New Alresford Town Council

The Local Plan Process

WCC Newsletter

The Local Plan Process Explained

Passionate about Alresford

The meetings on the Local Plan have demonstrated once again the strong attachment that people feel to the town and their determination to preserve its charm and character.  At the same time, the desire to welcome the new families who are needed to ensure a thriving community has shown itself strongly and several people have contributed significant packages of work on such things as the mix of types of house that is conducive to a vibrant population.


To assist with the assessments, a range of technical documents were written. These included:

  • Initial site sieve
  • Constraints maps
  • Landscape Sensitivity Assessment
  • Windfall Trends & Potential
  • Open Space Assessment
  • Historic Environment Assessment
  • Transport / Accessibility Assessment
  • Initial Sustainability Appraisal
  • Traveller needs assessment
  • Alresford Local Plan

    The consultation responses will be available on the WCC website. WCC propose a meeting on 30 March 2015 with small rural settlements (including Alresford) to discuss the further progression of the plan which will lead to:

    • Publication of pre-submission plan - June 2015
    • Six weeks consultation on pre-submission plan - June/July 2015
    • Submission to the Secretary of State - November 2015
    • Examination of hearings - Feb/Mar 2016
    • Inspector's Report- June 2016
    • Adoption by WCC - July 2016

    Following the discovery of an error in the predicted Alresford population figures to 2031, the Infrastructure, Open Space and Employment Needs Groups met in January/February 2015 for initial discussions to see whether changes should be made to the original reports which were submitted. Following those meetings, further work is being undertaken to establish whether this imposes any changes and additional meetings will be arranged if required. This will not result in a change to the housing target, and this in itself is the major contributor to the population projections, but could result in a change to the amount of land required for commercial employment use. Full details of the report are available here.

    In its response to the the draft Local Plan 2 the Town Council actually questioned the amount of land being allocated for commercial use on the Sun lane site and recommended it be reduced from 3 - 5 hectares to 1.5 - 3 hectares.

    New Alresford residents made almost 50% (565 comments) of the total comments (1125 comments) received in the whole of Winchester district. Approx 1 in 10 of our residents submitted a comment Form whereas in Winchester Town with its Population of 120,000 only one person in 1600 submitted a comment (75 comments). Although 90% of Alresford residents did not comment we had, by far, the highest response.

    Earlier this year the Town Council passed a resolution broadly in support of the Sun Lane site but with the caveats detailed below.

    At the November meeting the Council agreed its response to the draft plan which is broadly in line with the points made below but does chamge the position on vehicular access to the site.

    A comprehensive traffic plan before any planning application is considered including:

    • Access to the bypass being built before any construction work takes place.
    • Increased parking and amenity space for Sun Hill Schools.

    Buffer zones:

    • At least 50m wide on the parish boundary, from the railway line down to Whitehill Lane, to limit further expansion to the East.
    • To protect existing housing together with a detailed plan on safeguarding them from flooding.

    We will oppose:

    • Any vehicular access from the new development onto Sun Lane
    • Gypsy & Traveller site adjacent to Sun Lane
    • Development on any other SHLAA site.

    A comprehensive traffic plan is key to the entire project and we are sure that residents will engage with the developers and City Council during the consultation period to express your views and suggestions on how they can mitigate the problems the extra traffic the development will bring to the town that we wish to safeguard.

    We would like to thank you for all your contributions over the past few months.

     

    Comments on the plans presented at the recent exhibition have now been analysed and can be viewed here.

    Where are we now.

    Since Winchester City Council launched the Local Plan Part 2 process in January 2013, more than 100 townspeople and Councillors worked hard to consider and state clearly the development needs of the town. The work was focused around four Needs Groups whose findings formed the basis of the Town Council's input to Winchester City Council (WCC). WCC used the input to prepare a proposal for future development which was presented to a public meeting in early January. This proposal is outlined below. A period of public consultation followed, which lasted until 21 February and residents were invited to comment on the proposals. Several hundred comments were received and considered by WCC.

    Based on the issues and comments at the public meeting, the Town Council has submitted comments on the outline proposal to WCC.

    WCC have now published a draft Local Plan for consultation

     

    The Current Proposal

    Every year WCC publish the ‘Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment’ (SHLAA) which shows land being promoted for housing development. These form the ‘long-list’ of sites that need to be considered to meet Alresford’s development needs, together with additional sites submitted last year in a ‘Call for sites’ exercise. All the sites submitted are shown in pink on map 1 and they cover virtually all of the available land in Alresford.

    These are the ‘available’ sites, which have been assessed for the needs identified. Local Plan Part 2 provides the opportunity to put together a broad development strategy for Alresford that considers the range of needs identified. This means that we are not just assessing sites individually, or for single uses, but developing a strategy to meet all requirements set out by Local Plan Part 1 and the ‘Needs Groups’. The strategy needs to be about meeting a range of needs, not just housing.

    Taking account of all the technical information and local views, the City and Town Councils concluded that there are two alternative approaches which could be developed:

    1. One large mixed-use site or
    2. Spreading development around several smaller sites.

    When looking at appropriate sites for housing development,
    it is important to ensure that housing is provided in places that are accessible to facilities and services and in ways that will achieve as much infrastructure and other items that Alresford needs as possible e.g. open space requirements, such as tennis courts and a new burial ground.

    Another important factor is the location of employment in the town, given the aim of maintaining Alresford as a ‘working town’. Ideally commercial premises at The Dean would be better located on the edge of the town, given the nature of the businesses and to allow for both the expansion of existing businesses and to provide for the additional employment needs identified.

    Although more than one of the sites assessed could potentially be suitable for housing development, using one larger site would help to ensure that development provides more of the local needs outlined above. 

    Sites considered for Local Plan Part 2

    As several sites were promoted for development, Winchester
    City Council and New Alresford Town Council have considered the merits of each site. The issues considered included:

    Choosing the development strategy for Alresford

    Local Plan Part 2 provides the opportunity to put together broad development strategy for Alresford that considers the range of needs identified. This means that we are not just assessing sites individually, or for single uses, but developing a strategy to meet all requirements set out by Local Plan Part 1 and the ‘Needs Groups’. The strategy needs to be about meeting a range of needs, not just housing.

    Taking account of all the technical information and local views, the City and Town Councils concluded that there are two alternative approaches which could be developed:

    1. One large mixed-use site or,
    2. Spreading development around several smaller sites

    When looking at appropriate sites for housing development,it is important to ensure that housing is provided in places that are accessible to facilities and services and in ways that will achieve as much infrastructure and other items that Alresford needs as possible e.g. open space requirements such as tennis courts and a new burial ground.

    Another important factor is the location of employment in the town, given the aim of maintaining Alresford as a ‘working town’. Ideally commercial premises at The Dean would be better located on the edge of the town, given the nature of the businesses and to allow for both the expansion of existing businesses and to provide for the additional employment needs identified.

    Although more than one of the sites assessed could potentially be suitable for housing development, using one larger site would help to ensure that development provides

    Conclusion

    The conclusion is that the best way to provide for most of the needs identified is to develop a large mixed-use site east of Sun Lane. This site can provide the majority of the housing needed. Large areas of open space can be provided on parts of the site which are not suitable for development because of their landscape sensitivity.

    The southern part of the site is the only area that would be suitable for employment development, including, possibly, accommodating the employment uses which wish to move out of The Dean. It could be served by a new access onto the A31 (Alresford Bypass) whereas any other available sites would continue to generate HGV traffic within and through the town. It can also possibly accommodate businesses wishing to move from The Dean, vacating land which can be redeveloped at higher densities for housing, including sheltered and elderly care.

    The Sun Lane Proposals

    The potential broad layout of uses for Sun Lane - see Map 2

    Housing: Approximately 320 homes to be provided on the northern part of the site. The site is large enough to ensure a good mix of housing to meet a variety of needs, including 40% affordable housing.

    Open Space: The sensitive landscape in the centre of the site is too prominent for buildings. Therefore, this area will be left as public open space and has capacity for various types of space, from informal and natural green space to tennis courts. A burial ground of 0.5ha will be provided but the type of burial ground is still to be decided.

    Commercial Land for Employment: Will be allocated at the south of the site. This will mean it is close to the new access to the A31 and is also allocated on the ‘least sensitive’ area in landscape terms. Commercial uses near to existing houses on Sun Lane would incorporate a buffer and will be compatible with housing (e.g. research & development, light industry). These will help to separate any general industry or warehousing. A small area is planned to help meet the Local Plan Part 1 requirement to provide for gypsy and traveller needs. This would be to the east of the site, separated from housing on Sun Lane but still accessible to local facilities and services.

    Access to the site: To deliver this site, a new access will need to be created from the A31. The exact location and layout of this is still to be determined, following recent detailed traffic surveys. There are various options for other means of access, traffic calming, access restrictions or other detailed measures which will need to be investigated further for example, restrictions at the northern end of Sun Lane, a dropping off/picking up point close to the School, a new access road through the site or possible linkages to Bishops Sutton Road.

    As stated above we have now entered a period of public consultation which lasts until 21 February and residents are invited to comment on the proposals. If there is anything you are not happy about now is the time to comment to the City Council. A comment form can be found at the bottom of WCC's web page.

    Thanks to you

    The Town Council very much appreciates the enthusiasm of those who have shown so much interest so far and hope that you will continue to participate in this important work.  We all love Alresford but it needs to be nurtured, so thanks again for getting “stuck in”.