be used to apply restrictions to new development. Enforcing against breaches of holiday occupancy conditions can be extremely challenging and it is preferable to prevent breaches occurring in the first instance. It is therefore important to set out precise and enforceable conditions or legal agreements which discourage residential use and which can be effectively enforced. As such, planning conditions or legal agreements should require new self catering tourist accommodation units to be vacated for a specified and continuous period of at least six weeks of the calendar year. In order to facilitate year round holiday use, the Local Planning Authority will allow proposals to vacate half the site at one time, and the rest of the site later that year.

8.86 The valuable character of the Waveney landscape is one of the assets which helps support the local tourism industry. It is therefore important that tourism development does not harm this asset on which it depends. Policy WLP8.35 and National Planning Policy Framework will be used to assess the impact of tourism development in the landscape. The Framework places strong protection on national designations such as the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Heritage Coast. The Framework states that planning permission should be refused for major developments in these areas except in exceptional circumstances. The above considerations for new development should also be applied to extensions to existing tourism accommodation.

 

Policy WLP8.15 - New Self Catering Tourist Accommodation

Applications for new self catering tourism development will be determined in accordance with the considerations below. Where proposals are for expansion or intensification of an existing site, the resultant number of pitches or units will determine which of the below considerations will apply.

Small scale (10 pitches/units or fewer) self catering tourist accommodation developments will be supported in principle across the District. Medium sized sites (11-79 pitches/units) will require good access to A or B roads and public transport. Covered cycle storage proportionate to the size of the site must be provided on site. Large sites (80+ pitches/units) will be supported where:

  • They are in or close to Lowestoft, the market towns, or the coastal resort towns of the District;
  • A Transport Assessment has been submitted demonstrating no significant impacts on the highway network;
  • Safe and convenient access to public transport and local services and amenities are provided;
  • Covered cycle storage proportionate to the size of the site is provided on site; and
  • Commercial, recreational or entertainment facilities are provided on site.

Self catering tourist accommodation comprising permanent buildings will only be permitted within the Settlement Boundaries defined by Policy WLP1.2; through the conversion of rural buildings of permanent structure; or on large scale sites where commercial, recreational or entertainment facilities are provided on site.

New self catering tourist accommodation will be restricted by means of planning conditions or a legal agreement which permits holiday use only and restricts the period the accommodation can be occupied.

New Hotel and Guest Houses

8.87 Hotels and guest houses provide valuable accommodation for visitors to the District and the National Planning Policy Framework states that town centres are the preferred location for such tourism and leisure uses. However, hotels and guest houses can also make an important contribution in supporting tourism in the seafront areas of the District's coastal towns of Corton, Kessingland, Lowestoft and Southwold. Therefore, Policy WLP8.16 allows for an exception to Policy WLP8.18 New Town Centre Use Development for new build hotels and guest houses to allow them to be supported in seafront locations in the coastal towns.

8.88 Some parts of Lowestoft have been subject to high numbers of conversions to flats which has generated residential amenity issues and also removed larger dwellings suitable for families from the housing stock. Further conversions to flats or Houses in Multiple Occupation are resisted in these areas. Conversions to new guest houses and hotels can sometimes exacerbate these problems. At the same time, some of these areas are well located for the seafront tourist areas and can make a valuable contribution to the tourism economy in the District. As such, the creation of new hotels and guest houses in these areas must be carefully controlled to avoid further environmental problems.

8.89 Policy WLP8.16 therefore requires proposals to demonstrate there will be adequate and appropriate off-road car parking in line with the Suffolk Guidance for Parking (2015) (and any updates). The policy also requires off-street bin storage and for the property to be of a size which will provide sufficient space for quality serviced accommodation. The requirement for most family homes is less than 160sqm and therefore this is deemed to be an appropriate threshold for the conversion to hotels and guest houses.

 

Policy WLP8.16 - New Hotels and Guest Houses

New build hotels and guest houses will be supported in town centres and also seafront locations in Corton, Lowestoft, Kessingland and Southwold.

In streets where further conversions to flats or Houses in Multiple Occupation would not be permitted, conversion of properties to create new hotels and guest houses will only be allowed where:

  • Adequate on-site car parking is provided for guests and staff;
  • Adequate off-street bin storage is provided for the number of guests/residents; and
  • The property is above average size (i.e. above 160sqm original floorspace).

New hotels and guest houses will be restricted by means of planning conditions or a legal agreement which permits tourism use only.

Protection of Existing Tourist Accommodation

8.90 The existing stock of hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfast businesses and self catering accommodation provide an important role in support of the District's tourism economy. However, as stated above, tourist accommodation can sometimes come under pressure for conversion into residential properties. This is particularly an issue in the countryside where new residential development is more strictly controlled.

8.91 Policy WLP8.17 sets out an approach to protect existing tourist accommodation from conversion to residential where the tourist use may continue to be viable. The policy resists change of use apart from exceptional cases where a lack of demand for the tourist accommodation is clearly and satisfactorily demonstrated. As a minimum, planning applications for change of use will need to provide marketing evidence demonstrating the premises have been marketed for a sustained period of 12 months, in accordance with the requirements as set out in Appendix 4.

 

Policy WLP8.17 - Existing Tourist Accommodation

Existing tourism accommodation will be protected.

Change of use will only be considered in exceptional circumstances where it can be fully and satisfactorily demonstrated that there is no demand for the tourist accommodation.

Marketing evidence must be provided which demonstrates the premises have been marketed for a sustained period of a minimum of 12 months in accordance with the requirements set out in Appendix 4.

Retail and Town Centres

8.92 Town centres in Waveney form the heart of local communities and offer a range of community, shopping, employment and leisure uses in accessible locations which are well served by public transport. Lowestoft is the District's largest town centre, followed by Beccles. Bungay and Halesworth town centres cater for more local needs and Southwold town centre provides a strong tourism function.

8.93 The National Planning Policy Framework places great emphasis on maintaining and improving the viability and vitality of town centres and states that local plans should be positive in promoting competitive town centres and should contain policies for managing centres over the plan period.

New Town Centre Use Development

8.94 The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that town centres are the preferred location for the development of retail (including financial and professional services), leisure (including, restaurants, drinking establishments, takeaways, cinemas, theatres and other buildings used for leisure), offices, tourism and cultural and community uses. The Framework states that local plans should meet the assessed need for these town centre uses in full.

8.95 The Framework sets out a sequential approach to the development of Town Centre uses where development should be considered on town centre sites before edge of centre sites and finally out of centre sites. The Framework states that local plans should allocate land to meet needs in town centres and if that is not possible, edge of centre sites and finally set policies for meeting needs in other accessible out of centre locations which are well connected to the town centre.

8.96 The Retail and Leisure Needs Assessment (2016) identifies a need for 6,946sqm of non-food retail development and 1,564sqm for food store retail development over the plan period once existing commitments have been taken into account. The assessment also identifies the need for new leisure development including a multiplex cinema in Lowestoft, new restaurants, cafés and drinking establishments in all town centres, and increased hotel provision in Lowestoft and Beccles. For retail and leisure development Policy WLP1.1 Scale and Location of Development focuses most development in Lowestoft and Beccles, with smaller amounts in Halesworth, Bungay and Southwold. Some of the need in Lowestoft could be accommodated on the Battery Green site allocated under Policy WLP2.7 and the Peto Square site allocated under Policy WLP2.3. There are no identified sites for retail and leisure development in other parts of the District. However, some of the food store need and non-food store need will be met on larger residential allocations in Beccles and Lowestoft in the form of small local shopping centres.

8.97 There is very little scope for new office development within town centres. It is expected that the need for new office development as identified in the Employment Land Needs Assessment (2016) and the 2017 update will be delivered mostly on business park style sites on sites allocated in this Local Plan. Proposals for new office development in addition to that allocated on sites in this Local Plan should consider the requirements of both Policy WLP8.18 and Policy WLP8.13 on new employment development.

8.98 For sites outside of the town centre and not allocated in the Local Plan, the Framework requires an impact assessment of the proposed development on existing, committed and planned public and private sector investment in town centres. The impact assessment should also consider the impact of the proposal on town centre vitality and viability, including local consumer choice and trade in the town centre and wider area, up to five years from the time the application is made. For major schemes where the full impact will not be realised in five years, the impact should also be assessed up to ten years from the time the application is made. The Framework sets a national threshold of 2,500sqm of development where the impact assessment applies. However, the Framework makes clear that local plans can set a local threshold. The Retail and Leisure Needs Assessment states that in Waveney a lower threshold of 350sqm would be appropriate. The Retail Impact Threshold Advice for Waveney District (2018) provides further analysis and evidence for setting an appropriate retail impact threshold based on the health and size of town centres in the District, the average size of retail units and recent planning permissions for retail. This additional work confirms that the 350 square metre retail impact threshold is appropriate for the whole District.

8.99 Policy WLP8.18 designates Town Centre Boundaries and Primary Shopping Areas. The policy requires a sequential approach to the development of town centre uses on the basis of these designations in line with the National Planning Policy Framework. However, some town centre use development will be permitted in the Oulton Broad District Shopping Centre, Kirkley District Shopping Centre, Local Shopping Centres, the North of Lowestoft Garden Village, Land South of the Street Carlton Colville and the Beccles and Worlingham Garden Neighbourhood, in line with Policies WLP2.11, WLP2.12, WLP2.13, WLP2.16 and WLP3.1 respectively.

8.100 Given the lack of sites at present to accommodate needs, the policy sets out a flexible approach to ensure needs can be met in the future if sufficient sites can still not be found within the town centre and within the above areas. To ensure new proposals do not undermine the viability and vitality of town centres and significant adverse impacts on existing, committed and planned public and private sector investment in town centres is avoided, new developments over 350sqm will need to be accompanied by an impact assessment.

Policy WLP8.18 - New Town Centre Use Development

Town Centre Boundaries and Primary Shopping Areas are identified on the Policies Map.

New town centre use development (falling within use classes A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, C1, D2 and B1a) will be permitted within Town Centre Boundaries.

Where there are no suitable or available sites within town centres for the proposed development, town centre use development will be permitted on edge of centre sites. For retail developments edge of centre sites should be within 300 metres of the Primary Shopping Area. For development of other town centre uses, edge of centre sites should be within 300 metres of the Town Centre Boundaries.

Where there are no suitable or available sites within town centres or edge of centre sites for the proposed development, town centre use development will be permitted on out of centre sites providing:

  • The location is accessible by public transport and is accessible to pedestrians and cyclists;
  • The site has good links to the Town Centre, or links can be improved; and
  • The site will not impact upon other neighbouring uses, in terms of traffic, parking, and amenity issues.

Development on out of centre sites which are also outside of Settlement Boundaries will only be permitted where:

  • An additional need for retail or leisure development has been demonstrated to justify the development; and
  • There is no suitable and available land within the Settlement Boundaries.

Planning applications for town centre use development on edge of centre, and out of centre sites over 350sqm should be accompanied by an Impact Assessment which demonstrates the proposal will have no significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre, and no significant adverse impact on any town centre investments.

Vitality and Viability of Town Centres

8.101 Town centres currently face many challenges, particularly competition from the internet and out of centre retail parks. Town centres in Waveney also face tough competition from Norwich which is a regional retail centre. It is therefore critical that the Local Plan protects and enhances the vitality and viability of the District's town centres.

8.102 To help support the vitality and viability of town centres the National Planning Policy Framework states that local plans should define the extent of town centres and primary shopping areas, based on a clear definition of primary and secondary frontages in designated centres, and set policies that make clear which uses will be permitted in such locations. Town Centre Boundaries and Primary Shopping Areas are defined by Policy WLP8.18. Primary frontages are where most shops are concentrated. Secondary frontages have a greater mix of uses including banks, building societies, estate agents, pre-schools, restaurants and cafés. The Framework also promotes town centres which provide customer choice and a diverse offer of retail and services.

8.103 The Retail and Leisure Needs Assessment (2016) included health checks of all of the District's town centres. The assessment found that overall town centres were performing fairly well although Lowestoft was found to have above average rates of vacant units and was in need of some environmental improvements. There was a suggestion that all town centres needed more leisure provision and that their offers could be strengthened with the inclusion of more cafés and restaurants.

8.104 Policy WLP8.19 seeks to control changes of use within town centres and sets out the uses which are appropriate within primary shopping frontages and secondary frontages to maintain the vitality and viability of town centres. In primary shopping frontages the policy aims to ensure a dominant retail appearance which supports high levels of footfall. As such the policy restricts proposals which would undermine this character by creating stretches of the frontage which do not comprise of use classes A1 or A3. In coming to a view of whether a proposal would result in a concentration of non A1 or A3 uses the Council will have regard to the total number and proportion of different use classes along the immediate frontage and the continuity along the frontage of non A1 and A3 uses. The same considerations will apply when considering proposals for non-town centre uses on secondary shopping frontages.

8.105 It is acknowledged that some changes of use can take place without planning permission under the Permitted Development Order 2015 which allows some flexibility of uses within the area (dependent on size, final proposed land use and whether the site is located in a conservation area or not). The ability of the Council to control such proposals highlights the need to give particular scrutiny to proposals that continue to require the submission of a planning application.

Policy WLP8.19 - Vitality and Viability of Town Centres

Primary and Secondary Shopping Frontages are identified on the Policies Map.

Within Primary Shopping Frontages, proposals to change the use of ground floor premises from use classes A1 retail or A3 cafés and restaurants to other uses will only be permitted where:

  • The proposal would not result in a concentration of non A1 or A3 uses in the immediate street frontage;
  • The proposal would not detract from the dominant retail appearance of the street frontage; and
  • The proposal does not involve ground floor C3 residential development or A5 hot food takeaways.

Within Secondary Shopping Frontages, proposals to change the use of ground floor premises from use classes A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, D2 and sui generis leisure uses to other uses will only be permitted where:

  • The proposal would support the vitality and viability of the town centre; and
  • The proposal would not result in a concentration of non town centre uses in the immediate street frontage.

Neighbourhood Plans can set their own requirements for the mix and use of units within Primary Shopping Frontages and Secondary Shopping Frontages providing the effect of the requirements supports the vitality and viability of the town centre.

District Shopping Centres

8.106 There are two District Shopping Centres in the District and these are covered by Policies WLP2.11 and WLP2.12 in the Lowestoft section.

Local Shopping Centres

 8.107 Local shopping centres are smaller than town and district centres and perform a more limited role. They serve the immediate surrounding area and provide local residents with day-to-day goods and services. These might include a small supermarket, post office, pharmacy, newsagent and other shops selling food and beverages. There are local shopping centres in the following locations:

  • Carlton road, Hollingsworth Road, High Street, London Road (Pakefield), Oulton Road, Snape Drive, The Green, Village Rise and Westwood Avenue in Lowestoft
  • Ashburnham Way and Famona Road, Carlton Colville
  • High Street and Field Lane, Kessingland
  • Hillside Avenue, Worlingham
  • High Street, Wrentham

8.108 The Retail and Leisure Needs Assessment (2016) found that local shopping centres within the District are reasonably healthy and perform a valuable role in providing shops and services for their surrounding areas, most of which are located within walking distance. Policy WLP8.20 seeks to protect the retail and service role that local shopping centres provide.

8.109 It is acknowledged that some changes of use can take place without planning permission under the Permitted Development Order 2015 which allows some flexibility of uses within the area (dependent on size, final proposed land use and whether the site is located in a conservation area or not). The ability of the Council to control such proposals highlights the need to give particular scrutiny to proposals that continue to require the submission of a planning application.

Policy WLP8.20 - Local Shopping Centres

Local Shopping Centres are identified on the Policies Map.

Within Local Shopping Centres limited retail, leisure, community service and facilities and office development will be permitted where it is of a proportionate scale to provide essential services to the surrounding area.

Within Local Shopping Centres proposals for change of use of ground floor premises from use classes A1 (retail), A2 (financial and professional), A3 (restaurants and cafés), A4 (drinking establishments) and A5 (hot food takeaways) to uses other than retail, community, leisure and offices will not be permitted.

Proposals for change of use of ground floor A1 retail premises within Local Shopping Centres to uses A2, A3, A4 and A5 will only be permitted when there would be, either individually or cumulatively, no significant adverse impact on the character, appearance, retail function, viability and vitality of the centre, on highway safety or on the amenity of neighbouring areas.

Sustainable Transport

8.110 In Waveney, the car is the most used method to travel to and from work. Cycling levels are above average for the county and walking is also popular. Bus and train use is below county and national averages.

8.111 The Suffolk Local Transport Plan 2011-2031 sets out a priority to support the growth of businesses, reducing the demand for car travel, making efficient use of transport networks and improving infrastructure.

8.112 The Waveney Local Plan: Suffolk County Transport Model (SCTM) - Preferred Option Traffic Forecasting Report (2018) identified that a number of junctions within the District, particularly in south Lowestoft would be close to capacity by 2036 and would therefore increase congestion.

8.113 Active travel such as walking and cycling positively contributes to public health and reduces the reliance on private vehicles. To encourage people to walk and cycle for convenience and enjoyment it is important that routes are delivered so they are direct, well connected to key local destinations and easy to follow. The Suffolk Walking Strategy (2015) and the Waveney Cycle Strategy (2016) set out the value and benefit of these activities, how existing provision can be improved to encourage greater participation and making use of opportunities afforded by a quality public realm and public right of way network. Delivery of these strategies will be critical in mitigating the impacts of congestion.

8.114 The Public Rights of Way Network has an important role in delivering sustainable development. The network provides a means of encouraging physical activity, providing access to the natural environment, supporting tourism, reducing travel by vehicular modes, reducing carbon emissions and (where relevant) aiding recreational avoidance of sensitive sites.

8.115 Policy WLP8.21 sets out requirements which should help improve the use of sustainable transport options and reduce the risk of congestion. The policy sets out basic principles for encouraging sustainable modes of transport. It also requires developers to have regard to the Waveney Cycle Strategy and subsequent updates.

8.116 Parking provision in new developments can have an impact on the use of private cars and also the success of the development. Suffolk County Council has published parking provision guidance and Policy WLP8.21 requires this guidance to be taken into account. To support the use of low emission vehicles, electric vehicle charging points are to be provided in accordance with the standards set out in the Suffolk Guidance for Parking published by Suffolk County Council and subsequent updates. Due to the potential increase in the use of electric vehicles developers are encouraged to provide each house with on plot parking with at least one electrical charging point accessible from either the driveway or garage. For houses with communal parking, flats and other developments, developers are encouraged to provide ducting and electricity supply to each car parking space to enable the installation of a charging point in the future.

8.117 Large scale developments can have significant impacts on local transport networks. The National Planning Policy Framework states that for developments which are likely to generate significant new movements, Transport Assessments and Travel Plans or Transport Statements should be prepared. Transport Assessments and Statements assess the potential transport impacts of developments and identify mitigation measures to promote sustainable development. Transport Assessments are thorough assessments of the transport implications of development, and Transport Statements are a less detailed evaluation to be used where this would be more proportionate to the potential impact of the development. Travel Plans are long-term management strategies for encouraging sustainable transport and mitigating the traffic impacts of a development. Suffolk County Council as the Highway Authority can provide advice on the scope and content of Transport Statements, Assessments and Travel Plans. Given the potential impacts of traffic on European protected habitats, particularly the Broads Special Area for Conservation, Transport Assessments should evaluate the potential increase in traffic on streets within 400m of protected sites. Where vehicle movements are likely to significantly increase in these locations, further assessment on air quality and impact on habitats will be required to inform project level Habitat Regulations Assessments.

Policy WLP8.21 - Sustainable Transport

Development proposals should be designed from the outset to incorporate measures that will encourage people to travel using non-car modes to access home, school, employment, services and facilities.

Development will be supported where:

  • It is proportionate in scale to the existing transport network;
  • It is located close to, and provides safe pedestrian and cycle access to services, facilities and public transport;
  • It is well integrated into and enhances the existing cycle network including the safe design and layout of new routes and provision of covered, secure cycle parking;
  • It is well integrated into, protects and enhances the existing pedestrian routes and the public rights of way network;
  • It reduces conflict between users of the transport network including pedestrians, cyclists, users of mobility vehicles and drivers and does not reduce road safety;
  • It will improve public transport in the rural areas of the District;
  • It includes facilities for charging plug-in and other ultra-low emission vehicles; and
  • The cumulative impact of new development will not create severe impacts on the transport network.

Developments should connect into the existing pedestrian and cycle network. Where possible, proposals are to include measures set out in the Waveney Cycle Strategy (2016 and subsequent updates) and demonstrate they have considered how the scheme will encourage people to walk and cycle to access services and facilities where practical.

Subject to design considerations under Policies WLP8.29, WLP8.30 and WLP8.31, new developments will be required to provide parking that meets the requirements set out in the Suffolk Guidance for Parking issued by Suffolk County Council (2014 and subsequent updates).

In consultation with the Highway Authority, the scale, location and nature of development will be considered in determining how the transport impacts of development should be assessed. As indicative thresholds, Transport Statements will be required for residential developments between 50-80 dwellings. Transport Assessments and Travel Plans will be required for residential developments larger than 80 dwellings. Non-residential development will be considered on a case by case basis.

Community Services and Facilities

8.118 Community facilities and services are an integral part of neighbourhoods and communities. Built community facilities can include local shops, meeting places, schools, medical facilities, sports venues, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship. They provide places for people to meet and socialise, support community activities, encourage people to be active, access everyday goods and foster a sense of identity and well-being to those who live and visit there. To protect the long-term character and vibrancy of communities, local services and facilities that are easily accessible need to be supported and retained where possible. This applies equally to all settlements. The National Planning Policy Framework reflects this by setting out the need to positively plan for and promote the retention and development of local services and facilities.

Built Community Services and Facilities

8.119 To help retain community facilities, community groups can nominate non-residential buildings or land within their communities which is important to them as 'assets of community value'. Once an asset is listed, if the owner of the asset decides to sell, within five years of the listing, they must inform the local authority of their intention to do so. The community then has up to six weeks to express an interest in becoming potential bidders to buy the asset. Once an expression of interest has been received, a further four and a half month pause in the sale process is triggered. This gives potential bidders a total of six months to raise the funds required to purchase the asset. At the end of the period, the owner may sell it to whoever and at whatever price they choose. However, the listing of an asset does not provide protection against a change of use or redevelopment of the land or buildings. This can mean the value of the asset is greater due to its potential to be converted to non-community uses. This can frustrate the ability of the community to raise sufficient funds to purchase the asset. Therefore Policy WLP8.22 gives strong protection to these assets from changes of use and redevelopment proposals.

8.120 There is a need to also provide a level of protection to community services and facilities which have not been identified as assets of community value. These facilities could still be important to members of the community and help enhance the sustainability of a locality. However, there is a need for flexibility to allow the change of use or redevelopment in certain circumstances such as a lack of community need, lack of viability or reprovision of the building in an equally or more accessible location.

8.121 In demonstrating that there is no community need for the facility or an alternative community use, evidence should be submitted with a planning application which provides details of consultation with the local community and an analysis of service provision in the locality which demonstrates that accessibility to similar services and facilities will not be adversely affected.

8.122 In demonstrating that the community service or facility is not viable in its current use or an alternative community use, applicants will need to provide evidence that premises have been marketed in a manner agreed with the Council for at least 12 months for the current use or alternative community use facility in line with the requirements in Appendix 4. The evidence will need to clearly show there has been no interest in continued use as a community facility.

8.123 It should be noted that the General Permitted Development Order 2015 allows for some changes of use to take place without the need for planning permission. For public houses, these permitted development rights are removed when they are designated assets of community value. Policy WLP8.22 applies where planning permission is required.

Policy WLP8.22 - Built Community Services and Facilities

Proposals for new community services and facilities will be supported if the proposal meets the needs of the local community, is of a proportionate scale, well related to the settlement which it will serve and would not adversely affect existing facilities that are easily accessible and available to the local community.

Proposals to change the use, or redevelop for a non-community use, a facility registered as an asset of community value will not be permitted.

Proposals to change the use, or redevelop for a different use, existing built community facilities which are not registered as an asset of community value will only be permitted if:

    • It can be demonstrated there is no community need for the facility and the building or site is not needed for an alternative community use on site; or
    • It can be demonstrated that the current, or an alternative community use is not viable and marketing evidence is provided which demonstrates the premises have been marketed for a sustained period of 12 months in accordance with the requirements set out in Appendix 4; or
    • Development would involve the provision of an equivalent or better replacement community facility either on site or in an alternative location in the vicinity that is well integrated into the community and has equal or better accessibility than the existing facility which meets the needs of the local population

Protection of Open Space

8.124 Protecting and promoting the improvement of existing open spaces is important for the well-being of local communities. Quality open spaces which are easily accessible and support uses for a wide cross-section of the community are essential to support the physical and mental health of the population. Open spaces also help support biodiversity, the aesthetic quality of the public realm and built environment and mitigate flood risk.

8.125 The National Planning Policy Framework places strong emphasis on the need to protect existing open spaces and other community facilities. The Waveney Open Space Needs Assessment (2015) identifies existing open space provision and its condition and the Waveney Playing Pitch and Outdoors Sports Facilities Assessment (2014) assessed the need for outdoor sports facilities to support people living in the District. These assessments highlight existing issues and the types of open space shortfalls which exist in different locations. The Waveney Green Infrastructure Strategy (2015) sets out a comprehensive approach to delivering open space and improving the green infrastructure network by improving connectivity and the provision of the right types of open space in the right locations.

8.126 Policy WLP8.23 protects open space identified on the Policies Map from development, unless the development is ancillary to the open space, it is surplus to requirements, or will be replaced by equivalent or better provision. Any open space that falls within the Broads Authority Executive Area has been protected through the Broads Authority Local Plan and will be subject to its policies.

8.127 To demonstrate whether an open space proposed for development is surplus to requirements, applicants are expected to undertake an open space needs assessment. This should follow the approach taken in the Waveney Open Space Needs Assessment (2015) and consider the provision of open space with the same use within the site catchment area, alternative open space uses and how the site relates to existing provision for each respective type of open space use in the locality. The contribution an open space makes towards local amenity, public realm, biodiversity and the wider green infrastructure network should be considered as part of an open space needs assessment.

8.128 The Framework allows local communities through local plans and Neighbourhood Plans to identify green areas of particular importance to them for special protection. By designating land as Local Green Space local communities are able to rule out new development other than in very special circumstances. This is a stronger test than the requirements of Policy WLP8.23. The Council does not have enough evidence to designate Local Green Spaces across the District in the Local Plan but will encourage Parish and Town Councils to consider designating green areas which are demonstrably important to them as Local Green Spaces in Neighbourhood Plans.

Policy WLP8.23 - Protection of Open Space

There will be a presumption against any development that involves the loss of open space or community sport and recreation facilities.

Open spaces are identified on the Policies Map.

Proposals for the development of open spaces will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances where:

  • The proposal is ancillary to the open nature of the area and will enhance local character, increase local amenity and be of greater community or wildlife benefit;
  • An open space assessment demonstrates the site is surplus to requirements including its ability to be used for alternative open space uses; or
  • The loss resulting from the proposed development will be replaced by equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity, quality and in a location that is equally or more accessible to the community

Climate Change

8.129 Waveney with its extensive coastline, tidal inlet, estuary and river valleys, is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

8.130 Climate change is a result of global warming, a process caused by an increase of greenhouse gas emissions into the Earth's atmosphere. Climate change can affect weather patterns and sea levels, both of which can result in damage to the natural, built and historic environment.

8.131 The planning system can respond to climate change by limiting increases in greenhouse gases through supporting renewable energy development, locating development in areas which reduce the need to travel and encouraging greater use of sustainable transport measures. The planning system can also reduce the risk posed by climate change by reducing the proportion of properties at risk from flooding and coastal erosion.

8.132 The East Marine Plans (2014) aim to facilitate action on climate change adaptation and mitigation. Policy CC1 of the East Inshore and Offshore Marine Plans seeks to ensure development proposals take account of climate change in their design and how they will reduce impacts on climate change adaptation methods elsewhere.

Flood Risk

8.133 Flood risk is a significant issue in Waveney. Within Waveney there are approximately 3,900 properties that fall within a flood zone as recognised by the Environment Agency. Of these, 73% are within Lowestoft.

8.134 The National Planning Policy Framework seeks to mitigate the risk of flooding by restricting vulnerable new development within areas at risk from flooding. It does this by requiring development proposals in areas at risk from flooding to be subject to a sequential test where it has to be proven there are no suitable areas of land with a lesser risk of flooding and an exception test which identifies sustainability benefits of development and ensures the development is safe for its lifetime.

8.135 The Framework requires Local Planning Authorities to prepare a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment to inform the Local Plan. A Strategic Flood Risk Assessment was prepared in 2008 and identified areas at risk from flooding both now and in the future after taking climate change into account. Since the publication of the 2008 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, new flooding models have been prepared by the Environment Agency as well as modelling from other risk management authorities. As such the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment has been updated (2018) to get the most up to date understanding of risk.

8.136 The Strategic Flood Risk Assessment should be used in assessing the flood risk of new development proposals. All sources of flooding should be considered including surface water flooding and flooding from sewers.

8.137 The Strategic Flood Risk Assessment has been used in assessing potential sites for allocation in this Local Plan. The only sites at risk from flooding which have been allocated are those within Central Lowestoft where the regeneration needs of that area necessitate development within a flood zone. The policies allocating these sites require that they are safe from flooding. Furthermore, plans are in place for a strategic flood risk defence for Central Lowestoft which will significantly reduce the risk in these locations.

8.138 As the Local Plan has allocated more than sufficient land for housing, which is considered a more vulnerable use, there is limited justification for additional development proposals for housing in areas of flood risk. Therefore, residential developments which are not on allocated sites will not be permitted in areas identified as being at risk from flooding within the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment. However, there may be occasions where there is a particular additional need for housing as identified through the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan. In these situations, housing could be allocated on a site at risk from flooding providing it is demonstrated that there are no other available sites at a lower risk of flooding within the Neighbourhood Area and that there are sustainability benefits and that the development can be made safe for its lifetime.

8.139 Feedback from Anglian Water suggests that there is limited capacity for combined sewers to accept new surface water flows from new development and that sustainable drainage systems should be the preference for dealing with surface water. Sustainable drainage systems can take up large areas of land on development sites and therefore significantly influence the layout. However, this should not be to the detriment of good urban design. Sustainable drainage systems should be integrated into the green infrastructure provision on the site and complement the overall landscaping scheme of the site. Sustainable drainage systems should not be surrounded by palisade fencing and where restrictions to access are required due to safety considerations, these should be innovatively designed by low impact barriers such as landscaping or planting. Sustainable drainage systems should take account of any impacts on the historic environment.

8.140 Well designed drainage systems can deliver environmental improvements including water quality, biodiversity and flood risk. Discharges of surface water should be designed to deliver water quality improvements to help meet the objectives of the Water Framework Directive. Sustainable drainage systems can provide enhancements to aquatic biodiversity. Riparian and floodplain woodlands provide flood risk and biodiversity benefits. Developments should be designed to deliver these benefits wherever possible. Guidance for surface water drainage and management and the provision of sustainable drainage systems on new developments can be found in the Suffolk Flood Risk Management Strategy (2016), specifically Appendix A. Early consideration of requirements and constraints in developing site layouts is encouraged in order to realise the benefits of full integration of land uses.

8.141 Work in, under, over or within 8 metres of any fluvial main river, flood defence structure or culvert and within 16m of any tidal main river, flood defence structure or culvert may require an environmental permit for flood risk activities under the Environmental Permitting Regulations (England and Wales) 2016. A permit for works on the floodplain beyond the 8/16m distance may also be needed if the work is likely to divert or obstruct floodwaters, damage any river control works or affect drainage. This permit is in addition to planning permission. A Marine License will be required for any works below the high water mark.

 

Policy WLP8.24 - Flood Risk

Development proposals should consider flooding from all sources and take in to account climate change. Proposals at risk of flooding (taking in to account impacts from climate change) should only be granted planning permission if it can be demonstrated that:

  • There are no available sites suitable for the proposed use in area with a lower probability of flooding;
  • The development provides sustainability benefits which outweigh flood risk; and
  • A site specific flood risk assessment has been submitted which demonstrates that the flood risk can be satisfactory mitigated over the lifetime of the development. The should address as a minimum: finished floor levels; safe access and egress; an emergency floor plan; flood resilience/resistance measures; any increase in built or surfaced area; and any impact on flooding elsewhere including on the natural environment.

New residential development on sites not allocated in this Local Plan or a Neighbourhood Plan will not be permitted on sites at risk from flooding.

Developments should use sustainable drainage systems to drain surface water. Sustainable drainage systems should be integrated into the landscaping scheme and the green infrastructure provision of the development and not detract from the design quality of the scheme. They should deliver water quality and aquatic biodiversity improvements wherever possible.

No surface water connections should be made to the foul system and connections to the combined or surface water system should only be made in exceptional circumstances where there are no feasible alternatives (this applies to new developments and redevelopments). Foul and surface water flows should also be separated where possible.

Neighbourhood Plans can allocate land for development, including residential development, in areas at risk of flooding providing it can be demonstrated:

  • There are no available sites suitable for the proposed use within the Neighbourhood Area;
  • The development provides sustainability benefits which outweigh flood risk; and
  • Evidence is provided that it is possible for flood risk to be mitigated to ensure development is safe for its lifetime.

The Strategic Flood Risk Assessment should be the starting point in assessing whether a proposal is at risk from flooding.

 

Coastal Change

8.142 Waveney's coastline suffers from some of the most dramatic losses of land in the country through coastal erosion. Natural processes of erosion, accretion and flooding will continue to affect the coastline and estuaries. The nature and extent of coastal management measures will be influenced by and will significantly impact upon coastal communities, the local economy, the natural environment and infrastructure of the area.

8.143 The National Planning Policy Framework states that local plans should reduce the risk from coastal change by restricting inappropriate development in vulnerable areas or development which causes detrimental physical changes to the coast. It states that local plans should identify Coastal Change Management Areas which cover areas likely to be affected by physical changes to the coast. The National Planning Practice Guidance states that a Coastal Change Management Area should be defined where change is likely to be significant over the next 100 years. The Guidance states that Shoreline Management Plans should be taken into account. The Framework states that local plans should be clear as to what development will be appropriate in the Coastal Change Management Areas and in what circumstances. The National Planning Practice Guidance states that permanent, new residential development will not be appropriate within a Coastal Change Management Area but some commercial and community development may be appropriate within the area depending on the level of risk and the sustainability of the proposals.

8.144 The Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009) sets out provisions for the creation of a continuous, signed and managed path around the entire English coast. The Framework states that development should not undermine this objective.

8.145 Shoreline Management Plans set out how the coastline should be managed. Shoreline Management Plans determine appropriate, strategic policies for coastal management that balance the many and often competing aspirations of stakeholders with proper regard for economic and environmental sustainability. The primary output is an 'intent for management' over a 100 year timeframe. This overarching vision is converted to policy statements for discrete lengths of coast with shared attributes broken down into short, medium and long-term time bands. Two plans cover the Waveney Coast, SMP6 covers the area from the Kelling Hard in North Norfolk to Lowestoft Ness and SMP7 covers the coastline from Lowestoft Ness to Felixstowe. The plans identify the indicative future coastline in 100 years time based on the management measures set out in the plans.

8.146 Policy WLP8.25 defines a Coastal Change Management Area for Waveney. This is based on the area likely to be impacted by coastal change within the next 100 years (2005 baseline) as identified by the Shoreline Management Plans. This essentially comprises the area between the current shoreline and the expected coastline in 100 years as identified in the Shoreline Management Plans. It should be noted that the expected future coastline as identified in the Shoreline Management Plans is not precise and typically represents a mid-point of a range of where the coastline might be in 100 years. In line with national planning policy, permanent new residential development is restricted in this area. However, there is scope for other types of development which help maintain the vitality and viability of coastal communities and allow them to adjust to coastal change.

8.147 All planning applications for development within the coastal change management area need to be accompanied by a Coastal Erosion Vulnerability Assessment. The assessment should consider the management proposals for the coastline and the likelihood of investments being made and the risk of erosion impacting upon the development in light of these factors. The assessment should demonstrate that the development will not be at risk from coastal change for the lifetime of the development. In this regard, the assessment should comply with policy CC1 of the East Inshore and Offshore Marine Plans. The assessment will also need to demonstrate that the proposed development will not increase the risk of erosion (e.g. from surface water run-off).

8.148 There are inherent uncertainties with coastal change and the likely level of erosion over a 100 year period. There will always be a lack of certainty over the potential for investments to be made in the management of the coast. As such, any planning applications for development within 30 metres of the Coastal Change Management Area should also be accompanied by a Coastal Erosion Vulnerability Assessment. Additionally, developments in other areas close to the Coastal Change Management Area should strongly consider whether any essential infrastructure which will support the proposed development is at risk from being lost to erosion.

8.149 Shoreline Management Plans provide a strategic approach to the management of the coast. As such, proposals for new coastal management works should be in accordance with the management policies identified in the Shoreline Management Plans. Where there is a need and or a desire to develop a coastal management scheme that is contrary to the current Shoreline Management Plan this should be dealt with through a review of the Shoreline Management Plan prior to a planning application being considered.

8.150 The Development and Coastal Change Supplementary Planning Document (2013) has been prepared to aid in the interpretation of the coastal change policies. The Supplementary Planning Document will be updated following adoption of the Local Plan.

Policy WLP8.25 - Coastal Change Management Area

The Coastal Change Management Area is identified on the Policies Map. Reputable and scientifically robust evidence that emerges over the lifetime of this Plan which effects the delineation of the Coastal Change Management Area should be considered when applying this policy.

Proposals for new, permanent residential development including conversion of existing buildings will not be permitted in the Coastal Change Management Area.

In parts of the Coastal Change Management Area expected to be at risk from change within a 20 year time horizon, only temporary development directly related to the coast, such as beach huts, cafés, car parks and sites used for touring caravan and camping will be permitted.

In parts of the Coastal Change Management Area expected to be at risk from change beyond a 20 year time horizon, other commercial and community uses will be permitted providing they require a coastal location and provide economic and social benefits to the local community.

Essential infrastructure, including transport infrastructure, utility infrastructure and wind turbines will only be permitted in the Coastal Change Management Area where no other sites outside of the Area are feasible and there is a management plan in place to manage the impact of coastal change including their future removal and replacement.

All planning applications for development within the Coastal Change Management Area and 30 metres inland should be accompanied by a Coastal Erosion Vulnerability Assessment which demonstrates that the development will not result in an increased risk to life or property.

Planning permission for all development within the Coastal Change Management Area will be time-limited according to the risk identified in the Coastal Erosion Vulnerability Assessment.

Proposals for new or replacement coastal defence schemes will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that the works are consistent with the management approach for the frontage presented in the relevant Shoreline Management Plan and there will be no material adverse impact on the environment.

8.151 Significant numbers of residential properties and commercial properties are at risk from coastal erosion within the next 100 years. A small number of properties at Easton Bavents are at the most imminent risk and a number of properties have already been lost to erosion over the last 5 years. 

8.152 Under the existing Shoreline Management Plan, some parts of Corton are projected to be affected by erosion within the next 50 years. However, revisions to the Shoreline Management Plan through the Gorleston to Lowestoft Coastal Strategy (2016) will mean that providing investments are made, properties should be safe for the next 50 years. However, many properties are likely to be at risk between 50 to 100 years time.

8.153 The National Planning Policy Framework states that local plans should make provision for development and infrastructure that needs to be relocated away from Coastal Change Management Areas. The National Planning Practice Guidance advises that either formally allocating land in a Local Plan or allowing for relocation where planning permission would normally be refused are two ways in which this can be achieved. The Council considers that the relocation and replacement of agricultural land is not a viable option. However, it is considered feasible to relocate and replace agricultural buildings that are required to meet the essential needs of an agricultural development.

8.154 Policy WLP8.26 allows for the relocation of residential, community, agricultural and commercial properties within the Coastal Change Management Area and at risk of erosion to areas inland defined as the Countryside where development is normally restricted by Policy WLP1.2 of the Local Plan. Properties must be at risk from erosion within a 20 year period. This enables property owners to take a pro-active approach to relocate to an alternative location well before erosion becomes an imminent threat. In order to maintain the sustainability of coastal settlements, relocation should take place close to the existing community. Relocation of residential properties should also be to land which is outside of the Coastal Change Management Area.

8.155 Alternative land uses within Coastal Change Management Areas that contribute to the sustainability of coastal communities and also reduce the risk of coastal erosion are encouraged. Such uses will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Policy WLP8.26 - Relocation and Replacement of Development Affected by Coastal Erosion

Proposals for the relocation and replacement of community facilities, commercial, agricultural and business uses affected by coastal erosion will be permitted in the Countryside, provided that:

  • The proposed development replaces that which is within the Coastal Change Management Area as identified on the Policies Map and is forecast to be affected by erosion within 20 years of the date of the proposal;
  • The new development is located at an appropriate distance inland with regard to Policy WLP8.25 on the Coastal Change Management Area;
  • The new development is in a location that is accessible to the coastal community from which it was displaced; and
  • The existing site is either cleared and made safe or put to a temporary use beneficial to the local community.

Proposals for the relocation and replacement of dwellings affected by coastal erosion will be permitted in the Countryside where:

  • The development replaces a permanent building which is within the Coastal Change Management Area as identified on the Policies Map and is forecasted to be affected by erosion within 20 years of the date of the proposal;
  • The relocated dwelling should be in a location which exhibits a similar or improved level of sustainability with respect to access to services and facilities as the original dwelling;
  • The relocated dwelling is outside of the Coastal Change Management Area as identified on the Policies Map; and
  • The existing site is either cleared and made safe or put to a temporary use beneficial to the local community.

Renewable and Low Carbon Energy

8.156 Planning plays a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. One way in which planning can achieve this is by being supportive of well conceived renewable energy developments. Waveney is already home to a number of renewable energy and low carbon developments, including wind turbines in Lowestoft, Kessingland and Holton, solar farms around Ellough and an anaerobic digester in Ellough.

8.157 The National Planning Policy Framework requires local plans to develop a positive strategy to promote energy from renewable and low carbon sources. The Framework encourages local plans to maximise renewable and low carbon energy development, consider identifying suitable areas for development and support community-led initiatives for renewable and low carbon energy. A written ministerial statement (18 June 2015) adds further to national policy with respect to wind farms which states that wind energy development should only be permitted if the site is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in a Local Plan or Neighbourhood Plan, and following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been fully addressed and therefore the proposal has their backing.

8.158 Not all renewable energy and low carbon developments within Waveney are determined by Waveney District Council as the local planning authority. The Council is only responsible for renewable and low carbon energy development of 50 megawatts or less installed capacity.

8.159 Whilst the Council is keen to support renewable energy developments, it is aware that these developments can have significant negative effects on the environment, including design, heritage, biodiversity and landscape. Therefore proposals for renewable energy will be considered against Policies WLP8.29, WLP8.34, WLP8.35, WLP8.36, WLP8.37, WLP8.38 and WLP8.39. The impact of renewable energy developments can extend to neighbouring Districts and the Broads Authority and consideration may be required of neighbouring landscape character and Local Plans. Renewable and low carbon energy developments can also have an affect on amenity of residents, visitors and workers nearby through noise, smell, shadow flicker and glare. Developments can also cause safety issues, such as distraction of drivers and equipment failure. The National Planning Practice Guidance gives a full range of considerations for different types of renewable and low carbon technology. The Council will use this when determining applications for renewable and low carbon energy development.

8.160 The Government places great emphasis on local people being in control of delivering renewable and low carbon energy developments. The Council therefore believes that Neighbourhood Plans are best placed to identify suitable areas for renewable and low carbon energy projects. As Neighbourhood Plans have to go through a referendum, this is a key way of demonstrating local support and commitment to a local renewable and low carbon energy project. Suitable areas identified in Neighbourhood Plans will need to be in conformity with all of the policies of this Local Plan, but particularly Policies WLP8.29, WLP8.34, WLP8.35, WLP8.36, WLP8.37, WLP8.38 and WLP8.39 on design, biodiversity, the landscape and the historic environment.

Policy WLP8.27 - Renewable and Low Carbon Energy

The Council will support Neighbourhood Plans in identifying suitable areas for renewable and low carbon energy development.

Renewable and low carbon energy schemes, including wind energy schemes, will be permitted where the proposal is in a suitable area for renewable and low carbon energy as identified in a Neighbourhood Plan.

Renewable and low carbon energy schemes, with the exception of wind energy schemes, will also be permitted where there are no significant adverse effects on the amenities of nearby properties or businesses, there are no adverse safety impacts and no significant adverse effects on the transport network.

Cumulative effects and the impact of ancillary infrastructure will form part of the assessment for planning applications for renewable and low carbon energy developments.

When the technology is no longer operational there is a requirement to decommission, remove the facility and complete a restoration of the site to its original condition.

Sustainable Construction

8.161 New development can contribute significantly to climate change though the generation of carbon emissions during construction and in subsequent use.

8.162 The energy and water efficiency of new buildings is controlled by Building Regulations. However, there is still a role for the planning system. For water efficiency the Government has introduced an optional technical standard that requires new housing to go further than building regulations and be designed to consume 110 litres/person/day as opposed to 125 litres/person/day. Additionally Local Planning Authorities can encourage developers to consider improvements to the energy efficiency and the sustainability of buildings with respect to carbon emissions.

8.163 The Waveney Renewable Energy and Sustainable Construction Supplementary Planning Document (2009) indicated that new office and school development could viably achieve the enhanced sustainability standard of 'Very Good' as set by the British Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. There is no evidence to suggest that circumstances have changed which would mean this standard can no longer be met.

8.164 The Waveney Water Cycle Study (2017) identifies that whilst Essex and Suffolk Water predict there to be a surplus supply of water over the plan period to 2036, the area is within an area of water stress as identified by the Environment Agency. Demand management is part of Essex and Suffolk Water's strategy to ensure there are sufficient resources over the period. The study estimates that the cost of achieving the enhanced building control regulation is very low and could help contribute to achieving 52% water neutrality in the District (where the amount of water used before planned growth is the same as that after growth).

8.165 Policy WLP8.28 sets out the Council's approach to securing and encouraging the development of more sustainable buildings to lower energy and water usage and help reduce the District's contribution to climate change.

8.166 A key element of the policy is requiring a sustainability statement to be submitted with a planning application for major development11 demonstrating how the developer has considered improvements to the sustainability of the buildings and the development. The policy also applies the optional building regulation standard for new dwellings in terms of water efficiency and requires new school and office development to achieve the 'Very Good' standard set by the British Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. In demonstrating that the development achieves 'Very Good', design stage certificates will be required and planning conditions will require the submission of post-construction certificates.

8.167 Policy WLP8.28 will apply to development involving existing buildings through changes of use. For existing buildings which are heritage assets, in considering whether sustainable construction requirements are practical, consideration needs to be given to Policies WLP8.37 Historic Environment, WLP8.38 Non-Designated Heritage Assets and WLP8.39 Conservation Areas. Often historic buildings dating pre-1919 are of a traditional construction which perform differently and not all types of sustainable construction would be appropriate in alterations and extensions to these buildings. 

11 As defined in the Development Management Procedure Order 2010 (as amended) i.e. 10 or more houses or 1,000sqm floorspace of non-residential development. 

Policy WLP8.28 - Sustainable Construction

Proposals for major residential development of 10 or more houses and commercial development schemes of 1,000sqm or more of floorspace should demonstrate through the submission of a sustainability statement that, where practical, they have incorporated:

  • Improved efficiency of heating, cooling, and lighting of buildings by maximising daylight and passive solar gain through the orientation and design of buildings.
  • Sustainable water management measures such as the use of sustainable drainage systems, green roofs and/or rainwater harvesting systems.
  • Locally sourced and recycled materials.
  • Renewable and low carbon energy generation into the design of new developments. Larger schemes should explore the scope for District heating.
  • Minimising construction waste, including designing out waste during the design stage, selecting sustainable and efficient building materials and reusing materials where possible.
  • Accessible and unobtrusive sustainable waste management facilities such as adequate provision of refuse/recycling/composting bin storage.
  • A show home demonstrating environmentally sustainable options which can be purchased and installed in homes bought off-plan.

All new residential development in the District should achieve the optional technical standard in terms of water efficiency of 110 litres/person/day unless it can be demonstrated that it is not viable or feasible to do so.

All new office and school developments in Waveney of equal or greater than 1,000sqm gross floorspace are required to achieve the British Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method 'Very Good' standard or equivalent unless it can be demonstrated that it is not viable or feasible to do so.

Design

8.168 High quality design is a critical part of good planning and sustainable development and should contribute positively to making places better for people. Good design is concerned not only with how development looks but also how it feels and functions.

Design Quality

8.169 The National Planning Policy Framework identifies high quality design and amenity standards as a core planning principle. Section 7 of the Framework sets national planning policy on design. Local plans are expected to develop robust policies which set out the quality of development expected for the area. Design considerations are not limited to the design of buildings and will also apply to connections between people and places as well as integrating new development in to the natural, built and historic environment. Weight should be given to innovative designs which help to improve the standard of design in the area. Where appropriate, design projects should be referred to a design review panel. National Planning Practice Guidance seeks to use planning policies to improve crime prevention, access and inclusion, safe and connected streets, cohesive neighbourhoods and provision of services.

8.170 A framework of good design principles provides guidance for the design of new development without imposing architectural styles or stifling creativity. Application of such principles can accommodate different architectural styles whilst complementing and strengthening local distinctiveness. Innovative design is encouraged where it demonstrates a high quality design approach and is respectful of its setting.

8.171 It is a primary aim of the planning system that development should deliver good standards of amenity for existing and future occupiers and surrounding uses and does not generate significant harmful effects. Harmful effects can arise from overlooking, loss of privacy, noise and light pollution, and overbearing development amongst others. Such effects can be triggered by individual developments or as a result of cumulative impacts. The impact can be acute or dispersed, affecting the general amenity or tranquillity of an area.

8.172 It is vitally important that new development integrates with its surroundings. Design of new development should take account of important landscape or topographical features and make best use of them. Retention and/or enhancement of natural and semi-natural features will help with the integration of new development and provide biodiversity and drainage benefits. They can improve ecological connectivity by providing green links and networks. These could include woodlands, trees, hedgerows, ponds, watercourses and geological features amongst others. Landscaping, both hard and soft, makes a key contribution to the overall quality and feel of development and proposals should provide details of good quality landscaping. Particular care should be taken with developments on the edge of settlements, ensuring the development is readily integrated in to the overall setting.

8.173 Promoting public safety and discouraging crime and disorder are important outputs of a well designed scheme. Development proposals should incorporate 'Secured by Design' principles and encourage natural surveillance over public areas. Particular care will be required in the design of car parking areas, landscaped areas, public spaces and pedestrian routes in order to avoid creating crime and disorder issues. Development proposals should give early consideration to access by emergency vehicles, plus hard standing and provision of fire hydrants for fire service vehicles. The Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service strongly encourage the provision of automated sprinkler systems.

8.174 Developments should facilitate accessibility and connectivity within and across the site. Existing footpaths, cycle routes and bridleways on the site should be retained. Links should be incorporated to new and/or existing transport routes of all types outside of the site. Car parking should be well integrated in developments and car dominated environments avoided.

8.175 Recycling and waste management is an important element of a well designed and properly functioning development. Therefore adequate and appropriate provision for the storage and collection of waste and recycling bins must be integrated into development proposals.

8.176 The Council has received feedback indicating there is a perception that design of development in the District is not as strong as it should be. Effective design policies alongside understanding and enhancing the distinctive qualities of the District are key to addressing this issue. 'Building for Life 12' is a Government backed standard for well designed homes and neighbourhoods. It is intended to guide discussions between Local Planning Authorities, developers and other stakeholders and encourage better designed development. It features a traffic light scoring system across 12 categories to guide assessment of a development. In order to raise design standards, major residential developments12 will be expected to perform extremely positively when assessed using Building for Life 12. This will mean scoring green outcomes of the vast majority of indicators and avoiding red outcomes unless there are exceptional circumstances. 

12 As defined in the Development Management Procedure Order (2015). At the time of writing this was developments of 10 or more.

Policy WLP8.29 - Design

Development proposals will be expected to demonstrate high quality design which reflects local distinctiveness. In so doing proposals should:

  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the form and character of the built, historic and natural environment and use this understanding to complement local character and distinctiveness;
  • Respond to local context and the form of surrounding buildings in relation to:
    • the overall scale and character
    • layout
    • site coverage
    • height and massing of existing buildings
    • the relationship between buildings and spaces and the wider street scene or townscape
    • and by making use of materials and detailing appropriate to the local vernacular;
  • Take account of any important landscape or topographical features and retain and/or enhance existing landscaping and natural and semi-natural features on site;
  • Protect the amenity of the wider environment, neighbouring uses and provide a good standard of amenity for future occupiers of the proposed development;
  • Take into account the need to promote public safety and deter crime and disorder;
  • Create permeable and legible developments which are easily accessed and used by all, regardless of age, mobility and disability;
  • Provide highway layouts with well integrated car parking and landscaping which create a high quality public realm, avoiding the perception of a car dominated environment;
  • Include hard and soft landscaping schemes to aid the integration of the development into its surroundings; and
  • Ensure that the layout and design incorporates adequate provision for the storage and collection of waste and recycling bins.

Development proposals which fail to meet the above criteria will be refused planning permission.

Major residential development proposals will be supported where they perform positively when assessed against Building for Life 12 guidelines. Developments should avoid red outcomes unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Innovative design will be strongly supported where it meets the above criteria.

Neighbourhood Plans can, and are encouraged to, set out design policies which respond to their own local circumstances.

Design of Open Spaces

8.177 Open Space is an essential part of the rural and urban fabric and is a vital resource for local communities. It plays a pivotal role in the quality of life for people from determining a person's health and well-being, contributing to the character of our townscapes and providing habitats for wildlife. Open spaces should provide facilities that are accessible and meet the needs and expectations of the local community, and ensure communities have a high quality of life for residents and visitors. The types of open space covered by this policy include wildlife areas, natural greenspace, parks and gardens, amenity greenspace, play space, allotments and green corridors. The open space would usually be publicly accessible or with controlled public access.

8.178 Where open space is provided this should be designed to a high standard and be well integrated into the surrounding area to encourage people to use it and enhance the public realm. New open space should demonstrate a clear function and be of a size and layout to provide recreation and public amenity value for the community in the long term.

8.179 Each new area of open space should have at least two good street frontages and be well overlooked, with adjacent properties facing the open space as much as possible. Entrances and connections with streets and spaces should also be well overlooked and support desire lines. Landscaping should be provided that will support formal and informal activities such as play and stimulate visual interest. Where areas for informal ball games are provided these should be level. The planting and landscaping should connect into the wider green infrastructure network wherever possible in order to support wildlife and enhance the public realm.

8.180 Policy WLP1.3 states that housing development sites of 1 hectare or more should provide open space on site and be based on the needs identified in the Green Infrastructure Strategy (2015) and the Open Space Needs Assessment (2015). Incorporation of open space into residential developments is fundamental to the creation of an environment that will meet the expectations of residents. To deliver a successful scheme open space in appropriate quantity and quality should be considered early in the design process. Well designed amenity space within a development may include open areas where people can gather, relax and play. Open spaces should be complemented by other amenity spaces such as greenways and verges that link different areas of the development and adjacent areas. They also provide visual links within and between developments. Orientation is important as spaces that receive greater amounts of natural light are more likely to support community use and provide a more attractive environment.

8.181 Fields in Trust provide benchmark guidelines for the quantity, accessibility and quality of formal outdoor space, equipped/designated play space, and informal outdoor space. The benchmark guidelines include recommendations relative to the scale of development, walking distances from dwellings, and where necessary, minimum buffer zones with dwellings. These guidelines should be referred to when designing schemes.

Policy WLP8.30 - Design of Open Spaces

Proposals involving the creation of open space should demonstrate that the design is inclusive of people of all ages and abilities. In doing so proposals involving the creation of open space should demonstrate that the design has considered the following:

    • Location
      • Open spaces should be integral to the new development and relate strongly to new and existing developments.
      • Open spaces should serve catchment areas that are not already served by existing open spaces.
    • Access
      • Accessible without crossing main roads.
      • Separated from areas of major vehicle movement.
      • Provide footpaths with suitable non-slip surfaces.
      • Provide good connections with local footpaths and cycle paths.
    • Layout
      • Incorporate existing landscape features such as trees and hedgerows.
      • Orientated to receive adequate sunlight.
      • Safe places with overlooking from nearby dwellings and other active uses and a strong relationship to the street and nearby properties.
      • Incorporate buffer zones to reduce the disturbance to immediate dwellings.
    • Use
      • Demonstrate a clear function and support formal and informal activities and biodiversity.
      • Provide opportunities for a range of recreational activities to appeal to different ages and abilities.
    • Appearance
      • Designed and landscaped to a high standard to enhance the public realm.
      • Contributes to the local distinctive character of the area

Lifetime Design

8.182 Central to the Vision of this Local Plan is the creation of a healthy environment and a healthy population. Waveney has an ageing population and the number of people over the age of 70 is projected to increase by nearly 12,000 over the plan period. Waveney also has a high proportion of households with a disabled resident with 40% of households in the District having at least one resident with a disability. It is therefore important that the design of the built environment caters for people throughout their lifetime and is suitable and accessible for people regardless of age, mobility or disability. It is also important that new dwellings are designed to be adaptable and accessible to meet people's changing needs through life.

Dementia Friendly Design Principles

Familiar environments
Functions of places and buildings are obvious, architectural features and street furniture are of a design familiar to or easily understood by older people;

Legible environments
A hierarchy of street types, streets are short and fairly narrow, streets are well connected. Entrances to places and buildings are clearly visible and obvious. Signs are minimal. Clear signs at decision points;

Distinctive environments
A variety of landmarks. A variety of welcoming open spaces. Architectural features in a variety of styles, colours and materials. There is a variety of practical features such as trees and street furniture;

Accessible environments
Land uses are mixed with shops and services within a 5-10 minute walk from housing. Entrances to places are obvious and easy to use;

Comfortable environments
Open space is well defined with toilets, seating, shelter and good lighting. Background and traffic noise should be minimised through planting and fencing. Street clutter is minimal to not impede walking or distract attention;

Safe environments
Footpaths are wide, flat and non-slip, development is orientated to avoid creating dark shadows or bright glare.


8.183 The incidence of dementia is increasing across the country as the age of the population increases. The Royal Town Planning Institute has produced detailed guidance on how developments can be designed to support people with dementia. Creating familiar, legible, distinctive, accessible, comfortable and safe environments can improve the ability of people living with dementia to live well. Dementia friendly design principles should be incorporated where appropriate using the principles outlined in the policy below. Specifically, the larger sites allocated in this Local Plan by Policies WLP2.4, WLP2.13, WLP2.16 and WLP3.1 should be designed in order to meet these principles. Many principles of 'good design' that support those with dementia result in well designed spaces and places that benefit the community as a whole.

8.184 Dementia friendly design principles should be incorporated in all types of development where appropriate, but particularly housing developments, using the principles outlined in Policy WLP8.31.

8.185 National planning policy allows local planning authorities to set optional technical standards for new housing. One of these standards relates to accessibility/adaptability and wheelchair housing standards. The optional technical standards for accessibility in dwellings are set out in Document M of the Building Regulations 2010. This includes both M4(2), accessible and adaptable dwellings and M4(3), wheelchair user dwellings categories. Modelling undertaken in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2017) indicates a 40% growth in households comprising people with an age of 65 and above. The Whole Plan Viability Assessment (2018) indicates that the cost of achieving this standard is not excessive and has only a marginal impact on viability. Policy WLP8.31 therefore applies the M4(2) standard to 40% of new properties. Exceptionally, due to the topography of the site or flood risk where it is not possible to achieve step-free access, these requirements will not be imposed.

Policy WLP8.31 - Lifetime Design

Where appropriate, proposals for development should demonstrate that the design supports the needs of older people and those with dementia through the creation of environments which are;

  • Familiar
  • Legible
  • Distinctive
  • Accessible
  • Comfortable, and
  • Safe

All new housing developments on sites of 10 or more dwellings must make provision for 40% of all dwellings to meet Requirement M4(2) of Part M of the Building Regulations for accessible and adaptable dwellings. Dwellings that meet Requirement M4(3) of Part M of the Building Regulations will be supported and can count towards the requirement above.

Housing Density and Design

8.186 It is important to make efficient use of land whilst delivering high quality developments which complement local distinctiveness. The National Planning Policy Framework allows Local Planning Authorities to set their own approach to housing density.

8.187 Lowestoft and the market towns are built up areas with characteristically higher densities of development and benefit from greater provision of services and facilities. Higher densities in these settlements will therefore complement the existing urban density levels and deliver more houses in sustainable locations. Development in these locations should be of an urban scale at a minimum density of 30 dwellings per hectare. In the central areas of Lowestoft and the market towns densities much higher than 30 dwellings per hectare can be appropriate where they reflect the local character of development and are well served by public transport.

8.188 Outside of Lowestoft and the market towns housing density will vary and housing densities should reflect local character.

8.189 Developments in an urban context should be appropriately designed to define and enclose urban spaces (which includes streets) using buildings and structures. This can help to create places with a sense of identity and improve local distinctiveness.

8.190 A key element is the high level of continuity in the built frontage using buildings of appropriate height and width. Detached buildings are ineffective in enclosing spaces and work best at lower densities with landscaping around them. Urban scale developments should therefore make use of terraced and semi-detached buildings in providing continuous built frontages to enclose space. Where detached buildings are grouped together in high density schemes the result is often poorly defined with indistinct places and spaces. Urban scale developments must therefore demonstrate a higher proportion of terraced and semi-detached properties than detached properties. Buildings and structures forming developments at an urban scale of 30 dwellings per hectare and above should therefore be designed to enclose space.

8.191 Housing density is calculated using only the site areas which will be developed for housing and directly associated uses. These uses will include access roads within the site, private garden space, car parking areas, open space, landscaping and small children's play areas, where these are provided.

Policy WLP8.32 - Housing Density and Design

Proposals for residential development will be permitted provided that the development makes best use of the site in a manner that protects or enhances the distinctiveness and character of the area and takes into account the physical environment of the site and its surroundings.

Development proposals in and adjacent to the built up area of Lowestoft and the market towns should aim for urban scale development at a density of at least 30 dwellings per hectare, unless local character indicates otherwise.

Urban scale development proposals should use buildings and structures to enclose spaces and create places of individual and distinctive identity. Urban scale development should avoid detached buildings which are narrowly separated and do not effectively enclose spaces and should demonstrate a greater proportion of terraced or semi-detached properties than detached properties.

Neighbourhood Plans can set their own policies for housing density which respond to local circumstances.

Residential Gardens and Urban Infilling

8.192 New development in gardens or other plots of land (such as parking areas) in urban areas can provide valuable new homes in sustainable locations. However, it is common for such sites to be very sensitive to new development by virtue of their close proximity to nearby homes and relationship to existing development and therefore require careful planning. The National Planning Policy Framework allows Local Planning Authorities to set out policies to control new development on residential gardens where it may cause harm.

8.193 Consultation on the Local Plan has identified a number of negative issues in connection with this type of development. These included cramped development, poor amenity spaces, amenity issues, unsuitable access and poor relationships to existing buildings. Setting out parameters to help prevent harm arising from such common issues can enable new homes to be delivered where appropriate whilst safeguarding existing homes and the wider environment.

Policy WLP8.33 - Residential Gardens and Urban Infilling

Housing development on garden and other urban infill sites will be supported where they satisfy the following criteria:

  • The scale, design and siting of the proposal is in keeping with the character and density of the surrounding development and would not generate a cramped form of development.
  • Attractive, useable and proportionately sized amenity spaces and adequate parking and turning spaces are provided for the proposed and existing dwellings.
  • The proposal, by way of design, siting and materials integrates into the surrounding built, natural, and where necessary historic environment.
  • The living conditions of proposed and existing properties are not unacceptably harmed through means such as overlooking, loss of light, or overbearing forms of development;
  • Safe access is provided which does not generate significant harm to the character or amenity of the area.
  • Safeguard protected trees.

Neighbourhood Plans are able to set their own policies on this type of development which respond to local circumstances.

Natural Environment

Biodiversity

8.194 Wildlife sites, flora and fauna and geological features are an important resource for current and future generations. The Council will seek to protect both formally designated sites and other areas of wildlife and geological interest. Within Waveney District there are several internationally and nationally important geological sites and wildlife habitats. These include Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation, Ramsar Sites, National Nature Reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Ancient Woodland. A number of sites within and adjoining the Waveney area are recognised as internationally important for wildlife conservation, such as Benacre and Easton Bavents Lagoons and areas of geological importance that include Corton Cliffs and Covehithe.

8.195 Suffolk Wildlife Trust in conjunction with Suffolk County Council have identified a substantial number of regionally important wildlife sites within the Local Plan area, known as County Wildlife Sites. Suffolk has a list of local Biodiversity Action Plan species and habitats which are important to protect and enhance.

8.196 Sites protected for their biodiversity and geodiversity value are identified on the Policies Map. Other non-protected green spaces contribute towards the wider green infrastructure network and are shown on the Policies Map.

8.197 The National Planning Policy Framework gives significant protection to the internationally and nationally protected sites referred to above. It also encourages local plans to develop criteria based policies to assess the impact of development on wildlife and geodiversity sites. The Framework states if significant harm to biodiversity resulting from development cannot be avoided, adequately mitigated, or, as a last resort, compensated for, then planning permission should be refused. This sequential approach is referred to as the 'mitigation hierarchy' and the policy has been created to cover these scenarios. It states the level of protection should be commensurate with the level at which the site is designated (i.e. international, national and local). The Framework encourages positive planning at the landscape scale for the creation and enhancement of ecological and green infrastructure networks.

8.198 The Waveney Green Infrastructure Strategy (2015) identifies green infrastructure networks within built up areas in the District which could be used to help inform how new development can positively contribute towards enhancing green infrastructure to benefit biodiversity.

8.199 Policy WLP8.34 sets out the approach to protecting and enhancing biodiversity and geodiversity within Waveney. The policy seeks to give an appropriate amount of protection to locally protected sites of biodiversity and geodiversity value as well as species and natural features found on sites. It also encourages the provision of features within developments which can support biodiversity and ecological networks. Such features could include roosting or nesting spots on trees and buildings for birds and bats, features which enable permeability for hedgehogs and water features such as ponds.

8.200 Development proposals should be accompanied by sufficient information to assess the effects of development on protected sites, species, biodiversity or geology, together with any proposed prevention, mitigation or compensation measures. The Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service can provide general species distribution data for development sites and further information is also available from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Natural England can provide detailed information regarding sites of geological importance.

8.201 The Habitat Regulations Assessment for the Local Plan concludes that the level of development planned in the District which is within 13km of some Special Protection Areas and Special Areas for Conservation will cause recreational disturbance. The assessment identifies a mitigation strategy which will be applied across Waveney, Suffolk Coastal, Ipswich, Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Council areas. The strategy will be included in a Supplementary Planning Document which will be adopted by the relevant authorities. The strategy will include a requirement for developers to make financial contributions towards the provision of strategic mitigation within defined zones. The strategy together with the extensive green infrastructure provided on the site allocations in this Local Plan will mitigate effects on protected sites.

Policy WLP8.34 - Biodiversity and Geodiversity

Development will be supported where it can be demonstrated that it maintains, restores or enhances the existing green infrastructure network and positively contributes towards biodiversity through the creation of new green infrastructure and improvement to linkages between habitats. Regard should be had to the Waveney Green Infrastructure Strategy (2015).

Proposals that will have a direct or indirect adverse impact on locally recognised sites of biodiversity or geodiversity importance, including County Wildlife Sites, Biodiversity Action Plan habitats and species, will not be supported unless it can be demonstrated that new opportunities to enhance the green infrastructure network will be provided as part of the development that will mitigate or compensate for this loss.

Where compensatory habitat is created, it should be of equal or greater size than the area lost as a result of the development, be well located to positively contribute towards the green infrastructure network and biodiversity and be supported with a management plan.

Where there is reason to suspect the presence of protected species or habitat, applications should be supported by an ecological survey undertaken by a suitably qualified person. If present the proposal must be sensitive to, and make provision for their needs.

Any development with the potential to impact on a Special Protection Area or Special Area for Conservation within or outside of the District will need to be supported by information to inform a Habitat Regulations Assessment.

A Supplementary Planning Document will be prepared to implement a Recreational Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy in order to mitigate any impacts on Special Protection Areas and Special Areas for Conservation. The Council will work with neighbouring authorities and Natural England to develop this strategy. The strategy will include a requirement for developers to make financial contributions towards the provision of strategic mitigation within defined zones.

Landscape Character

8.202 Waveney District is characterised by landscapes associated with the coast, river valleys and open countryside. Together these have contributed towards shaping historical patterns of development and the identity of local communities. The District shares part of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, part of the Suffolk Heritage Coast and part of the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads (The Broads Authority is the Planning Authority for the Broads). These nationally designated landscapes benefit from significant levels of protection in national planning policy and the Council will apply national planning policy to proposals within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to ensure its protection. The National Planning Policy Framework also supports the protection of locally valued landscapes.

8.203 The Waveney District Landscape Character Assessment (2008) identifies and describes distinctive landscape character areas throughout the District. Ten landscape character areas were identified including Rural Wooded Valley, Rural River Valley, Coastal Broads and Marshes, Dunes, Coastal Levels and Resorts, Coastal Cliffs, Settled Farmland, Tributary Valley Farmland, Farmed Plateau Clayland, Estuarine Marsh and Sandlings. These have been further sub-divided into component landscape character areas each with distinct and recognisable local, and often historic, identity.

8.204 The Landscape Character Assessment sets out specific details about each landscape character area including 'sensitivities', 'strategic objectives' and 'considerations in relation to development'. Appendix 7 provides a summary of the key attributes and strategic objectives for each landscape character area.

8.205 The Rural River Valleys and Tributary Valley Farmland character areas are identified in the Landscape Character Assessment as being valued landscapes that are particularly sensitive to change.

8.206 Within the District, the area along the Waveney Valley is adjacent the Broads National Park. These adjacent areas share many similar characteristics. The Broads Landscape Character Assessment (2006) was updated in 2012 and 2016 in conjunction with the Broads Landscape Sensitivity Study for Renewables and Infrastructure which explored the sensitivity of the landscape to renewable energy development.

8.207 The Settlement Fringe Landscape Sensitivity Study (2016) builds on the District Landscape Character Assessment (2008) and defines the sensitivity of landscapes around key settlements. This information can be used to inform consideration about the effects of development proposals on the distinctive character, qualities and sensitivities of landscapes within the fringes of settlements within the District and on the settings of adjacent protected landscapes (the Broads and the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). The study provides advice on the sensitivity, value and capacity of landscapes to accommodate development in the following buffer areas around settlements:

  • Lowestoft - 1,500 metres
  • Market Towns - 1,000 metres
  • Villages - 500 metres

8.208 The assessment supports the findings of the Landscape Character Assessment by identifying Tributary Valley Farmland and Rural River Valley landscapes on the fringes of settlements as being valued landscapes that are particularly sensitive to change.

8.209 Policy WLP8.35 provides protection for all landscape character areas in the District. It requires proposals to consider the strategic objectives and considerations identified in the key local landscape evidence referred to in the policy. In doing this, proposals should consider not only how they relate to the local landscape but how they can integrate into it through good design and landscaping. Landscaping and structural planting which reinforces historic field patterns or enhances connectivity within the green infrastructure network to the benefit of wildlife will be supported. Consideration should be given to strength of place, visibility, value and contribution to designated landscapes. The existing public rights of way network is fragmented in many locations and development proposals should consider how they could enhance public footways to benefit the network in the long-term.

8.210 The policy also gives specific protection from significant impacts on those landscapes which are outside of the designated areas of the Suffolk Heritage Coast, the Broads and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but provide a contribution to the setting of those areas. Landscapes characterised as Rural River Valleys and Tributary Valley Farmland in the Landscape Character Assessment are considered sensitive and valuable and receive a similar level of protection. Significant adverse impacts will be judged based on the scale of the development, the associated effect on the key characteristics which define the sensitivity and value of the landscape, the visual impact, the duration and permanency of the effect and the extent to which any effects can be mitigated through a landscaping scheme. In assessing impact the Waveney District Landscape Character Assessment (2008), the Settlement Fringe Landscape Sensitivity Study (2016), the Broads Landscape Character Assessment (2016), the Broads Landscape Sensitivity Study for Renewables and Infrastructure (2012) and the most current Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan will be used.

8.211 Conservation of areas recognised for their tranquil character, dark skies and sense of wildness are key management issues recognised in the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan and by the Broads Authority. Tranquillity and Night Blight Maps prepared by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (2007 and 2016 respectively) indicate that the areas with greatest tranquillity are located between Kessingland and Reydon within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and in the rural area near the Saints. These areas are shown to have good (but not high) levels of tranquillity. The maps also show that Waveney is the one of the darker Districts in the country with much of the District darker than regional and national averages. The Broads Authority Night Blight and Dark Skies Assessment (2016) identified that in the Southern Broads, the darkest skies were located around Geldeston. In Waveney District this relates to the area between Mettingham and Shipmeadow.

 

Policy WLP8.35 - Landscape Character

Proposals for development should be informed by, and be sympathetic to, the distinctive character areas, strategic objectives and considerations identified in the Waveney District Landscape Character Assessment (2008), the Settlement Fringe Landscape Sensitivity Study (2016), the Broads Landscape Character Assessment (2016), the Broads Landscape Sensitivity Study for Renewables and Infrastructure (2012) and the most current Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan.

Development proposals will be expected to demonstrate their location, scale, form, design and materials will protect and where possible enhance:

  • The special qualities and local distinctiveness of the area;
  • The visual and historical relationship between settlements and their landscape settings;
  • The pattern of distinctive landscape elements such as watercourses, commons, woodland trees (especially hedgerow trees) and field boundaries, and their function as ecological corridors;
  • Visually sensitive skylines, seascapes and significant views towards key landscapes and cultural features;
  • The distinctive landscapes of the Suffolk Heritage Coast;
  • The natural beauty and special qualities of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; and
  • The unique landscape and characteristics of the Broads.

Proposals should include measures that enable a scheme to be well integrated into the landscape and enhance connectivity to the surrounding green infrastructure and Public Rights of Way network.

Development will not be permitted where it will have a significant adverse impact on:

  • The landscape and scenic beauty of the protected landscapes and the settings of the designated areas of the Broads or the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; or
  • Locally sensitive and valued landscapes including Rural River Valleys and Tributary Valley Farmland character areas.

Development within the settings of the Broads and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty itself will be informed by a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment to assess and identify potential impacts and to identify suitable measures to avoid or mitigate these impacts.

Proposals for development should protect and enhance the tranquillity and dark skies of both the Waveney District and Broads Authority areas.

 

Coalescence of Settlements

8.212 There are a number of locations throughout the District where important undeveloped areas of land exist between settlements. These gaps help protect the identity and character of separate settlements. Gaps between settlements help give the sense of leaving one place and arriving at another. Even where there is countryside between settlements, the presence of buildings, signs and other development along roads prevents the sense of leaving a settlement and passing through the countryside. At night, various forms of artificial lighting can also lead to a sense of continuous urbanisation. Examples of important gaps in the District include land between:

  • Barnby and North Cove (west of Mill Lane)
  • Worlingham and North Cove
  • Beccles and Worlingham (north of Lowestoft Road)
  • Corton and Hopton (Great Yarmouth Borough)
  • Halesworth and Holton
  • Lowestoft and Barnby
  • Lowestoft and Blundeston
  • Lowestoft and Corton
  • Lowestoft and Kessingland

Figure - 36 Coalescence of Settlements

figure 36

8.213 In order to retain the identity and character of settlements it is necessary to protect these gaps from development which could undermine their openness or lead to the coalescence of settlements. The Council will consider how proposals fit within the wider landscape and whether features such as the network of fields, trees and hedgerows are conserved, and therefore maintain the break between settlements. It will also seek to limit other urbanising impacts including increased lighting, traffic movements and ribbon development along road corridors.

Policy WLP8.36 - Coalescence of Settlements

Development of undeveloped land and intensification of developed land between settlements will only be permitted where it does not lead to the coalescence of settlements through a reduction in openness and space or the creation of urbanising effects between settlements.

Historic Environment

8.214 Waveney is fortunate in having a wealth of visually and historically important heritage assets which are desirable to protect and enhance. There are sixteen conservation areas within Waveney (one of which falls entirely within the area of Waveney District which is covered by the Broads Authority); a further four are partly managed by the Broads Authority), 1,602 listed buildings, 29 scheduled monuments and 3 historic parks and gardens. There are also 1,420 buildings on the Local List of Identified Non-Designated Heritage Assets in Waveney. The Suffolk Historic Environment Record provides information about archaeological sites throughout the District.

8.215 The National Planning Policy Framework recognises the value of heritage assets and also the contribution that they can make to sustainable economic development. The Framework provides protection for all heritage assets but the weight given to the conservation of a heritage asset increases with its level of importance. Grade I and II* listed buildings, scheduled monuments and Grade I and II* registered parks and gardens are therefore granted the highest levels of protection.

8.216 Local Plan policies do not seek to replicate the National Planning Policy Framework or its accompanying guidance but rather provide local policies that are specific to the District. The weight and considerations to be taken into account for designated heritage assets are well covered in the Framework and local policies in this Local Plan do not seek to replicate these. The Council will therefore rely on national policy and guidance in this regard.

8.217 Policy WLP8.37 highlights the objective of the Council to positively protect and enhance all heritage assets, including both designated and non-designated heritage assets and ensure that planning applications which could affect assets are supported by sufficient information. The Council will work proactively with developers, Neighbourhood Plan groups and other partners such as Historic England to ensure new development conserves and enhances the historic environment. The impacts of all site allocations in this Local Plan have been assessed against their impact on the historic environment and mitigation measures have been identified in the site allocation policies where relevant. The Central and Coastal Lowestoft Regeneration Strategy in Section 2 of this Local Plan identifies the Historic High Street area of Lowestoft as an area where the historic environment should be proactively enhanced. Policy WLP6.2 contains specific criteria protecting the character of the Southwold Harbour Conservation Area. Policies WLP8.38, WLP8.39 and WLP8.40 provide further guidance for development affecting non-designated heritage assets, local considerations for conservation areas and archaeology.

8.218 Policy WLP8.37 highlights the requirement for development proposals which have the potential to impact on heritage assets or their settings to be supported by a Heritage Impact Assessment prepared by an individual with appropriate expertise. The assessment should describe the significance of any heritage assets affected, including their setting. It should go on to establish the impact of proposals on the asset and its setting and consider whether the impact could be reduced through modification or mitigation. The level of detail should be proportionate to the importance of the asset. As a minimum the Suffolk Historic Environment Record should be consulted. Pre-application advice is strongly encouraged to be sought in instances where a Heritage Impact Assessment may be required. This will allow the Council to give valuable advice on scope and level of detail required in the assessment ensuring that an adequate assessment is submitted with a planning application.

8.219 The Council has prepared and adopted a Built Heritage and Design Supplementary Planning Document (2012). This document provides valuable guidance on the implementation of the historic environment policies of this Local Plan and other detailed guidance on conserving heritage assets. The document will be kept up to date and reviewed from time to time.

 

Policy WLP8.37 - Historic Environment

The Council will work with partners, developers and the community to protect and enhance the District's historic environment.

Proposals for development should seek to conserve or enhance Heritage Assets and their settings.

All development proposals which have the potential to impact on Heritage Assets or their settings should be supported by a Heritage Impact Assessment prepared by an individual with relevant expertise. Pre-application consultation with the Council is encouraged to ensure the scope and detail of a Heritage Impact Assessment is sufficient. The level of detail of a Heritage Impact Assessment should be proportionate to the scheme proposed and the number and significance of heritage assets affected.

Proposals should take into account guidance included in the Built Heritage and Design Supplementary Planning Document.

Non-Designated Heritage Assets

8.220 The National Planning Practice Guidance encourages Councils to identify non-designated heritage assets in their Local Plans. At present the list only contains buildings. For many years the Council has retained a list of identified non-designated heritage assets. There are currently 1,420 buildings on this list within the District. Assets on the list can be viewed on the Council's website. The number of non-designated heritage assets on the list is likely to increase over time as new buildings and other assets are identified. To date these have only been identified within or adjacent to conservation areas. Notable examples include the Tuttles Building on Station Square Lowestoft and the former Council offices in Bungay. Non-designated heritage assets identified on the list used to be referred to as locally listed buildings.

8.221 The following criteria will be used to establish if any potential non-designated heritage asset that is a building or structure meets the definition in the National Planning Policy Framework at an early stage in the process, as advised by the National Planning Practice Guidance. A building or structure must meet two or more of these significance-measuring criteria to be identified by the Council as a non-designated heritage asset.

Archaeological
Interest

Architectural Interest

Artistic Interest

Historic Interest

  • Recorded in the
    Suffolk County
    Historic
    Environment
    Record
  • Aesthetic value
  • Known architect
  • Integrity
  • Landmark status
  • Group value
  • Artistic value
  • Known designer
  • Association
  • Rarity
  • Representativeness
  • Social and
    communal value


8.222 Further information on the criteria can be found in Appendix 6. The criteria will be routinely updated through amendments to the Built Heritage and Design Supplementary Planning Document to take into account latest best practice.

8.223 The existing Local List is not exhaustive and there are likely to be a number of other examples of non-designated heritage assets of local significance. Policy WLP8.38 sets out criteria for determining applications which may affect a building which is a non-designated heritage asset which either has or has not been specifically identified on the list. In line with the National Planning Policy Framework the policy seeks to avoid and reduce harm to these assets. Although the level of protection afforded to them is not as great as that for designated heritage assets.

8.224 Policy WLP8.38 seeks to restrict new uses which would result in substantial harm to a building or its setting or proposals which result in a loss or partial loss of the asset. One of the criteria which allows for harm or loss is that all other options for the asset or the continued use have been exhausted. In demonstrating this, a marketing exercise in accordance with the principles outlined in Appendix 4 should be undertaken. Evidence of marketing will be required to be submitted with any planning application. It should also be demonstrated that it is not technically feasible and economically viable to accommodate the proposed new use for the site within the existing building. The policy allows for loss of a building if the structure is unsound. In these cases a structural survey will be required to support a planning application.

8.225 The policy encourages Neighbourhood Plans to identify other buildings in their locality worthy of protection. In doing this, Neighbourhood Plans should use the above criteria.

8.226 Policy WLP8.40 deals with archaeological non-designated heritage assets.

Policy WLP8.38 - Non-Designated Heritage Assets

The Council maintains a local list of Non-Designated Heritage Assets.

Proposals for the re-use of buildings which are on the Local List of Non-Designated Heritage Assets or otherwise identified as a non-designated heritage asset will be supported if compatible with the elements of the fabric and setting of the building which contribute to its significance. New uses which result in substantial harm to a building or its setting will not be permitted unless all other options for the building have been exhausted.

Proposals which involve the demolition or part demolition of a building which is on the Local List of Non-Designated Heritage Assets or otherwise identified as a non-designated heritage asset will only be permitted where there are comprehensive and detailed plans for redevelopment of the site and where:

  • The building is structurally unsound and beyond feasible and viable repair (for reasons other than deliberate damage or neglect); or
  • All measures to sustain the existing use or find an alternative use/user have been exhausted.

Neighbourhood Plans can identify other buildings and assets of historic or local significance. However, the protection afforded to these should be no more than that provided to Non-Designated Heritage Assets protected by this policy. Assets identified should meet the criteria for identifying Non-Designated Heritage Assets on the Local List.

Conservation Areas

8.227 Conservation areas are designated Heritage Assets and are afforded a high level of protection in national planning policy. Conservation areas are identified on the Policies Map and are located in Beccles13, Bungay13, Ellingham13, Halesworth, Holton, Homersfield, Lowestoft (North and South), Oulton Broad13, Somerleyton13, Southwold, Southwold Harbour, Walberswick Quay, Wangford, Wissett and Wrentham.

8.228 All of the above Conservation Areas have had Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans prepared. These are updated regularly and provide an overview, of the character, significance and management of the conservation areas.

8.229 Policy WLP8.39 sets out the local approach for the management of development within the Conservation areas in order to avoid and reduce harm and to enhance the integrity of the areas. The policy requires that proposals within conservation areas take into account the Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plans in order to conserve and enhance the areas. It also sets out the approach to managing demolitions within conservation areas. Similar to the approach for non-designated heritage assets, proposals for the demolition of buildings in conservation areas with architectural, historic or visual significance will only be permitted where the building is structurally unsound or all measures to sustain the use or find an alternative use for the building have been exhausted. In demonstrating this, a marketing exercise in accordance with the principles outlined in Appendix 4 should be undertaken. Evidence of marketing will be required to be submitted with any planning application. It should also be demonstrated that it is not technically feasible and economically viable to accommodate the proposed new use for the site within the existing building. For buildings which are considered structurally unsound, a structural survey should be included with any planning application.

8.230 Since 2004 the Council has had a policy for the replacement of windows and other features in conservation areas. All conservation areas in the Waveney Local Plan area (with the exception of the Oulton Broad extension) have Article 4 Directions which means planning permission is required for these types of proposals. The policy approach seeks to retain historic features in prominent parts of Conservation Areas which contribute to the character of area. This policy approach has proved successful in conserving and enhancing conservation areas within the District and has been carried forward. Further detail on the implementation of this policy is set down in the Built Heritage and Design Supplementary Planning Document.

Policy WLP8.39 - Conservation Areas

Development within conservation areas will be assessed against the relevant Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans and should be of a particularly high standard of design and materials in order to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the area.

Proposals which involve the demolition of non-listed buildings in a conservation area will only be permitted where:

  • The building has no architectural, historic or visual significance; or
  • The building is structurally unsound and beyond feasible and viable repair (for reasons other than deliberate damage or neglect); or
  • All measures to sustain the existing use or find an alternative use/user have been exhausted.

In all cases, proposals for demolition should include comprehensive and detailed plans for redevelopment of the site.

Proposals for replacement doors, windows and porches in conservation areas where Article 4 Directions are in place must be of a suitable design and constructed in appropriate materials. Applications will be assessed with reference to the prominence of the location, the historic and architectural value of the building and the historic and architectural value of the feature to be replaced.

13 Beccles, Bungay, Oulton Broad and Somerleyton are partly managed by the Broads Authority. The Conservation Area of Ellingham is entirely within the Broads Authority-managed area of Waveney and so is not covered by this policy.

Archaeology

8.231 The District contains a range of important archaeological sites. Some of these are designated as scheduled monuments, although most assets are non-designated and sometimes not known of until development proposals come forward. Scheduled Monuments are nationally significant assets and afforded great protection in the National Planning Policy Framework. The Council recognises that archaeological remains are a non-renewable resource which are valuable for their own sake and for their role in education, leisure and tourism.

8.232 All sites allocated in the Local Plan have been considered for their archaeological potential. Where there is significant potential, the relevant policies set out the requirements for an archaeological investigation to take place prior to planning permission being granted.

8.233 The Suffolk Historic Environment Record provides information about archaeological sites throughout the District and is used to identify sites that may be at risk from development. Policy WLP8.40 requires an archaeological assessment of sites within potential areas of archaeological importance to describe the significance of any heritage assets affected and to ensure that provision is made for the preservation of important remains, particularly those that may be demonstrably of national significance. Archaeological Assessment prior to determination may comprise a combination of desk-based assessment; geophysical survey and/or field evaluation. Archaeological conditions or planning obligations will be imposed on consents as appropriate. Appropriate programmes of work post-consent could include some or all of:

  • further evaluation;
  • upfront excavation;
  • palaeoenvironmental work;
  • building survey and or monitoring; or
  • control of contractor's groundworks.

8.234 Policy WLP8.40 gives preference to preservation of remains in situ appropriate to the significance of the asset. This is unless it can be demonstrated that recording of remains, assessment and deposition in public archives would be more appropriate to mitigate the impacts of development.

8.235 The provision of information for the public about archaeological work will be encouraged as appropriate to the scale of development and the nature of archaeological remains.

Policy WLP8.40 - Archaeology

An archaeological assessment must be included with any planning application affecting areas of known or suspected archaeological importance to ensure that provision is made for the preservation of important archaeological remains.

Development should preserve and record archaeological remains. Where proposals affect archaeological sites, preference will be given to preservation in situ appropriate to the significance of the remains unless it can be shown that recording of remains, assessment, analysis reporting, dissemination and deposition of archive for access and curation is more appropriate.

Archaeological conditions or planning obligations will be imposed on consents as appropriate, considering the level of significance. Measures to disseminate and promote information about archaeological assets to the public will be supported.