West Suffolk Local Plan (Regulation 18) Preferred Options

Part Three: Site Allocations

1. Introduction

1.1. This section of the West Suffolk Local Plan sets out the council’s preferred sites for housing, employment, mixed use, retail and commercial leisure use in towns, key service centres, local service centres and type A villages. While those settlements categorised as type B villages will not have site allocations, section six sets out how small levels of growth may be brought forward in this category of settlement.

1.2. Your views are an important part of the process, and we welcome responses from both the public and statutory stakeholders to the sites allocated in this plan. This is #YourFuture and the chance to have #YourSay.

Evidence to support site selection

1.3. Evidence and research have helped develop the policy parameters for the site allocations set out in this part of the plan, as well as the outcomes of the West Suffolk Issues and Options consultation carried out in October 2020. Evidence produced to support this plan is ongoing and will be made available on the background evidence webpage when published. These documents should not be read in isolation.

Residential site options

1.4. The sites within this part of the West Suffolk Local Plan are identified as strategic or non-strategic. The strategic sites are larger residential sites which help address the council’s strategic priorities and housing need. The non-strategic sites are smaller residential sites across the district to meet the housing need.

1.5. The majority of residential sites included as preferred options in this plan originate from the current adopted local plan documents for the former St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath areas, the strategic housing and economic land availability assessment 2020 and 2021 update and the West Suffolk Local Plan Issues and Options consultation document (October 2020). A table showing existing allocations to be carried forward in this plan and proposed new allocations can be seen at appendix A

1.6. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that planning policies should identify a sufficient supply and mix of sites and that they are available, suitable and viable (paragraph 68). Allocations in the former St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath Local Plans have been carried forward to this plan where there is evidence of delivery. Where development has commenced on a currently allocated site it is omitted from the plan.

1.7. Where there remains uncertainty about particular delivery issues of an allocated site, this is referred to in the policy considerations text. If no further evidence can be provided to confirm deliverability of these sites during this consultation, they may be removed from the submission (final) version of the plan.

1.8. There are non-strategic sites, with planning permission which are not listed in this plan and details of these can be found in the five year housing land supply (February 2022).

Omission sites

1.9. As a result of comments received at the issues and options consultation stage and further evidence base work, many sites have now been discounted and are not proposed for allocation in this plan. These sites are now referred to as ‘omission sites’ and are set out in appendix B alongside a brief justification setting out why they haven’t been selected for allocation.

Infrastructure delivery plan

1.10. The draft infrastructure delivery plan (IDP) is an evidence base study supporting the local plan which sets out baseline information for those categories of settlements which could experience growth in the plan period. Ongoing discussions with infrastructure providers throughout the preparation of the local plan will establish and define infrastructure requirements generated by the sites proposed in this plan. The development of the IDP is an iterative process, and it will continue to be refined through the preparation of this local plan.

Site assessment criteria

1.11. The following criteria have been used to help assess the sites included in this plan as preferred options:

  • Only included sites in or adjacent to towns, key service centres, local service centres and type A villages (see SP5 in part one of this plan for information on the settlement hierarchy and categories of settlement).
  • Excluded sites below 10 dwellings (these can come forward as windfall).
  • Applied the criteria below to calculate the overall number of dwellings and/or density for that site except where constraints suggest a more appropriate capacity and/or density:
    • sites over 50 dwellings – 60 per cent of the site will be calculated at 30 dwellings per hectare to allow for infrastructure provision on site (evidenced by Natural England Sites of Special Scientific Interest impact zone setting).
    • mixed use sites – a lower density will be assumed reflecting the proportion of the site likely to be available for residential development.
    • on sites below 50 dwellings, 30 dwellings per hectare is likely to be appropriate unless obvious constraints are known, for example the site is extensively covered by mature trees and a tree preservation order has been applied.
  • Where there is a current application (for example with resolution to grant permission) or planning permission the dwelling number on the application is used, as this reflects what is deliverable.
  • Where a neighbourhood plan is being progressed, we have had regard to its status and content.

Employment mixed use, retail and commercial leisure use sites

1.12. The employment land review study (2021) has helped inform the distribution of employment sites across the district. Further information on how the overall employment requirement has been derived can be seen in part one of the local plan. Section seven of this part of the plan allocates sites to meet our employment mixed use, retail and commercial leisure use needs.

Gypsy and Traveller sites

1.13. The council has a legal duty to consider the needs of Gypsies and Travellers in the same way as other sectors of the community. In order to plan positively and evidence the permanent and transit site accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers, the council has worked collaboratively with neighbouring local authorities in the Cambridge Sub Region Housing Market Area to produce a revised Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessment.

1.14. This consultation invites land to be put forward for sites for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation to be considered for allocation (See call for sites below).

Site boundaries and mapping

1.15.  All of the preferred allocated sites can be viewed in this plan, on ‘Find My Nearest’ under ‘West Suffolk Local Plan Preferred Options’ on the council's website and on the policies map.

1.16. It should be noted that as a result of further evidence-based work and this consultation, the allocated site boundaries and capacities may be subject to change in the final submission plan.

Next steps

1.17. It is important to note that no firm decisions have been made on whether the sites in this document will be taken forward to the final consultation draft of the local plan. We are seeking your views at this stage to assist with making these decisions.

1.18. At the end of the settlement sections there are questions asking for your opinion on the preferred sites. Please respond setting out the reference number of the site being referred to where applicable.

1.19. Following the close of this consultation, the comments will be analysed and used to help produce the final submission version of the local plan for a final round of consultation in 2023. The plan will then be submitted for examination by an independent planning inspector. The timeline for plan production and key dates can be viewed here.

Call for sites

1.20. In order to ensure that all potential options for the distribution of new housing, employment, retail and Gypsy and Traveller sites are explored through the preparation of this local plan, a new call for sites accompanies this consultation.

1.21. If you are aware of any other potential sites for the above uses in West Suffolk that are available for development which are not identified in this document and have not been previously submitted to us,  then please let us know by completing the ‘call for sites’ site submission form, providing details of the site location and a map with a red outline of the site boundary.

1.22. We are particularly keen to receive information about potential sites within, or directly adjacent to, those local service centres and type A villages where no sites have been currently identified in this plan. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires that at least 10 per cent of the housing requirement is provided on sites no larger than one hectare in the development plan, unless it can be shown that there are strong reasons why this 10 per cent target cannot be achieved. We currently have insufficient sites to meet this NPPF policy requirement, so are also interested to hear about potential sites in all settlements no larger than one hectare, subject to these sites meeting the criteria outlined in the form.

1.23. This information will help in drawing up the final draft of the West Suffolk Local Plan, which will be the final version of the plan submitted to an independent planning inspector for examination.