Phase 2 planning policies

Purpose of local plan policies

Local plan policies provide direction and clarity on where development is expected to take place. They outline the number and types of homes, jobs, services and facilities, as well as infrastructure that will be expected to be developed in South Gloucestershire. Planning policies also safeguard and seek to enhance our green infrastructure, biodiversity, historic assets and buildings, and unique areas of character across the authority.

Topic-based policies shape the quality, type and way we build new types of development. Ensuring we aim for high quality and progressive approaches is crucial if we are to positively address our declared Climate Emergency, assist our natural environment, make effective and efficient use of land in our most sustainable urban and brownfield areas, and set the strategic principles that communities, developers and other stakeholders need to consider when they bring forward idea for development and change.

Policies in our Local Plan are the starting point for making decisions on all planning applications and will be the foundation for guiding development across all of South Gloucestershire.

Although we are not yet in a position to share all the planning policies that may be in our new Local Plan, we do want to share initial drafts of key policies, linked to the options and approaches set out in this Phase 2 document and where we can.

Recap Phase 1 policies drafted and consulted on

As part of the Phase 1 Issues and Approaches consultation document, we set out the range of policies we think would be required as part of our new Local Plan and which local plan priority they would assist in achieving.

We also shared and consulted on early drafts of policies, covering the following topics:

Working policy draft available (strategic)

  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Creating well-designed places
  • Nationally Important Infrastructure Projects (NSIPS) and related development

Working policy draft available (non-strategic)

  • Energy management in new development
  • Renewable and low carbon energy system
  • Parking requirements, including electric vehicles
  • Oldbury – nuclear new build
  • Oldbury A station – decommissioning
    radioactive waste

You can view all the responses to our consultation on Phase 1 draft policies and key statistics from the Phase 1 consultation (link to be added to information when released as part of Local Plan Phase 2 consultation.)

We will continue to develop and refine the draft policies covering those areas and will bring forward updated versions in future stages of our Local Plan’s development. Future versions will build upon the comments received, latest national planning policy position and to reflect any new technical evidence and information.

However, at this stage we want to share and discuss other draft policies which look to significantly update our adopted Core Strategy and PSP policies and also introduce new policy and approaches.

Phase 2 – further Draft Policies

To continue the development of a new policy framework we have included first drafts of policies which in future will assist in managing development to maximise the positive impacts on;

  • The Emerging Strategic Green Infrastructure Network and key environment principles
  • our approach to optimising density and making efficient use of land in urban areas,
  • supporting rural communities who want to bring forward new homes to meet locally identified needs,
  • Manage harmful concentrations of HMO’s and;
  • Introduce a policy requirement for biodiversity net gain, an area where new guidance, online tools and national policy will come forward as our new Local Plan is prepared, but will impact on nearly all types of proposals for new homes, jobs and infrastructure.

These early draft policies, along with those presented in our Phase 1 document all contribute to achieving and taking forward the new local plans draft objectives and topics of particular interest to our council.

Phase 2 Draft – Strategic Policies

Strategic Green Infrastructure and Environment

Phase 2 Draft – Non-Strategic Policies

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

Urban Lifestyles and Density

Biodiversity and Net Gain

Rural Exception Sites & Community Led Rural Sites

Working policy title: Strategic Green Infrastructure and Environment

Existing policies

Which adopted Core Strategy or Policies Sites and Places (PSP) policy would eventually be replaced

Core Strategy Policy CS2 – Green Infrastructure, and parts of; Core Strategy Policy CS9 – Managing the Natural Environment


Adopted Core Strategy Policy CS2 sets out our current objectives and strategic principles for Green Infrastructure, including a high-level Green Infrastructure network. Since this policy was adopted the pressure on our natural environment and decline of natural habitats has increased.

Our new Local Plan also needs to guide with more certainty the locations which are strategically important for connecting green and blue infrastructure for people and nature. We need to establish updated and revised approaches to provision and replacement of trees, nature recovery and how we provide public open space and approach to ongoing funding and maintenance of all our green and open space assets.

Green Infrastructure, which includes blue infrastructure can create a strategic network of natural and semi natural features, green spaces and rivers and lakes that intersperse and connect villages, towns and urban areas Individually, these elements are GI assets, and the roles that these assets play are GI functions. These assets and functions, when planned well, can deliver multiple benefits. Benefits of a well-planned network of Green Infrastructure include; adaption to climate change, nature recovery, access, recreation, economic growth, landscape setting, energy production, flood attenuation, energy production and cultural heritage. Realising the potential of Green Infrastructure can play a crucial role in assisting with mitigation of, and adaption to, climate change.

An updated South Gloucestershire strategic Green Infrastructure Network which includes a Nature Recovery Network is currently being developed and consulted on as a strategic option in this document. This network establishes nine GI corridors which we will aim to enhance and protect under the proposed new policy.

A new key principle and requirement in relation to our natural environment is Biodiversity Net Gain. This needs to be incorporated into the planning of our area, planning decisions and networks for Green Infrastructure and nature going forward. Biodiversity net gain delivers measurable improvements for biodiversity by creating or enhancing habitats in association with development. National policy now requires that biodiversity net gain should be provided as part of development and guidance is being prepared on how it will be calculated and secured through individual application.

This policy also sets out strategic principles for other types of green infrastructure such as trees, open space and flood risk. These will lead to new and updated non-strategic policies on these issues.

Policy wording

Acceptable development proposal will be expected to:

  1. Enhance the connectivity and function of any Strategic Green Infrastructure corridor in which the proposal site is situated in. Proposals which sever or harm the connectivity and function of individual corridor(s) and key assets in the Strategic Green Infrastructure network will be refused.
  2. Provide biodiversity net gain of 10%, secured in perpetuity (at least 30 years)
  3. Plan for the retention of valuable trees and hedgerows. Where valuable trees are necessary to be lost to secure sustainable and high quality development, mitigate their loss in line with the tree replacement standard.
  4. Reduce and manage the impact of flood risk, including consideration of climate change through location, layout, design, choice of materials and the use of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS); with agreed long-term management regime, with appropriate ongoing maintenance secured from the outset
  5. Protect the quality and quantity of the water environment and its margins;
  6. Deliver an appropriate level of public open space(s), which maximises potential for multiple functions and connections to the strategic and local networks of Green Infrastructure
  7. Protect, create and improve recreational, play, access and local food cultivation opportunities
  8. Protect and enhance species and habitats, and creating new habitats and wildlife linkages between them
  9. Protect and enhance visually important hillsides and identified strategic views

Green Infrastructure, open space and biodiversity proposals will be expected to have agreed long-term management regime with appropriate ongoing maintenance secured from the outset.

Supporting text

In future stages of the new Local Plan’s preparation the proposed Strategic Green Infrastructure Network will be designated on the proposals map.

Green Infrastructure can accommodate routes for walking, cycling and horse riding and includes accessible open spaces which people visit for formal and informal recreation, exercise, community activities, social interaction and all types of play (for example equipped/built, natural, imaginative and creative). GI allows for improved connectivity between urban, urban fringe and rural assets for people and wildlife, and can also connect people with places of work and community facilities. GI benefits people’s health (mental and physical) and well-being and provides opportunities for learning and studying. South Gloucestershire benefits from a significant number of long-distance footpaths and cycle ways, supported by the local network of rights of way.

Green Infrastructure should be planned for in the early stages of development design, with consideration of local networks and wider strategic GI networks to ensure opportunities are appropriately identified.

The NPPF 2019 states that planning policies and decisions ‘should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by minimising impact on and providing net gains for biodiversity…’. A 10% mandatory requirement for biodiversity net gain within development has been proposed through The Environment Bill. The baseline and post-development biodiversity value of the development site and off-site areas proposed for habitat creation will be quantified through the latest DEFRA metric or agreed equivalent. In this document we set out the planning principles that we intend to apply to net gain in a new draft ‘Net Gain’ policy, which will eventually replace the existing net gain paragraphs in PSP19.

The existing adopted policy PSP3 – Trees and Woodland of the Policies Sites and Places Plan will be updated through future stages of the new local plan preparation to set out a new requirement and standard(s) for replacement of valuable trees where their loss is considered appropriate to enable sustainable development.

Our current adopted policy CS24 – Open Spaces in the Core Strategy with be updated through the future stages of the new local plan consultation to set out revised standards, particularly within proposed urban lifestyle areas where the standard and type of public open space, and public realm provided is a key consideration when the amount of new open space that can be provided is limited.

The Council has a central responsibility for the provision, delivery and planning of Green Infrastructure, given its role as local planning authority and direct provider of significant areas of open spaces. This role is enhanced by acting in partnership with the public, private and voluntary sectors, whilst ensuring that delivery of Green Infrastructure is based on a strategic view of what is required to serve the needs of the community.

Joint working with local authorities and partners will help to ensure that GI is integrated and interlinked across the sub-region to maximise its benefits for biodiversity and people.

In future stages of the new Local Plan we will look to set out on the proposals map the visually important hillsides ad key strategic views/viewpoints. This will be informed by evidence within the Strategic Green Infrastructure Corridor Mapping Project. Identifying these features will assist in enhancing and creating high quality environments and places, allowing development of future homes, jobs and other uses to understand and respond to key elements of GI and landscape character within South Gloucestershire.


Do you agree with our proposed policy approach?

To answer this question please use our online questionnaire.

Working policy title: Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

Existing policies

Which adopted Core Strategy or Policies Sites and Places (PSP) policy would eventually be replaced

Policies Sites and Places policy PSP39 – Residential Conversions, Sub-Divisions and Houses in Multiple Occupation


Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are properties rented out to at least 3 people who are not from one household (for example, a family) but share facilities like a bathroom or kitchen. Most HMOs are conversions or subdivisions of larger houses and currently, as at 2021, planning permission is usually only needed for HMOs which will provide a home for 7 or more people.

HMOs meet a variety of needs for private rented housing, ranging from young professional ‘house-shares’ and students wanting to live off campus, as well as providing a vital source of housing supply for people on lower incomes. HMOs therefore help to provide a diverse portfolio of housing types in South Gloucestershire and for many people, HMOs provide a practical and affordable housing option that meets their housing needs.

Adopted policy CS17 Housing Diversity aims to support mixed communities and the delivery of different types of housing to meet local needs. Adopted policy PSP39 sets out how residential conversions, sub-divisions and HMOs should be developed in order to deliver a mix of housing types whilst providing accommodation that is acceptable to future occupants and the amenity of the neighbourhood.

As set out in the Local Plan 2020 (November 2020) Phase 1 consultation document, the new Local Plan will continue to support housing delivery which meets the needs of different groups in the community. Within this context, a new policy for HMO development is required to ensure that new HMOs are of a sufficiently high standard and are located appropriately, such as to avoid harmful impacts on local amenity and to HMO occupants, as well as to ensure that a diversity of housing can be maintained. This policy will be read alongside adopted policy CS17. In providing a dedicated HMO policy, it will replace adopted policy PSP39 and there will be a separate policy on residential conversions and subdivisions in the new Local Plan.

Evidence shows that there has been an increase in this type of development in South Gloucestershire over recent years to meet demand. This has resulted in concentrations of HMOs in particular parts of the district which has, in some cases, created a perception of issues for the neighbouring properties and the wider community. These issues mainly relate to increased parking pressures, noise, management of waste and recycling, and anti-social behaviour. Concentration of HMOs in any one area also gives rise to concerns that it impedes delivery of achieving housing mix which accommodates a range of different households and housing needs, and which supports a sustainable community demographic.

SGC has supported the implementation of existing policy PSP39 through production of the HMO Supplementary Planning Document (adopted 2nd October 2021). This clearly identifies how new HMO development will be considered in order to avoid harmful impacts to amenity and ensure a high quality of accommodation for occupants. The potential for Article 4 Directions (A4D) in some areas of South Gloucestershire is also being considered, which will – within a defined area – remove Permitted Development Rights relating to the conversion of dwelling houses (Use Class C3) to small HMOs (Use Class C4). If an A4D is implemented, it will bring the management of new HMO development into the planning system and allow SGC to apply adopted planning policy and supplementary guidance to a larger proportion of new HMOs.

Reflecting the content of the recent HMO SPD, this policy seeks to address HMO clustering and concentration by providing clear criteria defining the acceptable location of new HMOs. It also sets out the expected standard of new HMO development in order to create an acceptable living environment for occupants and neighbours

Policy wording

1. Location and concentration of HMOs

Where a planning application is required for:

  • a change of use from residential dwelling (Use Class C3) or any other use to a small HMO (Use Class C4)
  • a change of use from residential dwelling (Use Class C3) or any other use to a large HMO (Sui Generis)
  • intensification of a small HMO (Use Class C4) to a large HMO (Sui Generis)
  • new build HMO properties

Development will be supported if the location of the proposed HMO would not result in:

  • any single residential dwelling being ‘sandwiched’ between two HMOs; or
  • three or more adjacent HMO properties; or
  • a harmful and inappropriate concentration of HMOs in a locality, when measured as an overall percentage of total residential households

2. Standard of HMO accommodation

Where the location of HMO development is found acceptable in accordance with Part 1 of the policy, development will be supported if the proposed HMO would:

  • respect the character of the host property, street scene and surrounding area;
  • provide sufficient room space for everyday activities and enable flexibility and adaptability by meeting appropriate space standards;
  • contribute to the Council’s work on the Climate Emergency by achieving an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C or higher
  • ensure that adequate amenity space is retained;
  • provide sufficient recycling and refuse facilities;
  • not prejudice the amenity of neighbours.

Where HMO development is new build or includes extension of an existing building, the development should be consistent with other relevant Local Plan policies and guidance relating to new build residential accommodation and residential extensions.

3. Car parking and bicycle parking provision

Where the location and standard of HMO development is found acceptable in accordance with Part 1 and Part 2 of the policy, development will be supported if an appropriate level of car and bicycle parking can be provided which:

  • accords with the Council’s car and bicycle parking standards; and
  • maintains the character of the street-scene and host property

A minimum number of 0.5 car parking spaces per bedroom must be provided in new HMO development. If this cannot be provided within the curtilage of the property, the availability of sufficient on-street parking must be evidenced through a parking survey submitted with the planning application, carried out in accordance with the Parking Surveys Technical Advice Note.

Supporting text

Application of the policy

Currently in South Gloucestershire, a residential dwelling house, which is defined in planning terms as Use Class C3, can be converted to a small HMO (Use Class C4) without the need for planning permission, under what is termed permitted development rights.

HMOs therefore currently require express planning permission once they exceed 6 people if that change results in a material change in use. Large HMOs, formed from seven unrelated residents or more, become Sui Generis. Sui Generis is a “class of its own”, and no Permitted Development Right exists to change a HMO with 7 or more residents from any use. Consequently for the change of use of any premises to a HMO for 7 or more residents, an assessment has to be made as to whether a material change of use from the prior lawful use has occurred and, if it is determined that it has, then planning permission is required.

The provision of additional rooms within an existing HMO may also require planning permission. For example, an existing small HMO with 6 unrelated residents would require planning permission for the occupation of 1 further resident where this represents a material change of use. Existing large HMOs may require planning permission for the occupation of further residents if they have a previous planning permission that states the number of residents within the application description, or they have a restrictive condition.

The permitted development rights afforded to the conversion of a residential dwelling to a small HMO (Use Class C4) can be removed through an Article 4 Direction. Should an Article 4 Direction relating to HMO development be implemented in South Gloucestershire, the development or intensification of any HMO in the Article 4 Direction area would require planning permission and be subject to this policy.

Sandwiching and adjacent HMOs

An example of ‘sandwiching’ and proposed HMOs which may result in harm to the amenity of adjacent neighbours is set out in the image below and in further detail within the HMO Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).

‘Sandwiching’ situations can occur even where there are limited breaks in the building line, including across private or unadopted adjacent access tracks within the curtilage of properties. ‘Sandwiching’ is unlikely to occur across separating roads.

An ‘adjacent property’ is considered to be any property that shares one or more boundaries with the application boundary. For example, in any streets, this would include the immediate neighbouring property or those where the rear garden is adjoining.

Calculating concentration of HMOs

The HMO SPD sets out the percentage threshold at which the number of HMOs as a proportion of all residential households in a locality will be considered harmful and inappropriate. It provides detailed guidance on how the concentration will be calculated in determining applications for new HMO development.

Achieving Good Standards of Accommodation

All proposals for HMO development should have regard to the contents of the HMO SPD which provides further guidance on how this policy will be applied and identifies additional considerations for proposed HMO development and operation, such as licensing requirements.

In addition, specific guidance on the following criteria can be found in the following SPDs:

  • Car parking: the Residential Parking Standards SPD
  • Refuse and recycling: Waste and Recycling Collection: Guidance for New Developments SPD


Do you agree with our proposed policy approach?

To answer this question please use our online questionnaire.

Working policy title: Urban Lifestyles and Density

Existing policies

Which adopted Core Strategy or Policies Sites and Places (PSP) policy would eventually be replaced

NEW Policy – Partial update and links to existing adopted policies

Housing Density (CS16)

Parking (PSP16)

Private Amenity Space Standards (PSP43)

Open Space (CS24)


This policy is intended to be applied as part of the new ‘Urban Lifestyles’ approach, where development of new homes are proposed, either on allocated sites, as windfall development or as part of mixed use schemes within the designated Urban Lifestyle areas.

These areas are being consulted on as part of the new Local Plan, for designation on the policies map.

To understand more about the Urban Lifestyles approach generally please see the UL section of the plan. You can read more about the urban lifestyle approach relating to this policy in this section of the Phase 2 document.

They constitute the more accessible and sustainable areas within South Gloucestershire where opportunities to make effective and efficient use of land, and bring forward exciting and innovative forms of development, should be investigated.

This policy approach will assist in making sure we can bring forward more new homes and growth in our urban areas and sustainable areas of our market towns, reducing our overall reliance on greenfield sites. However, the policy requires that a certain standard of new development is created and provides a check list of criteria so that achieving density does not come at the cost of harm to the character of local areas and their key assets and cause significant negative impacts on local residents.

The suggested areas and density ranges set out in this policy will always rely on consideration of individual site’s, setting, context, the immediate surroundings, and judgments on whether achieving the density range is possible to meet all the required criteria without harm. In those circumstances when optimising density would not be possible, lower densities are allowed for. But the staring-point should be an expectation that better and more effective use of land is made.

The draft policy sets out criteria which allows the investigation of optimised densities to be balanced with considerations on quality of life and avoiding harm to the character of existing areas. Innovative designs will be encouraged to provide optimised density solutions, which balance higher densities with enhanced amenity for residents, resulting in well-designed and beautiful developments.

The policy approach will require new standards for parking compared to those set out in the existing PSP16 Parking policy, and a revised approach to Policy PSP43 which deals with private amenity space. A more refined approach to Policy CS24 covering open spaces is also needed, focussing less on the amount of open space and more on providing enhanced spaces, which includes the public realm within streets.

Policy wording

1. Development proposals for new homes within ‘Urban lifestyles’ areas as shown on the polices map, will be required to optimise the use of land by achieving net densities within the ranges shown in table 1 below.

Table 1 – Urban Lifestyles areasDensity range (D/Ha)
Communities of the Bristol North Fringe50 – 160
Cribbs Causeway110 – 160
Former Filton Airfield105 -160
Patchway Town Centre80 – 120
Bradley Stoke Town Centre65 – 100
Filton Town Centre50 – 90
Parkway, Stoke Gifford to UWE Corridor80 – 120
Communities of the Bristol East Fringe40 – 130
Kingswood Town Centre60 – 120
Staple Hill Town Centre65 – 120
Downend Town Centre40 – 115
Emersons Green Town Centre and Science Park45 – 70
Hanham Town Centre50 – 90
Longwell Green Retail Area100 – 130
Market Town Focus Areas45 – 120
Thornbury Town Centre50 – 90
Yate Station and Town Centre65 – 120
Chipping Sodbury Town Centre45 – 90

2. Development proposals for new homes within the Urban Lifestyle areas set out in Table 1, will be required to demonstrate the following:

a. Minimum room sizes for all types of new homes, as set out in the Nationally Described Space Standards;

b. A minimum of 5m.sq. of private amenity space for 1 and 2-bedroom apartments. The standards set out in adopted policy PSP43 will apply for homes of 2+ bedrooms;

c. An appropriate level of car parking which avoids negative effects on the existing parking situation;

d. Access to an appropriate level of public open space or high-quality public realm within appropriate walking distance;

e. There is no harm to amenity, or harm to designated and locally valuable heritage, ecological, landscapes and green infrastructure assets within or surrounding the site;

f. The character and quality of the area surrounding the site informs the design, placement and density of the scheme;

3. Development proposals with net densities below those set out in table 1, will only be permitted where achieving the requirements in criteria 2 can be demonstrated to not be possible or deliverable, or when achieving the density ranges would on an individual site lead to harm or negative impacts on;

a. The special landscape or heritage character of an area,

b. The amenity of existing and future residents.

‘Major’ development proposals, for new homes or mixed-use development should submit to the pre-application advice service. Major development of 10 or more homes are also encouraged to utilise the ‘design review panel’ to help guide the design of the development and to ensure design quality and optimised density is achieved.

Planning applications should include the following:

  • a density and character appraisal of the proposed development and surrounding context
  • a Parking Appraisal where lower parking standards are proposed

Cross sections, wind impacts information relating to taller buildings, sunlight and shadowing assessments, 3D context visualisations, and heritage assessments (including archaeological investigations), may also be required, depending on the scale, height and sensitivity of the site location and characteristics.

Supporting text

Urban Lifestyle – Table 1 Density Ranges

The density ranges in Table 1, should be used as a guide to minimum density for the development of new homes within the named and designated Urban Lifestyles and Market Town Focus’ areas.

The appropriate density for a site will always require consideration of the individual site, context and character of immediate surrounding area and buildings. Proposal sites which are more sustainably located and within existing areas of higher density, for example within or close to town centres, high streets shops, facilities, services, public transport hubs and public transport provision, will be more appropriate to aim for densities towards the top of the density range. Proposals which are within the designated Urban Lifestyle and Market Town focus areas, but more removed, for example 400 to 800metres from the town centre, transport hub, or where the existing character is of a much lower density, will be more suited towards density at the lower end of the range.

The SGC Density and Character Study (2022) should be referred to, to understand the background to the density ranges and inform consideration of appropriate density within each Urban Lifestyles and Market Town Focus area.

Major development proposals will be expected to be supported by a density and character appraisal which is specific to its site and context. This will need to clearly demonstrate and justify proposals for a density of development outside the density ranges set out.

Criteria 2 supporting text

The Nationally Described Space Standards (NDSS) will need to be applied to all types of new homes, market and affordable, HMO, student housing and specialist housing. Achieving optimised and higher density must be balanced with achieving a high quality of life for future residents, with an aging population and people’s needs changing as new technology and working practices come forward during the plan period. Minimum room sizes will allow flexibility in who and how people live in most sustainable urban areas.

It is intended that existing policy PSP43 (Private Amenity Space Standards) will be updated and taken forward as part of future stages of the new Local Plan. However, development within our most sustainable urban and market town areas will need to ensure that as densities are optimised, which may involve greater numbers of 1 and 2-bedroom developments, and these will require a minimum standard of private space to be designed in. The council will bring forward guidance and examples of different types of acceptable and high-quality private spaces at different scales and types of development across our Urban Lifestyles and market town focus areas.

The Phase 1 consultation on a new parking policy set out a new approach to potentially lower parking standards within the Urban Lifestyle areas and to support optimised development, as part of an updated Policy PSP on parking. This variable parking standards approach for the Urban Lifestyle areas requires a parking appraisal to determine the level of reduction and to prove no harm will arise. The parking appraisal tool is under development and will be brought forward in parallel with the new Local Plan.

New guidance and processes will be brought forward to support this policy and the Urban Lifestyles approach as part of the new Local Plan and future SPD’s.


Do you agree with the approach to optimising density within the areas named in table 1?

To answer this question please use our online questionnaire.

Working policy title: Biodiversity Net Gain

Existing policies

Which adopted Core Strategy or Policies Sites and Places (PSP) policy would eventually be replaced

New policy:

Amends and separates existing 2nd paragraph of Policies Sites and Places policy PSP19 – wider biodiversity


A key principle of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan is to support development and the environment by embedding the principle that new development should result in “net environmental gain – with neglected or degraded land returned to health and habitats for wildlife restored or created”. This has laid the foundation for the Environment Act to tackle biodiversity loss and recover nature through Biodiversity Net Gain, where development has a positive impact on biodiversity not just a neutral or negative impact.

The NPPF 2021 sets out that planning policies and decisions ‘should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by minimising impact on and providing net gains for biodiversity…’ along with ‘establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures’. Our existing policy PSP19 states that where ‘appropriate’ biodiversity gain will be sought from development proposals.

However, the 2021 Environment Act proposes to introduce a 10% mandatory requirement for biodiversity net gain within development. Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is the achievement of measurable gains for biodiversity through new development and occurs when a development leaves biodiversity in a better state than before development.

Therefore, our new Local Plan and development which takes place in future will now be ‘required’ to achieve net gain. This policy sets out the key requirements on new development in relation the principle of net gain approach to determine the need on individual development sites.

Work is progressing on the Biodiversity and Planning Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) setting out local guidance and requirements for delivering Biodiversity Net Gain that meets the requirements set out in this policy.

The council will have a duty to show where on-site and off-site Net Gain is being delivered and ensure this is achieving the required biodiversity gains and contributing to a local Nature Recovery Network.

South Gloucestershire Council is part of the West of England Nature Partnership (WENP), the designated Local Nature Partnership (LNP) for the West of England. To help reverse the declines in biodiversity and realise nature’s recovery at a landscape-scale, WENP have published the West of England Nature Recovery Network map.

This map shows ecological networks for wetland, woodland and grassland habitats, gaps in connectivity and the best places to reconnect the network. The council is producing its own local Nature Recovery Network that will complement the Strategic GI network and provide greater clarity on the location and types of habitats that should be protected and created as part of a Nature Recovery Network in South Gloucestershire.

Policy wording

New development will only be permitted where a Biodiversity Net Gain of at least 10% is demonstrated and secured in perpetuity (at least 30 years).

The following steps are required to determine the exact level of net gain required on each proposed development site;

a) The latest published Government metric should be used to quantify the baseline and post-development biodiversity value of the development site and off-site areas proposed for habitat creation.

b) Assessment of the baseline and post-development biodiversity value should be undertaken by a suitably qualified and/or experienced ecologist and is submitted together with baseline and proposed habitat mapping in a digital format with any planning application.

c) A 30-year management plan is submitted detailing how the post-development biodiversity values of the site and any supporting off-site mitigation will be achieved.

d) Any off-site habitats created/enhanced are well located to maximise opportunities for connections and enhancement of the Local Nature Recovery Network.

Supporting text

This policy mandates biodiversity net gain through the use of a specified biodiversity metric to development in the scope of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Defra’s Biodiversity Metric is the nationally recognised tool to measure and quantify biodiversity on sites and will be used to assess initial biodiversity, guide measures to deliver an improvement and assess the resulting biodiversity to ensure adequate gain is achieved.

BNG should be delivered on site in the first instance. But there is scope for biodiversity improvements to be delivered off-site when a development is not able to accommodate the required increase in biodiversity on the development site itself. Off-site biodiversity net gain needs to be secured under a planning obligation or conservation covenant and recorded in the biodiversity gain site register.

Role of Net Gain and the Strategic GI and Local Recovery Networks

The National Nature Recovery Network is a strategic spatial planning framework to deliver nature’s recovery. The Network will be delivered through a mandatory system of spatial strategies (Local Nature Recovery Strategies). These will identify the opportunities and priorities for enhancing biodiversity and supporting wider objectives such as mitigating or adapting to climate change and also support strategic planning for housing and infrastructure. This will help developers and planning authorities avoid the most valuable existing habitat and focus habitat creation or improvement where it will achieve the most benefit.

Future stages of Local Plan and councils work on Nature Recovery strategy will provide clarify on the location of the network and the types of habitats and species within.


Do you agree with our proposed policy approach?

To answer this question please use our online questionnaire.

Working policy title: Rural Exception Sites and Community Led Rural Housing

Existing policies

Which adopted Core Strategy or Policies Sites and Places (PSP) policy would eventually be replaced

Core Strategy Policy CS19 Rural Housing Exception Schemes


We want to enable all communities to investigate and bring forward sustainable growth in their settlement, where it would help in meeting local and identified needs. As part of the new strategy for our rural villages and settlements, beyond our urban areas and market towns, this two-part policy is intended to assist rural communities of any size and place take forward their own plans and idea for growth for new homes.

The opportunities for new homes to meet locally identified needs could be for just affordable or a primarily affordable led scheme, these are called ‘rural exception schemes’. We have set out the policy criteria that apply to bringing forward new affordable homes to meet a locally identified need. This part of the policy retains the key criteria from adopted policy CS19 and adds in further criteria crucial to arriving at sustainable and sound outcomes.

Communities may wish to respond where there is a locally identified need for non-affordable homes, or a proven need for both market and affordable homes. So in our new Local Plan we have set a new set out policy criteria to support ‘rural community led development’.

The proposed policy would support proposals by affordable housing providers, working with and in agreement with local communities to bring forward rural affording schemes. It will also support community land trust, neighbourhood planning groups and others, to bring forward affordable and mixed tenure schemes on land they own, either through a planning application or to inform preparation of a neighbourhood plan.

These plans would be separate to growth being investigated through the Local Plan for allocations in certain rural communities. However, growth to address very local needs can be taken forward through sites identified in Neighbourhood Plans and any evidence collected by communities around local needs can be used to inform the type and nature of development that could come forward on Local Plan allocated sites.

The Council, in partnership with others, will bring forward new guidance to illustrate how the policy requirements would be met by evidence and material either, particularly in relation to the proposed ‘general housing needs survey’. This policy is intended, to support future planning applications, allocations in future neighbourhood plans or other community led initiatives, to bring forward schemes which provide market or mixed tenure products.

Policy wording

Rural Exceptions Sites

Within and around rural villages and settlements development proposals will be acceptable where their primary purpose is to provide new affordable homes, provided:

  • the number, tenure and size (bedroom number) of affordable dwellings reflect an identified and genuine local need, as evidenced by an approved affordable housing needs survey; and
  • market housing can only be included to assist in making a rural exception scheme viable, but it must be demonstrated that the number and size of market units proposed are genuinely required through an appropriate viability assessment; and
  • Any market housing included must be integrated throughout the development so as to be indistinguishable from the affordable housing.
  • The site adjoins or is well-related to the existing village/ settlement and avoids a reliance on travel by private car to access services and facilities within the village or settlement; and
  • Will avoid harm to key environmental, landscape and national policy designations and considerations, including flood risk, Green Belt and the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; and
  • The placement, scale and design is appropriate to the nature of the village/ settlement and will respect the character and setting of that village/ settlement;
  • It has clear support from the appropriate parish council through evidenced consultation and supported affordable housing needs survey.

Proposals which include plots for self and custom build affordable homes will be supported where they meet the above criteria.

Community Led Rural Housing

Within and adjacent to rural villages and settlements, development proposals for community led rural housing will be acceptable where it can be demonstrated that:

  • the number, tenure and size (bedroom number) of market and affordable dwellings reflect an identified and genuine local need, as evidenced by an approved ‘general housing needs survey; and
  • it is within, adjoining or well-related to the existing village/ settlement and avoids a reliance on travel by private car to access services and facilities within the village or settlement; and
  • it will avoid harm to key environmental, landscape and national policy designations and considerations, including flood risk, and the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; and
  • the placement, scale and design are appropriate to the nature of the village/ settlement and will respect the character and setting of that village/ settlement;
  • it has clear support from the appropriate parish council through evidenced consultation and supported general housing needs survey(s)

Proposals which include plots for self and custom build affordable homes will be supported where they meet the above criteria.

Community led housing proposals for 10 or more market homes, will be required to provide affordable homes, including First Homes, in line with adopted local plan and government policy

In all instances where affordable homes, through a rural exception site or community led development, proposals will be subject to conditions or legal obligation to ensure that affordable housing is reserved in perpetuity for those in local affordable housing need.

Supporting text under development

Local Housing Needs Assessment, General Housing Needs Assessments

General local housing needs survey – The council and partners will develop guidance on the suitable level of evidence and approach to collecting survey data for both affordable, market and potential specialist housing local need.

Market Housing on Rural Exception Scheme Sites

Proposals containing an element of market housing, should be supported by a viability assessment which demonstrates that the proportion of market housing provided should be no greater than that required to deliver the agreed amount of affordable housing, identified in the approved ‘affordable housing needs survey.

We will bring forward information on the approach to this form of viability assessment

Delivering Rural Exception and Community led homes

Proposals for rural exception and community led homes will ordinarily be secured through planning applications. These would be in addition or outside of any Local Plan allocations. However, the affordable led schemes or schemes to meet community needs for market and rural housing can also be progressed through neighbourhood plans, with sites allocated in those documents to focus on meeting locally identified and evidenced needs.

Community land trusts and self build products also provide an opportunity for local communities to deliver the identified local needs for new homes.

Green Belt and Community Led Development

Where a community wants to bring forward such a scheme in the Green Belt for new homes which are not primarily for local affordable need, a Neighbourhood plan provides an opportunity make changes to the Green Belt to facilitate development of a local housing site, subject to meeting other requirements of national Green Belt policy.


Do you agree with our proposed policy approach?

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Read the next chapter – Management and maintenance of public open space

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