7.1 This chapter deals with aspects of housing which are relevant to a Local Plan. It first of all summarises the strategic context, as set out in the County Structure Plan. It then refers to the Council's Housing Strategy Statement and the important role which the Local Plan has to play in this context. This is followed by a section on the provision of new housing in relation to existing and future household structure. There is then an assessment of the land available to meet housing needs. The final section sets out policies and proposals.
The Strategic Context
7.2 The Local Plan was prepared in the context of the adopted Cheshire Replacement Structure Plan (Cheshire 2011) which required provision to be made in Chester District for 3,800 dwellings for the period 1996–2011.
7.3 This represented a reduction in the requirement set out in the previous Cheshire Replacement Structure Plan Cheshire 2001 which stated that provision was to be made in the District for 6,100 dwellings for the period 1986–2001, i.e. a reduction from an average of just over 400 dwellings per annum in the previous Plan to about 253 dwellings per annum in the new Plan.
7.4 Cheshire 2011, in line with Regional Planning Advice, assumed limited in-migration into the County up to that date. Although in practice there will be some movement into and out of Cheshire, housing provision in Cheshire 2011 was based primarily on the needs of the County's population, as at 1996, rather than seeking to meet housing demand from outside the area. In particular, the County's household structure, in line with national trends, is characterised by an increasing proportion of smaller households (Cheshire 2016: Structure Plan Alteration has since been adopted with revised housing figures).
Housing Strategy Statement
7.5 Each year the Council prepares a Housing Strategy Statement. The Housing Strategy contains an action plan for the next 5 years to address short and medium term aims. It is written to support and complement both the Community Plan which sets out Chester's vision for the next 10 years, and the Local Plan. It brings together the diverse needs of the private rented sector with those of the public sector and the Housing Association movement.
7.6 One of the main objectives of the Housing Strategy for the next 5 years is to provide affordable options for local people to have access to quality homes. The key to this is the use of planning powers, and working in partnership with Registered Social Landlords (RSL) and developers to maximise delivery of affordable housing.
7.7 The Local Plan has a vital role to play in achieving this objective of the Housing Strategy, particularly through the allocation of sites for housing development and by influencing the type, size and tenure of new houses to be built on these. The policies and proposals contained in the Plan have, therefore, been drawn up having regard to this wider framework.
The Provision of New Housing in Relation to Existing and Future Household Structure
7.8 In line with the strategic context and the Housing Strategy Statement, the Local Plan seeks to relate housing provision to the requirements of the resident population, as opposed to meeting housing demand from outside the area.
7.9 Bearing in mind the strategic policy now operating in Chester District, the Council does not consider it would be appropriate for a lot of large houses of a speculative nature to be built in the plan area. Instead it will expect the overall scale and type of general market housing to be related to the existing and future household structure of the resident population, although it is acknowledged that, for various reasons, some households will wish to occupy a larger house than their size would imply they need.
Figure 7a below illustrates the household structure of the District using data from the 2001 Census:
Analysis of Household Structure in Chester District in 2001
|No of persons per Household||No of Households||% or Total Households|
|1||15,089||30.1 ) 65.8%|
|8 or more||73||0.1|
|Total Households – 50,148|
7.10 It will be noted from the above table that almost 66% of the total number of households in the District comprised one or two persons, a picture which is very similar to the overall household structure for England and Wales. This proportion is expected to increase in the future in line with the anticipated trends in household formation rates. Consequently the Council will expect a considerable proportion of new dwellings to be built which will be suitable for occupation by small households i.e. dwellings of one or two bedrooms.
7.11 Provision is made in the Local Plan for general housing (see Policy HO 2). In addition to this, provision is made for affordable housing on part of some of the allocated sites (see Policy HO 3) and in appropriate situations, the Council will encourage the inclusion of affordable housing in accordance with Policy HO 3 on windfall sites. In the rural area, low cost housing schemes may be permitted, on an exceptional basis (see Policy HO 12).
7.12 The Council's main aim in respect of the provision of affordable and low cost housing is to help those people with a housing need which they cannot solve themselves by renting or purchasing on the open market.
7.13 In drawing up the policies on affordable and low cost housing, the Council has had regard to a number of data sources, in particular its Housing Register, the 2001 Census, prevailing house prices and the results of the Local Housing Needs Survey which was carried out in 2004, together with any update of this survey.
7.14 The former Chester Rural Area Local Plan, which covered most of the rural part of the District Plan Area, sought to relate the number and type of most new houses to the needs of local people. One of the main ways in which this was to be achieved was by limiting the size of most new dwellings to 93 square metres maximum, unless the proposed occupant had strong social or economic ties with the area.
7.15 However, given the nature and extent of policy advice from Central Government, the Council decided not to continue with the 93 square metre policy in the District Local Plan. This is because it considers that the housing needs of local residents and village communities can now be more appropriately met through the approach set out above.
Land Available for Housing
At the time the Local Plan was prepared the strategic housing requirement for the Local Plan Area for the period 1996–2011 was 3,800 dwellings. This will be met from a combination of sources. These include:
- completions (i.e. those units on all sites which have been built since the base date of the Plan in 1996)
- commitments (i.e. those units which currently have planning permission and which are expected to contribute to the overall supply over the lifetime of the Plan)
- an allowance for small brownfield windfall sites
- additional allocations (that is, the remaining allocations of land for new housing contained in the Deposit Plan without permission)
7.17 The Council’s target for the percentage of new homes built on previously developed land is 75%.
7.18 As at April 2002 there were outstanding planning permissions for 1230 dwellings, comprising the uncompleted parts of sites under construction and sites not started. Of these, 1051 were on sites of five or more dwellings (listed in Figure 7b below) and 179 on small sites of four or less dwellings. These sites are regarded as "commitments".
7.19 Up to date housing land supply information can be found in the Council's Annual Monitoring Report.
Housing Land Commitments as at 1 April 2002*
i) Urban Area
|Outstanding on sites under construction:**||Number of Dwellings|
|The Close and Land opposite between Maitland Way&Auckland Road, Blacon||18|
|Jolly Miller, PH, City Road&33 City Road||30|
|49/53 City Road||17|
|St Werburgh Parish Centre&adjacent Land at Brook Street||49|
|Former Royalty Theatre, City Road||24|
|Units 1,2&3 Victoria Works, Walls Avenue||6|
|Old Port, New Crane Street (McAlpines)||73|
|25-29 Nicholas Street||24|
|Victoria Road Garage (Formerly James Edwards)||40|
|Land off Brook Lane (Allotment Site)||12|
|Land at Boundary Lane, Saltney||5|
|Land at 18 Dukesway, Upton||8|
|Boughton Hall Cricket Club, Boughton Hall Avenue||9|
|Land at Dale Street, Boughton||8|
* Figures relate to the situation as at 1 April 2002. Details of some sites may have changed since that date and others have since been given planning consent.
** Sites of five or more dwellings
|With permission but not started:||Number of Dwellings|
|46-50 Highfield Road, Blacon||5|
|Henleys Garage Workshop, Boughton||24|
|Lookers, Hoole Lane Chester||124|
|5 Kings Buildings, King Street||12|
|Cornwall House, Newtown Close||14|
|Land at Tower Wharf||68|
|Holly Bank, Liverpool Road||10|
|Upper Northgate Street (former Vernon Builders Yard)||21|
|Old Port of Chester (Southern Tail), New Crane Street||160|
|Land between Charlotte Street and Whipcord Lane||7|
|Land adj to 4 Overleigh Road, Handbridge||5|
|Hartwell Garage, 93-99 Chester Road, Huntington||20|
|Former County Officers, Newton Lane||25|
|Gilwern House, Abbotts Park||20|
|Land at Junction of Heathcote Close&Heywoods Close
|The Beeches, Plas Newton Lane||14|
|Total For Urban Area||860|
ii) Rural Area
|Outstanding on sites under construction:||Number of Dwellings|
|Cuckoos Nest, Pulford||8|
|Oak Bank, Church Road, Dodleston||6|
|Haulage Yard, Ash Road, Elton||41|
|Land rear of properties between Barton&Charnwood,
Chester Road, Kelsall
|Land adjacent to Greenfields, Chester Road, Malpas||4|
|2 Hermitage Road, Saughall||5|
|Pool Bank Farm, Tarvin||5|
|Park Avenue, Tattenhall||2|
|Land between Fox Lane, Holywell Lane&Lower Hall
|With permission but not started:||Number of Dwellings|
|Mickle Lodge, Mickle Trafford||44|
|Mount Farm, Chorlton Lane Chorlton by Backford||5|
|Land at Lodge Lane, Saughall (Exception Site)||12|
|Rear of High Street, Tarvin (Land off Park Close)||10|
|Smithy Garage ,Tarporley Road Clotton||5|
|Duddon Hall Farm, Tarporley Road Duddon||5|
|Old Chapel House, High Street, Tattenhall.||14|
|Total for Rural Area||191|
|Total for District of sites of 5 or more||1051|
|Total for District of sites of 4 or less||179|
7.20 The Local Plan allocates a number of sites for housing, over and above existing commitments. These allocations are set out in Figure 7c and are included in Policy HO 2. The numbers of units shown against each allocation are estimates. In line with Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing, which encourages making effective and efficient use of land, densities of less than 30 dwellings per hectare will be avoided and higher densities will be sought through development briefs in appropriate locations. Further details are included in Supplementary Planning Document: Design Guide for Residential Development.
Additional Site Allocated in Local Plan
|i) Urban Area||Estimated Number of Dwellings|
|Commonhall Street (B)||41|
|Surplus land on the Countess of Chester Health Park (B)||200|
|Surplus land on the Countess of Chester Health Park (B)||55|
|Linenhall Stables (B)||40|
|Hunter St/Northgate (B)||65|
|Heath Lane, Boughton (B)||38|
|North East Urban Action Area (B)||510|
|ii) Rural Area||Estimated Number of Dwellings|
|Townfield Lane, Farndon (G)||45|
|Rock Farm Elton (B)||20|
|Top Farm, Farndon (G)||10|
|Tarporley Road, Tarvin (G)||40|
(B) Brownfield (G) Greenfield
7.21 The Local Plan makes an allowance for certain additional sites to be developed (i.e. sites which it has not been possible to identify at this stage but which are expected to come forward for development, so-called “windfall sites”). These may include, small scale and infill development (i.e. the development of small gaps in an otherwise built-up frontage for one or two dwellings), or the conversion of certain non-residential buildings to residential use. These could include the conversion of premises above shops and offices, especially in the city centre where, until recently, funding was available through the "Living Over The Shop" initiative.
7.22 The projection of the future brownfield windfall contribution is included in Figure 7d. The past rates of development from which future projections are extrapolated are based entirely upon actual small site completions, thereby giving a more reliable picture of what is likely to happen. This has also been carried out within the context of an assessment of urban potential to ensure that sufficient sites exist on the ground to accommodate the likely rate of projected development. It is estimated that some 600 dwellings could result from this source over the Plan period as a whole. Greenfield sites have been excluded from the calculation in accordance with the requirements of Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing.
7.23 As far as agricultural and other rural buildings are concerned, the Council expects these to be converted mainly to some form of employment use rather than residential, as set out in Policy EC 11 in the chapter on the Economy which is in line with national guidance.
Summary of Housing Land Availability
|Additional Allocations Remaining||1064|
|Small Brownfield Windfall Site Allowance||310|
7.24 The above table represents the housing land supply position as at 1 April 2002.
Policies and Proposals
Scale of Housing Provision
7.25 Policy HO1 below sets out the level of provision which the Local Plan makes for housing.
Policy HO 1
The Local Plan makes provision for the development of 3,800 dwellings for the period 1996 to 2011 to meet the requirement of the Cheshire Replacement Structure Plan, through the following ways:
- the allocation of land for new housing, some of which already has planning permission
- allowing for certain additional sites to be developed (i.e. sites which it has not been possible to identify at this stage but which are expected to come forward for development so-called “windfall sites”). These may include small scale and infill development or the conversion of certain non-residential buildings to residential use
To meet the strategic requirement for housing set out in the adopted Cheshire Replacement Structure Plan Cheshire 2011.
The Local Plan actually provides a total provision of 4899 dwellings for the period 1996–2011 which is above the minimum Structure Plan policy requirement, but will provide additional flexibility in accordance with strategic and national guidance.
Allocations for Housing Development
7.26 The provision made for additional housing in the Local Plan is through the allocation of sites, together with sites which already have planning consent. (See figure 7b above).
Policy HO 2
The following sites are allocated for general housing and identified on the Proposals Map:
|Surplus land on the Countess of Chester Health Park+||200|
|Heath Lane, Boughton+||38|
|North East Urban Action Area+||510|
|Rock Farm, Elton||20|
|Off Top Farm, Farndon||10|
|Tarporley Road, Tarvin+||40|
|Townfield Lane, Farndon+||45|
|+ See Policy HO 3 below|
General housing is defined as housing built for sale or rent on the open market.
To meet most of the requirement set out in Policy HO1
Where appropriate, the Council will prepare Development Briefs for sites listed above in conjunction with developers and relevant Parish Councils and local interest groups. These Development Briefs will indicate the general principles to be followed in the development, including phasing and, in particular, the need for a range of house sizes. They will also have regard to the nature and location of the site, to the delivery of open space, recreation, play areas and green ways and the existing and future household structure in the plan area. Provision will be made for open space as set out in Policy ENV23 in the section on Urban and Rural Landscape in the chapter on the Environment and Policies SR5–SR7 in the chapter on Sport and Recreation.
As far as the rural area is concerned, the Council considers that future housing in the rural part of the plan area should be located principally in the villages listed above where there is generally a range of community facilities, particularly a post office and/or general store, a primary school and a bus service. The Council also takes the view that development of the scale proposed would not undermine the character of these villages. It is hoped that this limited amount of development will help to safeguard the existing range of community services and contribute to the overall viability of each village.
The Council will review all applications to renew permissions for housing development in the context of the policy objectives of Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing, and by reference to the criteria in Policy HO 5.
7.27 For the purposes of the Local Plan, affordable homes encompass the range of both subsidised and market housing specifically designed for those unable to compete in the housing market. It may include accommodation within a converted and/or mixed-use property, on allocated sites, exception sites and windfall sites, designed to meet the specific needs of particular sectors, including the elderly, the disabled, students, key workers and shared equity schemes. Attention is drawn to policies HO 9 and HO 12 in this regard. In defining the eligibility for such property, the Council will have regard to the relationship between resources available to a household and the cost of providing accommodation as identified in the Housing Needs Surveys. These surveys will be the subject of a rolling programme of review and up dating and used to inform the Council’s Housing Strategy and negotiations with providers. Further details are included in the Supplementary Planning Document: Affordable Housing.
Policy HO 3
Where there is a demonstrable lack of affordable housing to meet local need, the Council intends to achieve a proportion of the houses on the following allocated sites to be built as affordable units and will negotiate with developers to achieve the indicative number of units shown below. Such houses are intended to meet local housing need both for initial and subsequent occupiers.
|Urban Area||Units||Affordable Element|
|Surplus land on the Countess of Chester Health Park||200||50|
|Heath Lane, Boughton||38||8|
|North East Urban Action Area||510||129|
|Townfield Lane, Farndon||45||18|
|Tarporley Road, Tarvin||40||10|
The Council will negotiate provision of affordable homes on sites which are not allocated in the Plan.
To make provision for local people who are not able to solve their housing needs by purchasing or renting on the open market.
The Council will generally be seeking to secure the number of units indicated in the policy to be built as "affordable units", in line with the advice set out in Government Guidance.
Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing outlines the key role that the planning system has in the delivery of affordable houses and is committed to providing high quality housing for people who are unable to access or afford market housing. Where the Council has decided that an element of affordable housing should be provided in the development of a site, then there is a presumption that such housing should be provided as part of the proposed development. Failure to apply this policy may justify the refusal of planning permission.
The developer must satisfy the Council that a suitable mechanism exists or will be set in place to ensure that the affordable housing will only be occupied in perpetuity by local people who are in need of such accommodation, and who cannot afford to buy or rent on the open market.
The Council anticipates that with regard to most affordable housing for sale, negotiations will normally seek to secure an agreement under Section 106 of the Town&Country Planning Act 1990 to restrict the occupancy of the affordable dwellings to persons falling within the categories of local need identified and/or to persons living in the local area. The Council will not seek to impose additional occupancy controls over and above those of a Registered Social Landlord (RSL) where the RSL will manage the units.
Future occupants of affordable housing, arising as a result of Policy HO3, will normally be nominated from Chester City Council's Housing Register or similar housing registers managed by approved and regulated housing organisations (including RSLs) operating in Chester District. Eligibility criteria will initially restrict affordable housing to local residents, people employed locally, or people with local connections.
This policy will also be applied to residential windfall sites in both the urban and rural area. These are sites which are not allocated in the Local Plan, but which nevertheless come forward during the lifetime of the Plan.
In the urban area it will apply to proposals of 25 units or more or on sites of over one hectare. Where a planning application site forms part of a potentially larger development site, the Council will have regard to the latter in assessing threshold levels.
In settlements in the rural area with a population of 3,000 or fewer, the Council will take into account the location, size, level of local need and available supply of land for housing when determining which sites should make provision for affordable homes.
In assessing the type and proportion of affordable homes to be provided on allocated and windfall sites, the Council will have regard to evidence of housing need as well as site size, suitability and the economics of provision.
In some instances the total number of housing units proposed on allocated sites, may exceed the indicative number of units identified in Policy HO2. In such circumstances any additional units will be treated as a windfall.
This policy may also be applied, where appropriate, to proposals that are submitted to renew planning consents.
In determining the number and type of affordable units to be built on each site, the Council will have regard to the demographic structure of the District or part of it, prevailing house prices, its Housing Register and the results of the Local Housing Needs Survey which was carried out in 2004 together with any update of this survey.
The Housing Needs Survey accurately reveals the different categories of need within Chester resulting from the following factors; overcrowding, concealed households, homelessness and housing costs. The need for affordable housing will vary over time and the Council will seek to ensure that housing needs information is regularly reviewed (up-dated needs information will be further provided as part of the Council’s Supplementary Planning Document: Affordable Housing). Housing profiles reveal that need is especially prevalent across the urban area and also in the main sustainable villages within the rural part of the district. Market analysis also reveals the higher housing costs (both mortgage and rental) associated with living in these areas of the district. The housing needs survey further reveals the prevalence to provide subsidised housing (particularly social rented and shared ownership tenures) in these locations. However, where other non-regulated or low cost tenures of affordable housing are proposed, the Council will have regard to the relationship between the resources available to a household and the costs of providing accommodation as identified in the Housing Needs Survey.
In exceptional circumstances, the City Council may consider provision of affordable housing element off-site or via a financial contribution. Such circumstances may include cases where the Council considers this would better contribute to the aim of providing balanced and mixed communities.
Further details are included in the Supplementary Planning Document: Affordable Housing.
Infill Housing Development
7.28 The following policy will be applied to proposals for infill development for housing in the urban area, the villages "washed over" by the Green Belt named in Policy HO 6 and to all settlements in the rural area outside the Green Belt.
Policy HO 4
Within the built-up envelope of towns and villages infill development defined as the construction of one or two dwellings in a small gap in an otherwise built-up frontage will be permitted subject to the following criteria being met:
- it is well sited and designed in relation to existing buildings and the overall character of the area and will not appear obtrusive or over-intensive
- it is complementary to the character of the existing built environment and has regard to local distinctiveness, vernacular styles and materials
- it is complementary to the natural environment and has regard to the pattern of planting or open space, including hedging, walling or other boundary treatments
- satisfactory provision is made for access and parking
- it makes provision for satisfactory separation between properties and provides adequate private open space
To avoid inappropriate development and in particular to ensure that the cumulative effects of such development do not adversely affect the character or amenity of established residential areas.
The development of larger sites between groups of dwellings, the development of a site on the end of a group of dwellings or the development of back land behind such a group does not constitute infill development.
Any proposals for infill development within conservation areas will be considered against Policy ENV 37 in the Conservation Area section of the Environment chapter and the Conservation Area Character Assessments.
Criteria for Assessing Proposals for Residential Sites not Allocated in the Local Plan
7.29 The Council expects to receive planning applications for residential development on sites that are not allocated for this purpose in the Plan. Such sites are sometimes referred to as "windfall sites". Policy HO 5 below provides the framework against which the Council will assess such proposals. Further details are included in Supplementary Planning Document: Design Guide for Residential Development.
Policy HO 5
Within the built-up envelope of towns and villages, proposals for residential development on land not allocated for such purposes will be permitted, only after having considered the availability and suitability of previously developed sites and having regard to the following criteria being met:
- it shall be of a scale and type appropriate to its proposed location
- it is well located in relation to access to jobs, shops and other services by modes other than the car
- that there is sufficient capacity of existing and potential infrastructure to accommodate further development
- the density of any residential development should reflect the relative accessibility of the location; the character of the surrounding area; and the need for a variety of house types and tenure
- it shall at least maintain and where possible improve the standard of the environment by harmonising with its surroundings especially in terms of its design, scale, height, mass, density, type of materials, layout and landscaping
- the site is not allocated for any other purpose in the Local Plan
The Council wishes to ensure that previously developed sites should be developed before greenfield sites, and that any proposal should accord with a sequential approach.
The guidance also states that Local Planning Authorities should encourage housing development that makes efficient use of land and should seek greater intensity of development at places with good public transport links. Therefore on appropriate sites, densities of higher than 30 dwellings per hectare net will be required unless local circumstances indicate that this would be unacceptable.
In determining such applications the Council will have regard to the nature and location of the proposed development, whether the proposal would be likely to give rise to or attract related activities and any other material considerations. The Council will expect any development to be of an appropriate scale, within the urban area, or within an existing settlement in the rural area and closely related to the existing built form. Outside settlements in the open countryside, proposals will be considered under Policy HO 7 “Housing in the Open Countryside.”
Any proposals for development in the Green Belt will be considered on their merits, having regard to the advice in Planning Policy Guidance Note 2: Green Belts.
Where appropriate, the Council may require Development Briefs. These Development Briefs will indicate the general principles to be followed in the development, including phasing and, in particular, the need for a range of house size. They will also have regard to the nature and location of the site, to the delivery of open space, recreation, play areas and green ways and the existing and future household structure in the plan area. Provision will be made for open space as set out in Policy ENV 23 in the section on Urban and Rural Landscape in the chapter on the Environment and Policies SR 5-7 in the chapter on Sport and Recreation.
In all appropriate situations, the Council will encourage the inclusion of affordable housing in accordance with Policy HO 3.
Housing Development in Villages Outside the Green Belt
7.30 In the rural part of the plan area outside the Green Belt there are many settlements surrounded by countryside.
7.31 In the Chester Rural Area Local Plan, boundaries were defined for a number of settlements. Within these boundaries certain policies and proposals were applied in respect of allocations for housing and infill development. However, in the light of current guidance from Central Government it is no longer appropriate to define settlements in this way.
7.32 The approach in this Plan towards the control of new development in settlements outside the Green Belt is set out in policies HO 4 and HO 5. The Plan also makes provision for a limited number of new houses in the form of additional allocations in the following villages where there is a range of community facilities:
7.33 The Council stresses, however, that it does not want this change in approach to be seen to be a relaxation of the strict policies controlling residential development in the rural area.
Infill Development in "Washed Over" Villages in the Green Belt
7.34 In a Green Belt there is generally a presumption against new development (see Policy ENV 63 in the Green Belt section in the Environment chapter). However, in line with current national advice on Green Belt, Policy HO 6 below identifies a number of villages in the Green Belt where infill development only will be allowed, subject to certain criteria being met.
7.35 It should be noted that, with the exception of Capenhurst, these villages were previously "inset" in the Green Belt in the Chester Rural Area Local Plan.
Policy HO 6
In the following “washed over” villages in the Green Belt, infill development will be permitted subject to the criteria in Policy HO 4 being met.
Infill development is defined in Policy HO 4 above.
With the exception of Capenhurst, these villages were previously "inset" in the Green Belt, i.e. they were effectively "holes" within the Green Belt and, as such, were not subject to Green Belt policies.
However, the Council now considers that there are no longer any sites within these villages which are either suitable or available for groups of dwellings to be built on. It, therefore considers that it is no longer appropriate to continue their "inset" status but that they should now be included within the Green Belt i.e. "washed over".
In the Green Belt infill development will not be permitted outside these “washed over” villages. This policy does not apply to outlying hamlets/annexes beyond the edge of the existing built form of any “washed over” village.
Any proposals for infill development will be subject to the criteria set out in Policy HO 4 being met to ensure that such development does not have an adverse effect on the character of the village concerned.
Capenhurst has been added to the list because the Council considers that there is scope for infill development in this village.
The approach suggested above is consistent with current advice set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 2: Green Belts published by Central Government.
(For "Low Cost" housing in the Green Belt see Policy ENV 67 in the section on the Green Belt in the Environment chapter).
Housing in the Open Countryside
7.36 Open countryside is defined as that part of the rural area beyond the edge of the existing built form of any settlement.
Policy HO 7
In the open countryside the construction of new dwellings will not be permitted other than in accordance with Policy EC 23.
Isolated new houses in the countryside require specific justification - for example where they are essential to enable farm or forestry workers to live at or near their place of work. Where possible, such a dwelling should be sited within a nearby group of dwellings or a farm building complex to reduce their visual impact.
In respect of infill development in the open countryside, see Policy HO 4 above.
Minor extensions to groups of existing dwellings in the countryside to enable a farm or forestry worker to live at or near their place of work may be acceptable and the Council will consider these on their merits. Such development must not have an adverse impact on the overall character of the area, depending on the nature of the development proposed, the character of the surroundings and the number of such groups in an area.
(For agricultural workers' dwellings see Policy EC 23 in the Agricultural Land and Buildings section in the Economy chapter).
Extensions to Existing Dwellings
7.37 The policies set out in the former Chester Rural Area Local Plan which limited the size of extensions to small dwellings have been replaced by design criteria which will be applied to all extensions, throughout the plan area, whatever the size of the original dwelling. However, the Council will not expect the size of any extension to be more than 30% of the original floorspace.
Policy HO 8
Extensions to existing dwellings will be permitted provided all of the following criteria are met:
- the proposal is in keeping with the scale and character of the existing dwelling
- the visual appearance of the extension is acceptable in relation to the existing dwelling and its wider setting
- satisfactory provision is made for access and parking
- the proposal would not be detrimental to the amenities of nearby existing residential properties
To prevent inappropriate development which would be out of scale and character with the existing dwelling.
As a general guide the size of extensions should not exceed 30% of the original dwelling as existing on 1 July 1948 or in relation to a dwelling built after that date, as so built, unless the dwelling has subsequently been replaced.
As a guide two storey extensions with flat roofs are unacceptable.
As a guide two storey extensions with flat roofs are unacceptable.
(See also Policy ENV 66 in the Green Belt section in the Environment chapter)
Further details are included in Supplementary Planning Document: Household Extensions.
Conversion of Non-Residential Properties to Residential Use
7.38 The Council will encourage the creation of dwellings through the conversion of non-residential properties, especially above shops and offices.
Policy HO 9
Proposals for the conversion of non-residential properties to residential use within settlements will be permitted provided an acceptable standard of accommodation can be achieved.
Such accommodation can safeguard the future of existing buildings and contribute to the supply of dwellings, particularly in premises above commercial uses in the urban area and in the villages.
To ensure that any conversion can provide an acceptable standard of accommodation.
The Council will positively encourage the re-use of upper floors within the city centre for residential purposes. In listed buildings the Council will resist the removal of stairway access to upper floors, in order to encourage their appropriate re-use.
The creation of more residential accommodation within the city centre through the conversion of non residential properties will strengthen the city’s sense of place, bringing life back into the area, particularly in the evening and early morning.
This Policy does not apply to the conversion of buildings in the open countryside which is dealt with in Policies HO 10 below and EC 11 in the chapter on the Economy.
See also the conservation section in the Environment chapter and the Transport chapter.
The Re-Use of Rural Buildings
Policy HO 10
Where rural buildings are proposed for conversion to residential use planning permission will only be permitted if an employment use or mixed-use including employment is neither feasible nor appropriate and it is demonstrated that the building is capable of meeting the following criteria:
- the building is of permanent and substantial construction
- the proposal would not have an unacceptable impact on the amenities of people living nearby
- any associated uses of land surrounding the buildings would not be in conflict with the openness of the Green Belt and open countryside, nor would the change of use of the buildings lead to a requirement for additional development which would have a similar detrimental effect
- the form, bulk and general design of the building is in keeping with its surroundings
- if the building is in the open countryside, it is capable of conversion without major or complete reconstruction
- the proposal would not have a detrimental impact on the natural beauty and landscape diversity of the countryside and its nature conservation interest
- the proposal has satisfactory road access and would not generate levels of traffic flows or use of rural roads by large vehicles in circumstances which would be detrimental to highway safety
- the proposal would not be adversely affected by nearby agricultural use
- the proposal would not have a detrimental effect on the architectural character and importance of the building and, where the proposed use gives rise to the need for alterations or limited extensions, the effect of such alterations or extensions would not be detrimental to the character of the building
- employment use would be detrimental to the character of a listed building
The Council will normally wish to see rural buildings converted to an employment use rather than residential, in line with Policy EC 11 in the Economy chapter which is based on national guidance. However, in the circumstances set out in this policy conversion to residential use may be acceptable particularly where it could meet an identified housing need or provide affordable accommodation. In such cases, planning applications should be supported by a statement explaining why, for reasons such as traffic generation, the impact on the building and /or locality, an industrial or commercial use would neither be feasible or appropriate and that a residential conversion would be preferable.
The Council considers it may be appropriate to grant permission for the conversion of a listed building to residential use where conversion to employment use would be more detrimental to the character or special interest of the building. Further details are included in Supplementary Planning Document: Re-Use of Rural Buildings.
7.39 Policy HO 11 sets out how the Council will deal with any proposals to replace existing dwellings.
Policy HO 11
Planning permission for replacement dwellings will only be granted where the new dwelling is not materially larger than the dwelling it replaces and satisfies the criteria set out in Policy HO 4.
To avoid uncharacteristic development.
As a general guide a size of replacement dwelling should not exceed 30% of the original dwelling as existing on 1 July 1948 or in relation to a dwelling built after that date, as so built, unless the dwelling has subsequently been replaced.
The onus is placed on the applicant to justify a larger dwelling than that previously on the site.
(For proposals in the Green Belt see Policy ENV 66 in the Green Belt section in the Environment chapter)
Further details are included in Supplementary Planning Document: Design for Residential Development.
Low Cost Housing in the Rural Area
7.40 For the purposes of the Local Plan, "low cost housing" is defined as housing built, on an exceptional basis, immediately on the edge of a rural settlement to meet local need.
Policy HO 12
Planning permission will be granted, on an exceptional basis, for low cost housing on sites immediately on the edge of or within a settlement in the rural area of the District, providing all the following criteria are met:
- it can be demonstrated that the housing will meet a particular need that cannot be satisfied in any other way
- the applicant must satisfy the Council that the scheme is economically viable in terms of providing low cost housing for an identified local need both for the initial and subsequent occupiers
- the housing will only be available to persons falling within the categories of need identified
- the siting, scale, layout and design of any housing scheme must be in keeping with the character of the settlement and must not exceed its environmental capacity
To make provision for local people who are not able to solve their housing needs by purchasing or renting on the open market.
The applicant must provide accurate and strong evidence to satisfy the Council there is a need for the type and scale of development proposed in the particular settlement concerned and the surrounding parishes generally within a five mile radius (excluding the urban area). In this respect the Council may carry out its own survey to assess the evidence supplied by the applicant.
In determining the categories of local housing need applicable to each scheme, the Council will have regard to the demographic structure of the District or part of it, prevailing house prices, its Housing Register and the results of the Local Housing Needs Survey 2004, together with any update of this Survey. In general the types of people who will qualify for such houses are those who have strong local or social ties with the immediate area.
The applicant must satisfy the Council that a suitable mechanism exists or will be set up to ensure the accommodation will only be occupied by local people who are in need of such housing and who cannot afford to buy or rent on the open market. It is envisaged that such a mechanism would be provided by a housing association or some form of village trust.
On exception sites, planning permission will only be granted where the landowner has entered into an agreement with the Council under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, although this may not be needed in respect of housing under the control of a registered social landlord to restrict the occupancy of the proposed dwellings to persons falling within the categories of local need identified and to persons living in specified parishes.
Schemes which involve the development of "low cost housing" in association with normal market housing on an edge of village site will not be permitted.
To ensure that any housing built as an exception to normal policy is of a type suitable to meet local need on a continuous basis.
In relation to “environmental capacity”, the Council will have regard to there being sufficient capacity of existing and potential infrastructure to accommodate further development and that it should not compromise the conservation or protection of features or areas of particular historic interest.
In the case of single dwellings the Council will seek to limit the upper size limit. It is expected that such houses will be in the size range 56-110sq m.
(For the area covered by the Green Belt, see also Policy ENV 67 in the Green Belt section in the chapter on the Environment)
Protection of Existing Dwellings
7.41 The Council will resist proposals which would result in the net loss of existing dwellings.
Policy HO 13
Proposals for the demolition or conversion of existing residential units will be permitted only if they do not lead to a net loss of dwellings, or if they are necessary to bring about significant improvements in the quality of sub-standard housing stock.
To maintain the present level of residential accommodation as part of the overall approach of providing more dwelling units in plan area, whilst allowing for improvements to the stock where necessary.
Protection of Land Allocated for Housing Development
7.42 The Council will resist proposals which would result in the development of land allocated for housing for other purposes.
Policy HO 14
On land allocated for housing purposes planning permission will be permitted for redevelopment other than housing only where it can be demonstrated that:
- it will not result in a net loss of the number of housing units allocated; and
- it would result in a mix of uses appropriate to the location and nature of the site
The Council wishes to maintain the present level of residential accommodation as part of the overall approach of providing more dwelling units in plan area.
However, it also wishes to allow for appropriate mixed-use development which can help create vitality and diversity and reduce the need to travel.
Residential Accommodation for Homeless Persons, Care in the Community Provision and Private Nursing and Elderly Persons' Homes
7.43 Various agencies are involved in making provision for the housing needs of homeless persons. These include the Council, Housing Associations and Voluntary Groups.
7.44 With regard to Care in the Community, the general approach advocated by Central Government is now to accommodate people who would previously have lived in some form of institution in suitable premises within the community itself. Such provision will vary according to the needs of the people concerned but generally this will take the provision of hostels or other similar "domestic" scale accommodation.
7.45 In addition to provision by public sector agencies, there are an increasing number of elderly persons and nursing homes provided by private organisations.
Policy HO 15
Proposals for residential accommodation for homeless persons, care in the community provision, and private nursing and elderly persons’ homes will be permitted provided the following criteria are satisfied:
- the suitability of the premises for the proposed use
- the proposal would not result in material harm to the living conditions of adjoining residents
- the proposals would not have a detrimental effect on the established character of the area
- the proposal would not be detrimental to highway safety
- public transport is available in the area
To balance the need for such uses against the protection of the amenities of existing residents.
In determining proposals the Council will have regard to the proximity of existing community facilities.
This Policy sets out the broad criteria which the Council will use to assess future planning applications.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO's)
7.46 In simple terms, a dwelling in multi-occupation can be defined as one which is occupied by more than one household, where each household lives independently from any other within the same building unit - although some facilities may be shared.
7.47 There are more than 500 HMO's in the plan area, with the majority being concentrated in specific parts of the urban area. Some of this accommodation is occupied by students.
7.48 Planning permission is required for the conversion of a property into an HMO where it is to be occupied by more than six people. Policy HO 16 is designed to maintain a supply of HMO's whilst at the same time protecting the amenities of other residents.
Policy HO 16
Where planning permission is required for a change of use to a House in Multiple Occupation, permission will be refused where the change of use would lead to the deterioration of the general standards of amenity in the area.
In determining whether or not a proposal is likely to lead to deterioration in the general standard of amenity, the Council will have regard to:
- whether the type and size of property would be suitable for multiple occupation
- whether the number of properties in multiple occupation in the area has already led to a deterioration in the general standard of amenity
- whether the existing roads are capable of accommodating “on-street” parking
- whether there is space to provide a bin store
- whether it is possible to carry out any necessary alterations to the external elevations of a property without damaging the character of the building or the locality
To maintain a supply of HMO's whilst at the same time protecting the amenities of other residents in the nearby area.
7.49 Approximately 40% of all the students attending The University of Chester live in residential accommodation off the campus.
7.50 There are a number of other educational establishments within the plan area which have students in accommodation off the campus, e.g. the Law College in Christleton.
7.51 The Council accepts the need for further student accommodation. However, it also acknowledges that in some cases such accommodation could have an adverse impact on existing residents in the nearby area.
Policy HO 17
Proposals for the conversion of a dwelling to student accommodation will be granted provided that the following criteria are met:
- it does not result in the net loss of existing family dwellings
- the floorspace of the dwelling is greater than 200 square metres measured externally
- the college/university which the student(s) attends can demonstrate a need for such accommodation which it cannot meet by more acceptable means, particularly purpose-built accommodation
- any proposal will not detract from the amenities of the area
Where a dwelling is less than 200 square metres permission will be refused unless:
- overriding reasons or benefits to the area can be demonstrated
- the dwelling no longer provides living accommodation for a single household occupation to a satisfactory standard or is situated in an unsatisfactory environment
- it can be demonstrated that no other way is practicable to preserve the property
To facilitate the provision of student accommodation whilst at the same time protecting the amenities of local residents.
Any permission granted for student accommodation as a special case where reduced car parking standards are accepted must be subject to a Section 106 Agreement under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 restricting the occupancy to students of a college/university acceptable to the Council.
7.52 A "granny flat" is the term used to describe the accommodation provided for an elderly relative so that the occupants of the main dwelling can play a supportive role in looking after that relative. Such accommodation can take the form of an extension to the main dwelling, the conversion of an existing curtilage building or, exceptionally, the provision of a new free-standing building.
7.53 The Council is sympathetic to the provision of such accommodation where it is required to meet a genuine need. The Council will normally approve a proposal for a granny flat, providing the criteria set out in Policy HO 18 are met. A planning condition will be imposed upon planning permission and/or there will be a requirement that the applicant enters into a legal agreement which ties the occupation of the granny flat to the main dwelling unit where self-contained accommodation is proposed which would otherwise be unacceptable as a separate dwelling.
Policy HO 18
The provision of granny flat accommodation will be permitted where:
- the accommodation is an extension to the existing dwelling and will not be used as a separate unit of accommodation and meets the criteria in Policy HO 8; or
- the accommodation is a conversion of an existing curtilage building and would continue to be in the same ownership control; and
- the proposed extension or conversion will not adversely affect the character of the area, the amenities of nearby residents nor issues of highway safety
To ensure that such accommodation is required to meet a genuine family need.
Where the proposed accommodation would involve an extension to an existing dwelling or the conversion of an existing curtilage building, the Council will expect the applicant to enter into a Section 106 Agreement under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to prevent the severance of the ‘granny flat’ from the main dwelling, and/or limiting the occupation of the conversion to the dependent relative(s), the occupation of the main dwelling to the relatives of the dependent(s), and preventing the sub-letting of either property.
Day Nurseries and Similar Facilities for the Supervision of Young Children
7.54 Provision for the supervision of young children may take various forms e.g. child minding, day nursery, crèche or play group. It has been traditionally been accepted in Cheshire that a day nursery exists where premises are used to supervise six or more children under school age.
7.55 Planning permission is required for:
- The erection of a building to be used as a day nursery or crèche or the erection of an extension to existing premises.
- The change of use of existing premises, including the partial change of use of a dwelling house, from a use not included in Class D1 of the Town and Country Planning Act Use Classes (Amendment) Order, 2006.
Policy HO 19
Where planning permission is required proposals for the provision of day nurseries or similar facilities for the supervision of young children will be permitted provided all the following criteria are met:
- the premises are suitable for the proposed use having regard to the character of the area and the likely impact on the level of amenity currently enjoyed by the occupiers of the adjoining properties
- the proposal would not be detrimental to highway safety and satisfactory provision is made for parking
To ensure that day nurseries are located in a suitable location and to protect the amenities of existing residents.
This Policy sets out the broad criteria which the Council will use to assess future planning applications.
Improvement of Older Housing
7.56 One of the aims in the current Housing Strategy is to encourage the improvement of older housing in the plan area.
Policy HO 20
Within renewal areas proposals involving the improvement of the housing stock and the external environment will be permitted.
To improve the amenities of these areas.
There is one statutorily declared Renewal Area at present within the city centre known as The Royals.
Improvement of the external environment could take the form of traffic management schemes, landscaping and rear passageway improvements.
Gypsy Caravan Sites
5.57 There is one authorised gypsy site in the plan area, at Hapsford, which the Council presently considers provides adequate accommodation for gypsies residing in the area and also for families in transit through the area. The site itself is capable of further expansion to provide additional pitches.
7.58 In accordance with the advice contained in Planning Policy Guidance Note 2: Green Belts and Circular 1/94, caravan sites are not considered to be appropriate in the Green Belt, in open countryside or other areas where development is severely restricted e.g. Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Outside those areas any proposal for caravan sites will be determined by the Council in accordance with the criteria set out in Policy HO 21.
Policy HO 21
Any proposal for a gypsy caravan site should satisfy the following criteria:
- there should be an identified need for a site supported by a relevant gypsy body
- it should not be located within the Green Belt nor in an Area of Special County Value
- it should not prejudice the long term planning of the area
- it should not be detrimental to highway safety and satisfactory provision should be made for parking
- it should be within easy reach of shops, schools and medical facilities and preferably a bus route
- it should be suitable for the gypsies to carry on their regular trades
- it should not cause material harm to the character and appearance of the area or where applicable to watercourses
To protect environmental features, safeguard the amenities of local residents, maintain road safety and ensure that people living on a gypsy caravan site have access to community facilities.
The Council will consult with the National Gypsy Council in respect of such proposals.
Circular 1/94 “Gypsy Sites Policy and Unauthorised Camping”, defines gypsies as “persons of nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin”. The term does not include “members of an organised group of travelling showmen, or of persons engaged in travelling circuses, travelling together as such”.
The Council will have regard to the impact upon respect for private and family life and home, in the consideration of any planning application.
Non-residential Uses in Predominantly Residential Areas
7.59 The Council considers it is vitally important to protect the local environment and amenities of existing, predominantly residential areas. It may be appropriate to permit non-residential uses in such areas e.g. employment uses, provided these are compatible in scale and character with the area.
Policy HO 22
Development proposals in predominantly residential areas will not be permitted unless they are in scale and character with the area and will not be detrimental to the local environment nor amenities.
The Council considers it is vitally important to safeguard the character of residential areas.
7.60 The following issues arising from this chapter will be monitored during the plan period. This information will help in the application of policies and will be used to assess their effectiveness:
- housing land availability
- proportion of housing development on previously developed sites
- loss of housing land and buildings to other uses
- rate and type of development meeting the Structure Plan requirement
- the number of affordable homes being provided.
Environmental Appraisal of Policeis and Proposals
7.61 The Environmental Appraisal shows that those policies addressing the allocation of new housing sites to meet the future population growth of the District have a negative impact upon global sustainability. These policies are likely to result in increased traffic movements and will require infrastructure provision, thus not improving transport efficiency.
7.62 However, the policies also seek to restrict development in the Green Belt and countryside which not only protects the landscape but also contributes to preserving the global atmosphere by safeguarding tree cover.
7.63 The environmental effect of many of the housing policies on the global sustainability assessment criteria is difficult to appraise as design details are necessary for this to be determined.
7.64 The new housing allocations have a negative impact on natural resources as new dwellings are likely to stimulate an increase in the consumption of fossil fuels and the generation of waste. The new allocations will also result in landtake which in turn could affect biodiversity and agriculture and forestry activities.
7.65 However, many of the housing policies also promote the re-use and conversion of existing buildings and the utilisation of infill sites. This is a positive step, as recycling buildings and land helps to reduce the expenditure of natural resources.
7.66 Although some of the new housing allocations will have a negative impact upon the landscape the policies, wherever possible, seek to restrict development in the open countryside. Furthermore, many of the policies contain criteria seeking to protect the character of the existing built environment.
7.67 Also, those policies which seek to provide various forms of social housing will lead to an improved quality of life for many residents. As with other policies, these schemes must reflect the vernacular styles of architecture and local building materials, thus enhancing the built environment.
Environmental Impact Significance
7.68 It is inevitable that allocations for the future development of 3800 dwellings in the District will have a negative environmental impact. However, this number of dwellings is based on future need and seeks to provide a range of housing which will not only provide homes for future households but also help to solve the housing problems existing in the District.