Bath Core Strategy approved subject to removal of sites from Green Belt

Out-Law News | 26 Jun 2014 | 3:30 pm | 1 min. read

An independent planning inspector has approved Bath and North East Somerset Council's Core Strategy for adoption, subject to the inclusion of modifications including the removal of four sites from the Green Belt to allow for housing development.

The inspector's final report (62-page / 480 KB PDF) concluded that the Council's Core Strategy "provides an appropriate basis for the planning of the district providing a number of modifications are made to the plan."

The recommended modifications, all of which were brought forward by the Council following the suspension of a previous draft of the Core Strategy, include the removal from the Green Belt of land at Odd Down in Bath, East Keynsham, South West Keynsham and Whitchurch.

Discussing the proposed modifications to the Green Belt, the inspector said "a number of parties opposed to the allocations in the Green Belt highlight the guidance in the planning policy guidance ... that unmet housing need is unlikely to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and other harm to constitute the very special circumstances justifying inappropriate development on a site within the Green Belt".

"However, the strategic allocations would be on land that is removed from the Green Belt, so would not be inappropriate development when a planning application is considered", said the inspector. "The relevant test for changing Green Belt boundaries (to remove land from the Green Belt) is that of exceptional circumstances."

The inspector said that such exceptional circumstances applied at four of the five locations proposed for removal from the Green Belt in the Council's strategic allocation policy. At these sites the need for housing and the benefits of additional housing provided justification for changing the boundaries of the Green Belt.

However, the proposed allocation of several small sites adjoining Weston in Bath was not considered justified. "In this case, the benefits do not clearly outweigh the harm that would arise to the area of outstanding beauty, the World Heritage Site and the conservation area," said the inspector.

Other recommended modifications include setting different affordable housing targets in different areas and an increase in the overall housing requirement from 11,000 homes to approximately 13,000 homes.

The Council will discuss whether to formally adopt the Core Strategy at a meeting on 10 July.