Draft Gloucester City Plan 2016 - 2031

Draft Gloucester City Plan

A: Housing

A: Housing

Policies in this section:

  • Policy A1: Use of upper floors for residential
  • Policy A2: Regeneration of neighbourhoods
  • Policy A3: Sub-division of plots for infill
  • Policy A4: Intensification of use of existing dwellings
  • Policy A5: Housing mix
  • Policy A6: Student housing
  • Policy A7: Housing choice for older people and supported and special needs housing
  • Policy A8: Self build
  • Policy A9: Static caravan sites
  • Policy A10: Extensions to existing dwellings
  • Policy A11: Annexes to existing dwellings       

Key issues:

The country is facing a housing shortage; not enough new homes are being built to meet the need and people’s ability to access the housing market is also a matter of concern. The JCS sets the number of new homes that will be required to meet Gloucester’s needs until 2031. The current figure is 14,350. This figure includes homes that have been built since 2011, those that currently have planning permission, those that will be allocated through the City Plan and a windfall allowance. Some of the key housing issues for Gloucester are:

  • The delivery of over 14,350 dwellings by 2031, in line with JCS requirement.
  • Bringing forward brownfield central area schemes.
  • The delivery of bespoke student housing.
  • The delivery of downsized accommodation for older people.
  • Gloucester City Homes (GCH) regeneration areas.
  • Areas of the City with high social housing need.
  • Delivering well designed higher density housing schemes.
  • Supporting the changes of use of upper floors in the City Centre to residential use.
  • Linking housing delivery to reducing health inequalities in the city.
  • The improvement of the private rented sector within the City.

A background topic paper on housing can be found on the council’s website by visiting www.gloucester.gov.uk/cityplan

Key evidence:

  • All housing evidence informing the JCS
  • Gloucester City Strategic Assessment of Land Availability (2014/15 & 2016)
  • Gloucestershire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2014)
  • Annual Housing Monitoring Reports
  • Gloucestershire Population Monitor

Other key relevant strategies:

  • Housing and Homelessness Strategy (2015 - 2020)

 Relevant National Planning Policy Framework paragraphs:

  • 21, 47 and 159

Relevant policies from the JCS:

  • SP1: The Need for New Development
  • SP2: Distribution of New Development
  • SD4: Sustainable Design and Construction
  • SD5: Design Requirements
  • SD11: Residential Development
  • SD12: Housing Mix and Standards
  • SD13: Affordable Housing
  • SD14: Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

JCS strategic objectives met:

  •  Strategic Objective 8: Delivering a wide choice of quality homes

Key City Plan principles met:

  • 1, 2, 3, and 6.

Housing policies

Policy A1: Use of upper floors for residential

Within the City Centre proposals to facilitate the change of use of upper floors to residential will be supported and encouraged where they comply with the policies of the JCS and other policies of this plan.  

Within the City Centre evidence points to a large number of vacant floors above the commercial uses that operate at ground floor level. These vacant floors represent an opportunity for conversion to residential uses leading to benefits in terms of providing for housing needs, adding to the critical mass of people living in the City Centre and providing natural surveillance, particularly in the evenings.

Policy A2: Regeneration of neighbourhoods

  1. The Council shall consider applications for the regeneration of estates/neighbourhoods favourably where all of the following criteria are met:
  2. The proposal has been properly master planned.
  3. The local community has been actively engaged in shaping proposals.
  4. The scheme optimises the supply of new housing to meet the needs of the City and the neighbourhood.
  5. The scheme protects and improves existing housing.
  6. The scheme provides suitable tenure choices to meet the needs of the existing community affected by regeneration.
  7. The scheme promotes strong and thriving communities, with a mixed tenure and tenure blind approach, in so far as this does not undermine wider housing and regeneration objectives.
  8. The scheme helps to maintain and promote independent living, and improves health and well-being.

In April 2015 the housing stock owned by Gloucester City Council was transferred to Gloucester City Homes (GCH). Inevitably, over time this housing stock will require considerable maintenance and further investment. Rather than bearing the increasing cost of maintenance, it may prove more economically viable for these areas of housing to be redeveloped in order to provide new accommodation to meet the needs of existing and future residents and to make the best use of land. However, older established housing areas can offer decent conditions, satisfied tenants, community stability, well-maintained buildings, high density, additional infill buildings and community facilities. Therefore it is important that the positive aspects of past housing developments are not lost and that any regeneration initiatives genuinely enhance the neighbourhoods involved. The work to assess any additional capacity that might arise as a result of estate regeneration in Gloucester is currently ongoing and a further update will be provided in the next iteration of the City Plan.

Policy A3: Sub-division of plots for infill

The subdivision of plots for the construction of additional dwellings will be permitted provided that:

  1. The proposed development would not have any significant adverse impacts on the character of the locality, the appearance of the street scene, or the amenities enjoyed by the occupiers of neighbouring dwellings.
  2. Adequate off street parking and access arrangements can be provided for both existing and proposed dwellings.
  3. The proposed development does not prejudice the potential for the comprehensive development of adjacent land where appropriate.

There are circumstances where the sub-division of an existing plot to provide for additional homes can be reasonably accommodated. However, it is important to ensure that the proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on neighbouring properties or the wider area. For this reason it is important to ensure that careful consideration is given to the design and location of the proposal as well as the parking and access arrangements. This policy seeks to ensure that factors such as these are given due consideration in the assessment of planning applications.

Policy A4: Intensification of use of existing dwellings

The intensification of the use of existing dwellings will be permitted provided that the proposal meets all of the following criteria:

  1. The proposed development would not have any significant adverse impacts on the character of the locality, the appearance of the street scene, or the amenities enjoyed by the occupiers of neighbouring dwellings.
  2. Adequate parking, access and covered and secure cycle storage arrangements can be provided for the proposed intensified use.
  3. There is adequate amenity space for the proposed number of residents.
  4. Adequate, well designed bin storage areas are integrated into the curtilage of the dwelling. 

There are circumstances where the existing use of a building as a dwelling can reasonably be intensified, for example the conversion of a larger dwelling into two or more flats.However, it is important to ensure that the proposal does not have a significant adverse impact on neighbouring properties or the wider area.For this reason it is important to ensure that careful consideration is given to the design and location of the proposal, to amenity space, as well as to parking and access arrangements. This policy seeks to ensure that these factors are given due consideration in the assessment of planning applications.

Policy A5: Housing mix

The Council shall ensure that a suitable mix of housing tenure is provided in all new housing developments. This shall include affordable housing, in order to meet the needs of those who cannot access suitable market housing.

An appropriate housing tenure mix shall be informed by the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) which is current at the time of the determination of applications and shall include a percentage of ‘adaptable and adapted’ homes to meet the needs of an ageing population.

The City Council has commissioned a number of Housing Needs Assessments and completed a number of Strategic Housing Market Assessments (SHMA). These studies have consistently identified the need for a range of market housing and affordable housing in the City and in particular the need for rented affordable homes. The 2010 SHMA (Fordham Research) recommended that 75% of affordable homes built should be for rent with the remaining 25% intermediate rent or affordable home ownership. The 2015 SHMA (HDH Planning) indicates a shift towards a higher level of affordable home ownership.

Policy A6: Student housing

The Council will work with local higher education establishments and student housing providers to facilitate the delivery of bespoke student accommodation at appropriate central locations within Gloucester but specifically within the City Centre. The Council expects proposals for student accommodation to demonstrate that they support educational establishments within, or in close proximity to the City. Housing provision for students should be located in accessible locations close to public transport corridors and local services and facilities.

The Council will support proposals that:

  1. Provide a high quality living environment which includes a range of unit sizes and layouts.
  2. Ensure that facilities will be well managed and that there will be no detriment to local amenity or unreasonable harm caused to nearby residents or the surrounding area.
  3. Demonstrate that the facility is suitable for year round occupation and that it has long term sustainability and adaptability.     

The presence of two local higher education establishments, Hartpury College, an outlier of the University of the West of England, and the University of Gloucestershire, within or in close proximity to the City has resulted in increased demand in the City for student accommodation. While there is some bespoke student housing within the City demand is also currently being met through the private rented sector. The University’s housing services make use of the Council’s ‘Fit to Rent’ scheme when recommending property in the private rented sector to its students.

The University of Gloucestershire has purpose built student accommodation within the City Centre and at its Oxstalls campus just outside the City Centre. A new Business School at Oxstalls, due to open in September 2018, will result in increased demand for student accommodation in the City.

When students occupy accredited ‘Fit to Rent’ scheme properties in the City, they utilise rented accommodation that might otherwise have been available to families or others in housing need. It is necessary therefore to deliver purpose built student accommodation in the City to ensure that family housing in the private rented sector remains available to families in need.

The Council is actively working with higher education establishments and student housing providers to deliver purpose built student accommodation at regeneration sites within the City Centre. New student housing should be well located to the public transport network between Gloucester and Cheltenham as well as in close proximity to existing shops and services and the City’s regenerated transport interchange.

The Council will seek to negotiate with higher education establishments to ascertain whether any purpose built student housing in the City Centre could be used to provide accommodation for tourists/visitors during the long summer holiday period.

Policy A7: Housing choice for older people and supported and special needs housing

Housing proposals for older people should focus on the provision of high specification care-ready accommodation which should:

  1. Help to meet an identified need.
  2. Demonstrate that it would not have a harmful impact on the character and amenities of the surrounding area.
  3. Be accessible to local shops and easily accessible by public transport.

A proportion of a scheme providing elderly care, defined by either C3 or C2 Use Class, or for supported or special needs housing will normally be required to contribute to affordable housing need.

Schemes should demonstrate adequate external amenity space to provide a high quality and safe external living environment for residents, including areas for sitting, socializing, gardening and active leisure pursuits.

Proposals for specialist elderly care, including dementia care accommodation, should provide adequate communal facilities including accommodation for essential staff on site and should reflect current best practice in the design of such specialist accommodation.

In Gloucester in 2014 about 2.3% of the population were over the age of 85, this is expected to rise to 4%, by 2035 (ONS data). Planning for this demographic change therefore needs to happen now in terms of the availability and type of accommodation that older people may want to move into.

Older people are more likely to be owner occupiers without a mortgage and to under occupy their property, however as the population of the City ages some elderly people will remain in housing need. National research demonstrates that most older people would prefer accommodation that is part of the ordinary housing stock but is designed to meet their needs. Therefore adapting existing housing stock to extend housing choice for older people will be encouraged particularly where it can release family sized accommodation. This will help deliver the mixed communities as identified in the Joint Core Strategy.

The preferred form of housing development for older people in the City is high quality care-ready accommodation. It is anticipated that an additional 387 units of such accommodation will be required by 2021.

It is unlikely that an additional extra care facility will be required in the City before 2021 as the predicted number of units required in that period of 52 is relatively small for a full stand alone extra care facility and would probably best be met by one larger cross boundary development.

In addition, it is important that housing continues to be provided within the City for those with specific housing needs including those with learning difficulties, the young homeless and those with specific physical and mental health needs. This is acknowledged through the adopted Gloucester City Council Plan (2014-2017) and its Objectives for Gloucester to be ‘An active, healthy & safe city for all to enjoy’, ‘A City for Everyone’ and a City where there is ‘Affordable and decent housing for all.’ Additionally, the Gloucester Housing Strategy (2015) emphasises that housing plays a critical role in promoting the well being of its citizens. Housing for some client groups will have specific requirements such as the need to be located in close proximity to district or local centres for the provision of shop and services and access to public transport.

Policy A8: Self-build

The Council will continue to maintain a self-build register and positively support applications for self build that meet the relevant policy requirements.

Self-build housing is where the home is custom built to the individual’s specification as opposed to being designed and built by a construction company to a standard specification for sale. Self build housing can be built or commissioned by individuals (or groups of individuals) for their own occupation. The NPPF Paragraphs 50 & 159 requires Local Planning Authorities (through their Strategic Housing Market Assessment and Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments) to identify and make provision for housing need, including for ‘people wishing to build their own homes.’

The City Council considers that the self build option can have a number of advantages such as; lower costs, increased choice, potential for more innovation & green technology, higher build quality, use of local suppliers / local economy and an improvement to the diversity of the local housing supply. The Council wishes to increase opportunities for low and middle income groups, communities and downsizers to build their own homes.

Policy A9: Static caravan sites

Existing static caravan sites shown on the Proposals map will be safeguarded for their current use and proposals for alternative development on these sites will not be supported.

Living in a static caravan is a choice and a way of life for some people and static caravans provide a type of affordable accommodation. There are four large static caravan parks in the City and their loss would place a considerable burden on alternative affordable provision. Sites could not easily be replaced within the City. Existing sites will therefore be protected from alternative development proposals.

Policy A10: Extensions to existing dwellings

Permission will be granted for the extension of residential properties, and for the erection of outbuildings incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling, provided all of the following criteria are met:

  1. The plot size of the existing property is large enough to accommodate the extension or outbuilding without resulting in a cramped or overdeveloped site.
  2. The height, size and design of the extension or outbuilding is in keeping with the scale and character of the original dwelling (accounting for any cumulative additions), and its wider setting.
  3. The residential amenity of existing or adjoining occupiers is not prejudiced by the proposal as a result of increased overlooking, overbearing development, increased noise, increased movement or intrusive lighting.

A well designed house extension can be a good way of providing additional accommodation and an improved living environment.  An extension can improve the overall quality and efficiency of a home, as well as improving its flexibility to enable for example: working from home, better access, space for growing or extended families and allow residents to remain in their home and community even if their circumstances change.

The Council seeks a high standard of design to house extensions to ensure that the extension is appropriate in terms of the character of the existing property, the surrounding street scene, and causes no unreasonable harm to those living in or around the property and to their enjoyment of their homes.

Further guidance can be found in the Supplementary Planning Document: “Home Extension Guide”.

Policy A11: Annexes to existing dwellings

Applications for the development of an annexe will only be permitted where it can be clearly demonstrated that the annexe will satisfy all of the following criteria:

The annexe should:

  1. Be an extension to (or at least closely related to) the principal dwelling and be designed in such a manner as to enable the annex to be used at a later date as an integral part of the principal dwelling.
  2. Have a functional link with the principal dwelling (i.e. the occupants should be a dependant relative(s), and the accommodation provided should not be wholly “self-contained”, such that the annexe is ancillary and there remains a reliance on the connection with the main dwelling).
  3. Be of a subservient design and scale and shall not provide more than 1 bedroom and restrained living accommodation (unless there is clear unambiguous justification provided).
  4. Be in the same ownership as the principal dwelling.
  5. Have no boundary demarcation or sub division of garden areas between a curtilage annexe and principal dwelling.
  6. Be of an appropriate design and scale which would preserve the character of the area and the living conditions of the occupiers of neighbouring properties.

    The applicant should:
  7. Demonstrate that the annexe can only be accommodated within a separate building this shall be sited in close proximity to the principal dwelling house, be of a restrained scale, within the same curtilage and share the vehicular access, parking and amenity areas and not provide a self-contained living unit.
  8. Make a unilateral undertaking covenanting that the annexe will be used solely  as accommodation ancillary to  the  main  dwelling house  and that it cannot be  let or disposed of separately  from  the  planning unit.

Where planning permission is required for an annex the Council is unlikely to grant planning permission where the development results in the creation of a separate dwelling, which in normal policy circumstances would not be acceptable.

A key point when considering the link between the proposed annexe and the existing dwelling is who uses it, as well as what is provided within it. The test will be whether you would be happy with a “stranger” occupying the accommodation and sharing the garden and parking area etc. It is recognised that no two applications will be the same; applicants should therefore bring to the Council’s attention any other material considerations that may be relevant to the application.

The Council will expect any applications for planning permission to clearly set out for whom the accommodation is to be provided for and to fully justify the need. The application should be accompanied by a unilateral undertaking ensuring that the annexe is used solely as accommodation ancillary to the main dwelling house and cannot be disposed of separately from the main house. Such proposals will be expected to meet the development obligations associated with a new dwelling.

Annexes at dwelling houses which are in multiple occupation will not be supported.

Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

Gloucester has an established traveller community, particularly Travelling Showpeople.  National planning policy[1] requires local planning authorities to locally assess the need for new accommodation for the traveller community and to put into place a strategy to provide for those needs within the period that is being planned for. 

The most recent evidence on housing need for the traveller community is contained within the JCS Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (Draft Update Summary) - March 2016. This study shows a need in Gloucester for two Gypsy/Traveller pitches and eight Travelling Showpeople plots between 2016 and 2031. This includes both those that travel for the purposes of work (i.e. meet the planning definition of a Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople), as well as those that do not. For more information please refer to the document on the City Council’s website at www.gloucester.gov.uk/cityplan

The JCS does not deal specifically with site allocations for the traveller community. Site allocations therefore need to be included in Local Plans. However, JCS Policy SD14: ‘Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople’ does set out a detailed criteria-based policy which is to be used in the determination of speculative planning applications and in the assessment of potential site allocations.

In partnership with other Gloucestershire local planning authorities, the City Council has undertaken a ‘call for sites’ (on two occasions), where members of the community, developers and landowners have been invited to submit sites they consider could be suitable for residential Gypsy, Traveller or Travelling Showpeople use.  These processes yielded several sites that were assessed.  However only one site has been identified as having potential for Travelling Showpeople. This site is know as the ‘Former Town Ham Allotments’ and is identified as a proposed site allocation in the Draft GCP (Site reference SA21). It is considered appropriate to allocate this site for this specific community because it is located directly adjacent to the existing and long-established Travelling Showpeople community off Westend Parade to the north west of the City. However, the site is significantly constrained in terms of land stability, land contamination and the presence of a high pressure gas main.  At the time of writing the City Council is undertaking the necessary background research to establish if it is deliverable. If the site is found to be deliverable then it will be allocated for Travelling Showpeople use.

At the time of writing there are no other known deliverable site opportunities to provide for the identified Travelling Showpeople or Gypsy / Traveller need.  As part of the Draft GCP consultation however the City Council is undertaking a further ‘call for sites’.  With this in mind, if any members of the community, landowners or developers would like to submit a site for assessment this would be strongly encouraged.

If not enough deliverable sites are identified in the City for the Gypsy / Traveller and Travelling Showpeople community, a formal request will be put to neighbouring authorities under the ‘Duty to Cooperate’ for their assistance in meeting this need. 

[1] Planning Policy for Traveller Sites, August 2015.