1. Introduction

Preparing our new Local Plan

1.1 We have an adopted Local Plan, the Core Strategy (2013) and Policies Sites and Places Plan (2017). However, we now need to develop a new strategy to guide and manage development and change in our area over the period up to 2040. This is an important opportunity to:

  • shape the places that we live, work and socialise in
  • have a direct impact on quality of life, the natural and built environment
  • have positive impacts on climate change, inequalities and encourage a green economy
  • discuss choices and make decisions about where future homes and jobs might be located, and which areas should be protected

Stages of preparation so far

1.2 This is the third phase of preparing a new Local Plan for South Gloucestershire. The first step in preparing our new Local Plan, the Phase 1 consultation, took place between November 2020 and March 2021.

1.3 The second step in preparing our new Local Plan, the Phase 2 consultation, took place between February 2022 and April 2022.

1.4 When we consulted on Phase 2, the strategic planning context for South Gloucestershire was intended to be provided through the West of England Combined Authority Spatial Development Strategy (SDS). That plan is not continuing, and as a consequence, the strategic planning context for the South Gloucestershire Local Plan will be established through the process of cooperation with our neighbouring councils.

1.5 Accordingly, the primary task of this next stage is to identify the scale of housing, employment and infrastructure required from the Local Plan and a strategy for how this will be achieved, in a way that will have a positive impact on delivering homes that are genuinely affordable and addresses the climate emergency and ecological crisis. To the extent spatial planning can influence the cost of living and help to close the equalities gap within South Gloucestershire, through our new Local Plan, we also need to ensure people can afford to live and work in our communities. Publishing this next stage is key to this process and demonstrates our commitment to work in partnership with and for communities, developers, utilities providers, and key interest groups. Important choices about where the new homes, jobs and infrastructure could be located, what areas should be protected, and where to enhance for nature and renewable energy, lie at the heart of the Plan. By continuing to prepare our Local Plan we are setting out a clear statement of intent for the development of our area to be plan-led.

What is in the Phase 3 consultation

1.6 In this next phase of the Local Plan we have set out and want your views on:

  • the objectives that will shape and inform a new Plan strategy and planning policies
  • information on the number and types of homes, jobs and infrastructure we need to plan for
  • potential allocations, within our urban areas and our market towns
  • our emerging preferred strategy for development which sets out the combination of sites which we think might be used to meet our need for new homes and jobs and to mitigate the climate change and biodiversity crisis
  • 3 different strategy ‘lenses’ – alternatives for where we could locate new homes and jobs. We used these lenses to develop our emerging preferred strategy
  • what infrastructure may be required and how these might inform our emerging spatial strategy

1.7 This Phase 3 consultation also contains consultation information and material relating to:

  • how we intend to meet the needs of our traveller communities
  • areas which might be safeguarded for renewable energy
  • refinement and updating on our strategic green infrastructure network, and
  • approach to safeguarding areas for minerals

1.8 The Local Plan also sets out new policies we intend to use to determine planning applications. This includes an update on which policies from the Core Strategy (CS) and Policies, Sites and Places Plan (PSP) will be saved and continue to be used. This consultation contains 14 draft planning policies, with a number focused on addressing our climate emergency, ensuring new development becomes net zero.

What is not in the Phase 3 document and will be presented in future stages of plan preparation

1.9 The next stage following this consultation will be the formal publication version of the draft plan which is technically called the Regulation 19 document – this will contain:

  • a final strategy, confirming the locations and sites that form our preferred spatial strategy
  • land that needs to be safeguarded for transport and infrastructure which will be known once we have consulted on the strategy lenses and approach to an emerging preferred strategy in the document
  • full set of draft policies that will bring together policies we consulted on from Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3, along with strategy and spatial policies
  • we will also confirm which policies in our adopted Local Plan (the CS and PSP) will be saved for the time being until replaced by national development management policies or a future policies development plan document (DPD). Any final decisions on this will need to be based on the planning reforms that will be agreed once the new Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill becomes law later this year and the new plan making regulations and guidance are published in 2024. Once this is clearer, we will need to update our Local Development Scheme (LDS)

What this means for planning applications

1.10 The Core Strategy (2013), the Policies, Sites and Places Plan (2017) and the Joint Waste Core Strategy continue to be the current adopted Local Plan against which applications will currently continue to be determined against.

1.11 National guidance advises that local planning authorities may give weight to relevant policies in emerging plans. The weight to be attached to such policies depends upon the stage of preparation or review, increasing as successive stages are reached, the extent to which there are unresolved objections to relevant policies and the degree of consistency of the relevant policies in the emerging plan to the NPPF. Accordingly, the South Gloucestershire Local Plan Phase 3 is a material consideration for the purposes of exercising the council’s development management functions and can be given weight that is appropriate for the early stage the Local Plan has reached. The weight that can be given to the Plan will increase as it progresses through its preparation and examination stages.

Neighbourhood plans

1.12 The council supports the opportunity for communities, through preparing a neighbourhood plan, to develop a shared vision for their area and to shape, direct and help deliver sustainable development. Neighbourhood plans must be in general conformity with the strategic policies contained in the council’s adopted Local Plan and should follow government policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This means that neighbourhood plans should support the delivery of strategic policies contained in local plans, should not promote less development than will be set out in the council’s new Local Plan, or seek to introduce policies that could lessen the effectiveness of the council’s strategic planning policies. Further details about how the council supports neighbourhood planning.

Updates to Local Plan timeline and plan period

1.13 We must also ensure under the government’s planning rules that the Local Plan looks ahead to address the strategic priorities needed to meet the physical and social infrastructure requirements of our area over a minimum of 15 years from the date the plan is adopted.

1.14 By consulting on the next stage of our Local Plan at the end of 2023 we are responding to long-term requirements of our existing and future residents for the plan period 2025 to 2040.

1.15 Subject to competing the remaining stages of preparing this Plan we expect to adopt it in 2025.  By doing this we will ensure we meet the government’s expectations to maintain up to date strategic policies to address our priorities for the development and use of land.

Read the next section – Council priorities and Local Plan objectives

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