|3.1||The northern and southern parts of the District display very different
|3.2||The south Forest of Dean has a long history of mineral exploitation and
associated metal industries and manufacturing. Coal mining has now ceased
(except for small-scale free mining), although quarrying for stone continues.
Manufacturing however remains a very substantial industrial sector, with
a number of individual businesses being of a considerable scale. Much of
the industry and other economic activity is concentrated in the three south
Forest towns. However, throughout the mining area there are industries which
have taken over the sites of former coal and iron mines, and of previous
heavy industries and quarries. As a result there are frequent examples of
industrial uses in detached locations within the countryside.
|3.3||By contrast the north Forest of Dean displays a predominantly agricultural
landscape with generally small villages. Business activities are mostly small
in scale. With the exception of Newent, the only town, there are few
concentrations of economic activity in the form of industrial estates.
|3.4||Up to the 1960's over half of all jobs in the District were in the primary
and manufacturing sectors with coal mining being a significant employer of
the male workforce. All deep mining has now ceased, but manufacturing has
continued as a major employer. However, in the recession of the 1980's one
in three production jobs in the District were lost, contributing to an
unemployment rate at the time which rose to over 18%.
|3.5||The local economy has recovered greatly in the last decade. Current
unemployment is below 3% (2.9% October 1999). Nevertheless, the structure
of the local economy continues to reflect its past. Manufacturing provides
about 30% of all jobs, compared to the Great Britain figure of 18%. The service
sector has overtaken manufacturing as the largest provider of employment,
but it remains relatively undeveloped when compared with the figures for
Great Britain (around 68% compared to 78%).
|3.6||There are a number of vulnerable elements of the local economy which
need to be addressed:
|3.7||Despite the difficulties noted above it is clear that the Forest of Dean
economy has demonstrated the ability to respond to improvements in national
economic circumstances. Evidence for this can be seen in the reduction of
unemployment rates below the national average, the growth of the service
sector which has substituted jobs for the loss of manufacturing employment,
a forecast increase in manufacturing employment locally in contrast to a
national decline, an increase in manufacturing capital expenditure against
the wider trend, and a tourism and leisure industry which is forecast to
continue to grow.
|3.8||The fluctuating fortunes of the local economy can partly be traced by
reference to the external assistance given to the District over time. In
1984 the southern part of the District was designated a Rural Development
Area and also an Assisted Area. The latter designation was withdrawn in 1993,
but the former was re-confirmed and extended to encompass most of the District.
In 1999 the south of the District was given a third tier Assisted Area status,
and also designated as a Coalfield Regeneration Area. The current draft Regional
Planning Guidance and the Structure Plan both recognise the need for economic
regeneration within the southern part of the Forest of Dean.
|3.9||The relative vulnerability of the Forest of Dean economy contrasts with
the situation in the County as a whole, which generally has a more prosperous
and thriving economy. There are also related issues for the Forest of Dean
which arise from its economic circumstances, including lower household incomes,
higher levels of long-term illness, lower levels of educational attainment
and lower economic activity rates. There are high levels of out-commuting
from the District to adjoining employment centres, particularly Gloucester,
which reflects both the absolute shortage of job opportunities locally and
the greater diversity of opportunities elsewhere, particularly for higher
skilled and managerial jobs, with their higher salary levels.
|3.10||The above circumstances form the basis for the recognition in the Structure
Plan of the need for economic and social regeneration in the southern part
of the Forest of Dean, where the need for revitalisation is greatest. The
draft Regional Planning Guidance identifies the Forest of Dean as an investment
priority area, as does the Government through the allocation of an Assisted
Area Status and a Coalfield Regeneration area.
|3.11||The principal issue for the Local Plan is to provide a basis for achieving
a thriving and diverse local economy in the Forest of Dean, to contribute
to the strategic aim of revitalisation.
|3.12||The elements which will support this aim include provision of land and
infrastructure for business development, support for increased business
competitiveness, enhancing skills levels, developing community businesses,
maintaining an attractive and high quality natural and built environment,
and actively pursuing external funding opportunities for economic development.
These are the key objectives of the Council's Economic Development Strategy.
|3.13||The District Council with its partner organisations is committed to pursuing
initiatives in all the strategic areas identified above. The Local Plan will
contribute to this strategy by ensuring that the context for economic
regeneration is supported by the policies and proposals of the Plan Review.
|3.14||Between 1991 and 2011 the estimated additional job needs of the resident
population is assessed to be around 3,000 jobs. Employment in the District
remained roughly stable between 1991 - 1998, and therefore this increase
will need to be accommodated over the Plan period 1996 - 2011.
|3.15||It is anticipated that the majority of new employment will be in the
service sector. Much of this will be accommodated within existing or expanded
sites and premises, for example in the stock of town centre retail and commercial
premises or in existing facilities such as schools, health services or public
service offices. Plan policies and proposals must ensure that the opportunity
for such forms of development exist, particularly in town centres, and include
sites for refurbishment, redevelopment and new development. Service businesses
are increasingly also seeking sites in good quality environments and accessible
locations such as business parks. The Plan should make provision for such
developments. Sectors such as tourism, recreation and leisure are forecast
to have significant growth potential, and the Plan will need to provide a
policy framework to encourage such development.
|3.16||The manufacturing sector is of great importance to the local economy
in terms of jobs provided. Unlike the national trends the sector is forecast
to increase its employment locally over the Plan period. To remain competitive
manufacturing businesses will need to invest in plant, machinery and premises,
including the possibility of site redevelopment or relocation. New businesses
will also be formed to replace the expected workforce reduction amongst
established businesses. Overall therefore the Plan will need to ensure that
there is a plentiful supply of land suitable for a wide variety of industrial
needs, from starter businesses to high quality business sites. Optimum use
will be made of the development and redevelopment potential of existing
employment sites. The Plan will need to provide most new employment opportunities
in the towns, to complement the proposed housing land allocations at these
locations. This will help to provide a balance of homes and jobs, reduce
the growth of vehicle usage, and provide for social inclusion.
|3.17||A major issue for the Plan is to ensure an adequate supply of land for
employment, to provide for a diverse range of sites to cater for the needs
of both large and small businesses and to provide for high quality sites,
together with sites suitable for businesses with less demanding needs. The
Forest of Dean has for many years lacked larger sites which would provide
for major new developments. At times this has undoubtedly inhibited investment
plans by existing businesses, and has meant the District has been unable
to compete either for major investment inquiries directed towards the region,
or for the needs of businesses seeking high quality environments. The Plan
will identify land at Lydney capable of accommodating such large scale
|3.18||A feature of many of the existing industrial sites in the District, and
of some of the additional sites allocated in this Plan, is that they occupy
sites previously used for other purposes, including coal mining, iron mining,
quarrying and heavy metal industries. Those re-occupied by successor industries
often display relatively low environmental and amenity standards. There are
three issues arising from these circumstances which the Plan must address.
The first is the need to secure environmental improvements when new development
is proposed, as well as programmes of improvements originated by the District
Council. The second issue is that many sites allocated in the Plan have potential
problems of instability and contamination which would inhibit development.
The District Council will work with partner organisations and the private
sector to overcome these problems and to assist the development process.
The third issue arising is that some of these existing sites are not
well-located, for example being adjacent to residential areas or being otherwise
intrusive, in the open countryside for example. The Plan however must balance
such problems, which are widespread, with the need to support the economy
of the District, and normally to give priority to retaining these employment
uses while also enabling beneficial changes to take place within the employment
|3.19||Employment in traditional agriculture is forecast to continue to decline,
although the sector overall may retain its share of employment through the
growth of related contracting and other enterprises. The diversification
of the rural economy will remain a trend, with new farm and countryside based
businesses being established in tourism, leisure and food processing for
example. The Plan will support such development in recognition of its
contribution to the social and economic well-being of rural communities,
and as a contribution to employment growth in the District.
|3.20||The revitalisation of the economy of the Forest of Dean is a fundamental
element of the Plan strategy. The principal elements of the strategy include
a sufficient and varied land allocation to provide for the approximate 3,000
additional job requirement to 2011, ensuring infrastructure provision to
support development, promoting the vitality and viability of town centres,
providing for a high quality environment for business development, and meeting
the needs of the rural economy.
|3.21||The strategy will concentrate most new employment development in the
four towns of the District, where the greatest opportunities for growth exist,
in locations accessible to the workforce, and supported by existing
infrastructure and services. The great majority of new development will be
in the south Forest area, where the revitalisation needs are the greatest.
Within the south Forest Lydney will be the strategic focus for development.
The revitalisation needs of Cinderford will also be supported, whilst in
Coleford the emphasis will be on enhancing its market town role in retailing,
tourism and commerce.
|3.22||The Plan will support the economic and social well-being of rural communities
by enabling business development in villages, supporting farm diversification,
and promoting tourism, recreation and leisure enterprises.
|Policies and Proposals
Principal Employment Land Allocations.
|3.23||Economic development is an integral element of the proposed revitalisation
of the Forest of Dean. Therefore, new business investment will be provided
for by the Plan throughout the District. In making provision for new jobs,
the Plan strategy will concentrate development upon the four towns of the
District, principally through employment land allocations and through policies
and proposals for town centres. The emphasis of the Plan policies and proposals
will be to provide for most new employment development in the south Forest,
to accord with the strategic priority for revitalisation in that area.
|3.24||It is estimated that there will be a need for around 3,000 additional
jobs in the District over the Plan period. The service sector is forecast
to be the principal growth area for employment. Thus the Plan will need to
place emphasis upon the capacity of towns and particularly town centres,
to develop their roles as service centres and to provide the necessary
opportunities and the quality environment required to accommodate business
development. In addition, there will be a need for business sites away from
town centres which offer accessibility and a high quality environment to
accommodate the increasing number of service businesses which do not require
a town centre location.
|3.25||Manufacturing is a significant element of the local economy, and will
continue to grow locally. The Plan will need to provide for the wide range
of sites required, from start up businesses to large expanding companies.
A key element of the Plan is to ensure that new investment is not inhibited
by a lack of appropriate sites.
|3.26||Despite the industrial history of the District it remains a largely rural area. Within this context specific industries make important contributions to the local economy, including agriculture, forestry, tourism and outdoor recreation. The Plan must ensure that policies enable these sectors to continue to contribute to the regeneration of the District, and the well-being of communities.|
|3.27||The Plan strategy recognises that the priority for revitalisation is
the south Forest. As a consequence the principal land allocations for employment
use are located in that area. The detailed employment land allocations will
be made in the respective settlement chapters of the Plan Review. They are
|3.28||A total of round 84 hectares of employment land is allocated in the Plan,
of which around 67 hectares are located in the three towns of Lydney, Cinderford
and Coleford and up to 75 hectares in the south Forest as a whole.
|3.29||The above allocations are aimed at ensuring a diverse range of employment sites to provide for both large and small investment proposals, for high quality business park surroundings as well as traditional industrial estates, and for a choice of locations.|
|3.30||The concentration of employment land allocations in the towns is intended
to maximise the accessibility of the resident population to jobs, to make
use of existing infrastructure and facilities, and to provide for new job
opportunities in those locations where the majority of the additional housing
is to be constructed.
|3.31||A strategic emphasis of revitalisation is to utilise the potential for
new development at Lydney, where the largest provision is made for employment
development. This includes three greenfield sites (Mead Lane, land inside
the by-pass and land at Hurst Farm) which have the potential to be key land
allocations intended to provide for accessible and high quality employment
sites suitable for a range of businesses including services.
|3.32||The settlement pattern and industrial history of the District has resulted
in significant employment areas being located in a large number of villages.
There are further opportunities to allocate land for local employment at
a number of these, at Bream, Parkend and Sling. Many other settlements have
established employment sites which offer substantial local employment. These
will be identified where appropriate in the settlement chapters, and support
given to their further development where such potential exists. The Plan
will support further employment opportunities in villages, where they can
offer local jobs which are needed and are appropriate in scale and character.
|Development on Established Employment Sites|
|3.33||Existing employment sites can offer accessible local jobs for communities. The Plan will support the retention of local jobs, and will encourage new investment by business within established employment sites. The above policy provides for some limitations to be exercised to ensure that proposed new development does not have adverse impacts on the surrounding area, for example, where a site adjoins a residential area, or where there is a proposal for a process or product which may have implications for noise or atmospheric pollution. In many circumstances such impacts can be regulated to reduce the effects to acceptable levels.|
|.||3.34||The particular industrial history of the Forest of Dean has resulted
in a somewhat haphazard relationship of employment sites interspersed with
residential and other uses in settlements, and sites in the open countryside
occupying former industrial areas. The above policy provides a framework
for assessing the acceptability of further development of such sites.
|3.35||A standard requirement for all proposals for development on established
employment sites will be a need to address issues of environment and amenity,
and to provide for appropriate enhancements. There is a legacy of sites of
extractive and heavier industry in the District which have been subsequently
re-occupied or redeveloped for more modern business. This evolution has meant
that issues of environmental quality and amenity may have not been addressed
in a planned way. The Plan specifically will seek environmental improvements
as part of development proposals in these cases.
|Change of Use of Employment Land|
|3.36||It is important for the employment strategy of the Plan that a wide choice
of employment sites are available. The above policy provides that existing
or allocated employment sites should be retained for that purpose. However,
exceptions may arise. Non-conforming uses may give rise to environmental
problems for adjoining land uses. It is only where these are significantly
detrimental that an alternative use will be considered, and only after it
is clear that environmental legislation cannot adequately mitigate the causes
of the problem.
|3.37||The continuing change in the structure of employment will give rise to
proposals for the alternative use of employment land. For example, tourism,
leisure and recreation are growing industries which can make use of former
industrial sites. Although the level of jobs created may not be equivalent
to a previous or current use, such proposals may be considered acceptable
where the proposal gives rise to new jobs on a scale reasonably related to
the former use of the site, or to the potential employment capacity of the
|3.38||In some locations, particularly in the towns, there will be potential for the mixed use redevelopment of employment sites which may incorporate uses such as residential, commercial, retail, tourism or leisure. The policy provides for such developments. However, to ensure the continued employment use of the site in conjunction with other uses a comprehensive proposal for the site will be required. It may also be appropriate to seek an agreed phasing of the employment development in relation to other proposed uses of the site, to ensure the jobs will be forthcoming.|
|Employment in Villages|
|3.39||Throughout their history villages have been places of work as well as
places to live. This policy underlines that this dual function should continue
in order to support the social and economic well-being of rural communities,
and add to the economy of the District.
|3.40||The Plan provides for the great majority of new employment to be located
in accessible and sustainable locations, principally in the towns. The cumulative
impact of small scale employment in villages therefore is unlikely to have
a significant impact upon the sustainable development of the District. However,
it will be material to consider the extent to which a proposal may give rise
to additional journey to work movements by car. Where the nature of the job
opportunities provided by a development can reasonably be expected to be
available to the locally resident workforce, or there is suitable public
transport available, then concerns about the sustainability of employment
development in villages will be mitigated.
|3.41||The criteria in the above policy indicate that appropriate developments
in villages are likely to be small in scale and unobtrusive in nature. The
Built Environment policies in the Plan provide an additional framework to
regulate the impacts of any development.
|3.42||In some cases the most appropriate location for small scale employment may be outside, but adjoining, the settlement boundary. This may be due to a lack of suitable sites or buildings within a settlement. In such cases it will be relevant before considering granting a planning consent to assess whether reasonable alternative accommodation exists either within the settlement concerned, or within another town or village.|
|Employment in the Countryside|
|3.43||The Plan strategy seeks to safeguard the environment and amenity of the
open countryside, and to locate development within settlements where there
are supporting facilities. However, there are a variety of businesses which
may require a countryside location for their efficient operation. This policy
provides for those circumstances where such employment development would
be permissable in the open countryside. In all cases existing buildings should
be used to their full capacity before considering new building in the
|3.44||It will always be material to consider policy (R)FNE.1 to assess the
detailed requirements for an acceptable form of development, and policy (R)FT.2
with respect to highway and traffic matters. Policy (R)F.Strategy 2 is concerned
with ensuring sustainable forms of development. Because of the proposed
countryside location, it will always be relevant to consider the minimisation
of the energy, water and waste impacts arising from the proposal in order
to contribute to a sustainable form of development.
|3.45||The agricultural industry has undergone a period of change in recent
years, and further change is forecast for the immediate future. National
projections assume a considerable area of land going out of food production,
and reductions in direct agricultural employment. Given this context the
Government has advocated agricultural diversification measures to supplement
farm incomes. This might take many forms.
|3.46||The policies of the Plan support the principle of employment uses in
the countryside in appropriate circumstances. Possible diversification proposals
include workshops, tourist accommodation, and leisure enterprises. Overall,
the Plan gives support in principle to the diversification of agriculture,
providing that proposals meet the criteria established in the various policies
of the Plan. Policy (R)FE.5 above provides a framework for assessing relevant
proposals for agricultural diversification.
Forest of Dean District Local Plan Review, 1st Deposit Draft. July 2000
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