District Local Plan Review

District-Wide Policies Index

Settlement Policies Index

Chapter 6

Built Environment

Introduction
6.1 The Forest of Dean has a rich heritage and variety of vernacular architecture, with many towns and villages retaining clear evidence of their historic and industrial past. There is also a significant archaeological legacy in the District related to the complex development of the area, particularly the industrial heritage of the southern part of the District.
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6.2 The Council has prepared (and has adopted as supplementary planning guidance) a Residential Design Guide. The Guide provides a general character description of the District which distinguishes the varying built environment of the Forest of Dean. The six areas identified comprise the Forest Core, the Commons (bordering the Wye Valley), the Wye Valley itself, the Severn Vale, the Northern Farmlands, and May Hill. The Guide provides helpful information on the typical settlement patterns to be found in these six areas, together with a description of the prevailing geology, building materials and topography. These factors, taken together, are a major influence upon the character of settlements.
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6.3 The Forest Core character area displays a singular pattern of settlements, referred to as the Forest Ring, which is a virtually continuous belt of development encircling the boundary of the ancient Royal Forest. The history of the Forest Ring is related to the exploitation of the coal and mineral outcrops which occur on the edge of the Forest. The settlement form shows a haphazard relationship of buildings and land uses related to the sporadic exploitation of the minerals, together with a history of encroachment and squatting within the old Forest boundary.
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6.4 The northern part of the District displays very different characteristics, being an open and rolling high quality agricultural landscape, with a typical rural settlement pattern of small and generally compact villages.
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6.5 The variety of settlement character in the District is more fully described in the Residential Design Guide. It will always be important for development proposals to have regard to local character in the design of both individual buildings and groups of buildings in order to reflect a sense of place and local identity. Reference to the Design Guide will assist in achieving this objective. Local character results not only from the architectural features of individual buildings, but also from overall form and grouping, including open spaces and the public domain. In each settlement the relationship between groups of buildings and open spaces contribute to its own character, and to its setting in the landscape.
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Issues
6.6 Public consultation at the time of preparing the existing adopted Plan revealed a strong concern over the quality of new development. There was clear evidence of a public desire to ensure that new buildings should be in harmony with existing development and their surroundings in terms of density, massing and the details of design and materials. The public response to the successive stages of the Local Plan Review has maintained this concern to ensure a high standard and quality of built environment.
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6.7 The revised PPG 1: General Policy and Principles (1997) stresses that new buildings and their curtilages can have a significant effect on the character and quality of an area, and that both urban design and the design of individual buildings are material considerations in assessing development proposals. PPG1 advises Local Planning Authorities to reject poor designs, particularly where such decisions are supported by clear Plan policies or supplementary design guidance which has been subject to public consultation and formally adopted. PPG1 notes that it is proper to reinforce local distinctiveness.
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6.8 The policies of the adopted Local Plan have proved effective in regulating new development with respect to issues such as in-fill development and the protection of open spaces and settlement form. There remained a concern over design however, which led the Council to prepare the Residential Design Guide in 1999.
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6.9 An issue for the Plan is to ensure that the principles of the Design Guide are incorporated into new development proposals with the aim of securing a high standard and quality of building which is in sympathy with local character and identity. The Design Guide will be placed on deposit with the Local Plan and, following adoption of the Local Plan, will comprise supplementary planning guidance with respect to design issues associated with new development proposals.
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6.10 A further issue for the Plan is to provide proper protection for existing open spaces within settlements and to ensure new development adequately provides for play space and amenity space. Open spaces undoubtedly make a significant contribution to settlement form and character, and to the quality of life and amenity of residents.
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6.11 . Where possible development should be directed to vacant or under-used land and buildings in preference to the use of greenfield sites. Such an approach not only protects a non-renewable resource but can also bring direct benefits to the built environment through re-investment and improvements to land and buildings which have suffered from neglect or dereliction. The Local Plan will encourage such an approach, specifically through policy (R)F.Strategy 3, and related Plan policies
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6.12 The Local Plan must have regard to the principles of sustainable development with respect to new building. There is the opportunity at the design stage to incorporate energy efficiency features into new development which can reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, and this will be encouraged. There is also the opportunity to incorporate design measures for the efficient use of water, for example the collection of roof water for non-potable purposes such as toilet flushing. Other Plan policies will consider related sustainability issues, such as location, density, choice of modes of access and the impacts of development upon natural resources including landscape, wildlife and water.
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Strategic Framework
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6.13 The Plan sets out the importance of good design, both in terms of individual buildings and a wider view of urban design. This approach will be supported by supplementary planning guidance in the form of the Residential Design Guide. The Plan policies will also emphasise the importance of retaining the existing qualities of settlement form, character and setting. The importance of considering energy conservation as part of design will also be stressed, together with the need to minimise the impact of the development upon its surroundings in terms of mitigation measures to deal with for example surface water disposal and wastes. The need for properly planned infrastructure is an integral element of new development.
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6.14 Open areas also are an important feature of urban design, and the Plan will protect existing important open spaces as well as seeking to secure both play and amenity space as an integral part of new development. Supplementary planning guidance on open space provision will be placed on deposit with the Plan.
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6.15 Existing buildings provide an important opportunity for re-use to accommodate new development. Proposals for building re-use frequently came forward within settlements. They will be assessed against the policies in the Plan, particularly with respect to the built environment and the strategy for re-using land and buildings where possible. In the open countryside the Plan will seek to accommodate new uses within existing buildings wherever possible, in order to reduce the need for new building in the countryside.

Objectives

  1. To conserve and enhance the physical environment and character of settlements

  2. To ensure a high standard of layout and design in new development

  3. To promote the re-use of vacant or under-used land and buildings

  4. To promote energy conservation in new building and the minimisation of environmental impacts arising from development

  5. To ensure new development makes best use of existing infrastructure.

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Policies and Proposals
Design of Development
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(R)FBE.1
The design and layout of new development will be required to be compatible with its surroundings with respect to the character, building design, materials, scale, density and mass of existing development and the character of the surrounding landscape and land uses. Proposals must also:
  1. Safeguard the amenities of adjoining properties and of the general location
  2. Provide adequate access, parking manoeuvering and amenity space
  3. Provide convenient, safe and attractive access for pedestrians and cyclists, and where appropriate for public transport
  4. Provide or safeguard boundary walls, fences and hedges which compliment the existing character of the area
  5. Retain any features of the development site which appear worthy of conservation
  6. Minimise the impact of lighting upon the surrounding area.

Where development proposes the alteration or extension of existing buildings the proposal should, in addition to the above respect the scale, style and character of the original buildings and their surroundings and use matching or complementary materials.

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6.16 Ensuring quality in new development starts from a considered evaluation of the local characteristics which give a sense of place and identity. The Council=s Design Guide identifies six areas of the District with differing characteristics of geology, topography and settlement forms. In addition it identifies four broad settlement forms. An appreciation of these characteristics at the outset will assist in ensuring that development proposals are compatible with their surroundings.
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6.17 Thereafter an evaluation of the site setting and its characteristics will further assist in preparing a development concept which pays regard to the criteria set out in the above policy.
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6.18 The criteria in Policy (R)FBE.1 are those which are standard planning considerations in assessing development proposals. Applicants for planning consent should give consideration to the above criteria and to the Council=s Design Guide in preparing proposals.
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6.19 The Residential Design Guide will be placed on deposit with the Local Plan and will form Supplementary Planning Guidance to the Local Plan.
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Infrastructure Provision
(R)FBE.2

Proposals for development will be required to make satisfactory provision for the infrastructure required to enable the development to proceed, including power and water supply, water and sewage disposal, surface water disposal, transport and movement and other essential services.

Where existing infrastructure has insufficient capacity or is otherwise inadequate to provide for the development then development will not be permitted unless:

  1. Appropriate arrangements are made to provide sufficient capacity or remedy the deficiency; or
  2. The development is phased to match planned infrastructure provision.

In all cases proposals must minimise the environmental impacts arising from the provision of infrastructure.

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6.20 The Plan strategy provides in policy (R)F.Strategy 2 that development should be located so as to make best use of existing or planned infrastructure and services. The proposals in the Plan reinforce this strategy by concentrating development in the towns and larger villages, where there has been the largest investment in infrastructure, and where spare capacity exists or can be economically provided.
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6.21 Satisfactory arrangements for essential infrastructure provision are a prerequisite for development to proceed. Where there is insufficient capacity or a deficiency in existing infrastructure then development is unlikely to be able to proceed unless the situation is redressed. Examples may be the need to reinforce a water supply system or remedy a highway deficiency. Planning permission may be conditional upon satisfactory arrangements being made to secure the necessary provision. There may need to be an agreement for the development to contribute to the costs of such provision, particularly where the need being addressed arises directly from the impact of the development proposed. In order to manage water resources on a sustainable basis development will need to be located where adequate resources already exist or where new provision can be made without detriment to existing users or the natural environment. The proliferation of small package treatment plants and septic tanks will be discouraged because of the risk of pollution of the water environment.
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6.22 It may be appropriate to phase a planning consent to match a planned timetable for infrastructure provision, for example the planned increase in the capacity of a water treatment works.
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6.23 There is increasing awareness that infrastructure can be planned and provided to minimise environmental impacts. The provision of sustainable surface water drainage systems for example can help attenuate run off and avoid the need for engineering works to water courses. The objective in such cases would be to retain and improve the natural habitats of water courses rather than alter them to accommodate increased surface water flows.
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Energy Conservation
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(R)FBE.3

The design and layout of new development will be required to incorporate energy conservation measures by:

  1. Utilising passive energy saving through the orientation of buildings and the size and positioning of windows and other openings
  2. Providing shelter belts where appropriate
  3. Providing for pedestrian, cycling and public transport use
  4. Utilising locally sourced materials where possible.

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6.24 The above policy encourages new development proposals to consider the issue of energy conservation at the design stage. In order to accord with the principles of sustainable development, new buildings should seek to achieve high levels of building energy efficiency. This may be achieved for example through orientation to permit solar access for as many buildings as the constraints of the site allow and for the main glazed facades to maximise useful solar gains and minimise heat loss. At the design stage of residential development the buildings may be orientated so that the main habitable rooms are located on the south side and staircases, bathrooms, and kitchens are located on the north side of buildings so houses benefit from solar gain. In addition new development should use as high a proportion of locally sourced (especially reused) materials as local availability allows.
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6.25 Good practice guidelines for energy conservation in new homes are available through the National Home Energy Rating scheme (NHER). The Council will have regard to this advice in assessing residential development proposals and may seek from a developer a statement of the anticipated energy performance of a proposed scheme to assess against the NHER ratings.
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6.26 On the larger housing sites allocated in this Plan the Council will consult with the developer on the potential for incorporating additional energy conservation measures into the development, such as small-scale combined heat and power provision, or the use of alternatives such as solar, wind or water power.
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Flood Risk and Development
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(R)FBE.4

Proposals for development will not be permitted where the development would:

  1. Itself be at risk from flooding or increase the risk of flooding
  2. Increase the risk of flooding elsewhere
  3. Require protection from flooding
  4. Reduce the capacity of the flood plain
  5. Impede the flow of flood water
  6. Affect the integrity of tidal or fluvial defences
  7. Raise the water table
  8. Increase river channel instability
  9. Damage wildlife habitats
  10. Cause unacceptable silt deposition
  11. Prevent proper maintenance of a watercourse

Exceptions will be made only where proposals incorporate satisfactory measures to provide suitable protection, attenuation or mitigation with respect to the matters identified in this policy, and which are environmentally acceptable

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6.27 Flood plains and areas of low lying land adjacent to watercourses provide storage and conveyance capacity to floodwater by flooding under certain conditions. Development can reduce the capacity of the flood plain, impede the flow of water and increase the risk of flooding elsewhere. The development itself can also lead to increased surface water run off, which can exacerbate flooding and drainage problems beyond the floodplain.
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6.28 The Council will consult with the Environment Agency about proposed development in their defined "Areas Liable to Flood". Within other areas, development which would result in or increase the risk of flooding may be permitted subject to certain conditions. The Council must be satisfied that development proposals within flood risk areas incorporate mitigation measures which are themselves environmentally acceptable. Developers should have regard to PPG.25: Development and Flood Risk and the Environment Agency's "Policy and Practice for the Protection of Flood Plains". Developers will also be expected to meet appropriate costs, through Section 106 Legal Agreements, for providing any appropriate measures to mitigate the effects of water discharge, surface water drainage impact and providing long term management.
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6.29 Developers should always seek the advice and, when required, consent of the Environment Agency before any works are carried out around and affecting watercourses. It should be noted that the Environment Agency will require a minimum open maintenance strip alongside water courses for maintenance purposes, which may need to be of greater width where floodplain, wildlife habitat or conservation factors so require.
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Non Residential Re-Use of Buildings in the Countryside
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(R)FBE.5

Proposals for the re-use of existing buildings in the countryside for industrial, commercial, tourism, recreational or community uses will be permitted where:

  1. The form, bulk and general design of the building is in keeping with its surroundings and its setting within the landscape
  2. The nature and scale of the proposed use will not have a detrimental impact on the landscape and amenity of its surroundings
  3. The building is of permanent and substantial construction, and is structurally sound and capable of conversion without major or complete reconstruction
  4. The building is reasonably capable of accommodating the proposed development without the need for substantial alteration or addition or ancillary buildings or uses which individually or taken together would adversely affect the appearance of the building or have a detrimental impact on the surrounding area
  5. The vehicular movements associated with the proposed use can be safely accommodated on the highway network and will not be detrimental to the rural character of the area.

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6.30 It is appropriate to support in principle the re-use and conversion of buildings in the countryside where they can be put to beneficial uses and support the rural economy. In some cases this may lead to the retention of buildings which are attractive features in the countryside. In other cases, even though buildings may be modern or have been designed for a relatively short life, they should not be precluded from consideration for re-use.
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6.31 However, because of their location in the countryside it will always be relevant to assess the impact of the proposed development upon its surroundings. A primary consideration should be whether the building can reasonably be adapted for the proposed use. Evidence of the need for significant structural works, adaptations or extensions, or the use of surrounding land for ancillary purposes may suggest that the proposed development is inappropriate for the building concerned.
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6.32 The countryside location also gives rise to a need for assessing whether the proposal is acceptable in terms of its impact on its surroundings, particularly in terms of the nature and scale of the development proposed and traffic implications. Policies (R)FNE.1 and (R)FT.2 of the Plan Review provide further guidance on the issues to be considered, together with policy (R)F.Strategy 2 concerned with the sustainability of development. With respect to the latter policy it will be relevant to consider the need for introducing appropriate measures to minimise the energy, water and waste demands of the proposal to mitigate the environmental impact.
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Residential Re-Use of Buildings in the Countryside
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(R)FBE.6

Proposals for the re-use of existing buildings in the countryside for residential purposes will only be permitted where:

  1. Every reasonable attempt has been made over an extended period to secure a suitable re-use within the terms of policy (R)FBE.5 and there is no reasonable prospect that such a re-use could be secured over a further period; and
  2. The building is worthy of retention because of the contribution it makes to the amenity of its surroundings in terms of design, visual impact, or its historic or cultural merit; and
  3. Early action is required to safeguard the continuing integrity of the building; and
  4. The proposal complies with criteria 1 to 5 inclusive of policy (R)FBE.5.

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6.33 Policy (R)FBE.5 provides for a wide range of potential non-residential new uses for existing rural buildings. The residential use of such buildings will only be considered where clear evidence is provided that such alternative uses have been actively sought, without success, over an extended period. Such a period might be at least two years. Notwithstanding such effort, if there is no immediate risk that the building will fall into substantial disrepair then it may be appropriate to refuse planning consent to enable a further period to elapse where an appropriate alternative use can be sought.
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6.34 In any event, planning policy does not encourage new residential development in the open countryside, particularly where an up to date Local Plan makes appropriate provision by policies and proposals for necessary housing provision, including affordable housing. The mere existence of a rural building cannot in itself be a conclusive argument for a residential re-use, even if an appropriate alternative use cannot immediately be found. However, the above policy does provide for an exception to be made where the building is worthy of retention, and some action is required in the short term to secure the integrity of the building where structural problems, weather penetration or other cause is likely to lead to significant deterioration, and it is unlikely that such action will be implemented or can be achieved by other means through existing legislation.
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Protection of Open Areas
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(R)FBE.7

Development within a settlement will not be permitted on any open area which makes an important contribution to the form, character and setting of that settlement, and which is identified as such on the Proposals Map Insets, unless, by virtue of its scale and character, the particular form of development proposed would not unacceptably detract from the character of the settlement, its form and setting, local amenity, or the quality of the existing environment.

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6.35 Within each and every settlement there are open areas of varying types which make a positive contribution to the form and character of the settlement. This is particularly evident in those settlements located in and around the Statutory Forest boundary. Their value may be in the form of informal recreational space, their contribution to local amenity by providing the relationship between open and developed areas or the setting for buildings, in achieving pleasing views, or in links with the countryside. These open areas, which are referred to in this policy, may include forest waste, public open space used for leisure, recreation or amenity purposes, private open space used for similar purposes, land used for agricultural or horticultural purposes, enclosed open areas within the settlement, forestry land, watercourse corridors ,or other incidental open areas (including privately owned land to which the public have no access) which themselves, or with other spaces, contribute to the form, character or layout of a settlement.
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6.36 This Policy is particularly appropriate to the Forest Ring of nearly continuous settlements in the south Forest which developed initially around the boundary of the former Royal Forest. These settlements grew rapidly during the subsequent exploitation of the coal and mineral outcrop. They have a distinct character and appearance which results from the interweaving of housing and other development with forest waste and other forms of open land, including a typical pattern of small enclosures for keeping livestock as part of a former subsistence economy.
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6.37 Many of these settlements have an industrial feel and are characterised by their haphazard and amorphous form, much influenced by a process of squatting and encroachment onto Crown land. Individually these open areas, which are of varying sizes and irregular shapes, make their own important contribution but cumulatively they are an outstanding feature of the Forest Ring settlements. It is the overall effect of the nature and variety of the open spaces within these settlements, the close relationship with the Forest, together with the widespread use in older buildings of local materials and vernacular design that produces a distinct and particular character with strong historic and cultural associations which is worthy of retention in its own right.
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6.38 Outside the Forest Ring all other settlements also contain important open areas, including such traditional features as churchyards and village greens. The above policy is of equal relevance to open areas within settlements throughout the District.
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6.39 The intrinsic value of such open areas can often be readily recognised, and they should be offered protection from development which would detract from the quality of the existing environment. The areas concerned have been identified against the attributes listed below. Because of their nature all of the sites will not possess all of the following attributes but all will show at least four in that they:
  1. Are located within defined settlement boundaries (with the exception of a very few areas that make a definite contribution to the form and setting of the settlement but adjoin the settlement boundary)
  2. Are visible from a footpath or highway, or from a group of properties
  3. Make a positive contribution to the amenity of the locality
  4. Have some form of public access
  5. Contain traditional features which it is considered desirable to protect in the interest of safeguarding the form and character of the settlement concerned, for example churchyards, village greens etc
  6. Are characteristic open features which are part of the local character of the area, for example small enclosed fields in Forest Ring settlements or areas of forest waste
  7. Are groups of small areas that together contribute to the form and character of the settlement concerned, including extensive verges to highways.

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6.40 The smaller settlements in the District do not have Inset Maps prepared for them, and therefore do not have important open areas shown on the Proposals Map. However, these settlements are considered to be part of the open countryside where new development will not normally be expected to take place.
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Protection of Forest Waste
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(R)FBE.8

The change of use of forest waste will not be permitted where it would detract from the amenity, or the recreational, environmental or historic value, or the integrity of the area of forest waste concerned.

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6.41 The process of encroachment and squatting into the Crown Forest, as described in the preceding paragraphs, has produced a pattern of patches of forest waste within settlements, and also frequently a margin of such forest waste between a settlement and the operational forest. Many areas of forest waste are identified on the settlement Inset Maps as important open areas, (R)FBE.7. However, there are also important areas of forest waste lying outside defined settlement boundaries and in settlements which do not have Inset Maps.
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6.42 They form open spaces within and around settlements over which the public frequently gain access. These areas of forest waste add interest and a particular character to settlements, provide recreational space, and add greatly to the amenity of adjoining developed areas, as well as reflecting the heritage of the area. They are often attractive in their own right where they are grassed areas maintained by sheep grazing, or where they support a tree cover of amenity value. Areas of forest waste are susceptible to loss through gradual incorporation into the curtilages of adjoining developed sites. For the reasons quoted above, proposals to change the use of forest waste will not be permitted where it is considered that they are of amenity, recreational environmental or historical value to the settlement, or the immediate surroundings.
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6.43 In cases where the District Council are prepared to consider the change of use from forest waste to residential curtilage, or to another use, they must be satisfied that the integrity of the area of forest waste is not affected by the loss of a part of the area. Thus it would be expected that the land adjoins the curtilage to which it is to be attached, and that any paths or tracks across the land are safeguarded. In all cases, the District Council will require the submission of a letter of authorisation from the Forestry Commission with any applications to purchase or change the use of forest waste. (Town and Country Planning "Crown Land Applications Regulations" 1992).
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Protection of Outdoor Recreational Space
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(R)FBE.9
Development which would lead to the loss of public open space or private outdoor recreational open space and facilities will not be permitted. Exceptions may be made where:
  1. Compensatory provision is made which offers a similar or improved range of facilities within safe and convenient reach of anticipated users
  2. It is evident that there is no over-riding community need for all or part of the existing open space and facilities at the present time and in the forseeable future.
6.44 Recreational open space such as playing fields, tennis courts, public parks, bowling greens, or allotments provide a direct benefit to the community in satisfying needs for outdoor sport and leisure pursuits. It can also provide other very significant benefits as an open space within an otherwise developed area, thereby contributing to the quality of the local environment. Proposals which would lead to the loss of such space will not be permitted where there is, or would be, a deficiency in accessible open space usable by the local population. Other policies of the Plan may also be relevant, particularly (R)FBE.7 concerned with the value of open areas to the built environment and local amenity.
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6.45 There will be circumstances in which it is acceptable to permit development of such open spaces. These include where alternative appropriate provision can be made, or where it is evident that the need for the existing provision is not a pressing community concern currently or for the foreseeable future.
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Play Space Standards
(R)FBE.10
The overall standard of recreational open space provision required to meet the needs of the people of the District is 2.4 hectares per 1,000 population. Except where the demography of the local population is substantially different from the norm, the Council will seek to ensure that this area is provided in the following proportions:
  • Children's Play Space: 0.8 hectares of Play Areas
  • Youth/Adult Use: 1.6 hectares of Pitches and Sports Facilities

In assessing the appropriate provision of recreational open space for a new housing development a ratio of 2.5 persons per dwelling will be used to arrive at a starting point for calculating the area needed.

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Play Space Provision
(R)FBE.11
Applications for residential development incolving a site of 0.4 Ha (1 Acre) or larger, or ten dwellings or more, whichever is less, will be required to include recreational open space on the site based on the standards set out in Policy (R)FBE.10 or to include proposals which will enable a satisfactory alternative provision to be made nearby.

Where it is proposed to make provision other than on the site the Council will seek arrangements to secure the alternative provision deemed necessary.

Factors material in assessing the level and acceptability of recreational open space provision for any new housing will include:

  1. The adequacy of the existing level of open space provision in the locality in relation to the standard set out in Policy (R)FBE.10
  2. The location of this open space relative to the site of the new housing proposal, and its suitability, adequacy and convenience
  3. The expected open space needs of those envisaged to be resident on the proposed development, having regard to the types of dwellings proposed and marketing considerations.
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6.46 The provision of recreational open space is an important consideration when determining proposals for residential development. The need for such facilities is widely recognised, and will be required for developments of ten dwellings or more or on sites of 0.4ha or larger. PPG.17 states that such facilities Acan form an important component@ of development proposals and suggests it may be appropriate for local planning authorities to enter in to planning obligations to secure provision of these facilities. Many communities in the District fall below the standards of provision provided for in policy (R)FBE.10.
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6.47 The Council has prepared supplementary planning guidance with respect to the provision, design, layout, equipping and maintenance of play areas. This guidance should be referred to in determining the play area provision to be made in relation to a development. The guidance will be placed on deposit with the Local Plan for subsequent adoption as supplementary planning guidance.
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6.48 The Council will be prepared to adopt the play areas provided if required, subject to agreement on a suitable commuted sum to provide for future maintenance costs.
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Crime Prevention
(R)FBE.12
The layout and design of new development or alterations to existing buildings should take account of the importance of deterring crime and should incorporate feayures to achieve this objective.
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6.49 Designing out crime at the planning stage is a comparatively recent concept in crime prevention, but growing evidence suggests that security can be incorporated into the design and layout of a development.
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6.50 Town centres and some housing developments may be perceived as unsafe places to be, especially after dark. The introduction of additional uses, including particularly residential uses, helps to increase the number of people around and lessen the fears of being alone and unseen. Crime on residential estates is perceived to be increasing with dangers for children and threats to personal property.
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6.51 Although building design is an important aspect in crime prevention the external environment can also contribute to the security of those who live or work in an area. Design and layout can be used to help deny opportunities for criminals and to allow control and supervision of buildings and spaces around.
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6.52 The District Council carries out regular consultations with specialist crime prevention officers in an effort to ensure that schemes take account of crime prevention in their design and layout. The Gloucestershire County Police offer advice through their Police Architectural Liaison Service and any developer involved in a large sale project is recommended to seek their advice on this important aspect of design. A AManual of Guidance@ giving practical guidance and advice is available from them. In addition the Council=s residential Design Guide provides advice and guidance.
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Advertisements and Signs
(R)FBE.13
The display of an advertisement will be permitted where the proposed advertisement meets the following criteria:
  1. It is integral to the use, building or location which it promotes
  2. It is sympathetic in style, siting, materials, location, number and design and where appropriate, illumination, to the building or location on which it is displayed, and to existing signs
  3. It does not prejudice public safety.
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6.53 The display of advertisements and signs is subject to detailed regulations. Signs vary greatly in their function and purpose and in the impact they have on their surroundings. Many parts of the District are particularly sensitive to potential environmental intrusions and the effect of signs and advertisements can be significant in these circumstances. The above policy will operate to control the potential proliferation of signs, and limit their display to the minimum required. The design and positioning of signs should be sensitive to the character of the site in order to minimise any adverse impact, whilst still performing their essential purpose. A large part of the Wye Valley AONB is an Area of Special Control where stricter regulations apply because visual amenity is a particularly important consideration in the outstanding landscape quality. Advertisements and signs can have a major impact upon Conservation Areas and need to be carefully controlled to avoid any adverse impact on these important areas.
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6.54 In addition, shop fronts can be adversely affected by unsympathetic signs, and the cumulative impact on town centres can be detrimental. The Council has prepared supplementary planning guidance on Shop Front Design to assist in determining applications. This guidance will be placed on deposit with the Local Plan for subsequent adoption.
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Disabled Access and Mobility
(R)FBE.14
Proposals for development should provide for the needs of the disabled. In the case of buildings used by the public proposals must include provision for access, parking, toilet facilities and internal circulation appropriate to the needs of disabled users.
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6.55 The welfare of the disabled can be significantly affected by the design and layout of new developments. The District Council will seek to ensure that new development, public open spaces and extensions to existing buildings, where the public have access, should facilitate their use by people with disabilities. Particular attention will be placed upon access to buildings. Simple features such as textured pavement surfaces, dropped kerbs and ramps should be provided, along with appropriate and convenient car parking facilities. The Building Control Section of the District Council will seek to control the physical layout and finishes of buildings to accommodate the needs of disabled people by implementing Part M of the Building Regulations, 1991.
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Renewable Energy Development
(R)FBE.15
Proposals for development which enable the utilisation of renewable energy sources will be permitted where they do not have an unacceptable impact on any of the following:
  1. The landscape, particularly in areas identified as of landscape importance
  2. The undeveloped coastal zone
  3. Areas or buildings identified as of architectural or historic interest
  4. The flora or fauna of an area, particularly in areas designated as of nature conservation importance
  5. The amenity of adjoining occupiers of land by reason of noise, traffic, visual or other disturbance.
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6.56 PPG.22: Renewable Energy stresses the national importance of developing sources of renewable energy to contribute to the national economy and to the limitation of greenhouse gas emissions. The Council, through its Energy Agency, has produced an analysis of renewable energy potential in the Forest of Dean. The burning of wood bio-mass offers the greatest potential.
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6.57 Where proper consideration is given to the location and environmental impact of renewable energy installations then such development will be permitted.
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Telecommunications Development
(R)FBE.16
Proposals for telecommunications development will be permitted where:
  1. The proposed siting, design and landscaping minimises visual impact particularly in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the undeveloped Coastal Zone, the Special Landscape Area, Conservation Areas and in the vicinity of Listed buildings; and
  2. The proposal utilises existing structures where this does not compromise operational efficiency.
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6.58 Government advice identifies the need to provide for continuing investment and development in telecommunications. The above policy acknowledges this guidance while identifying the need to have full regard for the issues of siting, design and landscaping to minimise the impact of the proposal. Wherever possible new proposals should share existing structures to avoid the need for additional potentially intrusive features.
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Proposals for Electrical Power Lines
(R)FBE.17
Proposals for local electrical power lines should be placed underground wherever possible or upon wooden poles following existing landscape features such as hedgerows and be positioned so as to avoid undue impact upon the landscape.
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6.59 The installation of electricity poles and pylons, and the associated power lines, can have a significant visual impact upon the environment. Wherever possible cables should be laid underground. Where overground lines are to be provided they must be routed so as to minimise their visual impact.
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Development Near Sewage Treatment Works
(R)FBE.18
Development involving human occupation will not be permitted in the vicinity of a seage treatments works where the occupants would be likely to be adversely affected by any odour, noise, fly problem or visual amenity problem arising from the works. An exception may be made where the proposed occupancy is of a limited or periodic nature.
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6.60 The operation of sewage treatment works may naturally give rise to problems of odour or noise or other occasional problems which could be a nuisance to surrounding development if located too close to the works. Development involving human occupation will not be permitted within close proximity therefore, particularly having regard to the prevailing wind direction. The Council will consult with the operator of the works to determine the appropriate "cordon sanitaire" within which development should be restricted. Proposals which do not involve human occupation, or only periodic occupation (such as use of land for sport), may be permitted having regard to the extent of the likely impact of any nuisance arising from the sewage works.
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Contaminated and Unstable Land
(R)FBE.19
Proposals for development on land which is reasonably considered to contain contamination or to be unstable will not be permitted except where the proposal is accompanied by an appropriate survey which identifies the nature of the contamination or instability and proposes adequate measures to ensure that there will be no unacceptable risk of pollution arising within or adjoining the site as a result of the development, or to stabilise the site. Where such measures are proposed and agreed, they will be required to be implemented in an agreed programme in relation to the commencement of development.
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6.61 Government advice on pollution and land instability is set out in PPG 23: Planning and Pollution Control and PPG14: Development on Unstable Land. There is also relevant legislation, particularly in the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The effect of the above is to provide a framework to ensure that sites known to be contaminated or unstable, or reasonably considered to be so, should be the subject of investigation to establish the nature of any risks and that development proposals should be accompanied by appropriate remedial and mitigation measures to deal with any problems identified. Any remediation measures required should be carried out in full prior to development commencing.
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6.62 The long industrial history of the Forest of Dean has resulted in a large number of areas where such site investigations would be appropriate. The Council has embarked upon investigations to produce information about the location and past uses of potentially contaminated sites. Information is available locally through the Forest Enterprise Office concerning past coal working in the District.
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Environmental Pollution
(R)FBE.20
Proposals for development will not be permitted where they would give rise to environmental pollution likely to cause harm to air, water or land, or to the amenity of the surrounding area.
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6.63 The principal legislation concerned with environmental pollution includes the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Water Resources Act 1991, Water Industries Act, 1991 and the Environmental Act 1995. A system of regulation and licensing under these and other provisions serves to control pollution of the environment, defined in the above 1990 Act as "the release (into any environmental medium) from any process of substances which are capable of causing harm to man or any other living organisms supported by the environment".
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6.64 The planning and pollution control systems are separate but complementary. The planning system should not seek to duplicate the controls which are the statutory responsibility of other bodies, such as the Environment Agency. Applications for development must be judged on the basis that the pollution control regimes will be properly applied and enforced.
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6.65 However, it is proper to also consider the potential effects of releases from a proposed development on the wider use of land. In this context the planning system can have a wider definition of harm than the EPA (1990), extending to unsightly development and loss of amenity in the wider sense (paragraph 1.35 of PPG.23 : Planning and Pollution Control). Harm in the context of the EPA (1990) includes in the case of man, offence caused to any of his senses or harm to his property. Harm would include harm caused by offensive smells. (Paragraph 1.14 of PPG.23).
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6.66 The above PPG identifies the following matters as likely to be material considerations in the context of this policy:
  • Location
  • Impact on amenity

  • Possible impact on other uses of land

  • Prevention of nuisance

  • Need and feasibility of land restoration.

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6.67 The Council will liaise with the appropriate pollution control bodies to locate and control development to mitigate environmental impacts arising from potential sources of pollution.
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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