Solihull Local Plan (Draft Submission) 2020

Ended on the 14th December 2020
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Promoting Quality of Place

Introduction

  1. The Borough's high quality natural, built and historic environment is fundamental to its success as an attractive place to live, work, visit and invest. The policies contained in this section are critical to retaining the quality of Solihull's distinctive places. Together with the other policies in the Plan, particularly, in the chapters dealing with Protecting and Enhancing our Environment, and Supporting Local Communities, the application of Policies in this section, will ensure Solihull remains an attractive, ambitious, locally distinctive and prosperous Borough.
  2. High quality design is fundamental to making places more attractive, sustainable, safe, healthy and accessible. Good design can help reduce and mitigate the impacts of climate change; promote healthier lifestyles; create safer places and make high quality and attractive places that foster civic pride.
  3. NPPF states that local planning authorities should set out in their Local Plan a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment, including heritage assets most at risk. Heritage assets include buildings, monuments, sites, places, areas or landscapes identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions, because of their heritage interest. These assets are an irreplaceable resource, and should be conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance.
  4. Most of the undeveloped area of the Borough is designated as Green Belt, where national policy provides a presumption against development that is inappropriate. The Borough's Green Belt includes the strategically important open land between the urban areas of Birmingham and Solihull and the city of Coventry, known as the Meriden Gap, and key gaps between urban areas and rural settlements. Protecting the Green Belt in Solihull will contribute to the purposes set out in national policy. It is also vital for maintaining the attractive rural setting and environment that helps to bring investment and people to the Borough. Management of the countryside is largely dependent on agricultural businesses, which face significant pressures on incomes and changing demands for products.
  5. The Green Belt in Solihull has been under constant pressure since it was first proposed in 1960. Successive development plans for Solihull have removed land from the Green Belt to meet housing and other needs. Developments of national and regional significance have also been allowed, justified by very special circumstances. This plan recognises that the scale of the growth faced by the Borough and the lack of significant development opportunities outside the Green Belt mean that some substantial adjustments to the Green Belt are required to meet development needs, including those required in the UK Central Hub Area to provide an appropriate planning framework for the Council's ambitions for the HS2 Interchange and adjoining area.

(20) Policy P15 Securing Design Quality

  1. All development proposals must be of a high quality design. Proposals will be expected to contribute to, or create, high quality places and spaces which have regard to local distinctiveness and achieve inclusive and sustainable design.
  2. In delivering high quality design, development proposals will be expected to:
    1. Conserve and contribute positively to local character, distinctiveness and streetscape quality and ensure that the scale, massing, density, layout, territory (including space between buildings), materials and landscape of the development is sympathetic to the surrounding natural, built and historic environment;
    2. Ensure new developments include useable private outdoor amenity space and provide public and private open spaces where there is a choice of areas of shade, shelter and access to recreation that will benefit people, wildlife and provide flood storage and carbon management.
    3. Secure the sustainable long-term use of new development through flexible, robust and future-proofed design and layout (including through low carbon technologies);
    4. Make appropriate provision for water management within development, without causing unacceptable harm to retained features, utilising innovative design solutions. Sustainable Drainage Systems should respond to and complement landscape character and urban design, in accordance with the principles of Policy P11 - Water and Flood Risk Management;
    5. Conserve, restore and enhance biodiversity, reflecting the principles of Policy P10 Natural Environment;
    6. Respect and enhance landscape character and quality, including trees, hedgerows and other landscape features, integrating them into the development, and contribute to strategic and local green infrastructure. Proposals should relate well to local topography and landscape features and  consider the protection and management of the existing tree stock on site. There should not be an unacceptable loss of or damage to existing trees. Developments should incorporate new tree planting, including streets being  tree-lined wherever possible;
    7. Create attractive, inclusive, safe, active, legible and uncluttered streets and public spaces, which integrate with existing paths, streets, circulation  networks and patterns of activity and have regard to the quality of the frontage public realm and the transition between the site boundary and the street.
    8. Make sufficient provision for sustainable waste management (including facilities for kerbside collection, waste separation and minimisation where appropriate) without adverse impact on the street scene, the local landscape or the amenities of neighbours;
    9. Contribute positively to the creation of high quality places which are accessible, interconnected and easily maintained. The design and layout of developments should promote health and wellbeing, support wildlife, encourage walking and cycling and reduce crime and the fear of crime through the adoption of Secured by Design principles.
  3. All residential development proposals shall demonstrate how they meet Building for Life 12, or its equivalent.
  4. All developments should comply with the urban design principles set out in established current design guidance, including at present; The National Design Guide (2019), Urban Design Compendium 1 and 2 (2007), Manual for Streets 1 (2007) and 2 (2010), Building for Life 12 and Secured by Design principles, or their equivalents.
  5. Development proposals should also comply with any local design guides and standards, including Conservation Area Appraisals, the Urban Forestry Strategy, adopted Supplementary Planning Guidance and Documents, as well as the relevant design policies of any applicable 'made' Neighbourhood Plans in the Borough.
  6. Development proposals should make efficient use of land, optimising densities in appropriate locations and ensuring that site characteristics, context and constraints are considered, whilst responding positively to the surrounding natural, built and historic environment.
  7. Developers should be proactive in responding to climate change and adopt sustainable and low carbon construction principles in terms of design, layout and density, consistent with the principles of Policy P9 – Climate Change. Sunlight and energy efficiency should be considered as part of the layout through solar design and natural ventilation systems. Buildings and their surrounding landscapes should be designed to make efficient use of natural resources during construction, operation and maintenance.
  8. Applicants are encouraged to engage in pre-application discussions at an early stage in the design process and will be required to demonstrate that they have followed the robust Assessment-Involvement-Evaluation-Design process outlined in the national guidance on Design and Access Statements. Major development proposals are required to demonstrate how the local community has been consulted and engaged in the design process, in accordance with the Council's adopted Statement of Community Involvement. Significant development proposals will also be encouraged to engage with and be reviewed through the Regional Design Review process (MADE).
  9. Where a developer is promoting a phase of a wider site allocation or larger windfall development opportunity they will also need to demonstrate how they have engaged with other relevant land owners or developers with an interest in the site to ensure the proposed phase does not prevent, constrain or otherwise impact negatively upon relevant development opportunities. This should have specific regard to the importance of securing comprehensive delivery of major sites including infrastructure planning, place making, sustainable development, design and the prevention of ransom strips.

Justification

  1. The Government's policy on design is clear in the NPPF. 'The creation of high quality buildings and places is fundamental to what the planning and development process should achieve. Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, creates better places in which to live and work and helps make development acceptable to communities'. The NPPF also sets out how planning policies and decisions should ensure that the key objectives of good design are secured and makes clear that 'permission should be refused for development of poor design that fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions.'
  2. Additionally, the National Design Guide establishes ten characteristics of well-designed places. It emphasises the importance of responding positively to context, creating locally distinctive character, the value of creating strong communities and responding to issues such as climate change. As part of the government's collection of Planning Practice Guidance, developments will be expected to have regard to the National Design Guide.
  3. Although there can be many individual design 'issues' to be addressed, a key principle is how they improve the character and quality of an area and integrate to create well designed and well-built places and spaces that benefit people and communities at all stages of life and with different abilities.
  4. Policy P15 provides a set of design principles for applicants to adhere to. These include the scale and visual appearance of the building (including the territory it sits within), as well its environmental performance, water management, impact on the natural environment, its integration with its surroundings and neighbouring public spaces. The policy acknowledges that high quality sustainable materials and construction standards are also important to ensure the durability and longevity of new development.
  5. In addition to built development, the National Design Guide recognises that nature and the natural environment contribute to the quality of a place, to people's quality of life and is a critical component of well-designed places. As such, the policy seeks to ensure that natural features (including natural and designed landscapes) are integrated into developments to support quality of place, health and wellbeing, biodiversity, water management and address climate change.
  6. Trees in particular can deliver economic, social and environmental benefits. As outlined in the Solihull Urban Forestry Strategy (2019 – 2029), trees characterise and make Solihull's streetscapes and urban landscapes more joyful, liveable and resilient to extreme weather. Their importance is reflected in the Policy given that well planned and designed places and spaces with trees can reduce the landscape impact of new development, promote health and wellbeing and are crucial in tackling the long term effects of climate change. In accordance with the 'Living with Beauty' report of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission (January 2020), there will be an expectation to incorporate tree planting in development including streets being tree-lined wherever possible. However, it is essential that new developments are appropriately designed and planted to ensure that new trees are suitable for the location, have longevity, and that existing mature trees are not compromised. The protection and management of existing tree stock on site should be in accordance with industry best practice, with a view to achieving a harmonious and sustainable relationship between new construction/existing structures and their surrounding trees.
  7. In well-designed places, water features also form part of an integrated system of landscape, biodiversity and drainage. Sustainable Drainage Systems can be used to enhance the surrounding environment and provide many additional benefits including attenuation, improvements to biodiversity and habitat, character, amenity and open space.
  8. The policy recognises that planning can help increase resilience to the impacts of climate change through the built design, layout and landscape design of development, such as promoting low carbon design approaches to reduce energy consumption in buildings. The Council is committed to ensuring developments and places are designed to deal with the challenge of adapting to and mitigating to Climate Change and would therefore encourage applicants to exceed building regulations where possible.
  9. Policy P15 also requires development proposals to create safe and attractive streets and public spaces, which reduce crime and the fear of crime. Whilst adherence to Secured by Design principles is important for all new built development, it can also be relevant to smaller scale proposals such as changes of use to licensed premises and the installation of cash points, where applicants should engage with a West Midlands Crime Prevention Design Advisor at an early stage. As well as considering the impact of development proposals on public safety and the incidences of anti-social behaviour, the reference to crime in the Policy also relates to creating safer buildings and places that are better protected from terrorist attack.
  10. The Borough's high quality natural, built and historic environment is fundamental to its success as an attractive place to live, work and invest. As such, the policy strives to create development with the highest standards of design and sustainability, across the Borough. This should be evidenced by demonstrating compliance with Building for Life 12 or its equivalent. Development associated with the key economic assets within UK Central will be expected to be designed to the highest quality standard to ensure these areas become design exemplars for the Borough and sustainable communities. Policy P1 makes clear that to assist the growth proposals for the UK Central Growth Area, a concept framework will be prepared to ensure that a comprehensive and coordinated approach is followed.
  11. However, not all parts of the Borough have a high quality environment and a key part of the strategy is to improve the built environment, particularly in some areas of North Solihull and parts of the Mature Suburbs.
  12. Concept Masterplans have been prepared for all residential sites allocations in the Local Plan. The Masterplan approach is born out of the Council's ambition to accommodate growth, with place-making providing the central theme. The illustrative concept masterplans are intended to demonstrate how sites could be brought forward for development in a form which both seek to respond to the Borough's needs and safeguards the long term desirability of Solihull as a place to live and work. Each concept masterplan sets out at a broad level how the sites ought to be developed and the likely housing capacity. The Council will require the development of residential site allocations in the Plan to be in general accordance with the principles of the Concept Masterplan for the respective site allocation.
  13. The appropriate density of residential development will be informed by the need to make efficient use of land together with the desirability of maintaining an area's prevailing character and setting. Where it can be demonstrated that a higher density would improve the character and quality of an area, this will be supported.
  14. In more sustainable locations, which are highly accessible by public transport, as well as walking and cycling, there will be opportunities to increase densities. However, careful consideration must be given to the existing character of the local area.
  15. It is also particularly important to ensure that new development being assimilated into an existing residential area is designed to avoid 'town cramming', where overly large properties are squeezed onto plots that are only big enough for smaller dwellings. The Council will undertake a review of its current principal supplementary planning guidance relating to design (New Housing in Context) to ensure it remains fit for purpose or whether it requires amending to ensure it provides appropriate guidance to assist in the application of this policy. A Backland Development SPD is also being prepared so that backland and related infill developments are designed to protect and make a positive contribution to existing residential areas.

Challenges and Objectives Addressed by the Policy

A Mitigating and adapting to Climate Change

C Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work and invest in Solihull

D Securing sustainable economic growth

E Protecting key gaps between urban areas and settlements

F Reducing inequalities in the Borough

H Increasing accessibility and encouraging sustainable travel

J Improving health and well being

K Protecting and enhancing our natural assets

L Water quality and flood risk

(9) Policy P16 Conservation of Heritage Assets and Local Distinctiveness

  1. The Council recognises the importance of the historic environment to the Borough's local character and distinctiveness, and to civic pride, and the cultural, social, environmental and economic benefits that its conservation brings. Heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource that should be conserved as appropriate to their significance, sustained and enhanced, and put to viable use consistent with their conservation.
  2. The Council considers that the following characteristics make a significant contribution to the local character and distinctiveness of the Borough:
    1. The historic core of Solihull Town Centre and its adjacent parks;
    2. The historical development and variety of architectural styles within the Mature Suburbs and the larger established rural settlements of Meriden, Hampton-in-Arden, Balsall Common, Knowle, Dorridge, Bentley Heath, Hockley Heath, Cheswick Green and Tidbury Green;
    3. The Arden landscape, historic villages, hamlets, farmsteads, country and lesser houses and the distinct medieval core of historic rural settlements including Berkswell, Barston, Temple Balsall, Meriden Hill, Walsal End, Hampton-in-Arden, Bickenhill and Knowle;
    4. Parks, gardens and landscape including common, woodland, heathland and distinctive fieldscapes as defined in the Warwickshire Historic Landscape Characterisation; and
    5. The canal and railway network, including disused railway lines and the working stations at Solihull, Olton, Dorridge and Shirley, together with associated structures.
  3. Development proposals that impact upon this character and significance will be expected to demonstrate how this impact has been assessed and minimised, using a recognised process of assessment, involvement, evaluation and design.
  4. Development will be expected to conserve heritage assets in a manner appropriate to their significance, conserve local character and distinctiveness, create or sustain a sense of place and seek and take opportunities to enhance the contribution made by the historic environment to the character of a place. In Solihull, heritage assets include; Listed Buildings, Scheduled Ancient Monuments, Registered Parks and Gardens, Conservation Areas and also non-designated assets. The latter include buildings, monuments, archaeological sites, places, areas or landscapes positively identified in Solihull's Historic Environment Record, or during development management work as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions, such as those identified on the Local List of Heritage Assets. The historic landscape includes ancient woodlands, hedgerows and field boundaries, and archaeological features such as earthworks.
  5. All applications that affect the historic environment will be expected to have considered and used, as a minimum the evidence in the Solihull Historic Environment Record, conservation area appraisals and management plans, to inform the design of the proposal. Development proposals affecting heritage assets should be assessed using further sources, and appropriate expertise where necessary. This should be explained in the accompanying Design and Access Statement or, for significant proposals, in a Heritage Statement.
  6. Proposals seeking to modify heritage assets for the mitigation of and adaptation to the effects of climate change will be expected to be sympathetic and conserve the special interest and significance of the heritage asset or its setting.

Justification

  1. Paragraph 184 and 185 of the NPPF advise that Local Planning Authorities should set out in their Local Plan 'a positive strategy for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment', recognising that 'heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource' which should be conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance. The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 also places several duties on Local Planning Authorities:
  • In considering whether to grant listed building consent for any works, to pay special regard to the desirability of preserving the listed building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses;
  • To designate and review the designation of Conservation Areas and publish proposals for their preservation and enhancement; and
  • To pay special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of Conservation Areas.
  1. The 20 Conservation Areas within the Borough are shown on the Policies Map. Links to available appraisals can be found on the Council's website. The Council will produce appraisals and management plan proposals for all of its conservation areas in due course, and will periodically review these.
  2. The Council recognises the importance of the historic environment to the Borough's local character and distinctiveness, its contribution to the five distinct 'places' of Solihull and the cultural, social, environmental and economic benefits of conserving heritage assets in proportion to their significance. In line with the NPPF, Policy P16 encourages the conservation of the historic environment whilst ensuring that assets have viable uses that enable that conservation. It also promotes the recognition of the wider social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits of its conservation, and the desirability of new development contributing positively to local character and distinctiveness. The Policy defines the special characteristics which the Council considers make a significant contribution to Solihull's local distinctiveness and advocates strong protection of those qualities and the Borough's wider historic environment. The policy also seeks to ensure that all development preserves or enhances heritage assets in a manner appropriate to their significance, as defined in the evidence base for the Local Plan, or as their significance emerges during the planning process.
  3. To conserve the heritage assets and sense of place within Solihull, all development proposals affecting heritage assets will also be expected to adhere to current established guidance. At present this includes National Planning Practice Guidance and all relevant Historic England publications including Conservation Principles, Policies and Guidance (2008).
  4. A substantial body of evidence on the historic environment has been collected and informed the development of the Local Plan and this Review, its strategy for the Borough's historic environment and the selection of sites allocated for development. Key pieces of evidence such as the Warwickshire Historic Landscape Characterisation (June 2010), Warwickshire Historic Farmstead Characterisation Project (August 2010), Warwickshire Landscape Guidelines: Arden (November 1993), Solihull Characterisation Study (December 2011) and Solihull Historic Environment Record have been used to develop an understanding of Solihull's historic environment, local distinctiveness and its heritage assets; those parts of the historic environment which have a particular value or significance. Whilst some of these studies are now a number of years old, their content remains valuable and reasonable to this date.
  5. The Archaeological Assessment (2018 and 2020) provides evidence of the archaeological assets in the Borough, with general and site specific assessments and recommendations relating to the development proposals in this Plan. A Heritage Impact Assessment (2019 and 2020) has been undertaken for those development sites where potentially significant impacts on heritage assets were identified, in consultation with Historic England. These assessments have informed decisions on site selection and shaped the concept masterplans prepared for each site.
  6. The Historic England Heritage at Risk registers, Solihull's Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans have also identified current threats to the Borough's historic environment and one of the purposes of Policy P16 and the delivery strategy is to focus on addressing such threats. The Solihull Landscape Character Assessment provides evidence of the character and local distinctiveness of the landscape, including historic landscapes.

Challenges and Objectives Addressed by the Policy

A Mitigating and adapting to Climate Change

C Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work and invest in Solihull

D Securing sustainable economic growth

E Protecting key gaps between urban areas and settlements

K Protecting and enhancing our natural assets

(49) Policy P17 Countryside and Green Belt

  1. The Council will safeguard the "best and most versatile" agricultural land in the Borough unless there is an overriding need for development that outweighs the loss, and will seek to protect the character of the countryside.
  2. Land designated as Green Belt in the Borough is identified on the Policies Map and will be kept permanently open, in accordance with national Green Belt policy.
  3. Inappropriate development will not be permitted in the Solihull Green Belt, unless very special circumstances have been demonstrated in accordance with the NPPF. Paragraphs 145 and 146 of the NPPF set out forms of development that are not regarded as inappropriate. In interpreting these paragraphs the following provisions will apply:
    1. Limited in-filling or redevelopment may take place in the following settlements without constituting an inappropriate development:
  • Chadwick End
  • Cheswick Green
  • Millison's Wood
  • Tidbury Green
  • Limited infilling in villages shall be interpreted as the filling of a small gap within an otherwise built up frontage with not more than two dwellings.
  • Disproportionate additions shall be interpreted as additions that are more than 40% of the original floorspace of the building.
  • Where the re-use of buildings or land is proposed, the new use, and any associated use of land surrounding the building, should not conflict with, nor have a materially greater impact on, the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in it, and the form, bulk and general design of the buildings shall be in keeping with their surroundings.
  • In considering proposals for inappropriate development in the Green Belt, the following factors may be taken into account as very special circumstances:
    1. The reasonable expansion of established businesses into the Green Belt will be allowed where the proposal would make a significant contribution to the local economy or employment, providing that appropriate mitigation can be secured.
    2. Waste management operations provided the development accords with the waste management policy of the plan.
    3. The delivery of rural exception sites for housing are to be brought forward in accordance with policy P4B of this plan
    4. The construction of renewable energy provision is to be brought forward in accordance with Policy P9 of this plan and Para 147 of the NPPF.
  • Development within or conspicuous from the Green Belt must not harm the visual amenity of the Green Belt by reason of siting, materials or design.
  • The small settlements of Hampton-in-Arden, Hockley Heath, Meriden and Catherine de Barnes are inset in the Green Belt and are not therefore subject to Green Belt policy. Nevertheless, the Council, in considering applications for development in these settlements, will take into account the importance of their rural setting and of their attributes, such as historic buildings, open space, density of development, landscape and townscape that contribute towards their special character. Immediately beyond the inset boundary, strict Green Belt policies will apply.
  • Justification

    1. Most of the countryside within the Borough is in use for agriculture, and farmers are largely responsible for managing the land. Farmland is generally of good to moderate quality capable of supporting a healthy mixed farming economy. About one fifth of the farmland falls within the 'best and most versatile' agricultural land category, which Solihull's Countryside Strategy 2010-2020 indicates should be protected, as an irreplaceable resource and for its contribution to the rural character of the Borough. The Solihull Landscape Character Assessment highlights the character and local distinctiveness of the landscape and its sensitivity to development, and is a key tool in helping to manage change.
    2. Green Belt policy is set out in the national policy and will apply across the whole of the rural area of the Borough, other than the inset areas around settlements and other major developments. National policy makes clear that established Green Belt boundaries should be altered only in exceptional circumstances and only when a local plan is being prepared or reviewed. It also describes the circumstances when built and other development should be considered as an exception to inappropriate development.
    3. The pressure on the Green Belt in Solihull has been intensified by the requirement for development emerging from housing needs (both for the Borough and wider housing market area); the lack of vacant and derelict land in the Borough; national guidance on windfall housing; and local requirements for employment land, waste management and mineral extraction. This is reflected both in the significant number of sites in the Green Belt in the SHELAA, and the paucity of sites in the urban area.
    4. Significant adjustments to Green Belt boundaries are required in the UK Central Hub Area to provide an appropriate planning framework for the Council's ambitions for the HS2 Interchange and adjoining area, and to meet the needs of the key economic assets within the area. Further significant adjustments are required elsewhere to meet local housing and employment land needs and to address Solihull's contribution toward the shortfall in new housing land across the wider housing market area. Where land is to be deleted from the Green Belt as part of this Plan, exceptional circumstances are considered to be met to justify the change in boundaries, as required by the NPPF.
    5. The Solihull Strategic Green Belt Assessment (GBA) assesses the contribution that the Green Belt in the Borough makes towards the purposes of including land in the Green Belt. The GBA demonstrates that the Green Belt in the Meriden Gap between Solihull and Coventry makes the most significant contribution, although the Green Belt on the edge of the urban area and some settlements also contributes significantly. The findings have been used to help justify the removal of land in the UK Central Hub Area from the Green Belt and to identify suitable sites for new housing and other purposes elsewhere.
    6. A small number of minor changes will be made to address anomalies in Green Belt boundaries across the Borough, taking into account an assessment of submissions made during the preparation of this Plan.
    7. In total all of the proposed allocations relating to Green Belt sites amount to approximately 574ha[42] out of a Borough total of approximately 11,945ha. This represents 4.8% of the total.
    8. The policy is consistent with national Green Belt policy, but provides some further guidance to help establish whether development would be inappropriate.
    9. Limited infilling in villages, identified as appropriate development in the Green Belt in the NPPF, will be permitted in Chadwick End, Cheswick Green, Millison's Wood and Tidbury Green,. This reflects the character of these settlements, the limited impact that small infill developments would have on the wider Green belt, including by way of openness, and the limited, small scale opportunities that exist within their settlement envelope. In the other Green Belt villages and hamlets in the Borough, new building, other than that required for agriculture and forestry, outdoor sport, outdoor recreation and cemeteries, or for extensions and alterations will be considered to be inappropriate development, in order to protect the Green Belt and the character and quality of the settlements..
    10. The NPPF advises that extensions or alterations to buildings in the Green Belt should not result is disproportionate additions to the original building. The House Extensions Guidelines SPD provides further guidance on this issue, limiting extensions to a maximum of 40% of the original habitable floor space. This guidance applies to buildings outside settlements and established ribbons of development within the Green Belt, but includes properties on the end of ribbons of development.
    11. The re-use of permanent and substantial buildings in the Green Belt is not inappropriate development. Locally, there is considerable pressure for the conversion of agricultural barns to new uses. The policy sets out some additional criteria for re-use of buildings to ensure that the new use does not conflict with or have a materially greater impact on the Green Belt, and is in keeping with the surroundings.
    12. A number of established businesses are located within or adjacent to the Green Belt in Solihull, such as Jaguar Land Rover and Whale Tankers. The reasonable expansion of such businesses into the Green Belt, whilst remaining inappropriate development, will be allowed where justified by a significant contribution to the local economy or employment.
    13. Policy P12 identifies the need for some additional waste management capacity in the Borough, and a number of strategic waste management sites, and an area of search for new waste management facilities within the Green Belt. This policy is consistent with guidance in the NPPF but makes clear that the contribution towards new waste management capacity in the Borough may amount to very special circumstances, provided the development accords with the waste management policy in this plan.
    14. Policy P20 sets out that new, additional or relocated sports facilities may be bought forward, and these may well be proposed in the Green Belt. The NPPF sets out (at paragraph 141) the desire to plan positively to enhance their beneficial use, including looking at opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation. Changes of use for outdoor sport would not expected to be inappropriate development, nor should any new buildings that are providing appropriate facilities.
    15. The NPPF supports positive planning to retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity, and this policy indicates that development within or conspicuous from the Green Belt must not harm visual amenity through siting, materials or design.
    16. The settlements of Catherine de Barnes, Hampton in Arden, Hockley Heath and Meriden are inset from the Green Belt. Whilst Green Belt policies do not apply within these settlements, the Council will take into account their rural setting and special character in considering development proposals.

    Challenges and Objectives Addressed by the Policy

    A Mitigating and adapting to Climate Change

    C Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work and invest in Solihull

    E Protecting key gaps between urban areas and settlements

    I Providing sufficient waste management facilities and providing for sand and gravel aggregates

    L Improving water quality and flood risk

    K Protecting and enhancing our natural assets

    (26) Policy P17A Green Belt Compensation

    1. In accordance with paragraph 138 of the NPPF, planning permission will not be granted for development of sites removed from the Green Belt unless and until appropriate compensatory improvements to environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt is incorporated into a Section 106 agreement. Such compensatory improvements shall be proportionate to the extent of land being removed from the Green Belt and will be in accordance with the following hierarchy:
    2. Where compensatory improvements have been identified as part of the concept masterplans included as part of the Local Plan, that such improvements are included in the development proposals.
    3. Where compensatory improvements have not been identified as part of the concept masterplans included as part of the Local Plan that the compensatory improvements are provided in accordance with the following hierarchy:
      1. Compensatory improvements to remaining Green Belt land adjacent to, or in close proximity to the development site;
      2. Compensatory improvements to remaining Green Belt land adjacent to, or in close proximity to the settlement or area accommodating the development;
      3. Compensatory improvements to remaining Green Belt land in an area identified for environmental improvements as part of the Council's Green Infrastructure Opportunity Mapping.
    4. In the event that it is robustly demonstrated that none of the above options can be satisfied (eg as land is not available) then the Council will accept a commuted sum that it will use to undertake compensatory improvements.

    Justification

    1. Land designated as Green Belt in the Borough will be kept permanently open, in accordance with national Green Belt policy. This Plan has had to make significant incursions into Green Belt in order to meet housing and other needs for the Borough and the wider area. Where Green Belt has been allocated, exceptional circumstances for housing or other development have been fully demonstrated in accordance with paragraph 136 of the NPPF.
    2. Paragraph 138 of the NPPF requires that plans should set out ways in which the impact of removing land from the Green belt can be offset through compensatory improvements to the environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt land. This policy is only expected to be used in connection with the allocations in this plan that entail the removal of the allocated site from the Green Belt.
    3. The policy sets out the mechanism for achieving compensation through a sequential approach based on the proximity of improvements to the land being removed. The last option to pay a commuted sum will be acceptable only if it is demonstrated that none of the other sequential options is available. Most compensatory improvements are not expected to require planning permission. Where this is not the case, and the development would amount to inappropriate development in the Green Belt, then compliance with this policy can assist towards the very special circumstances needed to justify such development. It would also be in accordance with paragraph 141 of the NPPF, which encourages LPAs to plan positively to enhance beneficial use of Green Belt.
    4. There are a range of potential improvements that can be pursued to fulfil this requirement and the following are provided as examples, but it is recognised that there may be others:
    • new or enhanced green infrastructure;
    • woodland planting;
    • landscape and visual enhancements (beyond those needed to mitigate the immediate impacts of the proposal);
    • improvements to biodiversity, habitat connectivity and natural capital;
    • new or enhanced walking and cycle routes; and
    • improved access to new, enhanced or existing recreational and playing field provision.
    1. In developing the required compensation, prospective applicants may also wish to review other Council strategies (eg Local Cycling & Walking Implementation Plan) to seek to review whether existing opportunities have already been identified. This should include Neighbourhood Development Plans and prospective applicants may also wish to approach relevant Parish Councils or Neighbourhood Planning Forums to ascertain if they have any priorities for action that could be fulfilled in this way.
    2. It should be noted that improvements being bought forward under this policy will be expected to be beyond those needed to mitigate the immediate impacts of the proposal.

    Challenges and Objectives Addressed by the Policy

    C Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work and invest in Solihull

    E Protecting key gaps between urban areas and settlements

    K Protecting and enhancing our natural assets


    [42] 140ha for the HS2 Interchange site, 94ha for the employment allocation at Damson Parkway and 340 ha for the residential allocations.

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