Our Neighbourhood Plan refers to and supports the West Northamptonshire Strategic Plan so it is worth knowing what that plan says about housing development in the rural areas like ourselves.
You can read the whole plan here (all 338 pages!) but the critical part is the Policy R1 and Policy H3 which talks about the need for rural housing and the conditions used to assess planning applications.
The plan also references the Daventry & District Settlements & Countryside Local Plan (Part 2) which is also available to be downloaded.
In the details of Policy R1 and Policy H3 below (copied from the West Northamptonshire Strategic Plan) I have added comment relevant to Woodford Halse in italics.
Policy R1 – Spatial Strategy for the Rural Areas
Within the rural areas of West Northamptonshire there is an identified need for 2,360 dwellings within Daventry district and 2,360 dwellings within South Northamptonshire to be provided between 2011 and 2029 beyond the towns of Daventry, Towcester and Brackley. Within the rural areas the distribution of the rural housing requirement will be the subject of the Part 2 local plans that are being prepared by Daventry district and South Northamptonshire councils according to the local need of each village and their role within the hierarchy. Development within the rural areas will be guided by a rural settlement hierarchy that will comprise the following categories:
- primary service villages; (Woodford is classified as this)
- secondary service villages;
- other villages;
- and small settlements/hamlets.
The rural hierarchy in the Part 2 local plans will have regard to but not exclusively, the following:-
- The presence of services and facilities to meet the day to day needs of residents, including those from surrounding settlements;
- Opportunities to retain and improve the provision and enhancement of services critical to the sustainability of settlements;
- Accessibility, particularly by public transport, to the main towns and sustainable employment opportunities;
- Evidence of local needs for housing (including market and affordable housing), employment and services;
- The role, scale and character of the settlement;
- The capacity of settlements to accommodate development in terms of physical, environmental, infrastructure and other constraints;
- The availability of deliverable sites including previously developed land in sustainable locations;
- Sustaining the rural economy by retaining existing employment sites where possible, by enabling small scale economic development, including tourism, through rural diversification and by supporting appropriate agricultural and forestry development;
- Protect and enhance the character and quality of the rural areas’historic buildings and areas of historic or environmental importance; and
- Enabling local communities to identify and meet their own local needs.
Residential development in rural areas will be required to:-
- Provide for an appropriate mix of dwelling types and sizes, including affordable housing to meet the needs of all sectors of the community, including the elderly and vulnerable; and
- Not affect open land which is of particular significance to the form and character of the village; and
- Preserve and enhance historic buildings and areas of historic or environmental importance including those identified in conservation area appraisals and village design statements; and
- Protect the amenity of existing residents; and
- Be of an appropriate scale to the existing settlement; and
- Promote sustainable development that equally addresses economic, social and enviromental issues; and
- Be within the existing confines of the village.
Development outside the existing confines will be permitted where it involves the re-use of buildings or, in exceptional circumstances, where it will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities or would contribute towards and improve the local economy. Once the housing requirement for the rural areas has been met through planning permissions or future allocations, further housing development will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that it:
- would result in environmental improvements on a site including for example the re-use of previously developed land and best practice in design; or
- is required to support the retention of or improvement to essential local services that may be under threat (in particular the local primary school or primary health services); and
- has been informed by an effective community involvement exercise prior to the submission of a planning application; or
- is a rural exceptions site that meets the criteria set out in policy h3; or
- has been agreed through an adopted neighbourhood plan. (as exists for Woodford Halse)
Policy H3 Rural Exception Sites
The provision of affordable housing to meet identified local needs in rural areas on ‘exception sites’ will be supported. Schemes must either be purely affordable housing or mixed tenure schemes including an element of market housing where this is essential to the delivery of the affordable housing. It will be a requirement that the market housing:
- is the minimum necessary to make the scheme viable;and
- meets specific locally identified housing needs.
In all cases the following criteria must be met:
- the site is within or immediately adjoins the main built-up area of a rural settlement;
- the form and scale of development should be clearly justified by evidence of need through a local housing needs survey; and
- arrangements for the management and occupation of affordable housing must ensure thatit will be available and affordable in perpetuity for people in local housing need.