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Flintshire County Council Unitary Development Plan 2000-2015
Adopted 28th September 2011

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Chapter 4

General Development Considerations

Relevant Strategic Aims
All strategic aims are relevant
Policy Objectives
Policy List
  1. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT- to ensure that development is located and carried out in the most sustainable manner
  2. PROTECT THE OPEN COUNTRYSIDE- to ensure that the open countryside is protected from encroachment by development, particularly at the interface between town and country
  3. ASSESS THE IMPACT OF DEVELOPMENT- to ensure that full account is taken of the impacts of development on the social and cultural structure of communities, and the environment

GEN1 General Requirements for Development
GEN2 Development Inside Settlement Boundaries
GEN3 Development in the Open Countryside
GEN4 Green Barriers
GEN5 Environmental Assessment
GEN6 Welsh Language and Culture

Indicators of Policy Performance
  1. Amount and type of development in open countryside/on brownfield land in open countryside
  2. Net area of Green Barrier lost to development
  3. Percentage of Welsh Speakers in the Plan Area 
TARGET 1: No loss of green barrier land to development
TARGET 2: No development in open countryside contrary to policy


4 General Development Considerations


4.1 Under the “plan-led” system, UDPs are intended to provide a sound basis for rational and consistent decision making. Section 54A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 states that “where, in making any determination under the Planning Acts, regard is to be had to the development plan, the determination shall be made in accordance with the plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise”. In this context, the UDP must provide through its policies, a high degree of certainty to developers and the public about the nature of development that will be allowed in given locations.

4.2 In order to carry out the rational and equitable operation of the land use planning system, and ensure that future development patterns reflect the needs and priorities of Flintshire’s communities, the County Council will strive to uphold the policies of the Flintshire UDP wherever they apply.

4.3 The policies of the UDP should therefore not be viewed in isolation, as the overall aim of sustainable development is to ensure an integrated approach to planning, in which all possible implications of a proposal are considered. Applicants and other users of the Plan will therefore have to take account of all relevant policies and proposals, as a failure to meet these requirements may justify grounds for refusal, where there are no other overriding material considerations.

4.4 Whilst the UDP contains specific locational and land use policies, there are also certain general planning requirements which are relevant and must be taken into account when considering development proposals, as together their regulation represents the core function of the planning system. The following policies define these general requirements and highlight the criteria which all development proposals should address.


General Development Considerations

GEN1 General Requirements for Development

Development that requires planning permission and is in accordance with the Plan’s other policies, should be located on land, or within suitable buildings, which satisfies the following requirements:

  1. the development should harmonise with the site and surroundings in terms of the siting, scale, design, layout, use of space, materials, external appearance and landscaping;
  2. the development should take account of personal and community safety and security in the design and layout of development and public/private spaces;
  3. the development should not have a significant adverse impact on recognised wildlife species and habitats, woodlands, other landscape features, townscapes, built heritage, features of archaeological interest, nor the general natural and historic environment;
  4. the development should not have a significant adverse impact on the safety and amenity of nearby residents, other users of nearby land/property, or the community in general, through increased activity, disturbance, noise, dust, vibration, hazard, or the adverse effects of pollution;
  5. the development should provide, where appropriate, safe and convenient access for pedestrians, cyclists, persons with disabilities, and vehicles, together with adequate and suitably located parking spaces and servicing/manoeuvring space;
  6. the development should not have an unacceptable effect on the highway network as a result of problems arising from traffic generation, and should incorporate traffic calming measures where appropriate;
  7. the development should have, where appropriate, convenient access to public transport, and wherever possible is well related to pedestrian and cycle routes;
  8. the development must have regard to the adequacy of existing public services (e.g. gas, water, electricity), with new infrastructure capable of being provided in reasonable time and at minimum public cost;
  9. the development should not result in/be susceptible to problems related to drainage, land stability, contamination, or flooding, either on or off site;
  10. the development should not prejudice land or buildings safeguarded for other uses, or impair the development or use of adjoining land; and
  11. the development should not result in the permanent loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land where either suitable previously developed land or land in lower agricultural grades is available.

4.5 This policy’s ultimate aim is to ensure the development of sustainable communities, by ensuring that proposals for development are submitted with the highest standards of quality and design possible, are carried out in a responsible and appropriate manner, and have the minimum adverse impacts on the physical, social and economic environment around them.

4.6 The criteria serve as useful development control guidance for those submitting planning applications or putting forward development proposals. Whilst comprehensive, the list of criteria does not encompass all eventualities, and should be applied, where appropriate, in conjunction with other relevant policies and proposals in the Plan.


The Relationship of Development to Settlement Boundaries

GEN2 Development inside Settlement Boundaries

Development will normally be permitted within settlements defined by settlement boundaries, as shown on the proposals map.

4.7 Settlement boundaries are designed to set clear limits to towns, villages and urban areas. In planning terms they define the extent of the urban areas where in principle new development will be permitted subject to policies in the plan and material planning considerations. In the case of housing there are limitations imposed by HSG3.

4.8 The boundaries are shown on the proposals maps. Not all groups of houses have a settlement boundary defined for them as they are considered to be of insufficient size and/or have insufficient capacity to accommodate future growth in a satisfactory manner.

Other key policies:


GEN3 Development in the Open Countryside

Development proposals outside settlement boundaries, allocations, Development Zones and Principal Employment Areas will not be permitted, except for:

  1. essential worker housing (policy HSG4);
  2. small scale infill development, comprising one or two housing unit(s) within a clearly identified group of dwellings (policy HSG5);
  3. conversion, extension, adaptation and re-use of buildings (policies HSG7, RE4, and RE5);
  4. replacement dwellings (policy HSG6);
  5. affordable housing exceptions schemes adjoining existing villages (policy HSG11);
  6. small scale rural enterprise exception schemes adjoining existing settlement boundaries (RE4 and RE5);
  7. development related to agriculture, minerals extraction, rural diversification, tourism, leisure and recreation, and existing educational and institutional establishments, provided there is no unacceptable impact on the social, natural and built environment;
  8. essential works associated with statutory undertakers subject to the appropriate environmental considerations
  9. the expansion of existing employment development (EM5); and
  10. other development which is appropriate to the open countryside and where it is essential to have an open countryside location rather than being sited elsewhere.

4.9 Development outside settlement boundaries or other development allocations and development designations (Development Zones and Principal Employment Areas) is usually termed development in the ‘open countryside’, and because of the need to protect the countryside from unsustainable development, new development will in general not be permitted. There are however, very specific circumstances outlined by this policy and expanded elsewhere in the Plan, where new development may be permitted. “Appropriate” development in the open countryside is usually restricted to proposals for extensions to dwellings, conversions, development related to agricultural and forestry industries and recreational uses such as sports pitches. Essential development will include works associated with the utilities such as pipelines and cables which have to pass through open countryside and cannot be sited elsewhere.

4.10 Development in this respect will include extensions of residential gardens into the countryside which will not normally be permitted due to the detrimental impacts that they may have on the character of the countryside. Where permission is granted for small extensions Permitted Development Rights may be removed in order to avoid the introduction of urban forms of development such as garages and house extensions in the rural landscape.


GEN4 Green Barriers

The following areas have been designated as green barriers on the proposals map:


Gronant - Talacre - Gwespyr - Ffynnongroyw


Mold - Gwernymynydd


Carmel - Gorsedd


Mold - Mynydd Isa/Sychdyn/New Brighton


Flint - Bagillt


Connah’s Quay  - Northop Hall - Ewloe - Shotton


Flint - Connah’s Quay


Shotton - Mancot - Hawarden - Ewloe


Flint - Flint Mountain


Hawarden - Mancot - Hawarden Airport - Saltney (S River Dee)


Flint Mountain - Northop


Broughton - Hawarden Airport - Saltney - Cheshire Border


Gwernaffield - Pantymwyn


Sealand - Cheshire Border (N River Dee)


Holywell - Carmel


Buckley - Little Mountain - Dobshill - Drury - Hawarden - Ewloe


Holywell – Greenfield – Bagillt


Hope - Caergwrle


Development within green barriers will only be permitted where it comprises the following:

  1. justified development in association with agriculture or forestry;
  2. essential facilities for outdoor sport and recreation, or cemeteries;
  3. limited extension, alteration or replacement of existing dwellings;
  4. limited housing infill development to meet proven local housing need or affordable housing exceptions schemes;
  5. small scale farm diversification;
  6. the re-use of existing buildings; and
  7. other appropriate rural uses/development for which a rural location is essential.

provided that it would not:

  1. contribute to the coalescence of settlements; and
  2. unacceptably harm the open character and appearance of the green barrier.

4.11 In drawing up the Plan, detailed consideration has been given to the appropriateness of designating green belts in Wales, rather than the continued use of green barriers, in the light of guidance contained in para 4.7.1 of Planning Policy Wales (February 2011). Green barriers have been operating throughout the former County of Clwyd for many years and play a similar role to green belts in protecting key areas of open land and preventing the coalescence of settlements. The key difference is that green barriers are local, non-statutory designations and are usually less permanent than green belts which are a national, statutory planning tool.

4.12 Flintshire is predominantly rural in character and the more urbanised coastal strip and eastern part of the County features a large number of small and medium sized settlements in close proximity, being separated by narrow ‘necks’ of land. Compared with the large swathes of land comprising green belts around larger towns, cities and conurbations in England, green barriers are considered to be more appropriate for the physical make-up of Flintshire.

4.13 The existing green barriers in Flintshire were considered to be excessive, both in number and extent, which only serves to weaken the policy in protecting those areas of open countryside for which green barrier designation is fully justified and critical. Preparation of the Plan was therefore accompanied by a strategic and consistent review of existing green barriers to ensure that those in the UDP are both necessary and justified. The green barriers in the Plan have therefore been reduced both in number and extent to ensure that they are more strategic in terms of protecting only key areas of land where it is essential to retain its open character and appearance.

4.14 Furthermore, in seeking a more strategic approach, they have been designated with the intention of generally surviving beyond the Plan period along the lines of green belts. The decision to retain (and review) green barriers must be viewed in a sub-regional context wherein the decision by both Denbighshire and Wrexham not to designate green belts has been supported by the respective Inquiry Inspectors. A consistent approach is therefore being taken across North East Wales.

4.15 Green barriers have been identified between and around settlements and in the coastal area to the north of the County. They are intended to:

  1. safeguard the surrounding countryside or undeveloped coastline from further encroachment;
  2. prevent neighbouring towns or villages from merging into one another;
  3. preserve the special character of historic towns;
  4. assist in urban regeneration;
  5. protect major road junctions from development which would be visually intrusive and compromise the appearance of a junction within its rural setting.

4.16 It is important to prevent the coalescence of adjoining but distinct settlements, by restricting any form of development that would infringe on the open character of the intervening countryside. Curbing the outward spread of towns and villages will also encourage the more intensive use of vacant or under used land within settlements.

4.17 There are several uses of land and types of development normally allowed in the open countryside which may be permitted within green barriers as set out below:

  1. development in association with agricultural or forestry operations where it is essential for the development to be in that particular location (policy HSG4) but which would not unacceptably harm the openness of the green barrier;
  2. essential facilities for sport and recreation or in association with cemeteries (policy SR1, CF2) provided that any built development is kept to a minimum and is sited, designed and landscaped so as to not unacceptably harm the openness of the green barrier;
  3. the extension, alteration or replacement of existing dwellings (policy HSG6, HSG12) provided that the siting, scale and form of any development respects both the character and appearance of the existing, and any adjoining dwellings, and the site and its surroundings in terms of not unacceptably harming the openness of the green barrier;
  4. limited infill housing development, comprising one or two dwellings within a clearly defined group of dwellings (policy HSG5), or affordable housing exception schemes on the edge of existing settlements (policy HSG11), provided that the development would not unacceptably harm the openness of the green barrier;
  5. small scale farm diversification schemes (policy RE5) where these are not speculative and do not involve new build, extensions or additional activity which would unacceptably harm the openness of the green barrier;
  6. the re-use of existing buildings (policy HSG7, RE4) provided that the buildings are substantial, permanent and suitable for the intended use and that the nature of the use and any extension to or adaptation to the building would not unacceptably harm the openness of the green barrier;
  7. other appropriate uses or development for which a rural location is essential which would not unacceptably harm the openness of the green barrier.

4.18 A fuller explanation of the Plan’s approach to green barriers is set out in a separate background paper available on request.


Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Development

GEN5 Environmental Assessment

Development proposals that are likely to have a significant impact on the environment and do not require formal assessment under other legislation must be accompanied by suitable supporting environmental impact information.

4.19 Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) is the formal process by which information about the likely significant environmental effects of certain types of development is collected, assessed and taken into account, in deciding whether planning permission should be granted.

4.20 The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 1999 (as amended) and Welsh Office Circular 11/99 ‘Environmental Impact Assessment’ define when an environmental assessment is required under Schedules 1 and 2. Schedule 1 developments must always be subject to an EIA and would include major developments such as power stations etc. Development listed in schedule 2 requires EIA if it is likely to have significant environmental effects by virtue of factors such as size, nature and/or location. Examples include certain types of agricultural activities such as poultry farming, development involving extraction from the land, and certain types of manufacturing industries. In accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2008, EIA can be required for reserved matters applications. The Council intends to update its existing Local Planning Guidance Note on EIA in the form of Supplementary Planning Guidance.

4.21 Where development does not fall within either schedule 1 or 2 but still has a potentially significant effect on the environment, suitable supporting information must be submitted with the proposals which will allow the Council to properly assess the environmental impacts of the development.


Protecting the Welsh Language and Cultural Identity

GEN6 Welsh Language and Culture

Development proposals in areas which have a strong Welsh linguistic and cultural identity:

  1. must not cause demonstrable harm to the character of that community;
  2. and, where appropriate, should seek to reinforce the linguistic and cultural identity of that community.

4.22 The Welsh language is part of the social and cultural fabric of Wales. At the time of the 2001 Census some 21.4% of the population of Flintshire possessed at least one Welsh language skill compared with a Welsh average of 28.4% and a North Wales average of 40%. However, the language is more prevalent in certain parts of the County and the impact that development can potentially have on communities must therefore be taken into account in the UDP.

4.23 The Welsh language is more prevalent in Flintshire’s rural communities with around a third of the population speaking Welsh in communities like Treuddyn, Trelawnyd and Gwaenysgor, and Ysceifiog. The variation is significant however, with only 6 or 7% of the population speaking Welsh in communities like Queensferry, Broughton and Sealand which are close to the border with England.

4.24 The Plan’s strategy recognises the need to support and protect local linguistic and cultural identity, and the aim of Policy GEN6 is to ensure that where significant harm may occur as the result of development proposals, the developer will be required to submit supporting information which assesses and explains the likely effects on the Welsh linguistic and cultural identity the proposal may have.

4.25 The Council is awaiting the outcome of a Welsh Language Planning Study commissioned by a significant number of Unitary Authorities and supported by the National Assembly. The Council will use this information to prepare Supplementary Planning Guidance which will provide guidance on amongst other things, the means of assessing and measuring impacts and ‘demonstrable harm’.

4.26 Whether or not an applicant speaks Welsh is not a material planning consideration, and will not affect the normal application of relevant planning policies.

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