Solihull Local Plan (Draft Submission) 2020

Ended on the 14th December 2020
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(20) Hockley Heath

The Settlement Now

  1. Hockley Heath village is a largely inter and post-war small settlement formed by ribbon development. It is bisected by the A3400 Stratford Road, which is a key connection to Junction 4 of the M42 to the north and Stratford-upon-Avon to the South.
  2. Located within Hockley Heath Parish, near the boundary with Stratford and Warwick Districts, this semi-rural settlement lies to the far south of the Borough. The population of the parish is 2,038 in some 794 households with the majority of residents in the parish residing within the village of Hockley Heath.
  3. The settlement is characterised by low-density residential areas, many dwellings of detached or semi-detached form. The settlement has a small village centre, which provides a range of shops and restaurants. However, it lacks key services such as a Doctor's surgery.
  4. The village of Hockley Heath is inset in the Green Belt, which separates it from neighbouring Knowle, Dorridge and Bentley Heath and gives it a sense of remoteness. The Green Belt is also valuable in the settlement's overall environmental quality and contributes to its semi-rural setting. Hockley Heath Recreation Ground provides valuable green space for residents to use within the village. The settlement also benefits from significant blue infrastructure in the form of the Stratford-Upon-Avon Canal, which provides a linear heritage asset with a village wharf.
  5. The area has a high quality residential environment and a good, popular school (Hockley Heath Academy). This small, one-form entry primary school accommodates some 250 pupils. However, secondary education needs are met outside of the Parish.
  6. Hockley Heath has an infrequent bus services running through the village connecting Birmingham and Stratford and a more frequent service linking to Dorridge/Solihull & Cheswick Green/Shirley. Rail access is limited, with Dorridge home to the closest railway station, connecting the settlement to Birmingham and London.

The Settlement in the Future

  1. The A3400 will continue to provide an important part of the highway network enabling vehicles to travel from Stratford-upon-Avon, and to travel to the north, connecting Hockley Heath to Blythe Valley Park and the M42.
  2. Due to the proximity to the Borough boundary, future expansion of the settlement within Solihull Borough is limited and largely restricted to the north and west of the village.
  3. Given the limited ranges of services and the less accessible nature of the settlement, it is considered that development options are restricted to what would be limited and proportionate extensions to the settlement. A key aspect to this is to ensure that the existing infrastructure supporting the village, especially the school, is not overwhelmed from additional demands that may occur from larger expansions.

What is Required for the Settlement in the Future?

  1. Hockley Heath will require protection from excessive development that may impact upon the character and attractiveness of the village; and the services it provides. Where development is provided, the following issues will need to be addressed:
  2. Concept Master Plans – The plans that accompany this consultation for the principal sites include a draft concept masterplan. These seek to identify the key existing features of a site that may need to be retained, and show at a high level where development is envisaged within the wider site. This is to ensure that when development proposals move to the planning application stage, there is certainty about the important elements of the development, e.g. appropriate green infrastructure and other requirements. Whilst this may result in a lower gross to net developable area, this will demonstrate that a quality development can be provided which makes efficient use of land and respects local character.
  3. School Parking – Congestion around school pick up and drop off times currently occurs in School Road. Through development of the School Road site there is opportunity to seek access/parking arrangements and routes for pedestrians that takes this into account, and the increase in traffic associated with Blythe Valley Park.
  4. Community Infrastructure Levy – Presently the parish council will directly receive 15% of the levy collected in the area. This will increase to 25% once any Neighbourhood Plans are adopted. This will provide a significant source of funding that can be used to take forward appropriate projects that the community have identified as priorities. This can include simple relatively low cost actions (e.g. further traffic regulation orders) through to more substantial projects. It will be for the parish council to decide how this 'local' element of the CIL receipts is to be spent and there is potential for partnership working to maximise the use of monies from this source.
  5. Pedestrian and Cycling Connectivity – Enhancements to encourage and promote walking and cycling in the settlement, particularly towards the local centres, schools and public transport will be required. Developments will be expected to ensure that walking and cycling connectivity is provided both within and beyond the site boundary, linking in with the existing and proposed cycle and walking networks identified in the Council's Cycling and Walking Strategy, as well as routes for recreation.
  6. Green Belt Enhancements – The NPPF makes provision for environmental and/or access improvements to be undertaken to land that is to remain in the Green Belt to compensate for land that is taken up for development, and this is required by Policy P17. This provides an opportunity for not only additional accessible open space, but also for wider Green Infrastructure improvements, such as new parkland and woodland planting.

Proposed Approach

  1. Hockley Heath is identified for limited and proportionate expansion of the village, no other large scale development is considered appropriate. This reflects the sensitive environmental nature of the area, the character of the villages and the need to manage the capacity and viability of local infrastructure.
  2. The Green Belt boundary around Hockley Heath will need to be amended to accommodate the level of growth proposed for the settlement. To provide a logical, strong and defensible new southern boundary it is proposed to use the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal.
  3. A mix of market and affordable housing, as well as smaller market homes for young people wishing to remain in the area and specialist housing to meet the needs of older people will be provided in the settlement. This will seek to align the types and sizes of homes to be made available and the needs of the community. However, there will need to be a careful balance struck between making the most efficient use of land and respecting the character of the local area.
  4. In addition to the site south of School Road that would then fall within the settlement boundary, if the Green Belt boundary were amended as described above, there are also two smaller sites that may then be considered appropriate for development as they would then also be within the settlement boundary. These sites are not being allocated as part of this plan but are being highlighted as they have been promoted for development by the landowner/developer and if the Green Belt boundary is changed they would no longer be subject to Green Belt policy. The principle as to whether development would be allowed on these sites would be established through the planning application process. These are as follows (using the call for site references and the SHELAA for potential indicative capacity):
  • 49 Land adjacent to 84 School Road (capacity 21)
  • 328 land at and to the rear of 84, 86 & 90 School Road (capacity 30)

Proposed Allocation

(22) Policy HH1 - Land South of School Road, Hockley Heath

  1. The site is allocated for around 90 dwellings
  2. Development of this site should be broadly consistent with the principles of the Concept Masterplan for this site, which includes the following:
    1. Conserve and enhance the setting of the canal towpath;
    2. Retention of trees and hedgerows to conserve the semi-rural character of School Road and Sadlerswell Lane;
    3. Provision of 0.6ha of public open space;
    4. Provision of suitable SuDS and flood risk management which should be incorporated into ecological enhancements;
  3. Likely infrastructure requirements will include:
    1. Financial contribution to education provision as required by the Local Education Authority;
    2. Highway improvements as required including speed reduction measures and access improvements along School Road
    3. Developer contributions to primary care health services in the vicinity and appropriate UHB secondary care services in the wider CCG catchment
    4. Appropriate measures to promote and enhance sustainable modes of transport including pedestrian and cycle connectivity towards Hockley Heath.
    5. Pedestrian safety improvements including a crossing point on School Road
  4. Green Belt enhancements will include:
    1. Enhancement of public access to the canal towpath
    2. Access improvements to the wider Green Belt beyond the site boundary
  5. The Concept Masterplan document should be read alongside this policy. Whilst the concept masterplans may be subject to change in light of further work that may need to be carried out at the planning application stage, any significant departure from the principles outlined for Site HH1 will need to be justified and demonstrate that the overall vision and objectives for the site and its wider context are not compromised.

Justification

  1. The site proposed for development off School Road is considered to perform well in that it is a limited and proportionate expansion adding some 90 or so dwellings (about a 12% increase in the size of the settlement). The development should provide highway mitigation proposals that will also help alleviate and address the congestion issues in the vicinity of the school, through careful design of the site frontage and access, alternative drop off/pick up arrangements for the school can be provided.
  2. The allocation lies beyond the Green Belt boundary and it is immediately adjacent to the built up area of the settlement and would represent a continuation of the existing developed area. The site sits in a Green Belt parcel that extends around the western side of the village and is judged, through the Green Belt Assessment as a lower performing area. The site is relatively well-contained and a defensible Green Belt boundary could be provided using the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal.
  3. The Landscape Assessment (2016) states that Hockley Heath has medium landscape value and high overall sensitivity to new development. Therefore, the concept masterplan proposes to retain the historic landscape including the rural character of School Road and the adjoining canal. Development will need to consider these assets in the design of any future scheme. Given the change that will be required to the Green Belt boundary to accommodate the above site, it is considered that the existing ribbon development on the north side of the road that has Green Belt 'washed over' it should be reviewed. The existing built development that is largely continuous without significant gaps and does not contribute towards the existing values of Green Belt policy. It therefore appears logical and justified for this run of development to be removed from the Green Belt.
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