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Stroud: A planning consultant’s view

Stroud District is an interesting area to work in and we have been providing planning consultancy services on residential, commercial and householder development projects for over 12 years. 

Undoubtedly a beautiful area, in planning terms it has unique challenges; over 50% of the District’s total land area is covered by the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB); the western half is bounded by the Severn Estuary with associated flooding issues; furthermore there are several internationally important wildlife sites. 

This article seeks to provide an overview of the latest planning issues and considerations for the area.

Stroud District Council – adopted local plan position

Stroud District Council adopted their Local Plan in November 2015.  This plan provides the planning framework for the District for the period up to 2031.

However, in line with a government requirement for Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to review their plans every 5 years, a Local Plan review is currently underway.  Consultation was undertaken during 2020 and 2021 and we wrote about these consultations at the time and looked at Stroud District’s need to increase housing supply by 40%.

Day to day, the LPA continues to use their adopted Local Plan (2015) as the primary framework for consideration when deciding applications. 

Stroud District Council – latest emerging local plan position

On the 29th August 2023 Stroud District Council published the response to their draft local plan review.  The letter, dated the 4th August, states that:

‘… whilst we recognise the need for pragmatism in the examination of local plans and the desirability of an up-to-date plan for Stroud District being found sound as soon as possible, we think it only fair to advise you that we currently consider that withdrawal of the Stroud District Local Plan Review from this Examination may well be the most appropriate way forward.’

The key concerns raised by the Inspectors, related to the impact on the Strategic Road Network, specifically Junctions 12 to 14 of the M5 motorway, which will need to be improved in order to facilitate a number of housing allocations.  Following their detailed analysis of the situation, the Inspectors felt that they had no confidence that the necessary improvement to the M5 Junctions could be funded and delivered during the plan period and as such, they could not conclude that there would be any reasonable prospect that the relevant site allocations would be delivered.  As a result, the spatial strategy as a whole cannot be found sound.

The Council wrote to the Inspectors to request a 6 month pause in the Examination proceedings.  On the 5th February 2024 the Inspectors wrote to Stroud Council to confirm that they agree to pause the Examination for a period of 10 months,  This will provide seven months to complete the work set out in the Joint Action Plan, followed by three months of public consultation.

5-year housing land supply and housing delivery in Stroud

Recent planning appeal decisions dating from October 2023 confirm that Stroud can demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply. The Council published its latest assessment of housing land supply in November 2023 and this report demonstrated 5.05 years of deliverable housing land supply based on a five-year local housing need requirement, calculated using the standard method and including a 5% buffer.  However, The Government has since published an update to the NPPF and PPG which includes changes to the five-year housing land supply.  As it is more than five years since the Local Plan was adopted, and with the Council at an advanced stage of their draft Local Plan review, the latest assessment of housing land supply should be made against a four-year housing land supply requirement, in accordance with paragraph 226 of the updated NPPF and paragraphs 055 and 056 of the PPG. This means that the council can show a 4.36 year supply – a robust amount. 

As for their housing delivery test, results published by MHCLG for 2022 showed Stroud District meeting 136% of their target.

Building in Stroud – what this means for landowners and developers

Even with the associated planning challenges of the District land designations, there is plenty of opportunity for considered developments which respond well to local context.

In regard to the current 4-year housing land supply position, it is worth remembering that this is just a minimum figure.  Indeed, an appeal decision from July 2020 usefully supports this point, with the Inspector stating:

The Council claim that there is no overriding need for further residences, but the Framework’s five-year housing land supply target is expressed as a minimum and there is no policy that precludes additional development over this figure.

It will be interesting to see how the housing land supply position both existing and over the emerging plan period stands up over the examination of the Local Plan. 

How we can help you

Our team regularly help landowners and developers promote land as potential strategic development sites and we can assist in a variety of ways, including:

  1. Provide planning consultancy assistance with planning applications and planning appeals;
  2. Strategy advice; and
  3. Local plan representations.

We offer a variety of services and packages, from consultancy services to fully funded solutions via our sister company, Context Land

Contact our team via enquiries@plainview.co.uk or call us on 01242 501003 to see how we can best assist you, providing the site address and a brief overview of your project.  We value your privacy and any information which you provide will not be shared outside of our company and will only be used in relation to your enquiry.

The content of this article is accurate at the time of writing, but do contact our team for the most up to date information.

A planning consultant in Stroud – our experience

With upwards of 12 years’ experience in the area, a snapshot of some of our favourite projects can be seen below:

Anew dwelling in the garden, Stroud This inspiring 3 bed dwelling in Stroud replaced a large ancillary outbuilding. Our planners secured approval for this exciting development, located in the AONB and outside the settlement boundary. Our analysis of policy and case law were key to securing a positive outcome for this project.

 

Architect designed single dwelling, Stroud Planning approval for stunning contemporary dwelling nestled into landscape of Slad Valley.  Our strategic involvement turned a potential refusal into an approval for this exciting scheme located on agricultural land and outside the settlement boundary.

 

change of use from barn to live work, Stroud Successful conversion of several agricultural barns into 3 x 2 bed live work units in rural Stroud. A rewarding but challenging project set in the AONB and outside the settlement boundary. Our negotiation, analysis of policy and planning strategy were key to success.

 

Stunning contemporary dwelling on garden land, Stroud Our planning team successfully secured planning approval for a stunning single dwelling in a challenging location, where previous residential development applications had been refused.  Our strategic approach and effective engagement with the LPA were key.

 

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*The content is correct as at the date of the article*

INFORMATION SOURCES:

House of Commons Library, Housing: How is need assessed? October 2020

Stroud District Council, Consultation: Additional Housing Options Consultation – 21st October 2020 to 16th December 2020