District Local Plan Review

District-Wide Policies Index

Settlement Policies Index 

Chapter 2

Housing

Introduction

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2.1 The foregoing chapter set out the overall Plan strategy. This chapter is concerned with the delivery of the housing aims and objectives, and policies and proposals. Firstly, the Plan must ensure that there is an adequate supply of land for housing and that it is capable of providing the range and type of new accommodation that is needed. Secondly it must ensure that the new housing that is delivered makes best use of the available land and that the framework for its development ensures that it will be delivered in a sustainable manner. Although it is primarily concerned with the new dwellings required during the Plan period, the Housing chapter also considers the way in which existing stock may be adapted and how provision can be made for particular types of housing need.

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Strategy

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2.2 The population of the Forest of Dean District is currently about 78000 (1998). This has increased slowly over the past few years and is expected to increase steadily during the Plan period. The latest forecasts from central Government (1996 Sub - National forecasts) which take no account of planning policy suggest a slight decline in population and imply a movement of economically active persons out of the area. The Local Plan strategy is intended to counter this trend by encouraging new employment and supporting housing in the District and in particular in the towns of the south Forest. The increase in population will occur because of the strategy of providing more new dwellings in the Forest of Dean District than the demographic trends in that area indicate would be required. This approach is now part of an approved Structure Plan and is considered more fully in Chapter 1 of this Local Plan. New dwellings will be required as additional households form from the existing population and in order to provide for persons moving into the District, especially in areas where there are major allocations.

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2.3 The provision of new housing is an important part of the Plan's overall strategy. Policy (R)F.Strategy 1 aims to provide for balanced development within the District and in particular the south Forest towns. Balanced development means providing houses in locations where there are new or available job opportunities and also ensuring that the scale of new housing is in keeping with the scale of new employment provision. Where there is either a deficiency of employment or where the scale of the proposal is such that new job opportunities are needed in parallel with the housing then new employment allocations are made in the Plan. This aim of achieving a balanced form of development is to ensure that the basic criteria of sustainable development are met and it is therefore a fundamental requirement of the Plan as described in the Strategy chapter.

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2.4 There are two governing principles regarding the distribution of new housing in the Plan. The first is that new sites should be allocated in locations that are accessible to a good range of services and can take advantage of a variety of forms of transport to meet the day to day requirements of travel for employment, shopping and access to other services. This means that the Plan places a firm emphasis on allocating new development in the existing towns and other larger settlements, (R)F.Strategy 2.

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2.5 The second principle is that priority must be given wherever possible to the use of land other than greenfield sites for new housing. This will be achieved by making allocations where possible on land that has already been developed and which is suitable and available for an alternative new use. In practice much of the land in this category within the District has already been redeveloped or already has planning permission. Whilst the policies below allocate some of these so called brownfield sites and will enable others to come forward by way of windfalls, it is nonetheless the case that in order to implement the regeneration strategy for the Forest of Dean District there must be major new greenfield allocations of land for housing and other development.

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2.6 This chapter makes provision for meeting the housing requirements of the Local Plan strategy in terms of overall numbers and general distribution. It is also concerned with meeting the housing needs of the present population and of those who wish to reside in the area and have local employment or social connections, but cannot do so by reason of the cost of housing. The Local Plan will have a pivotal role in facilitating the provision of such affordable housing either as part of the development of new large housing sites, or as an exception to normal planning policy on land that would not be considered for general market housing. The Plan's policies set out how the provision of affordable housing will be sought on new housing sites within the District in accordance with the principles in DETR Circular 6/98 and in PPG3, using an up to date and detailed assessment of need. The scale of provision has to be secured by negotiation on a site by site basis and is guided by the principle that although there may be an overall target for affordable housing, the actual provision that is secured on particular sites depends on the ability of each individual site to contribute. All housing sites of more than 15 dwellings or 0.5ha (whichever is the lower) in the towns and settlements of over 3000 population and of 5 or more dwellings or 0.2ha (whichever is the lower) in other villages will be regarded as having potential for making a contribution to affordable housing. Some sites may make a greater pro rata contribution than others where for example the development costs or the local need varies. Affordable housing as defined in the Circular includes both low cost housing for rent and for outright purchase. Both the overall needs of the Forest of Dean District as well as more localised patterns of need will govern what type of affordable housing provision is sought within the categories defined by the Circular. Detailed, reliable and up to date information relating to need will be an essential starting point to the negotiation process as it will demonstrate both the scale and type of housing need in the areas concerned.

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2.7 The Housing chapter considers other matters which are chiefly concerned with providing overall guidance for the development control process. These include the policies that define criteria for evaluating proposals for the conversion of buildings to residential use, the establishment of sites for Gypsies and the replacement of dwellings that are no longer suitable for habitation. The Plan is not intended to be a comprehensive development control manual and further guidance for development control purposes can be found elsewhere. This Chapter is not concerned with matters of design or layout of housing areas. These most important issues are considered in the Built Environment chapter of the Plan and in the appropriate settlement chapters in Part Two. In addition the development briefs for the individual sites should be consulted. Further important guidance is available in the Council's supplementary planning guidance on the design of new residential development.

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Objectives

1. To meet the overall housing needs of the community
2. To allocate land in accordance with the overall strategy of the Plan sufficient to meet the identified requirement to provide about 6950 new dwellings between 1991 and 2011
3. To ensure that in meeting the above requirement, optimum use is made of "recycled" land and of opportunities arising from the conversion of existing buildings
4. To locate major new housing allocations in those settlements where new allocations will support the overall Plan requirement of revitalisation and sustainable development
5. To provide a range and mix of house types and to encourage the provision of those house types that are currently underprovided
6. To secure an appropriate provision of affordable housing on or in conjunction with the development of new housing sites
7. To provide general policies for the determination of planning applications for housing development.

Policies and Proposals
Overall Housing Provision

(R)FH.1

Provision will be made for approximately 6950 new dwellings to be built between 1991 and 2011.

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2.8 The Structure Plan period is from 1991 to 2011. Clearly a large part of this has elapsed and a considerable number of housing completions have taken place since 1991. In the period up to 1st January 1999, in the Forest of Dean District, approximately 2229 new dwellings had been completed. Approximately 1100 could be built on sites with a current planning permission or which have previously had consent and are regarded as "other firm commitments". This leaves a balance of about 3621 to be accounted for. During the life of the Plan there will continue to be a steady supply of small sites and new dwellings by way of conversions for example. In addition there is likely to be a supply of larger sites arising primarily through the redevelopment of land that does not at present appear to be available for housing. All of these unforseen sites are estimated to be capable of providing a further 1120 units, leaving a balance of approximately 2502. This balance is the number that must be allocated by the Local Plan on sites allocated wholly for housing and on sites allocated for mixed uses where an assumption is made of the number of dwellings that will be provided as part of the development concerned. If monitoring of the Plan indicates that these figures are no longer appropriate, then they will be reviewed. It is however necessary for the Plan to show how the remaining dwellings not yet built (approximately 4721 out of the total requirement of 6950) can be provided for at the present time.

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2.9 The majority of the new allocation of dwellings will be made on major sites most notably in Lydney, Cinderford and Coleford. There is also an allocation made at Newent in order to address the future needs of that town. These allocations will be supplemented by smaller ones, still made in accordance with the principles of sustainability, in some of the larger villages. Wherever allocations are made, it will be policy to negotiate for the provision of affordable housing.

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2.10 In order to implement the Structure Plan strategy for the south Forest, it is necessary to make some large allocations for both housing and employment. As part of such development there will be a requirement for providing essential infrastructure. Approximately two thirds of the new housing to be provided for between 1991 and 2011 is expected to meet the needs of the existing population, largely as a result of the trend to smaller household sizes. Given the current trends in population, the remaining third will accommodate in migration. Inmigration is likely to occur in localities where there is a clear excess of new housing provision over that which would meet the needs of the existing population. Whilst this is the situation over the South Forest in general, it is most apparent in Lydney.

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2.11 Policies (R)FH.2 and (R)FH.3 below allocate land for housing sufficient for approximately 2500 new dwellings to be provided on the land identified on the Proposals Map. In addition to this, other policies will allow continued additions to the overall housing stock in the form of small sites, conversions and other generally small areas within the existing built up areas in the District. Larger unidentified sites may also be permitted by way of windfall contributions. This supply will enable the Local Plan to meet its overall housing requirement when taken together with the land that currently has consent or is regarded as an existing commitment.

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Town Housing Land Allocations
(R)FH.2

Land sufficient for approximately 2270 new dwellings will be allocated by the Plan at the following town locations:

1. Lydney: East of Lydney - 1250 dwellings
Court Road/Allaston - 40 dwellings
Holms Farm - 20 dwellings (1310 total)
2. Coleford: Owen Farm - 140 dwellings
Angel Farm - 100 dwellings
Poolway Farm - 80 dwellings
Milkwall - 20 dwellings
Lords Hill - 10 dwellings (350 total)
3. Cinderford St. Whites Farm - 150 dwellings
Nailbridge - 70 dwellings
Valley Road - 60 dwellings
Station Street Mixed Site - 60 dwellings
Valley Road Mixed Site - 30 dwellings
Newtown Mixed Site - 70 dwellings (440 total)
4. Newent Foley Road - 150 dwellings
Market Place - 20 dwellings (170 total)

Elsewhere within the above towns new housing in the form of groups of or single dwellings will be permitted where they comply with Policy (R)FBE.1.

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2.12 The Plan strategy provides for significant new housing development in the south Forest, along with investment in associated infrastructure and community facilities. The strategy also generally restrains new housing development in the north Forest. The Local Plan allocates land in accordance with the above approach in all four towns. The concentration of the allocations will maximise the benefits that can accrue from the developments concerned. It is also necessary to allocate land only where such locations can be sustainable in terms of minimising trip generation. This means that the further consolidation of existing large settlements should be encouraged where there is the capacity. The main sites that form these allocations are each the subject of a detailed development brief and a policy in the relevant chapter of Part Two of the Plan.

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2.13 In addition to the above provision on allocated sites, the policy will allow new dwellings to be provided on sites within the defined boundaries of the four towns. This type of provision will be on sites too small to identify as allocations and on other windfall sites that cannot be foreseen at this time. A high proportion of this type of site is likely to be in the form of redevelopment. Policy (R)FBE.1 provides guidance on the acceptable form of such development.

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2.14 In the case of Lydney, a major site capable of accommodating approximately 1250 dwellings is allocated to the east of the town inside the line of the bypass. The balance is made up from two very much smaller allocations which are described in detail in Part Two of the Plan in the Lydney chapter. In addition there will be a modest contribution from the development of mixed town centre sites. There is a requirement for the housing development to support a number of major items of infrastructure which are necessary in order to allow the development to proceed and these will also benefit the town in general. The additional population will benefit the town centre in providing extra demand for the facilities there. Development of the scale envisaged will be required to take place in a comprehensive manner and new employment sites will be required to be made available in parallel with the housing development proposed.

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2.15 The allocations for Coleford are somewhat different and will have the effect of reinforcing the existing settlement rather than making radical changes. The proposed new housing sites in Coleford are well related to the town centre and to local employment. The scale (approximately 350 new dwellings) will be in keeping with the anticipated provision of new employment. In the case of Cinderford, the Plan's overall effect will be to promote further economic development and maximise housing opportunity. There are physical constraints which limit the potential for the allocation of new land for development. There are however some significant opportunities to promote new sites on recycled land. It is proposed to allocate sites sufficient for approximately 440 new dwellings.

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2.16 The Plan's strategy for Newent is rather different from that which applies to the south Forest. It is to provide for the incremental growth of the settlement in accordance with meeting local housing needs and to provide additional employment to limit the need for out commuting. The parish, which includes Newent Town has a population of about 5000 but has few larger villages and relatively few services outside those in Newent. Additional housing will be required in Newent and its rural hinterland simply as a result of the national decline in household sizes. Having regard to this and recent trends in housing provision in the town, it is proposed to allocate land sufficient to accommodate 170 new dwellings on new allocations, principally on one site to the south of the town.

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2.17 Newent, Cinderford and Coleford all have allocated sites for mixed use development including housing in or close to their town centres in addition to the allocations in policy (R)FH.2. It is expected that these sites will add further housing to the total new stock. The numbers likely during the Plan period could be up to or even exceed 80 new dwellings, but because of the uncertainty of these allocations, the total assumed to be provided is 40. A summary of the total supply of new sites follows paragraph 2.23.

Allocation Policy for Larger Villages
(R)FH.3

Land will be allocated for approximately 215 dwellings on sites in the following larger villages:

1 Newnham on Severn - 40 dwellings
2 Mitcheldean - 60 dwellings
3 Drybrook - 45 dwellings
4 Bream - 10 dwellings
5 Longhope - 15 dwellings
6 Staunton/Corse - 20 dwellings
7 Woolaston - 15 dwellings
8 Westbury on Severn - 10 dwellings

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2.18 In accord with the Plan's strategy, around 90%of the new housing to be allocated will be accommodated in the town locations listed under policy (R)FH.2. There is however a need to provide for the incremental expansion of some of the larger villages in the District in keeping with the local needs of their communities. These allocations will enable negotiation for the provision of affordable housing in locations where there are clearly identifiable needs. Site specific detail is fully discussed in Part Two of the Plan. The above allocations include sites proposed in the largest villages in the District some of which have substantial employment and all of which have a good range of services and access to a variety of modes of transport.

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2.19 Newnham on Severn is one of the largest villages in the District and has good communications along the A.48 (T). It has a wide range of services and is considered an appropriate location for modest further growth bearing in mind its overall size. The scale of new housing proposed is about 40 units.

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2.20 Mitcheldean is a large village with local services and a large employment base. There are, however, very few areas where it can expand without detriment to the surrounding countryside. The above allocation of approximately 60 new dwellings on two sites reflects this constraint.

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2.21 In the case of Drybrook, it is proposed to allocate land for about 45 new houses, on two adjacent sites the largest of which is very close to the village centre. In addition to the support this will provide for the village itself, the additional population will be within easy reach by public transport of employment opportunities in both Cinderford and Mitcheldean.

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2.22 There is one site in Bream which will be allocated in order to provide approximately 10 new dwellings. This will enable some limited expansion of the village which is otherwise tightly constrained.

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2.23 In addition to the above villages there are a group of relatively large settlements that have a generally good level of local services. They are also locations where there is a readily identifiable need for housing on an affordable basis either in the settlement concerned or close by. The provision of affordable housing appropriate to the needs of each locality will therefore be a material consideration in the allocations made in each of these villages. In Longhope, an allocation for approximately 15 dwellings is proposed, whilst other sites in Staunton/Corse, Westbury and Woolaston are proposed. In the case of Woolaston, the proposal comprises a redevelopment.

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Source Number of dwellings
Allocated sites in towns (R)FH.2

2270

Allocated sites in villages (R)FH.3

215

Contributions from mixed allocations
(as specified in Town Chapters)

40

TOTAL:

2525

Housing in Villages - Small Groups, Single Dwellings and Infilling
(R)FH.4

Infilling, small groups of dwellings and single dwellings will be permitted on sites within the defined settlement boundary of the villages listed below where they comply with Policy (R)FBE.1 and:

  1. Can be satisfactorily integrated into the framework of the settlement in a location with a satisfactory residential environment; and
  2. Would be compatible with the form and character of the settlement.

Aylburton, Blakeney, Bream, Clearwell, Drybrook, Dymock, Hartpury, Huntley, Joys Green, Littledean, Longhope, Lydbrook, Mitcheldean, Newnham, Parkend, Redbrook, Ruardean, St. Briavels, Sling, Staunton/Corse, Tutshill /Sedbury, Westbury, Whitecroft/Pillowell, Woolaston, and Yorkley/Yorkley Slade.

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2.24 Within the District there are a number of villages which possess a range of services and which are capable of accommodating new residential development in the form of infilling and small groups of dwellings. These are listed above under policy (R)FH.4. The list includes a wide variety of villages and their populations vary from a few hundred to over 3000. In some of these villages, allocations have been made for new development under policy (R)FH.3. In addition to these allocations, there will be further opportunities for new housing under the terms of this policy. Within the defined settlement boundaries of these villages, new development including single dwellings and small groups of dwellings will be permitted subject to the criteria set out in the policy. Some settlements present greater development opportunities than others and the fact that a particular village is identified under this policy does not imply that there are necessarily suitable sites for development. The villages identified under this policy have a range of services and other attributes that are considered to be appropriate to serve further modest development. Having these attributes is the first requirement in assessing their likely suitability for further development. In satisfying the other criteria of policy (R)FH.4, the proposal's effect on the form and character of the individual settlement will be taken into account together with the other considerations referred to in the Plan.

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2.25 The individual village Chapters (in Part Two of the Plan) provide additional information and in some cases detailed policies that will be used to guide development in these villages. This guidance includes the identification of areas where special restraints are to be applied. These local issues will always be of great importance as material considerations in the assessment of development proposals. With a wide range of villages and potential sites falling under this policy it is impossible to be specific about what may constitute a small group of dwellings. In all cases the test will be whether the development proposed will integrate well into the proposed location and be compatible with the range of facilities and services that are available. Although exceptions may arise from time to time it is unlikely that here will be many new developments comprising more than about 12 dwellings or on sites larger than 0.5 hectares other than on allocated sites. It should be emphasised that the only acceptable development in some villages may be a group of no more than three dwellings. In some villages there may be no obvious sites at all and in these cases the Plan could enable a redevelopment on an unforseen site. In the evaluation of proposals, special attention will be paid to the extent to which proposals comply with other Plan policies, especially (R)FBE.7 (open areas) and (R)FBE.1 (design), and to the special requirements imposed by any other designations (Conservation Areas and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) for example). Reference should also be made to the Council's supplementary planning guidance on the design of new development.

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Housing Development in Smaller Villages
(R)FH.5

New housing developments of one or two dwellings will be permitted on sites within the defined settlement boundary of the villages listed below where they comply with policy (R)FBE.1 and:

  1. Can be satisfactorily integrated into the framework of the settlement in a location with a satisfactory residential environment; and
  2. Would be compatible with the form and character of the settlement.

Alvington, Beachley, Brierley, Brockweir, Bromsberrow Heath, Edge End, Ellwood, English Bicknor, Kempley Green, Newland, Northwood Green, Oldcroft, Redmarley, Ruardean Hill, Ruardean Woodside, Staunton (Coleford), Tibberton, Upleadon, Upper Soudley, Viney Hill, Worrall Hill, Woodcroft.

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2.26 The remainder of the villages that have defined settlement boundaries identified by the Plan are listed above. They do not generally have the range of services that those falling under policy (R)FH.4 have and most are not as large. They are not therefore considered suitable for development on the scale of small groups of dwellings. These villages may, however, be appropriate locations for carefully controlled developments of one or two dwellings within defined settlement boundaries. Development of this scale will not materially affect the overall demand for local services but may satisfy local needs for additional housing. The suitability of individual sites will be judged against the criteria in the policy and against the other policies of the Plan, in particular (R)FBE.7 (important open areas) and (R)FBE.1 (design). The villages listed above vary considerably in form and character and hence their suitability for further development. The individual village chapters should be consulted for detailed guidance and any particular policies that apply to the villages concerned. Some of the villages will have very little scope for further development and where this is the case it is stated in the relevant chapter.

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2.27 In some cases there are constraints that will limit the suitability of some areas for development. These include the need to protect the form and character of the settlements of the Forest Ring as well as the need to ensure that development that takes place within Conservation Areas is compatible with the duty placed on the Council to preserve and enhance such areas. Again these detailed matters are dealt with under the individual village statements which also make use of local policies where there are particular characteristics exhibited within the above villages that are worthy of treatment that differs from the remainder of the settlement. Other relevant considerations will be the various protective designations that may apply to a particular village such as its location in an AONB.
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2.28 This Policy is intended to allow the infilling of small gaps in existing frontages and single dwellings in suitable locations within the defined settlement boundaries of the settlements concerned. In all cases compliance with the Built Environment policies of the Plan will be expected and reference to the Council's supplementary planning guidance on the design of new residential development.

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New housing in the Countryside
(R)FH.6

In the open countryside, outside defined settlement boundaries, new dwellings will only be permitted where they are essential to the efficient operation of agriculture or forestry.

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2.29 Within the countryside new dwellings will not be permitted except where they meet the requirements of the above policy. This is a reflection of national and county-wide strategic policies which seek to protect the countryside. In the case of new residential development, only dwellings which are proven to be essential to the efficient operation of agriculture or forestry will be permitted. Where a permission is granted, it will be subject to a condition limiting occupancy to persons employed or last employed in agriculture or forestry locally.

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2.30 The Forest of Dean District has a somewhat diverse settlement pattern, varying from the agricultural lowlands in the north to the Forest Ring of almost continuous settlement in the south. Throughout the area, however, there is a scatter of small settlements and hamlets which to all intents and purposes form part of the open countryside. Policy (R)FH.6 will therefore apply. In these settlements new development would be likely either to have a significant detrimental effect on the settlement itself or be unlikely to be capable of being successfully integrated into the landscape. National planning policy clearly establishes the importance of protecting the countryside from piecemeal and sporadic development, and from development that does not need to be located in the countryside. In addition a single permission could set a precedent for other proposals, the cumulative effect of which would be severely detrimental to the area concerned. There are many such settlements and a representative cross- section includes the following:-

Awre, Birdwood, Blaisdon, Blakeney Hill, Brand Green, Broadoak, Brockhollands, Churcham, Cliffords Mesne, Cold Harbour (St Briavels), Collafield, Forge Hill (Lydbrook), Furnace Bottom, Green Bottom, Hangerberry, Hawsley, Little London, May Hill, Mill Hill/Triangle, Plump Hill, Popes Hill, Sandford/Lower Common (Aylburton), Scowles, Shortstanding, Stantway (Westbury), Stowfield (Lydbrook), The Pludds, Tidenham, Upper Common (Aylburton), Yorkley Wood.

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2.31 Over half the examples listed above are the result of incursions or squatting in the Forest or on Common land. These and others with common origin display the typical attractive and open settlement form which makes them an integral part of the countryside.

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2.32 A further characteristic of many of these settlements is that they are served by narrow, sometimes steep access roads. Some are served only by tracks. The lack of suitable access and the limited capacity of the highway network is therefore a major constraint on further development.

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2.33 In addition to exhibiting the above characteristics the settlements which are regarded as forming part of the open countryside tend to be one of the following types:-

  1. Small well defined blocks of development which are surrounded by the open countryside, and where further development would be likely to form an intrusive feature in the countryside or be detrimental to the character of the settlement. For example Brockhollands.
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  2. Areas of linear development, usually along a highway and generally not continuous, being punctuated by open land including fields. Areas of this type are especially vulnerable to infilling which can significantly alter the often pleasant rural nature of such areas. For example Birdwood.
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  3. Dispersed areas of development which can cover large areas, sometimes interspersed with small compact built up areas. These settlements have a generally open feel and often contain open areas of amenity value. Where this type of settlement occurs around the outcrop of the old Forest of Dean Coalfield (the Forest Ring) there is usually a particularly random pattern of dwellings. The consequent haphazard relationship between buildings makes it difficult to successfully integrate new development. For example May Hill, The Pludds.

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2.34 For the above reasons therefore the settlements listed under this policy will be regarded as part of the open countryside to be protected by policy (R)FH.6 and other policies of the Plan and new housing development will not be permitted unless it meets the requirements of the policy.

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General Development Policies
2.35 The above policies make the basic allocations for new housing and indicate the scale and location of new development considered appropriate in the various settlements within the District. The following policies set out other strategic considerations which apply to the consideration of housing development.

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Housing on Greenfield Sites
(R)FH.7

In assessing proposals for housing development, priority will be given to the use of previously used sites in accordance with policy (R)F.Strategy 3. Where no such alternatives exist, then the development of new greenfield sites will be considered in accordance with the Plan policies for land allocations and policies which regulate the release of other unidentified land. In all cases proposals should make the optimum use of the land concerned, and be compatible with the Built Environment policies of the Plan.

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2.36 It is a requirement of the Plan's strategy that priority be given to making the best use of the available land. This means that where possible new development should take place on land that has already been developed but is no longer required for the existing or former use. This principle applies to all land uses and will be applied in other chapters of this Plan. In formulating the Plan's policies and allocations therefore consideration has been given to the allocation of such sites for housing and to how non allocated sites can be encouraged to come forward to maximise the use of previously developed land. Only a small proportion of the allocated housing sites are made on redevelopment land. This is a reflection of three things. The first is that the practical supply of such land in a form that can be readily identified is relatively small with many sites having been developed already and others having a current permission. Secondly some of the redevelopment sites that are identified are considered to be more suitable for other uses, especially employment. The third is that such unidentified sites and redevelopment proposals that will come forward throughout the Plan period (and will contribute significantly to the dwelling supply) cannot at this stage be predicted. This is partly because many of the sites will be in some form of beneficial use at the present time. In considering applications for re-development it will be a material consideration as to whether they make the best use of the land concerned.
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Promotion of and Retention of Housing in Town Centres
(R)FH.8

In town centres new dwellings and the conversion of under used premises and especially upper floors to residential use will be permitted subject to the proposal resulting in a satisfactory residential environment, not detracting from the vitality and viability of the town centre, and adequate provision being made for the parking of vehicles, which may be provided in whole or in part by the use of existing parking facilities in the town centre.

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2.37 The Local Plan encourages the use of premises in town centres for a variety of purposes. One of the overall aims of the Plan is to encourage the vitality of town centres within the District and one of the ways in which this can be achieved is to encourage a variety of uses and to attempt to retain residents in the centres of the towns. This can have very real benefits in terms of retaining the viability and vitality of a town centre, and improving security. The town centres themselves can be attractive places to live with easy access to a variety of services.

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2.38 Proposals to use existing premises and to build new properties can often make use of town centre parking without the need for additional spaces being dedicated to the development concerned, or it may be possible to share such provision as is made between commercial daytime users and residents who may need the parking primarily at night.

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Promotion of New Housing Stock through Conversions within Settlements
(R)FH.9

Unless indicated otherwise in the Plan, the conversion of existing dwellings to provide additional self contained accommodation and conversion of other buildings to dwellings will be permitted within defined settlement boundaries where there are no unacceptable effects on the amenity of the area and a satisfactory residential environment can be provided. Conversions of existing dwellings will be required to retain the character of the existing building where appropriate, and must retain or provide adequate privacy, and must provide suitable access.

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2.39 The above policy encourages the provision of additional housing in the form of conversions of existing buildings, including dwellings. It is a policy intended to make the best use of buildings that already exist to provide additional units of accommodation. It is also intended that these should be located where they can benefit from the existing range of services and therefore this policy does not allow the conversion of buildings outside the defined settlement boundaries shown on the Local Plan Map. These are dealt with under policy (R)FBE.6. Conversions will be permitted within the defined settlement boundaries provided a satisfactory environment can be created for the new (additional) use and maintained for the existing properties. The provision of adequate parking, will be important, though in town centres in particular the availability of nearby off street parking will be a consideration. Where the building(s) to be converted have particular attributes then the retention of these will be a material consideration, as will any designation (for example listing as of historical or architectural interest).

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The Encouragement of Optimum Densities
(R)FH.10
Proposals for new housing development will be required to adopt appropriate densities to make optimum use of the site concerned taking account of:
  1. The location of the site in relation to any available town or village centre and other services
  2. The location of transport facilities
  3. The characteristics of the site and its surroundings
  4. the type of housing proposed
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2.40 In order to make the best use of available land it is essential that development is designed in such a way as to provide for optimum densities. This does not mean that they should automatically be as high as can be achieved. Density is however a material consideration in determining planning applications and it is important that development proposals make the best use of available land. In practice this will mean generally having regard to the Council's supplementary planning guidance on design and to the built environment policies of the plan which indicate the principles that will be applied to the design of new development. The design guidance is based on the same set of criteria that are embodied in PPG 13 in seeking to enable as many new dwellings as possible to be provided within easy access of services and facilities they may require in order to reduce the need for unnecessary travel, whilst providing a well designed environment.

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Mix of Dwelling Types
(R)FH.11

On large housing sites a range of house types will be required including where appropriate the construction of smaller dwellings for single persons and starter homes. The latter provision will be independent of any requirement for affordable homes on the site concerned.

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2.41 Policy (R)FH.11 is related to (R)FH.10 above which seeks to make the optimum use of available land. It is intended to ensure that the range of dwellings provided best meets the needs of the population to be provided for.

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2.42 The scale and distribution of the major housing allocations required in the Plan are such that there will be a wide range of sites developed over the Plan period. Most of the housing will be built by developers for sale and they will know the requirements of and cater for the market. It remains the situation however that there may be conditions where particular circumstances apply. It may be appropriate by controlling density to ensure that a particular dwelling mix is achieved. This policy is intended to ensure a range of dwellings is available on housing sites for sale. The provision of smaller units of accommodation is necessary to meet the needs of an important sector of the market, and could extend the potential range of house ownership. Conversely it may be desirable to ensure that a proportion of larger homes are provided on a given site. This policy is not one which is intended to provide the type of affordable homes provided for in policies (R)FH.13 and (R)FH.14 but can usefully extend the range of dwelling types. Its application will be by negotiation with respect to individual sites with additional guidance provided by the development briefs and individual allocation policies in Part Two of the plan.

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Affordable Housing - Eligibility and Continuing Availability
(R)FH.12
The following criteria will be used to determine the eligibility of persons for affordable housing and to ensure the continuing availability of such housing:
  1. In the case of dwellings to be provided as part of larger developments (policy (R)FH.13) the dwellings will be expected to be provided and remain available to successive occupiers at an affordable cost
  2. In the case of exceptions sites provided under policy (R)FH.14, the above consideration will apply and in addition the occupancy of the dwellings concerned will be limited to persons resident in the same village or Parish as the scheme, or having a strong local connection (such as employment) wiht the Parish or village.

If after completion of the scheme it cannot be filled by persons meeting the criteria above, then residents of adjoining parishes or villages will be considered, followed by residents or persons with a strong local connection with the District and who have a case for housing in the location concerned.

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Affordable Housing on New Housing Sites- Negotiated Share Basis
(R)FH.13

An element of affordable housing will be sought by negotiation on all new housing sites which are over 15 units or 0.5ha (whichever is the lesser) in towns and villages of greater than 3000 population or 5 units and 0.2ha (whichever is the lesser) in other locations. Alternatively a commuted sum may be sought equivalent to the appropriate affordable housing share on the site. The housing to be provided by this policy will be required to be available as affordable housing to each successive occupier in need. The provision sought will be related to evidence of local need, including housing need studies, and to the particular site conditions.

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2.43 The most important way in which affordable housing is expected to be provided during the life of the Plan is by the provision of a share of affordable housing in conjunction with the development of the Plan's larger sites. Given the pattern of wide distribution and the overall level of housing need measured by the Council's 1999 survey, it is considered essential that all reasonable opportunities are taken to provide affordable housing. The sites that are eligible are therefore any housing sites over 15 units or 0.5 hectare (whichever is the lesser) in the towns and villages with a population of more than 3000, and 5 units or more than 0.2ha (whichever is the lesser) in other locations. These thresholds are set in accordance with the enabling powers given by DETR circular 6/98. Affordable housing will be sought on all of the sites that the Plan allocates and on eligible sites which come forward as windfalls. Affordable housing will often be sought on the site itself, but there will be cases where the provision will be sought elsewhere in the District in accordance with the methodology set out in government guidance.

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2.44 The overall scale of provision made as a result of the above policy will vary according to the individual sites concerned, but the level of provision that is initially sought will be governed by the District Council Housing Need study, its waiting list and any other information that identifies housing need. This study identifies an approximate requirement for 711 dwellings for persons in need of housing in the District and who cannot afford market housing. This figure equates to the current needs as measured in 1999 and can be assumed to reflect the numbers of emerging and existing households requiring to be re housed in the three year period following the survey. It does not take account of the current waiting list held by the District Council which further adds to the overall requirement for affordable housing.

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2.45 There is an implied total dwelling requirement over the whole District of about 430 per year in order to meet the Structure Plan figure of about 6950, and an implied requirement for affordable housing of over 200 dwellings per year in localities where there are likely to be eligible sites for the provision of a negotiated share. The implication is that new developments should contain a high percentage of affordable housing. This provision will be judged against the definition of affordable housing in current government guidance, to include both housing to rent and to buy, but adjusted for local conditions of housing need as identified in the first instance by the Council's Housing Need Survey and its subsequent updates. This establishes for example the low requirement for low cost market housing. Whilst this is a type of affordable housing, the low requirement for it within the District will be a material factor in any negotiations for affordable housing. The aim to provide a mix of house types and sizes on new sites is a separate issue covered by policy (R)FH.11.

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2.46 The means by which affordable housing is to be provided will principally be through developments by or for Housing Associations. Some of these will be carried out as independent free standing schemes as have almost all schemes in the past, often on the remaining (and diminishing) supply of land owned by the Forest of Dean District Council. Others will be expected to take place as a result of developer contributions negotiated on sites being developed for housing either as part of an allocation or as a windfall site. In the case of these types of development, the land is usually sought from the developer at nil value. This then provides the necessary subsidy for the scheme. In all cases the actual delivery of affordable housing will be the result of negotiation on individual sites against the District requirement and any local information.

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2.47 There are however two important qualifications to the above. It is unlikely that all of the current supply of committed sites will in reality be able to provide the type of housing required. This would tend to increase the percentage that will be sought on eligible sites in order to compensate for those that are not (eg small sites, those with existing consents etc). Against this however must be weighed the fact that the Plan's overall strategy is one based on the allocation of new development in order to provide the Forest of Dean District with major benefits in terms of the overall revitalisation of the area. The major new housing allocations are therefore in areas where they are required to provide a number of direct benefits to their localities and which are necessary for the allocations themselves to proceed. The fundamental importance of this aim will be taken into account in any negotiation for the provision of affordable housing, as will the need to ensure that the developments allocated take place during the Plan period.

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2.48 One effect of the Plan's strategy that is of considerable importance to the development of affordable housing, is the distribution within the District of new sites. The revitalisation strategy concentrates development in order to provide certain key items of infrastructure and to support the Forest towns. Over half of the allocated housing land is at Lydney. Whilst there is an identifiable need for affordable housing in Lydney , it may fall below the overall percentage sought over the District in general. The Council will therefore negotiate on the basis of commuting the provision of some of the housing to other locations in the District, in accordance with identified local need. The starting point for any negotiation will however always be the cost of providing the relevant share on the original site.

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2.49 The Council will seek to negotiate the provision of affordable housing on all allocated housing sites. In addition, because provision from these types of site is not likely to meet the full identified need, provision will be sought on windfall and other sites (current commitments that require either a detailed consent or a new application to be able to be implemented) in accordance with the guidance in Circular 06/98. Although the above provides guidance as to when an affordable share will be sought, it does not of course preclude applications being submitted from third parties for schemes which meet or exceed the target nor does it preclude provision on other smaller sites if required by the applicant.

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2.50 As the policy makes clear, the negotiation process will be the key to actual provision and as part of its responsibilities the Council will need to ensure that it has up to date information regarding housing need at all times. It will also require a rolling programme for the provision of housing in order to enable commuted sums to be sought. If developer contributions are obtained in the absence of a programme or if such a programme fails then any sum paid would be reimbursed to the developer concerned after an agreed period. The key to securing the actual provision will be each site's ability to provide the necessary subsidy and yet still be able to be developed. All negotiations for the provision of affordable housing will be based on the characteristics (development costs, constraints and nature of) each individual site and whilst all eligible sites will be expected to contribute, the degree of provision actually achieved will vary in relation to the development costs and planning obligations of each site.

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Affordable Housing on Exceptions Sites
(R)FH.14

As an exception to the other housing policies in the Plan, the development of small groups of dwellings or single dwellings which provide affordable housing for local needs may be permitted within or adjoining the defined settlement boundaries of villages. In all cases proposals must:

  1. Be capable of being integrated into the village without adversely affecting the amenity of the area
  2. Be proposed in a village which possesses a reasonable level of services in relation to the scale of development concerned
  3. Be accompanied by evidence that shows a genuine local need for the type, scale and tenure of the proposed dwellings and that they will be available at a rent or purchase price which those in need can afford
  4. Be shown to be available on an affordable basis to each successive occupier
  5. Be occupied by persons in local need of affordable housing as defined in policy (R)FH.12.

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2.51 In rural areas there are often particular difficulties in securing an adequate supply of housing which local persons can afford. It is therefore intended to allow this supply to be supplemented by allowing in certain closely controlled circumstances the development of small groups of dwellings outside the normal policies of the Plan. Any such scheme must be capable of meeting the requirements of this policy. Policy (R)FH.14 sets out the criteria which will be applied to ensure any schemes benefit those in need and provide the most suitable type of accommodation at an appropriate price. The dwellings will normally be owned or controlled by a Registered Social Landlord. Suitable sites will usually be within or adjacent to the defined settlement boundary of the village and must be on land which is capable of meeting the criteria normally required of a housing site, except for its location which will usually be outside a settlement boundary. The policy does not rule out sites within a settlement boundary, but where these occur proposals will be evaluated against any other relevant policies of the Plan. Where justified by need, schemes for small groups of dwellings may be permitted in villages where the proposed scale of development (infilling and small groups) would be considered inappropriate for general housing under policies (R)FH.4 and (R)FH.5.

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2.52 In order to ensure there is a bona fide need for affordable housing on exceptions sites, accurate information, usually in the form of a housing needs survey will be required to be submitted with a planning application. Any successful scheme will be the subject of a Section 106 or similar agreement to ensure it is occupied only in accordance with the provisions of the policy.

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2.53 Developments which contain a mixture of affordable and normal market housing will not be permitted on the exceptions sites referred to in this policy. It is unlikely that there will be adequate justification for schemes of this type in the smallest settlements as there is a need to ensure that all new dwellings have a reasonable level of access to local services and transport. This is the reason for the policy referring to villages that have a defined settlement boundary.

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Conversion of Rural Buildings
2.54 Within the countryside there are a number of buildings, principally agricultural in origin, that will cease to be appropriate for their present use or are presently redundant. A considerable number have been converted to provide dwellings. Government policy now rightly concentrates on the need to find alternative uses for these buildings that can make a positive contribution to the economy of an area and residential uses should only be seen as a last resort. Proposals for change of use will be evaluated for their impact on the built environment, landscape and the economy of the area under other policies of the Plan (principally policies (R)FBE.6 and (R)FE.5). Conversions of rural buildings will be unlikely to have a material effect on housing supply, although they are unlikely to cease entirely.

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Replacement Dwellings
(R)FH.15

In locations where the development of new dwellings is contrary to the policies of this Plan, the replacement of an existing dwelling immediately capable of providing residential accommodation will be permitted where:

  1. The present dwelling, though capable of occupation, is unable to provide a satisfactory standard of accommodation
  2. The new dwelling would not detract unacceptably from the amenity of the locality
  3. The new dwelling would be sited in the most advantageous position within the curtilage in relation to visual impact, its relationship to adjoining land uses, the amenity of neighbours and access and road safety considerations
  4. The original dwelling will be demolished if the new siting differs from that of the original dwelling
  5. The new dwelling is of a size that is in harmony with the scale and character of its surroundings.

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2.55 There may be circumstances where a dwelling though capable of occupation is unable to provide a satisfactory standard of accommodation. Where it is not possible to alter it in order to bring it up to modern standards, replacement may be permitted. The policy is not one intended to add to the total housing stock. It is intended to enable unsatisfactory accommodation to be replaced in locations where additional dwellings would be contrary to policy. In these locations, it is however essential that such a replacement fits in well with the locality and the safeguards set out in the above policy will therefore be applied. A replacement will be expected to occupy the most advantageous position within the curtilage in relation to its visual impact, and its relationship with adjoining land uses. Its presence should not detract from the amenity of the locality. If the siting is not the same as the original dwelling then the original dwelling will be required to be demolished. Finally the new dwelling will be expected to be of a size and character that is in harmony with its surroundings.

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Sub-division of Dwellings.
(R)FH.16
Proposals for the sub-division of existing dwellings to form additional dwellings will be permitted subject to:
  1. Satisfactory provision being made for car parking
  2. There being no adverse effect on the character of the amenity of the surrounding area
  3. The building concerned being capable of providing suitable habitable accommodation without major extension or alteration which would be detrimental to its character, appearance or setting
  4. Satisfactory provision being made for the private amenity of residents
  5. The proposal making no undue demands on services or infrastructure
2.56 With changing average household sizes, there is a continuing need for the best use to be made of the available housing stock. One way in which this can be achieved is to allow, where satisfactory standards of amenity and accommodation can be provided, the sub-division of larger residential properties. Policy (R)FH.16 is intended therefore to permit such a change in all parts of the Plan area. There are important safeguards which will ensure any conversion does not harm the amenity or character of the area, and this will ensure that such conversions can be well integrated into their surroundings, whether within a settlement boundary or not. In the case of sites outside settlement boundaries, any new building work which extends the property concerned will be closely scrutinised, and the addition of newly built units of accommodation will not normally be permitted. This type of conversion can often provide more affordable accommodation in areas where it would otherwise be unavailable. The provisions of policy (R)FBE.2 will be a material consideration in respect of the need to demonstrate that development under the policy makes no undue demands on infrastructure and services. This will be especially relevant when considering proposals in rural areas where such services are often more difficult to provide and offer limited capacity for improvement.

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Gypsy Sites
(R)FH.17

The use of land by Gypsies for the stationing of caravans or mobile homes or other non-permanent forms of accommodation will be permitted providing the following criteria are satisfied:

  1. The proposal would meet a need for persons meeting the definition of Gypsies set out in the Caravan Sites Act, 1968
  2. The proposal would not be visually intrusive in the landscape, and incorporates landscaping provisions to enhance the screening of the site
  3. The proposal is well related to existing community, social, educational and other facilities
  4. Adequate provision is made for vehicular access, manoeuvring and parking, and the proposal will not create or intensify a traffic hazard
  5. The proposal is in all other respects environmentally acceptable and would not adversely affect the amenities of neighbouring properties.

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2.57 The above policy is designed to make provision for Gypsies. It is intended to allow consent to be granted for sites in locations where they can be accommodated satisfactorily without detriment to the environment. Further guidance is contained in DoE Circular 1/94 entitled "Gypsy Sites and Planning" which requires District Councils to provide appropriate policies or allocate sites for Gypsies in their Local Plans.

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2.58 The policy provides that the sites created for Gypsies will be well-screened and would not have adverse effects upon adjoining properties. While the policy does not place any specific limitation upon the size of any site, it is anticipated that sites will be relatively small in size.

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2.59 The District Council is anxious to make proper provision for Gypsies in order to respond to the real needs of this group in the population, and to avoid the expenditure of public funds on the often meaningless task of dispersing illegal encampments only to see the problem transfer elsewhere. However, the above policy may be open to potential abuse if not tightly controlled, in order for example to create tourist uses or residential uses in locations which might not otherwise be considered suitable. Therefore, any permission given under this policy will be subject to detailed conditions or to the completion of a Section 106 Agreement to control the use of the site.

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2.60 In judging applications under this policy, regard will be had to the overall scale of need for provision for Gypsies judged against the regular counts carried out by the Council of the number of Gypsies in the District.

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Travellers Sites
(R)FH.18

The use of land by travellers for the stationing of their caravans or mobile homes or other non-permanent forms of accommodation will be permitted providing the following criteria are satisfied:

  1. The proposal would meet an identified need for travellers in the District
  2. The proposal would not be visually intrusive in the landscape, and incorporates landscaping provisions to enhance the screening of the site
  3. The proposal is well related to existing community, social, educational and other facilities
  4. Adequate provision is made for vehicular access, manoeuvring and parking, and the proposal will not create or intensify a traffic hazard
  5. The proposal is in all other respects environmentally acceptable and would not adversely affect the amenities of neighbouring properties
  6. Each unit of accommodation on the site shall have been brought to the site by the occupier(s) for the time being who shall remove the accommodation from the site when ceasing to use it for their residential purposes.

In all cases planning permission initially will be limited to a maximum of three years and will be subject to conditions or the completion of a Section 106 Agreement which will restrict the use of the site to a maximum of ten units of accommodation, to permit use of the site for a maximum of nine months in any one year, and to limit the facilities to be provided on the site to an agreed basic minimum.

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2.61 In addition to Gypsies resorting to the District there are also other travellers who appear at various times and are essentially transient in nature. Although numbers are relatively small there have been periods when larger numbers overall have been present, and some encampments have reached a significant size. For this reason the Local Plan includes the above policy to enable a number of small appropriately located and equipped sites to be established to meet this need. There is no intention to provide for permanently occupied sites given that the regular counts of travellers in the District do not reveal the need for such provision. This policy therefore provides reasonable opportunities to meet anticipated needs, without the creation of permanently occupied sites with the attendant pressures to provide for the variety of permanent infrastructure associated with such use. Such provision should also reduce the possibility of illegal sites being created.

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2.62 The policy provides that the sites created for Travellers will be well-screened and would not have adverse effects upon adjoining properties. In particular, the scale of any site would be limited to use at any one time by a maximum of ten units of accommodation, and the site should be occupied for only nine months of the year. In the remaining three months the site will be cleared. This will avoid the formation of a permanent residential mobile home site, and enable the ground to recover from any effects of over-use. The nature of the use proposed is such that only very basic site facilities should be provided, as it is not intended either for permanent occupation or for tourist use. Therefore, only very basic hardstandings such as compacted stone should be provided, and services should be limited to stand pipe, waste skip or similar provision, and a chemical toilet disposal point.

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2.63 The District Council is anxious to make proper provision for Travellers in order to respond to the real needs of this group in the population, and to avoid the expenditure of public funds on the often meaningless task of dispersing illegal encampments only to see the problem transfer elsewhere. However, the above policy may be open to potential abuse if not tightly controlled, in order for example to create tourist uses or residential uses in locations which might not otherwise be considered suitable. Therefore, any permission given under this policy will be subject to detailed conditions or to the completion of a Section 106 Agreement to control the use of the site.

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2.64 In judging applications under this policy, regard will be had to the overall scale of need for provision for Travellers judged against the regular counts carried out by the Council of the number of Travellers in the District.
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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