Policy HOU4 - Residential Windfall Development within Settlements (MC50)

Page 171-174 Paras 5.38-5.55 Page 174 Policy HOU4


Delete Paragraphs 5.38-5.55 under Residential Windfall Development and existing policies HOU3 – Residential development in the Ashford Urban Area and HOU4 – Residential Development in the rural settlements and replace both with new text and revised singular policy (renamed HOU3a) as follows:

Residential Windfall Development within Settlements

5.38    Residential development which comes forward on sites outside of those allocated in the Local Plan are known as housing ‘windfalls’. Historically, the Borough has had a strong tradition of delivering housing windfalls and they will contribute towards meeting our objectively assessed housing needs (see Strategic Policies chapter).

5.39    In line with the NPPF and supporting PPG, it is important that suitable redevelopment opportunities for housing within the built-up confines of particular settlements are allowed to come forward. The scale and quantity of housing development proposed should not be out of proportion to the size of the settlement concerned and the level of services present.

5.40    This allows for a sustainable pattern of development across the Borough and avoids the environmental, social and economic impacts that typically occur where development is proposed that is out of scale with the settlement. This approach is consistent with the strategic distribution of allocated sites, identified under policy SP2 of this Local Plan.

5.41    Ashford is the largest settlement in the Borough and is clearly the most sustainable location, enjoying access to good transport links and a range of services, facilities and shops. Although there is currently limited available land in the urban area to develop that has not been allocated in this plan or is not already subject of a planning approval, it is likely that there will be opportunities for new development or infilling to come forward over the plan period.

5.42    The NPPF and PPG require that Local Planning Authorities promote sustainable development in rural areas to support the vitality of rural communities. Blanket policies restricting housing development in settlements should be avoided unless clearly supported by evidence.

5.43    New housing can enable rural communities to retain their existing services and community facilities and help to create a prosperous rural economy. However, a balance must be achieved between allowing new housing with the need to protect the character, form, heritage and attractiveness of the settlements themselves and the surrounding countryside.

5.44    Across the borough there are a number of settlements which play a service centre role in that they contain a number of services such as a primary school; a GP service; a community venue (such as a pub or a village hall); shops which are able to meet a range of daily needs and a commuter-friendly bus or train service. There are also a number of rural settlements which are smaller and play a more 'secondary' role, yet they still have a limited number of community facilities and services. These settlements often rely on the services of the nearby primary settlements or the town of Ashford and are therefore relatively 'accessible' in a rural context. Within these settlements, appropriate smaller scale development is acceptable in principle.

5.45    The Borough’s remaining rural settlements not mentioned in policy HOU3a below are not considered to play a service centre or secondary role on account of their small size and their lack of services and facilities (or proximity to these services/facilities). Residents of these settlements are typically reliant on the private car to meet all of their everyday needs. These settlements are considered to be countryside for the purposes of determining planning applications.

Important considerations

5.46    In order to ensure that windfall schemes are integrated properly within an existing settlement, all development proposals will need to show how they can complement the existing settlement character in terms of their layout, design, scale and appearance.

5.47    Many rural settlements include important green spaces or gaps within the built up confines that contribute to the form and attractive character of the settlement and any harm or loss of these areas should be avoided. Proposals promoting the development of residential garden land must also meet the requirements of policy HOU10 of this Local Plan.

5.48    Development proposals must also avoid causing significant harm to nearby local heritage assets and take into account environment, biodiversity and landscape considerations. Where proposals fall either within or within the setting of an AONB then the high level status of the intrinsic landscape value of the area will be an important material consideration.

5.49    Where proposals fall within an area that has an adopted village design statement that is supported by the Parish Council, schemes should be designed in accordance with the key principles contained within them.

5.50    Windfall residential opportunities within the rural area should focus on sites that are not in active use, particularly where those uses are contributing to the vitality of the area by providing employment or community facilities.

Settlement confines

5.51    The traditional approach taken to defining settlement confines in the Borough has been to rely on a written definition, rather than a boundary line drawn on a map. This can provide a more flexible approach to assessing windfall developments, particularly given the number of settlements within the Borough and given that the built-up confines may change over time in response to development coming forward.

5.52    This approach has been largely successful in controlling the release of sites for windfall residential development and over time the built up confines have become well established. Therefore, and for the purposes of this Plan, the built-up confines of a settlement are defined as: 'the limits of continuous and contiguous development forming the existing built up area of the settlement, excluding any curtilage beyond the built footprint of the buildings on the site (e.g garden areas)'.

5.54    This definition may, however, include sites suitable for 'infilling' which is the completion of an otherwise substantially built-up frontage by the filling of a narrow gap, usually capable of taking one or two dwellings only.

5.55 However, some communities have defined a ‘village envelope’ through the Neighbourhood Plan process, whilst mapping a settlement’s built-up confines can also be achieved informally by Parish Councils through undertaking a ‘village envelope’ exercise working with the Borough Council and the local community. On satisfactory completion of this exercise, the Borough Council will informally endorse the defined village envelope and will treat this as a material planning consideration for the purposes of determining relevant planning applications.

Policy HOU3a - Residential windfall development within settlements

Residential development and infilling of a scale that can be satisfactorily integrated into the existing settlement will be acceptable within the built-up confines of the following settlements:

Ashford, Aldington, Appledore, Appledore Heath, Bethersden, Biddenden, Bilsington, Boughton Lees/Eastwell, Brabourne Lees/Smeeth, Brook, Challock, Charing, Charing Heath, Chilham, Crundale, Egerton, Egerton Forstal, Godmersham, Great Chart, Hamstreet, Hastingleigh, High Halden, Hothfield, Kenardington, Kingsnorth, Little Chart, Mersham, Molash, Newenden, Old Wives Lees, Pluckley, Pluckley Thorne, Pluckley Station, Rolvenden, Rolvenden Layne, Ruckinge, Sevington, Shadoxhurst, Shottenden, Smarden, Stone in Oxney, Tenterden (including St Michaels) Warehorne, Westwell, Wittersham, Woodchurch and Wye.

Providing that the following requirements are met:

  1. It is of a layout, design and appearance that is appropriate to and is compatible with the character and density of the surrounding area;
  2. It would not create a significant adverse impact on the amenity of existing residents;
  3. It would not result in significant harm to or the loss of, public or private land that contribute positively to the local character of the area (including residential gardens);
  4. It would not result in significant harm to the landscape, heritage assets or biodiversity interests;
  5. It is able to be safely accessed from the local road network and the traffic generated can be accommodated on the local and wider road network;
  6. It does not need substantial infrastructure or other facilities to support it, or otherwise proposes measures to improve or upgrade such infrastructure;
  7. It is capable of having safe lighting and pedestrian access provided without a significant impact on neighbours or on the integrity of the street scene; and,
  8. It would not displace an active use such as employment, leisure or community facility.

Where a proposal is located within, or in the setting of an AONB, it will also need to demonstrate that it is justifiable within the context of their national level of protection and conserves and enhances their natural beauty.