Objections of APPT & APC

Arnside Parish Plan Trust and Arnside Parish Council believe that SLDC has produced a Land Allocation plan which does not pass the main tests of soundness and which;
  • is not consistent with the detailed policies set out in its Core Strategy designed to apply the duty of the Council to protect the special characteristics and historic landscape of the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  In particular, its land allocations for housing propose using exclusively greenfield  sites and land rated currently as “Important Open Space” which will have an adverse impact on the AONB landscape and on Arnside’s settlement character.
  • fails to identify how specific local needs (for affordable rented social housing) will be delivered in practise, and who will deliver that need.
  • does not reconcile effectively the “highest status of protection” given to land within an AONB, as expressed in the new
    version of the NPPF, with delivering the local needs which qualify as “exceptional circumstances”.
  • has failed to explore sufficiently all potential alternatives and to apply the appropriate land use hierarchy. Instead it defaults to allocating greenfield sites and Important Open Spaces within the AONB which currently have “the highest level of protection” and are particularly valued by the local community and by the management of the AONB.
  • fails to address the need to regenerate brownfield sites in the village to repair the environmental damage they are inflicting.
  • has failed to win the support of the local community (550 signed petition against) and to respond to emerging local plans. Neither does it have the support of the management of the AONB, Arnside Parish Council, Arnside Parish Plan Trust and other bodies important to the management of the specially protected environment of the AONB.
  • relies on a planning policy which is not sustainable because it sets too high a site threshold of 0.3ha which could prevent a more organic approach to land use which will impose less damage  than the development of large sites.
  • assumes that a planning policy of relying on commercial development to provide affordable housing through a 65/35%
    allocation ratio is viable, without providing any evidence that this policy is workable in today’s and foreseeable market conditions.
  • assumes that this 65/35% ratio (which consumes three times the amount of land needed for affordable housing) can be justified in relation to “the highest status of protection” provided by the NPPF against inappropriate development of land within an AONB.
  • is not sustainable. Instead, it will damage the rural, open character of the village and its attraction to residents and visitors alike in a sensitive location within the AONB.  This will undermine the economy on which the local community depends for a viable future.
APPT and APC set out in more detail below the basis of its objections. The process for filing objections is complex and difficult for lay people to use with confidence. As this document has been prepared without the benefit of advice from a planning lawyer, we hope that all our points will still be considered even if not categorised correctly.
We also reserve the right to make further submissions, and to present emerging new information, at the Inspector’s hearing.
2.1. Overview
Our principal objections to the current Land Allocations for Arnside are that SLDC has not met the standards of evidence and proof required to justify the allocation of greenfield sites against the special protections afforded to such land by the national policies contained in the new version of the NPPF, and, as a result,  neither has it gained the support of the local
community.  The Allocations are not sound in the context of the specific circumstances of Arnside.
Apart from one brownfield site allocated for employment purposes, all sites allocated for housing are greenfield sites, and two of these are currently designated “Important Open Spaces”.  Land within an AONB has the highest status of protection under the NPPF and, within this AONB, these Important Open Spaces have, over a long time, been regarded by the community as having special value to the character and sustainability of Arnside.
We assert that SLDC has a special duty to apply to these sites the highest status of protection available. We further assert that they have not demonstrated to the standard required that there are no other viable alternatives within Arnside, or in surrounding areas, to meet specific local needs for affordable housing. Market housing does not fit the criteria of “need” in this context, especially as there are consistently over 70 dwellings available for sale in all price ranges in Arnside.
The Arnside community (through Arnside Parish Council and Arnside Parish Plan Trust) believe that there are viable alternatives which could be brought into play over the extended period covered by the Land Allocations process. Under the new Community Planning and Neighbourhood Planning regimes, SLDC should therefore take the opportunity to explore these alternatives more effectively with community representatives and to establish whether a better plan could be produced.
Because of the failure of SLDC to demonstrate that it has used its best endeavours to explore all reasonable alternatives, and because of a number of weaknesses in the evidence base used as set out in more detail below, we object to SLDC’s current Land Allocations because they fail the test of soundness on a number of points.
2.2. Housing needs in Arnside
We recognise and accept that more affordable housing is needed in Arnside. The most accurate survey currently available of need in the area (dated 2009) indicates that there is a short term need for 27 affordable homes in the village.    It is clear that by far the main element of that need is for social rented housing. Longer term needs are still very unclear.
There is already an adequate supply of market housing with available stock being sustained at over 70 homes for sale of all types and price ranges, so there is no “exceptional need” to allocate land for market housing.
There is also a history within the village of affordable housing being built but failing to be maintained as part of the ongoing affordable housing stock because it has been traded on as holiday homes and general market housing. This needs to be avoided in future.
We understand that, within a confined area such as Arnside, it is difficult to find sites which balance the conflicting objectives of providing needed affordable housing while at the same time preserving the character of the settlement within the AONB to the “highest status of protection” that SLDC, and we, are obliged to achieve.
We are concerned, however, that SLDC has produced a range of numbers to justify its Land Allocations. The attached Appendix illustrates the range of numbers cited in the plan. Under pressure from the local community, SLDC has reduced progressively the numbers allocated to the AONB in proportion to other areas within South Lakes District to try more effectively to minimise the adverse impact on the core characteristics of the AONB.   We welcome the reduction in numbers and the attempts to address this challenge.
However, the fact that these numbers have only recently been further amended, and that they are based on proportional data drawn from the wider region rather than specific local needs, illustrates the lack of certainty and the weak evidence base for the need within Arnside.
This is important because precise allocations are required to deliver the right types of homes, and in order to avoid the allocation of inappropriate sites, and the unnecessary – and avoidable – destruction of highly valued greenfield space.   We therefore believe that this element  of the plan is unsound because the calculation of need requires further work to ensure the correct housing types are delivered, and to ensure that unnecessary damage to the character of the village within the AONB is avoided.
APPT and APC are keen to engage in further work with SLDC to establish a more accurate assessment of housing need within the village.
2.3. Inappropriate Land Allocations
Arnside contains currently brownfield – and other smaller sites – which SLDC has not listed in the Land Allocations.  These sites could, and should, be developed both to supply affordable housing needs and to repair the detrimental affect on the character of the village caused by the derelict brownfield locations.  It is argued by APPT/APC that these sites, if brought into use over the term of the Land Allocations Plan to 2025, could supply much of the specifically identified affordable housing needs of the
The current SLDC Land Allocations, however, list exclusively greenfield sites for housing, two of which are currently listed as Important Open Space, and as such are important to defining the open and rural character of the village within the AONB and maintaining its long term economic sustainability.
We believe that the current allocations fail the test of supporting the economic and environmental sustainability test for the reasons set out in detail in the emerging Village Plan for Arnside http://www.arnside.gov.uk/Warehouse/ArnsideLookingForward4.pdf).
They are also the main concern of the 550+ signature petitions raised and submitted to SLDC during this process which stressed the need to protect these greenfields and Important Open Spaces. As a result, the current Allocations do not have the support of the Arnside community, and therefore they fail the soundness test for community engagement and support.
The current Allocations also fail to meet the sequential test for the use of brownfield sites etc before allocating greenfield sites. The allocation of greenfield sites currently designated as Important Open Space within an AONB is even further up the sequential hierarchy and therefore further from meeting the soundness test.
As stated above, there are a range of smaller infill and brownfield sites which would not have as adverse an environmental impact and which could be brought into use over the plan period, especially if SLDC applied some of its other powers, or to adjust some of its current planning policies (see below), or if it took a longer view of potential availability.
The current allocations therefore fail the “exceptional circumstances” and “highest status of protection” national policy soundness test for Land Allocations within an AONB. This is because the current documents fail to demonstrate that SLDC has used its best endeavours to find alternatives over the lifetime of this planning period, and because it has not adapted its planning policies to fit the special circumstances and “highest status of protection” applying within an AONB.
2.4. Specific concerns about the soundness of local policies.
We have concerns about some of the stated policies and planning assumptions applied by SLDC within this process.  If valid, they would mean that SLDC’s plan would fail the soundness tests in several regards.
  • SLDC has taken a policy decision not to include sites of less than 0.3 hectares in the current Land Allocations. As a
    consequence it has had to resort to allocating sensitive and controversial large greenfield sites. SLDC has admitted, however, that the smaller sites could well come into play during the plan period and they would probably get planning
    permission.  Such sites could, however, supply a substantial part of the local need for social rented housing, especially
    if they were developed in small increments by a housing association or similar body.  We understand that a smaller
    threshold of 0.1ha is being applied within the Lake District National Park. We believe therefore that the soundness test will not be met because SLDC has made this policy decision without opting for an alternative approach to allocate smaller sites which could be used in the context of the exceptional circumstance test and highest status of protection applying within an AONB.  The community believe that the larger and very sensitive greenfield sites should be removed from the allocations until the smaller site potential has been exhausted.
  • The Local Development Plan appears also to be critically dependent on the success of the assumption that the main local need – for social rented affordable housing – will be delivered through the policy of allocating sites to commercial developers, subject to them building a 35% ratio of affordable housing within development sites.  Despite considerable pressing for evidence, SLDC has not provided any data to demonstrate that this policy is viable and will succeed in the current economy and in future commercial development markets.
This is particularly important in view of major changes to financial and housing markets since 2008.  SLDC needs to prove that commercial developers will be able to overcome the additional financial burden placed on these sites to pay for affordable housing and for such elements as the Community Infrastructure Levy. This has to be done against a background of a difficult credit market, very low housing turnover volumes, and falling house prices. All this in an area where the planning portfolio holder hopes and believes that this land allocation policy will reduce the price of market housing by 20%, thus increasing the pressure on the development funding model.
We have evidence locally that builders are unable to raise finance for site development and the above burdens will only aggravate these problems.
Because this is such a critical and fundamental assumption underlying the whole of SLDC’s Land Allocations, and because the future supply of affordable housing appears to depend entirely on it operating effectively, it is essential that robust and “bankable” evidence is provided by SLDC.  Without it, the current Land Allocations cannot pass the deliverability test for the supply of local affordable housing and is therefore not sound.
  • The 65/35 development ratio also has one further major weakness; it requires three times the amount of land which would be needed if only the local need for affordable housing is covered.  This cannot be said to be meeting the
    test of “highest status of protection” or “exceptional circumstances” and is not sound because it does not comply with National Policy as expressed in the new version of the NPPF.
  • It is much more likely that an appropriate body needs to be found which will focus specifically on building social rented
    housing without needing to rely on subsidies from a premium placed on commercial developments of market housing.
    The SLDC documents do not deal adequately with this issue and are therefore unsound because they fail to provide sufficient evidence that the Land Allocations and associated policies will deliver the specific local need for social rented housing.
  • SLDC also appears to be driven by fear of the consequences of the new NPPF and their perception that developers will
    have unfettered access to land if sites are not allocated in a controlled process such as these Land Allocations.
    This is, it says, because of the “presumption in favour of development”.
We do notbelieve this to be true within an AONB because of the obligation to apply the “highest status of protection”, and inappropriate land allocations can continueto be resisted.  There is therefore no need to rush this process.  The current land allocations for Arnside should therefore be referred back for further work with the community to produce a more appropriate plan.
  • SLDC appears to be over-relying on the very short term application of the “Deliverability” criteria within the
    Development Framework. In practise, this has led it to rely on sites where there is a clear immediate intention of the owner to make the site available for development and to capitalise on a commercial opportunity.  If that commitment has not been made to date, potentially useful and less sensitive sites have been excluded, even if there is a reasonable chance that they will come into play over the longer term.  The consequence of this is that derelict and previously used sites, which should be improved as part of any sensible spatial plan for any community, have been ignored. The knock-on consequence is that greenfield sites could be destroyed while derelict sites remain unused.  This is not a sensible planning policy and fails even the commonsense soundness test.
  • It is clear that it will take some time to bring into play some of the smaller and brownfield sites within the village but it is
    argued that the exceptional circumstances of the village within the AONB justify the extra effort (or time delay) that may be required.  SLDC has failed to use its best endeavours to apply this extra effort by (for example) using the powers they have to bring derelict sites into use (such as Compulsory Purchase Orders).  APPT are keen to work with SLDC to produce a Plan which achieves these objectives but, so far, SLDC has failed this test of soundness in meeting the exceptional circumstances criteria required within an AONB.  The new Community planning regime under the Localism Act provides the opportunity to put this right by SLDC working closely with the community.   The current land allocations should be deferred until this process has been completed.  APPT/APC have an early draft of a community plan already in progress (http://www.arnside.gov.uk/Warehouse/ArnsideLookingForward4.pdf) and are keen to engage SLDC ‘s support in moving to a complete and workable version.
  • We understand that the management of the Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty have similar and
    additional objections to the soundness of these Allocations.  Arnside Parish Council, through Arnside  Parish Plan Trust, intend to coordinate their emerging plans with this and other stakeholders for this area.
  • We also understand that Lancaster City Council has a more appropriate treatment of land within the AONB in its Land
    Allocations policies but that SLDC has not yet coordinated its approach effectively with LCC. There may be solutions to local housing needs which could be accommodated within the neighbouring territories of LCC.  SLDC will therefore fail to meet the soundness test until this process has been completed.
  • Because of the above, the current Land Allocations  should be referred back for revision.  This revision would benefit from input from the emerging Arnside Community and Neighbourhood Plans which will address these issues.
Appendix 1
Land Allocation Development Plan Document – Calculation of Housing Need within the AONB*
There are 4 calculations of potential housing needs contained in the document for the AONB part of SLDC
This is based on the AONB population as a % of the total Local Development Framework (LDF) area population
LDF Population                    75000
AONB population  5%           3800    (Arnside 2300 and Beetham 1500)
Based on total district housing target of 400 per annum then 5% of this is 20 per annum for the AONB (12 for Arnside and 8 for Beetham)
Over the period 2003-2025 the total for the AONB is 460 (276 for Arnside and 184 for Beetham)
This is based on the 2009 Strategic Market Assessment for Rural South Kendal. The figures for Annual Affordable Housing Requirements (See Page 63) for the period 2009-2015 were based on the 2006 Housing Needs Survey and indicates respondents aspirations.
Rural South Kendal Total             1105
AONB population 15.7%                 173
(Arnside 104 and Beetham 69 based on population split shown in calculation 1)
If the above figures were projected at the same level for the whole of the plan 2009-2025 then this gives a total affordable housing need of 555 (333 for Arnside and 222 for Beetham based on population split shown in calculation 1)
This is based on the 2011 Strategic Market Assessment for Rural South Kendal not including Milnthorpe and Kirkby Lonsdale.  Again the survey appears to be aspirational.  The response rate for Rural South Kendal was 30%.  The
calculations for the affordable housing market for 2011-2016 were based on:
  • Households currently in housing which is unsuitable for their use and who are unable to afford to buy or rent in the market (backlog need)
  • New household forming who cannot afford to buy or rent in the market
  • Existing households expected to fall into need
  • The supply of affordable housing through social renting and intermediate tenure stock
This calculation is similar to number 2
Rural South Kendal Total        435
AONB population 18.54%        225
(Arnside 133 and Beetham 89) based on population split shown in calculation 1)
This is based on Arnside 2009 Housing Needs Survey and 2007 Beetham Housing Needs Survey to determine the need for affordable housing.  This survey applied to social rented housing only  and represented respondents aspirations and does not necessarily represent actual take up of affordable homes if they were offered.   See Appendix Below: Analysis & Critical Review of Housing Needs
2009-14   Arnside              27  →     therefore projected  number for 2009-2025 is 86
2007-12  Beetham*            17  →     therefore projected  number for 2009-2025 is 61
But in order to deliver the affordable element an allowance for market housing has to be given. If affordable housing
is delivered at 35% of market schemes this would bring the total need for 2009-2025 to 420 (Arnside 252 and Beetham 168)
*in the AONB part of Beetham
in Land Allocation Document
Arnside Beetham Total Comments
3.79 Calculation
1 Total need 2003-2025
276 184 460 AONB
population as a % of Local Development Area population
3.80 Calculation
2 Affordable need 2009-2025
333 222 555 AONB
as a % of  Rural South Kendal from an aspirational
3.81 Calculation
3 Affordable need 2009-2025
135 90 225 AONB
as a % of Rural South Kendal LESS Milnthorpe and Kirkby Lonsdale from an aspirational
3.87 Calculation 4 Affordable need 2009-2025
4 but also market allowance to achieve this



and Beetham aspirations for affordable
allowance figures are unrealistic because unlikely this scenario will happen
From the above 4 calculations it was concluded that the total housing need over the plan period was somewhere
between 200 and 400 but because of the low housing delivery since 2003 to the present there was a need to do more per annum in the remaining period of the plan.
Because these calculations assume use of the 65/35% ration of market to affordable housing, the actual need for affordable housing is much less than the numbers stated above..

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