Development Management Policies Consultation Draft
3.1 One of the main aims of the Local Plan is to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of sustainable, high-quality homes across a range of tenures and types in the district, to fully meet Harlow's Objectively Assessed Housing Needs (OAHN).
3.2 The West Essex and East Hertfordshire Housing Market Area (HMA) includes the administrative areas of Harlow, East Hertfordshire, Epping Forest and Uttlesford. Harlow's contribution to meeting the housing requirement of the HMA is to ensure that 9,200 homes are delivered in Harlow over the Local Plan period. The overarching housing need for the district and its distribution is set out in the Strategic Policies.
3.3 This chapter and the policies contained within it will help deliver the following Corporate Priority:
- More and better housing
3.4 This chapter and the policies contained within it will help deliver the following Local Plan Strategic Objectives:
- Objective 4 – Identify sites to meet local housing needs both now and in the future
- Objective 5 – Provide a range of suitable housing for the community including a range of tenure and type
- Objective 6 – Improve the quality of homes in the district through new developments, regenerated neighbourhoods and priority estates
H1 Housing Allocations
Development of the Strategic Housing Site and other sites for housing (allocated in the Strategic Policies) will be supported.
Development of the Strategic Housing Site will require a Master Plan to be submitted which takes into consideration the relevant policies in the Local Plan.
3.5 The housing requirement for the district is set out in the Strategic Policies. Sites allocated within the district are important as they help contribute towards meeting the identified housing requirement for the district; consequently such development will be supported.
3.6 Planning applications for the development of allocated sites in the Local Plan will be supported.
3.7 The housing requirement for the district will be delivered by the sites allocated on the Policies Map. Development of the Strategic Housing Site must be supported by a Master Plan and may require other documents such as design codes or development briefs. These documents must take into account connectivity, the character of the site and surrounding areas and the location and delivery of key infrastructure.
H2 Residential Development
Residential development, including infill development, the sub-division of garden plots, minor redevelopment schemes and the development of vacant plots, will be supported where all the following criteria are met:
(a) the development would not have an unacceptable adverse effect on the character of the locality, the appearance of the street scene, or the amenities enjoyed by the occupiers of neighbouring dwellings;
(b) off-street parking and access arrangements can be provided for both existing and proposed dwellings, in accordance with the Adopted Harlow Design Guide Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) and adopted Vehicle Parking Standards;
(c) the development would make adequate provision for refuse storage and collection; and
(d) the development would not prejudice the potential for comprehensive development of adjacent land.
3.8 This policy aims to encourage new residential development on appropriate sites throughout the district. It is also recognised that there has been a small but constant supply of new housing built on infill sites and garden plots which has contributed to meeting local housing need.
3.9 The policy also aims to ensure that land suitable for residential development does not have an adverse impact on the amenities and character of an area. This is especially important in Harlow given the town's New Town heritage reflecting high-density development in parts of the district; however there are areas of lower density development which have their own distinct character.
3.10 As outlined in the Adopted Harlow Design Guide SPD, residential development should respect and respond to the character of existing surrounding housing. This character is normally defined by the general style of development, plot widths, how the plot relates to other buildings, rooflines, projections and other design features.
3.11 The consideration of the impact of infill or other minor residential development on parking and access is also a particularly important issue for Harlow, as many of the neighbourhoods were built at a time before high car usage, so on-street parking can cause congestion in narrow residential streets.
3.12 Where there are groups of gardens that might be more efficiently developed together, it would not make best use of land if this potential is prejudiced by a development of one garden in isolation, so such development would not be supported.
H3 Houses in Multiple Occupation
The creation or conversion of a dwelling to a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) will be supported where it meets all the criteria below:
(a) the number of HMOs would not exceed one out of a row of five units;
(b) it is supported by a design rationale based on an understanding and analysis of local context and character taking into consideration the Adopted Harlow Design Guide Supplementary Planning Document (SPD);
(c) the development makes adequate provision for refuse storage and collection;
(d) parking is provided at a level of one space per bedroom, plus one secure covered cycle space per bedroom, or set at the current adopted parking standards for Houses in Multiple Occupation; and
(e) effective measures are proposed to minimise the effects of noise and disturbance.
3.13 Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) provide an additional housing type which helps meet the needs of the community and provides more choice and mix. It is recognised, however, that HMOs can create a range of issues which cumulatively impact on the surrounding area. Evidence suggests that an excess of HMOs along a street can have a detrimental on the amenities of the area. This policy aims to minimise the loss of larger family housing, which is often used for HMOs and is in relatively short supply due to the type of housing stock originally built in Harlow.
3.14 Many areas of Harlow have limited off-street parking and open frontages, which reflect the original New Town design. The intensification of HMOs in a street can have a detrimental impact in the neighbourhood because of a lack of parking provision. As such, this policy aims to maintain the character of residential areas, protect the amenities of local residents and ensure sufficient off-street parking is provided.
3.15 HMOs are defined as dwellinghouses which are inhabited by three or more unrelated people, as their only or main residence, who share one or more basic amenity (such as a kitchen). There are two types of HMOs:
- Small HMOs, housing between three and six unrelated persons
- Large HMOs, housing more than six unrelated persons
3.16 Current national permitted development rights allow the change of a dwellinghouse to a small HMO without planning permission. The change of a dwellinghouse (or a small HMO) to a large HMO does, however, require planning permission.
3.17 Planning applications for HMOs will be assessed according to their impact on the character and street-scene of the area in which they are situated. A row is defined as five or more adjacent dwellings whose frontages face the same continuous section of highway between junctions. A row may include, but is not limited to, terraced, semi-detached and detached dwellings, as interpreted by the Council. Further guidance will be provided in a Supplementary Planning Document.
3.18 The Council will ensure that such development will be of an acceptable and safe standard and that habitable rooms comply with the latest minimum size codes.
H4 Loss of Housing
The demolition or the change of use of buildings or land in residential use will be supported where one or more of the following criteria are met:
(a) the development would facilitate a net gain in residential accommodation, or redevelopment at a higher density;
(b) the development would be necessary to secure the preservation of a listed building at risk;
(c) the existing building is unfit for human habitation, and cannot be economically improved and brought back into residential use;
(d) the development would be essential for facilitating development in conjunction with policies in the Local Plan.
3.19 This policy aims to protect existing habitable housing stock and prioritises the redevelopment of existing buildings for continued residential use, which contributes to meeting the housing need in Harlow. It also helps to minimise the amount of development on greenfield sites by promoting the retention of existing dwellings, thereby assisting to preserve the open spaces in Harlow which are fundamental to its character.
3.20 In some cases, redevelopment or conversion of existing dwellings may yield a net increase in dwelling supply, or may provide opportunities to facilitate redevelopment in an area.
3.21 The redevelopment of existing residential development, in appropriate cases, will be supported if it results in an increase in housing provision on a site.
3.22 To assess if a dwelling is fit for habitation, regard must be given to a range of factors, including general repair, stability, freedom from damp, natural lighting, water supply, ventilation, drainage and sanitary conveniences. This list is not exhaustive and the Council has the discretion to consider other factors.
H5 Accessible and Adaptable Housing
All new dwellings must at least Building Control Part M4(2) standard for accessible and adaptable homes to meet the occupiers' future needs.
In addition, major residential development must provide a proportion of Building Control Part M4(3) standard dwellings for wheelchair users.
3.23 National policies require Local Plans to support Building Control regulations by demonstrating the need for requiring accessible dwellings. This is supported by the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment for Essex.
3.24 The Building Regulations, published in 2015, set out three categories of dwellings:
- Part M4(1): Visitable dwellings (all properties must be broadly accessible)
- Part M4(2): Accessible and adaptable dwellings
- Part M4(3): Wheelchair user dwellings
3.25 The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) (2015) projects that the number of over 65s in the Housing Market Area will increase by approximately 47,200 people during the Local Plan period, including 23,300 aged 85 or over. Government disability data indicates that the proportion of households with at least one wheelchair user will increase during the Local Plan period. To provide for these needs, it is necessary to ensure that all future housing is flexible to meet people's changing circumstances. In addition, the SHMA sets out that 10% of market housing and 15% of affordable housing must be Building Control Part M4(3) standard.
3.26 The Building Control Regulations Part M4(2) and Part M4(3) dwellings in a development should be identified in planning applications. Part M4(2) of the Regulations sets out the standards for accessible and adaptable homes, and Part M4(3) sets out the standards for wheelchair user dwellings. To ensure these standards are met, applicants should consult with the Council prior to the submission of a planning application.
3.27 The proportion of major residential development which is required to be of Building Control Part M4(3) standard is set out in the current Strategic Housing Market Assessment or successor studies.
H6 Housing Mix
A range of housing types and sizes, across a range of tenures, must be provided in major residential development.
3.28 The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) provides robust evidence to establish and provide information on the appropriate mix of housing and range of tenures needed in the district. The SHMA indicates that there is a demand for a range of housing types and tenures to meet the needs of different groups within Harlow and to provide a choice, as required by national policies and guidance.
3.29 The range of housing types, sizes and tenures are based on the current SHMA or successor studies.
3.30 The different types and sizes of housing can include houses and flats, of differing tenures, with varied numbers of bedrooms. This also includes the need for accessible and adaptable housing.
H7 Residential Annexes
Development for the provision for a domestic annexe will be supported where it meets all the following criteria:
(a) it has a clear functional/physical dependence to the principal dwelling;
(b) it will be subservient to the principal dwelling;
(c) it is occupied by a relative dependent on the occupier of the principal dwelling, or their carer;
(d) it is in the same ownership as the principal dwelling;
(e) it does not involve sub-division of the site; and
(f) sufficient car parking is available to meet the adopted Car Parking Standards.
3.31 The creation, extension or conversion of an outbuilding may provide an opportunity to accommodate elderly or other dependent relatives, whilst allowing a degree of independent living. The provision of residential annexes should remain ancillary to the main dwelling within the residential curtilage. However, the creation of a separate residential dwelling unit could have a detrimental impact of the character of the surrounding area arising from an intensification of use, and therefore would not be granted planning permission.
3.32 The annexe should form part of the same residential planning unit, sharing the same access, parking and garden. The key issue is that the annexe should not become a self-contained dwelling in its own right. The layout, design and relationship to the house will be an important consideration and should be guided by other Local Plan policies and the Adopted Harlow Design Guide Supplementary Planning Document.
3.33 Use of existing rooms for additional accommodation would not normally require consent, so long as the person was clearly associated with main occupants (e.g. dependent relative). Pre-application advice should be sought from the Council as to whether a proposed annexe requires planning permission.
H8 Affordable Housing
Major residential development will be supported where affordable housing is provided at a rate of at least 30%. Reduction of this rate will require an independent viability assessment.
3.34 The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) (2015) indicates there is a need for 13,600 affordable dwellings over the Local Plan period, equating to an average of 618 dwellings per year for the Housing Market Area. Specifically for Harlow, the affordable housing need is 154 dwellings per annum (3,400 affordable homes over the Local Plan period).
3.35 The SHMA also shows that a significant number (85%) of affordable housing should be provided as affordable rent, normally provided by a Registered Provider or the Council. The remainder of the affordable housing should be provided as Intermediate Affordable housing at 15% of the total affordable.
3.36 The type, tenure and bed-size of affordable housing will be informed by the current version of the SHMA and Viability Study or successor studies.
3.37 Affordable housing development should be provided on the application site, which will help ensure a mix of tenures and sizes. There may be circumstances where this is not possible, and in such circumstances, where both the Council and the developer agree, a commuted sum may be acceptable.
H9 Self-build and Custom-build Housing
Development of allocated sites must include an element of serviced plots for self-build unless the inclusion of such would render the development unviable.
Development of the serviced plots must commence within two years of the completion of the related phase of the allocated site. If the serviced plots have not commenced within this timeframe, they may revert to conventional development and marketing.
All plots for self-build or custom-build housing must be fully serviced.
3.38 There is a legal requirement to keep a register of people seeking to acquire land to build a home. Such housing can make a contribution to the affordable element of the housing requirement and the overall need in the district. The Council is, therefore, required to grant sufficient development permissions in respect of serviced land to meet the demand.
3.39 This policy recognises that there may be self-build plots which are not developed and remain vacant, in which case the land owner may revert to conventional delivery of the site.
3.40 This policy will be delivered through the approval of individual planning applications sites allocated in the Strategic Policies, and through conditions on planning permissions to secure the self-build plots for a period of two years.
3.41 The Strategic Policies indicate the sites that will contain an element of self-build or custom-build housing. In addition, other allocated sites will be expected to make a contribution to meet the demand. The Council encourages developers and land owners to consult the Council's register to establish the current demand for self-build and custom-housebuilding and meet that demand accordingly.
H10 Travellers' Pitches and Plots
If evidence indicates there is a need for additional pitches or plots, new sites will be supported where all the following criteria are met:
(a) the development would not have an unacceptable adverse effect on the character of the locality, the appearance of the street scene, the amenities enjoyed by the occupiers of neighbouring dwellings, or designated and locally identified habitats;
(b) the development would make adequate provision for refuse storage and collection;
(c) the development would not prejudice the potential for comprehensive development of adjacent land;
(d) the development would be within a reasonable distance of shops, schools, healthcare and other community/leisure facilities;
(e) there would be no risk of land contamination or flooding;
(f) safe and convenient vehicular access to the local highway network would be provided together with adequate space to allow for the parking and movement of vehicles;
(g) essential services (water, electricity and foul drainage) would be available on site;
(h) plots for Travelling Showpeople should be of sufficient size to enable the storage, repair and maintenance of equipment; and
(i) intended occupants would meet the definition of Traveller as set out in national policies.
3.42 The Strategic Policies allocate pitches for Travellers over the Local Plan period. Where further evidence demonstrates additional provision is required, this policy sets out the criteria against which proposals will be assessed.
3.43 The policy aims to ensure that all sites have good access to education, health and welfare services, are safe and that there are no adverse impacts on the land, the locality and the amenities of adjoining occupiers. The policy also seeks to prevent development prejudicing the potential for comprehensive development of adjacent land.
3.44 This policy will apply to applications for new sites where there is a proven need for additional pitches and plots for Travellers.
3.45 When identifying whether community facilities are within a reasonable distance, it is considered that a 400 metre radius is acceptable if the site is only accessible by foot. If the site is accessible by public transport, an 800 metre radius will be applied.