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CHAPTER 4: POPULATION AND HOUSING (cont'd)

General Guidance on Provision for Affordable Housing

4.91 POLICY H/4

The Council will institute, and keep under review assessments of needs for affordable housing and other specialist housing needs. The Borough Council will seek to negotiate the provision of affordable housing to meet the targets specified on the following allocated sites which are considered suitable for affordable housing and are located in areas where an affordable housing needs has been identified:

H/2(a) Land North of Bradgate Road, Anstey approximately 15 dwellings
H/2(b) Land between Cotes Road and Willow Way, Barrow upon Soar approximately 55 dwellings
H/1(a) Land off Nottingham Road, Barrow upon Soar approximately 5 dwellings
H/2(c) Land at Brook Street, Burton on the Wolds approximately 10 dwellings
H/1(b) Empress Road, Loughborough approximately 5 dwellings
H/2(d) Land at Peartree Lane, Loughborough approximately 15 dwellings
H/1(c) Former Factory, Churchside/Forest Street, Shepshed approximately 5 dwellings
H/2(f) Land at Little Haw Farm, Shepshed approximately 8 dwellings
H/2(g) Land east of 19 Barkby Lane, Syston approximately 12 dwellings
H/2(h) Land Barkby Road, Syston approximately 55 dwellings
H/2(i) Land at Wysall Lane, Wymeswold approximately 15 dwellings

4.92 Advice in PPG3 and Circular 6/98 makes it clear that where a need for affordable housing has been established, it is a material consideration that can properly be taken into account in determining planning applications. For the purposes of this policy, affordable housing is defined as both low cost market and subsidised housing, irrespective of tenure or ownership (whether exclusive or shared) or financial arrangements, available to people who cannot afford houses generally available on the open market in the local area. Households in affordable need are considered to be those households whose annual income represents less than 40% of the average purchase price of a terraced property in the area. This is based on evidence of incomes and house prices available from the 1995 Housing Needs Survey.

4.93 The 1995 Housing Needs Survey sought to identify housing needs in the area over the five year period to 2000. The results of this survey, coupled with an analysis of the Council’s Housing Waiting List, experience of the Council’s housing officers and a study of the existing stock of affordable housing, have been used to establish the scale of affordable housing need in the Borough.

4.94 The findings of the Housing Needs Survey are summarised in the document “Analysis of the 1995 Housing Needs Survey”. The survey looked at those respondents expressing a need for housing and the amount that they could afford for housing. The analysis compared this income information with local property prices to estimate the number of households which would be unable to afford market prices and therefore would be likely to be in need of affordable housing.

4.95 Based on average house prices and rent levels locally in 1996, the analysis concluded that those households responding to the survey expressing a need for housing and having income levels below £15,000 per year or being able to pay less than £60 per week rent, would find it difficult to buy or rent on the open market. On this basis it was concluded that some 537 households were in immediate need of affordable housing and a further 1,500 had a need over the 5 year period to the year 2000, amounting to a total need of some 2,037 dwellings.

4.96 In terms of the distribution of this need the survey suggested that some 700 (34%) of those households wished to live in the Loughborough area, 154 (7%) in Syston, 122 (6%) in Birstall and 73 (4%) and 72 (4%) in Barrow upon Soar and Quorn.

4.97 As at March 1996 there were some 890 households registered on the Council’s Housing Waiting List. Some 60% of these applicants were elderly, 20% were families and 20% singles and couples. In terms of distribution, 207 applicants (23%) wished to live in Loughborough, 106 (12%) in Birstall and 133 (15%) in Syston.

4.98 Analysis of trends in recent years suggests that in the region of some 300 applicants register on the list each year. Relets within the Council’s own housing stock accommodate approximately 290 households from the list a year. As a result numbers on the list have remained relatively static, with new registrations being balanced by relets.

4.99 In its Housing Strategy Statement submitted as part of the HIP bid, the Council made a commitment to reducing its housing waiting list, particularly for families. This will only be possible through an increase in the affordable housing stock, as currently relets in the existing stock are only maintaining the list at its present level. The Housing Strategy Statement indicated a target of providing accommodation for 125 families a year to reduce the scale of the waiting list. This accommodation could be provided through purchases of existing properties as well as new build.

4.100 The Housing Needs Survey can only provide an indication of the scale of housing need in the Borough. Whilst a response rate of 40% was achieved, the age profile of respondents did not reflect the profile for the Borough as a whole, with a disproportionately high number of elderly respondents. However, the information obtained does provide an important indicator on the nature and scale of housing need in the Borough that can be compared with other information sources including the Council’s Housing Waiting List. On the basis of the information from the Housing Needs Survey and the Waiting List, it is considered that there are at least 1,000-1,500 households in need of affordable housing in the Borough.

4.101 The existing stock of affordable housing can be identified from the 1991 Census and information on housing completions over the last six years. The 1991 Census showed some 11,712 rented properties in the Borough, of which the majority (7,150, 61%) were Council properties. Of the total stock of rented accommodation, some 48% was in Loughborough. Including Shepshed, this figure becomes 57%. In some Loughborough wards over 47% of households are in the rented sector. It is in the southern parishes where the proportion of rented households falls below 20%.

4.102 Since 1991 permission has been granted for some 500 additional Housing Association properties, making up 10% of permissions over this period. Over 60% of these new properties were in the Loughborough area.

4.103 For the Council’s housing stock, evidence shows that on average some 400 properties become available for releting each year, amounting to some 5.6% of the stock. The effect of these relets in the existing stock is to keep the housing waiting list static. However relets in the Council and other rented sectors will meet some of the identified need within the Borough.

4.104 Whilst in terms of numbers, the greatest housing need appears to be in the Loughborough area, this is also the location with a large supply of rented accommodation. In relative terms, housing need is likely to be more acute in settlements where the mismatch between need and available stock is the greatest. Comparing the potential for relets within those settlements where a significant level of need was identified in the survey indicates that, in relative terms, housing need is most acute in Birstall, Quorn and Syston. In Birstall it would take almost 6 years to meet the identified need through relets of existing stock compared with some 2 years in Loughborough. These findings bear out Housing Officers’ experience which suggests that the needs of housing waiting list applicants in Birstall and Syston are the more critical because of the limited supply of rented housing.

4.105 Circular 6/98 suggests that local authorities should seek to ensure that there is an appropriate mix of types of housing within areas. The targets specified in the policy seek to secure an element of affordable housing in those areas of identified need and where there is an existing limited stock of affordable housing.

4.106 It is recognised that the amount of affordable housing that can be secured on allocated sites is limited when compared with the scale of need identified. The targets specified take into account the scale of need in the locality, the size of the site and its suitability for affordable housing. Guidance in Circular 6/98 suggests that affordable housing should only be sought on developments of 25 dwellings or more or residential sites of 1 hectare or more, irrespective of the number of dwellings. The allocated sites identified meet these size thresholds, are in areas of need and are well located in relation to local services, facilities and public transport. Based on the economics of site provision and experience of negotiating affordable provision elsewhere, the targets represent no more than 15-20% of the development capacity of sites. The Borough Council has considered whether lower thresholds should be set for those rural settlements in the Borough with populations of 3,000 or less. For the smaller rural settlements it is considered that the rural exceptions policy as detailed as Policy H/4 provides the appropriate mechanism to secure affordable housing. For other settlements there is insufficient evidence to justify the application of lower thresholds. Many of these settlements are within 3km of other settlements where either affordable housing will be negotiated on allocated sites, or windfall sites will provide opportunities to secure affordable housing.

4.107 The Borough Council will either seek to negotiate a legal agreement under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 or impose conditions to secure the levels of affordable housing specified.

4.108 The demand for social housing is analysed each year for the Housing Strategy Statement. It is also intended that the Housing Needs Survey will be regularly reviewed and repeat surveys undertaken where necessary to ensure that the information remains up to date and relevant.

Affordable Housing on Unallocated Sites

4.109 POLICY H/5

For housing developments not allocated in the Plan which come forward in areas of identified need, the Borough Council will seek to negotiate an element of affordable housing provided:

i) the site is close to a range of local services and facilities and easily accessible by public transport, and;

ii) the provision of affordable housing would not prejudice the achievement of other key planning objectives identified in relation to the development of the site and;

iii) the development incorporates a range and mix of housing types.

4.110 The scale of affordable housing sought on allocated sites will not meet the scale of need identified by the Housing Needs Survey and the Council’s Housing Waiting List. Where additional windfall housing sites come forward in areas of identified need, the Council will seek to secure an element of affordable housing. Provision will only be sought on sites that meet the size thresholds detailed above, and will be at a scale commensurate with the remaining identified need, taking into account the suitability of the site and the economics of provision.

4.111 Where the affordable housing secured on sites is to be managed by a registered social landlord, this is likely to be an effective way of controlling occupancy to ensure that the accommodation remains available to those in need. In circumstances where a registered landlord is not involved, the Borough Council will seek to enter into a legal agreement under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act to ensure that affordable housing is available for local people in need and is secured in the long term. Local people in need will be considered to be those people in households whose annual income is less than 40% of the average purchase price of a terraced property in the area, who live within 3 kilometres of the site and are:

  • on the Council’s housing waiting list or register of another registered social landlord, or;

  • living in sub-standard accommodation, or;

  • sharing with other households, or;

  • employed within the local area, or;

  • immediate relatives of people who have been living in the local area for at least five of the last ten years.

4.112 If no occupiers are found within these categories, eligible people from elsewhere in the Borough will be considered.

4.113 For affordable housing involving low cost market housing, these eligibility criteria and the need to ensure housing is secured in the long term will not apply.

4.114 Whilst the provision of affordable housing on suitable sites is the preferred option, the provision of a financial contribution from a developer towards the provision of affordable housing in or near the settlement concerned may also be considered.

Affordable Housing in the Rural Areas

4.115 POLICY H/6

In those areas where market housing sites would not be suitable or are not able to provide affordable housing to meet local needs planning permission will be granted on an exceptions basis for small-scale schemes providing for affordable housing.

This exceptions policy will apply to sites where housing would be contrary to normally applicable policies and when all the following criteria are met:

i) a local need within approximately 3km of the site for a specific scale, type, tenure and price range of affordable housing has been identified by the Borough Council, or through an appropriate local survey, the format of which has been agreed by the Borough Council;

ii) the proposed scheme is shown to be economically viable on the basis of building the affordable housing without any enabling development;

iii) the scale, location, details of development are compatible with the form, function and character of the settlement and the local environment;

iv) the affordable housing could not be provided on allocated sites, or through infill, redevelopment or conversion within established limits to development located within approximately 3km of the site;

v) the benefits of the affordable housing are guaranteed for the local community in the long term preferably by the involvement of a registered housing association or local trust to manage the housing and the signing of a secure agreement between the Borough Council and relevant parties.

4.116 This policy allows for small scale “exceptions” affordable housing schemes to serve people or families who are unable to afford to buy or rent a dwelling in their village at the prevailing market values but who could buy or rent genuinely affordable housing. To be acceptable proposals must provide solely for local needs identified on the basis of the Borough Council’s ‘Housing Needs Survey’ or equivalent evidence. Mixed schemes of high value market housing and affordable housing on the same site will not be acceptable within this policy.

4.117 In general sites will only be released on an exceptional basis in villages of less than 3,000 population where there is no realistic alternative means to provide the required affordable accommodation. The majority of new allocations and market housing sites are allowed for in and around Loughborough, Shepshed, settlements adjoining Leicester, in the Soar Valley south of Loughborough, and in the Wreake Valley. In these settlements affordable housing is not usually expected to be needed on exceptions sites. The need for exceptional releases is much more likely in the more rural parts of the Borough comprising the Wolds, the Charnwood Forest and the South-east Charnwood villages where the infrequent turnover in housing and higher prices commanded by rural property is more likely to deny low income groups access to the normal housing market.

4.118 People eligible for such “exceptions” schemes include:

i) first time buyers;

ii) retired people or people with disabilities who have lived or worked locally for at least 5 of the past 10 years;

iii) those living in poor, sub-standard accommodation;

iv) those sharing with other householders;

v) people who are statutorily homeless and/or on the council’s housing waiting list;

vi) immediate relatives of people already living in the local area for at least five of the last ten years.

All these groups could qualify for an “exceptions” housing scheme if people, by reason of their occupation, should need to remain in a specific area and are unable to buy/rent locally, or can demonstrate personal reasons for needing to live in a particular settlement. Local needs must be identified on the basis of detailed survey work taking into account the views of the relevant Parish Council or Parish Meeting.

4.119 Implementation of the policy will inevitably create pressure to release land in sensitive locations where housing would be contrary to normally applicable policies to protect, for example, important open spaces or the countryside. Schemes will only be permitted where they are shown to be acceptable in terms of impact on the local environment and community.

4.120 Any site could help meet needs in the vicinity in addition to, or in the absence of, more local needs. A distance of about 3km is considered appropriate to ensure good accessibility and to retain community links. Such a catchment area approach increases the likelihood of meeting needs throughout the Borough.

4.121 If ‘affordable’ accommodation under such schemes were ever likely to be left vacant because prospective occupiers did not pass the test of meeting genuine local need, consideration could be given to letting the accommodation on a temporary basis.

4.122 The affordable accommodation would be best secured in the long term through a legally binding agreement, usually a planning agreement.

4.123 To ensure the accommodation stays appropriate to meeting local needs the Council will normally, when granting planning permission, remove permitted development rights for extensions which could over time change the intended nature of the affordable accommodation.

Access Housing

4.124 POLICY H/7

The Borough Council will seek to negotiate with developers to provide dwellings specifically designed as mobility or wheelchair housing on new housing developments, including mixed use developments or changes of use of existing buildings, in areas where there is clear evidence of a local need. The best locations will be those located close to shops and public transport routes and on areas of level ground.

Planning permission will not be granted for development which would result in the loss of this type of residential accommodation.

4.125 ‘Access’ housing is a term covering accommodation with specific design features allowing homes to be accessible to able-bodied and disabled people alike. A national survey by O.P.C.S (Prevalence of Disability Amongst Adults, Report 1, H.M.S.O, 1988) found 14% of all adults have at least one disability. The 2001 Census indicates about 15% of Charnwood residents have a limiting long term illness. Many of these will have some mobility problems and there is currently little access housing in the Borough.

4.126 Revisions to the Building Regulations aim to secure reasonable access for occupiers to be able to invite disabled people to visit, and to enable occupiers to stay longer in their homes should they experience declining mobility. However, they do not make provision for all new dwellings to facilitate independent living for people with disabilities.

4.127 It is desirable that new residential developments provide an element of adapted dwellings and ground floor elements of other accommodation to appropriate standards to meet local needs. In some cases needs can be met by attention to detail in conventional housing design and layout. People who use wheelchairs will generally require single storey accommodation with corridors and doors set wide enough for wheelchair access and above standard space to ensure full manoeuvrability.

4.128 The provision of such housing will be negotiated on suitable sites where there is evidence of local need. More work is needed to establish needs and standards locally for access housing. The proportion of access housing sought on sites will be based on an assessment of local needs and the suitability of the particular site in terms of its physical and locational characteristics.

Transit Site, Railway Terrace, Loughborough

4.129 POLICY H/8

Planning permission will be granted on land off Railway Terrace, Loughborough for a 10 pitch transit site for caravans occupied by gypsies and travellers, provided the following criteria are met:

i) vehicular access is taken from Falcon Street;

ii) clear separation is maintained from existing housing areas and other activities;

iii) landscaping, planting and screening measures are introduced to help assimilate the overall site in its surroundings and provide buffers between different uses on the site and the adjacent railway line;

iv) a full assessment is undertaken to establish the extent of any site stability or landfill gas problems. Where problems are identified measures will need to be implemented to resolve them.

4.130 There is at present no authorised provision for gypsies within the Borough although they are frequent visitors to the area. So far as Charnwood is concerned the County Council’s 1992 study identified the need to provide one transit site of 10 pitches in the Loughborough area. In order to meet this need a transit site is proposed on part of the reclaimed landfill site off Railway Terrace on the north eastern edge of Loughborough.

4.131 A site in this location would comply with guidance in Circular 1/94 that gypsy caravan sites be located in areas frequented by gypsies and offer reasonable access to shops, schools and essential services. The transit site will need to be quite separate and discrete from existing and proposed activities in the locality. To this end independent access would be beneficial. Densely planted woodland will provide strong screening around the site. This and other landscaping will help separate, and minimise conflict between, different land uses on the site. Careful consideration needs to be given to ensure there are no problems related to site stability or landfill gas generation from the old landfill site. A survey to identify any risk and any measures necessary to resolve any identified problems will need to be included in any proposal.

Assessment of Gypsy Site Proposals

4.132 POLICY H/9

In the determination of planning applications for gypsy sites elsewhere in the plan area the Borough Council will take into account the following criteria:

i) a necessity is clearly demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Borough Council for a specific scale and type of accommodation;

ii) the proposed scheme is in a location and of a form sympathetic to the character and appearance of the surrounding area;

iii) the site has safe and convenient access to the main road network;

iv) adequate screening and landscaping can be provided to avoid visual intrusion;

v) the site is within reasonable travelling distance of schools, shops and other community activities;

vi) the proposed layout makes provision, where appropriate, for mixed residential and business uses.

4.133 Circular 1/94 provides general guidance on the provision and location of sites, site characteristics and services. New provision will only be permitted to meet specific needs identified through a full quantitative assessment examining amongst other things traditional patterns of movement and demand for temporary and permanent accommodation.

Assessment of Travelling Showpeople Site Proposals

4.134 POLICY H/10

In the determination of planning applications to provide sites for travelling show people the Borough Council will take into account the following criteria:

i) any storage, maintenance or other non-residential elements would not significantly harm the amenities enjoyed by neighbouring properties or other uses;

ii) site must have safe and convenient access to the main road network;

iii) adequate screening and landscaping must be provided to avoid visual intrusion;

iv) the site must be readily accessible to schools, shops and other community facilities.

(See also in particular Policy TR/18)

4.135 Although there is no duty on local authorities to provide accommodation Circular 22/91 ‘Travelling Showpeople’ states the needs of these people should be considered in local plan preparation, bearing in mind suitable sites would need to accommodate a mixture of residential, storage and maintenance uses.

4.136 This type of mixed use could be appropriate in a primarily residential area, provided any scheme demonstrates existing residential amenities could be safeguarded, and the site offers satisfactory access to the main road network.

4.137 The occupation of a travelling showpeople’s site will be restricted, preferably by the signing of a legal agreement, to members of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain and their immediate relations.

Houseboats

4.138 POLICY H/11

Planning permission will be granted for permanent mooring facilities and structures at locations within the defined limits to development and at marina sites, and for temporary facilities at other locations along the river and canal corridors where proposals:

i) provide proper vehicular and pedestrian access and car parking;

ii) do not restrict navigation along the waterway;

iii) provide adequate services and facilities;

iv) are of a design and layout sympathetic to the natural waterside environment and neighbouring uses and are not intrusive in the landscape or townscape;

v) safeguard the amenities of potential users of the moorings from any adverse effects from adjoining land uses and activities.

4.139 The Borough is traversed by the Grand Union Canal and navigable sections of the rivers Wreake and Soar. These are assets for water-based recreation, and have potential to accommodate residential moorings in appropriate locations.

4.140 Proposals for residential and non-residential moorings will be considered in the policy context for the area in which they are located. Outside the urban area the Borough Council would prefer to see linear moorings for non-residential craft to encourage recreational use. Locations would need to be agreed with British Waterways.

4.141 Provision for houseboats will only be appropriate in environmentally acceptable locations and where the navigation would not be restricted in any way.

Student Halls of Residence

4.142 POLICY H/12

Planning permission will be granted for new buildings or the re-use of non-residential properties specifically for student accommodation at locations on, or readily accessible by cycle, public transport or on foot to, the university and college campuses.

Planning permission will be granted for developments which include reduced parking standards where it can be shown that there would be no adverse impact in the vicinity of the site.

(See also in particular Policies H/18 and TR/18)

4.143 The number of students attending Loughborough’s University and Colleges is expected to increase during the plan period in accordance with Government policy to encourage one in three individuals to enter higher education by the year 2000. This will require more student accommodation. It should be noted that residential developments for student accommodation provided under this Policy will not be counted as making a contribution to meeting the overall housing requirement for the Borough.

4.144 The Town’s higher education establishments will be expected to maximise the amount of accommodation provided on campus and so help reduce pressures on housing areas to accommodate students. Where sites are required off-campus they should have good access for non-car modes and be close to the campus.

4.145 As students generally have below average levels of car ownership the Borough Council may accept reduced parking standards where there would be no harmful knock-on effects such as excessive on-street parking. The Borough Council will seek to negotiate restrictions on the use of cars by residents and limiting the occupation of the properties to students in term time.

Houses in Multiple Occupation without On-site Supervision

4.146 POLICY H/13

Planning permission for the conversion of properties within primarily residential areas to hostels, self contained flats, cluster flats or to any use within Class C1 (hotels) of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) will be granted provided the proposal would not:

i) introduce a potential source of noise and disturbance greater than that normally associated with a dwelling to the detriment of neighbouring residential amenities which could not be mitigated by careful planning of room layout and the use of sound insulation; and/or

ii) adversely affect the general character and appearance of the surrounding area; and/or

iii) necessitate associated extensions or external alterations inconsistent with the appearance of the property or its setting to the detriment of the street scene or neighbouring residential amenities; and/or

iv) lead to a concentration of such uses damaging to the character and amenity of a street or residential area; and/or

v) provide an external layout, design, and space standards which do not meet the needs and safety of residents, including people with mobility problems.

(See also in particular Policy TR/18)

4.147 The existing housing stock offers opportunities to provide more accommodation for small households in flats, or for people living in a property sharing facilities. It should be noted that where a dwelling house is used by up to six individuals living as a household planning permission is not required. This policy applies to other types of multiple occupation.

4.148 In more densely developed areas with typically small terraced housing and little scope for off-street car parking the additional activity generated by multi-occupation households might be expected to be particularly intrusive to the detriment of neighbouring residential amenities. Such problems are likely to be greatest in the older housing areas of Loughborough, in close proximity to the University and other higher education sites where there are already concentrations of houses with multiple occupancy.

4.149 Elsewhere more generous space standards surrounding houses might be expected to diminish the potential for disturbance to acceptable levels. However each scheme would need to be considered on its merits having regard in particular to the relationship of a property to other dwellings and the number of bed spaces proposed.4.150 The type of property best suited to conversion is likely to be a large two or three storey house, preferably detached, although larger three bed semi-detached houses with generous gardens and adequate off-street car parking might also present conversion opportunities. In general terms conversions are not usually feasible or desirable in smaller properties.

4.151 It will be important to provide garden space to meet the needs of the residents of the accommodation. The quantity and quality of garden space provided should have regard to the proximity of, and access to, parks and other public open space, the age group and mobility of residents, and the permanence of the residents in the property.

4.152 The level of car parking provision required should relate to existing standards having regard to the intensity of the use, the availability of car parking provision in the locality, and the age group and mobility of the residents. The overall intention should be to safeguard the local environment in terms of traffic generation and highway safety.

4.153 Where properties are approved for conversion they will also be required to provide satisfactory standards of accommodation having regard to the Borough Council’s standards for the control of ‘Housing in Multiple Occupation’ (H.I.M.O’s) for which powers for enforcement are available under the Housing Acts. Internal arrangements should be designed and constructed to minimise potential noise disturbance. Where appropriate conditions will be imposed on planning permissions to ensure adequate noise attenuation measures are provided.

4.154 If during the plan period the Borough Council considers there is unacceptable pressure for conversions in any location further detailed policy statements may be prepared. The conversion of a large number of houses in any locality to more intensive residential use is likely to unacceptably harm the residential character of an area and the balance of the community.

Care in the Community – Nursing, Residential Care, Rest Homes and Sheltered Housing (Class C2) Involving On-site Supervision

4.155 POLICY H/14

Planning permissions for nursing, residential care, rest homes and sheltered housing, and extensions to such homes, at locations within primarily residential areas will be granted provided the proposal would meet all the following criteria:

i) provide an adequate amount of accommodation for warden/staff;

ii) provide adequate communal garden space;

iii) be located within easy reach of local shops and other facilities;

iv) provide an external layout, design and space standards to meet the needs and safety of residents including those with mobility problems and to minimise potential noise disturbance to and from adjacent properties;

v) ensure any development is of a scale, mass, design and detailing appropriate to the character of an area;

vi) not harm the residential amenities of adjoining occupiers;

vii) would not lead to a concentration of such uses damaging to the character and amenity of a street or residential area.

Where sheltered housing is proposed it will be subject to a legal agreement restricting occupation to people over 60 years of age.

(See also in particular Policy TR/18)

4.156 The implementation of the Government’s ‘Care in the Community’ programme will transfer people from institutions into housing accommodation within the community. Due to greater longevity there is also likely to be a need for further special homes and accommodation for the elderly.

4.157 In considering proposals care will be taken to ensure that the impact of schemes, individually and collectively, does not detract from the amenity of neighbouring residential properties and the wider residential area. Schemes will need to provide a suitable living environment, especially for long term residents, and help secure their integration into the local community.

Self-Contained Residential Annexes

4.158 POLICY H/15

Proposals for self-contained residential annexes in the form of extensions to existing dwellings which require planning permission will be permitted where they meet local plan guidance on extensions and provided they cannot be occupied as a separate dwelling.

Where an extension is not achievable for design or physical reasons planning permission will be granted for the conversion of an existing outbuilding or erection of a new building within the curtilage of the existing dwelling where such an annex:

i) is compatible with the site and its surroundings; and

ii) is not of a form which could be occupied as a separate dwelling.

Where an annex is in the form of a building which could be independently occupied but would not be acceptable as a separate dwelling a condition will be attached to ensure that occupation of the building is tied to the main dwelling.

4.159 People are living longer and often wish to retain some independence whilst being close to their family. On occasion the provision of self-contained accommodation in the form of ‘granny flats or annexes’ to existing dwellings can meet this specific need.

4.160 Schemes will only be appropriate where they are acceptable in planning terms, and permanently retained as part of the existing dwelling unit. The preferable means of achieving an annex would be by extension of an existing dwelling. If an extension is not achievable for design or physical reasons then conversion of an existing outbuilding is more acceptable than a new building.

Design and Layout of New Housing Developments

4.161 POLICY H/16

All new housing developments will be expected to achieve high standards of design and layout. On allocated sites and within the Primarily Residential Areas defined on the Proposals Map planning permission will be granted for residential purposes (Class C3) provided the design and layout:

i) respects the character and appearance of the streetscene, adjoining residential areas and overall settlement form particularly in terms of scale, massing, materials and setting;

ii) takes account of the effect of variations in site levels and utilises elements of design, plot orientation, spacing of dwellings and landscape to foster energy conservation and create for occupiers and neighbours appropriate standards of privacy, access to natural lighting to primary rooms, exposure to direct sun lighting of garden areas and protection from sources of noise, excessive traffic movement or other disturbance;

iii) creates attractive and distinctive open spaces and play areas linked by pedestrian and cycle routes and garden spaces to function as a strong open space system for public and private use, recreation and amenity purposes;

iv) uses the landform and existing features in and around the site such as woodland, trees, hedges, streams, ponds, important buildings and structures imaginatively as the focus for new development;

v) would not result in the loss of significant trees, land or landscape features of high amenity value nor other sites of historical or ecological value worthy of retention;

vi) creates an individual sense of place with an identity based on attractive and distinctive townscape which makes imaginative use of key and corner dwellings individually and in groups, uses hard and soft landscaping measures creatively to define, contain, diversify and add interest to the overall layout and screen any potentially intrusive features, and provides attractive built frontages, walls and landscape areas onto roads, footpaths and other public areas;

vii) creates a designed informal edge softening the visual impact of development onto areas of open land;

viii) minimises the opportunity for crime by creating a safe and secure living environment;

ix) provides a safe community environment based on attractive pedestrian, cycle and vehicular access, and circulation space for residents and the general public especially those with disabilities and children;

x) which accesses the majority of dwellings from a road network with vehicle speeds restricted to be compatible with pedestrian and road safety by appropriate design and traffic calming measures;

xi) does not involve the loss of garages, parking space, social community, recreational or other facilities for which there is a need in the area;

xii) would not prejudice the comprehensive development of a wider area;

xiii) would not locate a housing area so close to an existing or proposed employment area falling within Classes B2 to B8 of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, or to any other use to the extent that the nature of the processes or activities undertaken therein would be detrimental to residential amenities.

4.162 All new housing development will need to give full regard to its local surroundings particularly where proposals impinge upon sensitive buildings, areas or landscapes. The Borough Council will be concerned with the scale, the density and layout of buildings and structures and the appearance and treatment of spaces around buildings. The aim will be to ensure that new housing is accommodated without harming the local character and identity of a settlement or locality. There will be scope for innovative design solutions where it would achieve positive improvements to a locality and particularly where the traditional character has been lost or diminished.

4.163 Housing developments apart from complementing the character of a locality will also need to provide attractive and safe living environments for residents. The layout of housing areas should engender feelings of security by enabling the maximum casual supervision of a development by residents and passing pedestrians, cyclists and motorists during the day and by night.

4.164 The Borough Council will prepare design briefs to guide the development of all major housing and employment proposals and schemes in sensitive locations.

4.165 It is anticipated that within the defined primarily residential areas opportunities will continue to arise on small infill sites, vacant or underused land and through the redevelopment of redundant land and property. In combination these sites are expected to make a significant contribution to overall housing needs. Their early beneficial development will avoid the accumulation of vacant and derelict land, and diminish the need to allocate “green field” sites for development. However all such development must aim to provide a high quality residential environment for the benefit of the home owners and the occupiers of existing properties on adjacent land. The above criteria will be applied to ensure that development achieves these objectives and does not take place in unsuitable locations. Further advice on design matters is given in the Borough Council’s Supplementary Planning Guidance.

4.166 The provisions of the policy will be applied rigorously in all circumstances but especially so in respect of backland development. Backland development is typically residential development within the rear gardens of existing houses, although in some instances it may involve underused allotments or other vacant land within an established residential area. Pressure for development of this type is usually found in areas where the original housing layouts were spacious with long back gardens. Backland development by its very nature will be sensitive requiring particular care in its design and layout to avoid conflict with established residential amenities together with suitable vehicular access. Backland development enclosed on all sides by existing urban land use is likely to represent a further useful source of small scale housing from unplanned sites. However backland development in other circumstances is likely to intrude upon adjacent rural amenities and/or conflict with the established settlement form to the detriment of its particular character and appearance.

4.167 One particular form of backland development, “tandem development”, being the building of a single property immediately in front, or to the rear of an existing dwelling will be limited by the policy to those situations where the amenities of all surrounding dwellings, together with those of the original “host” property, can be adequately safeguarded and there is no opportunity for a more comprehensive scheme.

4.168 Sites for residential caravans and mobile homes will be acceptable in principle within the primarily residential areas. Planning applications for such development will be determined within the same policy context as that for conventional housing. When acceptable such development will be controlled and regulated by appropriate planning conditions and site licensing provisions.

Extensions to Dwellings

4.169 POLICY H/17

Where Planning permission is required for a residential extension to an existing dwelling or for a garage, permission will be granted provided the development meets all of the following criteria:

i) it remains compatible in scale, mass, design and use of materials with the original dwelling;

ii) it would not appear as an intrusive or incongruous feature in the streetscene to the detriment of visual amenities;

iii) it would not prove detrimental to the amenities of occupiers of nearby properties by reason of overshadowing, dominance, or substantial loss of privacy or light;

iv) it would not involve the removal of areas of existing landscaping important to the character of the location.

4.170 Many extensions to existing dwellings and ancillary buildings within associated garden areas do not require the specific grant of planning permission being deemed permitted development under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. However when a proposal exceeds the permitted development allowances or falls outside the criteria affording exemption, planning permission will be required. In these circumstances the Borough Council will act to ensure that development remains in keeping with the original property and the surrounding area without injury to the amenity of residents. Further detailed guidance concerning the design of extensions is given in the Borough Council’s Supplementary Planning Guidance.

Non-Residential Uses in Primarily Residential Areas

4.171 POLICY H/18

Planning permission will not be granted for non-residential development in ‘Primarily Residential Areas’ unless all the following criteria are met:

i) the use can be accommodated without damaging the amenity of nearby residents or of the area by reason of noise, vibration, illumination, smell, fumes, soot, ash, dust, grit or other source of nuisance;

ii) the use can be accommodated in a building consistent in its scale, use of materials and massing of individual elements with the established form and character of adjacent residential areas;

iii) the use is of a scale and intensity compatible with a residential area;

iv) the introduction of the new use would not lead to a loss of off-street residential parking provision;

v) the use does not lead to a material increase in traffic generation, in particular of heavy goods vehicles onto residential streets.

4.172 On occasion opportunities arise to accommodate uses other than residential in established housing areas. Such alternative uses will only be acceptable where it is clearly demonstrated that there would be no material damage to the amenities and character of the housing area.

4.173 The most compatible uses would be small-scale, Class B1 uses, shopping facilities for purely local needs, or community facilities.

Residential Development at Locations Within the Limits to Development but Outside the Primarily Residential Areas

4.174 POLICY H/19

In locations within the Limits to Development but outside the Primarily Residential Areas planning permission will be granted for the extension, subdivision, replacement or change of use to residential institutions of existing dwellings provided the proposal meets the criteria for housing development and extensions set out in this Plan.

4.175 Small pockets of residential accommodation occur within areas where employment uses are predominant. In these situations the occupiers of properties will normally be allowed to modify, or replace, the housing element provided the proposed development would safeguard the character and amenity of the area and provide an acceptable living environment. The introduction of new residential accommodation in employment areas will not normally be appropriate as it could conflict with and constrain the employment land use potential and create unsatisfactory living accommodation for the occupiers.

4.176 Elsewhere within the limits to development new residential development will usually be restricted to locations in town and village centres where housing is an acceptable use, perhaps as part of redevelopment schemes.

The Ridgeway Area of Rothley

4.177 POLICY H/20

Within the Ridgeway Area of Rothley as defined on the Proposals Map, proposals for infill dwellings, and other development requiring planning permission, will not be granted unless they are in keeping with the unique, spacious and dignified residential character of the area having regard to all of the following criteria:

i) the siting, design and layout of the development;

ii) the shape and size of plot for any proposed new dwelling;

iii) the need to protect privacy and residential amenities;

iv) the need to protect existing trees;

v) access and parking arrangements;

(See also in particular Policy CT/5)

4.178 The Ridgeway Area of Rothley is a remnant of an uncompleted early 20th century garden suburb development. It is an attractive local feature of historic and architectural interest.

4.179 Specific policy guidance, as included in the adopted Soar Valley Local Plan, has been successfully applied over the past 20 years to control development proposals within the individual housing areas. This guidance has strong local support.

4.180 It will be applied to ensure that all development proposals requiring planning permission such as houses, large garages and other buildings and structures are carefully assessed and only permitted where they would be in keeping with the traditional, spacious and dignified character of the residential areas. Proposals for tandem development would not be in keeping with the unique character of the area, and are unlikely to be permitted.

Improvement of Existing Housing Areas

4.181 The Borough Council will continue to encourage residents to improve their properties within the appropriate legislation and with the aid of available grants where properties qualify for assistance. Area based improvement will be achieved through the implementation of a phased program of environmental improvement schemes, such as traffic calming in those areas meriting priority treatment.

4.182 The Housing Act 1990 restructured the system of housing improvement grants and area designations. Previous area designation (‘General Improvement Areas’) are to be re-assessed against a new set of criteria from which ‘Housing Renewal Areas’ will be declared where appropriate. The identification of any such areas within the Borough will be undertaken as part of a review of the Borough Council’s “Housing Renewal Strategy” originally adopted in 1977.

4.183 The Director of Legal and Environmental Services is responsible for dealing with unsatisfactory accommodation in the Borough, including the allocation of available grants.

4.184 Subject to available finance the Borough Council will continue a programme of housing improvement and area environmental improvements.

The Role of the Borough Council in Housing

4.185 The role of the Borough Council in housing has two main aspects:

  • a legal duty to consider and assess the need for housing within the Borough:

    Sources of data such as census information, the Housing Waiting List and the Borough wide Housing Needs Survey allow a detailed assessment to be made of the requirement for housing. This information is used to assist in allocating land for housing within the local plan and also to identify areas where affordable and special needs housing is required in the future.

  • the power to provide accommodation to meet the needs identified:

    Although the Borough Council has an important role as a landlord, its main role is increasingly to enable other organisations to provide new housing, rather than providing the housing itself. This role is maximised by providing funding to housing associations and other providers to meet part of the cost of new affordable housing development. The Borough Council may also provide land for such schemes but this resource is now greatly reduced.

    In future it is intended that the enabling role will be extended to make use of policy H/4, which relates to an element of affordable housing being provided on sites allocated for housing where there is an identified need.

4.186 Every year the Borough Council produces a Housing Strategy Statement. This identifies the housing needs within the Borough and explains how these needs are to be met. The Housing Strategy Statement demonstrates the Borough Council’s commitment to working with a range of partners to improve the existing housing provision in Charnwood and, as the highest priority, to generate new housing for rent and sale.

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