Issues and priorities

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Local Plan 2020 Phase 1 consultation

Key issues

We have identified 55 issues, under 9 key themes, which our new Local Plan will need to consider in planning for growth, development and change in South Gloucestershire.

Climate change

South Gloucestershire Council declared a Climate Emergency on 17 July 2019. The key risks of climate change are greater instances of flooding, increased coastal change, higher temperatures, and new pests and diseases. These impacts will affect communities, businesses and infrastructure, health, well-being and productivity, water supply (for the public, agriculture, energy generation and industry), food production, and natural capital (which includes ecosystems, soils and biodiversity). The overarching target is for South Gloucestershire to be carbon neutral by 2030.

Key issues for our new Local Plan in relation to climate change include:

1. Climate change mitigation

Becoming carbon neutral by 2030 will help slow and reduce the severity of the impacts of global warming. To do this we need to consider a number of challenges:

  • decarbonising transport by planning for growth so that people can access key services and facilities by walking, cycling and effective public transport, to minimise the need for private car use
  • increasing the amount of renewable energy generated in the authority by identifying sites and opportunities for new renewable energy installations of all types and the potential to decentralise the energy system
  • ensuring that new development is built to high energy efficiency standards to minimise energy demand and incorporates renewable or low carbon heating and cooling systems, as well as renewable energy generation technology
  • whether retention and adaption of existing buildings for new uses as opposed to demolition to reduce energy consumption, material extraction and waste, will be appropriate on some sites and in some areas.

2. Climate change resilience

Adapting to a change in climate and the impacts arising creates a different set of issues to consider:

  • reducing the risk of overheating due to more frequent and intense heat waves, which will affect the health of users of buildings, public areas and workspaces
  • the impact on and vulnerability of infrastructure, including transport networks, electricity distribution networks and the increased pressure on water quality and supply
  • the increased risk of flooding associated with higher rainfall and, through increased sea levels and river flows
  • increased pressure on the resilience of the natural environment, its landscape features, green infrastructure network, and ecosystems
  • threats to the provision of, and access, to services

There are wider social, health, environmental and economic benefits from mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change, which our new Local Plan can help facilitate. Living and working in less carbon-intensive ways increases the resilience of residents and businesses to energy price rises and energy security issues. It also provides economic opportunities for sustainable energy and environmental industries and encourages healthier ways of life. South Gloucestershire is well placed to take advantage of these opportunities drawing on its high-tech industries, strong educational establishments, varied landscapes and skilled communities. Also, our rural area and farming community presents opportunities for helping to mitigate and adapt to climate change through locally grown food production, and enabling nature recovery through extensive green infrastructure schemes.

Our environment

South Gloucestershire has a rich natural and historic environment, in both urban and rural areas. However, our environment is under increasing strain.

Long term processes of climate change, habitat loss, changes in agriculture and globalisation are causing significant impacts and changes to critical ecosystems and threatening wide-scale extinction of species. This includes loss of pollinating insect species which directly threatens food production and security. The changing climate is enabling new pests and diseases like Ash Dieback which will have a major impact on the landscape and ecology of the area. Development (which in some cases has not been designed for nature), pressure on land as well as agricultural practices have fragmented and reduced the extent and connectivity of many of our natural habitats.

We need to recognise the extent to which our current and future prosperity and well-being depends on the services we draw from the environment, often, it seems ‘for free’. However, the reality is that this resource is being depleted. Our new Local Plan needs to be ambitious, ensuring the true value of the environment in supporting our way of life is recognised. We must establish a mechanism to enable investment in the recovery of our natural resources to flow from the development that is sustained by it.

Our historic buildings and sites are highly valued and contribute significantly to the quality of our surroundings. Some of our nationally and locally important historic buildings are at risk from redevelopment or neglect and decline. We need to make sure we have policies in place which will help protect them and enable suitable sustainable uses to come forward to maintain and safeguard these assets into the future. The key issues for our new Local Plan in relation to the environment and heritage are:

3. Conserving designated sites and buildings

A significant proportion of our authority is protected by local, national and international ecological and landscape designations, along with many protected historic sites and buildings. In line with national planning policies, we need to make sure our future plans for growth protect important designated assets and buildings from harm. We must also explore the potential of development to enhance and improving some of these assets and buildings. This will affect where we are able to direct future development and where might need to be protected.

4. Connecting and enhancing wildlife habitats

There is a need to protect and improve the connectivity and function of our wider ecological assets, like key woodland, wetland and grassland habitats. Connectivity needs to be re-established to reverse the fragmentation of these environments and to provide better links to and from our communities. This will play an important role in improving ecological resilience in our changing climate and accelerate the recovery of nature, while providing economic, health, equalities and other social benefits for local communities.

National planning policy and emerging legislation (Environment Bill is expected in 2020) will require our plan and its policies to provide for Nature Recovery Networks and biodiversity net gain when land is developed. The Nature Recovery Networks will need to identify opportunities and priorities for enhancing biodiversity, focusing on habitat creation or improvement in those areas where it will achieve the most benefit. Biodiversity Net Gain offsets will be directed to this local network. Strategic networks for broadleaved woodland, grassland and wetland habitat have been mapped by the West of England Nature Partnership and will form the baseline for South Gloucestershire’s Green Infrastructure Strategy and the Nature Recovery Network.

A new scheme to conserve Great Crested Newts known as ‘District Level Licensing’ was launched in South Gloucestershire in March 2020. While the species is its main driver, the scheme’s aim is the reinstatement and creation of a significant number of ponds across the region, benefiting a wide array of wildlife. Other mechanisms to support investment in habitat preservation, restoration and creation will also be explored.

5. Green infrastructure strategies

The West of England and South Gloucestershire green infrastructure strategies will set out priorities, projects and areas for enhancing and protecting connectivity of ecological, landscape, access and recreational assets. This will include making connections between urban and rural areas, for people and for nature and enhancing water quality, ecosystems and functions of our ‘blue infrastructure’ such as the River Frome. Through making decisions on the location and design of new development we will need to respond to these strategies, to build in green infrastructure connectivity and functions and avoid harming key sites and corridors.

6. Severn Estuary and population growth

The Severn Estuary is a site of international importance to wildlife and is protected by a number of different designations; international (Special Area of Conservation, Special Protected Area and Ramsar Site), national (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and local (Site of Nature Conservation Interest). For this reason, any proposals for development in proximity to the Severn will need to be assessed with regard to their potential to impact on the features for which the site has been designated for protection. For example, any development which increases the number of people in the area has the potential to increase the pressure put on the Severn Estuary by recreational use.

7. Tree loss and provision

Trees, woodland and hedgerows can provide important habitats for wildlife, and create connectivity corridors to assist ecological resilience and adaption to climate change. Access to, and views of, vegetation are also important for human well-being. The council has an ambitious target of doubling tree canopy cover by 2030. This is in addition to the need to respond to the impact of Ash Dieback, which is projected to lead to the loss of 20% of all trees in South Gloucestershire. Planning policies may need to increase the requirement to provide trees on a site and strategic scale and also mitigate the loss of valuable trees.

8. Landscape assets and features

Key landscape areas, views and local features make a significant contribution to the character, distinctiveness and quality of our area, by framing the urban areas and setting the character of rural towns and villages. These landscape areas must be protected. There are many key ridgelines, prominent hillsides and river valleys. These will inform decisions over which areas can be developed, and which areas need protection.

9. Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The eastern side of South Gloucestershire is within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, an area of national significance for landscape quality and beauty. National planning policy (National Planning Policy Framework, Paragraph 172) recognises the value of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and places great importance on conserving and enhancing their landscape and scenic beauty. The Cotswolds AONB is a living, working landscape and provides opportunities for enhancing health and well-being through recreational and leisure opportunities. It may also offer opportunities to contribute to addressing our environmental and climate change priorities, including new areas for biodiversity offsetting, tree planting, green infrastructure and nature connectivity, as well as areas that are potentially suitable for renewable energy generation. As we prepare the Local Plan, we want to develop a strategy that supports and enhances the sustainability of the communities and landscapes in the AONB.

10. Air quality

Primarily as a result of traffic related pollution, air quality is a particular issue in some urban areas of the authority. Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA’s) have been declared in Staple Hill and Kingswood-Warmley. AQMAs require us to consider ways of reducing this pollution. This could be through increasing traffic management measures, requirements for less polluting vehicles and new fuel technologies, along with the design and location of new development and provision of green infrastructure.

11. Flood risk

A significant portion of the authority is at risk from flooding. This includes 22% of land that falls within Flood Zone 3 (highest risk) as well as 29% in Flood Zone 2. The main areas at risk are along the Severn Estuary which include the Avonmouth and Severnside Enterprise Area, the villages of Severn Beach and Pilning and a number of smaller settlements. Higher levels of flood risk also exist along the River Frome and other river corridors, including but not limited to; the River Boyd, Patchway/ Bradley Brook and Ladden Brook. National Planning Guidance requires us to direct sensitive development, like housing, away from the areas of highest flood risk, particularly as the potential risk from flooding increases with climate change. However, we will also need to consider how we can meet the long term needs of communities in areas of high flood risk and make sure they remain sustainable and can thrive in the future.

12. Agricultural land

Protecting the best and most versatile of agricultural land (Grades 1, 2 and 3a) from development could have potential benefits for food supply resilience and food miles as well as local economic benefits. Food miles are the distance food is transported before it reaches the consumer.

Health and wellbeing

We have all faced the unprecedented challenge of Covid-19 during 2020. The outbreak has challenged our everyday way of life, our health, our work, our social relationships and our well-being. We understand that it has brought great concern to many South Gloucestershire residents and businesses for many different reasons. The Council has provided a comprehensive emergency response but we recognise that some of these issues will need additional resource and attention and a long-term economic and community recovery plan. This emergency has also led to increased partnership working, revived community spirit, and new innovative working practices. It will be important we do not lose these benefits as we ‘reset’ into the ‘new normal’. We firmly believe that with the help of our communities, we can work together to ensure the swiftest and most prosperous recovery phase in South Gloucestershire possible.

Key issues for our Local Plan to consider in relation to health and well-being are:

13. Opportunities for physical activity

Physical activity, including children’s play, walking and cycling, formal and informal sport, gardening, growing food and community activities and open spaces, have a major positive impact on people’s health and mental well-being. The plan will need to consider how people of all ages and abilities access a wide range of spaces and facilities, so that everyone can benefit from being active.

14. Accessible health services and facilities

It is important that our health services and facilities are accessible to the whole community regardless of age and ability. The facilities should be particularly easy to use for elderly people, those with disabilities, and on low incomes in terms of their location, connectivity by public transport and design.

15. Health issues and inequalities

Residents of South Gloucestershire are generally healthier and have a better life expectancy than the national average, reflecting the relative affluence of the area. However, there is an upward trend in chronic diseases, which have a big impact on quality of life, partly due to the increases in the elderly population and an increase in child and adult obesity. Poor air quality has a direct effect on health, and traffic related pollution is an issue in parts of South Gloucestershire. There are also pockets in the authority that are recognised areas of deprivation and where evidence from a range of measures show that residents experience social deprivation and lower life expectancy.

16. Takeaways and schools

South Gloucestershire’s Healthy Weight Obesity Strategy (pdf) sets out the desire to restrict the number of fast food outlets (takeaways) in communities, especially near schools, due to rising levels of childhood obesity and the impact this has on well-being and inequalities in our area. The plan will need to take account of, and support, strategies to improve health, social and cultural well-being for all, especially children. New planning policy requirements and other planning mechanisms will need to be explored, to control the number of takeaways that are located in close proximity to our schools.

Exceptional places

High-quality, well-designed places have a significant and positive influence on the quality of our lives. The quality of a place can affect our health and well-being, feelings of safety and security, inclusion and belonging, and our sense of community cohesion. National planning guidance has an increasing focus on delivering design quality in new development. The key issues for the Plan in addition to creating well designed places and spaces are:

17. Impact of development

Development must consider its impact on existing natural and built assets. It must balance the provision of enhanced and new multi-functional green infrastructure, walking and cycling infrastructure, with the provision of new homes, jobs, transport links and the new public spaces and places that we will need over the next 15 to 20 years.

18. Responding to local character and context

To make sure that future developments enhance the quality of our built environment, new policy requirements and guidance will be needed so that development creates locally-distinctive and well-designed buildings, green infrastructure, open spaces and places that enhance or create local positive character.

19. Inclusive design

Due to both an ageing population and the need for new homes to be adaptable for a variety of potential users, family units and changing activities carried out in the home, “inclusive design principles” will be needed. Our planning policies will need to make sure homes are built which can adapt to people’s changing needs by providing standards for minimum levels of space and a larger proportion of dwellings which are fully accessible.

We will also need to make sure that we provide a variety of house types and sizes. These house types should suit a range of households and income levels and include a ‘tenure-blind’ distribution of affordable housing. If we do this, we will create more diverse, mixed and well-balanced communities.

20. Sustainable design and construction

Making sure that the quality of design and delivery of future growth is of a very high standard takes a considered approach to:

• the use of materials and construction
• energy efficiency
• using sustainable building materials and approaches
• minimising impact on water quality and quantity
• resilience to a changing climate

This will require new design criteria and mechanisms to raise the standard of design, construction and development across South Gloucestershire.

21. Optimising density and walkable neighbourhoods

Increasing the amount of development in urban areas will need to balance providing more new homes with providing high-quality private and communal spaces and public realm as well as a high quality living environment for existing and future residents. This will support healthy, low carbon, sustainable lifestyles by creating walkable and cycleable neighbourhoods near to key services and facilities. This will likely require new, locally specific design policies and approaches.

Planning for urban and rural areas

South Gloucestershire is an area of both urban and rural communities. Our new Local Plan will need to consider:

  • where to locate significant numbers of new homes, jobs and infrastructure
  • how this balances across our urban areas and brownfield sites, rural and greenfield areas
  • the potential role of the Bristol and Bath Green Belt

Issues to consider in making these difficult decisions include:

22. Renewal and increased development in urban areas

The new Local Plan will need to set guiding principles to inspire and support the regeneration and diversification our town centres and urban areas, so they are fit to serve communities well into the future. Updates to national planning policy require better use to be made of available brownfield land. Brownfield land is land which has previously been built on or developed, that is mostly located in our urban areas.

This means, in the future, we will need to optimise the density of development on brownfield land in urban areas particularly where sites are in close proximity to key services, facilities, public transport and train stations. However, increasing the density of development (including homes, jobs and infrastructure) creates challenges for the existing urban areas of South Gloucestershire:

Quality of life in urban areas

The experience of residents during the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of good quality homes and access to open spaces, key services and facilities. The pandemic has also highlighted the inequality of access to these benefits across South Gloucestershire. Any increase in urban development will need to balance providing more new homes with providing residential amenity, setting a minimum level of internal space standards, high-quality private amenity spaces, good quality public spaces and good walking access to key services, facilities and open spaces.

Design issues

Increasing the amount of development in urban areas will require new policies and approaches to current ‘place-making’ standards including design, parking, good quality accessible open space, green infrastructure and provision of additional services and facilities, to ensure that urban development is not at the expense of quality of life and quality of the environment.

Loss of employment land

The continued focus on redeveloping brownfield sites in our urban areas can place additional pressure on existing employment land. Issue 40, shows that levels of out-commuting, deprivation and loss of employment land is particularly acute in the East Fringe. Balancing the need for new homes on brownfield sites in urban areas with the need to ensure all communities have sustainable access to employment opportunities, will be a challenging issue for the plan.

Viability issues

There are a range of factors that can impact on whether a site will be delivered. Issues such as site contamination from an existing/previous use, design and amenity issues, levels of parking required and open space, as well as affordable housing requirements can all impact the delivery and “viability” of significant development in urban areas and on brownfield sites.

Heritage and ecology

Some brownfield sites and urban areas will contain historic buildings, archaeology or areas of wildlife and biodiversity interest which will need to be protected and influence how and where we plan to develop in urban areas.

23. Greenfield land

Much of the land surrounding our urban areas, towns and our rural villages and settlements is “greenfield”. Greenfield is not a planning designations that we put on a map. It simply means land which has not previously been built on or developed. This can include parks and greens in urban areas, but is mostly open land and land in agricultural and forestry use in rural areas, some of which is also Green Belt and in the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The opposite of greenfield land is brownfield land. It is important to note that there is difference between greenfield and Green Belt land, which is explained a little more in the issue below.

Whilst our new Local Plan will need to have a focus on development of urban areas and re-use brownfield land, there is a limited amount of this land available for new development. It is unlikely that all future needs for jobs and homes can be met in this way without significant negative impacts on the quality of life, economy and sustainability in our urban communities. Development of greenfield land and sites will most likely need to form part of the strategy for growth in homes, jobs, facilities, and services.

24. Green Belt

Over 40% of South Gloucestershire is covered by Green Belt planning protection. The main aim of Green Belt is to prevent urban sprawl and keep land open. National policy sets out clear role and purposes for land that is protected as Green Belt.

In our area the Green Belt separates Bristol and Bath, surrounds the North and East Fringe urban areas, and runs as far as Yate and Thornbury. Over the last half century it has been successful in preventing the main urban area sprawling and merging with surrounding places such as Winterbourne, Coalpit Heath, Yate, Pucklechurch, Wick and Bitton.

It is important to note that Green Belt is not given planning protection because of landscape or ecological quality, or because areas of land have open space and recreation function. High-quality landscapes, important habitats and open spaces used for recreation, both in the Green Belt and outside are protected by other national and local policies.

Our new Local Plan is the main opportunity to consider whether changes should be made to the Green Belt in our area. National Planning Policy requires all Local Plans to demonstrate that brownfield, urban and non-Green Belt land has been explored prior to making changes to the Green Belt. In preparing our new Local Plan we need to consider the following issues in relation to Green Belt:

  • many of our villages, rural communities and land which currently have higher levels of walking, cycling and effective public transport to key services and facilities, are located within the Green Belt close to the existing urban areas. The market towns of South Gloucestershire are also partially surrounded by Green Belt designation
  • balancing the need for new homes, jobs, services and facilities with the need for sustainable development (particularly becoming carbon neutral in line with the climate emergency), may require areas of Green Belt to be investigated for both large and small scale growth
  • a wide range of environmental, landscape and heritage assets and designations cover land both within and outside the Green Belt in South Gloucestershire. Along with consideration of flood risk, this may restrict the level of growth that can occur in some locations. For example many areas outside the Green Belt are within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • whether some areas would benefit from extensions to the Green Belt
  • developing other options for protecting area of open countryside which communities cherish and help us develop Strategic Green Infrastructure corridors.

25. New locations for large scale growth

National Planning Policy sets out that where large numbers of homes and jobs are required, the need can often be best met through larger scale development, including new settlements and urban extensions to urban areas, towns and villages (National Planning Policy Framework, paragraph 72). Locations for very large sites to provide for new homes, jobs and facilities will require the investigation of land and locations outside the urban area on greenfield sites in appropriate rural areas. This may need to consider locations currently designated as Green Belt. Planning for large scale developments will require consideration of many of the issues set out in this document, including:

  • large scale growth locations need to be sustainable to avoid increasing issues which contribute to climate change, particularly through increasing a reliance on private car journeys to access key services and facilities. Everyday needs, such as key services and facilities including employment and education, should be provided for within the development, or available in close proximity, so that they can be accessed by walking or cycling and, if travel is required, by effective public transport
  • inspirational ideas for new settlements and/or long-term landowner delivery models that support necessary employment and infrastructure, and make efficient use of the land, may be necessary to deliver large scale growth.

26. Growth in rural villages and settlements

Our Core Strategy allowed for infilling within existing village boundaries but did not allocate any additional sites for planned growth in our rural villages and settlements, beyond the market towns of Yate, Chipping Sodbury and Thornbury. In recent years, unplanned speculative development has put pressure on the character and some services and facilities in some of our villages and settlements without fully understanding of the needs and requirements of these rural communities.

Rural communities have more older people, a growing affordability gap between local incomes and house prices and can lack certain housing types/ tenures especially smaller market and Affordable Homes. These issues can cause difficulties for younger people who wish to remain in or move to an area. Rural exception sites providing Affordable Housing for local people have been difficult to deliver due to the unavailability and high ‘hope’ values of suitable land. However, well planned and appropriate development could increase housing choice, provide different types and tenures of housing, including Affordable Housing and shared ownership homes, as well as increase support for key local services and facilities. Some of our rural communities are also digitally connected but connection quality and speeds vary both across the authority and within individual communities.

Our Local Plan will need to consider whether as a principle, every community should be able to grow in a planned, sustainable way over the next 10, 15, 20 years and beyond, to help safeguard or improve the long term vitality and viability of that community.

Planning for new homes

The population of South Gloucestershire is projected to increase at a faster rate than has been experienced in the recent past, increasing by 16% over the next 15 years (2018 based subnational population projections, 2018-2033, ONS).

We will need to plan for the right number and type of new homes to meet the needs of this growing population. The new Local Plan will not only need to provide a strategy and sites for the required number of new homes, it will also need to ensure the location and sites allocated can be delivered effectively and in a timely manner.

Key issues for our new Local Plan in relation to meeting the requirement for new homes include:

27. Identifying the amount of the new homes to plan for

The Local Plan will need to provide land for a minimum number of new homes over a 15 year plan period. It will do this by allocating sites and by balancing policies for growth and protection. The method to establish the number of homes required in South Gloucestershire is set out in national planning policy.

The starting point is a Local Housing Needs Assessment (LHNA) to establish the housing needs of the area. This involves a number of steps;

  1. Using the government’s current standard methodology, we establish how many new homes need to be provided in South Gloucestershire each year. At the time of writing (October 2020) this is at least 1412 new homes a year.
  2. We then need to establish out how many homes this would be over our proposed plan period, from 2023 to 2038. Using the current standard methodology figure this is 21,180 new homes over 15 years (1412 x 15)
    • The government is currently consulting on changes to its standard methodology– so it’s likely that as we prepare our new Local Plan the number of homes we need to provide each year and over a 15 year period, will change.
  3. We would then establish how many homes have existing planning permission, and are likely to be built, after our new Local Plan is adopted, we hope to adopt our Plan in 2023. We remove these homes, from the number we have to find.
  4. This establishes our starting point for how many new homes we need to find over the 15 years plan period
    • If the plan period changes, for example to 20 years or 10 years, the number of homes we would need to find would change.
  5. However, from this starting point we will also need to consider any sub-regional needs for new homes that might need to be accommodated in our area. The total number of new homes which our plan will need to provide will then be set out in the emerging West of England, Spatial Development Strategy (SDS).

South Gloucestershire is part of the West of England Combined Authority. This means we will also need to work with the constituent authorities to help ensure housing needs across the sub region are met. We will need to discuss with neighbouring authorities, through the Duty to Co-operate, whether any element of housing need will need to be, or can be, accommodated across administrative boundaries. South Gloucestershire’s own housing target as determined by the standard methodology above is therefore only a starting point and will be moderated through being part of the West of England Combined Authority and through cross boundary discussions and confirmed in the SDS.

We will also need to ensure our land supply is resilient and that we can demonstrate that we can maintain a five year supply of housing (please see issues 32 and 33).

28. Homes to meet the needs of older people

The number of people over 65, and over 85, in South Gloucestershire is expected to grow by 14,600 (+28%) and 4,300 (+61%), over the next 15 years (2018 based subnational population projections, 2018-2033, ONS).

This means more purpose build, specialist homes and a wider choice of accommodation for this age group will be needed. Ensuring that a larger number of new homes are adaptable and accessible will help to ensure that all ages can utilise housing over the lifetime of the building, providing one option to people to live independently and remain in their community as they age.

A potential impact of the Covid-19 crisis could be an increase in demand for residential annexes to provide living accommodation alongside existing homes, as an option for people wanting to look after elderly or disabled relatives at home.

29. Housing affordability

House prices and rental values have risen over the last 10 years, compared to incomes. This has led to an affordability ratio of income to price of 8.8 in South Gloucestershire, compared to 3.7 in 1997.

Many people are now unable to rent or buy homes on the open market. There is a need both to stimulate the provision of “affordable” market housing to bring the aspiration of home ownership back within wider reach and a need to set planning policies to ensure that the cost of Affordable Housing delivered through the planning process is affordable to households who are unable to meet their housing needs in the open market, in accordance with local incomes, house prices and rents.

Affordable housing is social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market.

The need for Social Rented housing remains high in all areas despite improving delivery of new Affordable Homes in recent years.

30. Planning for different groups

A Local Housing Needs Assessment will identify the needs of the various groups in South Gloucestershire, including those who need Affordable Housing, families with children, service families, older people and people with disabilities. We will also need to assess the needs of the following groups:

  • essential local or key workers have been included in the national policy definition of Affordable Housing. The importance of this group has been highlighted by the Covid-19 crisis
  • new specialist accommodation to contribute to increasing the supply and options available to students. A policy approach may be required to help to ensure homes built or converted for multiple occupation are suitable and that clustering does not adversely affect the overall character of a neighbourhood
  • self-build and custom housebuilding contributes to greater housing choice and can encourage housing innovation which can offer a lower cost housing option. Community-led housing such as Community Land Trusts (CLTs) can provide a housing alternative for local communities

31. Gypsy/Traveller and Travelling Showpeople communities

There has historically been a sustained level of unmet need for Gypsy, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople in South Gloucestershire. Our refreshed Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) will set out the level of need.

It is important that the Council plans to meet these needs in a manner that reflects the characteristics of the local Travelling community and their ‘nomadic habit of life’ through the allocation of appropriate new sites. The Council will also seek to protect existing, authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites until such time that it can be proven there is no longer an outstanding need for such sites.

In order to reduce the number of unauthorised encampments in the area, the council is also looking at the possibility of providing transit provision/ temporary stopping places, to provide emergency, temporary accommodation for Gypsy/Travellers.

32. Issues with housing delivery on large scale sites

The Core Strategy planned for a number of large-scale housing developments in the urban areas of the North and East Fringes of Bristol and in Yate. However, the planned developments have not been built out to the expected timescales due to a range of issues including landownership and infrastructure delivery. This has made it harder to maintain a 5-year housing land supply than might otherwise have been the case, if the same amount of housing had been allocated on a wider range of smaller sites. One result has been that in recent years, there has been an increase in speculative development in market towns and villages which are outside the Green Belt. This is not a new problem: our housing trajectory in both the Core Strategy and our predecessor local plan, despite being based on information provided by developers and housebuilders, have proved consistently over-optimistic about the rate of housing delivery. We need to ensure our new plan sets site build out rates at a level that we are confident will actually be delivered.

As delivery of large scale development has ebbed and flowed, there has been an increase in speculative development to meet short term needs (5-year housing land supply), and consequently the supply of the housing around Thornbury and elsewhere in rural areas has increased beyond that allocated in the Core Strategy.

33. Five year housing land supply

There is a need to ensure land allocated in the plan will lead to a steady supply of new homes being delivered, and help the authority maintain a 5-year housing land supply.

The NPPF at paragraph 73 requires all local planning authorities (LPAs) to identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide a minimum of five years’ worth of housing against their housing requirements.

Delivery and build out, particularly of large scale sites, with significant amounts of infrastructure or multiple land ownerships, has often taken longer than planned to start delivering.

To build resilience into our housing supply the Local Plan 2020 will need to consider a portfolio of sites. In terms of; size and locations, and avoid reliance on a few large sites, which can be subject to delays in delivering

  • there will also be a need to consider a range of ownership and delivery models to supply housing to avoid an over-reliance on a small number of developers and very large sites in one area
  • The Council and other public authorities may need to consider how it can lead and facilitate land assembly and infrastructure delivery

34. Small sites requirement

National planning policy now requires that 10% of all Local Plan growth should come from sites no larger than one hectare (NPPF paragraph 68a). Our new Local Plan will need to consider how we approach and meet this requirement.

Our economy

Since the adoption of the Core Strategy, our economy has continued to change and evolve with the expansion of the internet and wider global supply chains. This has had major implications for our town centres and high streets. The way many businesses operate and their requirements for offices and business premises (for example the distribution and logistics sector) has changed, as have their operating business needs. The country also now has the very significant challenge of ‘rebooting’ the economy post Covid-19. This will require innovation and creativity to regain economic productivity, achieve the decarbonisation targets set in response to the Council’s declaration of a Climate Emergency and mitigate the potential negative effects on key employment sectors in South Gloucestershire, like aviation.

The key issues to consider in preparing our new Local Plan in relation to the economy are:

35. Change and challenge for town centres and high streets

A national decline in the amount of shop and retail floor-space and the continued rise of online shopping requires us to reconsider the purpose of our town centres and high streets. These changes have been magnified by Covid-19, which is also impacting leisure, entertainment, food and drink businesses. Our Local Plan will need to consider how flexible policies can be developed to support the repurposing of our town centres and high streets, as they look to remain attractive to investment and useful hubs for local communities over the next 5, 10, 15 years and beyond:

  • there has been an increase in vacancy rates of shops in some town centres, particularly Kingswood and Yate
  • national planning policy encourages a more diversified approach to town centres and high streets to encourage dwell time, footfall and leisure activity
  • future high streets need to be diverse, encouraging a wider array of facilities such as leisure, culture, community uses, health facilities, education facilities, food and beverage units and other types of employment uses
  • provision of new residential accommodation in town centres can drive investment, increase footfall and activity and will be become more common within our town centres and high streets. However, this needs to be designed and delivered in the right way to avoid harm to residents and the other users of town centres for shopping, businesses and activity
  • there is a need for coordinated regeneration, investment, new uses and development within and around our town centres and high streets, to ensure they remain viable and adaptable for businesses to serve the changing needs of local communities in the future
  • integration of high-quality public realm and green infrastructure within town centres and high streets has multiple benefits. It can play a key role in improving visual amenity, safety, biodiversity, air quality, shading, and cooling, as well as the combined health and well-being benefits which will help increase the time people spend in our town centres and high streets

36. The amount of employment land and jobs we need to plan for

Our new Local Plan will be required to provide and safeguard land for employment generating uses which will be balanced against the need for new housing. This will be done by protecting employment sites that are important for the local economy over the plan period, and setting out land for new sites. This will require new evidence including:

  • a regional Employment Land and Spatial Needs Assessment (ELSNA) is being undertaken to determine the wider Functional Economic Market Area (FEMA) for the West of England area that will inform the SDS. This is done sub-regionally to ensure that employment needs (for businesses and residents) are met, that the area continues to prosper and is resilient to sudden changes. The ELSNA study will set out the amount of land needed to accommodate future economic growth
  • a more geographically focused Employment Land Review (ELR) for South Gloucestershire will be required. This will assess the existing quality and quantity of employment land within the authority – focused on our existing safeguarded employment areas

37. Planning for clean growth and key sectors

Clean Growth is defined as growing the UK’s national income whilst cutting greenhouse gas emissions in ‘The Clean Growth Strategy: Leading the way to a low carbon future’.

South Gloucestershire benefits from a prosperous economy, but must continue to provide and safeguard sufficient employment land for the needs of existing and new businesses. Key sectors and business clusters including the aerospace and advanced engineering industries, UWE, distribution, manufacturing and service industries and our emerging TEC ARC area, will have changing needs and demands into the future.

TEC ARC is short for ‘Technology, Enterprise and Connectivity delivered by Academia, Research and Commercialisation’, which is a concept that spans from Emersons Green Enterprise Area to Filton Enterprise area via the University of the West of England, to the M4/M5 interchange. It is a magnet for deep tech and innovation supporting high value R&D, scale-ups and large employers to collaborate locally to generate global impact.

Our Local Plan will need to understand these needs to plan effectively for long term sustainable growth. Key business and economic drivers which will influence our strategy include:

  • the West of England Local Industrial Strategy sets out that industrial development in the West of England should be based on inclusive and clean technologies, whilst also ensuring that productivity remains strong so the region creates high quality, well-paid jobs
  • in response to the climate change emergency, we need to plan to increase renewable energy generation, providing land and sites for renewables.
  • we also need to maximise the opportunities for the local economy to benefit from new green technologies
  • a better understanding of the supporting infrastructure, whether that is transportation, digital connectivity, type of new homes, skills or leisure and commercial facilities – that our existing businesses need in order to flourish, grow and stay in South Gloucestershire
  • South Gloucestershire hosts an existing nuclear power station that is being decommissioned, as well as a nationally nominated site for a new nuclear power station. We therefore need to plan for proposals for change and/or reuse at the existing site, and for a potentially significant construction project. This will involve an influx of thousands of construction workers, potential related economic development opportunities and a need for offsite associated infrastructure

38. Safeguarded employment land left for development

There is not a great amount of undeveloped employment land remaining in South Gloucestershire.

The majority of this land (226 hectares – 36% of the original allocation) is at Severnside. It is likely that our new Local Plan will need to provide more land for employment purposes, to allow existing and new businesses to invest and grow within the South Gloucestershire.

Furthermore, there will be a need to assess existing safeguarded employment sites for their suitability to be redeveloped to incorporate more flexible and adaptable uses (where possible), to ensure that the needs of businesses are met for the plan period. We will need to plan for both the overall quantity and type of employment land to be available, but also ensure that it is in the right location which will best support employment growth and the overall strategy of the Plan.

North Fringe of Bristol123%
East Fringe of Bristol32%
Yate & Chipping Sodbury00%
(North Yate New Neighbourhood)6.7100%
Rural Area02%
Safeguarded employment land left for development

39. Employment land lost to non-employment uses

Employment sites across our urban areas have been lost to other uses, particularly housing. Whilst this has helped to provide new homes, it has led to the loss of land for business and jobs. The loss of safeguarded employment land has been particularly noticeable in the East Fringe – with the loss of nearly 17ha of land from employment uses.

Land Safeguarded in Core Strategy (Ha)Safeguarded Land (Ha) lost to non-employment uses
North Fringe of Bristol3559.82
East Fringe of Bristol14716.99
Yate & Chipping Sodbury882.4
Rural Area140

40. Access to employment and need to commute

Whilst our authority benefits from a strong economy and investment generally, there is an inequality of job opportunities across South Gloucestershire. The ratio of local jobs to resident workers (which is a measure of the relationship between where people live and work) varies widely. These patterns are dynamically changing due to new working practices and this will likely continue due to the impact of Covid-19, including greater levels of working from home.

However, some areas have long-standing issues with uneven numbers of people to local jobs. For example there are almost half as many ‘jobs’ in the East Fringe than the number of resident workers (ratio of 0.4), whilst in the North Fringe there are almost twice as many ‘jobs’ as the number of resident workers (ratio of 1.8).

The lack of access to job opportunities in some areas, and strong concentration of jobs in other parts of the authority and in central Bristol can contribute to patterns of commuting across the area, predominantly by private car. This contributes to significant congestion, adding to the issues highlighted above around climate change and air pollution, and also the perpetuation of inequalities in our region and our own area.

Policy AreaResident workers within area‘Jobs’ within areaRatio Jobs per worker
East Fringe53,80024,0000.4
North Fringe32,60057,7001.8
Rural Area24,90015,6000.6
Yate & Chipping Sodbury18,30013,2000.7
South Gloucestershire137,400118,8000.9
Ratio of Jobs per worker 2011 Census (Table WF01BEW)
© Crown copyright and database rights 2021 Ordnance Survey 100023410.

Travel and transport

South Gloucestershire’s location next to a major city, its significant employment opportunities and position on the strategic road and rail network has historically encouraged high levels of investment and growth in housing and employment. This has led to high rates of traffic growth, increasing congestion, air pollution, unsustainable commuting patterns and longer journey times. A high quality of digital connectivity and broadband access can assist in reducing peoples need to travel. However, there is a need to increase people’s ability to walk and cycle to access key services and facilities, including community centres, some types of shopping, health, education, and certain types of employment. The key issues for the new Local Plan in relation to accessibility and transport are:

41. Decarbonising transport

Transportation in South Gloucestershire is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. To sustainably connect people and places the plan will need to consider where new development of different scales should be placed and how to plan transport infrastructure and investment. Both need to prioritise people’s ability to walk, cycle and utilise effective public transport to access key services and facilities and connect with the natural environment, rather than rely on private car journeys. There will also be a need to consider how to decarbonise public transport and private journeys when travel is necessary and increase digital connectivity.

Information collected in the Data and Access Profiles shows that the ability of individual communities to sustainably connect to existing key services and facilities (including whether broadband access is available in rural communities), by walking and cycling and the availability of suitable public transport connections, varies significantly across urban and rural areas.

42. Walkable neighbourhoods – access to key services and facilities in our urban areas

Urban areas and communities within South Gloucestershire are generally in closer proximity to a wide range of key services and facilities to enable access by walking and cycling. There is also generally a greater frequency, number and range of public transport connections available for those living in urban areas. However, there are variations across urban areas, in both the key services and facilities which people can walk and cycle to, and the range of public transport connections available:

  • urban communities in the North Fringe such as Filton, Stoke Gifford, Harry Stoke and those in Yate have the opportunity to walk, or cycle to train stations, offering local and national connections which other communities do not have
  • Cribbs Causeway, Stoke Gifford and Harry Stoke, Patchway and Filton have access to the widest range of bus connections to other centres and employment areas
  • Yate, Stoke Gifford and Harry Stoke and Patchway, closely followed by Kingswood and Filton have the greatest number and range of key services and facilities in close proximity to enable walking and cycling access
  • compared to other urban areas Oldland Common, Mangotsfield and Cadbury Heath have fewer key services and facilities in close proximity which they can access by walking and cycling

43. Walkable neighbourhoods – access to key services and facilities in our rural areas

Generally rural locations are likely to have lower levels of key services and facilities in close proximity, which means fewer people can safely walk and cycle to them. They can have lower-quality digital connections, along with fewer and less frequent public transport connections. Based on the current distribution of key services, facilities and transport infrastructure there are, however, significant variations between communities within rural South Gloucestershire.

  • Our rural area contains some villages and rural locations with key services and facilities in close proximity to enable walking and cycling. Some of these locations also have regular public transport connections to destinations with further key services and facilities.
  • Settlements such as Chipping Sodbury, Coalpit Heath, Frampton Cotterell and Winterbourne are on public transport corridors that connect Yate/Chipping Sodbury and the North/East Fringe of Bristol. Similarly, Alveston, Rudgeway and Almondsbury are on a public transport corridor between the North Fringe and Thornbury.
  • Villages, settlements and land adjacent to the urban edge sometimes have walking, cycling and/or relatively quick and regular public transport access to key services and facilities in the urban area. Such locations include Almondsbury, Bitton, Hambrook, Pucklechurch and Shortwood.
  • There are some rural places which currently have minimal levels or no key services and facilities which can be accessed by walking and cycling. Many of these places also have either no, or a very low level of access by public transport, including; Aust, Badminton, Doynton, Dyrham, Elberton, Hallen, Hill, Hinton, Latteridge, Littleton-upon- Severn, Rockhampton, Tormarton, Upton Cheyney and West Littleton. These communities can often also have poor quality digital connectivity and broadband options.

44. Transport infrastructure

In recent years, significant new transport infrastructure has been delivered, including the Greater Bristol Bus Network (GBBN), MetroBus, and the expansion of Smart Motorways on the M4, M5 and M49 junction and improvement to the strategic cycle network in our district. However, transport schemes take time to plan and deliver and need significant levels of funding, and this has resulted in problems securing the timely provision of public transport to support the growing population.

Land to facilitate transport infrastructure including rail, public transport, walking, cycling and highway capacity schemes will need to be safeguarded in the new Local Plan.

  • The Joint Local Transport Plan includes strategic rail, public transport, walking, cycling and highway capacity schemes that will need to be incorporated our Local Plan.
  • At future stages we will be able to say more about the transport schemes that will help to support sustainable growth.

Government began consultation in 2020 on ending the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans by 2040 or earlier. As part of the declared climate emergency, there is a need to consider how people travel in the future when not walking, cycling or using public transport. It is highly likely there will be an increased requirement for infrastructure to run alternative fuel cars and vehicles, including electric vehicles. The new Local Plan may need to set policy to require provision of this infrastructure as part of new development.

Supporting infrastructure

The key issues for the Plan in relation to the provision of supporting infrastructure are:

45. Infrastructure and new development

The rapid rate of development in the North and East Fringes of Bristol, Yate and Thornbury has required a wide range of supporting infrastructure, including new schools, community centres, enhanced public transport such as MetroBus services, along with open space. It can be challenging to ensure the right supporting infrastructure is provided before or alongside new homes, because this requires up-front investment and the subsidy of services provided ahead of a commercially sustainable level of demand. This is a complex issue which involves numerous different partners, funding and delivery mechanisms and practical considerations. However, it is important for new and existing communities that as far as possible the services and facilities needed to support new development can be delivered at the right time and to be viable, with long term management and maintenance arrangements in place.

46. Broadband and digital connections

Covid-19 has led to a change in working practices, demonstrating the need for effective digital connections and the significant impact of increased home working and video conferencing. One positive impact of this has been a reduction in transport emissions as significantly fewer people commuted to work. There will be an increased requirement for high-quality, digital access, to support improved connections between people, communities and future businesses including the developing TEC ARC and the Bristol & Bath Science Park. This will help to modernise working practices, including increased home working, and improve equality of access to employment opportunities across all of our communities, both urban and rural.

A range of key services and facilities, including some retail, health and education facilities, have an increasingly online and digital presence to how they connect with people and communities. The new Local Plan will need to investigate how greater provision for effective digital connections can be planned for and provided as part of new development.

47. Drainage and sewerage infrastructure

In planning for new development, we will need to consider, in partnership with Wessex Water, its potential impact on existing and planned wastewater and sewerage infrastructure, ensuring developments meet the requirements of the Drainage and Waste Water Management Plans. Development will need to ensure adequate treatment of waste and surface water to avoid water-quality deterioration and, where necessary, contribute to new infrastructure. Surface water runoff should be managed in a sustainable manner following the drainage hierarchy to ensure surface water flood risk is not increased. Sustainable drainage systems (SuDs) should be used to manage surface water runoff and be designed so as to achieve the four pillars of SuDs design, ensuring benefits in terms of water quantity and quality, ecology and amenity.

Sewage and water infrastructure may also offer opportunities for generation of renewable energy.

48. School capacity and access

The ability to access primary and secondary schools is a key consideration when planning growth. A Local Plan can safeguard and allocate sites for facilities to grow and new ones to be established. However, access to and capacity at schools can be affected, both positively and negatively, by the choice of growth locations.

  • The council has an obligation to provide free transport where no education facilities are within a safe and appropriate walking distance of homes. The location of new homes will have a direct impact on the need and type of transport to education facilities, which has implications for climate change, congestion, health and well-being and the longer term economic sustainability of the Council.
  • Some schools, particularly smaller schools in rural areas, have issues with their long-term sustainability and quality of education due to surplus capacity caused by a lack of new students (pdf).
  • In some locations it may not be possible for an education facility to grow and expand, even if additional capacity is required.

49. Community centres and community infrastructure

Equal access for everyone to facilities and places that provide opportunities for social, recreational, physical, learning and cultural activities, community engagement and the development of social capital is key to planned sustainable growth. Such facilities include community centres, libraries and recreation facilities. These support health and well-being and help improve health equalities. They should be located where they can be accessed sustainably, ideally by walking and cycling, and are affordable and easy to use for all ages and abilities and have viable long-term management arrangements.

50. Sport and recreation

Participation in sport and physical activity has many benefits for health and well-being. To support this South Gloucestershire Council has adopted a strategy for providing playing pitches and indoor and built sports facilities. This aims to enable and increase participation for all parts of our communities. In terms of sports pitches the strategy is to protect, enhance and provide sports pitches, to meet the needs of existing and new residents. For indoor built facilities, there are identified needs to invest in Yate and Kingswood leisure centres and provide more capacity throughout the urban areas where there is currently insufficient capacity for the growing population. Enhanced and new sports pitches and facilities may need to be investigated to support growth set out by the new Local Plan. Development will also need to contribute to the provision of pitches, indoor and built facilities.

51. Doctors surgeries and GPs

The council works with partners, to assess where existing and new health facilities might need to be provided or expanded, to meet changing local needs. However, whilst the new Local Plan can allocate land for expansion or provision of new health facilities, public sector bodies are not in direct control of where and when GP practices expand or open. Under the current system they operate similarly to private businesses.

52. Blue light services

Our fire, police, ambulance and other emergency services are planning for their future, while we consider how to plan for our area. These partner organisations will have requirements for buildings and facilities as they consider how to serve communities into the future. There may be opportunities for better use of land currently in use and owned by these partner organisations, particularly in urban areas. There may also be a need to provide land for new facilities. In preparing strategies for growth the new Local Plan will need to work with these organisations to ensure that appropriate provision is made for the future of these services.

53. Waste

Improvements in waste infrastructure are needed between now and 2027 to serve our growing communities and to improve the sustainability of waste management, taking opportunities to establish energy efficient and circular approaches to storage, disposal and use of waste. New and enhanced waste transfer stations and recycling centres are being provided in the North and East Fringes of the urban areas to meet these needs. Other facilities may need to be planned for as we consider greater levels of growth in our new Local Plan.

54. Minerals

The ability to use the valuable aggregate mineral resources that exists in our area in a sustainable way plays an important part in the economic, environmental and infrastructure goals for South Gloucestershire. The resources in our area are an important contributor to the sub region and nation’s mineral requirements and prosperity. They provide the critical raw material for built development and other construction, manufacturing and infrastructure, through their use as concrete, mortar, finishes, roadstone, constructional fill and railway ballast.

Minerals are a diminishing, finite, and often constrained resource and can only be worked where they are found. It is therefore important that through the new Local Plan we plan to maintain a steady and adequate supply of minerals, but also ensure minerals are extracted in a sustainable way and restoration of former mineral extraction areas within South Gloucestershire is progressed over the coming years

55. Renewable Energy

Through its declaration of a Climate Emergency in 2019, the Council pledged to provide the leadership to enable the whole area of South Gloucestershire to become carbon neutral by 2030. As part of this, the Council recognised the need to significantly increase renewable energy generation and signed the UK100 Pledge to enable communities to achieve 100% clean energy across all sectors. To this end, the Council is seeking to support a complete shift towards a renewable and more decentralised system of electricity generation and therefore need to understand and consider the potential for power generation within South Gloucestershire, and how best to ensure this potential is realised.

With this in mind, the Council has commissioned a study to investigate the potential to increase the use and supply of renewable and low carbon energy and heat. The study will provide an evidence base to: underpin emerging strategic and local planning policies; help develop a positive strategy for renewable and low carbon energy in Local Plan; and inform the Council’s decision-making in relation to making the best use of land.

Questions and comments

To answer these questions visit our online consultation page at to complete or download our questionnaire.

Potential priorities

To address the issues set out in the previous section we have identified 9 potential priorities that we could use to shape the content and approaches in our new Local Plan. The priorities may address more than one issue, for example, enabling significantly more walking and cycling, and will help to address both climate change and health issues. They will guide the type and content of any new planning policies we might prepare. The priorities also inform the choices and options for making decisions on the location of new homes, jobs, facilities and services.

These priorities, and the approach, policies and strategy which flow from them, will need to be developed innovatively, and allow for flexibility as new information and issues arise on Covid-19, the declared Climate Emergency, issues facing our natural environment and the regeneration of our town centres, high streets and economy. The priorities therefore need to be bold, challenging and promote debate. The alternative is that we gradually ‘revert back’ to how things were and lose the opportunity presented, through preparing our new Local Plan to make lasting changes.

Pursue a carbon neutral and resilient future in a changing climate

  • Minimise the need to travel, and where travel is necessary, decarbonise it by prioritising walking, cycling and effective public transport.
  • Require zero carbon, energy-efficient building design and construction and support retrofitting to decarbonise heating.
  • Significantly increase renewable and low-carbon energy generation.
  • Increase our resilience to climate change impacts and threats, including flood risk, poor air-quality, overheating and our natural environment.

Protect and enhance our environment

  • Avoid directing growth to locations which would cause unacceptable harm to natural or historic assets of designated importance, or to areas of highest flood risk.
  • Establish, maintain and enhance the function and connectivity of green infrastructure and Nature Recovery Networks.
  • Apply the mitigation hierarchy and achieve biodiversity net gain in new developments.
  • Increase tree cover by requiring tree-planting and require the replacement of valuable trees lost to development.
  • Protect and enhance the character, distinctiveness, quality and intrinsic features of the local landscape.

Development that promotes health and well-being

  • Enable more active lifestyles including play, walking, cycling and sport.
  • Ensure new homes, workplaces and streets provide high quality residential amenity, private space and internal layouts.
  • Refocus on the value of high-quality green infrastructure, nature rich habitat and open spaces for all our communities.
  • Promote healthy lifestyle choices through development, such as avoiding takeaways near schools.
  • Deliver local regeneration, employment and education opportunities which contribute to reducing health inequalities.

Creating exceptional places and spaces

  • Respond to key natural, built, historic and landscape assets and local character to create high-quality developments, which add to, or create, a sense of place.
  • Buildings and infrastructure should be designed and built to deal with and adapt to climate change.
  • New communities should be designed to be walkable and cyclable neighbourhoods.
  • New homes and infrastructure should be adaptable and accessible to cater for households whose needs may change over time, and for our ageing population.
  • Promote opportunities and life chances for all.

Planning for urban and rural areas

  • Optimise the quality, density and range of uses being developed in urban areas and on brownfield sites, but achieve a high quality of life in urban communities – an “Urban Lifestyles” approach.
  • Identify urban locations that will need long-term regeneration to deliver positive development and change.
  • Share the benefits of well-planned growth and prosperity across urban and appropriate rural communities.
  • If the Bristol and Bath Green Belt is reviewed, and parts of it are required to meet growth needs, ensure its long-term purpose and function is maintained and its recreational value enhanced.

Provide the right type and number of new homes

  • Allocate sites to deliver new homes to meet the need identified in the West of England Spatial Development Strategy.
  • Provide homes that meet the needs of all our communities including Affordable Homes
  • Provide a portfolio of sites, of different sizes, in a range of sustainable locations across South Gloucestershire.
  • Provide resilience to our 5-Year supply of housing land.
  • Explore new forms of landownership and delivery models, to deliver a range of housing types.
  • Provide for self-build and custom housebuilding.
  • Provide land and policies to facilitate the delivery of small sites.

Enable a productive, clean and inclusive economy

  • Ensure a “green” economic recovery from Covid-19 and growth of green technology and clean businesses and sectors.
  • Rethink town centres and high streets, in terms of what they offer and how they operate.
  • Build on and enhance digital connectivity across the area.
  • Plan for the employment land and jobs required to meet the needs identified by the West of England Spatial Development Strategy.
  • Ensure safeguarded employment sites are flexible and attractive to accommodate businesses of all sizes, including key local sectors in a rapidly changing economic and retail environment.
  • Ensure a balanced range of safeguarded employment land across South Gloucestershire, so that all communities have access to job opportunities that are accessible by walking, cycling and effective public transport.
  • Build on the potential for tourism and the visitor economy in our area.

Achieving sustainable travel and transport

  • New growth should be in close proximity to existing or new key services and facilities, to create walkable and cycleable neighbourhoods.
  • Effective public transport connections will be required where travel is needed.
  • Facilitate walking, cycling and public transport by providing high-quality, safe connections and routes.
  • Promote and bring about positive travel habits through travel planning.
  • Infrastructure for alternative-fuel vehicles should be available in new developments.
  • Safeguard land required for new transport schemes.

Ensuring the timely and efficient provision of infrastructure to support growing communities

  • Direct development to those locations well-served or capable of being well served by infrastructure including utilities, key services and facilities and public transport in a cost effective and efficient manner.
  • New development through its location, design and contribution should support the long-term success and sustainability of schools, community infrastructure and open spaces.
  • Explore a range of landownership and delivery models, so as to maximise and deliver infrastructure earlier, and ensure its long-term maintenance and management.
  • Ensure the alignment of the delivery of all development including new homes, employment and significant projects, with the provision of all necessary infrastructure.

Questions and comments

To answer these questions visit our online consultation page at to complete or download our questionnaire.

Read the next chapter – Where will new development go?

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

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