Dorset Council Local Plan Blog – Why Here? Locate the development in the right places in Dorset.
Hi, my name is Chris Lee and I am a Policy Planning Officer working locally for Dorset Council. I want to share with you how we seek to locate development in the right places.
Dorset Council is home to many valuable assets which we must protect. We are blessed with vast areas of outstanding natural beauty, Jurassic coastline, a wealth of history and historical assets, and a rich variety of ecological designations and habitat sites, to name but a few. some. All of these help make Dorset the place to be and impact how we locate development to meet the future needs of the region.
When we are looking for areas to locate development, our aim is to balance social, economic and environmental issues and opportunities that may or may arise as a result of the development. These three goals, social, economic and environmental, help us plan sustainably and are at the heart of the decisions we make.
The Dorset Council local consultation indicated that there is a need to plan 1,793 dwellings per year. To decide where to place these houses, we started by looking at how the different parts of Dorset interact with each other and with the surrounding areas. This gave us four “functional areas”.
Within each functional area, we have categorized the sustainability of cities and towns and placed them into ‘tiers’. We have identified the “major built-up areas” and “towns and other major settlements” within each functional area, and these constitute levels 1 and 2, which are considered appropriate for most of the development. Some larger villages, identified at level 3, are also considered conducive to development. The sustainability, and therefore the suitability of these places, is based on access to equipment and services, employment, public transport, broadband and the need to reduce the need for future residents to travel. by car.
Now, let’s think about “Where exactly?
First, the redevelopment of brownfields is encouraged. We want to make “efficient land use” in accordance with national planning policy, and previously developed disused or underused sites may be ideal for redevelopment. These sites are often part of existing agglomerations and are generally located in a sustainable manner. However, these sites are not always readily available, and there are not enough of them in the Dorset Council area to accommodate the level of housing and employment development we need.
Then, as we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic has had and will continue to have a major impact on our city centers and we are currently exploring what that impact might look like. Already, changes to national permitted development legislation mean that we are likely to see more residential development in city centers without the need for a building permit. But we are aware that city centers are focal points for communities; meeting places, places of entertainment and recreation, places to eat and shop. The loss of these places can have negative social and economic impacts. We are also aware that some downtown amenities may not be a good fit because they may provide lower quality of life and amenities. Again, however, the number of houses this could create is unlikely to match the level of housing and employment development we need here in the Dorset Council area, even when viewed with other brownfield sites.
The amount of development that we have a duty to provide means that we have to envision development on the fringes of the most sustainable establishments. As part of this process, we examine in detail the potential for impact on elements such as landscape, heritage and ecology and ensure that any impact is minimized. Through policies, we seek to ensure that the impacts of development can be avoided, minimized or mitigated. To assist with site selection, we perform and commission professional evaluations and this evidence can be viewed on the council’s website as it is finalized.
Developing virgin land provides the opportunity to design good places from scratch, and often provides the best option in terms of sustainability of development. This helps to enable higher levels of affordable housing and the provision of the necessary infrastructure to support development. Sites on the outskirts of urban areas can offer opportunities for access to equipment and services, public transport and employment, and thus contribute to sustainable development.
Why build on the green belt?
The South East Dorset Green Belt covers much of the South East Dorset Council area, mainly covering the hinterland of the metropolitan area. The green belt has five “goals”, which include preventing urban sprawl in the countryside and ensuring that the countryside remains a buffer between settlements. The release of green belt land for development requires “exceptional circumstances” as defined by national planning policy. Some of the new sites proposed for allocation in the plan are designated as greenbelt.
Our South East Dorset Green Belt is located in an economically active part of the region with good access to services and facilities. The land for housing not designated as a green belt, in areas accessible to services and facilities in the built-up area is limited, but there is a significant demand for new housing and employment spaces in this area due to the strong interconnections between people’s places of life and work. Given that parts of the green belt are among the most sustainable development areas in the Dorset Council region, we have commissioned a strategic review of the green belt, with Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, to help assess in which measure the green belt achieves its five goals. in these areas and examine whether there are “exceptional circumstances” for its dissemination in order to enable sustainable development.
The result of this work is that we believe that exceptional circumstances exist for the release of some lands of the green belt for development. Work is underway to ensure that where the boundaries of the green belt are changed, this can be done sensitively and that the impacts can be offset by improvements in environmental quality and access to the environment. public to green spaces.
Finding the right locations for development is a real balancing act, but evaluating and negotiating sometimes conflicting priorities and issues is at the heart of what we do as planners, and is also essential to achieving the goal. sustainable development.