Chapter Eight: Housing
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8.1 In March 2000 the government published revised advice on planning for housing in Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 (PPG3). It emphasises that everyone should have the opportunity of a decent home and, so far as possible, a choice of housing. It aims for the housing requirements of the whole community to be met with wider housing choice and a better mix of size, type and location of housing.
8.2 Sustainable development is a key theme in the advice. This is to be achieved in housing development primarily through the introduction of a sequential test considering sites in the following order and with phased release of sites to reflect this order:
The Norfolk Structure Plan also reflects these principles. The Urban White Paper provides support for this approach and for measures which will assist in bringing brownfield sites forward for development.
8.3 Norwich is the major urban growth opportunity within Norfolk and the great majority of the plan area is thus in one of the first categories – urban or edge of urban area – and will therefore take priority in the sequential test. In the City Council’s view, the objectives of this Plan (with its sustainable development emphasis) and of the current government advice in PPG3 mean that housing development within the Norwich urban area should be maximised. Thus, if the City exceeds its target requirements under the Structure Plan, the rate and location of development in the surrounding parts of the Norwich Policy Area should be limited, rather than constraining the allocation in the City.
8.4 The City Council has followed this approach in order to achieve the maximum potential housing allocation in the urban area. It has undertaken a Housing Capacity Study, which was published in September 2000 and was the subject of consultation. This looked widely, but realistically, at potential sites which may come forward for housing development over the 11-year period to the end date of this Plan. It included a review of opportunities for conversion of existing offices in the centre of Norwich. The Study and the consultation response formed the basis for the allocation of most sites for housing development in this Plan. The Capacity Study was updated (2002) to reflect the additional sites, which were included in the Second Deposit Version of the Plan and to take account of the government guidance on preparing Urban Capacity Studies in considering other potential sources of housing supply. The figures in the plan have now been updated to April 2004 (the latest Housing Land Monitor before adoption).
8.5 Housing is also recognised in this Plan as a key element in achieving the regeneration of the City, particularly the inner areas and City Centre. New development can contribute effectively in this role and stimulate an appropriate mix of uses. The quality of such development is, therefore, vital to the overall renaissance of the City and to maintaining the quality and attractiveness of its built environment.
8.6 The provision of housing and its maintenance and improvement relate primarily to the National Sustainable Development objective of social progress to meet the needs of everyone. In terms of the Local Plan Objectives this relates to sustainable long-term regeneration (SOBJ2), a healthy environment (SOBJ4) and equality of opportunity (SOBJ5).
Main Issues Arising from Consultation
8.7 The main comments on housing issues in the consultation stage (1999) related to the individual sites. With regard to the general comments on housing issues, the main ones were:
8.8 A number of comments were made about the sites identified in the subsequent consultation on the Housing Capacity Study. The overall response was favourable to the concept of the study and the methodology used. In particular, it was welcomed as showing the potential for urban brownfield sites to contribute substantially to the housing supply for the City over the next ten years.
Need for New Housing
Origins and Strategic Background
8.9 Norwich was the first city in East Anglia to experience major growth in industrial employment and thus to develop affordable housing for workers in the form of small terraced streets and later (in the early 20th century) of large Council estates. The result today is that the City retains one of the highest percentages of Council owned dwellings in the Eastern Region at 29%, despite the effects of two decades of ‘Right to Buy’ sales. In addition, there are considerable areas of privately owned terraced housing dating from the late 19th or early 20th century. Both these sectors of the market are now in need of major improvements, although some areas have already experienced significant investment to upgrade their housing stock (both Council and private).
8.10 The total quantity of housing required during the Plan period is set by the Norfolk Structure Plan based upon projections of population change, migration to the County, future household structure and policy assumptions in the Plan. One of the main determinants of household growth in the City itself is the reduction in average household size from 2.22 persons per household in 1993 to 2.03 by 2011. For the City as a whole this means that, without any substantial increase in population over the period, significant numbers of new dwellings are required.
8.11 Another factor taken into account in setting the Structure Plan requirement is the greater accessibility of housing in the Norwich Policy Area (and especially within the City) to the jobs and services which people require. The Structure Plan therefore adjusted the projection of past trends to take account of sustainable development principles and to direct some 1,500 more households to the Norwich Policy Area (the ‘policy based adjustment’). The Plan did not allocate any of this additional growth to Norwich itself – it was all allocated to the South Norfolk part of the Policy Area. However, it is consistent with the principle of the “policy-based adjustment” for the City to take more of the Policy Area allocation, if that is possible. This will assist the Urban White Paper objective “to relieve pressure for development in the countryside.”
8.12 The resulting allocation to the City is a requirement (Structure Plan policy H1) to identify provision for a further 7,400 new dwellings in the City over the period 1993 to 2011 – equivalent to 410 per annum. Table 8.2 below sets out how this will be achieved through this Plan – indeed more than achieved.
Local Issues in Norwich
8.13 The Urban White Paper acknowledges that no two places are the same and, therefore, policies need to be adapted to local circumstances. It is difficult to be certain which sites will come forward for housing development in the urban area, where there are difficult problems and issues to be resolved. However, the rate of development in Norwich has recently shown a marked upward shift with more sites under development now than at any time since the 1980s. Completion rates doubled in the year to June 2001 and again over the period to April 2004 (Housing Land Availability Report 2004). Allowance is made for the difficulties of bringing some sites forward through the ‘Fallout Rate’, which allows for some allocated and committed sites not being taken up for development over the Plan period. However, historic rates of development are not a good guide to the present situation. Monitoring of the rate of development will therefore be important, not only in terms of new house building, but also for conversions, mix of uses and assumptions about density in order to test the assumptions of the Urban Capacity Study.
8.14 The need for new housing is not solely a matter of technical projections. Norwich still has a homelessness problem. The numbers of people accepted as being homeless and in priority need has increased again significantly since 2000. The most significant problem is obtaining long-term support for homeless people once their immediate housing problems have been resolved, but there has been a recent increase in the use of temporary accommodation for homeless people, which is unsatisfactory as a general approach to the problem. The Housing Needs Survey (December 2000) demonstrates the scale of households who are inadequately housed at present and need affordable housing (paragraphs 8.21 to 8.25 below).
City-Wide Housing Policies
General Approach to Housing Development
8.15 The government’s current advice in PPG3 (2000) does not necessarily seek to maintain a five-year supply of housing sites above all other objectives. It makes it clear that it is at least as important to monitor housing provision for the choice offered in terms of size, type and tenure in relation to the needs which are to be met. Hence, policy HOU1 seeks provision of an appropriate range of types of housing, with a mix on most substantial sites. The requirement in the Structure Plan for housing in Norwich does not meet the full needs of the City for future housing – much of that need is anticipated to be provided in the adjoining Districts of Broadland and South Norfolk. If the City can provide for more of this need, however, then that would be advantageous, both in terms of provision close to the source of need and in terms of sustainable development locations.
8.16 The previous adopted Local Plan was able to rely to a large extent on the major allocated greenfield site at Bowthorpe, a large backlog of undeveloped commitments and an expectation of unidentified sites coming forward at a rate of some 120 per annum. There were, as a consequence, very few new allocations for housing development in that plan. This approach has had to be changed radically in this review. It is now assumed that
8.17 Consequently this Plan gives much greater attention to the detail of new housing allocations, than in the adopted Local Plan. This detail will need to be carefully monitored. Guidance from the (then) DETR on housing capacity studies suggests that the potential for future windfall sites arising should be assessed in detail and will probably lead to an increase in such sites coming forward, particularly in urban areas. Table 8.2 below therefore reflects the revised Urban Capacity Study (2002) in assessing these categories of supply, which equate to the Structure Plan allowance at approx. 100 dwellings per annum. There are new tax benefits for property owners in converting vacant property and other factors in the housing market point to an increase in conversions to flats and bedsits. The revised Urban Capacity Study goes into more detail on the breakdown of different types of capacity for new housing.
8.18 This Local Plan is based on the availability of land for new housing at April 2004 (the annual Housing Land Availability Monitor produced by the City Council). Table 8.1 below shows the position reached at that date in relation to the Structure Plan requirement, taking account of any new Local Plan housing allocations introduced by published Modifications between April 2004 and formal adoption of the Plan in November 2004. Table 8.2 below (left hand column) shows that, not counting sites which may have been considered through planning applications by the Council, land for an additional 3,899 dwellings is made available by this Plan (lines (e) to (n) in Table 8.2). From this figure an allowance must be made for sites which may not come forward for development during the plan period (the ‘Fallout Rate’). A graduated rate is allowed for fallout – from only 10% for those sites which have progressed to a full planning permission, to 20% where sites have been allocated, but no permission has been granted. This allows a generous margin for sites which may not come forward during the Plan period. The Plan more than achieves the requirement in the Norfolk Structure Plan (nearly 3,000 extra dwellings) with existing commitments now roughly equal to that requirement. Table 8.2 below is supported by more detailed analysis at Appendix 6.
TABLE 8.1 - HOUSING LAND REQUIREMENT, APRIL 2004
TABLE 8.2 - LOCAL PLAN HOUSING SUPPLY
8.19 Policy HOU1 provides for a total of 7,200 new dwellings, including commitments, over the whole Plan period. Of these, some 1,150 are derived from the calculations in the Urban Capacity Study (equivalent to the old ‘windfall’ assumption) (see Table 8.2). The housing land requirement and land supply calculations in Tables 8.1 and 8.2 reflect the situation at April 2004 and take account of new housing development approved and built since the base date of the Local Plan (mid 2001). The total allowance for unidentified sites over the remainder of the Plan period is reduced accordingly. Appendix 6 provides an explanation of the calculations in the Tables.
8.20 Policy HOU1 also includes a target of 66% of housing development to be provided on previously developed sites. The figures for the development detailed above show that in terms of land area, brownfield (or previously developed) sites constitute 65.5% of the area allocated or permitted. However, when translated into dwellings the Plan assumes that 75.8% of dwellings will actually be developed on brownfield land (including conversions and other estimated figures from the Urban Capacity Study assessments). Figure 8.1 shows the breakdown for each element of the land supply.
Mixed Development in City Centre
8.21 The Review has confirmed that it is important to maintain the previous policy of obtaining a mix of uses, including housing, in most developments in the City Centre. This remains a strategic objective of the Plan and has been successful over some 25 years in reversing the loss of population from the Centre. An exception has been identified for those areas where late night activities of a busy 24-hour City are concentrated (defined under policy AEC1). Otherwise appropriate sites are those of sufficient size to accommodate more than one use and where there are no environmental or amenity problems which would preclude housing. This includes commercial sites for offices or retail development.
8.22 Many of the sites identified as allocations under policies HOU8 and HOU9 include provision for an appropriate mix of uses. In these cases this policy will also work the other way round – housing development alone is not generally appropriate and there should be an element of other use within these sites. Larger schemes will be expected to include a mixture of types and sizes of dwellings. Particularly in the Centre, the Council will wish to ensure that housing includes some family homes, as well as provision for the smaller single and two person households, which are undoubtedly required to meet the kind of need identified by population projections. This policy could be assisted by the announcement in the Urban White Paper of an English Cities Fund to support investment in mixed-use developments in urban areas.
Meeting Needs for Affordable Housing
8.23 The Housing Needs Survey (2000) demonstrates that there is a need for affordable housing within the City in general and in each main sector of the City. This is a material planning consideration in determining what kind of mix of housing types should be provided on development sites. The survey demonstrates that the priority need is for further social rented housing to be provided, although it recognises a limited role for shared ownership arrangements, which offer people entry to the owner-occupied market, if their income levels allow in future. The Circular 6/98 definition of affordable housing also includes low cost market housing, although the Housing Needs Survey demonstrated that this form of affordable housing would not satisfy any of the need identified at that time. The potential role of low cost market housing will be reviewed in the future if the more urgent needs of low-income households have been substantially met.
8.24 Provision to meet the need for affordable housing will continue to be made through the sale of Council-owned land to social housing providers, as well as through other measures to encourage the conversion of vacant housing units and large dwellings into flats (see policies HOU15 and HOU19). Suitable sites are where housing is appropriate and the Council either has an interest or influence to achieve affordable housing through other partners.
8.25 Policy HOU3 is a general one supporting and promoting the Housing Strategy of the Council in meeting the housing needs of the City. It is important to recognise that the needs for affordable housing cannot be met solely through provision within private developments under policy HOU4. Indeed some needs for affordable housing have other dimensions – such as disability or incapacity of the household members, requiring special types of provision. Council owned land is an important resource in this respect and will be used strategically to support the Housing Strategy and ensure that the housing provided is affordable and meets the priority needs identified. A recent example is the support given to the provision of a new Night Shelter/ move-on hostel facility to meet the needs of the homeless and encourage ‘rough sleepers’ off the streets. Other proposals on Council owned sites are included in the site allocations under policies HOU8 to HOU12. The Council will also support schemes involving the purchase of existing properties by registered social landlords to meet specific needs.
Affordable Housing Within Private Development
8.26 The needs for affordable housing cannot all be satisfied through policy HOU3. It is necessary to seek an element of housing on private development sites to be affordable and this is consistent with the Council’s Housing Strategy (2000-2003) in its emphasis on partnership working. It also relates to that Strategy in terms of seeking a social mix of housing within neighbourhoods.
8.27 The Housing Needs Survey, carried out for the Council in Autumn 2000, concluded that there was a backlog of need for affordable housing, which could reasonably be satisfied over a five year period. This backlog amounted to 880 dwellings (or 176 per annum) over and above the normal rate of social housing provision. (For this Plan we take that normal rate to be 100 per annum, although this has fluctuated considerably over recent years). That gives a total requirement over 5 years of 1,380 dwellings, some of which will be supplied by schemes, which are already approved and under construction. Because most of that period has elapsed before the plan can fully impact on affordable housing, the target reflects a longer period of 8 years over which meeting the need is seen as more feasible.
8.28 The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions has published guidance on Housing Needs Surveys (DETR July 2000), which was followed by the Norwich survey. This survey showed that there were 3309 households living in unsuitable housing and who needed to move home to solve their housing problems. Of these households some 63.2% would be unable to rent or buy in the market, giving a need for affordable housing of 2091 dwellings. The definition of affordable housing need in the Housing Needs Survey 2000, was:
This will be updated by future Housing Needs Assessments.
8.29 On this basis policy HOU4 seeks an element of affordable housing on all housing sites above a threshold. The threshold is defined as that from the Circular 6/98 guidance – 25 dwellings, or 1 hectare. In the City Centre sites are being developed (or proposed for development) at much higher densities than this guidance assumes. It will usually be appropriate, therefore, to use the actual number of dwellings in the City Centre, rather than site size. The overall target is to remove the backlog over an 8-year period which produces a target of 1580 dwellings.
8.30 The definition of affordable housing in the Circular and in Policy HOU4 is wide. The affordable housing to be provided should meet the greatest practicable amount of the identified need. For this purpose, the survey showed that affordable rented housing would meet the greatest need and that shared ownership could meet only a very small proportion of the affordable housing need and should therefore be limited in provision. Low cost market housing was shown to meet none of the affordable housing need in Norwich, unless high subsidies were assumed. The Housing Needs Survey showed that this would need to be of the order of 50% discount at that time (but price increases since that time will tend to increase that rate).
8.31 In order to meet the targets identified, negotiation with developers for the element of social housing sought will be based on 30% as the target with a maximum of 5% of the total as shared ownership. The remaining 25% of the total would normally be affordable rented accommodation. This will be kept under review through further Housing Needs Assessments and revised Supplementary Planning Guidance from time to time. Negotiations on the level of affordable housing and on the mix of size and type of dwellings will take account of site size, suitability and the economics of provision. Targets for individual sites are set out for sites over 40 dwellings in Appendix 5, as such sites can be assessed against known site constraints. Supplementary Planning Guidance is produced and will be updated regularly to guide the application of this policy. If the target to provide for housing needs is achieved, then the basis for the policy (i.e. the Housing Needs Survey) will be reviewed and will no longer be applied, if no outstanding needs are shown.
8.32 In relation to other policies for housing, the affordable housing policy (HOU4) will apply to sites, which may come forward under policies HOU13 or HOU14 as well as allocated sites. The City Council supports the objective of PPG 3 to provide a social mix of types of housing, avoiding segregation of affordable housing – and this should apply to all sites, including any which are acquired by social housing providers. The minimum market priced housing will be adjudged against the most up to date information, including the latest Housing Needs Assessment. to further social integration, the distribution of affordable units within the site should avoid concentrations of over 25 affordable dwellings in one part of the site and locations within the site which have poor accessibility to local facilities.
Accessibility and Special Needs
8.33 In fulfilling the aims and objectives of this Plan and of the Council’s Housing Strategy, it is important that provision is made for those who have particular needs. Since the Adoption of the 1995 Local Plan, the Building Regulations (Part M) have been revised to include provision for all dwellings to be constructed so that they are accessible for disabled people visiting the house or flat. It is no longer appropriate, therefore, for the Plan to include such a policy. Nevertheless, for the significant proportion of people, who become dependent upon a wheelchair through their lifetime, such provision is inadequate, as their homes require other adaptations to accommodate their needs or they have to move to more specialist accommodation. This Plan therefore retains that relevant policy (HOU5 below) to seek to cater for such needs by ensuring that a proportion of dwellings are adaptable to the needs of disabled people.
8.34 24% of households in Norwich (1991 Census) included a person with a limiting long-term illness, many of whom have impaired mobility and will require a wheelchair at some stage in their lives. Policy HOU5 is therefore aimed at increasing the availability of housing in the private sector (as well as the public sector) which can be built or readily adapted to meet such needs. Clearly this would only apply to dwellings which are externally suitable for such needs – without steeply sloping access and not upper floor flats, for example. Supplementary Planning Guidance advises on how adaptability can be built in at minimal additional cost to the developer and specifies the proportion of dwellings and size of sites, to which the policy will apply. The proportion to be provided would be a matter for negotiation with developers, and would depend upon the sizes and types of dwellings, any exceptional costs of development and any conditions that would render the development unsuitable for disabled people to occupy.
Other Requirements for Housing Developments
8.35 Policy HOU6 seeks to co-ordinate a range of requirements that will need to be satisfied by housing developments within the City. It includes requirements specified by the County Council and other agencies.
8.36 In many cases other policies in the Local Plan spell out the circumstances and the manner in which these contributions may be required and how they will be applied. Other requirements will be subject of Supplementary Planning Guidance to explain their application. It should be noted that there may be additional requirements relating to a particular site and its surroundings, which are necessary to ensure that the development is capable of being undertaken or will meet certain other standards such as access or soil quality. There are also matters relating to the design of dwellings or layout of sites (e.g. energy efficiency under policy EP18), which are not specified here. There may also be general requirements for statutory undertakers or similar services, which are not specified here. The provision in HOU6 for enhanced library services will not apply to sites within walking distance of the City Centre (400 metres), where the new Forum opened in 2001. In other areas this requirement will arise for sites over 1 hectare (or 40 dwellings) and the County Council has set out its justification and the way in which it will be applied in Supplementary Planning Guidance. Negotiations of these contributions will take account of other exceptional costs associated with the development, in particular any due to contamination or demolition on brownfield sites. In all cases the guidance in Annex B to Circular 1/97 concerning what is necessary, relevant to planning, directly related to the proposed development, fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the proposed development and reasonable in all other respects will apply, so that contributions will only be sought where the development generates the particular requirement. Any financial contributions will be held by the City Council in an earmarked fundand expenditure from that will be monitored and reported regularly (annually). Moneys not used by the end of the agreed period will be returned to the developer.
The Location of New Housing
The Locational Principles for New Housing Development
8.37 Government guidance and the Norfolk Structure Plan now require sites for housing development to be evaluated by a sequential approach to give priority to sites which are easily accessible to jobs and services. In addition draft guidance on good practice has suggested that phasing of the release of sites should also be used. In general, those sites within the City are likely to satisfy the criteria of any sequential tests (including those in the Structure Plan). Nevertheless, additional sites coming forward (as well as those allocated) should be subject to assessment under these tests – not least in order to demonstrate their priority for development in relation to more rural sites elsewhere in the Policy Area. Developers proposing housing development on sites over 20 dwellings, which are not allocated in this Plan, will be expected to demonstrate why the site concerned should be released ahead of other sites, as phased in accordance with this policy. The threshold of 20 dwellings has been accepted as the appropriate threshold the Norwich Policy Area authorities.
8.38 Policy HOU7 implements Structure Plan policy N13. It does not, however, include the lowest priority category in that policy, which refers to sites in other settlements close to the built-up area. This category of site does not occur within the City boundary.
8.39 With regard to phasing of the release and development of sites, the Norwich Policy Area authorities intend to develop joint Supplementary Planning Guidance on how this can be implemented in a coordinated manner across the whole Policy Area, subject to appropriate policy backing for this being included in the new Regional Spatial Strategy. This approach to phasing will require regular monitoring to ensure that completion rates are being met and that the order of preference of sites (set out in HOU7) is being followed. Annual monitoring statements will set out a) completions and b) permissions by location. It is envisaged that the monitoring will take place on a financial year basis, to be published in the autumn of the same year. Three of the largest sites are proposed to be treated as strategic sites, in order to allow for the level of infrastructure investment and site clearance etc. involved. Development of these sites should be brought forward as soon as practicable and phased over a period to allow a reasonable rate of development.
Confirmation of Housing Development Commitments
8.40 The allocations identified in policy HOU8 represent those sites which already had permission at the time of Second Deposit and had all been the subject of consultation through the Housing Capacity Study or were granted permission since. In that study sites were assessed for their accessibility and appropriateness under the sequential test. The number of dwellings specified in the policy represents in most cases the number (or a near approximation) of dwellings permitted on the site. In a few cases the Urban Capacity Study (2002 version) considers that this number should be increased in accordance with government advice on densities and that is reflected here. This increase is therefore shown as an addition in Table 8.2 above, as it represents an increase on the number of dwellings permitted. There is no longer any intent to develop the sites in Bowthorpe in strict accord with the historic (1974) Bowthorpe Master Plan, to which reference was made in the adopted Local Plan, but these sites are included by reason of that (out of date) permission. For sites over 1 hectare (or 40 dwellings) a Planning Brief will be prepared in consultation with interested parties including the local community.
Housing Allocations – Mixed Use Sites
8.41 As emphasised in policy HOU2, the City Council believes that many of the identified sites should incorporate a mix of uses, rather than just new housing. It is particularly important that larger schemes include provision for appropriate employment and community facilities within the scheme, so far as possible and practicable. This policy will also contribute to ensuring that the City Centre and other centres will have an enhanced vitality as a result of development, including in the evenings and at weekends.
8.42 The allocations in Policy HOU9 have previously been subject to consultation in the Housing Capacity Study (2000) and have each been assessed for their accessibility and appropriateness under the sequential test. Each of them is intended to be developed as a mixed (or multiple) use site. For most of these sites a Planning Brief will be prepared to illustrate how the mix of uses can be achieved and can contribute to an effective social and economic vitality for the area. Appendix 5 provides an outline of the requirements identified for each site.
8.43 Whilst this policy gives a general indication of the proposed mix of uses, other Plan policies will apply to the non-housing uses on the sites. The penultimate sentence of the main policy emphasises that the developments are intended to be integrated in design – it will not be acceptable to produce proposals for a housing scheme on part of the site, leaving the remainder of the site for some unspecified future use. Specific sites are the subject of other Local Plan policies – notably the site at Botolph Street/Pitt Street/Edward Street (CC7), the Bus Station site (CC10), Norfolk and Norwich Hospital site (AEC5) and the Norwich Community Hospital site (AEC4). In each case these policies give additional guidance on the mix of uses and the way in which development should be carried out.
Housing Allocations – Potential Conversions
8.44 This Local Plan includes certain sites where existing buildings have the potential for conversion to flats or dwellings. In general it is more sustainable for existing structures to be used or adapted for new purposes if at all possible. The emphasis of this policy is therefore in favour of such conversion, before redevelopment is considered, in accordance with policy EP18.
8.45 The sites identified were considered in the Housing Capacity Study published in July 2000 but with subsequent additions to reflect potential closures of County Council old people’s homes in the City. In the cases of Reads Flour Mill and Paper Mills Yard the emphasis on conversion is partial – in each case it is the buildings of historic interest on the site, which it is intended to retain, if possible. Policy EP18 will apply to other sites which may come forward for housing use, where substantial buildings or buildings of historic interest can thus be retained within the site. Other detailed requirements for each site are set out in Appendix 5.
Housing Allocations – Linked Open Space Proposals
8.46 The sites included in Policy HOU11 are allocated for housing on the specific basis that their development can assist in providing or retaining in public use a necessary open space to serve the neighbourhood.
8.47 These proposal sites have been carefully considered in order to identify ways of meeting local deficiencies of open space and to meet the needs of the occupiers. In most cases they represent some loss of previously protected ‘Urban Greenspace’ in order to achieve the community benefit of public open space. In each case account has been taken of the supply of open space in the vicinity. The proposal for development of parts of the sites will only be acceptable if the open space benefits are achieved and the remaining open space will be strongly protected under policy SR3. In some cases where the open space area can be identified and defined now, this is included on the Proposals Map as proposed Open Space under policy SR5. In other cases the open space will be defined within the design of the development and, once created, will be subject to the protection of policy SR3 as publicly accessible open space. For most of these sites a Planning Brief will be prepared.
8.48 Policy HOU11 requires the layout of the open space element as a charge on the developer of the housing. A Planning Obligation will therefore be required to ensure that this is achieved. The management of the open space will also need to be addressed in the development proposals. This will also provide a contribution to maintenance costs for a 15-year period thereafter under policy SR4. It is accepted that, in these cases, the density of development is a factor to be considered in relation to the costs of laying out and maintenance of the open space and therefore the figures given are indicative of the appropriate density of development. Detailed requirements for each site are set out in Appendix 5.
Housing Allocations – Other
8.49 Policy HOU12 concludes the list of allocations of housing sites. These sites have also been the subject of consultation through the Housing Capacity Study or through the Deposit Version of the Plan and publication of objections thereto and have each been assessed for their accessibility and appropriateness under the Structure Plan sequential test. Each of them is allocated for housing development. For the larger sites a Planning Brief will be prepared to illustrate how the development should be achieved and to set out more fully the requirements on developers. However, Appendix 5 provides the list of relevant requirements, as far as can be specified at this stage, based on relevant policies in this Replacement Local Plan.
Housing Development: Other Proposals
8.50 In addition, further sites are likely to come forward, which have not been allocated in the Local Plan. These are allowed for in Table 8.2 above. Policy HOU13 considers the appropriateness of such new housing development.
8.51 The policy applies the criteria of PPG3 (2000) and the Norfolk Structure Plan to such housing proposals, as well as applying basic criteria concerning design, access and residential amenity. The density criterion (ii) seeks to apply the guidance in PPG3 to the Norwich situation. In general housing development in the City Centre has achieved very high densities in recent years, whilst in some other parts of the City, development has been permitted which maintained much lower density. Generally, however, the policy will seek to increase densities in a manner consistent with the character of the neighbourhood and with a high quality design for the site. In certain circumstances high density development with a high standard of design may not require private garden space – hence the reference in Criterion (iii) to inclusion of public amenity space as an alternative. Poor design that would lead to development which would appear cramped or conflict with neighbourhood amenity and character will not be acceptable. Higher density may be assisted by reducing car parking provision below the normal standards (or to zero in some cases). This is considered in the Transport Chapter (policies TRA6 and TRA9).
8.52 Criterion (iv) seeks to apply the standards used in the Urban Capacity Study to new sites which may come forward. It also relates to Structure Plan policy N13, which refers to ‘being well-served by public transport’. Since public transport accessibility in Norwich effectively means a bus route serving the City Centre, this is the criterion used in the policy. The reference to an adequate contribution to enhancement of facilities is appropriate to larger scale developments. The developer’s willingness to contribute in this way must be taken into account and used effectively, where feasible. Criterion (vii) recognises that in some areas housing development may assist in achieving other objectives, such as regeneration of historic buildings. Such enabling development should be taken into consideration alongside the difficulties often presented by such sites.
8.53 The final sentence of the policy applies the sequential approach of policy HOU7, which phases development of sites according to sustainability criteria. The detailed implementation of this clause in the policy is intended to be the subject of Supplementary Planning Guidance agreed between the Norwich Area planning authorities.
Sites with Longer Term Potential
8.54 In consulting on the Housing Capacity Study, several sites were included, which are currently still occupied by commercial businesses. Where these occupiers gave no support for their redevelopment during the Plan period and there is no other policy issue requiring redevelopment to be considered, they fall into a ‘reserved category’, which is not counted towards the present Local Plan supply of housing land. The same factors may apply in other cases where employment or other uses fall within predominantly residential areas of the City.
8.55 Redevelopment of these larger sites for housing would be of positive benefit and relate well to their surroundings. Policy HOU14 encourages this for other similar sites, where an employment use ceases and the site is surrounded by residential uses. It does not apply to areas identified or reserved for employment purposes in this Local Plan. However, because of the nature of their existing uses, there is no certainty that such sites will be brought forward during the Plan period. For that reason this is a general policy giving guidance on future use. However, where an employment use has ceased, it would generally be appropriate, if feasible, to seek to retain a smaller element of employment development within the redevelopment scheme, giving a mixed use development.
Conversion of Buildings
8.56 The City Council wishes to encourage conversion of vacant buildings, or parts of buildings to residential use. This will be particularly important in the City Centre and District and Local Centres above shops and other commercial uses. It also applies, however, to buildings elsewhere in the City, where residential use is appropriate in relation to environmental and amenity criteria. The other criteria are similar to those for conversion of premises to multiple occupation (policy HOU18), although in this instance the policy is for any conversion to residential use. An allowance is made in the Urban Capacity Study (and Table 8.2) because it is anticipated that this policy will be backed by some additional resources from grants and/or tax concessions to promote such conversions.
Changes within the Residential Stock
8.57 The vast majority of housing need is met by the use of the existing housing stock. It is important to ensure that this stock is available and suitable to meet as much of this need as possible. In addition it must be maintained and improved over time, otherwise it ceases to be attractive and may fall vacant, due to low demand. Norwich does not (at present) experience the situation where there are significant areas or sections of the housing stock which are suffering low demand, although there are small areas of Council housing, which are less easy to let, because of their particular size and environment.
8.58 Housing investment in the older stock of dwellings will be encouraged, including measures to improve the quality and environment of the existing housing stock. In particular, owners and landlords will be encouraged to improve energy conservation in their properties to reduce heat loss and provide more effective heating. To date the Council has not found it appropriate to designate Housing Renewal Areas to provide for area-wide assistance. Nevertheless other forms of grant are available to owners and landlords to encourage energy conservation measures, for example, and these have been targeted at areas or groups of occupants with particular problems.
8.59 Whilst this approach will not generally impinge on land use or development issues, nevertheless there are occasions – for example, where other uses are proposed in association with dwellings, or redevelopment of dwellings is proposed – when measures to improve existing dwellings could be relevant. The Council will seek to ensure that, in such circumstances, investment is also put into existing domestic property in the same ownership, in order to prevent its loss or it being left unused for a lengthy period.
Loss of Residential Accommodation
8.60 The loss of housing accommodation to other uses will generally be resisted. Policy HOU16 will apply where a proposal involves the complete loss of a housing unit (or units) from the site, or where there would be a significant reduction in the numbers of units upon conversion to another use. The policy allows for circumstances where redevelopment would be necessary or beneficial to provide or enhance community facilities or other benefits to the area.
Conversion of Small Terraced Houses to Multiple Occupation
8.61 One way in which the existing stock of houses can be adapted to meet changing needs is by conversion or adaptation to smaller units. The rise in house prices, the increasing numbers of single-person households, the number of students living in the City (as distinct from living in purpose built student accommodation) has lead to increased demand for flats, bedsits and other forms of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). Whilst acknowledging that this provides an essential source of housing for such households, there can be harmful effects on the character of an area and the amenity of other residents who occupy family housing. Such effects include increased noise and disturbance, caused by more intensive use and accommodation occupied mainly by young people; problems of litter and waste removal, where there is limited access to the rear of properties; parking problems caused by increased demand in areas designed for much lower car ownership levels.
8.62 The problems of multiple occupation are most severe in areas of smaller terraced housing, where there is usually only a small amount of space around the house or for on-street car parking. In addition in these small houses there is limited space to avoid problems of noise or neighbour nuisance. Hence policy HOU17 will not permit conversion of such properties to multiple occupation (flats or bedsits).
Construction of/Conversion to houses in Multiple Occupation
8.63 Policy HOU18 applies to other parts of the City, where HOU17 does not rule out conversion. It deals with proposals for new flats and bedsits and with conversions of existing larger houses to multiple occupation. Planning policy is not concerned with the detailed internal layout of HMOs, as this will be controlled under other legislation. However, it is important that development of this kind takes account of the effect on the surrounding area, particularly where it has an established residential character. That effect will be both in terms of increased density of use of the area, its streets and facilities, but also changes in the visual appearance. The particular site also needs to be evaluated for its suitability, including the relationship with the immediate neighbouring properties and the access onto the street.
8.64 Criterion (iii) seeks to ensure that new or converted HMOs have sufficient amenity space to meet the requirements of residents, including a small outdoor area for seating and play, as well as storage for outdoor equipment. Finally criterion (iv) seeks to control overall density within an area – in this case primarily because of its impact on facilities. Additionally attention is drawn to policies HBE8 and HBE9 (regarding Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) which will need to be complied with, where conversion involves a Listed Building or is in a Conservation Area.
Residential or Group Homes and Institutions
8.65 The Council has welcomed the principle of ‘Care in the Community’ and the development of more special care establishments to meet those needs for the elderly and mentally ill. Policy HOU3 includes support for such schemes. It is important to identify the right location for such accommodation, however, in order to allow for the maximum level of independent living which the residents can achieve and ensure good accessibility for visitors, as well as maintaining an appropriate environment for neighbouring residents. Such institutional provision does not count towards the total housing requirement for the City and for that reason, as well as its character, is not necessarily acceptable on sites identified for housing development.
8.66 The policy applies to residential and nursing homes and other forms of communal establishments with residential care or support on site. In terms of general location, it is important that the effect on the character of the area is assessed and that such non-residential and institutional uses do not over-dominate particular streets in residential areas. ‘Established Residential Areas’ are defined as groups of streets wherein over 90% of properties were designed as dwellings and remain predominantly in such use. The 20% proportion is a broad measure of the degree to which residential use remains predominant, derived from the previous adopted Local Plan policy. The impact on the particular property is also important and it will not normally be appropriate for such institutions to be extended out of proportion to the size of the rest of the buildings in the street. The other criteria are essential to provide for a satisfactory and functioning environment for such a home.
Other Related Issues
Sites for Travellers and Showground Operators
8.67 The Council provides a site at Swanton Road for travellers, while the site at Hooper Lane is owned by the Showman’s Guild. These two sites are intended to the meet needs of the two groups of travelling people and have generally proved satisfactory for that purpose in recent years.