South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18)

Comment ID 1277
Document Section South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18) Rural Centres Land south of Court Lane Text Block View all on this section
Respondent SHandy View all by this respondent
Response Date 16 Oct 2019

Strutt & Parker acts on behalf of Linden Homes Strategic Land, promoters of land at Goldings Lane, Milborne Port. This representation contains our client’s comments on South Somerset District Council’s Local Plan Review Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18) document, September 2019.

While the Regulation 18 consultation has been described as ‘Preferred Options’, it is apparent that the consultation document is tantamount to a draft Local Plan. Specific questions on this draft Local Plan have not been presented by the Council. As a result, the comments below provide our client’s feedback and thoughts on certain parts of the Preferred Options document and, in particular, those parts that pertain to Milborne Port.

Our client’s land at Goldings Lane, Milborne Port has previously been promoted as part of the Issues and Options consultation in late 2017/early 2018 and, therefore, the Council should be aware of the site. Nevertheless, please find enclosed a location plan of the site for clarity (Dwg. No. 1228.E.001 – Existing Location Plan). The site is also referred to as E/MIPO/0003/ in the South Somerset Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (“HELAA”) 2018.

Settlement Strategy and Distribution of New Housing Growth

Linden Homes Strategic Land broadly support the Council’s strategy to guide the delivery of housing and economic growth to the more sustainable locations in South Somerset with a settlement hierarchy being established to provide a strategic approach to this objective. Our client also supports the identification of Milborne Port as a ‘Rural Centre’, where provision for development to meet local housing needs will be made, along with support being given to economic activity appropriate to thescale of the settlement.

Paragraph 5.9 of the consultation document states that “The majority of the growth outside Yeovil should be in the Market Towns and Rural Centres in order to utilize the available employment and service opportunities, minimize the infrastructure investment required across the District, and increase the level of self-containment”. It is therefore apparent that Rural Centres such as Milborne Port will play an important role in the growth and success of the district over the plan period.

However, paragraph 5.19 notes that “New housing has been delivered in the Rural Settlements [the current tier beneath Rural Centres] far in excess of what the Local Plan anticipated”. While there is no doubt that these smaller settlements have contributed towards the delivery of new housing over recent years, we are of the opinion that greater control must be placed on the scale of future housing in these less sustainable settlements because failure to do so would undermine the Council’s overarching spatial strategy and diminish the ability for the Market Towns and Rural Centres to become selfcontained and more sustainable over time. Consequently, it is considered that a greater proportion of the overall housing target for the district should be directed towards the Market Towns and Rural Centres and that Milborne Port could deliver a higher quantum of new housing than is currently proposed in the Preferred Options document.

Paragraph 5.39 acknowledges that “The rate of delivery of new homes in Yeovil has been identified as an issue in terms of maintaining a constant supply of new homes” and that “This is largely due to the fact that large urban extensions take longer to masterplan and advance through the planning application process resulting in delays in delivery”. Our client is supportive of the proposal to reduce the proportion of new housing to be delivered in Yeovil from 47% to 33%, but we reiterate that the district’s Rural Centres could contribute more than the 8% of the overall housing need that is currently proposed. An increase to 10% would still require Yeovil and the Market Towns to deliver a greater proportion of the district’s housing need, but would reduce the onus on the new category Villages and the Rural Settlements, which as we have set out above is not the most sustainable approach to accommodating future growth. An increase from 8% to 10% would represent approximately 300 additional homes for the combined Rural Centres, with Milborne Port’s apportionment increasing by around 60 new homes.

In summary, we believe that Policy SS2 (Delivering New Housing Growth) should be updated so that the Rural Centres accommodate 10% of the district’s overall housing target, with further amendments being made to the apportionment figures for the Villages and Rural Settlements. Consequently, we consider that Milborne Port is capable of accommodating 305 new homes between 2016 and 2036.

New Housing in Milborne Port

Two housing allocations have been identified for Milborne Port as part of the Preferred Options consultation document. The first is for about 110 dwellings (65 of these having already been granted outline consent) on land to the north of Wheathill Lane, and the second for about 30 dwellings on land south of Court Lane. A further 105 dwellings are already committed or have been completed in the settlement, providing a total of 245 homes during the Local Plan Review period.

As set out above, we believe that Milborne Port can accommodate an additional 60 new homes. Our client’s land north of Goldings Lane provides an excellent location for such development and could accommodate at least 60 new homes. The Council’s 2018 HELAA identifies the site (site reference E/MIPO/0003/) as having an indicative capacity for 70 dwellings and concludes that it is ‘suitable, available and achievable’ for development. The HELAA comments also set out that the site is in a “Sustainable attractive location” and is “Well located to [the] existing village”.

There are no insurmountable physical constraints present on site. The field is mainly flat and comprises open grass, bordered to the north east by a brook, and bordered to the south and west by a hedge. It is likely that the steep slope down to the brook will remain outside the developed area, contributing to a generous quantum of open space. There are no Tree Preservation Orders present on the site and the trees lining the perimeter will be retained where possible and root protection zones respected. There has been no known contamination or pollution incidents or uses on site and there are no known environmental designations affecting the site. The Environment Agency Flood Risk Map for Planning shows the part of the site that would be suitable for residential development falling within Flood Zone 1. A small portion of the site next to the River Gascoigne lies within Flood Zone 3, but due to the topography in this part of the site, it is unlikely to be included within the developed area of any potential scheme. There is no need to acquire land currently under the ownership of others to access or develop the site and no restrictive covenants exist to hinder development of the site.

Access to our clients site would also be easy to achieve from Goathill Road along the western boundary, where visibility is excellent. This access point would also be far less constrained and narrow than the access point into land south of Court Lane, allocated under Policy MP2. The site is in close proximity to the existing services and facilities within the settlement and, therefore, it should be viewed as being in a sustainable location.

The Environmental Dimension Partnership (EDP) was commissioned to prepare an Archaeology and Heritage Position Note so that Linden Homes Strategic Land could better understand any heritage constraints in and around the site. While the site incorporates a small part of the Milborne Port Conservation Area, it does not otherwise contain any designated heritage assets. While the Conservation Area and the associated listed buildings will require further assessment to support a future planning application, in the overwhelming majority of cases their settings would in no way be changed by the form of development proposed within the site. Furthermore, any potential visual change in their wider settings would be unlikely to result in any adverse impact on, harm to, or loss of significance from these designated heritage assets. The site also has low potential to contain significant archaeological remains. As a result, there are no in principlearchaeological or heritage constraints to the future development of the site. Further details can be found in the EDP Position Note that accompanies this representation.

As such, Linden Homes Strategic Land wishes to take this opportunity to reiterate to the Council that the land north of Goldings Lane, Milborne Port is a sustainable location for new residential development which would provide a valuable contribution towards the identified local housing need within and around the settlement.

The government is keen to boost the supply of new housing across the country and taking a proactive approach to the delivery of homes in sustainable locations throughout South Somerset will help achieve this. The delivery of additional homes at Milborne Port, including affordable homes, will also help address the housing affordability issue highlighted in paragraphs 2.21 and 2.36 of the Preferred Options document and allow a greater number of local residents to enter the housing market, which may in turn also help to reduce rental prices.

If the Council does not deem it necessary to allocate an additional housing site in Milborne Port, then consideration should be given to making our client’s land a reserve site. This would allow the new Local Plan to be more flexible and for the reserve site to come forward should a housing shortfall arise during the plan period.

Notwithstanding the above, it is considered that the allocation of about 30 dwellings on land south of Court Lane under Policy MP2 is unsound given that access to the site is yet to be adequately demonstrated. Court Lane is a narrow rural lane and it is noted that an outline application for 20 homes (application ref. 14/01055/OUT) has already been refused in September 2014 for five separate reasons, including that “insufficient evidence has been submitted to demonstrate that the proposed development would not cause an adverse highway impact in respect of the ability of the local highway network to satisfactorily absorb the increased traffic generated by the development”. The Council’s 2018 HELAA also highlights the site’s narrow access as a significant constraint on deliverability, stating that the panel is “Unsure if [it] can be accessed in an environmentally sensitive way [it] would require significant hedge removal”. The proposed allocation may therefore fail to constitute sustainable development and, in our view, should be removed from the Local Plan Review for this reason.

The land north of Goldings Lane, Milborne Port represents a less constrained development site and could also deliver a higher number of new homes than land at Court Lane. It is therefore submitted that our client’s land should be allocated as a more deliverable housing site.