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3a. Planning for new homes – how many and what type

Why we need to provide more homes

3a.1 Creating mixed and balanced communities and ensuring that different types of communities in South Gloucestershire have access to a safe, decent, and affordable home is a key objective for our new Local Plan.

3a.2 Government planning rules, set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), require our new Local Plan to demonstrate we are meeting needs for new homes and particular types of housing. If we fail to meet our needs by allocating sites for new homes and setting new policies, it is highly unlikely that our new Local Plan will pass government tests and be allowed to be adopted. This would stop all new policies and approaches being taken forward, not just a new strategy for homes.

3a.3 To inform our new strategy for change we need first to set out the number of new homes that need to be provided and to understand the type and number of homes needed for specific groups in our community.

3a.4 We need to provide more homes for 2 main reasons:

  • households are getting smaller on average; and fewer people living in each home means more homes are needed
  • our population is growing; and more people means more homes

3a.5 Households are getting smaller due to long-term national trends which are taking place in South Gloucestershire. Average household sizes have reduced from 2.88 persons in 1981, to 2.45 persons by 2001, and to 2.40 persons by 2011. With a very minor increase over the last decade 2011-2021 to an average of 2.41 persons. The long-term trend of a reduction in average household sizes has been attributed to the population ageing, many older people tending to live as couples and an increase in single person or childless households.

When new homes will be built

3a.6 National Planning rules require our new Local Plan to make provision for new homes for 15 years. We intend to adopt our new Local Plan during 2025 and the new homes will be provided from this point onwards.

3a.7 In the first year we will record and monitor the building of new homes allocated in our new Local Plan. This monitoring year will start on 1 April 2025 and finish on 31 March 2026. Should the Local Plan adoption date extend beyond 2025, the 15 year period and when we will begin monitoring what is built will be amended accordingly.

What type of homes will be needed

3a.8 The new Local Plan for South Gloucestershire will need to consider where we should allocate land for development and set new policy to help deliver the following types of homes and communities:

  1. Affordable homes – in South Gloucestershire generally provided by housing associations (Registered Providers)
  2. General new homes – primarily provided by the private sector house builders, national and local
  3. Gypsy and traveller accommodation
  4. Self and custom build homes
  5. Student housing – generally provided by University of West of England and specialist developers
  6. Older people’s housing, including Extra Care – provided by both private and public sector developers

3a.9 Some of these, for example general new homes and gypsy and traveller housing, will require our plan to consult on where the new homes will be located and then allocate sites. Some will require planning policies to ensure new development that comes through the planning system makes provision for these communities and types of housing, in particular Affordable Homes. Some of these may require a combined approach to ensure the need for new homes is met.

3a.10 The Local Plan is the main tool the council will use to secure higher levels of Affordable Housing, gypsy and traveller sites and suitable homes for older people. The Plan policies are complemented by a range of activities set out in the Housing Strategy 2023 intended to boost supply and deliver high quality housing and neighbourhoods where people want and can afford to live. This includes close working with delivery partners to support bids for external funding, maximising opportunities for delivery from council assets and investment decisions and finding innovative ways to deliver exemplar housing schemes.

How many new homes are needed in South Gloucestershire

3a.11 It is a key objective of this Local Plan to support people with the cost of living by helping to ensure that everyone has access to a decent safe and sustainable home by allocating a sufficient supply of high-quality homes to meet the identified needs of all sections of our community, with particular emphasis on Affordable Homes.

3a.12 The National Planning Policy Framework published in July 2021 sets out the government’s objective of significantly boosting the supply of homes, and states: 61. To determine the minimum number of homes needed, strategic policies should be informed by a local housing need assessment, conducted using the standard method in national planning guidance.

3a.13 Our new Local Plan has, as a first step, used the ‘Standard Method’ to understand how many new homes are needed in South Gloucestershire between 2025 and 2040. The standard method uses a national formula to identify the minimum number of homes we need to plan for, in a way which addresses projected household growth and historic under-supply. However, some of the new homes which need to be built between 2025 and 2040 already have planning permission or will come forward as windfalls – we call these ‘existing commitments’. Before working out how many new homes we need to plan for, we take away existing commitments from the standard method target.

3a.14 Standard method – 20,490 new homes. This is the minimum housing need for our new Local Plan over the 15 year period.

3a.15 Existing commitments – deducted from standard method. There are currently 10,387 new homes which will be built between 2025 and 2040.

3a.16 This figure is based on detailed information in the latest housing trajectory, and includes:

  1. Large sites (10 homes or more) with planning permission which will be built from April 2025. This would provide 7,687 new homes.
  2. The current small site windfall figure of 210 new homes per year, over 15 years would provide 3,150 new homes. Small site windfalls mean sites of between 1 and 9 homes, which come through the planning system each year. This figure of 210 per year was set in the Core Strategy (2011), and our evidence shows at least this number will continue to be built each year during the lifetime of our new Local Plan.
  3. This leaves our new Local Plan a target of at least 9,653 new homes which we need find land for, as part of our new strategy for new homes.

How we will plan for the 9,653 new homes

3a.17 A focus of this consultation is how and where we can provide the remaining 9,653 new homes needed. Based on our evidence and information to date, we think there are 3 main ways of meeting the need for these new homes:

1. Small site windfall uplift – 300 new homes

  • Currently 210 new homes per year are counted as coming forward as small scale windfalls (1-9 homes) and included as part of our ‘existing commitments’.
  • We have reviewed the small sites evidence and consider this can be increased to 230 per year. Over 15 years this would result in an additional 300 new homes.
  • Our justification and evidence for this is set out in the Small Sites Windfall Topic Paper 2023.

2. Future urban allocations – 1,540 new homes

  • Please read section 4. This sets out which sites are proposed to be allocated for development to deliver these new homes within the existing boundaries of our urban areas and market towns.

3. New greenfield allocations – 7,813 new homes

  • Please read section 5 which sets out and asks for your views on our emerging preferred strategy, that shows the places and sites that would provide the land for these new homes. Section 6 also seeks your views on the alternative strategy lenses explored to inform the emerging preferred strategy.

3a.18 A key focus of this consultation and challenge for our new Local Plan is building a strategy that allocates a range of sites to meet the housing need for the 7,813 new homes, required in new greenfield locations. To provide a range of opportunities for home ownership across the authority, on developments large and small in different locations, including affordable routes to home ownership. We have set out strategy lenses with potential sites to consider how we might address this challenge. And also an emerging preferred strategy that sets out the places and sites we currently think should form our plan, based on consideration of the alternatives.

Affordable Housing

3a.19 A key priority of the council is to reduce inequalities for residents who live in South Gloucestershire. Our new Local Plan has an important role in directing new development to provide affordable, high quality and sustainable homes to support thriving communities and neighbourhoods.

3a.20 Affordable Housing is defined in National Planning Policy Framework – Annex 2: Glossary – Guidance – GOV.UK. To avoid confusion, Affordable Housing that meets the government’s definition is written with initial capital letters to distinguish it from housing which is generally considered to be affordable.

3a.21 The overall objective of the councils is to first meet the need for Affordable Homes in full as demonstrated in the latest version of the South Gloucestershire Local Housing Needs Assessment. Secondly, to reduce the number of households in the private rented sector that rely on benefits to meet their housing costs to the pre-pandemic level. To achieve the two objectives, the policy aspiration is for 6,709 Affordable Homes or 447 per year. To achieve this our new Local Plan will contain a strategic policy on Affordable Homes. This will require all new general housing developments of 10 or more homes to provide Affordable Housing without public subsidy, primarily homes for social rent and shared ownership at lower equity shares affordable to people on local incomes. The policy will require all eligible residential development including self-build and self-contained older people’s housing and student housing to make provision for 35% Affordable Homes and in particular social rent. On greenfield sites with limited infrastructure and viability issues a higher percentage of 40% Affordable Homes will be required by the new policy.

3a.22 The draft Affordable Homes policy is being consulted on as part of this Phase 3 document. Find out more and submit your comments.

3a.23 We will encourage opportunities to deliver additional Affordable Housing over and above the policy requirement using grant funding (for example from Homes England) and other forms of investment.

3a.24 We are also supporting rural communities who identify a local need for Affordable Homes, through an updated planning policy that will allow ‘rural exception sites’ to be brought forward in a range of rural communities, including places in the Green Belt and in the Cotswold National Landscape, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You can view the draft policy presented in our Phase 2 document.

Self and custom build

3a.25 The council is committed to maximising the delivery of self and custom build homes in South Gloucestershire to meet the demand for custom and self-build register and meet its annual plot duty calculated in accordance with the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 (as amended).

3a.26 Plots acquired through Local Plan policies make a significant contribution towards meeting our annual plot duty. Our new Local Plan, working alongside the new Self-build Partnership will ensure there is a pipeline of sites that are deliverable and that self and custom build homes permitted through our planning policy are built out to a high standard.

3a.27 In order to meet our annual plot duty, we already have an adopted Planning Policy PSP42 Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding. This requires all developments of 100 dwellings or more to provide 5% of those dwellings as serviced plots for self and custom build homes. It also requires plots to accommodate dwellings of approximately 108sqm (gross internal floor space) equivalent to a 6-person 3 storey 3 bed or 6-person 2 storey 4 bed dwelling as prescribed in the Nationally Described Space Standards (NDSS). This is to increase opportunity for low – and middle-income households. We would also welcome genuine offers to provide a substantive percentage of self and/or custom build plots on sites put forward for development in the villages suggested for new homes in the emerging preferred strategy.

3a.28 There is also a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) guidance for self-builders and developers. This provides further requirements to ensure plots are deliverable, and includes information on layouts, phasing and marketing. Details of how many applicants on South Gloucestershire Council’s custom and self-build register can be found on our website. Our average plot duty per annum is 152.

3a.29 We are investigating whether minor updates to the adopted Self and Custom Housebuilding policy are required and will consult on an updated policy as part of the Draft Local Plan at Regulation 19 stage. If no policy updates come forward the policy will be saved and continue to form part of the new Local Plan policy framework. An update to the SPD will be taken forward following adoption of the new Local Plan.

Planning for older people’s housing – including Extra-Care

3a.30 We want our new Local Plan to help promote age-friendly communities and support our partners who are leading on delivering strategies to meet the needs of older people. Within this context, the size, type and tenure of housing needed for older people and to meet people’s specific needs and disabilities is a key objective of this plan.

3a.31 This consultation document contains a draft policy that will require all new general homes and Affordable Homes to be built to a minimum size, supporting adaptability and a range of users over a new home’s lifetime. It also will require a percentage of all new general and Affordable Homes to achieve high levels of wheelchair accessibility. This policy will allow people and communities to stay in their homes as their needs and requirements change and allow more homes to be adapted as our population ages. Find out more and submit your comments.

3a.32 There is currently an adopted policy (CS20) which has been securing Extra-Care housing for older people. Our new Local Plan will seek to update CS20 for our draft plan at Regulation 19 to reflect:

  • the final strategy for new homes, jobs and infrastructure overlain with emerging evidence on areas where need for Extra-Care housing is particularly high
  • a requirement that ‘Affordable’ Extra-Care and homes for older people are to be provided on appropriate sites

Providing homes for students

3a.33 The University of the West of England (UWE) is located within South Gloucestershire. This is a major university supporting academic, economic and social activity and opportunities.

3a.34 The South Gloucestershire Local Plan proposes to make provision for at least an additional 1,500 student bedspaces building on the existing supply and extant permissions. It is considered that this provision will address the needs arising from new students and any additional student numbers planned by the university, and that this need can be met primarily through the redevelopment of the existing UWE Campus.

Meeting the needs of traveller communities

3a.35 South Gloucestershire has well-established traveller communities. The majority of gypsies and travellers in our area identify themselves as Romany Gypsy, Irish or Scottish Travellers, or Travelling Showpeople.

3a.36 There has historically been a persistent level of unmet need for accommodation for gypsies and travellers in South Gloucestershire. To understand the level of need, we have prepared a Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) undertaken in 2022. This identifies a need for:

  • 133 pitches for gypsies and travellers, and
  • 65 plots for travelling showpeople

3a.37 To address this level of need we will require a significant step change in the way that pitches for use by gypsies and travellers and plots for travelling showpeople are delivered. Through our new Local Plan, we intend to take a combined approach to meeting the accommodation needs of our communities. This approach includes allocating land suitable to deliver pitches and plots where possible, and through setting out a new strategic policy approach which safeguards existing, authorised sites, and updated criteria against which applications for new provision will be determined.

3a.38 By taking this approach, the council will be meeting the requirements of National Planning Policy and relevant legislation. Doing so will provide certainty of delivery through making decisions in a transparent and timely way. It will also reduce the risk of ‘planning by appeal’ and the damage this can do to good community relations, undermining public confidence in the planning system.

3a.39 Section 7 provides information and seeks your opinion on potential sites, policy approach and outlines the further work needed to address site delivery options in order to provide certainty that needs for these communities are met in our new Local Plan.

Meeting any adjoining authorities’ unmet needs

3a.40 The council recognises both the scale of the national challenge to ensure everyone has a home which meets their needs, and the role that we can play in helping address this. Our first responsibility however is to meet our own local housing needs. Any contribution to meeting an adjoining authority’s unmet need or a share of the wider national need is an additional ask on top of this and will depend on our potential to be able to identify suitable additional land along with the timely delivery and funding of the infrastructure needed to support this.  We also know that addressing climate change has further heightened the challenges in balancing meeting development requirements with the need to do so sustainably, limiting the pressure on existing undeveloped land.  

3a.41 At the time of consulting on this plan, whilst we have recently been advised that Bristol City Council will not be able to meet all their housing needs, at this stage we have not considered the extent to which South Gloucestershire Council may or may not be able to take any part of this unmet need. We are firstly focusing on how we can sustainably meet our own needs. However, through the continuing process of preparing our Local Plan we will be able to assess whether we can accommodate any of this unmet need. To perform this an evidence led approach for the consideration of alternative locations that considers not only the impact on individual sites but also the cumulative impact of Green Belt release on a locality-by-locality basis will be undertaken. This is explicitly set out as the process to be followed at paragraphs 24 to 27 of the NPPF.  

3a.42 We also recognise that the Duty to Co-operate (DtC) is a duty to co-operate and not a duty to agree.  

3a.43 We will continue to liaise with Bristol City Council and all our adjoining authorities, in the preparation of Statements of Common Ground, consistent with National Planning Practice Guidance. The statements will set out, at the time they are published, any agreement that has been achieved on strategic matters, along with outstanding matters which still need to be addressed and the process for reaching agreements on these.

3a.44 The council notes that the government’s national planning practice guidance (Housing and Economic Needs Assessment), states that the urban uplift required from the largest 20 cities, is expected to be met by the cities and urban centres themselves, rather than the surrounding areas, unless it would conflict with national policy and legal obligations. The recent consultation on proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (December 2022), has further indicated that the government does not intend that such urban uplifts are to be met in surrounding areas.

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