Local Plan 2020 Phase 1 consultation

We are developing a new Local Plan for South Gloucestershire, called the Local Plan 2020.

This Phase 1, Issues and Approaches consultation document, is one of the first steps and will inform preparation of our new Local Plan.

Producing a new Local Plan presents us with an important opportunity to

  • shape the places that we live, work and socialise in
  • have a direct impact on the quality of people’s lives and the natural and built environment

Working in partnership with communities, developers, utilities providers and key interest groups, we will need to make choices. Choices that will need to decide where significant levels of growth – for new homes and jobs might be located and also where should be protected.

Some of these choices will lead to debate and discussions and may divide opinions.

Our choices must consider where the best connections can be made between people, development, existing and new infrastructure and the environment. We will need to build on lessons emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic and consider new ways of working, shopping and socialising. We will focus on what is important in terms of the built and natural environment and access to it, as we start to adjust to the “new normal”.

As we face the challenge of Covid-19 and complete leaving the European Union, preparing a new Local Plan presents us with an opportunity for game changing and positive impacts, on enhancing our natural and built environment, our declared Climate Emergency and the ecological crisis. Our new Local Plan can also help us address the inequalities within our district, particularly those that relate to health, access to employment and educational attainment.

We shared our thinking on the development of a new Local Plan with a consultation undertaken in February 2018, as part the West of England Joint Spatial Plan (JSP). Later in July 2019 the council declared a Climate Change Emergency and the JSP was formally withdrawn in April 2020. More recently, in August 2020 the Government released for consultation a planning White Paper. This proposes significant changes to the planning system and national policy, including potential changes to the way Local Plans are prepared and what they might contain.
It is therefore appropriate that as we set out to address the issues and challenges facing our area we look again and differently, at how we bring forward and communicate our new Local Plan.

This consultation document and the information we will share over the next few years will provide you, and everyone connected to South Gloucestershire, with an opportunity to explore the issues, opportunities and choices, that face planning the future of our area.

Some of these issues, opportunities and choices include:

  • A declared Climate Emergency that we must respond to positively and proactively, informing the way we locate and design new housing, jobs and key services.
  • A change in the size and ages of our population – which will require the delivery of new homes to meet identified needs of current and future residents.
  • Creating a strong, clean and green economy that provides land for businesses and investment, and enhances the connectivity of people and businesses across our area.
  • Planning for new development that promotes healthy and active lifestyles and creates well-designed liveable spaces.
  • Our ecological, heritage and built environments which face a range of challenges and issues, and whose resilience is critical to support our plans for growth.

It is important that we understand the issues that will inform and shape our approach to growth and protection, as well as the type of planning policies we might need. Because of this we have detailed and suggested priorities to address a wide range of issues that relate to the future planning of South Gloucestershire. We hope this will help build a shared understanding and knowledge of the challenges we face as we begin the process of preparing and shaping our new Local Plan. We also think that exploring the issues, potential priorities and approaches will help our new Local Plan meet future reforms to the planning system.

We want your views on the issues and potential in this document.

If you are; a resident, a business owner, part of a family, a retired worker, aspirational about owning your first home, interested in reducing poverty, passionate about the environment, or none of these, you can help shape our new Local Plan by giving us your views.

Your opinions will help us work together and deal positively with the issues and challenges we all face. Your views will help us deliver a more resilient, sustainable and better connected South Gloucestershire as we move into the future together.

What a Local Plan must do

A Local Plan must show where new homes, jobs, new and enhanced infrastructure for walking, cycling, services and facilities should be located and developed in the future.

It also sets out safeguards and policies to protect a district’s important natural and built environment.

A Local Plan helps make sure that new development is well-designed, built to a high quality and enhances our heritage, landscape, green and character assets.

To do this, a Local Plan includes detailed planning policies and allocates sites for growth and protection, which all future planning applications are considered against. Whether this is an application for a new business park, a development of thousands or just a single new home, or a rear extension on a listed building, all are judged against the relevant policies set out in a Local Plan.

All Local Plans are required to conform to the rules and principles set in the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). As we produce our new Local Plan the national rules and requirements are likely to change, as the government is proposing to make significant changes to the planning system.

Future stages of this plan must reflect these changes, but we will have to wait for them to become clearer and eventually final across the next few years.

The new Local Plan for South Gloucestershire must also conform with the emerging sub-regional mayoral plan, called the Spatial Development Strategy (SDS), which is currently being prepared with the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). As part of this we will work with neighbouring authorities to ensure the identified need for new homes and jobs for the whole area are addressed and accommodated.

What must our Local Plan 2020 do

The Local Plan 2020 will cover a 15 year period, from the date of adoption. 15 years is the current minimum period required by government rules we need to confirm with when producing a Local Plan. We are hoping to adopt in 2023, so it would cover the period 2023 – 2038.

The Local Plan 2020 will establish a new growth strategy. This will show where we should protect, and where new homes, jobs and infrastructure should come forward over the 15 year plan period.

We must establish:

  • How we will meet requirements for significant numbers of new homes and jobs. These will be confirmed in a sub-regional Spatial Development Strategy (SDS).
  • The sites and exact location where the large scale growth of homes, jobs and infrastructure should be located and what we will be needed to support this.
  • How we respond to our declared Climate Emergency to ensure growth and development support sustainability, our environment and benefit both current and future residents and businesses in our authority;
  • How to retain a prosperous economy in light of Covid-19, and our changing ways and habits of working, whilst making sure there are positive impacts on our environment, economy and well-being of our communities;
  • How our urban areas facing significant challenges, including town centres and high streets can change and develop to a high quality and address issues faced by residents, workers and visitors to our urban areas; and
  • The range of planning policies that we will need to guide and enhance development over the next 15 years and beyond.
  • How we ensure future development addresses issues like climate change through higher sustainability standards and improve health inequalities by enabling new and existing homes to be adaptable and accessible.

The Local Plan 2020 will also reflect the objectives and priorities in the adopted Council Plan and provide a spatial and place-based expression to for our aims and objectives.

As well as the Council Plan and support from other parts of the council we will also need to consider a range of strategies from other important organisations. Together with all our partners we can make South Gloucestershire a great place to live and work, over the next 15 years and beyond. This means we can have a greater and more positive impact on:

  • climate change
  • health and education issues
  • inequalities in our area
  • and challenges faced by wildlife and our natural environment.

The Local Plan 2020 will eventually replace the adopted planning policies in the Core Strategy 2006 – 2027 (adopted in 2013), Policies, Sites and Places Plan (adopted in 2017) and where appropriate policies from the Joint Waste Core Strategy (adopted in 2011).

The existing policies will remain central to effective planning, because they form the council’s adopted Development Plan, which identifies appropriate areas for sustainable development and are used when determining planning applications.

These adopted document will remain in place until they are replaced by the formal adoption of our new Local Plan 2020

What’s in the Phase 1 – Issues and Approaches consultation document?

This is the first stage of consultation. We want to discuss the issues, priorities and potential approaches our Local Plan 2020 might take to manage and guide change and growth.

By publishing this document we want to involve as many people as possible at an early stage, to raise awareness of the issues, challenges and opportunities presented by planning the future of our area.

We want to make sure that a wide range of views and opinions are taken into account as we move forward. This begins with asking you if we have identified the correct issues and priorities, which our new Local Plan should address.

We are in the early stage of considering the choices we may have, as we work sub regionally and locally to establish new a strategies for growth, change and protection.

This document will begin to explore the challenges and the choices we might have, as we begin to think about a new growth strategy.

We have presented the approaches we might need to support high-quality sustainable growth and renewal in existing urban areas.

We want to explore how existing villages and settlements might benefit from appropriate levels of sustainable growth, so that they thrive well into the future. Let’s begin a conversation so that we can understand what needs to be enhanced and protected, what is special and unique, if our rural areas are to grow and change.

The Phase 1 Issues and Approaches document also outlines a range of planning policies that we might need to develop and we have also included a small number of early policies for you to consider and comment on.

Local Plan sections

1. Introduction (this chapter)

2. Setting the Scene – The context of South Gloucestershire’s geographical location, population, economic and environmental data.

3. Key Issues – Important issues that our new Local Plan 2020 should address and consider. We’ve established nine themes, which explore 55 separate issues.

4. Potential Priorities – Potential priorities that address the range of issues that face the future planning of our area. These priorities will inform the way we plan for growth, change and protection, and our future planning policies.

5. Building a Strategy – The potential building blocks and initial guiding principles, that we might use to develop choices and options as we explore how we provide large numbers of new homes and jobs, while balancing protection and enhancement of our natural and built environment

6. Urban Lifestyles – An emerging approach to development in urban areas, to improve the quality of life and the level of development on urban and brownfield sites.

7. Creating Rural Sustainable Villages – How we might approach and investigate appropriate levels of sustainable growth in our rural villages and settlements.

8. Planning Policies – The range and scope of policies we may include in the Local Plan 2020. Early drafts of a limited number of policies are presented in this section.

The government has recently finished a consultation on significant reforms to the planning system, including the way Local Plans are prepared and what must include. That consultation document is called the Planning White Paper, and it as yet uncertain exactly what reforms will be adopted from the White Paper.

Regardless of what might be required by a new planning system, we know we that we have to make tough choices in our new Local Plan 2020. Choices that include where to grow, how to provide new land for homes and jobs, where to protect and how we approach and guide development across urban and rural areas.

We think that this document, which begins to discuss the challenges, issues and potential approaches we might take, should be released before changes to the planning system and Local Plans are confirmed. We want to share the knowledge our early thinking on important issues and approaches, before we move to the later stages of making a new Local Plan.

What is not in Phase 1 document, but will be in the next consultation?

When we complete this consultation, have considered your feedback and further work has been undertaken on the SDS to establish the amount of new homes and jobs we need to accommodate in South Gloucestershire, we will publish a further consultation document – phase 2 of the Local Plan 2020’s preparation.

We hope to release this in in late 2021. By then the proposed changes to the planning system may be finalised. Then we can explain any new requirements and changes that need to be considered as we continue preparing our Local Plan 2020.

The next stage of preparing our new Local Plan should include an increased level of detail for the approaches, places and policies on:

  • The overall growth number of new homes or jobs we need to plan for – this will be established by the sub-regional Spatial Development Strategy (SDS).
  • Place based choices, options and locations for large scale growth of jobs, homes, facilities and services – we must first understand the requirements that come from the sub regional SDS. We must also understand the potential sites which could be developed. In future stages of preparing our new Local Plan we then begin to discuss, in more detail, the realistic choices, options and locations for growth and protection. In future stages, our consultation documents will set out options and locations for where growth could be accommodated.
  • Potential site allocations in urban or rural areas – we want to discuss how we approach and investigate growth in our urban and rural places in this first stage of consultation. Future consultation documents will need to become more place orientated, present potential sites in individual communities and explore the levels of growth appropriate in different places.
  • Drafts of all new planning policies – once we have discussed the issues which the plan needs to address and potential range of policies, we will present a greater range of draft policies at the next stage of consultation.

Local Plan 2020 timeline

We are in the early stages of preparing our new Local Plan and we hope to finalise it in 2023.

This document is the first consultation stage in the production of the Local Plan 2020. The current Covid-19 situation will impact our ability to carry out face to face engagement on the Phase 1 document, and we expect that consultation will run into the early part of 2021.

We will consider your feedback in 2020 and 2021. The feedback we receive will influence and directly inform the next phase or our new Local Plans preparation.
We then hope to conduct further consultations through 2021 and 2022. This will focus on options for growth, protection, potential sites and the opportunities this will bring to communities across the authority.

While we have a working timeline to bring forward our new Local Plan, the government recent Planning White Paper consulted on proposals to change the way local plans are prepared and implemented.

As we release this Phase 1 Issues and Approaches consultation document those changes have not been confirmed. We will need to address the impact of any changes on our Local Plan 2020 timeline as detail becomes more certain and the changes are formally introduced by government.

Please be aware that our timeline and future stages of preparation, are likely to alter as we move forward.

Local Plan 2020, proposed timeline to adoption. Future stages in 2021 (Phase 2), 2022 (Publication Version), Submission (March 2023), Examination (Oct 2023), Adoption (2024)

Informing and supporting the Local Plan 2020

Along side the Phase 1 Issues and Approaches consultation document, we have also published some initial evidence that aids understanding of the emerging issues, approaches and topics.

This includes:

  • Data and Access Profiles (DAPs)
  • Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report (Oct 2020)
  • Sustainability Appraisal of the Phase 1 consultation document (Nov 2020) and

Additional key evidence under development, that will inform development of our Local Plan 2020 includes:

  • Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA)
  • Updated Stage 1 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment; and
  • Renewable Energy Resource Assessment Study (RERAS)
  • Yate Town Improvement Masterplan; and
  • Kingswood Masterplan

Other key studies, evidence and supporting documents will be developed and updated as part of preparing the Local Plan 2020. These documents will be published when ready for release or consultation on our website, under the South Gloucestershire Local Plan 2020.

Evidence is also being prepared working with our West of England partners, which will inform both the West of England Spatial Development Strategy SDS and the Local Plan 2020. This includes:

  • Local Housing Needs Assessment (LHNA)
  • Employment Land and Spatial Needs Assessment (ELSNA)

Further details about the SDS and technical evidence being developed is available on the West of England website.

Context, key issues and priorities for the Local Plan 2020

We want our Local Plan 2020 to have far-reaching and positive impacts.

We want it to:

  • respond to lessons learnt during Covid19
  • address the Climate Emergency and ecological crisis,
  • improve the quality of development and our natural environment

Our new Local Plan must make difficult choices and decisions about where in South Gloucestershire to protect and where growth and change should take place to provide for new homes, jobs and services, facilities and infrastructure.

To do this we must understand the issues that face our area and that planning can influence. We also need to understand the national and local laws and policies which govern what we need to do, and how we do it.

In the next section we establish a high level summary of South Gloucestershire as it is now.

In the Key Issues section we have set nine Themes which group specific issues by topic. Under each theme there are detailed issues that we think our new Local Plan should consider. They are based on what we know so far and the work the council undertakes across all its service areas.

  • If, for example, you want to understand the main environmental issues facing the future planning of the area, you could look at the issues included in the ‘Our environment” theme.
  • Many of the significant issues are cross cutting, for example climate change and health, have their own themes, but are relevant to and link to issues discussed the “Travel and transport” and “Exceptional places and spaces” themes.

To address these issues, we then have a section that suggest potential priorities for the Plan.

We want your views on the context, key issues, and priorities, that our new Local Plan will need to address.

To navigate and focus on the issues of interest of you – all the themes and the linked issues are set out on the next page:

Read the next chapter – Setting the scene.

Go back to the Local Plan 2020 – Phase 1 Issues and Approaches document landing page.

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