Draft Black Country Plan

Ended on the 11 October 2021
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(73) 6 Housing

Introduction

6.1 The policies in this chapter will help to create a network of cohesive, healthy and prosperous communities across the Black Country, which is a fundamental element of the vision and objectives and which will deliver the overarching strategic priority and Strategic Priorities 3 and 4. The provision of sufficient land to promote sustainable housing growth is the corner stone of this approach. However, the policies also ensure the provision of a balanced range of housing in terms of type, tenure, wheelchair accessibility and affordability, and sufficient specialist provision for gypsies, travellers and travelling show people and for those who wish to self-build or custom build. New housing will be of a high build quality and well-designed, meeting national space and water efficiency standards, and meeting high levels of energy efficiency and adaptation to climate change, as set out in Policies ENV9 and CC1 - CC6.

6.2 Maximising sustainable transport access to key residential services and focusing high density increases in areas of greatest accessibility is at the heart of the Spatial Strategy, helping to deliver Strategic Priorities 5, 10 and 15. Providing a balanced network of quality education facilities is a further key part of this approach and to delivering economic prosperity.

Figure 4 - Housing Key Diagram

Figure 4 - Housing Key Diagram
 

Delivering Sustainable Housing Growth

6.3 A key role of the BCP is to set out realistic targets for each BCA to deliver sustainable housing growth over the plan period up to 2039.
 

(159) Policy HOU1 – Delivering Sustainable Housing Growth

  1. Sufficient land will be provided to deliver at least 47,837 net new homes over the period 2020 – 2039. The key sources of housing land supply are summarised in Tables 3 and 4 and illustrated in the Housing Spatial Diagram. Housing allocations for each BCA are set out in the relevant tables of Chapter 13.
  2. The majority of the requirement will be met through sites with existing planning permission and sites allocated for housing by this Plan and other local plan documents. Additional housing supply will also be secured on windfall sites throughout the Black Country urban area and through the update of local Plans covering the Strategic Centres, where appropriate. The estimated net effect of housing renewal up to 2039 will be reviewed annually and taken into account in the calculation of housing land supply.
  3. The minimum housing target for each Black Country Authority over the period 2020-39 and for each of the Plan phases: 2020-29, 2029-34 and 2034-39 is set out in Table 4.
  4. The development of sites for housing should demonstrate a comprehensive approach, making best use of available land and infrastructure and not prejudicing neighbouring uses. Incremental development of an allocated site will only be allowed where it would not prejudice the achievement of high-quality design on the allocation as a whole. Masterplans and Supplementary Planning Documents will be produced, where appropriate, to provide detailed guidance on the development of strategic allocations.

 

(12) Table 3 - Black Country Housing Land Supply and Indicative Phasing 2020-39

Source of Supply

Total

2020-2029

2029-2034

2034-2039

CURRENT SUPPLY as of April 2020

Sites Under Construction

5,258

5,258

0

0

Sites with Planning Permission or Prior Approval symbol for discounted by 5%

7,380

7,244

136

0

Sites with Other Commitment (as set out in 2020 SHLAAs) symbol for discounted by 10%

3,802

2,002

986

814

Existing Housing Allocations in Strategic Centres symbol for discounted by 10%

(not subject to review through the Black Country Plan)

4,973

1,708

1,795

1,470

HOUSING ALLOCATIONS IN BLACK COUNTRY PLAN[9]

Occupied Employment Land symbol for discounted by 15%

3,091

616

1,228

1,247

Sites released from the Green Belt

7,720

2,398

3,173

2,149

Other symbol for discounted by 10%

6,921

4,308

1,487

1,126

WINDFALL ALLOWANCES

Small sites (<10 homes / 0.25 ha)

7,651

2,661

2,495

2,495

Wolverhampton City Centre upper floor conversions

812

232

290

290

ADDITIONAL SITE CAPACITY IN STRATEGIC CENTRES (to be allocated in Local Plans)

Wolverhampton City Centre

750

0

250

500

Walsall Town Centre

0

0

0

0

Brierley Hill Town Centre

350

0

175

175

West Bromwich Town Centre

200

0

100

100

TOTAL GROSS HOMES

48,908

26,427

12,115

10,366

TOTAL LOSS HOMES

Dudley Estimated Housing Renewal Demolitions

- 323

- 323

0

0

Small-scale demolition windfalls

- 748

- 328

- 210

- 210

TOTAL NET HOMES

47,837

25,776

11,905

10,156

symbol for discounted by 5% discounted by 5%   symbol for discounted by 10% discounted by 10%   symbol for discounted by 15% discounted by 15%

(13) Table 4 – Black Country Sources of Housing Land Supply and Phased Housing Targets for BCA 2020-39

Source of Supply (net new homes)

Dudley

Sandwell

Walsall

Wolver-hampton

CURRENT SUPPLY as of April 2020

Sites Under Construction

978

624

1,255

2401

Sites with Planning Permission or Prior Approvalsymbol for discounted by 5%

1,867

2,577

1,105

1831

Sites <10 homes with Other Commitment (as set out in 2020 SHLAAs)symbol for discounted by 10%

833[10]

102

2,691[11]

176

Existing Housing Allocations in Strategic Centressymbol for discounted by 10%

(not subject to review through the Black Country Plan)

2,506

201

18

2,248

HOUSING ALLOCATIONS IN BLACK COUNTRY PLAN[12]

Occupied Employment Landsymbol for discounted by 15%

732

1,882

0

477

Sites released from the Green Belt

1,117

171

5,418[13]

1,014

Othersymbol for discounted by 10%

2,739

2,013

1,402

767

WINDFALL ALLOWANCES

Small sites (<10 homes / 0.25 ha)

2,816

1,728

1,455

1,652

Wolverhampton City Centre upper floor conversions

     

812

ADDITIONAL SITE CAPACITY IN STRATEGIC CENTRES (to be allocated in Local Plans)

Brierley Hill Town Centre

350

     

West Bromwich Town Centre

 

200

   

Walsall Town Centre

   

0

 

Wolverhampton City Centre

     

750

TOTAL GROSS HOMES

13,938

9,498

13,344

12,128

TOTAL LOSS HOMES

Estimated Housing Demolitions 2020-39

- 703

- 340

0

- 28

TOTAL NET HOMES (per annum[14])

13,235

(696)

9,158

(482)

13,344

(702)

12,100 (637)

PHASED HOUSING TARGETS (NET)

2020-2029

6,264

4,338

6,318

5730

2029-2034

3,480

2,410

3,510

3185

2034-2039

3,480

2,410

3,510

3185

symbol for discounted by 5% discounted by 5%   symbol for discounted by 10% discounted by 10%   symbol for discounted by 15% discounted by 15%
 

(23) Justification

6.4 The BCP identifies sufficient land to provide 47,837 additional homes by 2039. This will deliver a 10% increase in housing stock and will accommodate 63% of current local housing need up to 2039 (76,076 homes) within the Black Country. 81% of supply is on brownfield land and 19% of supply is on greenfield land. The Housing Spatial Diagram illustrates the distribution of larger housing sites across the Black Country. A balanced range of sites has been provided, in terms of size, location and market attractiveness, which will help to maximise housing delivery over the Plan period. Across the BCA, 25%-45% of identified supply is on sites of under 1ha, well above the 10% required in NPPF para 068.

6.5 The detail of housing allocations for each Black Country authority is provided in Chapter 13 and all sites are shown on the Policies Map. Housing capacity has been identified in accordance with the Spatial Strategy and based on the following information:

a) Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments (SHLAAs) and the Black Country Employment Area Review (BEAR);
b) An estimate of the likely scale of housing renewal up to 2039;
c) An estimate of likely windfall development on small sites up to 2039;
d) An assessment of the likely capacity of strategic centres above existing supply, drawing on the Black Country Centres Study;
e) Application of a density uplift to existing allocations likely to gain permission after 2024, in line with Policy HOU2;
f) A comprehensive Green Belt review and site assessment process, which has identified new sites suitable and available for release for housing development, and deliverable within the Plan period and beyond.

6.6 The housing supply from allocations on occupied employment land has been discounted by 15% in order to take account of the multiple delivery constraints that typically affect such sites and that are likely to reduce delivery on a minority of sites. Delivery constraints include poor ground conditions and the need for large-scale master-planning, land assembly, business relocations and residential service access improvements. The supply from allocations on other land in the urban area and on small (<10 home / 0.25 ha) sites without planning permission has also been discounted by 10% to allow for non-implementation, as some of these sites are also affected by delivery constraints such as poor ground conditions. The supply from sites with planning permission but not yet under construction has been discounted by 5% in accordance with historic lapse rates. These discounts are balanced rates that take account of the likely availability of external funding to address constraints, as set out in the Viability and Delivery Study. Together, these discounts provide sufficient flexibility in the housing land supply to meet any unforeseen circumstances.

6.7 No discount has been applied to allocations on sites released from the Green Belt as evidence indicates that they will not generally be affected by delivery constraints. However, for five larger sites in Walsall (Yieldsfield Farm, Stafford Road; Queslett Road East / Aldridge Road / Doe Bank Lane; Home Farm, Sandhills; north of Coronation Road / Mob Lane; Calderfields, Aldridge Road) where the Viability and Delivery Study has indicated that housing capacity up to 2039 is likely to be limited by market delivery constraints, this has been taken into account when determining the amount of housing that it is estimated the site will deliver within the BCP Plan period. It is estimated that the remaining housing capacity on these sites, which totals 1,715 homes, will be delivered beyond 2039, and will form part of the housing land supply when the BCP is reviewed and the Plan period extended. The projected rate of delivery on these sites will be kept under review during the Plan period and housing supply estimates adjusted accordingly if required.

6.8 The BCP does not make or review allocations within the Strategic Centres. However, additional housing capacity above existing supply is expected to come forward within Strategic Centres over the Plan period, as set out in Tables 3 and 4. Existing allocations will be reviewed, and new allocations made in line with these targets when Local Plan documents covering Strategic Centres are updated, alongside or immediately following adoption of the BCP. A robust small windfall site allowance has been included in the supply, which reflects historic completion rates for sites of less than ten homes. Windfall sites are likely to include surplus public land, small non-conforming employment uses, sites in non-strategic centres and residential intensification sites, subject to policy, sustainability, and detailed site considerations.

6.9 Parts of Dudley have been identified as needing some form of housing market intervention. Selective renewal of the existing housing stock and the surrounding residential environment will help to create more sustainable communities and support regeneration. A combination of renovation, improvement, refurbishment, and / or redevelopment is proposed, to be determined on a site-by-site basis having regard to the most sustainable approach and the needs of the borough and its community. The likely amount of demolition across current Dudley housing renewal sites has been estimated for the purposes of the BCP (see Table 3).

6.10 The Plan period has been divided into three phases, covering five years, ten years, and 15 years from the year of adoption - 2024. Housing targets for each Black Country authority, for each phase, are provided in Table 4. These are based on the Black Country housing trajectory set out in Appendix 17, with further detail provided in the Black Country SHLAAs. The trajectory demonstrates a steady supply of housing completions over the Plan period, justifying consistent housing targets throughout the Plan period.
 

(4) Evidence

  • Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, and Wolverhampton SHLAAs (2021)
  • Black Country Urban Capacity Review Update (2021)
  • Black Country Employment Areas Review (2021)
  • Black Country Viability and Delivery Study (2021)
     

(1) Delivery

  • Annual update of SHLAAs
  • Review of Local Plans covering the four Strategic Centres
  • Housing renewal will be delivered through local authority intervention
  • Securing funding to facilitate delivery
  • Working with key partners and delivery agencies
     

(7) Issues and Options Consultation Responses

6.11 Many respondents highlighted under-delivery of housing against previous targets and the need to review existing, predominantly brownfield, sources of housing land supply and to identify new sources, including greenfield land and sites in the green belt.

6.12 The need for a sequential approach that prioritised sites in the urban area and did not prejudice their early delivery was generally supported, together with increased external funding to support delivery. However, many acknowledged that, given the scale of housing need in the Black Country, phasing of sites outside the urban area might not be possible.

6.13 There was support for retaining reasonable discounts on sites in the urban area to reflect delivery issues, and the need for robust evidence to support windfall allowances was highlighted.
 

Housing Density, Type and Accessibility

6.14 It is important that the new homes delivered over the plan period are located in places with good sustainable transport access to key residential services and provide a mix of types and densities which are appropriate to their location and help to meet local needs.
 

(70) Policy HOU2 – Housing Density, Type and Accessibility

  1. The density and type of new housing provided on any housing site should be informed by:
    1. The need for a range of types and sizes of accommodation to meet identified sub-regional and local needs;
    2. The level of accessibility by sustainable transport to residential services, including any improvements to be secured through development, as set out in Table 5;
    3. The need to achieve high-quality design and minimise amenity impacts, considering the characteristics and mix of uses in the area where the proposal is located.
  2. Each authority will aim to provide an overall mix of house types over the plan period, tailored to best meet local and sub-regional needs.
  3. Developments of ten homes or more should provide a range of house types and sizes that will meet the accommodation needs of both existing and future residents, in line with the most recently available information.
  4. All developments of ten homes or more should achieve the minimum net density set out below, except where this would prejudice historic character and local distinctiveness as defined in Policy ENV5:
    1. 100 dwellings per hectare where Table 5 accessibility standards for very high-density housing are met and the site is located within a Strategic Centre or Town Centre.
    2. 45 dwellings per hectare where Table 5 accessibility standards for high density housing are met;
    3. 40 dwellings per hectare where Table 5 accessibility standards for moderate density housing are met.
  5. Chapter 13 provides details of the appropriate density and, where appropriate, house type mix, to be sought on each housing allocation site, in accordance with the requirements set out in this Policy. Further details of design requirements for housing developments may be set out in Supplementary Planning Documents.

 

(2) Table 5 - Black Country Housing Accessibility Standards

Density (homes per hectare net)

Very High: 100 +

Only appropriate within a Strategic Centre or Town Centre

High: 45 +

Moderate: 40 +

Indicative proportion of flats

100%

>15%

0 – 15%

Indicative amount of housing suited to families

low

medium

high

Accessibility (by either walking or public transport, unless stated)

Employment - Strategic Centre or other employment area

20 mins

20 mins

30 mins

Health – Primary Care e.g. GP Surgery or Health Centre

10 mins

10 mins

15 mins

Fresh Food - Centre or food store

N/a

10 mins

15 mins

Education - Primary School (walking distance only)

N/a

15 mins

10 mins

Education - Secondary School

N/a

25 mins

20 mins

 

(3) Justification

6.15 Achieving an appropriate density and house type mix is crucial both to the success of each new housing development and the overall sustainability of the Spatial Strategy. It is important that every major development, of ten homes or more, contributes to providing an appropriate house type mix and density, aligned with current local needs. Achieving the right density and mix of house types will also help to protect and improve physical, social and mental health and wellbeing, as set out in the Health and Wellbeing Chapter.

6.16 The accessibility of all housing developments to a range of residential services by walking, cycling or public transport is key to achieving sustainable communities. As higher density developments tend to accommodate more people, they should generally be located in those areas with best access to services, to encourage use of sustainable transport modes. The highest densities of 100 homes per hectare should be in areas with the best access to public transport and services, but also where a high proportion of flats will provide design solutions that best reflect historic character and local distinctiveness. Therefore, such densities will only be acceptable within Strategic Centres and Town Centres. Conversely, lower density developments, accommodating more families, should have enjoy high levels of accessibility to schools. Not all developments with good sustainable access to services will be suited to the highest densities – in some cases a lower density will be more appropriate, for example in areas of historic character, to reflect the density of adjacent uses or to meet the need for a mix of housing types.

6.17 Table 5 provides access standards for differing house type mixes / densities, in relation to four priority residential services: employment, health, fresh food and education. Proxies have been selected for each service. Employment is represented by Strategic Centres and retained employment areas. The proxy used for fresh food is a centre, or an existing food store outside a centre that currently provides a range and choice of fresh food. The access standards have been developed based on survey evidence regarding the distance people are prepared to travel to each service by foot and public transport and are designed to help create well-connected and walkable neighbourhoods. Although open space does not form one of the priority residential services for the purposes of establishing the appropriate density and type of housing, Policy ENV8 taken together with local standards and policies will ensure that a sufficient quantity and quality of different types of open space is available close to where people live.

6.18 Housing developments of ten homes or more will be expected to meet the accessibility standards set out in Table 5, which vary according to density and likely house type mix. Where there is an identified gap in service provision against one or more of these standards, investment will be sought to improve either service provision or access to existing services sufficient to ensure standards are met. New service provision, including for centre uses, should be located, and justified in accordance with Policies CEN5 and HOU5 in particular.

6.19 Current accessibility to residential services by sustainable transport modes across the Black Country has been modelled. This modelling shows the high levels of accessibility achieved by the Spatial Strategy. However, there are some gaps in provision that will need to be addressed through service or access improvements. For strategic allocations, the approach to be taken towards addressing any gaps, for example through service provision on site, is set out in Chapter 13. The model will be updated on a regular basis to reflect changes in service provision and public transport services. Local circumstances, such as planned changes to service provision, will be considered when assessing accessibility on a site by site basis.

6.20 The Black Country Housing Market Assessment (HMA) 2021 demonstrates that new households generated by 2039 will need the following mix of home tenures and types:

 

One bedroom

Two bedrooms

Three bedrooms

Four + bedrooms

Owner occupied

19.1%

27.9%

30.5%

22.6%

Private rented

22.2%

22.3%

20.3%

35.2%

First Homes

20.6%

26.9%

33.6%

18.9%

Shared ownership

25.0%

32.0%

27.5%

15.5%

Social Rent / Affordable Rent

25.7%

14.9%

22.2%

37.2%


It is important that housing provision reflects the needs of these new households, allowing for at least one bedroom per person, whilst also reflecting the varying needs for each of the four local authorities, as set out in the HMA.
 

Evidence

  • Black Country Housing Market Assessment (2021)
  • Black Country Urban Capacity Review Update (2021)
     

Delivery

  • Through Local Plan Documents and Supplementary Planning Documents
  • Through the Development Management process
     

(6) Issues and Options Consultation Responses

6.21 Respondents generally supported the need to increase densities in strategic centres and areas with good levels of sustainable transport access to residential services, to maximise efficient use of land, where this was in line with national guidance and backed up by robust evidence.

6.22 However, it was also argued that there were limits to market demand for high density housing and that flexibility should be retained to take account of local character and viability issues.

6.23 There were mixed views on the appropriate density for green belt release sites, with some arguing for lower densities than in the urban area and others that densities should be the same.

6.24 There was general support for use of up-to-date evidence, including the SHMA, to inform house type requirements, subject to flexibility to reflect local character and viability issues.
 

Delivering Affordable, Wheelchair Accessible and Self Build / Custom Build Housing

6.25 In order to meet local needs, a sufficient proportion of new homes provided over the plan period should be affordable and wheelchair accessible, and enough plots should be provided to meet local demand for self-build and custom build housing. Viability should be taken into account when setting targets

 

(69) Policy HOU3 – Delivering Affordable, Wheelchair Accessible and Self Build / Custom Build Housing

Affordable Housing

  1. Developments of ten homes or more should, where financially viable, provide a range of tenures that will meet the accommodation needs of both existing and future residents, in line with the most recently available information.
  2. All developments of ten homes or more should provide a proportion of affordable housing, where this is financially viable. The minimum proportion of affordable housing that should be provided is:
    1. On all sites in lower value zones and brownfield sites* in medium value zones: 10% affordable housing;
    2. On greenfield sites* in medium value zones: 20% affordable housing;
    3. On all sites in higher value zones: 30% affordable housing.
  3. The tenure and type of affordable homes sought will be determined on a site by site basis, based on national planning policy and best available information regarding local housing needs, site surroundings and viability considerations. Detailed guidance may be set out in Supplementary Planning Documents, where appropriate.

    National Wheelchair Accessibility Standards

     
  4. All developments of ten homes or more should provide a proportion of wheelchair accessible housing, where this is financially viable.  The minimum proportion that should be provided is:
    1. On all brownfield sites*, and on greenfield sites* in lower value zones: 20% of homes to meet the optional Building Regulations Requirement M4(2): Accessible and Adaptable Dwellings[15].
    2. On greenfield sites* in medium or higher value zones: 15% of homes to meet the optional Building Regulations Requirement M4(3): Wheelchair User Dwellings[16] and all remaining homes to meet the optional Building Regulations Requirement M4(2): Accessible and Adaptable Dwellings[17].
  5. Other than for reasons of financial viability, these requirements will only be reduced where it can be demonstrated that any of the following apply:
    1. it is not practically achievable given the physical characteristics of the site, or
    2. site specific factors mean that step-free access to the dwelling cannot be achieved, or
    3. the homes are located on the first floor or above of a non-lift serviced multi-storey development.

      Self-Build and Custom Build Plots
       
  6. On developments of 100 homes or more, where there is currently a need for self-build and custom build plots identified in the self-build and custom build register for the local authority where the site is located, at least 5% of plots should be made available for self-build or custom build, or sufficient to match the current number on the register if lower. Any plots that have not been sold after 12 months of appropriate marketing will revert to the developer to build.

    Financial Viability Assessments
     
  7. On sites where applying the affordable housing or wheelchair accessibility requirements can be demonstrated to make the development unviable, the maximum proportion of such housing will be sought that will not undermine the viability of the development, subject to achieving optimum tenure mix and securing other planning obligations necessary for the development to gain planning permission.
  8. Financial viability assessments conforming to national guidance will be required to be submitted and, where necessary, independently appraised by an appropriate professional appointed by the local planning authority at the cost of the applicant. Flexible arrangements will be sought through planning agreements, wherever possible, to allow for changing market conditions in future years. Any viability assessment should be prepared on the basis that it will be made publicly available other than in exceptional circumstances, and in such circumstances an executive summary will be made publicly available.

*Or parts of such sites

(1)
Justification

6.26 Rising house prices and low average incomes over a long period have made market housing increasingly unaffordable for many Black Country households. The Black Country SHMA (2021) identifies a requirement for 15.7% of new homes to be made available for affordable or social rent, 8.3% to be shared ownership and 8.7% to be First Homes. To meet this level of need over the Plan period, 32.7% of new housing would have to be affordable.

6.27 The Viability and Delivery Study demonstrates that viability varies greatly according to local housing values (as set out in figure 5) and whether the site is greenfield or brownfield. Therefore, a sliding scale of affordable housing requirements, ranging from 10% to 30%, has been set out in Policy HOU3 which reflects this variation. This approach should ensure that viability appraisals are not required at planning application stage for the majority of sites. However, viability issues can vary significantly from site to site and are often caused by poor ground conditions, the extent of which cannot be accurately assessed until planning application stage. Therefore, to maximise delivery of affordable housing over the Plan period, it is important that affordable housing is sought on all eligible sites, that viability is assessed on a site by site basis where required, and that a flexible approach is employed wherever possible to allow for changing market conditions.

Figure 5 – Black Country Housing Value Zones

(Source: Black Country Viability and Delivery Study 2021) 

Figure 5 – Black Country Housing Value Zones


6.28 The tenure of affordable housing required over the Plan period will vary according to local housing need and market conditions and will also be constrained by the requirements of national planning policy. In general, a mix of tenures will be sought on all sites of ten homes or more, to help create mixed communities across the Black Country. However, there may be circumstances where this goal is better achieved through the provision of a 100% affordable housing development to boost affordable housing provision, or through a 100% market housing development with off-site provision of the affordable housing requirement.

6.29 There are currently 153 individuals on Black Country authority self-build and custom build registers, of which 83 are in Dudley, eight in Sandwell, 32 in Walsall and 30 in Wolverhampton. This represents a low level of demand compared to neighbouring authorities. Therefore, to meet the modest need for self-build and custom build plots across the Black Country, developers of larger sites will be expected to make available a small proportion of the development as serviced self-build and custom build plots, as defined in national guidance and legislation. These plots will not form part of the affordable housing requirement for the development. Detailed guidance for the plots, for example on design, will be provided at a local level where appropriate.

6.30 The Black Country authorities will work with partners to meet identified needs to accommodate older people, people with disabilities and those with other special needs. The Black Country SHMA (2021) concludes that 17,866 accessible and adaptable homes, including 1,674 wheelchair user homes, will be required by Black Country households in 2039 due to disability or old age. There is a need for these types of home across all tenures. This implies that a significant uplift will be required to the number of homes that meet these standards currently. Although some improvements to existing homes funded through Disabled Facilities Grants may contribute towards this uplift, the provision of new homes meeting the standards would reduce the need for adaptations to be retrofitted and make the housing stock more responsive to the evolving needs of the local population.

6.31 People's housing needs change as they get older, and homes designed in a way that makes them more easily accessible and adaptable allows people to stay in their own homes for longer. With public health and social care strategies placing more emphasis on supporting people in their own homes rather than moving to residential care it is important that more adaptable and accessible homes are provided. Studies have shown that older properties are generally less accessible, and harder to adapt.

6.32 Accessible and adaptable homes that meet the M4(2) Building Regulations are designed and built to a standard that meets the needs of occupants with differing needs, including some older or disabled people, and are only slightly more expensive to build than standard housing. They must also allow adaptation to meet the changing needs of occupants over time. Homes built to this standard are more flexible and readily adaptable as people's needs change, for example if they have children and require easy access for pushchairs, if they have a temporary or permanent disability or health issue, or as they gradually age and their mobility decreases. Wheelchair user homes that meet the M4(3) Building Regulations are required by less households but involve a significantly increased cost.

6.33 Therefore, all major housing developments will be expected to provide 20% of homes at the M4(2) standard, where this is financially viable. For major housing developments on greenfield sites in medium and higher value zones, where viability is less likely to be a constraint, there will be a requirement for 15% wheelchair user homes at the M4(3) standard, with the remainder of homes required to meet the M4(2) standard.

6.34 The standards will be applied through planning conditions or section 106 agreements, which will require an agreed number of units to be constructed to the specified Building Regulations requirements.

6.35 Policy HOU3 allows for an element of flexibility in recognition of the practicalities of delivering these standards, in particular given the challenges that may arise given the topography of some sites, where access within the gradients specified in the Building Regulations Approved Document may not be achievable. Where step free access to dwellings cannot feasibly be achieved due to site specific factors, the optional standards will not be required for the homes affected. Where multi storey flats or apartments are being developed without lift provision, homes on the first floor or above will not be required to meet the M4(2) or M4(3) standards. Ground floor flats in multi storey developments will still be required to meet the optional standards. Where lifts are provided the standards will be applied in accordance with the Policy.
 

(2) Evidence

  • Black Country Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2021)
  • Black Country Viability and Delivery Study (2021)
  • Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, and Wolverhampton Housing Strategies
  • Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, and Wolverhampton SHLAA's (2020)
     

Delivery

  • Local Plan documents and negotiations with developers through the Development Management process
  • Implementation of Housing Strategies
  • Securing funding to facilitate delivery
  • Working with key partners and delivery agencies
     

(2) Issues and Options Consultation Responses

6.36 There was general support for use of the most up-to-date evidence, including the SHMA, to inform housing tenure requirements. Most respondents supported retention of the 25% affordable housing requirement, and some supported an increased requirement for green belt release sites and reducing the affordable housing threshold to ten homes, where supported by up-to-date housing need and viability evidence.

6.37 Some respondents supported the provision of housing to meet the needs of the elderly, which is addressed through the Policy HOU3 requirement for M4(2) and M4(3) standards.

6.38 Most respondents did not support the introduction of a policy requiring a proportion of self-build and custom build plots on larger housing sites, preferring the allocation of specific targets and/or sites. However, given the low levels of demand in the Black Country, it is not felt reasonable or justified to require certain sites to be reserved for self or custom build.

6.39 The Viability and Delivery Study concludes that the 5% requirement for larger sites will not affect viability and the requirement will be flexible and responsive to local demand.
 

Accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Show people

6.40 The Black Country has small settled communities of gypsies and travellers, and travelling showpeople, and also experiences unauthorised encampments on a regular basis. In accordance with national guidance, the BCP aims to provide sufficient, appropriately designed and integrated sites to accommodate the needs of these communities over the plan period.
 

(8) Policy HOU4 - Accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Show people

  1. Phased targets for new gypsy and traveller pitches and travelling show people plots for each Black Country authority are set out in Table 6. These targets are based on needs identified in the Black Country Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) 2017*.
  2. These targets will be met through sites with planning permission, allocated sites and other sites granted planning permission during the Plan period in accordance with the criteria set out below. The Black Country authorities will pursue funding and / or management arrangements for new sites, where necessary.
  3. To meet gypsy and traveller pitch targets for Walsall, sites WAGT26 and WAGT27 have been removed from the Black Country Green Belt, as listed in Chapter 13. These are two existing sites (WAGT26 being the subject of a personal permission and WAGT27 having a temporary permission which has expired) reserved as permanent pitches for residents who meet the definition of travellers in national guidance.
  4. Proposals for permanent gypsy and traveller pitches and travelling show people plots will be assessed against the following criteria:
    1. The site should be suitable as a place to live, particularly regarding health and safety, and the development should be designed to provide adequate levels of privacy and amenity for both occupants and neighbouring uses;
    2. The site should meet moderate standards of access to residential services as set out in Policy HOU2;
    3. The site should be located and designed to facilitate integration with neighbouring communities;
    4. The site should be suitable to allow for the planned number of pitches, an amenity block, a play area, access roads, parking and an area set aside for work purposes where appropriate, including, in the case of travelling show people, sufficient level space for outdoor storage and maintenance of equipment;
    5. The site should be served or capable of being served by adequate on-site services for water supply, power, drainage, sewage and waste disposal (storage and collection).
  5. The location, design and facilities provided on new sites will be determined in consultation with local gypsies and travellers and travelling show people and will also consider / reflect any available national guidance.
  6. Existing traveller sites will be safeguarded and their redevelopment or use for other purposes will be opposed, unless there is evidence either that a suitable replacement with equivalent capacity has been provided elsewhere or that the existing site is no longer required to meet identified need.

* targets in the Publication Plan will be updated in line with the GTAA Update 2021


(2) Table 6 - Black Country Indicative Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople Accommodation Targets[18]

 

Dudley

Sandwell

Walsall

Wolverhampton

Black Country

2016-26

2026-36

2016-26

2026-36

2016-26

2026-36

2016-26

2026-36

2016-36

Gypsy and Traveller Pitches

Target

10

9

8

2

15

9

18

8

79

Permissions / allocations

2

0

10

0

23

0

12

0

47

Plots for Travelling Showpeople

Target

6

4

4

2

21

14

0

0

51

Permissions / allocations

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Source: Black Country GTAA 2017
 

(1) Justification

6.41 A Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) for the BCA was completed in 2017, in accordance with national guidance, and identified the likely future local need for gypsy and traveller and travelling show people accommodation as set out in Table 6. Following completion of a new GTAA during 2021 (which has been delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions), the Publication Plan will use updated information to set targets for the first five and ten years of the Plan period, from adoption in 2024. There have historically been low overall levels of identified need for pitches and plots, reflecting the good record of the Black Country authorities in permitting and delivering pitch and plot sites within the urban area. Therefore, following removal of sites WAGT26 and WAGT27 from the green belt in Walsall, it is anticipated that allocations and permissions will provide sufficient supply to meet targets up to 2029, and small windfalls within the urban area are expected to make up the remainder of targets up to 2034.

6.42 Permanent gypsy and traveller pitches, and travelling show people plots, have fixed infrastructure with all the normal residential amenities, and are used as a base to travel from. They are intended to allow gypsies and travellers to obtain good access to education, health, and other services.

6.43 The GTAA (2017) identified that gypsies and travellers prefer small, family-sized sites with approximately 10-15 pitches, but will accept larger sites if carefully planned and designed in consultation with the gypsy community. Local authorities may assist gypsies and travellers living on their own land without planning permission to obtain retrospective planning permission where this is deemed appropriate.

6.44 Travelling show people have different accommodation requirements to those of gypsies and travellers, and form part of a different community. They require large plots capable of accommodating lorries and equipment, which are more suited to mixed use areas.

6.45 Chapter 13 provides details of sites allocated in the BCP for gypsy and traveller pitches. These sites, together with existing permissions and small windfalls, should provide sufficient pitches and plots to meet the targets set out in Table 6. However, planning permission may also be granted for alternative sites which meet the criteria set out in Policy HOU4, where appropriate.

6.46 The GTAA 2017 identified a need for a transit site or sites to be provided in the Black Country to meet the needs of travellers and help prevent the occurrence of unauthorised encampments. Transit sites have since been provided in Dudley and Sandwell, a transit site has planning permission in Wolverhampton and a potential location for a transit site has been identified in Walsall. Therefore, it is anticipated that any need for transit provision identified in the GTAA 2021 will be capable of being met.
 

(2) Evidence

  • Black Country and South Staffordshire Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (2017)
     

Delivery

  • Allocations in Local Plan Documents and bids for Government funding where required.
  • Planning applications determined through the Development Management process
     

Issues and Options Consultation Responses

6.47 Respondents supported the use of pitch and plot targets taken from the GTAA. The National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups requested the inclusion of a transit pitch target. However, need for transit pitches has now been exceeded by available and permitted sites across the Black Country.
 

Education Facilities

6.48 A variety of services are required to meet the needs of new residents, including education facilities. It is important that these facilities can be easily accessed by sustainable forms of transport and meet the variety of needs for different age groups and educational needs.
 

(17) Policy HOU5 – Education Facilities

  1. New nursery, school and further and higher education facilities should be:
    1. Well-designed and complement and enhance neighbourhood services and amenities;
    2. Well-served by public transport infrastructure, walking, and cycling facilities, particularly in centres, and located to minimise the number and length of journeys needed in relation to its intended catchment area;
    3. Wherever possible, located to address accessibility gaps in terms of the standards set out in Policy HOU2, particularly where a significant amount of new housing is proposed.
  2. New and improved facilities will be secured through a range of funding measures. Where a housing development of ten or more homes would increase the need for education facilities to the extent that new or improved facilities would be required to meet this need, planning obligations or Community Infrastructure Levy will be secured sufficient to meet the need, where this is financially viable. For strategic allocations, the likely requirement for on-site provision of new schools is set out in Chapter 13. Where land is provided for a new school as part of a housing development, the financial contribution made by that development towards education facilities will be reduced accordingly.
  3. On sites where the education facility requirement is proven not to be viable, the maximum proportion of funding will be sought that will not undermine the viability of the development, subject to securing other planning obligations necessary for the development to gain planning permission. A financial viability assessment will be required to be submitted, meeting the requirements set out in Policy HOU3.
  4. New and redeveloped education facilities should include provision for wider community use of sports and other facilities where appropriate.
  5. The existing network of education facilities will be protected and enhanced. The physical enhancement and expansion of higher and further educational facilities and related business and research will be supported where it helps to realise the educational training and research potential of the Black Country. Proposals involving the loss of an education facility will be permitted only where adequate alternative provision is available to meet the needs of the community served by the facility.

 

Justification

6.49 Rising demand for school places in recent years, due to a combination of high birth rates, inward migration, retention levels and housing growth, has resulted in the expansion of a significant number of existing schools and an increased need for new schools across the Black Country. This investment has largely been funded by Local Education Authorities, as housing sites within the Black Country urban area do not demonstrate sufficient viability to provide for their own educational needs.

6.50 Housing growth over the Plan period is likely to generate the need for further investment in education provision for all age groups, including nursery and further and higher education. National guidance sets out the presumption that housing developments will fund the provision of education facilities sufficient to meet their own needs, including the provision of land for the construction of new buildings where necessary. However, the Viability and Delivery Study indicates that depending on the extent of other planning obligations required, this may not be viable on some sites, particularly those located in lower value zones, as shown on Figure 5. Where it can be proved that it is not viable for a housing development to fund all its own education facility needs, the developer should work with the Local Education Authority or BCA concerned to investigate available options and ensure that these needs can and will be met.

6.51 Improvements to existing educational settings should be explored to help address low educational attainment, which is a key priority for the Black Country. It is important that any investment in educational settings is focussed to support centres, address accessibility gaps, generate maximum service improvements and secure community benefits. Increasing community use of school sports facilities would make a major contribution towards meeting open space, sport and recreation standards and improving health through increased sports participation. One or more Supplementary Planning Documents will be produced to provide guidance on the approach towards developer contributions for education facilities across the Black Country.

6.52 The preferred location for major education facilities, which generate a large number of trips, is the network of identified centres. However, there may be cases where a development is isolated from a centre or provision within a centre may not be possible. In such cases the priority, when selecting a location, should be addressing accessibility gaps in accordance with access standards set out in Policy HOU2, to maximise sustainable access to the facility.

6.53 Higher and further education institutions and research facilities, particularly the University of Wolverhampton, play a major role in the Black Country economy and have a key role in helping deliver economic and social transformation. Attracting and retaining graduates within the Black Country is also key to securing a knowledge-based economy. The higher and further education sector is a major driver of economic, social, and cultural regeneration and ongoing investment in the existing network of this sector is supported. Initiatives that strengthen linkages between the sector and the wider economy will also be supported.
 

Evidence

  • Black Country Viability and Delivery Study (2021)
  • Black Country Infrastructure Delivery Plan (2021)
     

Delivery

  • Local Education Authority school expansion and improvement programmes
  • National DfE Free School Programmes
  • Delivery of new schools on strategic allocations and identification of sites for new education facilities in other Local Plan documents
  • Use of planning obligations or other funding mechanisms to address the impact of development on the need for education facilities
  • Identification of sites to support implementation of university and college estate strategies
     

Issues and Options Consultation Responses

6.54 Respondents supported the extension of the approach set out in Policy HOU5 to cover health and other community facilities. Policy HW2 takes forward this approach for health facilities.
 

Houses in Multiple Occupation

6.55 In recent years, as house prices have risen in comparison with local wages, the demand for houses in multiple occupation (where facilities are shared by separate households) has increased across the Black Country and now requires a policy approach.
 

(8) Policy HOU6 – Houses in Multiple Occupation

  1. Proposals for the creation of Houses in Multiple Occupation, including the conversion of buildings or sub-division of dwellings, will be permitted provided that:
    1. the development would not result in the loss of family-sized dwellings in areas where there is a proven demand for such accommodation;
    2. the development is unlikely to be detrimental to the amenities of the occupiers of adjoining or neighbouring properties by way of noise, overlooking, general disturbance, or impact on visual amenity;
    3. The development would not have a significant adverse impact on the character and appearance of the area, including the historic and natural environment;
    4. provision for off- and on-street car and cycle parking is sufficient and appropriately incorporated and would not have an adverse impact on the surrounding area by way of increased on-street parking, impaired highway safety or impeding proper access to the area;
    5. the site is in an area that has good access by walking and public transport to residential services, as set out in Policy HOU2;
    6. the development meets Nationally Described Space Standards as set out in Policy ENV9 and provides a satisfactory standard of living accommodation, to ensure that the occupiers have adequate floor space and the internal layout is shown to be suitable for the number of units proposed in terms of daylight, outlook and the juxtaposition of living rooms and bedrooms;
    7. adequate provision is made for the storage and disposal of refuse and recycling; and 
    8. adequate provision of residential amenity is made, including outdoor amenity space for sitting out, play and drying clothes and for external storage space, including cycle storage.

 

Justification

6.56 Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) are defined as homes accommodating three or more unrelated households who typically share kitchens, lounges, and bathrooms. Proposals for the conversion of an existing home to a HMO designed to accommodate three to six people do not normally require planning permission. However, where a relevant Article 4 Direction is in place, as is currently the case for the City of Wolverhampton, planning permission is required for such developments.

6.57 HMOs are an increasingly popular part of the housing market within many parts of the Black Country. As rooms can be rented individually, they provide additional affordable accommodation options, used primarily by students, young people, and those on lower incomes.

6.58 Whilst the area's stock of HMOs is contributing to meeting housing needs, increased numbers of multiple occupancy properties have the potential to create harmful impacts. Concentrations of HMOs within neighbourhoods can lead to imbalanced and unsustainable communities and harm the social mix and fabric of the area by increasing the proportion of short-term households. They can damage the residential amenity and character of surrounding areas, as the level of activity associated with a HMO is significantly greater than a typical family house, thus increasing the potential for noise and disturbance.

6.59 Harmful impacts associated with high numbers of HMOs can include:

a) reduced social cohesion resulting from demographic imbalance and unsustainable communities;
b) reduced housing choice resulting from housing type / tenure imbalance (e.g. a shift from permanent family housing to more transient accommodation and a growth in the private sector at the expense of owner-occupation);
c) reduced community engagement from residents resulting from an increase in the transient population of an area;
d) noise and disturbance resulting from intensification of the residential use and / or the lifestyle of occupants;
e) detriment to the visual amenity and character of the area resulting from poor or accumulative external alterations to properties and / or poor waste management;
f) reduced community facilities resulting from a shift in the character of shops and businesses;
g) increased anti-social behaviour and fear of crime resulting from the lifestyles of some HMO occupants, the transient nature of the accommodation and inadequately designed / maintained properties;
h) highway safety concerns resulting from congested on-street parking.

6.60 Whilst this type of accommodation can address certain housing needs, HMOs tend to be grouped together in parts of the urban area, becoming the dominant type of housing, which can lead to social and environmental problems for local communities. Alongside this, an over-concentration of HMO properties can lead to a loss of family-sized units. This in turn can lead to a consequential increase in the overall number of units unsuited to family occupation. This can pose a serious issue for maintaining a mixed sustainable housing offer across the Black Country.

6.61 The Black Country SHMA (2021) signalled that the greatest demand in the future will be for homes of three bedrooms or more. It is important, therefore, that an approach is taken to the creation of HMOs and the sub-division of existing properties that only allows those proposals that do not impact upon the overall supply of family-sized homes to be consented. In applying this policy, 'family-sized dwellings' means houses with three or more bedrooms.

6.62 Planning policy needs to balance the growing demand for HMOs with the need to avoid high concentrations which can cause a loss of amenity, increased social or environmental problems, and undermine the health and stability of communities. Ease of access to work and education provision without needing a car also needs to be considered. New HMOs should be located in sustainable locations that allow ease of access to employment and residential services by means of sustainable transport, whilst reducing the need to use the private car. Proposals for new HMOs should look to address detailed local amenity issues, including local parking pressures and impacts on neighbours.
 

Evidence

  • Black Country Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2021)
     

Delivery

  • Through Local Plan Documents and Supplementary Planning Documents
  • Planning applications determined through the Development Management process
     

(1) Issues and Options Consultation Responses

6.63 It was recognised that a concentration of HMOs causes problems in some parts of the Black Country and that guidance could help to avoid these problems in future.
 

Monitoring

Policy

Indicator

Target

HOU1

Annual Black Country Authority net housing completions

Phased Housing Targets for each Black Country Authority as set out in Table 4.

HOU3

% affordable housing delivery on eligible sites

Minimum %, as set out in Policy HOU3

% wheelchair accessible housing delivery on eligible sites

Minimum % M4(2) and M4(3), as set out in Policy HOU3

% self-build and custom build plot availability on eligible sites

5% on developments of 100 homes or more, as set out in Policy HOU3

HOU4

Annual gypsy and traveller residential pitch and travelling show people plot completions

Phased targets for each Black Country Authority as set out in Table 6.

 

 

[9] Excluding some sites with planning permission that have been allocated in the BCP to ensure they are not lost to other uses

[10] Including mixed use allocations that include centre uses and so are not subject to review through the Black Country Plan

[11] Including 833 homes on identified sites in Walsall Town Centre

[12] Excluding some sites with planning permission that have been allocated in the BCP to ensure they are not lost to other uses

[13] Excludes 1,715 homes that it is estimated will be delivered after 2039

[14] Rounded down

[15] Or any subsequent national equivalent standard

[16] Or any subsequent national equivalent standard

[17] Or any subsequent national equivalent standard

[18] Pitch targets exclude those living in housing and with a psychological aversion to housed accommodation

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