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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 15/09/2003


Supplementary Planning Guidance

Revised following consultation

Density and Size of Dwellings

Policy H4 of the Waverley Borough Local Plan 2002

For further information please contact:
Daniel Hawes
Policy and Projects Officer

Tel. 01483 523295
Fax. 01483 523291

E-mail: dhawes@waverley.gov.uk

SPG on Waverley Local Plan Policy H4: Density and Size of Dwellings

Purpose of Supplementary Planning Guidance on Policy H4
Status of the Supplementary Planning Guidance
The Policy
The site size threshold
Assessing proposals for residential development
Exceptions to Policy H4
Calculating net density
Floor space guidelines for two and three bedroom dwellings
Outline planning applications
Sites that provide a quota of affordable housing
Rural exception sites
Appendix 1 Statement of consultation
Appendix 2 Local Plan Policies D1 (Environmental Implications of Development) and D4 (Design and Layout)
Appendix 3 Design Statement Guidance Notes

1. Policy H4 (Density and Size of Dwellings) is one of the policies in the Waverley Borough Local Plan. The Council adopted the Local Plan on 23rd April 2002.

2. The Policy has two objectives:
i. to provide market dwellings for small households, for which there is an identified need; and
ii. to ensure that residential development is built at the minimum densities required by national planning policy.

3. These objectives stem from Planning Policy Guidance Note 3: Housing (PPG3) published in March 2000 and from Waverley’s own Housing Needs Surveys in 1997 and 2001.

4. PPG3 promotes a wider housing opportunity and choice. It seeks to create mixed communities and enables local authorities to influence the size and type of dwellings built according to local assessments of housing need.

5. Waverley has now carried out two Housing Needs Surveys. The 1997 survey identified a need for small dwellings at the low cost end of the market. The 2001 survey concluded that “There is a need for low cost market housing and planning policies and site development briefs should continue to encourage more, smaller dwellings to meet current needs and address the shortage of flats in the existing stock” (paragraph 1.9.9).

5. PPG3 also promotes the efficient use of land. Densities below 30 dwellings per hectare (12 dwellings per acre) are to be avoided. Higher densities are encouraged at places with good public transport.

6. The Government reaffirmed its commitment to higher densities with The Town and Country Planning (Residential Density) (London and South East England) Direction 2002 which came into force on 2nd December 2002. The Government Office must be notified of any application for residential development of less than 30 dwellings per hectare on sites of one hectare or larger, where the local planning authority proposes to grant planning permission.

Purpose of Supplementary Planning Guidance on Policy H4

7. The purpose of this Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) is to clarify, interpret and elaborate on Policy H4 of the Waverley Borough Local Plan 2002. Consistent with the Local Plan Keynote Policy, the overall objective is to ensure that residential development optimises the use of land in terms of density and meeting housing need whilst protecting local character.

Status of the Supplementary Planning Guidance

8. The Council formally adopted this document as Supplementary Planning Guidance on [insert date]. It has been prepared in accordance with the principles set out in PPG12: Development Plans (December 1999). It derives out of, and is consistent with, the Development Plan, and it has been subject to public scrutiny. It therefore attracts substantial weight in making decisions on planning applications. A Statement of Consultation is attached at Appendix 1.

The Policy

The site size threshold

9. The threshold of “more than three dwellings” applies to the policy in its entirety - to both the “dwelling size” and “density” elements. This is interpreted as “more than three dwellings gross.

10. The Local Plan Inspector introduced the “more than three dwelling” threshold and states in his report, “It seems to me that once a figure of about 4 new dwellings reached, such developments are most likely to occur on larger sites where there is scope to increase densities and provide for more units with the terms of this policy applying. Some flexibility will have to be exercised and each case will need to be assessed on its individual merits” (paragraph 6.76).

11. As the Inspector states, flexibility is needed in applying this threshold. A proposal for three or fewer dwellings will fail Policy H4 if better use could be made of the site (in terms of density or housing mix, or both) in a way that is compatible with the local environment and local character.

12. A proposal for more than three dwellings that fails to meet the requirements of Policy H4 may, in exceptional circumstances, be permitted where it would otherwise harm the character of the area. The following section sets out the Council’s approach in more detail.

Assessing proposals for residential development

13. All development should be design-led to make ‘optimum’ use of the site with regard to:
Is the built form, design and layout appropriate to the site and its surroundings? Does it respect local distinctiveness or otherwise make a positive contribution to the locality?
Does the scheme retain or enhance the site’s important natural features that make a positive contribution to local character?
Is the local infrastructure capable of supporting the density of development proposed? For example, would the traffic increase be compatible with the local highway network, and not have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of occupiers of nearby properties?
Local Plan Policies D1 and D4 provide more detail and are attached at Appendix 2.
If a proposal does not comply with Policy H4, could an alternative design of a high quality, that respects local character, meet, or come closer to meeting, the objectives of Policy H4?
Proposals for infill development will only be acceptable if consistent with creating or maintaining a high quality urban form. New development should fit into existing street patterns and building grain or create logical new street patterns and urban forms. Piecemeal development of land will not be permitted where it would prejudice a more comprehensive and efficient redevelopment appropriate to the area’s location and character. Land assembly is often the key to achieving successful infill development (see Surrey Design, Principle 7.3).
In and around town centres densities of at least 50 dwellings per hectare are encouraged, subject to the design being compatible with the local area.
Densities above 50 dwellings per hectare are not precluded away from town centres, but planning applications should be supported with an analysis of:
14. All these factors come together in shaping the design solution for the development of a given site. A “Design Statement” should address these and accompany a planning application. Guidance notes on preparing a Design Statement can be found at Appendix 3. “Surrey Design: A Strategic Guide for Quality” provides further guidance and offers a site appraisal checklist that is recommended to applicants. Waverley Borough Council adopted “Surrey Design” as supplementary planning guidance on 23rd April 2002.

15. The character of the built environment is determined by such factors as land use, street pattern and width, plot shapes and sizes, layout of buildings within plots, spaces between buildings, building line, set backs, building scale and height, materials and natural features such as topography, landscaping and water courses.

16. Density is not in itself a primary contributor to local character, though there is a limit to the density realistically achievable for a given site without creating buildings out of scale with their context, or losing important features of a site such as trees and important open areas.

17. When assessing proposals against local character the Council will have regard to their impact on the appearance of the area from the public realm (e.g. roads, footpaths, public spaces). It is important that character is assessed from the public, rather than the private perspective. With good design developments can provide for small dwellings, and so make better use of land to meet housing need, without harming the visual character of areas or public amenity.

18. Flats, or two or three small attached dwellings can, if well designed, be made to look like a large house where this is a desirable appearance for new development. A modern flatted development is likely to be both higher than standard two-storey houses, and larger in terms of footprint and may not be appropriate in all circumstances, but this approach should be considered as an option. Exceptions to Policy H4

19. The Local Plan provides for exceptions where Policy H4 will not be applied: “Densities lower than 30 dwellings per hectare will be avoided. As an exception, lower densities may be permitted on small sites for three or fewer dwellings, where the development would otherwise be out of character with its surroundings.” (Paragraph 6.24)

20. Exceptions to Policy H4 for sites capable of accommodating more than three dwellings may be granted in exceptional circumstances provided a convincing case is made that the dwelling size and/or density requirements are incompatible with local character or other constraints. Such a justification will normally be by way of a Design Statement.

21. Within the “Areas of Special Environmental Quality” (Local Plan Policies BE2, BE3, BE4, BE5) and “Low Density Residential Areas” (Policy BE6), Policy H4, though still a consideration, is secondary to the relevant site-specific policy.

22. Neither is Policy H4 the primary consideration in similar non-designated areas of established low-density residential development, characterised by large detached houses in large plots where there is some consistency in the locality. As the Local Plan states, “other smaller, perhaps less well defined areas of similar quality exist within the Borough and the fact that such areas have not been identified as an area subject to Policy BE6 does not mean that they are any the less worthy of similar protection. The policies in Chapter 2 on Development will be used to protect the character of these smaller areas” (paragraph 4.15).

Calculating net density

23. In measuring the site size, guidance relating to “net site density” in Annexe 3 of PPG3 will be used. Areas to include within the “net site area” are:
access roads within the site;
private garden space;
car parking areas;
incidental open space and landscaping; and
children’s play areas where these are to be provided.

Excluded from the “net site area” are:
major distributor roads;
primary schools;
open spaces serving a wider area; and
significant landscape buffer strips.

24. Sometimes a site will contain environmental features or qualities that, although in the private domain of a development site, must be retained for the benefit of public amenity and contribution to local character. Examples could be ponds and watercourses, protected trees, and open spaces that permit important views from a public vantage point. In these circumstances it may be appropriate to reduce the net site area accordingly. This will help achieve the densities required by Policy H4.

Floor space guidelines for two and three bedroom dwellings

25. Policy H4 uses bedroom numbers to control the size of dwellings (e.g. 50% of dwellings should have 2 bedrooms or fewer). In most circumstances this is an adequate means of ensuring that the new dwellings proposed are those at which the policy is aimed.

26. Proposed dwellings that are substantially larger than most two and three bedroom properties, but which are shown as having only two or three bedrooms, could fail the dwelling size requirements.

27. The following floor space areas (measured externally and excluding garaging) indicate the sizes envisaged for most new 2 and 3 bedroom houses:

28. These figures are to be used as a guideline. It should not be inferred that all new two and three bedroom properties should fall within these ranges, but proposed two and three bedroom properties that exceed these floor areas significantly will be critically examined to determine whether they meet the objectives of the policy.

29. Habitable accommodation in roof spaces and basements provide a means of reducing building footprints and maximising floor space. Habitable accommodation provided this way will count toward the floor space allowance. Non-habitable accommodation in lofts and basements will not count.

Outline planning applications

30. When considering proposals for higher density development the Council will need sufficient information to determine the application. The applicant may be requested for further information in order to assess whether the density proposed can be successfully achieved on the site.

Sites that provide a quota of affordable housing

31. Sites that are large enough fall within the remit of Local Plan Policy H5 (Subsidised Affordable Housing within Settlements). In these circumstances the Council requires at least 30% of the housing to be made affordable. The minimum requirement is 25% on schemes with a density of at least 40 dwellings per hectare.

32. Paragraph 6.42 of the Local Plan requires developers to negotiate the scale and nature of provision of affordable housing with the Council. Applicants should contact the Council’s Housing Department before designing their scheme and submitting an application. Information from the Waverley Housing Needs Survey, and any other local needs surveys will inform the desired sizes and types of affordable housing to be provided on the site.

33. For a development to comply with both Policy H5 and Policy H4, the types of affordable housing required by Policy H5 might influence the type and sizes of market dwellings to achieve the mix required by Policy H4.

34. If the housing needs information indicates a preference for more large dwellings than Policy H4 would otherwise allow, the dwelling mix requirement may be relaxed. However, it does not follow that the dwelling mix will be relaxed to accommodate larger market dwellings, or that the density requirements will necessarily be relaxed.

35. Affordable housing should be integrated into new development and not be obvious through location, segregation, or the design and style of buildings (Surrey Design, paragraph 5.2.2).

36. If there is doubt over the suitability of the site to accommodate a particular form of affordable housing (for example the priority need in the area is for family houses but the site is more suited to flats) then the Council may consider provision on an alternative site, or commuted payments to off-site provision. The applicant should contact the Planning Department for advice.

37. For further information on affordable and “key worker” housing see the documents “Making Affordable Housing Happen in Surrey” and “Housing to Underpin Economic Success”, both available from Surrey County Council.

Rural exception sites

38. These are usually on green field sites, on the edge of villages, where development is not normally permitted. Planning permission for development is justified on the basis that 100% of the dwellings are affordable to meet local need. The mix of dwelling types and sizes should be tailored to reflect local need, rather than the requirements of Policy H4.

39. Densities of over 30 dwellings per hectare are encouraged, but schemes below 30 dwellings per hectare may be permitted provided the Council is satisfied that the best possible use is made of the site subject the primary concerns of local character and housing need.

Statement of consultation

The Council’s Executive agreed Draft Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) on Policy H4 as a basis for consultation on 30th September 2002.

The draft SPG was sent out to the 85 consultees and interested parties listed below on 4th October 2002 for a six-week consultation period ending on 15th November 2002.

A single page feature was placed in the winter edition 2002 of “The Link” - the Council’s magazine to all households in Waverley. The feature highlighted the key issues raised by Policy H4 and invited comments on the draft guidance, extending the deadline for comment to 20th December 2002.

The document was posted on the Council’s web site, and copies were sent to the District Council’s locality offices in Farnham, Haslemere and Cranleigh, as well as being made available at the main Council Offices in Godalming.

31 written responses were received from a wide cross-section of interests, listed below. The comments received, and the Council’s response to those comments, were reported to the Executive on [insert date] and Council on [insert date] with a revised version of the SPG. The comments received and Council’s responses are available separately from the Council.

List of those people and organisations consulted on the Draft Supplementary Planning Guidance “Density and Size of Dwellings – Policy H4 of the Waverley Borough Local Plan”
Mrs L R EnticknapClerk to Alfold Parish Council
D MorleyClerk to Bramley Parish Council
L ClarkeClerk to Busbridge Parish Council
Mrs D P ColeClerk to Chiddingfold Parish Council
M J Phillips EsqClerk to Cranleigh Parish Council
R LiivClerk to Dockenfield Parish Council
Mrs L R EnticknapClerk to Dunsfold Parish Council
C P Newman EsqClerk to Elstead Parish Council
Ms T M PalmerClerk to Ewhurst Parish Council
Mrs K ShiptonClerk to Frensham Parish Council
Ms J WoolleyClerk to Hambledon Parish Council
Mrs L R EnticknapClerk to Hascombe Parish Council
R Hames EsqClerk to Peper Harow Parish Council
C P NewmanClerk to Thursley Parish Council
Mrs P A ReidClerk to Tilford Parish Council
Clerk to Witley Parish Council
K T Barlow EsqClerk to Wonersh Parish Council
Mrs P A EvansClerk to Farnham Town Council
Mr L G A ClarkeClerk to Godalming Town Council
M D O'Neil EsqClerk to Haslemere Town Council
Mr A H BaxterRobert Shaw & Partners
Mr C MeadeD&M Planning Partnership
Roger HuttonHoward Hutton and Associates
Hamish RobbieCrownhall Estates
Andrew BraggerThe Oast HouseBlackmoor
Tony ColesPearsonsEstate Office
Eleanor AbercrombieThe Berkeley Group
Mr S PanesarCunane Town Planning
James WellsBroadway Malyan Planning
Roger SmithWestbury Homes
Anthony HawkinsThe Bell Cornwell Partnership
Barry ConsfieldRobert Turley Associates
Thomas PowellPlanning DepartmentDTZ
John LonghornBellway Homes
Mr M R WilliamsDerek Horne & Associates
Mott MacdonaldCapital House
Charles PinchbeckRichard Maine and Co, Chartered Surveyors
Murray ChrystalChancellors Chartered Town Planning Consultants
Anna WillisBoyer Planning
Roger TurnbullBarton Willmore Planning Partnership
Nigel BrookeDavid Walker Chartered Surveyors
Amanda BrownRobert Turley Associates
Provincial & Western HomesNorthlands FarmOakwood
Jenny MycroftWeatherall Green & Smith
Paul LemarRegional Planning ManagerBellway Estates
John RoshierRobert Turley Associates
Tristan HuttonMVM Planning
Mr M H Critchley, RIBA
Mr A KellyKing Sturge
Hardeep S RyattAdams Holmes Associates
Paul J ShukerChesterton
Mrs S ReedResidential Development & InvestmentHamptons International
Martin WinchM&N Associates
Mr D ClarkClark Associates Architects
Mr P LelliotLodge CrestThe Old Forge
Roger HargreavesHead of Planning and DevelopmentSurrey County Council
Callum Findlay Head of TransportationSurrey County Council
County Planning OfficerHampshire County Council
Elizabeth MitchellDirector of Environmental and Planning ServicesGuildford Borough Council
Chief Planning OfficerHorsham District Council
Director of PlanningEast Hants District Council
County Planning OfficerWest Sussex County Council
Chief Planning OfficerMole Valley District Council
Chief Planning OfficerChichester District Council
Head of StrategyHart District Council
Head of Planning Policy ServicesRushmoor Borough Council
Director of Planning & Community ServicesSurrey Heath Borough Council
Director of Technical ServicesWoking Borough Council
Director of Planning & Environmental ServicesElmbridge Borough Council
Borough Planning & Engineering OfficerEpsom & Ewell Borough Council
Director of Environmental ServicesReigate & Banstead Borough Council
Borough Technical Services OfficerRunnymede Borough Council
Head of Planning and Building Control ServicesSpelthorne Borough Council
Director of Environmental ProtectionTandridge District Council
G Maunders EsqArea Manager Planning TeamThe Housing Corporation South East
Health and Safety Executive3 East Grinstead House
Mrs A SymondsPlanning & Development Team LeaderEnvironment Agency SE Area
Mr J ChestonSenior Planning OfficerGovernment Office for the South East
Sharon HedgesNational Housing FederationSouth East Regional Office
South East England Development AgencySEEDA HeadquartersCross Lanes
Marian SpainCountryside AgencyDacre House
Mr J B ShortenSurrey Police Architectural Liaison OfficerPolice Headquarters
Mr G AtkinsonLand and Planning Officer (Southern Region)The Housebuilders Federation
Kate GordonCPRE

Respondants to the consultation on the Draft Supplementary Planning Guidance

1. I R Ings Resident
2. Mr T G Rider Resident
3. Val Hibberd Highways Agency (writing as an individual)
4. Michael Barnes Haslemere Town Councillor
5. Mrs C Stalfhide Resident
6. K Bywater Resident

7. The Haslemere Society
8. Guildford Diocesan Board of Finance

9. Ann Mugford Former Waverley Borough Councillor
10. JCS Mackie Waverley Borough Councillor
11. Anthony Newton Former Waverley Borough Councillor
12. David Harmer Waverley Borough Councillor

13. Bramley Parish Council
14. Godalming Town Council
15. Wonersh Parish Council
16. Hambledon Parish Council
17. Haslemere Town Council
18. Witley Parish Council

19. Government Office for the South East
20. Surrey County Council
21. Chichester District Council
22. Runnymede Borough Council
23. West Sussex County Council
24. Leah Mathias, Surrey Urban Biodiversity Project Officer
25. Environment Agency
26. Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)

27. The House Builders Federation (HBF)
28. The D&M Planning Partnership
29. Howard Hutton and Associates
30. Robert Shaw & Partners
31. Chancellors, Chartered Town Planning Consultants
Extract from Waverley Local Plan 2002 – Policy D1 (Environmental Implications of Development)


Environmental Implications of Development

2.9 Virtually all developments result in an impact on the environment, changing the appearance of land or buildings or affecting the activities that are carried out on a site. Planning applications must provide adequate information for these impacts to be assessed. The sensitivity of the Borough’s environment means that even relatively small-scale developments need rigorous assessment. Large scale proposals may require an Environmental Impact Assessment in accordance with the relevant EU Directive and Statutory Instruments(2). The Council will therefore require appropriate information to enable the environmental implications of a development to be assessed in accordance with Structure Plan Policy EN2 (Environmental Assessment).

2.10 This assessment will cover a range of impacts. Policy D1 is an overarching policy setting out the principal concerns. These are amplified through the other policies of the Plan with the exception of the issue of environmental pollution which is amplified in the text leading to Policy D2 (Compatibility of Uses). In assessing the environmental implications of development, the Council will take into account the views and recommendations of the Environment Agency and other bodies with a responsibility or expertise in environmental matters.

Extract from Waverley Local Plan 2002 – Policy D4 (Design and Layout)


Design and Layout

2.27 The design and layout of new development, including extensions to existing buildings, can have an important impact upon the character and quality of an area. The Council is committed to promoting good design and Policy D4 sets out the main factors which will be taken into account in considering the appearance of a proposed development and its relationship to its surroundings.

2.28 The Council does not seek to be overly prescriptive on design issues and recognises that innovation and originality can make a positive contribution to the quality of the environment. However, high quality development requires careful attention to design, from the broadest concept through to materials and detailing. Applicants are encouraged to employ an architect or other suitably skilled advisor to ensure that design issues are properly addressed.
2.29 The requirements of the policy will vary according to the nature of a site and the character of its surrounding area. Individual schemes should respond to these local circumstances rather than seeking to impose a standardised design. The Council publishes a range of guidance on design issues and supports local communities which are attempting to identify aspects of the environment which are locally distinctive such as local building styles and materials (see paragraph 11.7). A frequent application of Policy D4 will be in relation to extensions to residential properties. The Council has prepared Supplementary Planning Guidance on this issue (see paragraphs 6.63 - 6.65).

2.30 Surrey County Council has produced detailed guidance on the issues facing the landscape and woodlands of the County(5). The Council will take this into account in determining planning applications and will produce Supplementary Planning Guidance on Trees and Landscape Design.