3. Housing

Introduction

The Council aims to ensure everyone has the opportunity of a decent home. Good housing will promote community development and sustainable communities. New housing development can achieve improvements to the environment through good design and provision of community facilities.

This plan will help to provide for those who are often excluded by the private market, with the provision of affordable housing on new sites.  This will be in the form of housing for shared ownership, rent, special needs and low cost ownership.

The Warwickshire Structure Plan 2001 identifies a requirement for 5600 dwellings to be built in the Borough up to 2011.  The Borough’s total population will broadly stay the same but changes in certain sectors of the population will place specific demands on the housing market.  For example, there will be more people aged 16-24 who often make up a large proportion of those seeking their first home.  Also, there will continue to be a demand for new homes from the increase of households being formed.

The Structure Plan requirement will be met as follows:

Position as at 1 April 2005

Structure Plan Requirement 1996-2011
5600
Dwellings completed -net 1996-20033256
Dwellings with outstanding planning permissions,
net at 1 April 2003 (Discounted by 10%)
1749
Dwellings to be found in the Plan (5600-3256-1749)
595
Supply to meet this requirement:
1.
Housing provision at Camp Hill Urban Village (Discounted by 10%)
395
2.
Windfalls
720
3.
Conversions/ living over the shop80
4.
Allocated sites410 
Total supply1605

A Housing Technical Paper “Housing Position Statement April 2003” and a “Housing Position Statement” which was produced in September 2005 for the second Public Inquiry provide details in support of the above position.

Sites allocated to meet the need of 595 dwellings are identified on the Local Plan Proposals Map and set out in Policy H1.

PPG3 Housing encourages Councils to find sites within existing urban areas.  This includes previously developed (brownfield) sites, conversions of existing property and using other under utilised space.  The windfall sites allowance relates to previously developed sites and the potential supply has been based upon past trends.  Firstly, the role of smaller sites (under 0.4 hectares) was considered, and a yield of 50 dwellings per year has been allowed for over the eight years between April 2003 and 2011.  Similarly, the Council has monitored the role of larger windfall sites (0.4 hectares and over), and these have averaged over 100 completions per year since the commencement of the Structure Plan period in 1996.  However, in light of the uncertainties attached to the timing of these larger sites becoming available within the Plan period a more conservative allowance of 40 dwellings per year was accepted at the Public Inquiry.  Thus, over the remaining 8 years of the Plan until 2011, an allowance for 320 dwellings on these larger windfall sites has been made.  Total windfall allowances stand at 720 for the reminder of the Plan period.  There is a separate allowance for conversions of properties.

The Inspector’s Report suggested that the plan should have flexibility to accommodate a 10  year supply of housing from the date of adoption.  However, this calculation would go beyond the period covered by the Structure Plan and at a Regional level (West Midlands RSS), housing figures are not disseminated to district level for post 2011.  The intention of the RSS is indeed to direct growth towards the major urban areas and not to the shire districts.  The Plan at present must meet the Structure Plan requirement, which it does.  There is plenty of headroom through windfall and allocated sites above the Structure Plan requirements, should these sites be required.  These sites provide the necessary headroom to maintain a supply of land to meet our housing needs.  The housing position will be reviewed annually, through the Annual Monitoring Report, checking supply against the Structure Plan.  When Regional Spatial Strategy for the West Midlands directs housing land requirements at a district level, the above housing position will be reviewed, and the need for additional sites explored as part of a general policy/Plan review.

Policies and Explanation

POLICY H1 - Housing Allocations

The following sites are allocated for residential development to meet the remaining Borough Housing Need.  A phased release of land as recommended in PPG3 is proposed.

Proposals Map Reference No.
Site
No. of Dwellings
Status and Comments
Phase 1: April 2001 to March 2006
H1a
Garages around Newcomen Road, Bedworth
37
Previously Developed Land. Planning Brief being prepared
H1b
Land at George Eliot Hospital (Main Site), Nuneaton
75
Previously Developed Land. Pre application discussions
Phase 2: April 2006 to March 2011
H1c
Land at George Eliot Hospital (Maternity), Nuneaton
58
Previously Developed Land. Pre application discussions
Phase 3: Beyond the plan period / to be developed only if required
H1d
Charity Docks, Bedworth
40
Greenfield, with some parts PDL Site partly owned by Local Authority
H1e
Parks Farm, Bedworth
100
Greenfield. Landowner interest expressed.
H1f
Grove Farm, Nuneaton
100 Greenfield. Local Authority owned.

The Supply of Housing Land

The position statement (as at 1st April 2003) shows that a supply of land for some 595 dwellings needs to be found.  An allowance for windfalls on previously developed sites and conversions has been made.  This allowance is encouraged by PPG3 and is based upon past trends of windfall and conversion completions.  Windfall proposals on previously developed land will be assessed against Policy H7, and the allowance will be monitored within the Annual Monitoring Report.

Another significant element of housing supply relates to Camp Hill Urban Village.  The project has progressed significantly from the early preparation of the Local Plan.  The approved Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) based on a development framework document suggested a net increase of 179 once the village was completed.  Pre-application discussions on sites and subsequent planning applications and permissions have indicated that this net increase is now likely to provide some 429 additional new dwellings.  Schemes at Tuttle Hill, Midland Quarry and the Village Centre are all ‘over performing’ in terms of the original dwelling estimates.  Increased densities and changes to include greater residential elements are justification for the increased capacity of Camp Hill Urban Village.  The Council’s commitment to Camp Hill Urban Village is covered in Policy H2.

Taking account of these supply elements; windfalls, conversions and the contribution of Camp Hill Urban Village, a number of allocated sites are identified to complete the certainty of delivering sufficient land to meet the WASP requirements.  Following Government Guidance, an Urban Capacity Study was undertaken (Technical Paper 2), assessing sites which could go on to be allocations in the Plan.  Warwickshire Districts agreed a framework for Urban Capacity Studies and the Council’s study looked at sites over 0.4 hectares.  Sites below this would generally come forward as windfall sites and not as allocations.  A density of 35 dwellings per hectare has been used to assess the capacity of sites.  In addition to identifying new sites the Study used the same sustainable criteria to assess existing allocations without planning permission identified within the 1993 Local Plan.  It also assessed sites suggested for development that had been offered in the preparation of the Local Plan.  Of the previously allocated sites those at Bermuda and Heath Road for example did not prove to be as sustainable as other sites identified.  The former allocation at the Woodlands was subject to an appeal in 1999 where the Inspector found that the site would lead to an over supply of housing land and upheld the Council’s decision to refuse planning permission.  With the existing supply of land, the site would still present an over supply of housing land and as an urban extension, its allocation would not be justified under the sequential approach the Local Plan has followed.  The Plan has not needed to use urban extensions to meet its housing land supply.  Land at Grove Farm was allocated in the 1993 Plan and the site’s development would enable regeneration within a deprived Ward with significant contributions towards infrastructure and community facility improvements.  However, it is a green field site and therefore its allocation is within the third phase of the Plan.

Phasing the Release of Housing Land and Monitoring

Sites identified within the first phase will be the first to be released.  Annual monitoring in April produces a position statement that shows progress towards meeting the Structure Plan Target.  This statement has traditionally monitored completions, outstanding commitments and the rate of windfall development.  It will feed into the Annual Monitoring Report (AMR) which will be published in accordance with national guidance, by the end of December.

The elements that are monitored are agreed with the County Council and the Region. The criteria cover site characteristics including previously developed / greenfield, size and density of development.  Secondly, planning details are recorded, including whether the site was a windfall, the type of permission granted and whether the site triggered affordable housing provision through a legal agreement.  The capacity of sites is recorded to a fine level of detail, including dwelling capacity by tenure, size, conversion, and then the activity on site – noting the numbers and types of units that are under construction or completed.

This level of monitoring will be used to assess the performance of policies within the Local Plan and thus have a key role in structuring the AMR, and to assist in the ‘plan, monitor, manage approach’ for housing land release, advocated in PPG3.  The results reported in the AMR will be used to adjust phasing where necessary.  For example, should windfall sites be seen to under perform this may give rise to the need to bring forward a site from the next phase to maintain a supply of land consistent with meeting WASP / RSS requirements.  The AMR will be available on the Council’s web site. Adjustments to phasing within the Plan will be reported through the AMR and subsequent documents.

In the unlikely event that the supply of allocated (including Camp Hill Urban Village) and windfall sites fail to deliver the remaining housing land requirement derived from the WASP, it may be necessary to consider greenfield windfall sites.  PPG3 is very clear on the sequential approach to selecting sites for development and the assessment of how suitable a site is will be key to determining the development of greenfield windfalls in the event of under performance on other sites.  In deciding which greenfield sites to release for housing the potential and suitability of the site will be considered (in accordance with para. 31 PPG3) against the availability of previously developed land, the location and accessibility of the proposed site, the capacity of the existing and potential infrastructure, the ability to build sustainable communities via the proposed site’s development and any environmental and physical constraints on the development of the land.  These factors can be met through the application of the sustainable criteria used within the Urban Capacity Study, which dovetail with these factors.  Sustainable criteria (listed within the Guiding Principles Chapter) include the effective use of land, accessibility and social inclusion and the quality of the environment.   Once the sustainability of the site has been considered, the site will be assessed against the windfall policy H7 and any other policy appropriate within the Plan.

POLICY H2 - Camp Hill Supplementary Planning Guidance

The Council has adopted Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) for Camp Hill Urban Village, the boundary of which is defined on the Proposals Map.  Proposals identified within the development framework and windfall developments on sites within the Urban Village will be assessed against the SPG.  Proposals identified within the SPG include housing redevelopment and new sites for both residential and industrial.  The likely contribution these sites will make towards the Structure Plan requirements for housing and industrial land has been taken into account. 

The proposals covered by the SPG are part of a major regeneration scheme titled “Pride in Camp Hill”.  The aim is to transform the Camp Hill area of Nuneaton through a series of physical and social initiatives.  Significant funding has been earmarked and Pride in Camp Hill has a partnership board made up of representatives from Warwickshire County Council, the Borough Council, Advantage West Midlands, the Prince’s Foundation and the local community.  Under the index of Local Deprivation Camp Hill is one of the worst 10% of Wards in the country and the most deprived in Warwickshire.  Poverty, high unemployment, and a run down environment are particular problems.  The development proposals are vital to achieving this very high priority regeneration scheme.

The SPG was adopted in September 2000 after an extensive public consultation. The SPG establishes a framework of design principles based around the ideal of an urban village. Higher densities, mixed uses and more pedestrian friendly networks of streets and open spaces are encouraged.

POLICY H3 - Affordable Housing

The Council will negotiate a proportion of all new dwellings on sites of 15 dwellings or more / over 0.5 hectares irrespective of the number of dwellings to be affordable and provided in accordance with the Council’s current housing strategy.  This indicates that 25% of new housing should be affordable and meet the specific needs identified in the strategy. 

The need for affordable housing is a material planning consideration clearly supported by Circular 6/98 Planning and Affordable Housing and PPG3 Housing.  It is acknowledged that both of these documents are currently under review.  The Council will produce more detailed guidance on Affordable Housing, which will reflect any significant changes in Government policy. The guidance will support, and where necessary update this policy within the Local Plan, and provide a clear link with the Housing Strategy.

The Council updated its Housing Needs Assessment in September 2003, and this, along with any further revisions, informs the Housing Strategy for the Borough.  The Housing Strategy is produced annually and sets targets for the provision of affordable housing for the following three years.  Thus, the document has greater flexibility to identify needs and respond to them, than this specific policy can do, which covers the life of the Plan through to 2011.  Hence this Plan policy refers to affordable housing being provided in accordance with the current Housing Strategy.  Changes to that Strategy, based upon revised Housing Needs Assessments could suggest the need to change the proportion of affordable housing being sought on a site, or the types of housing that need to be provided to meet identified needs.  This may trigger a change in this policy and this will be issued as new guidance as required.  Such guidance will be subject to public consultation.

Defining Affordable Housing

The definition of affordable housing was agreed by regional authorities in July 1999 and accords with government policy as set out in Circular 6/98 (Planning and Affordable Housing), a fact acknowledged by the EiP Panel when considering the Warwickshire Structure Plan 1996-2011.  The definition is therefore shared with the WASP.

“Affordable Housing is categorised into two types:

  1. Housing provided by an organisation – such as a registered social landlord or local authority – allocating on the basis of need.  While such dwellings will normally be made available for rent, they may also include subsidised home ownership, where a registered social landlord or local authority retains a continuing interest,

And

  1. low cost market housing, helping to meet the needs of first time buyers, single people, the elderly and other low income households, who cannot afford to rent or to buy houses generally available on the open market.

The affordable housing, irrespective of whether it is provided for rent or for sale, must be made available at a price level, which can be sustained by local people in housing need.  What constitutes ‘affordable’ in terms of price and income, is for each local authority to define through its Housing Strategy Statement.

With regard to category b) of the definition, the provision of low cost market housing should be based on the local authority Housing Strategy, which will include assessments of housing need, and the ability of local people in housing need to pay for housing.  The view taken is that low cost market housing can have a role albeit limited, in meeting the need for affordable housing.  Low cost market housing may not have a role in a particular area and if so, this must be clearly demonstrated in the Housing Strategy.  Where low cost housing is to be provided, developers must prove that such housing will meet the needs of those who cannot afford market rent or prices prevailing in the locality.” (WASP 1996-2011)

How much affordable housing is required and on what sites?

Delivering Affordable Housing Through Planning Policy (Office for the Deputy Prime Minister Report 2002) suggests that whilst the Housing Needs Assessment underpins any affordable housing target, ‘there are other factors which should be taken into account’ and local authorities ‘should prepare affordable housing policies which reflect the needs of their areas taking into account overall housing supply, access to public funding and the need to create balanced communities.’

Taking these factors in turn, together with the advice in Circular 6/98 Planning and Affordable Housing (para. 10c) provides the basis of justification for adopting the site threshold of 15 dwellings or more/ over 0.5 hectares irrespective of the number of dwellings.  It is a threshold used within paragraph 10(b) of Circular 6/98.  Whilst the Circular refers to this threshold applying to Inner London, paragraph 10(c) suggests that there may be cases where local constraints require a similar lower threshold to be applied by an Authority.  Again, this is a view supported by the ODPM Report highlighted above and is the thrust of emerging guidance (Consultation Paper on the Proposed Change to Planning Policy Guidance Note 3  Housing; Influencing the size, type and affordability of housing July 2003) that seeks to revise PPG3 and the Circular 6/98 and introduce a threshold for all Authorities, of 0.5 hectares or developments of more than 15 dwellings.

The overall housing requirement to be found in the Plan period is 595 having deducted completions and outstanding commitments (see Housing Requirement page 12). This overall requirement will be met through sites listed as allocations within Policy H1 and windfall sites over 0.5 hectares, and development at Camp Hill Urban Village.

The Local Plan Supply

Table 1: Calculation of overall housing supply (as at 1st April 2003)

WASP requirement
5600
Completions 1996-2003
3256
Outstanding commitments
1943 (1749 when 10% discount is applied)
Residual Requirement
595 (5600- 3256-1749)

With such a modest residual requirement to meet the Structure Plan target it is unlikely that these 595 dwellings can, when under negotiation, meet all of the identified housing needs within the most recent Assessment.

The Plan seeks to create balanced communities, and applying a lower threshold of 0.5 hectares/ 15 dwellings or more, in a period of limited supply will allow more sites from these sources to be subject to negotiation for affordable housing.  Spreading the requirement across a number of sites rather than restricting the negotiation to larger sites will facilitate this mix of communities.  With Policy H1 only allocating a small number of sites, it is imperative that the threshold of 15 dwellings / 0.5 hectares be applied as a basis for affordable housing negotiation to enable affordable housing to be secured and distributed across the Borough.  Windfall sites referred to within the allowance on page 12 will also be considered for affordable housing negotiation.

There are already outstanding commitments of affordable housing- sites where permission has been granted for affordable housing and not been built to date.  With a discounting factor of 10% applied to these permissions to take account of under performance, these outstanding commitments equate to 166 units.  This supply can be counted towards meeting the affordable housing needs for the period until 2011.

The Need

The Housing Needs Assessment (updated in 2003) uses a model to calculate need, which was prepared in accordance with ODPM Good Practice Guidance. The model suggests three components to the calculation; firstly a backlog of need, secondly an element of newly arising need and then deducting from these, the supply of affordable units.

The model is based on a five year elimination of need, however, it suggests that the Council can seek to address need over a longer period. To link the Assessment to the Local Plan the model is applied to the period up to 2011.

Backlog need according to the assessment stands at 998, and the model suggested a five year approach to eliminating this; i.e. a backlog need of 200 per year.  Across the period of 2003-2011 (the remaining period of the Plan, using the base date of April 2003 referred to on page 12) this equates to 125 backlog need per year.

Table 2: Affordable Housing Need per annum (source Housing Needs Assessment 2003)

Element of Housing Need Number of dwellings
Backlog per year
125
Newly arising need per year (identified within HNA)
849
Total Need per year
974

From this need, the annual affordable supply can be deducted.  The Assessment suggests supply comprises social re-lets, minus right to buy, increased vacancies and units taken out of management and total 746 per annum.

Thus, a total affordable need per annum of 974 minus supply of 746 equates to an unmet need of 228 per annum, or over the period remaining in the Plan (2003-2011) 1824 dwellings.  From this, the current supply of outstanding commitments of affordable dwellings can be deducted, (184 units, discounted by 10% to 166 as at April 2003) and this leaves a shortfall of 1658 (207 per year over the 8 years until 2011).  The overall shortfall of 1658 is very significant when weighed against the total remaining housing supply to be found through the Local Plan.

This affordable dwelling shortfall can be addressed through negotiation on sites of 0.5 hectares or more / 15 dwellings, to meet the residual overall housing requirement of 595 (Table 1).  Windfalls sites under 0.4 hectares would not trigger the policy and these account for 400 units (8 years x 50 per year allowance).   However, whilst negotiation on the supply of the dwellings including large windfall sites, (8 years @ 40 p.a. = 320), (camp hill urban village 395) and all allocated sites (410) can provide some 281 affordable units, when units are negotiated at 25% of the total proposed, the supply of dwellings through the local plan is still falling short of the overall need of 1658.  This is simply because the affordable need identified within the Housing Needs Assessment far outweighs the residual dwellings requirement to meet the Structure Plan Target.

It is important to consider the role of sites that are providing affordable housing without the need for negotiation.  Looking at the outstanding commitment of affordable housing in April 2003, sites providing affordable housing without a legal agreement or negotiation represented 30% of those affordable dwellings awaiting construction.  Therefore, whilst negotiation at 25% will not meet all of the affordable housing need identified within the assessment, the role of registered social landlords in developing their own sites continues to play a part in meeting affordable housing need too.

Monitoring affordable housing need

The housing market within the Borough has changed significantly between the timing of the first housing Needs Assessment in 2000 and the revision, in 2003.  House prices locally have increased significantly (72.1% between 2000 and 2003; source Housing Needs Assessment, 2003) with semi-detached properties selling at an average of £92,955 and terraced houses, £72,015.  Rented properties can be accessed from £250 per month to £400 for one and two bed properties.  The Assessment suggest that 32% of existing households are unable to buy or rent based on their household incomes being below the average required to access the owner occupier or private rented market without assistance.  Newly arising need from new household formations, concealed households and the homeless adds to this requirement.

The Housing Needs Assessment refers to average incomes within the Borough only increasing by 12.6% between 2000 and 2002, which clearly does not reflect the increase in property prices.  Supply of new affordable housing over this period has remained constant, averaging 66 new affordable dwellings per year permitted on sites identified in 2002 and 2003.  This is far short of the yearly affordable housing shortfall of 207 per year.     The application of this new policy and threshold will continue to be monitored through an annual monitoring report.  The report will consider the local housing market and income levels and monitor changes.  The report will also check the supply of housing, analysing new sites permitted and the proportion of affordable housing being provided on those sites.  This data will be assessed against the most current Housing Needs Assessment and Housing Strategy.  This report will enable the Council to determine how effective the affordable housing policy is in meeting housing needs and will influence any revisions to the policy should affordable housing figures not be performing to meet those identified needs.

POLICY H4 - Housing Types and Sizes

All development should achieve a mix of house types and sizes. The mix on each site will vary according to the nature of the development and the surrounding area. 

The policy aims to ensure there is a sufficient mix of dwellings to meet future housing needs which will help create sustainable communities.  The provision of smaller homes  - 2 bedroomed units, and larger homes to encourage wider investment opportunities in the Borough is identified within the current Housing Strategy. There may be special circumstances where a mix will not be required, for example for a sheltered housing development for the elderly, where it is clear this meets an identifiable and specific need.

On very small sites it may not be practical to achieve the desired mix, in which case the Council will consider excepting the development from the requirements of this policy.  It is most unlikely that such practical considerations will prevail on sites of 15 dwellings or more, or of 0.4 hectares or more in size.

POLICY H5 - Special Needs Housing

In new residential development on suitable sites, the Council will seek the provision of 10% of housing which is capable of adaptation (without structural alteration) to meet the needs of people with disability and mobility problems.  Such housing should proportionately reflect the mix of house types and sizes within that site. 

The Borough Housing Needs Assessment 2000 identifies that some 1400 households currently occupy accommodation which is unsuitable because a household member has a disability or mobility problem.  Demand for adaptations for those with disabilities via applications for Social Services grants remains high.   Meeting this demand in new housing will reduce the need to alter houses later.  At present Part M of the Building Regulations only covers visitable requirements, not potential wheelchair residents or others with mobility problems.

Design aspects that make it easier to move around the home include wider doors and corridors; sufficient room in bathrooms for wheelchair users; a downstairs toilet/ bathroom; stairs that will accommodate a chair lift; and a ramp to the front door.  Garaging and parking should be designed for use by drivers who are disabled.   The design of housing should meet the principles of Lifetime Homes (as devised by Joseph Rowntree Foundation).  Adaptable dwellings should ideally be located on level sites to give good ease of access around the dwelling and immediate neighbourhood.

POLICY H6 - Planning Obligations

The Council will seek appropriate planning obligations to meet any increased demand for health, education, social / community, public transport services and facilities, sport and play facilities, public open space, nature conservation mitigation, compensation and enhancement measures that arises directly from the development. 

Negotiations with developers will seek to secure appropriate provisions for community facilities on which additional demand may be placed.  Larger sites may be required to provide open space as part of the development dependent upon existing local provision. A contribution towards the maintenance of open space  (new or existing) will be sought. The contribution will also include providing for new or enhanced play and sports facilities and the future maintenance of those facilities.  Contributions should relate to the requirements identified in the adopted Residential Design Guide.  Contributions other than towards open space, will be the subject of negotiation with the Council and the County Council, as Highway, Education and Social Services Authority.

POLICY H7 - Windfall Housing

Development on windfall sites will be permitted if the following criteria can be met:

  1. It provides a beneficial use of previously developed land within the existing urban area.
  2. There is no significant loss of wildlife habitats.
  3. The character of the area is maintained with particular regard to the scale, design and density of the development.
  4. The site is located within 400 metres of a bus route.
  5. The development creates a cohesive group or is well related to the existing pattern of development in the area.
  6. There are no problems with vehicular access or a significant increase in noise and disturbance by traffic gaining access.
  7. There is no significant loss of privacy from overlooking adjoining houses and / or their back gardens.
  8. The development provides an adequate living environment for future occupants.
  9. There is no loss of indoor or outdoor sporting facilities.

Windfall development makes a valuable contribution to meeting the Borough’s housing requirement, and reduces pressure to release greenfield sites.  Although the ability to find suitable and sustainable windfall sites may diminish over time it is anticipated that during the Plan period there will continue to be a steady stream of sites being brought forward.  Windfall sites by their nature vary in size, location, previous uses and relationship to neighbouring land use.  However, proposals should not create piecemeal development unrelated to the existing pattern of buildings or which would be intrusive to adjacent properties.  Development should either follow the existing form of development or create a distinct group identify of its own.

Policy H1 makes an allowance for previously developed windfall sites under 0.4 hectares. Amounting to some 50 completions per year throughout the plan period.  Policy H1 also recognises that large previously developed sites will come forward over the period and the estimated potential of these sites is set out in a separate allowance.  Applications for development of all sizes of windfall sites will be assessed against the criteria listed in this policy.

POLICY H8 - Conversion / Re-use of Buildings to Residential Use

Conversion and / or reuse of non-residential buildings for residential purposes will be permitted if the following criteria can be met:

  1. Except within 400 metres of public open space private garden space can be provided. If no garden space is provided measures for drying clothes must be provided.
  2. 1-1.5 off-street parking spaces per dwelling can be provided. Consideration will be given to less provision within or adjacent to Town Centres.
  3. The building is a farm building or is within 400 metres of a bus route.
  4. The building provides suitable living accommodation for the occupiers in terms of privacy, layout, design and impact from adjacent land uses.
  5. No suitably located industrial/commercial premises are lost except where it can be demonstrated that it is not viable to retain the industrial / commercial use.

PPG3 and the Key Issues Consultation encourage the conversion / re-use of existing buildings to living accommodation.  This is sustainable, in that there is no loss of land and less building materials are needed.  Larger buildings are often suitable for conversion into smaller units perhaps flats, and can provide a first home to many entering the housing market or rented sector. There is also the potential for “Living Over The Shop” schemes, particularly in town and district centres.  The criteria aim to ensure that a satisfactory living environment is created and the amenity of existing neighbours is maintained.  Properties in industrial use should be retained if appropriate, and if suitably located in relation to other uses.

POLICY H9 - Sub-division of Dwellings

The sub division of dwellings to form self contained units will be permitted if the following criteria can be met:

  1. There is adequate car parking and manoeuvring space within the curtilage of the property. Consideration will be given to reducing parking standards where the property is located within or adjacent to the Town Centres.
  2. There will be no detrimental impact on the amenity of the adjacent properties caused either by the proposal or created by the cumulative effect of the proposal and similar previous development in the locality.
  3. There is satisfactory amenity area for the new accommodation. Private external amenity area should be provided for the use of residents at a rate of 30 sq.m (total) for the first four units and a further 5 sq. m. for each additional unit. Access to this should be provided for each unit without passing through private rooms. It is unlikely that sub division of two bedroomed properties will be acceptable. Exceptions to this criterion may be considered where the property is located within a Town Centre or within 400 metres on an existing public open space. Where no amenity space is being provided, measures for drying clothes must be provided.
  4. The proposal does not change the general appearance and character of the building to the extent that it is no longer in keeping with the street scene. 

Care must be taken to maintain satisfactory living standards in sub-divided property.  Shared parking and amenity areas can cause problems where the original provision served a less intensive use. Small self contained units with their own entrances and facilities can suit those living alone or on restricted incomes.

POLICY H10 - Multiple Occupation Dwellings

The change of use from a dwelling house to a house in multiple occupation will not be permitted unless:

  1. No more than 4 units are proposed in the case of a terraced dwelling house of 3 bedrooms or less with no off-street parking.
  2. No more than 6 units are proposed in the case of a terraced dwelling house of 4 bedrooms or more with no off-street parking.
  3. Where more than six units are proposed, one off-street parking space per two bedrooms is provided so as not to adversely affect the amenities of the occupiers of neighbouring properties. No off-street parking will be required if the property is within or adjacent to a Town Centre.
  4. Adequate sound insulation can be provided.
  5. An area for outside drying or measures for drying clothes can be provided. 

Houses in multiple occupation can provide affordable accommodation particularly suited to single people or those seeking temporary accommodation.  The resultant effect of a number of people sharing a dwelling but not living as one household can adversely affect the amenities of adjoining occupiers.  Increased noise and parking problems are common complaints.  These criteria seek to protect the character and amenity of neighbourhoods and to ensure that over-intensive use does not occur.

POLICY H11 - Density of Residental Development

New residential development should use design, layout and road networks to make the most effective use of the site.  A minimum density of 30 dwellings per hectare will be sought on all sites.  Density above 50 dwellings per hectare will be considered where the type of housing provision can lend itself to high density, such as sheltered housing for the elderly, or where a site is located within 400m of good public transport facilities and services. 

Inefficient land use means the loss of more land to development, and increasingly the use of greenfield sites.  Government guidance, notably PPG3 recommends developments of 30-50 dwellings per hectare, and suggests that lower densities are less likely to sustain local services or public transport.

Town and District Centres, or sites in good quality public transport corridors could be suitable for greater densities.  Proposals below 30 dwellings per hectare will be considered as departures from the Local Plan.

POLICY H12 - Design and Layout of Residential Development

The design and layout of new residential development should be to a high standard that addresses:

  1. the landscape and setting;
  2. overall scale and density;
  3. personal safety, pedestrian priority, safer streets and secure parking and access arrangements;
  4. the character and quality of the local environment; and
  5. energy efficiency through design and layout.

Guidelines relating to design aspects are given in:

  • The Residential Design Guide incorporating Standards of Play and Open Space Provision
  • WCC Transport and Roads for Development 2001
  • Site specific Planning Briefs and SPG / SPD.

Design quality is a material consideration.  Good design is the key to achieving a quality environment necessary to build a neighbourhood and sense of community.  Development needs to create a sense of ownership, install pride, and be safe, functional and attractive.  A good living environment for future residents should be achieved, especially in terms of mitigation measures for development close to existing noisy activities such as railways and industrial premises.  Design statements will be sought with planning applications to illustrate how a development fits in with the locality and will achieve a sustainable living environment.   Two useful guides have been published: DETR/CABE “By Design” and DETR/CABE “Better Places to Live - A Companion Guide to PPG3”.

POLICY H13 - Traveller Sites

Proposals for additional traveller sites must meet the following criteria:

  1. Demonstrable need cannot be met on present sites.
  2. Compatibility with other Plan policies – sites for travellers will not normally be appropriate in the Green Belt.
  3. Acceptable impact on the environmental quality of the surrounding area.
  4. Compatibility with nearby land uses.
  5. Good access to the public highway and sufficient area on site for vehicle movements.
  6. Good access to local services and facilities – schools, shops, medical practitioners.
  7. Defined boundaries with embankments and /or extensive landscaping and planting.

Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) states that local planning authorities should make adequate provision for travellers through policies that are locational and / or criteria based, in line with the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions Circular 1/94 ‘Gypsy Sites and Planning.’

There is public provision for travellers at Griff in Nuneaton and a number of private sites in the Borough and immediately adjacent its boundary.  From the Gypsy Counts done twice a year there does not appear to be a significant demand for further provision so no site allocations have been made.  Proposals will be judged against these criteria.  As a result of the counts if a need is proven the Council will work with the Gypsy Council to investigate the potential of identifying a site or sites. The Council also has some mobile home sites and there is one private site.  There does not appear to be any need for further mobile homes sites. 

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