What is the Local Plan?
A Local Plan sets out the vision and a spatial framework for the future development of a Council area, addressing needs and opportunities in relation to housing, the economy, community facilities and infrastructure. It also acts as a basis for safeguarding the environment, adapting to climate change and securing good design.
Why does South Tyneside need one?
Local Plans are a statutory requirement and are the starting point for guiding decisions about individual development proposals, as Local Plans (together with any Neighbourhood Plans that have been made) are used in the determination of planning applications.
What would happen if we didn't produce one?
Without an up-to-date Local Plan, South Tyneside could be subject to speculative development proposals. These proposals may result in unsustainable, unplanned, piecemeal development across the Borough without the required supporting infrastructure. There's also a risk that if we fail to produce an up-to-date Local Plan, Central Government may intervene and take over the writing of the Local Plan. This would mean we'd have no control over what development is imposed on South Tyneside.
There is a lot of talk of 'growth'. Why does South Tyneside need to grow? Can't it stay as it is?
Central Government has made it clear through National Planning Policy that they are committed to securing economic growth, and the planning system is central to delivering this growth. Therefore, we must set out strategic priorities that will deliver sustainable development, making provisions for housing, jobs, retail, leisure and other commercial development, supported by the required infrastructure.
We have an increasing population and we recognise the benefits of growth, as long as this is supported by infrastructure, such as new roads, schools and health facilities.
Why has a 20-year Plan Period been chosen?
Government planning policy requires that the Local Plan covers a minimum of 15 years from the date of adoption of the Local Plan. The proposed plan period of 2016 to 2036 meets this requirement, given that the Council anticipates the Plan will be adopted in late 2021.
The Plan Period will enable the Council to plan effectively to meet South Tyneside's long term development needs. It will also ensure that the revised Green Belt boundaries are capable of enduring over the long term.
What are the aims of South Tyneside's Local Plan?
Our vision for the Local Plan can be broadly defined into 6 key objectives:
- Building a stronger local economy
- Regenerating the Borough
- Meeting the needs for new homes
- Tackling climate change
- Delivering an environmentally sustainable Borough
- Promoting positive healthy choices
What are South Tyneside's needs over the next 20 years?
Detailed work carried out using Central Government's standard methodology for determining overall the overall housing requirement shows that South Tyneside has a need to provide7,000 new homes by 2036. We are also conscious that there is a need to meet our employment land needs, along with the required supporting infrastructure.
How will the Local Plan meet the needs of local people?
We want to make sure our residents, in particular our young people, have access to affordable housing. The draft Local Plan proposes that for housing developments of 11 dwellings and above, we will seek 18% of new homes to be affordable. This would include low-cost home ownership, based on models such as shared ownership; and a proportion of properties for rent and managed by housing associations.
It is also vital we meet the needs of an ageing population. This could include bungalows, easy access homes, sheltered/supported housing and wheelchair accessible homes.
The draft Local Plan aims to support new jobs and businesses, so that South Tyneside is an attractive place to work and invest in. And it aims to provide excellent community facilities - new schools, medical centres, shops and roads - all of which will support thriving new communities.
Why do we need to build so many houses?
Central Government identifies the process that must be followed in setting Local Plan housing targets. The proposed levels of housing need are based on a range of factors, including population and household projections, future job growth and our economic aspirations as a council.
What is the minimum number of homes needed and how is this calculated?
The minimum number of homes a Council is required to plan for is set by Central Government through its 'standard methodology'. The methodology uses the official household projections with an uplift required in areas where average house prices are not affordable for those on an average wage.
In line with Government Planning Guidance the Council has used the 2014 -based household projections for calculating the average annual increase in the number of households. This results in a minimum requirement of 350 dwellings per annum. The calculations can be viewed in the pre-publication draft Local Plan.
Why are the 2014 household projections being used to set South Tyneside's housing target, instead of the more recent 2016 projections, which are lower?
On 20 February 2019, the Government confirmed that Councils should use 2014-based household projections rather than the more recently issued 2016-based projections when calculating housing need. The Government considers that the more recent figures do not accurately represent true household formation as they have been restricted by a lack of supply of new housing. If the Council were to use 2016-based projections, the Local Plan would be considered unsound.
Why do we need so much more land for economic development?
As with housing, national planning policy requires we meet our need for economic development. The Local Plan does this through providing land for new businesses moving into South Tyneside and to enable existing businesses to grow. The amount of land reflects South Tyneside's strong past economic performance, which is predicted to continue into the future. The calculation for the land requirement is set out in the Council's Employment Land Review (2019) which has been prepared as evidence base for the Local Plan and is available on the Council's web site.
Why does development need to take place in our Green Belt? Shouldn't it all be taking place in our urban areas?
The minimum number of new homes set by Government exceeds the amount of urban and brownfield land available in South Tyneside. The Plan, therefore, proposes unlocking some areas of Green Belt land for development to meet our full need for homes and employment land.
Green Belt release can only be proposed when all urban and brownfield development options have been exhausted. The Council must fully evidence and justify the exceptional circumstances required for Green Belt release, in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (2019).
Does the Council's assessment of the urban capacity take account of all available brownfield land?
The Council has sought to maximise the capacity of the existing urban area to accommodate new development, in order to demonstrate that all reasonable options have been identified for meeting South Tyneside's development requirements before giving consideration to the release of Green Belt.
The Council has undertaken a detailed assessment of the urban capacity for new homes through its Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) and for employment through its Economic Development Needs Assessment (EDNA). It has also identified the significant additional capacity for homes and employment that can be delivered through the regeneration plans for the Town Centre.
The Council has reviewed the density assumptions it has used in its urban capacity work and has increased the densities applied to sites in and around the Town Centre.
How can we ensure that the development of brownfield land is prioritised?
It is not possible to ensure that all brownfield land is developed before any Green Belt is released. The Council needs to be able to demonstrate that it can provide the housing required for the first five years of the plan period with a high degree of certainty.
A number of brownfield sites and the larger proposed allocations would not deliver any housing within the first five years of the plan period due to the need to provide infrastructure and/or be decontaminated. Therefore some Green Belt land is required to ensure enough houses can be provided in the first five years of the plan period.
Is the plan being shaped by the requirements of developers?
The Local Plan is being shaped by a number of groups. This includes developers, but also local communities, local interest groups, neighbouring councils, statutory consultees (such as the Environment Agency and Highways England), infrastructure providers, and local businesses.
What about the impact on our historic buildings and natural environment?
The Council is confident that the proposed level of growth can be accommodated without having a detrimental impact on the Borough's built and natural environment.
The vast majority of environmental assets will continue to be protected. Where a development site is allocated in the draft Local Plan and there are unavoidable impacts on the natural environment, extensive mitigation measures will be required.
In preparing the draft Local Plan Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) have been undertaken to identify any potential impacts on the Borough's much valued heritage assets. The findings of the assessments have informed policies within the draft Local Plan and identified where any mitigation is required. The Council is committed to ensuring that South Tyneside's heritage assets will continue to be preserved and enhanced.