By

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.  A draft revised plan was consulted on back in January 2020.  We wrote about this consultation at the time, which looked at Stroud District’s need to increase housing supply by 40%.

In a recent Consultation Paper document, the LPA  acknowledged that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a delay to the current published timetable and that the longer term effects of the pandemic need further consideration.  The revised timetable suggests the final Draft Local Plan will be signed off in February 2021, followed by 6 weeks of public consultation, with the Plan to be submitted to the Government for examination by May 2021. 

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

As of 21st October 2020 Stroud is undertaking a consultation on additional housing options and sites, which could be brought into the emerging Local Plan if required. 

They are also seeking views on whether and how a reserve housing supply should be identified.  This is in response to the Government consultation which proposed changes to the way the minimum housing requirement is calculated for each LPA in the country.  It seems that the revised method will increase housing need in Stroud District (discussed below).    

The Consultation will close on the 16 December 2020.  The key questions include: 

  • What is the best strategy for identifying where to accommodate additional housing, if necessary?
  • Whether and where a reserve housing supply should be identified, if required in the future;
  • Are there issues or constraints associated with some specific sites that the LPA sees potential with, depending upon the final strategy option?
  • Are there any other sites that may have future potential?

In regard to submitting a potential site, the Consultation guidelines flag that the Council has limited scope to pursue sites that are not being actively promoted by a landowner, agent or developer.  

Given the current climate and consultation, if you have land that may have potential for development then now is the time to explore your options, be it through a robust Call for Sites submission, Local Plan Rep or a direct application.  We are very experienced in these areas, providing effective planning support to individual landowners, developers and groups of representatives. Contact Catherine (catherine@plainview.co.uk) or Emily (emilyp@plainview.co.uk) to find out more about how we can help.   

5-year housing land supply and housing delivery in Stroud

Recent planning appeal decisions in September 2020 confirm that currently Stroud can demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply. Indeed, their own recent analysis suggests 8.25 years supply as at 01 April 2019.   

As for their housing delivery test, results published by MHCLG for 2019 showed Stroud District meeting 104% of their target. Stroud District’s own analysis for 2020 shows their housing delivery meeting, or above, the minimum target in most areas. Except in Care Home Supply where they are currently running at a noticeable loss of -752, and this would require them to provide c. 68 bed spaces a year to 2031.

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 5-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.

Furthermore, with responses to MHCLG’s consultation on ‘Changes to the Current Planning System’ currently being reviewed, it will be interesting to see if the Government’s proposed changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need are implemented, which could rapidly change the situation across Stroud. Initial figures using the proposed new method would result in Stroud needing to deliver higher numbers of housing across the board, to the tune of 786 dwellings per year, as opposed to the current method which proposed 635, a 23.8% increase.  

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.  You can also submit your site via our Landmark Page. 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.

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.

 

====

*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