District Local Plan Review

District-Wide Policies Index

Settlement Policies Index

 

Chapter 1

The Local Plan Strategy

Framework For The Local Plan Strategy
1.1

This chapter is concerned with setting out the strategy for the Local Plan. The first part identifies the principal influences which have provided the framework for the development of the strategy. The second part states the strategic objectives of the Plan and the strategic policies.

1.2 The key influences upon the Local Plan strategy have been:

 

  1. The Council's Corporate Plan
  2. The Gloucestershire Structure Plan (Second Review)
  3. The principles of Sustainable Development
  4. National and Regional Planning Policy Guidance.

The Corporate Plan
1.3 The Forest of Dean Council commenced a fundamental strategy and policy review in 1995, the outcomes of which were set out in a document entitled "The Forest of Dean in the 21st Century" (May 1997). The conclusions of the review were that it was unacceptable to the Council and the community of the Forest of Dean to consider a continuation into the future of past trends, which included a relatively weak and unbalanced economy, a forecast of a declining population, evidence of social exclusion, and a lack of investment in the urban fabric combined with problems of town centre vitality and viability.
1.4 The above document, and the resultant Corporate Plan, set out a vision for promoting the economic, social and community revitalisation (regeneration) of the District. Amongst the objectives were to promote a scale of new development in the District (particularly of jobs and housing) greater than that which might be expected through the continuation of past trends. This aim of revitalisation is applicable to all communities in the District, but is of special relevance to the south Forest where the prevalence of the issues identified above is far more pronounced. (The south Forest principally lies to the south of the A.40).
1.5 The aims of the Corporate Plan are to promote a thriving economy, a sustainable environment and the improved social well being of communities. The delivery of these corporate aims will be assisted by a Local Plan that provides for the necessary development opportunities to underpin the strategy of revitalising the District and its communities.
1.6 The achievement of the above corporate aims will require other action by the Council, its partners and the community. The Local Plan therefore must be viewed in the context of the many other strategies and programmes adopted by the Council, aimed for example at economic development, poverty, recycling, energy and sustainability, housing investment, crime, health and community development. The Local Plan will provide opportunities which support these strategies.
1.7 The Corporate Plan identifies that Lydney offers the greatest strategic opportunity for development in the District, and that Cinderford has the greatest need for revitalisation.
The Structure Plan
1.8 The adoption of the above corporate vision for the future of the Forest of Dean, together with the second review of the Gloucestershire Structure Plan, have prompted the need to review the Local Plan. The Structure Plan process has provided the opportunity for the District Council to make representations to ensure that the needs of the Forest of Dean are properly represented in the County wide strategy. The Structure Plan sub-strategy for the District is set out at paragraph 5.7.3 of the adopted Plan and is reproduced below.

 

 

 

 

"The strategy for the Forest of Dean is one of continuing restraint in the northern part of the Forest; whilst in the southern part of the Forest the strategy is one of encouraging economic regeneration. In the southern part of the Forest it is envisaged that the majority of development will take place in or adjacent to the principal settlements of Cinderford, Lydney and Coleford in accordance with other policies. The southern part of the Forest has traditionally been an area of growth in order to encourage economic regeneration. This forms a sub-strategy for the area, which is to encourage investment and increase the population base to broaden the labour supply and skills, and encourage growth in the service sector. Consequently, the strategy includes a significantly higher level of housing than that forecast."
1.9 The Structure Plan sets out scales of housing and employment land requirements for the District, with which the Local Plan should comply. It identifies the three towns of the south Forest as the principal locations for development, and provides strategic policies on a variety of land use planning issues.
1.10 The strategy of the Structure Plan and the Council's Corporate Plan are compatible and share the same strategic aims with respect to the Forest of Dean. The Local Plan strategy therefore has a strong base and shared purpose on which to build.
Sustainable Development
1.11 Development plans are required to have regard to the principles of sustainable development in formulating strategies and policies regulating development. The Structure Plan expressly incorporates such principles, and forms the basis for more detailed interpretation at a local level. The Government view of sustainable development is concerned with more than the physical environment. It states that sustainable development should enable social progress which meets the needs of everyone, effective protection of the environment, the prudent use of natural resources and the maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment.
1.12 The strategy of the Local Plan must provide the foundation for policies and proposals which will deliver sustainable forms of development For example there will be the need to concentrate development at locations which maximise access to services and facilities (including public transport) and which make best use of existing infrastructure. The Plan will need to strike a balance so that proposals make the least demands upon the natural and built environment, particularly upon non-renewable resources such as land and energy from fossil fuels, while still providing for the economic and social well-being of the community.
1.13 To ensure a clear understanding of the impact on the environment of Local Plan policies and proposals the whole Plan is subject to a process of environmental appraisal at key development stages, including placing the environmental appraisal on deposit with the Local Plan.
National/Regional Planning Policy
1.14 Planning guidance at a national level is set out in a range of Government documents. Amongst the most important of these is the series of Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) notes. These are a series of documents each of which concentrates on a single subject or theme such as the countryside, retail development and town centres, or housing. Together they contain comprehensive advice to Planning Authorities covering most of the issues that Structure and Local Plans must deal with. The advice indicates those issues which ought to be incorporated into a Local Plan (and those which should not), and also the general stance that the authorities concerned should take on a number of important issues.
1.15 A large number of the policies in the Local Plan, therefore, will be rooted in guidance from PPGs. Where local circumstances dictate, then the Plan may include policies which provide a local interpretation of national guidance, whilst retaining the overall stance of the PPG. The Local Plan, therefore, will contain policies which are derived directly from and reflect government guidance. Examples of such guidance are:
  • Sustainable development principles should be applied to a wide variety of forms of development, including housing, transport, the natural environment and rural communities generally
  • Mixed development - encouraging a mix of uses particularly within urban areas to reduce travel demand and enhance vitality
  • Re-use of land - to reduce the need for greenfield sites and stimulate urban refurbishment
  • Conserve and enhance the natural and man-made environment, and protect natural resources
  • Locate development to minimise the consequent travel demands
  • Protect the open countryside
  • Sustain the rural economy.
1.16 Regional planning guidance also is rooted in national guidance and reflects the above principles. It is intended to form the framework for the preparation of Structure Plans. It is noteworthy that the South West Regional Planning Guidance specifically acknowledges the need for further economic development in the Forest of Dean.
Summary
1.17 The cumulative impact of the above influences have a major significance for the strategy and policies of the Local Plan. Together they establish the basic principles upon which the Plan will be based. The role of the Local Plan is to apply these principles in a manner best suited to the prevailing conditions and needs of the present and future population of the Forest of Dean.
The Local Plan Strategy
Strategic Objectives:
  1. To achieve the economic, social and environmental revitalisation of communities throughout the Forest of Dean, while recognising the particular needs of the south Forest
  2. To promote the principles of and contribute to sustainable development, including locating development so as to minimise the travel demands arising
  3. To concentrate development in the four towns of the District, and to develop their role and function as accessible employment, service and transport centres
  4. To conserve and protect the natural and man-made environment
  5. To provide for the economic and social well-being of rural communities.
Strategic Principles
1.18 The Local Plan strategy promotes and provides for development and change within the Forest of Dean in order to achieve the aim of community and economic revitalisation. The process of revitalisation will require inter alia provision for and the promotion of accessible job opportunities to meet the needs of the existing and planned new population. The planned population increase will support and stimulate the improved provision of local services and facilities, with attendant job creation. The outcome of the strategy will be an improved quality of opportunity for residents of the Forest of Dean, in terms of jobs, housing, services and facilities.
1.19 The strategy will incorporate the principles of sustainable development in pursuing the aim of revitalisation. The strategy will set out to achieve economic growth, while protecting and where possible enhancing the environment for the benefit of all.
1.20 New development will be located so as to provide a balance between the level of employment opportunities available in a community (or which would be easily accessible from adjacent locations by modes of transport other than the private car) and the amount of housing development proposed in that same community. The intention will be to reduce the energy demands associated with travel, make efficient use of and support existing services and facilities, and minimise the demand for land for development.
1.21 Full use will be made of redevelopment sites to accommodate new development to minimise the need to use greenfield land.
1.22 The Local Plan will identify and protect those environmental attributes of the Forest of Dean which are considered to be irreplaceable, including outstanding landscapes, sites of special significance for the habitats they support, buildings and structures of architectural and historic significance, and natural resources such as water and soils.
1.23 The aim of revitalisation will require the creation of substantial increases in employment. The strategy must ensure that a sufficient amount and variety of land is brought forward to meet this need. The Local Plan will identify and allocate sites which have the greatest potential to attract investment and development. There are three principal sources of new employment opportunity in land use planning terms. These are greenfield sites attractively located in accessible positions; development and redevelopment sites within towns, particularly town centres, where parallel investment in urban improvements can enhance development potential; and improvement proposals for existing industrial areas to raise their quality and attractiveness and stimulate increased investment. The aim will be to create a balanced employment structure, with opportunities in both services and manufacturing employment, and a reduction in the reliance upon a small number of large employers.
1.24 The principles outlined above will result in a strategy of concentration of most new development at a limited number of locations, principally the four towns, where a balance of opportunity can be achieved between housing, employment and service provision, and where the principles underlying a sustainable pattern of development can best be realised.
1.25 Most new development will be located in the south Forest of Dean, where the need for revitalisation is greatest. Development will be located principally at Lydney, Cinderford and Coleford. Lydney offers the greatest strategic opportunity for development. Approximately half of the housing land allocations in the Plan will be located at Lydney, together with about 40% of the employment land allocation. Cinderford has the greatest need for revitalisation, particularly with respect to improving the vitality and viability of the town centre, and in promoting improvements to the urban fabric of the town as a whole. Coleford has the opportunity to develop its market town role, principally in services, shopping and tourism. In the north Forest of Dean, generally lying to the north of the A.40 the strategy will provide for an appropriate concentration of development at the principal settlement of Newent. Overall however, there will be a strategy of restraint upon development in the north Forest, other than to provide for the local needs of rural communities, particularly with respect to providing opportunities for increased and accessible local employment.
1.26 The need to maintain the vitality of rural communities and the rural economy will be incorporated into the strategy, by providing for appropriate levels of development and economic activity related to localised needs in rural communities, and enabling continued investment in rural enterprises.
Strategic Policies
Development to Assist Revitalisation
(R)F.Strategy 1

Provision will be made for the development of 84.5 hectares of employment land and 6,950 dwellings over the Plan period to be located primarily in the four towns of Lydney, Cinderford, Coleford and Newent. Appropriate contributions will be sought from new developments to meet the related social, economic and infrastructure needs arising from the development.

1.27 The foregoing introduction to the strategy outlined the concerns of the community and Council of the Forest of Dean with respect to the structural problems of the local economy, the forecast decline in the resident population, the need for investment in the principal settlements and in local services, and the threat these trends pose to the vitality and the social and economic well-being of communities.
1.28 Consultation on the draft strategy for the Local Plan indicated support for an approach which would set out to reverse the above trends. A central element of the Local Plan strategy therefore is to seek the revitalisation of the District through:
  • Providing for a higher level of population growth than would otherwise be likely to occur
  • Providing the opportunity for increased business investment to increase employment and balance job opportunities with the planned population increase
  • Increased investment in services to meet the needs of the new households and population
  • New investment and refurbishment in town centres to provide employment and increase local services
  • Increased investment in new infrastructure, services and facilities, including negotiating appropriate contributions from developments to provide for the needs directly arising from developments.
1.29 This strategic policy accords with the Structure Plan 'sub-strategy' for the Forest of Dean which seeks the economic regeneration of the southern part of District. Overall the revitalisation strategy envisages new opportunities being created across a broad range of jobs, housing, services, facilities and other community infrastructure. It is anticipated that the District population will increase significantly over the Plan period, and that there will be a related need in the order of 3,000 additional jobs in the District.
1.30 The strategic revitalisation theme of the Plan is not led by any particular form of development. It is intended that a balance should be achieved both in scale and location between the provision of new housing, the availability of opportunities for investment in employment on existing and new employment sites, and investment in community infrastructure and facilities. The Plan will set out the contributions to be sought from the development of individual sites towards meeting the needs of the occupiers, and towards mitigating the assessed impact of the development upon the community and the environment.
1.31 The proposed concentration of development in the four towns will maximise the opportunities for achieving new investment at accessible locations in homes, jobs, services and facilities to benefit the community of the District as a whole. Around 90% of all allocated housing land will be in the four towns, together with nearly 90% of all employment land allocations.
1.32 The development provisions of the Local Plan will complement the wide range of other actions by the District Council and its many partners aimed at achieving community revitalisation. These include the Economic and Tourism strategies, Community Development and Health strategies, Recreation and Arts strategy, the Transport strategy and others. In all the foregoing the Council will act as the catalyst or as an active partner with other organisations.
Sustainable Development Requirements
(R)F.Strategy 2

Proposals for development will be required to contribute to the principles of sustainability by meeting the following requirements:

  1. Being located so as to minimise the energy demands arising from the need to travel
  2. Being located so as to make the best use of existing or proposed infrastructure and services
  3. Providing for the conservation or enhancement of the natural and man-made environment
  4. Minimising the use of natural resources
  5. Minimising the energy, water and waste demands and impacts arising from the construction and occupation of new development.

1.33 Paragraph 4 of PPG 1 proposes that sustainable development is concerned with the objective of achieving now and in the future economic development to secure higher living standards while protecting and enhancing the environment. A commonly used definition of sustainable development is:
"Development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".
1.34 The Government has developed the concept of sustainable development in the United Kingdom into four key objectives:
  • Social progress which meets the needs of everyone
  • Effective protection of the environment
  • Prudent use of natural resources
  • Maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment.
1.35 The Local Plan is concerned primarily with the development and use of land and will play a primary role in achieving a sustainable form of development in the Forest of Dean, through policies and proposals for the environment, natural resources, housing and economic development. It can also contribute to the objective of social progress through its concern for the economic and social well-being of communities in the form of provision for and access to a range of housing (including affordable housing) and jobs, through supporting and improving accessible local services and facilities, and by providing a quality and safe environment.
1.36 The strategy of the Local Plan has been prepared to conform to the principles of sustainable development. An Environmental Appraisal of the strategy and its policies and proposals has been carried out to measure the performance of the Plan. The Council and the community are also preparing a Local Agenda 21 strategy and action plan to direct and implement sustainable actions and development at a more detailed level. The Local Plan and the Local Agenda 21 statement are intended to be compatible and mutually supportive documents.
1.37 Policy (R)F.Strategy 2 provides a context in which to assess development in terms of its contribution to securing a sustainable form of development in the Forest of Dean. The policy criteria will act as a primary set of benchmarks against which all proposals for development will need to be assessed.
1.38 The Plan proposals provide for the allocation of around 90% of new housing and nearly 90% of new employment land to be allocated in the four towns of Lydney, Cinderford, Coleford and Newent. At the strategic level therefore the Plan provides for a sustainable form of development which maximises accessibility to houses, jobs and services, allows for best utilisation of infrastructure, and enables a maximum choice of modes of transport as alternatives to the private car.
1.39 Rural areas have particular characteristics which need to be taken into account in considering sustainable forms of development. The scale of jobs, services and infrastructure is much more limited and accessibility by modes of transport other than the private car is restricted. The Local Transport Plan identifies that the private car will remain an essential means of transport in rural areas for many trip purposes.
1.40 The Plan strategy must make a proper provision for the social and economic needs of rural communities. In assessing proposals for development in rural areas it would be unrealistic to adopt without qualification the location and accessibility standards applicable to urban areas. The criteria in the above policy are expressed as comparative standards; that is to say they seek to ensure the minimisation of travel demands, the best use of infrastructure and the minimisation of the use of natural resources and impact upon the environment.
Priority for the Re-use of Land
(R)F.Strategy 3

Priority will be given to proposals for the re-use of land when assessing proposals for development providing the land concerned is accessible by a choice of means of transport to jobs and services.

1.41 The principles of sustainable development indicate that the use of greenfield sites should be minimised. Utilising to the full the capacity of previously used or under-used sites can help to achieve this objective. The benefits of this approach are several, including reducing the impact of new development on the natural environment, securing site refurbishment and improvements, and securing investment and accessible opportunities within settlements. Such sites however should be generally located to provide opportunities for access by a choice of means of transport to a range of jobs, schools, shopping, leisure and other services
1.42 Sites which have been previously used or are under-used may however present difficulties for development, typically in the form of the need for site clearance, site assembly, and dealing with contamination or instability. These factors may constitute a disincentive to early development. The local planning authority will monitor progress on the re-development of such sites, and where appropriate will refuse planning consent for development on a greenfield site where it is considered that reasonable alternatives exist for development on previously used sites, which will have priority for development where they are located so as to provide for accessibility to jobs and services, particularly where located in the towns or other appropriate settlements.
1.43 Other Plan chapters will provide greater detail on the proposed method of implementation of this strategic policy, particularly with respect to housing uses. This greater level of detail will be required because:
  • In terms of housing development (the largest user of land) the contribution of re-used land to overall housing land provision over the Plan period is assessed as being around 30%. To meet the revitalisation objective of Policy (R)F.Strategy 1 will require that a balance be struck between the priority for re-using land and ensuring housing development takes place to assist revitalisation; and
  • The need to ensure the revitalisation objective of Policy (R)F.Strategy 1 may require that land in employment use, or capable of being re-used for employment, should be retained for that use to assist the employment growth requirements of the Policy.
Town Centre Development
(R)F.Strategy 4

Development proposals which support the vitality and viability of town centres will be permitted. Sites will be allocated in town centres for commercial uses, services and facilities, housing and mixed uses, and proposals will be made for amenity improvements, environmental enhancements, traffic management and new infrastructure to develop the role and function of town centres.

1.44 The strategic aim of revitalising the Forest of Dean will rely considerably on enhancing the role of the four town centres in the District as the focus for commercial activity, and to realise their potential to accommodate increased levels of service employment. The trend towards a growth of employment in the service sector is already well-established nationally. In the Forest of Dean it is intended to further stimulate this trend by the measures identified in the above policy. In addition, the proposed increase in the town populations (and for the District as a whole) will support existing activity and create a demand for additional or expanded services and facilities, and associated employment. At present the towns of the District have large outflows of consumer expenditure. The improvement of town centres will aim to reduce this outflow, and provide additional local employment and services as a result.
1.45 The economic health and social well-being of the population of the District is dependant in large part upon the successful performance of town centres as the focus for jobs, services and facilities. Town centres act as the accessible focus for such activities. The Plan policies and proposals will identify and enable sites to come forward for a wide variety of development, for amenity improvements to take place together with the refurbishment of the built environment, and improvements to be made to the accessibility of town centres by a variety of transport modes.
Protection of the Environment

 

 

(R)F.Strategy 5

Development will not be permitted which would result in the loss of or irreparable damage to those elements of the natural or man-made environment which are identified for protection in the Plan.

1.46 Local Plans have the function of balancing opportunities for development with providing protection for those parts of the natural and man-made environment which are important environmental attributes which should be retained for present and future generations. It is a task of the Local Plan to identify such environmental attributes. In many cases these can be readily identified through existing designations, such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Ancient Monuments and Listed Buildings. In addition natural resources such as rivers and water gathering grounds are identified by the Environment Agency, and wildlife sites of local importance by conservation bodies.
1.47 The Local Plan will recognise and provide appropriate protection for such existing designations. However, the Plan will also identify and give protection to those other attributes that help to define the essential character of the local environment. Such attributes include the natural landscape, the character of buildings and settlements which reflect the culture and history of the District, artefacts relating to the long industrial history of the area, and the rural nature of the settlement pattern and landscape.
1.48 By protecting such natural resources the Plan will make a substantial contribution to ensuring a sustainable environment for the District, and add to the quality of life for residents. The Plan policies provide for minimising the use of natural resources in developments, maximising the use of energy saving designs, and reducing the impact of wastes arising from development.
Locational Strategy
Development in the South Forest
(R)F.Strategy 6

In the south Forest land will be allocated for around 2305 dwellings and around 75 hectares of employment land, to be located primarily in the towns of Lydney, Cinderford and Coleford. Land will be allocated in the towns as follows:

Lydney

1,310

dwellings and 34 hectares ofemployment land
Cinderford

440

dwellings and 19.5 hectares of employment land
Coleford

340

dwellings and 10 hectares of employment land

1.49 The Plan is based upon making provision for the economic and social revitalisation of the economy and communities of the Forest of Dean. This objective is applicable throughout the District. It is in the south Forest however that the need for positive action is greatest, and where most development will be concentrated to assist the Plan objectives.
1.50 In the south Forest, Lydney offers the greatest strategic opportunity for growth and has land readily capable of development for both housing and employment uses in accessible locations. The Plan therefore proposes the allocation of land for 1,310 dwellings and 34 hectares of employment land.
1.51 Cinderford has the greatest need for revitalisation. The Plan will concentrate on supporting and developing the important industrial base of Cinderford, refurbishing its urban fabric, and supporting the weakly developed town centre. Cinderford suffers from a number of development constraints. However, land will be allocated for 440 dwellings and 19.5 hectares of employment land.
1.52 Coleford has the opportunity to develop its role as a market town and service centre for commerce, retailing and tourism. The Plan will promote these functions, principally in relation to the town centre. Land will be allocated for 340 dwellings and 10 hectares of employment land.
Development in the North Forest
(R)F.Strategy 7

In the north Forest new housing development will be limited to that required to meet the housing requirement arising from the existing population. Provision will be made for employment development greater than that required for the projected population increase of the north Forest over the Plan period in order to provide increased local employment opportunities. Land will be allocated at Newent as follows:

170 dwellings and 7 hectares of employment land

1.53 The north Forest (that part of the District principally lying to the north of the line of the A.40) comprises a settlement pattern of villages set in a lowland and high quality agricultural landscape, with the single market town of Newent. There are relatively few local employment and service opportunities within the north Forest in comparison with adjacent centres such as Gloucester, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury, Ledbury and Ross-on-Wye. There is a consequent high level of out-commuting to work. Public transport is limited so that most travel to work and to services is by private car.
1.54 In the north Forest therefore the revitalisation needs of communities can best be met by providing new housing opportunities to meet forecast local need, by increasing local job opportunities, and by supporting local services, particularly the role of Newent as a market town.
1.55 The Plan strategy therefore seeks to provide for new housing development sufficient to meet housing need arising from the existing population, in order to achieve a more sustainable pattern of development by limiting the growth in travel demand. The Plan will also provide for employment growth in excess of the projected population increase to reduce the need to travel to work. The role of Newent as a service centre will be promoted to provide for local services in an accessible location within the north Forest area. The general strategy of restraint upon new housing development will limit the increase in the growth of private car travel and will assist in protecting the open countryside from pressures for development.
Development in Villages
(R)F.Strategy 8

In villages new development will be limited to that required to meet the social and economic needs of communities as provided for in the Plan. Land allocations for housing will be made at Newnham, Mitcheldean, Drybrook, Bream, Longhope, Staunton/Corse, Woolaston, and Westbury. Allocations for employment will be made at Bream, Parkend and Sling.

1.56 The Plan strategy concentrates new development principally upon the towns in the District. Consequently, there will be only limited development proposed in villages. The economic and social well being of village communities must still be ensured however, as part of the overall aim of revitalising communities in the District. The policies and proposals of the Plan will provide for an appropriate scale of development in villages.
1.57 Where communities possess local and accessible employment, services and facilities, and transport alternatives to the private car then there is a case to be made for some additional housing development. A number of villages identified in the Plan meet these requirements and land will be allocated for housing. Plan policies also provide for small groups of housing and infill development in other specified villages.
1.58 The employment policies of the Plan will support appropriate small scale employment development in villages, to assist in providing local job opportunities. In addition, opportunities to support the rural economy are provided through policies for tourism, recreation and leisure, as well as for agriculture and forestry. A small number of employment land allocations in villages are provided for in the Plan.
District Local Plan Review

District-Wide Policies Index

Settlement Policies Index

FW v1


Forest of Dean District Local Plan Review, 1st Deposit Draft. July 2000


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