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CLACKMANNANSHIRE COUNCIL

LOCAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN: - MAIN


ISSUES REPORT


REPRESENTATIONS BY MUIR GROUP
LIMITED



MARCH 2011












TMS PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT SERVICES LIMITED
"Balclune", 32 Clune Road, Gowkhall, Fife, KY12 9NZ
Tel: (01383) 853066 Mob: 07723320517
E-mail: tmsplanning@tiscali.co

1.0 BACKGROUND

1.1 The following representation is made on behalf of Muir Group Limited,
a long established independent company active in commercial and residential
development throughout Scotland. Muir Homes Limited, the residential arm
of the Muir Group, remains an active developer in todays challenging
housing markets with a variety of sites throughout the central belt and
northern Scotland. They have previously been, and remain, active within the
Clackmannanshire Council area.


2.0 GENERAL COMMENTS

2.1 The preferred strategy outlined within the Main Issues Report in
respect of the local development plan addressing the underlying
requirements arising from the GROS 2008 population projections is fully
supported. It is clear that the plan needs to provide for the full needs of the
plan area and its communities otherwise achieving the underlying aims and
objectives of prevailing national planning policy and of the local development
plan itself would be undermined. The critical test will be whether the
strategy and related local development plan policies and allocations are
sufficient to achieve the local development plan requirement to continue to
retain our existing population and attract more people to come and live in
Clackmannanshire, and in doing so boost economic vitality, increase job
opportunities locally, secure sustainable development and sustainable mixed
communities, and ultimately increase sustainable economic growth. The
construction industry, including house building, is a key component of the
local economy and essential to the delivery of the vision for
Clackmannanshire.

2.2 The extent of new development in Clackmannanshire within the recent
past is noted as is the forward planning and related development
underpinning the delivery of new physical and social infrastructure in order to
support further development within the County. Only where the local
development plan facilitates the effective delivery of new development on the
ground will the benefits of this investment be fully realised (economic and
social) and the aspirational growth which the Council has aimed for be
achieved.

2.3 It is agreed that the local development plan strategy needs to be fully
informed by the sustainability agenda and that closer attention needs
ultimately to be paid to all environmental impacts related to new
development, including greenhouse gas emissions. The underlying tests will
be where/how to deliver new development in the most appropriate manner
related to community and environmental objectives, particularly new
residential development. The form and location of new development will be
key factors in the successful delivery and preference requires to be given to
highly accessible sites in locations close to established amenities and
facilities. These sites should be fully supported through the local
development plan process and other sites/proposals which do not offer these
benefits, even where previously allocated, should be excluded from the plan.

2.4 Based on the evolving requirements of the new plan all sites to be
allocated for development, including (particularly) residential sites, should be
fully reassessed in order to ensure that they meet with the emerging
strategy and that these sites are best placed to deliver the beneficial
development required to meet community and wider Clackmannanshire
needs. To simply transfer sites from the adopted local plan (including the
First Alteration) into proposals within the local development plan appears a
wholly unsatisfactory approach and undermines the integrity of the plan and
confidence in the plan for all users of the planning system. It is noted that
commissioned site assessments have occurred (LUC) in the last few years
but these need to be revisited in light of present and future alterations to
development objectives including the delivery agenda. There is simply no
point in allocating sites that will not be developed within the local plan period
or making unrealistic assessments of likely contributions from sites. In short,
failure to allocate sufficient deliverable residential sites though the local
development plan process will fail to adequately address the identified key
aim of the local development plan related to meeting the need for new
housing and supporting facilities by delivering an appropriate range of
housing (including affordable housing) and services which support existing
needs and the population growth strategy. Insufficient development may
also result in population stagnation/decline and related impacts.

2.5 There is a requirement, in accordance with the requirements of
Scottish Planning Policy, to provide for a generous land supply addressing the
full range of housing needs (from affordable to executive housing) and for
that land supply to be effective. Far too often a purely statistical analysis is
used to justify an inadequate land supply which ultimately fails to provide for
the diverse range of needs within communities or to deliver the level of
development required in order to meet the development plan strategy for the
area. In this respect a robust assessment of individual residential allocations
is required in order to inform the Housing Land Audit (which it is understood
is presently being prepared) and from there to determine the level of
additional land allocations required. Each site requires to be assessed in
accordance with the guidance in Planning Advice Note 2/2010 Affordable
Housing and Housing Land Audits (paragraph 55) in order to ascertain
respective contributions towards the 5 year effective land supply and,
following this, the remainder of the local plan period. If a site is unlikely to
contribute within the plan period (based on the paragraph 55 assessment)
then it should be not be contained (or relied upon to deliver) within the local
development plan.

2.6 In addition, as I suspect this will be the case, where the Housing Land
Audit details that the programming of established sites will fail to deliver the
required output during the 5 year period then additional allocations will be
required. To this end, Muir Group are of the view that its site at Lornshill
Farm, Alloa (refer attached plan) should be allocated for residential
development within the emerging local development plan, in terms of its
general compliance with the forward policy and delivery requirements that
should emerge through the local development plan. The rationale for this
position is set out below.


3.0 SPECIFIC ISSUES/COMMENTS

Population, Housing and Spatial Strategy

3.1 As indicated the approach to plan to meet the GROS 2008 population
forecast is considered appropriate as a fundamental underlying requirement
of the emerging local development plan. The issue thereafter is where the
required growth should occur and how much land should be allocated in
order to facilitate the delivery of this strategy. The Main Issues Report
identifies the need for the local development plan to consider the most
appropriate areas where housing and associated development, over and
above that currently allocated, should be directed. Here-in lies a
fundamental issue. Why are all existing allocations not being assessed for
their continued relevance to the emerging aims, objectives, and
requirements of the local development plan? Only by undertaking this
process and robustly assessing all potential sites against relevant criteria can
there be confidence that the most appropriate sites are selected in order to
contribute towards the delivery of the local development plan strategy.

3.2 The Main Issues Report correctly indicates that the most sustainable
option for new residential development would be to direct development to
the settlements which generally have the infrastructure and capacity to
accommodate them. The Main Issues Report further states that new housing
development should occur in accessible locations from which it is easy to
walk or cycle from home to work, school, shops and services, which can
provide more opportunities for healthy active travel, and ultimately reduce
dependency on private cars. New residential development should also offer
the opportunity to link the places where we live with the countryside by
considering carefully the scope for improved outdoor access routes, habitat
corridors and woodland planting around new developments. Improved and
better integrated/linked residential development/environments which reduce
the need to travel (primarily by car) and which are well located for public
transport and other land uses (including employment), amenities and
services are those most likely to be favoured. Environmental considerations
related to landscape and biodiversity are also of significance.

3.3 Against this background it is difficult to conceive the rationale for
rejecting the Lornshill Farm, Alloa site as a potential residential allocation
within the emerging local development plan. An earlier assessment rejecting
the site (LUC 2008) is noted but the conclusions reached are not borne out
by the assessment outlined and, as indicated, the importance of matters
such as connectivity and sustainable development clearly outweigh any
potentially negative matters (which were of limited significance in any
event). The site at Lornshill Farm, Alloa should be included for residential
development within the emerging local development plan for the following
reasons, among others: -

The site lies within the main centre of population where services and
amenities are readily available;
The site lies adjacent to the local secondary school and is within
walking/cycling distance of commercial and recreational facilities, in
effect local services can be accessed without the use of private cars;
The site is highly accessible from the surrounding area by foot, cycle,
bus and car. Indeed, there are linked Core Paths to the south and
east site boundaries which facilitate segregated use from vehicles.
The site also gives direct access to amenity woodland and to the
countryside, and could be fully integrated with established
development. It is well connected to existing access routes and areas
of open space;
While the site lies within the designated Greenbelt it is noted that the
extent and function of the Greenbelt will be reviewed through the local
development plan process in line with the requirements of Scottish
Planning Policy. It is clear that the removal of this site would have
little material impact on the integrity of the Greenbelt at this location
or on the perceived separation between the settlements of Alloa and
Tullibody. Indeed, there is logic to re-aligning the Greenbelt to the
north-west site boundary of the Lornshill Farm site in terms of its
landscape containment and direct alignment with adjacent secondary
school;
The site is not subject to flooding and there are no other
environmental or physical restrictions affecting the site;
The site comprises non-prime agricultural land;
There would be no material impact on biodiversity; and,
The site would be fully effective in terms Planning Advice Note 2/2010,
in other words it would positively assist the delivery of the local
development plan strategy (refer below).

3.4 Assessing the Lornshill Farm, Alloa site against the requirements of
Planning Advice Note 2/2010 (paragraph 55) reveals that:

ownership: the site is within the ownership of Muir Group whose
intention is to develop it for residential and related uses;

physical: the site is free from constraints related to slope, aspect, flood
risk, ground stability or vehicular access which would preclude its
development;

contamination: there are no known contaminants on site arising from
its former or present use;

deficit funding: none required;

marketability: house completions within the site can be delivered
within the 5 year horizon;

infrastructure: the site is free of infrastructure constraints; and

land use: housing is the sole preferred use of the land in planning
terms in respect of the surrounding area and the most appropriate use
of the site.

3.5 Each site proposed for residential development within the emerging
local development plan should also be fully assessed in line with the stated
requirements of Planning Advice Note 2/2010 and this assessment should be
made public for the benefit of clarity and full disclosure as part of the local
development plan process. The need for a more realistic assessment of
allocations is strengthened by advice from the Scottish Governments Chief
Planner in a letter to Heads of Planning dated 29
th
October, 2010 related to
the provision of an effective housing land supply. It is recognised that only
by making such effective provision will the related economic and social
benefits of new housing provision be realised, including the provision of
additional affordable housing (for which an identified need remains).

Flood Management

3.5 In the Main Issues Report reference is made (page 22) to the
preferred option on flood management as a policy framework seeking to
control development on sites shown to be at risk of flooding and to require
mitigation where required. The preferred option, in line with national policy,
should be to prevent, not just control, development on flood plains. It is only
where there are no other alternatives that such development may be
considered acceptable and only where sufficient mitigation can be provided.

Sustainable economic growth

3.6 It is noted that the local development plan will promote an
employment growth strategy which will also provide opportunities in
construction and associated industries (page 23). Failure to allocate the right
housing sites within the local development plan will undermine any related
economic benefits, including new and safeguarded employment, as they will
simply not be delivered.

Connectivity

3.7 How to improve connectivity (page 39)? The Main Issues Report
identifies the need to reduce travel and to encourage more sustainable travel
patterns. The Councils policies for reducing travel, promoting active travel
such as cycling and walking, increasing accessibility and improving public
transport are promoted through the Local Transport Strategy (LTS).
Strategic objectives include reducing the need to travel, promoting safe,
convenient and integrated cycle, pedestrian, public transport and road
network infrastructure and services, and promoting efficient use of
infrastructure and services, promoting new provision only where essential.
The location of new development will be a key factor. For the reasons
already outlined in paragraphs 3.3 and 3.4 above, sites such as that at
Lornshill Farm, Alloa satisfy the underlying sustainability and connectivity
requirements set out within the Main Issues Report and this site in particular
represents an appropriate response to the identified local development plan
delivery, locational and quality requirements.

The Natural Environment and Greenbelt

3.8 Key issues affecting the natural environment are identified as
landscape protection, ensuring that the coverage of the Greenbelt is fit for
purpose, providing for local food production allotments and/or community
gardens, and providing residents with good access to green space and the
countryside. Biodiversity of landscape is also important (page 46). The Main
Issues Report accepts that national planning policy on Greenbelts has
evolved since the adoption of the Local Plan and there is a need to review the
existing designation and reconsider the most appropriate role of Greenbelts
in Clackmannanshire. The preferred option set out (page 49) is to review the
function of Greenbelt against the purpose described in Scottish Planning
Policy and to review its physical delineation based on the outcome of this
assessment, altering coverage if appropriate and considering the scope for
extending existing and designating new areas of Greenbelt. This appears as
an appropriate framework.

3.9 The Muir Group site at Lornshill Farm, Alloa presently lies within the
designated Greenbelt. This is seen as an obstacle to its development albeit it
is considered that the exclusion of this site would not materially affect the
designated area should it be concluded that the retention of the Greenbelt
designation within the area between Alloa and Tillibody is an appropriate
policy response. It is true that removal of the site from the Greenbelt would
narrow the designated area at this point but this would not be detrimental to
its function. On the opposite side of the Tullibody Road the Greenbelt is at
its narrowest, adjacent to Lornshill School. This provides a guide to the
urban/rural split in the area and does not impact adversely on the settlement
separation (or any other) function of the Greenbelt in this area. A similar
situation exists at the subject site there would be no material detriment.
Indeed, the landscape framework to the north-west of the site and fronting
Tullibody Road would provide a far better Greenbelt delineation than
presently exists. There is a clear case, where retained, to alter the Greenbelt
boundary with no material detriment to the area or its function but with all of
the aforementioned benefits that would arise from the development of the
site being realised.

3.10 Land to the west and south of the Lornshill Farm site (also in the
Greenbelt) may also be utilised, in association with the development of the
subject site, in order to promote greater public access for recreation (linked
to the woodland and existing/new footpaths) and for local food production in
the form of allotments and a community garden which it is understood are in
demand locally. The residential development may then provide the required
infrastructure and access to the neighbouring land in order to facilitate
allotment/community garden use on part of the site. The potential to
increase woodland cover (in support of the Scottish Governments
established policy) may also be explored within the residual areas. Such
uses would be appropriate rural uses within the retained Greenbelt and in
doing so deliver related community benefits including additional access to the
natural environment. This would strengthen the role of the Greenbelt and it
related benefits to the area/local community.


4.0 CONCLUSIONS

4.1 The preferred approaches outlined with the Main Issues Report are
generally supported subject to the comments made above. However, it
remains of concern that parts of the housing land supply being relied upon to
deliver the local development plan strategy are not presently effective.
Large allocations, such as Sauchie West (800 units), and other sites with
infrastructure and other constraints (including marketability) are being relied
upon and where these fail to deliver the growth strategy is unlikely to be
achieved to any material extent. It is therefore imperative that a full and
robust assessment of all proposed allocations occur prior to the finalisation of
the Proposed Plan and that, where selected for development, the Local
Development Plan clearly outlines development delivery timescales.

4.2 The extent of the potential shortfall in the effective housing land
supply facing the Council may emerge after the production of the latest
Housing Land Audit, particularly where the Scottish Governments Chief
Planners requirements have been properly addressed. It has been shown
that the site at Lornshill Farm, Alloa, which can be developed in the
short/medium term and which fully meets the relevant site selection criteria
related to sustainability, access, integration, etc can be developed in the
present economic climate and would make an important contribution towards
meting the underlying aims and objectives of the local development plan. It
is also clear that Greenbelt issues can be addressed and that there is
potential to strengthen the role/function of the Greenbelt by increasing public
use/accessibility.

4.3 Muir Group are of the considered view that additional residential land
allocation(s) will be required within the local development plan and would
urge Clackmannanshire Council to include the identified site at Lornshill
Farm, Alloa within the emerging plan for this specific purpose. My clients
would be pleased to discuss any of the above with the Council further in due
course.










LORNSHILL FARM, ALLOA PROPOSED RESIDENTIAL ALLOCATION