Greater Nottingham Strategic Plan - Growth Options Consultation (July 2020)

Greater Nottingham Strategic Plan Growth Options

Chapter Two Overall Strategy

Introduction

2.1  This chapter seeks to assess the most appropriate growth strategy for where new development will take place in the Greater Nottingham area over the next 15 - 20 years. Growth strategies which could be considered include: urban intensification, focusing development within and adjoining the Nottingham urban area; more flexible locations for development, enabling other objectives to be met such as more affordable housing or brownfield development in towns and villages outside the Nottingham urban area; new settlements; new development led by green and blue infrastructure; and new development led by transport infrastructure, in locations that are, or can be, highly accessible.

2.2  Whilst planning for much needed growth in Greater Nottingham, the Plan will ensure that new development is sustainable, at the same time as addressing climate change, and in particular, helping to ensure the transition of the area towards becoming 'Carbon-Neutral'[1] over the Plan period.

2.3  We are also seeking to establish whether there is any justification for planning for either a greater number of new homes or fewer new homes than the Government's 'standard methodology' suggests is needed. In addition, we seek to establish whether the Plan should designate 'Safeguarded Land', which is land which has been removed from the Green Belt to potentially meet development needs beyond the end of the Plan period, but would be 'safeguarded' from development until it is allocated through a future review of the Local Plan.

2.4  Planning consultancy AECOM was commissioned to review and update the findings of previous background studies[2] to consider the various growth strategy options for accommodating future growth within the Greater Nottingham area and thereby inform the Greater Nottingham Strategic Plan. This included reviewing and assessing the sustainability of settlements within Greater Nottingham and assessing the growth potential of broad locations, transport corridors, sustainable urban extensions, key settlements and stand-alone sites, or clusters of sites largely outside the main built-up area of Nottingham. We are also seeking your views on which broad locations for growth assessed within this Study might be appropriate for development, see paragraphs 2.26 to 2.33, and whether you have any views on the sites that are identified, see paragraph 2.34 to 2.36.

2.5  Paragraph 24 of the NPPF (2019) states that local planning authorities and the County Council are under a 'duty to cooperate' with each other and other prescribed bodies on strategic matters that cut across administrative boundaries.

2.6  More specifically in relation to meeting housing needs, paragraph 65 of the NPPF requires strategic policy making authorities to establish a housing requirement for their whole area, which shows the extent to which their identified housing need (and any needs that cannot be met within neighbouring areas) can be met over the Plan period.

2.7  In order to demonstrate effective joint working, the partner Councils are required to prepare and maintain a Statement of Common Ground (SOCG - see Glossary). The partner Councils have produced a draft SOCG that sets out the key strategic boundary issues. This document confirms that the partner Councils will set development requirements for the Nottingham Core Housing Market Area and that the Greater Nottingham Joint Planning Advisory Board (see Glossary) will recommend the distribution of development. The Nottingham Core Housing Market Area (HMA) includes Nottingham City and the adjacent Boroughs of Broxtowe, Gedling, Rushcliffe, and Erewash.

Background

Achieving Sustainable Development

2.8  Looking to the future, the Plan will seek to address a number of issues including, amongst others, climate change, achieving carbon neutral development and ensuring there are enough jobs and homes to meet local needs, and including any spatial implications arising from the Coronavirus crisis. Climate change is linked to increased levels of flooding, including along the flood plains of the Rivers Trent, Erewash, Day Brook and Leen, which flow through the Greater Nottingham area. Flooding events are expected to increase in the future. The Plan Area has significant areas at high risk of flooding.

2.9  In line with Government policy, all growth strategies need to be subject to the sequential approach[3] to locating development with the preference being areas at a lower risk of flooding, followed by those at a higher risk if insufficient sites are available in the lower risk areas. Exceptionally, Government policy permits some development in higher risk areas, which is necessary for example, to regenerate an area, provided it is considered safe. It is important to ensure that the final growth strategy will achieve sustainable patterns of development and movement and the right amount of development in appropriate locations, including those less vulnerable to flood risk.

2.10  The broad aim of the Plan is to achieve sustainable development that will continue to ensure that Greater Nottingham is a great place to live and work, to visit or do business within. The overall growth strategy should ensure that the Greater Nottingham area is served by a sustainable settlement pattern with a high level of interconnectivity between the existing urban area, surrounding settlements and new growth locations. The growth strategy will need to be sustained by new infrastructure, including green and blue infrastructure, to support the delivery of new development and for the benefit of new and existing residents. Overall, the growth strategy should add to the quality of life.

2.11  It may be that the growth strategy will be a combination of options to meet development needs and address a range of issues. Some issues, such as the need to address climate change, are considered so important that they would need to be addressed through all growth strategy options and should be regarded as a 'golden thread' running through the Plan. However, some growth strategy options may have a greater propensity in adapting to climate change than others, for example, through the provision of green and blue infrastructure.

Growth Strategy Options

2.12  The growth strategy options that could be taken forward into the final Plan, although not exhaustive, are as follows:

  • Urban intensification growth strategy focusing development within and adjoining the Nottingham main built up area;
  • A more dispersed growth strategy option enabling other objectives to be met such as more affordable housing or brownfield development in towns and villages outside the Nottingham urban area which may include a new settlement or settlements;
  • Green and blue infrastructure-led growth strategy; and
  • Transport-led growth strategy.

Urban Intensification Growth Strategy

2.13  This growth strategy option would focus development within and adjoining the Nottingham main built up area with emphasis on re-using previously developed land and through increased building densities. Any residual development, which cannot be accommodated within the existing urban area would be allocated in the form of Sustainable Urban Extensions[4] (SUEs) on the edge of the Nottingham urban area.

Figure 2.1: Potential positive and negative impacts of the Urban Intensification Growth Strategy Option

Positive Impacts

Negative Impacts

Urban regeneration

Potential for the over-development of urban areas

Potential to co-locate housing closer to main job markets

May lead to loss of existing urban open space

Maximising the use of existing infrastructure

Potential overload on existing service capacity

Potential for district heating schemes

Potential for higher levels of urban pollution for e.g. air quality, noise etc.

Protecting the Green Belt

 
4. Sustainable Urban Extension: An extension to the built up area of a town or city, built in line with sustainable development principles, aimed at creating a mixed and balanced community, integrating the extension with the existing urban fabric, including the provision of necessary infrastructure such as public transport, parks and open spaces etc., whilst also providing for the needs of the new community in terms of jobs and social infrastructure such as education. [back]

Question OS1Urban Intensification Growth Strategy

  • Should we focus growth in and adjacent to the urban area as far as practical to meet development needs?

More-Dispersed Growth Strategy Option

2.14  Conversely, development could be planned in a more-dispersed manner with more development options chosen in locations within or beyond the Green Belt. This could include expanding existing settlements, which have or are capable of providing the requisite levels of supporting infrastructure. This growth strategy option could also include the development of a new settlement in the form of a 'garden community'[5], which would be expected to provide for its own infrastructure needs, or be sustainably connected to locations with the required infrastructure.

Figure 2.2: Potential positive and negative impacts of the More-Dispersed Growth Strategy Option

Positive Impacts

Negative Impacts

Potentially more affordable housing contributions due to generally higher land values

Higher loss of Green Belt land

Greater range of housing choices and locations

Increased congestion

Locating employment in areas highly attractive to the market such as close to the M1 corridor.

Increased and longer distance commuting

 

Increased pollution

 

Long development timescale for a new garden community

Question OS2: More-Dispersed Growth Strategy Option

  • Should we opt for more dispersed growth, expanding existing settlements or developing new settlements within or beyond the Green Belt?

Green and Blue Infrastructure-Led Growth Strategy Option

2.15  This growth strategy option would give priority to delivering new green and blue infrastructure in association with major new development. Current green and blue infrastructure priorities identified include the strategic river corridors of the Trent, Erewash and Leen rivers, canal corridors, the Greenwood Community Forest and urban fringe areas. These are shown on the map in Chapter 3. The key issue is to achieve linkages through these green and blue corridors and address any gaps to create a green and blue infrastructure network.

2.16  Specific issues relating to green and blue infrastructure are set out in Chapter 3. The issue for the growth strategy is to establish where the strategic focus should be in terms of green and blue infrastructure.

Figure 2.3: Potential positive and negative impacts of the Green and Blue Infrastructure-Led Growth Strategy Option

Positive Impacts

Negative Impacts

Benefits in terms of peoples' health and wellbeing

Potential harm to existing protected wildlife sites from visitor pressure

Greater potential to create new biodiversity

Strategic river corridors are in areas of high flood risk and accordingly the more vulnerable types of development in these areas should be avoided.

Greater potential for adaptation to climate change

 

Would be likely to make development more acceptable to existing communities

 

May help mitigate against flood risk through better catchment-wide flood risk management

 

Question OS3: Green and Blue Infrastructure-Led Growth Strategy Option

  • Should we continue to prioritise development that can enhance the strategic river corridors, canal corridors, the Greenwood Community Forest and urban fringe areas, and/or prioritise other GBI assets?

Transport-Led Growth Strategy Option

2.17  Planned transport improvements and locations with the potential for improvements could influence the growth strategy. For example, the location for the East Midlands HS2 Hub Station at Toton[6] will significantly improve the accessibility from the Greater Nottingham area to London and a number of other main cities both in the UK and in mainland Europe. The HS2 Hub Station will also become highly accessible to the rest of Greater Nottingham and beyond, and an attractive location for business and residential development. The issue of the HS2 Hub Station is set out further in Chapter 9. Other improvements to public transport could include extensions to the Nottingham Express Transit (NET) and the creation of a more efficient network leading to a significant shift towards more sustainable forms of transport. Future improvements to transport networks could also include extensions of the NET to Toton and the former Gedling Colliery.

Figure 2.4: Potential positive and negative impacts of the Transport-Led Growth Strategy Option

Positive Impacts

Negative Impacts

Potential for public transport improvements.

Would require significant levels of investment in the NET and need to prioritise developer contributions to transport over and above other infrastructure.

Potentially greater use of public transport, less reliance on the private car and lower greenhouse gas emissions

Could lead to more development pressure along the M1 and A52 corridors

 

Loss of Green Belt in the more sensitive gap between Nottingham and Derby.


Figure
2.5: Potential Transport Improvements

Map showing transport improvements covering the whole strategic area

Question OS4: Transport-Led Growth Strategy Option

  • To what extent should the location of development relate to existing and proposed transport infrastructure?

Other Spatial Priorities

2.18  The list of growth strategy options discussed above is not exhaustive and there are other possible growth strategy options including those which may be key drivers in certain parts of the Plan Area, such as protecting and enhancing heritage assets. Whilst this is largely for individual Councils to address in their Part 2 Local Plans, it is important that this Plan provides a suitable framework to integrate important sub-regional objectives, such as the protection and enhancement of heritage assets.

Climate Change

2.19  As already stated, climate change is a key issue which will need to be addressed irrespective of the growth strategy option or options which are selected. In this context, it is anticipated that extreme weather events including hotter drier summers and major flooding events are likely to increase over the Plan period. The Greater Nottingham Strategic Plan will need to include policies that make a step change towards achieving carbon neutrality over the Plan period, including policies in relation to the location of new development, sustainable design, as well as, potentially, sustainability standards for new development. The Government has set a national target for the country to become 'carbon neutral' by 2050[7], and has recently consulted on changes to Part L of the Building Regulations[8], to be introduced in 2020. The partner Councils have resolved to become 'carbon neutral' before the national target, by the following dates:

  1. Broxtowe Borough by 2027
  2. Gedling Borough by 2030;
  3. Nottingham City by 2028; and
  4. Rushcliffe Borough by 2030.

2.20  The NPPF requires plans to address climate change in a number of ways:

  • Manage risk through suitable adaptation measures for example, provision of green infrastructure;
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the location, orientation and design of new development;
  • Avoid increasing vulnerability to the range of impacts of climate change, for example, flood risk;
  • Help increase the use and supply of renewable energy.

Question OS5: Climate change

  • How can we address climate change and in particular drive the area to becoming 'carbon neutral' within the Plan period?

Meeting Housing Need

2.21  The strategic plans currently adopted across Greater Nottingham provide for housing need for the area for the period 2011 - 2028, as summarised within Figure 2.6. A review of these figures is part of this Strategic Plan preparation process.

Figure 2.6: Current Housing Targets by Local Authority Area


Area


2011 -
2013


2013
- 2018


2018
- 2023


2023
- 2028

Total
2011 - 2028

Broxtowe Borough

200

1,800

2,150

2,000

6,150

Erewash Borough

736

1,840

1,840

1,840

6,256

Gedling Borough

500

2,200

2,400

2,150

7,250

Nottingham City

950

4,400

5,950

5,850

17,150

Rushcliffe Borough

500

2,350

6,500

4,100

13,450

Greater Nottingham Total

2,886

12,590

18,840

15,940

50,256

Figures are minimums. All years are financial years, April to March.
Note: Erewash Borough Council's housing need is included in the Table as the Council forms part of the Housing Market Area although they are not participating in this Growth Options consultation.


2.22  Net completions for Greater Nottingham were 3,126 homes for the year 2018/19. This is the highest level of completions in the monitoring period 2011 - 2019, and builds on the results of the previous year. However, with the exception of Erewash, all the core strategies have 'stepped' trajectories, which anticipate housing completions ramping up in 2018/19 and staying at that higher level for five years. As a result, the 2018/19 completions are insufficient to meet the level of completions anticipated (3,768 new homes). This results in a cumulative shortfall of delivery against core strategy targets of 2,883 homes compared to 2,246 homes in 2017/18 and 2,469 homes in 2016/17. Figure 2.7 shows anticipated delivery, actual delivery and the resultant shortfall of housing completions against targets.

Figure 2.7: Housing Completions in Greater Nottingham (2011-19)

Figure 2.7

2.23  The recent adoption of site-specific Part 2 Local Plans by the partner Councils (Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe Boroughs and Nottingham City) will greatly increase the availability of allocated housing sites and should help increase rates of housing delivery, but the impact of the Coronavirus on housebuilding and completions is as yet unknown.

The Amount of New Housing

2.24  Paragraph 60 of the NPPF requires that, in order to determine the minimum number of homes needed, strategic policies should be informed by a local housing need assessment, conducted using the standard method[9] in national planning guidance[10] . This results in a housing figure for Greater Nottingham of 59,420 homes between 2018 and 2038. Without Erewash Borough, the figure is 51,580, see Appendix 1. The Plan period to 2038 is considered appropriate for a long-term strategic plan, which should provide at least fifteen years duration following adoption and takes into account the statutory requirement for a review within five years of adoption. The currently identified supply is capable of meeting this figure, however the final housing need figures and their distribution between council areas will be established as part of this Plan review.

2.25  The NPPF makes it clear that the standard methodology should be used unless there are any exceptional circumstances that justify an alternative approach, which also reflects current and future demographic trends and market signals. An issue is whether there are any exceptional circumstances supporting a different minimum housing figure to be included in this Plan; for instance, through consideration of the opportunities presented by existing or planned investment in infrastructure, the area's economic potential, the need to achieve sustainable development, provide sufficient affordable housing, or the scope for net environmental gains. On the other hand, are there overriding environmental constraints which would justify a lower figure?

10. However, the Government has some reservations about the validity of this set of projections in reflecting the true level of housing need. It has stated that it ‘will consult on adjustments to the way housing need is calculated so it is consistent with delivering 300,000 new homes per year by the mid-2020s’. [back]

Question OS6: Amount of New Housing

  • What, if any, factors (that can be evidenced) justify planning for more or fewer new homes than the standard methodology suggests?

Broad Areas of Search for Growth

2.26  Having considered a range of growth strategy options as identified in paragraph 2.12, and the amount of new housing development proposed within paragraph 2.24, we will consider where new development can best be accommodated. In addition to housing development, the Councils will also need to plan for other types of development including employment and services. A key issue is the capacity of the main urban area for new housing and other types of development. In this context, the Nottingham and Derby Green Belt surrounds the Nottingham urban area with the implication being that development that cannot be met within the urban area would need to be accommodated through Green Belt releases and / or at locations beyond the Green Belt.

2.27  The NPPF requires the Councils to test all reasonable strategic growth options for locating new development. It is important to stress that no decisions have yet been made, as the technical information needed to assess the sustainability and suitability of the various locations/sites is not yet fully available.

2.28  It is, however, important to recognise that a significant amount of development is already committed, meaning that at least some of the need for the period up to 2038 is already included in Plans and in the various Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments, although some sites may not be in the right locations to meet our chosen growth strategy.

2.29  It is intended that the locations where development may be possible will be identified following this stage of the process, together with any specific sites, should further strategic sites need to be identified. The feedback received to this consultation will then help inform the next stage of the process where an assessment of the suitability and sustainability of the different sites/location options will be made. The final strategy may be a combination of two or more of the growth strategies identified in this document.

2.30  The supporting evidence base is intended to assist the Councils in choosing the most appropriate growth strategy option or combination of options. The current distribution of development set out in the Aligned Core Strategies was underpinned by the two 'Tribal' Studies in 2008, and these made a number of recommendations for Sustainable Urban Extensions and for sustainable locations in the main settlements around Greater Nottingham. AECOM has been commissioned to review and update the findings of the two 'Tribal' Studies, and widen their assessment to also include the potential for new settlements. This 'Growth Options Study' (available at https://www.gnplan.org.uk/evidence-base/) has the main purposes of:

  • Reviewing and assessing the sustainability of settlements within Greater Nottingham;
  • Assessing the growth potential of broad locations, transport corridors, Sustainable Urban Extensions and key settlements largely outside the main built-up area of Nottingham, and setting out how any constraints might be mitigated; and
  • Undertaking a high level analysis of potential development sites and clusters of sites either submitted for consideration by developers, or included in the Councils' Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments.

2.31  Critically, this Study takes account of constraints to growth and demonstrates the range of growth options available to the Councils for the period between 2018 and 2038. The following factors are assessed:

  • Environmental constraints;
  • Transport and accessibility;
  • Geo-environmental considerations;
  • Infrastructure capacity and potential;
  • Landscape and topography;
  • Heritage considerations;
  • Housing demand;
  • Regeneration potential;
  • Economic development potential; and,
  • Spatial opportunities and constraints.

2.32  The Growth Options Study is a key element in formulating the growth strategy. Its conclusions will assist the Councils in determining the growth strategy option (or combination of options) that best meet development need and address other issues, such as regeneration, or the need for affordable housing. The growth strategy options for locating development presented below are therefore for 'broad areas of search ' and will be subjected to more detailed assessment in relation to their suitability, sustainability and 'fit' with the strategic objectives of the Greater Nottingham Plan.

Figure 2.8: Growth Options: Broad Areas of Search

Map showing broad areas of search for growth over the whole strategic area

2.33  Figure 2.8 shows the possible 'broad areas of search' for growth, assessed by the Study as the basis for the Councils to consult on. It is stressed that at this stage, the Councils have not made any decisions on what their preferences are, and the responses to this consultation will be considered as part of the process informing the Councils' preferences which in turn will be subject to further consultation.

Question OS7: Growth Options

  • Which of the broad areas of search identified in the Growth Options Study do you prefer, and why?

Question OS8: Other Growth Strategy Options

  • Do you think there are other growth strategy options, which should be considered? If so, why?

2.34  In addition to assessing broad areas of search, the Growth Options Study considers specific potential development sites, either submitted as part of a 'call for sites', or included in the Councils' Strategic Housing Land Availability Studies. These sites are shown in Appendix 2.

2.35  The Growth Options Study only includes a high-level analysis of these sites. Before decisions can be taken as to whether any site is appropriate for development, more detailed site analysis and Sustainability Appraisal will be required. Many of the sites considered are also relatively small in size, and may not be considered strategic.

2.36  Following further assessment, the Councils will consider which if any of the sites are strategic in the context of the Plan. If any of the sites are deemed critical to achieving the Councils' preferred growth strategy, they will be included in the next draft of the Plan. Those that are not considered strategic will be screened out, although they may be appropriate for inclusion in subsequent Part 2 Local Plans.

Question OS9: Site Assessments

  • Do you prefer any of the sites at Appendix 2, and why?

Green Belt and Safeguarded Land

2.37  It is unlikely that all development needs can be met within the main urban areas, which will require locations within the Green Belt and / or beyond the Green Belt to be considered. Issues relating to Green Belt are set out in Chapter 4. However, there is an option to designate 'Safeguarded Land'[11], which is land taken out of the Green Belt which could potentially meet development needs beyond the end of the Plan period, but would be 'safeguarded' from development until it is allocated through a review of the Local Plan.

11. NPPF paragraph 139 parts (c) and (d). [back]

Question OS10: Safeguarded Land

  • Should this Plan designate Safeguarded Land within the Green Belt? If so, where?