South Norfolk Village Clusters Housing Allocations Plan (Reg. 19 Pre-submission Draft)

Ended on the 8 March 2023
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The Assessment of Sites

A.25. The Council only assessed sites put forward to us for consideration by (or on behalf of) the landowner or the potential developer of the site. The primary reason for this was to ensure that there is a reasonable prospect that the allocated sites come forward within the lifetime of the Plan. Many of the sites were initially put forward as part of the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP) process, which meant they were considerably larger than what is being sought in the Village Clusters Plan. However, in March 2020 the Council sought to contact all of the site promoters to ask them whether they wished to amend their sites to take into account the requirements of the Village Clusters Plan i.e. for smaller sites which reflect the smaller, rural communities that they will be a part of, and which will contribute to the smaller sites requirement in the NPPF. A further 'Call for Sites' was included in the GNLP Regulation 18 consultation between January and March 2020, and again during the Regulation 18 consultation for the Village Clusters Plan during summer 2021. In total over 500 sites were assessed during this process.

A.26. The assessment of sites was undertaken in a consistent manner. The starting point was the Norfolk-wide Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) Methodology (2016), which has been agreed as part of the Norfolk Strategic Planning Framework process and is considered to be consistent with Government guidance. The Norfolk HELAA methodology also forms the basis of the GNLP site assessment process.

(1) A.27. Whilst the HELAA provides a starting point, the full site assessment was a more detailed process which included looking at the planning history of the site, undertaking a site visit and applying some more detailed criteria. Most noticeably the site assessment added criteria relating to the local Landscape Character Assessment, Better Broadband for Norfolk and revised the distance to services criteria to better reflect the rural nature of the Village Clusters Plan. Specifically regarding the latter, the Village Clusters assessment widened the number of services to which distances to/from the site have been assessed to include some which are characteristic of rural villages, for example, a village/community hall and pub, as well as pre-school provision and formal sports facilities. The maximum distance to services was also increased, to reflect the more dispersed pattern of development across the South Norfolk Village Cluster area. However, the choice of sites was still informed by the need for safe and convenient access to those services, as well as by an accompanying Sustainability Appraisal, see below.

(1) A.28. The Site Assessments were also supported by a Technical Consultation with both internal consultees on landscape, heritage and environmental protection issues, as well as a range of external stakeholders, on issues such as highways, utilities and minerals and waste. The technical consultation also included issues of flood risk and ecology, and technical comments on these issues were provided in response to the Regulation 18 consultation. Post the Regulation 18 consultation further discussions took place with some of the technical consultees in order to seek additional information or clarify specific matters raised to support the choice of allocated sites and Settlement Limit changes.

A.29. A copy of the HELAA Methodology and Site Assessment form for the Village Clusters Plan form part of the evidence base for this Plan.

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