Publication: Pre-Submission Gloucester City Plan

Pre-Submission City Plan

Policy A1: Effective and efficient use of land and buildings

Development proposals are required to make effective and efficient use of land and buildings. Development proposals should:

  1. Result in overall improvements to the built and natural environment; and
  2. Be of a suitable scale for the site and not have a significant adverse impact on the character of the locality, the appearance of the street scene, or the amenities enjoyed by the occupiers of the neighbouring properties; and
  3. Not lead to a saturation of intensified properties within the area; and
  4. Provide adequate off-street parking, access, covered and secure cycle storage which provides for the existing and proposed use; and
  5. Not prejudice the potential for the comprehensive development of adjacent land; and
  6. Provide outdoor amenity space and garden space at a level that reflects the character of the area and the scale of the development; and
  7. Provide adequate, well designed, appropriately located and accessible bin storage areas.

Mixed-use developments and the re-use of vacant floors above commercial premises will be supported where it can be demonstrated that the uses are compatible and will result in safe and healthy living conditions.

3.1.5 Gloucester is a growing city which is constrained by several physical boundaries. Land is a precious resource and it is imperative that development maximises the number of homes and jobs provided, whilst safeguarding and improving the built and natural environment, and creating safe and healthy living conditions.

3.1.6 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) encourages local authorities to make the most effective use of land in meeting the need for new homes and other uses. More specifically, the NPPF states that where there is an existing or anticipated shortage of land for meeting identified housing needs, planning policies should avoid homes being built at low densities, developments make the optimal use of each site and that authorities consider the use of minimum density standards for city and town centres and other locations that are well served by public transport.

3.1.7 When considering the potential capacity of site allocations within the GCP, the City Council has identified those sites where higher densities are more appropriate in respect of their location and character. These are near the bus and rail interchange and within or adjacent to the city centre. Elsewhere, the indicative capacity has been determined based on a higher-level suburban density consistent with locations within the main urban area and in accordance with the Strategic Assessment of Land Availability (SALA) methodology.

3.1.8 However, it is not considered appropriate to set minimum densities for Gloucester City. This is because of the sensitive historic context within this area, with over 700 Listed Buildings and almost total coverage by different Conservation Areas, each with its own special character and distinctiveness. The most appropriate approach therefore is for applications to seek the most efficient use of land on a case-by-case basis, in the context of its location and character.

3.1.9 Developments will contribute to overall improvements to the built and natural environment of the city, including where appropriate its heritage. This includes ensuring that the scale of the development is befitting of the site and its wider locality and not cramped, awkward or 'squeezed' in appearance. This can be achieved by a proper site analysis and full understanding of the character of the area. In this regard, the Gloucester Townscape Character Assessment (2019) will be a particularly important consideration in determining appropriate densities and forms of development.

3.1.10 To increase density developers are encouraged to move away from smaller homes on smaller plots with less storage and amenity space, as this approach can often result in a cramped appearance and reduce mental wellbeing. Developers are encouraged to consider a range of innovative products and solutions that can compete with standard housing products. This could include apartments that are designed to be more desirable than a standard sized two- or three-bedroom house. This could be achieved by providing a higher quality of living environment through maximising natural light, which can provide views and a feeling of space and mental wellbeing, useable balconies, higher ceiling heights, increased storage, larger room sizes, additional reception or bedroom spaces, excellent standards of sound insulation, and architectural design that is more appealing than a standard two or three bedroom house. Three or more-bedroom apartments are encouraged and may appeal to smaller families and 'down-sizers' freeing up valuable family homes. An additional bedroom is often appealing to down-sizers as it allows for carers, visitors, or hobbies and interest to be pursued.

3.1.11 Improvements to the natural environment will be proportionate to the scale of development and could range from SUDs systems that extend the Green Infrastructure network to smaller scale biodiversity support and habitat creation through green roofs, tree planting, bat boxes, bird boxes and the like.

3.1.12 Within the City Centre evidence, including the Heritage Strategy (2019), points to many vacant floors above the commercial uses that operate at ground floor level. These vacant floors represent an opportunity for conversion to active uses including residential and office repopulating the city centre and bringing back into positive use heritage assets. Residents and workers in the city centre create activity and help to support its viability and vitality. This enlivens the area and helps to reduce crime and the fear of crime by providing natural surveillance, particularly in the evenings.

3.1.13 Where it is proposed to intensify an existing building (by conversion into flats or large House in Multiple Occupation) it is important to ensure that the proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on neighbouring properties or the wider area including its character. When assessing whether a proposed intensification of a dwelling would impact the character of the area consideration will be given to the number of existing of intensifications in the area. Applications that would result in a saturation of family homes converted into flats or HMOs will not be permitted. Saturation is deemed to be reached if:

  1. It would result in any residential property (C3 use) being 'sandwiched' between two intensified properties; or
  2. Intensified properties represent more than 10% of households within a 100-metre radius of the application property.

3.1.14 Careful consideration will be given to the design and location of the proposal as well as to amenity space, parking, servicing and access arrangements. Any residential development, including the intensification of an existing dwelling, will be required to provide a suitable housing mix in accordance with SD11 Housing Mix and Standards of the JCS.

3.1.15 The City Council operates bin and kerbside recycling facilities. Recycling is an important part of the Council's commitment to sustainability. New developments will need to demonstrate how they can comfortably provide space for the various bins required so that residents can easily access all of the recycling and collection services.

3.1.16 Good design is necessary in this area to encourage use of the service, to aid refuse collection, maintain a visually attractive streetscene and to ensure that the highway is kept safe and free from obstruction. It is important that bin storage is accessible but also discreet and not located directly under openable windows. Communal collection facilities for new streets are aspirational as this can often take up less space and make bin storage more discreet.