Committee Report NSC

                                                                           Item 7.1

North Somerset Council


REPORT TO THE Planning and Economic Development Policy & Scrutiny Panel


Date of Meeting: 1st July 2008


Subject of Report: Core Strategy


Town or parish: North Somerset Wide




Key Decision: NO




That Members note the progress being made on the Core Strategy and comment on the key issues they wish the Core Strategy to address


1.                Summary of Report


[J1]  The report updates Members on the progress of the Core Strategy in particular the Issues and Options consultation stage in late 2007 and sets out the proposed next stages. It also explains the role of the Core Strategy and what should and should not be included within it. The report draws heavily on the recent guidance issued by The Department of Communities and Local Government (.PPS12: Local Spatial Planning). Key issues arising from the all member presentation on 30th June will need to be discussed 


2.                Policy


The Core Strategy sets out the long term vision for North Somerset from now until 2026. It sets out policies and proposals for the development and use of land in our district and gives the broad locations for new housing, jobs and other strategic developments in order to put in place the proposals set out in the draft Regional Spatial Strategy.


The draft Regional Spatial Strategy currently proposes 26,000 dwellings for North Somerset in the 20 year period up to 2026. This level of residential development is distributed as follows:


South West Bristol Urban Extension:          9,000 dwellings

Weston-super-Mare Urban Extension:       9,000 dwellings

Rest of Weston-super-Mare                        3,000 dwellings

Rest of North Somerset                                5,000 dwellings


These figures may change as the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) proceeds through to adoption. Proposed changes to the RSS are anticipated and will be published for consultation at the end of July 2008.


The Core Strategy will set out the nature, location, scope and pace of development to 2026 and make clear where development should be located in broad terms. It is of particular importance because it will set the framework for more detailed Local Development Framework documents such as Area Action Plans.


It will be closely linked to ‘Improving our Communities together’ - North Somerset’s Sustainable Community Strategy 2008-2026 addressing elements of this which relate to land use and development throughout the district. It will provide the policy framework for making decisions on planning applications [J2] 


3.                Details




Every Local Planning Authority must produce a Core Strategy which will include:



The time horizon for the Core Strategy should be at least 15 years from the date of adoption. It is planned that the North Somerset Core Strategy will look ahead to 2026 which will coincide with the end date of the Regional Spatial Strategy


 What should be included within the Core Strategy?



An Overall Vision


The vision should be informed by an analysis of the characteristics of the area and the key issues and challenges facing it. It should be in general conformity with the Regional Spatial Strategy and Sustainable Community Strategy



Strategic Objectives


Any objectives must be derived from key issues that have to be tackled. It is critical that these key issues are substantiated by thorough evidence which should contain two elements:


·        Participation – evidence of the views of the local community and others who have a stake in the future of the area

·        Research/Fact Finding – evidence that the choices made by the plan are backed up by background facts


Reasonable Alternatives


The core strategy must evaluate reasonable alternatives that have been suggested through previous consultation or in earlier stages e.g. Issues and Options. This exercise will deliver confidence in the preferred strategy and assist the claims of those who wish to oppose it. For example, the Issues and Options put forward four options for the urban extension of South West Bristol and there were options regarding the phasing of development at Weston-super-Mare. The justification for not pursuing some of these options will have to be explained. 


Urban Extensions (South West Bristol /Weston-super-Mare)


Core Strategies may allocate strategic sites for development, especially where these sites are considered central to the achievement of a strategy. It is planned to delineate in outline form the two urban extensions through a key diagram – which will set out in broad terms the extent of residential and employment development as well as strategic transport proposals, open space and district centres. These key diagrams will be based on a series of workshops that have been held with key stakeholders and will clearly set out key infrastructure requirements for each site. More detailed work on both urban extensions would be achieved through master-planning work or Area Action Plans.


Delivery Strategy


The Core Strategy should be supported by evidence of the physical, social and green infrastructure needed for the development, as well as phasing and delivery mechanisms. This evidence should cover:


The Council will need to engage with key infrastructure providers to ensure their programmes are aligned with the Core Strategy and that there is clear evidence about planned infrastructure,costs,timings etc .


What should not be included within the Core Strategy? 


The Core Strategy is a district wide strategic document and should not contain the identification of smaller “non strategic” sites. The inclusion of such details could potentially hold up progress on the more important strategic sites whose implementation is crucial to the delivery of the strategy. Such sites are better dealt with in a Site Allocation Development Plan Document.


Detailed policies to control development e.g.  parking standards should also not be included  These are more suited to a  Development Control Policy Development Plan Document as are specific area issues that are relevant to a small area rather than the whole district .


The Core Strategy although having to be consistent with national policy should not repeat it. There may be instances where for local reasons greater detail than national policy is required and this will be in order provided this approach is justified by sound evidence and local circumstances.




The Planning Policy Team are continuing to refine the options following the Issues and Options consultation and taking on board the implementation of the new planning  regulations. It is anticipated that the Core Strategy will be ready for public consultation towards the end of this year and officers will be reporting back to the October Executive meeting with a version for approval


4.                Consultation


The Core Strategy Issues and Options stage began in April 2007 following consultation on a pre-production brief in March 2007. Meetings, workshops and discussions were held with various stakeholders and organisations and internal and external consultees  to establish emerging issues. In order to provide a mechanism for focussing wider debate an Issues and Options leaflet was produced. The consultation period on the leaflet ran from 1 October until 30th November 2007. 


There were 251 respondents to the Issues and Options consultation who made 1861 individual comments. The greatest number of comments were made in relation to the options for development at the South West Bristol Urban Extension and the impact this would have on the surrounding highway network, villages and countryside. The full report on the consultation response is available on the Council’s website and respondents notified of its availability


There was general support for extending the green belt although this option may not be possible if the changes to the RSS confirm the Panel Report’s view that this is not appropriate. In relation to the settlement hierarchy much concern was expressed that Nailsea should be reclassified to allow for a greater amount of development of both housing and employment in order to prevent decline and increase sustainability.


It was regarded that Royal Portbury Dock and particularly Bristol International Airport should feature as key issues within the Core Strategy. The majority view was one of restraint at the airport.


The Core Strategy (Preferred Options) will be subject to extensive consultation with the wider community and key stakeholders




5.                Financial Implications


At this stage the only financial implications are the consultation costs which will be met within the approved budget although this will need to be kept under review if for example further detailed evidence gathering or consultation is required[J5] 


6.                RISK MANAGEMENT


The preparation of the Core Strategy is a statutory requirement. Failure to carry out this stage of the consultation would result in a failure to meet Government and Council identified planning priorities which could potentially affect future Planning Delivery Grant awards. The Regional Spatial Strategy once approved, will become the Development Plan therefore North Somerset needs to make progress on delivering the key proposals, namely the urban extensions at Weston-super-Mare and SW Bristol, if it is not to become vulnerable to ad hoc planning applications.


7.                Equality Implications


Consultation will be in accordance with the previously approved Statement of Community Involvement [J6] 


8.                Corporate Implications


The Core Strategy will be prepared in line with the Sustainable Community Strategy and sets out the context for delivering sustainable development in the future.

9.                Options considered


Options are tightly constrained.  Producing a Core Strategy is a statutory responsibility and the Secretary of State has default powers to ensure that the relevant work is carried out.   


Early progress is essential to maintain an up-to-date planning policy framework and avoid ‘planning by appeal’.  At this stage this requires assumptions to be made on the final form of the Regional Spatial Strategy.  Any changes between the draft and final versions of RSS will be taken into account as the Core Strategy moves through its statutory stages.


Since the need for the Core Strategy cannot be questioned, and its timing could be delayed only by disadvantaging the council’s position in promoting regeneration and in defending appeals, any alternatives are limited to the scope of the document


The Preferred Options will need to explain what previous options have been considered and why they have been dismissed





[J8] Graham Quick Local Planning Team Leader 01934 426177


Background Papers


[J9] Core Strategy Issues and Options 2007

Panels Report on the Draft Regional Spatial Strategy Dec 2007

The Draft Regional Spatial Strategy SWRA June 2006

North Somerset Statement of Community Involvement Feb 2007

North Somerset Pre-Production Brief March August 2007

Consultation Response on the Core Strategy Feb 2008





Page: 1
 [J1]Make a clear, brief statement summarising the decision or action needed, eg. “to decide/adopt/amend”

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 [J2]Summarise the part of the Corporate Plan, Directorate Business Plan or other plan or policy document that supports the report.

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 [J3]The detail of the report should not exceed four pages in addition to the standard paragraphs 4 – 9 and any appendices.  Additional paragraph headings 4.2, 4.2 etc can be added as required.

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 [J4]Summarise who has been consulted internally and externally eg., statutory, trades union, parish councils, ward members, other.  List response received.

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 [J5]Give the revenue and capital cost of the proposal, and whether it is in addition to existing approved budget.

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 [J6]State any implications for equality in either employment or service provision.  Consider how your report could affect sections of the community in terms of race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, religion or other belief, age, social exclusion and other groups.

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 [J7]List all other options which have been considered in making the recommendation, with a brief explanation of why they have been rejected.

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 [J8]Give the name, job title and telephone number of the person who actually wrote the report.

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 [J9]All background papers significantly used in preparing the report must be listed, together with an official departmental file reference.  Directors are responsible for ensuring that background papers can be accessed by the public for up to six years.