Paper 2: Strategic Growth and Spatial Distribution Options

Ended on the 25 January 2019
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The Conwy RLDP Growth Strategy

3.1 Spatial Growth and Distribution Options (including settlement hierarchy)

In creating sustainable places in Conwy the first step is to consider the level of development required (e.g. housing & employment) and where development should be located within Conwy. The RLDP will provide the context for this by identifying the growth level and areas for new development, including a settlement hierarchy.

The Conwy RLDP Growth Strategy should be consistent with Welsh Governments Wellbeing of Future Generations Act goals, Key Planning Principles and National Sustainable Placemaking Outcomes (Refer to Appendix 2), including minimising the need to travel and increasing accessibility by modes other than the private car. A broad balance between housing and employment opportunities in both urban and rural areas should be promoted to minimise the need for long distance commuting. Planning authorities should also adopt policies to locate major generators of travel demand, such as housing, employment, retailing, leisure and recreation, and community facilities (including libraries, schools, doctor's surgeries and hospitals), within existing urban areas or in other locations which are, or can be, easily reached by walking or cycling, or well served by public transport. Wherever possible, developments should be located at higher densities near major public transport nodes or interchanges where the transport infrastructure has the capacity to accommodate increased usage and this is compatible with maintaining health, amenity and well-being of people.

This part of the document presents the Growth Strategy options for the Conwy RLDP, which includes the Settlement Hierarchy, Spatial Growth Level (the amount of housing and employment) and Spatial Distribution (where growth will be located). The Growth Strategy options seek to address the issues identified in Consultation Paper 1 'Priority Issues, Vision and Objectives' and related Topic and Background Papers.

An important feature of the LDP system is the emphasis on identifying realistic options that reflect the evidence and then testing them using the integrated Local Development Plan (LDP) and Sustainability Appraisal Strategic objectives. Options should be: genuine, reasonable, reflect the evidence and the plan issues/objectives, meet the evidenced needs of the area, deliverable within the plan period, conform to national policy, complement regional or neighbourhood plans/strategies, flexible and sustainable. For a plan revision, the LPA will need to consider the appropriateness of options previously considered as part of the currently adopted LDP (2007 - 2022).

There are three main elements to this part of the document;

  1. Settlement Hierarchy: The identification of a settlement hierarchy is important as this acts as a framework to develop the RLDP spatial strategy.
  2. Growth Options: concentrates on future growth levels for both housing and employment over the plan period (2018 - 2033).
  3. Spatial Distribution Options: identifies potential locations where the growth could be accommodated.

Topic-based policies are likely to emerge from consideration of these options at a later stage in the RLDP preparation.

Settlement Hierarchy

Each of the settlements identified in the currently adopted LDP (2007 - 2022) have been assessed in terms of their services and facilities alongside their size, population and character and whether they are readily identified as settlements (refer to Background Paper 3 - Hierarchy of Settlements and Settlement Boundaries). The identification of a settlement hierarchy is important as this acts as a framework to develop the RLDP. Consideration of whether the settlement can accommodate growth and the need for infrastructure have also been considered.

The purpose of the Settlement Hierarchy Assessment is to undertake a robust assessment of the sustainability of settlements and to provide the evidence base with which to test whether the current LDP settlement hierarchy is still fit for purpose and to devise and test a range of other approaches.

We've looked carefully at the characteristics and roles of the towns, villages and hamlets in the county. We have considered their existing services and facilities, transport links, population and physical character. Additionally, we have considered key constraints in some settlements in addition to national, regional and local legislation. This has helped us to understand which towns and villages might offer the most suitable places for new homes and jobs. We've grouped and classified the settlements in the county based on our assessment to create a number of settlement hierarchy options for RLDP.

Hierarchy of Settlement Options

Background Paper 3 - Hierarchy of Settlements and Settlement Boundaries has established a good evidence base for each of the settlements and the hierarchy options and provides the framework with which to look at options for categorising settlements in the RLDP. As with all proposals in this document no decisions have made on the chosen hierarchy. This key stakeholder participation will assist the preferred options, in addition to the evidence and candidate sites.

A Summary of the Settlement Hierarchy Options and a brief assessment of each option is covered below:

Option 1: Continue with the current LDP Hierarchy of Settlements unchanged. The growth level and spatial distribution chosen would use the existing LDP Hierarchy of Settlements to accommodate growth.

Option 2: Same approach as Option 1 but amend the settlement hierarchy to move / reclassify selected settlements based on their sustainability. This option basically brings the adopted LDP up to date following a new appraisal of the settlements against certain sustainability criteria set out in BP/3. For example, some settlements may have gained/lost essential community infrastructure which now impacts on the sustainability of the settlement and where it sits within the hierarchy. Reclassifying in this way will ensure growth is distributed sustainably.

Option 3: The same approach as in Option 2 above but with adjustments to the categorisation of certain settlements based on their close proximity and functional relationship to higher level urban settlements. For example, whilst some settlements have been classified as rural in the current LDP, some rural settlements fall within urban areas and have good accessibility criteria to urban areas and as such could accommodate greater growth.

Option 4: A new Settlement hierarchy which takes on board the Primary Key Settlements and Key Settlements identified in the Wales Spatial Plan (WSP). This option would see a further tier added to the urban areas to reflect the Primary Key Settlements and Key Settlements in the WSP.

Option 5: A hybrid which reflects Option 3 & 4 above. Under this option there would be an assessment of certain rural settlements based on their close proximity and functional relationship to higher level urban settlements and an additional tier included within the urban settlements to reflect WSP Primary Key Settlements and Key Settlements.

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