8 Appraisal of preferred and alternative SUE locations

Reasons for selecting the alternatives

8.1 The reasons for selecting the preferred SUE locations at each town were described at the end of Chapter 7.  The preferred SUEs and Daventry, Towcester and Brackley had not changed from those set out in the JCS as submitted, but changes had been made to the preferred SUEs at Northampton.  The locations of the preferred SUEs at Northampton, Daventry, Towcester and Brackley are shown in Figures 8.1-8.4 in Appendix 15

8.2 In order to test its revised Preferred Choice, the JPU decided that the sustainability effects of the revised Preferred Choice needed to be appraised in terms of policy approach and then compared with an appraisal of the current distribution of SUEs as allocated in the JCS as submitted.  In addition, an alternative option for distributing the development required at Northampton was proposed by Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) during the Examination, and the Inspector requested that it be subject to SA.  Note that it has not been possible to map the NCC option as no specific boundaries were defined.  Therefore, this chapter sets out the SA findings for the distribution of development at Northampton as set out under the following three alternative options:

  • The submitted JCS.
  • The JPU’s Preferred Choice.
  • The NCC option.

8.3 While there are other options that were considered by the JPU, these were rejected for the reasons described in Chapter 7.

8.4 Table 8.1 shows the numbers of dwellings proposed to be delivered in the urban area and relevant SUEs under each of these three alternatives.  The green shaded cells in Table 8.1 show those elements of the JPU’s Preferred Choice and Northamptonshire County Council’s option that are different from the allocations in the submitted JCS.  It should be noted that only the dwelling numbers proposed in the JPU’s Preferred Choice would meet the new housing requirements identified in the Objectively Assessed Housing Needs paper (July 2013), as the submitted JCS and NCC options are based on the housing requirements set out in the submitted JCS, which go up to 2026 (as discussed in Chapter 5, the plan period is being extended through the Proposed Main Modifications until 2029, with additional housing required in the period 2026-2029).   

Table 8.1 Number of dwellings to be delivered under the three alternative options for the distribution of housing development at Northampton

 

Submitted JCS

New ‘Preferred Choice’

NCC Option

Northampton North SUE

-     2,000 dwellings

Northampton North SUE

-     Increased by 1,500 dwellings (3,500 dwellings total)

Northampton North SUE

-     Increased by 2,500 dwellings (4,500 dwellings total)

Northampton West SUE

-     1,500 dwellings

Northampton West SUE

-     Increased by 1,050 dwellings (2,550 dwellings total)

Northampton West SUE

-     Not included.

Northampton South SUE

-     1,000 dwellings

Northampton South SUE

-     No change  (1,000 dwellings total)

Northampton South SUE

-     Not included.

Northampton South of Brackmills SUE

-     1,000 dwellings

Northampton South of Brackmills SUE

-     Increased by 300 dwellings (1,300 dwellings total)

Northampton South of Brackmills SUE

-     No change (1,000 dwellings total)

Northampton Kings Heath SUE 

-     3,000 dwellings

Northampton Kings Heath SUE 

-     No change (3,000 dwellings total)

Northampton Kings Heath SUE 

-     No change (3,000 dwellings total)

Northampton North of Whitehills SUE

-     1,000 dwellings

Northampton North of Whitehills SUE

-     No change (1,000 dwellings total)

Northampton North of Whitehills SUE

-     No change (1,000 dwellings total)

Northampton Upton Park SUE

-     1,000 dwellings

Northampton Upton Park SUE

-     No change (1,000 dwellings total)

Northampton Upton Park SUE

-     No change (1,000 dwellings total)

Northampton Upton Lodge/ Norwood Farm SUE 

-     Not included

Northampton Upton Lodge/ Norwood Farm SUE 

-     New SUE: (3,500 dwellings total)

Northampton Upton Lodge/ Norwood Farm SUE 

-     Not included.

Northampton urban area

-     1,500 dwellings

Northampton urban area

-     Increased Urban Capacity  1,750 dwellings (3,250 dwellings in total)

Northampton urban area

-     No change (1,500 dwellings)

 

 

Approach to the appraisal

8.5 The starting point for the appraisal of the three options was to draw from the SA matrices for the relevant SUEs that were produced during the earlier stage of appraisal (see Chapter 7).  The SA matrices for each SUE location were revised and amended, taking into account the specific wording of the relevant policies in the JCS as submitted as well as any relevant proposed Main Modifications.  Where appraisal scores had previously been based on the high level assumptions described in Chapter 7, this information was replaced drawing on the specific details of the relevant policy.  For example, it was previously assumed for all SUEs that an element of sustainable transport provision would be included in the development.  At this stage of the appraisal, the information set out in the relevant JCS policy (and Proposed Main Modification if relevant) about sustainable transport provision at the site was drawn on to inform the SA judgement.  Additional matrices were prepared to identify the potential sustainability effects of increasing the number of dwellings within the Northampton urban area, as this was not specifically appraised in the SA Report that accompanied the submitted JCS.

8.6 Appendix 11 presents the SA matrices for each SUE location and Northampton urban area.  Where there is no change proposed to the allocation as set out in the submitted JCS, only one matrix is presented (this is the case for the SUEs at Daventry, Towcester and Brackley, and four of the Northampton SUEs: Northampton South, Kings Heath, North of Whitehills and Upton Park).  In addition, there is only one matrix for the additional SUE proposed under the Preferred Choice (Upton Lodge/Norwood Farm), as this SUE is not included in either the submitted JCS or the NCC option.  For the Northampton urban area and the three allocated SUEs where additional housing is proposed (Northampton North, West and South of Brackmills) there is more than one matrix to reflect what is proposed under the three options. 

8.7 The information shown in Table 8.1 above and in Figures 8.1-8.4 informed the SA by showing exactly where the additional housing would go.  The appraisal has also taken into account the fact that all of the other policies in the JCS would apply to any development that takes place on the allocated SUEs and within Northampton urban area, and these policies should help to mitigate or enhance many of the potential effects identified. 

Summary of the appraisal findings for Daventry, Towcester and Brackley

8.8 The SUEs for Daventry, Towcester and Brackley remain unchanged in terms of the location of the SUEs, and their overall potential in terms of numbers of dwellings to be delivered within and beyond the JCS plan period (although the extension of the end date of the plan period to 2029 means that more dwellings will now be delivered within the plan period at these SUEs than was the case in the JCS as submitted).

8.9 A summary of the appraisal scores, using the SA assumptions that have been applied to the SA objectives in this SA Addendum and the more detailed information and analysis undertaken during the work for the SA Addendum are shown in Table 8.2.

8.10 The summary shows that all of the SUEs are likely to have significant negative effects on SA objective 3: biodiversity due to their proximity to designated wildlife sites.  They are all also likely to have significant negative effects with respect to SA objective 9: landscape due to their being in areas considered to be of medium or medium-high sensitive landscape.  For both these SA objectives there is the potential for some mitigation.

8.11 Daventry North East SUE has the potential for significant negative effects on SA objective 2: archaeology and cultural heritage due to its location in close proximity to Borough Hill Scheduled Monument, and also for SA objective 13: soil, geology and land use because it contains grade 2 agricultural land, and because of some potential land instability issues.

8.12 All the SUEs, except Brackley East SUE, have the potential to have significant positive effects on SA objective 5: education and training and SA objective 7: health and well-being because these SUEs would be required to provide educational facilities as part of the package of development, and because they would either include health facilities or be well located to existing health facilities, and provide good opportunities for physical recreation due to access to open space and walking opportunities.

8.13 Similarly, all SUEs except Brackley East SUE would have potential significant positive effects on SA objective 10: material assets and SA objective: population because of the significant provision of housing and associated services and facilities at these SUEs, all of which should make a material contribution to meeting local needs.

8.14 Towcester South East SUE and Brackley East SUE have the potential to have significant positive effects on SA objective 8: labour market and economy due to the provision of significant amounts of land employment land as part of the SUEs.

Table 8.2 Summary of SA scores for the distribution of development at Daventry, Towcester and Brackley

 

SA objectives

Daventry North East SUE

Towcester South East SUE

Brackley East SUE

Brackley North SUE

1.       Air Quality and Noise

+/0

+/-

+/-

+/-/0?

2.       Archaeology and cultural heritage

--?

-?

-?

-?

3.       Biodiversity, flora and fauna

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

4.       Crime and community safety

0

0

0

0

5.       Education and training

++?

++?

-?

++/-?

6.       Energy and climatic factors

0?

0?

0?

0?

7.       Health and wellbeing

++

++

+

++

8.       Labour market and economy

+

++

++

+

9.       Landscape and townscape

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

10.     Material assets

++

++

+

++

11.     Population

++

++

+

++

12.     Social deprivation

+

+

+

+

13.     Soil, geology and land use

--?

-/0

-/0

-/0

14.     Waste

0

0

0

+?

15.     Water

0

-?

0

0

 

Summary of the appraisal findings for Northampton

8.15 This section summarises firstly the potential sustainability effects of the distribution of development at Northampton as it is set out in the submitted JCS, i.e. with the SUEs allocated in Policies N3 to N9, and the 1,500 net additional dwellings proposed to be delivered in the Northampton urban area.  Secondly, it presents the SA scores from the appraisal of the JPU’s Preferred Choice for distributing development at Northampton in the Proposed Main Modifications.

8.16 Finally, the likely effects of the distribution of development at Northampton as it is set out in the NCC option are considered, in comparison to the likely effects of both the submitted JCS and the Preferred Choice.

Distribution of development at Northampton as set out in the Submitted JCS

8.17 Table 8.3 summarises the SA scores for the distribution of development at Northampton, as set out in the submitted JCS.  It shows that all of the SUEs will have mixed effects on SA objective 1: air quality and noise.  Positive effects are likely for all SUEs in relation to sustainable transport because all of the policies for the SUEs in the submitted JCS provide for sustainable transport links to be incorporated into the new development (in most cases this comprises an integrated network of sustainable transport links for walking and cycling, connecting the SUEs to neighbouring areas and the town centre).  However, many of the SUEs are within close proximity of strategic roads which could result in negative impacts in relation to noise effects for new residents.  These effects may be compounded where highway improvements are proposed as part of the new SUEs, as this could be seen as facilitating/encouraging car use and may contribute to increased noise levels and poorer air quality in the area.  One of the SUEs, Northampton South, could have a significant negative effect as it is adjacent to the M1, meaning that noise effects are likely to be greater.  The likely effect of the urban capacity figure is also mixed, and uncertain.  This is because, while development in the town centre would offer particularly good opportunities for utilising non-car based modes of transport, noise levels are likely to be higher and there are several AQMAs within the Northampton urban area – depending on the location of the new housing (which is not yet known), air quality in those areas could be reduced further.

8.18 All of the SUEs as allocated in the submitted JCS are likely to have a negative effect in relation to SA objective 2: archaeology and cultural heritage as all are within areas of medium or high sensitivity in relation to the historic environment.  However, in all cases the potential negative effects are uncertain until more details about the exact design and layout of the development are known at a later stage.  While all of the SUE policies provide some safeguarding by requiring archaeological studies of the sites, and consequent necessary mitigation, the policies do not generally address the potential need to mitigate effects on other heritage assets, such as the setting of nearby listed buildings or conservation areas.  The South of Brackmills, North of Whitehills and Upton Park SUEs are in areas of higher sensitivity in relation to cultural heritage, and so development at those locations may have significant negative effects.  Similarly, development within the urban area may have a negative effect as there are areas of higher sensitivity within the town, and it is recognised that there may be a higher concentration of listed buildings and other built heritage features within the town centre, meaning that development is more likely to have an effect.  However, the effect is uncertain depending on the specific location of the housing to be provided within the urban area, which is not yet known.

8.19 All of the SUEs as set out in the submitted JCS are likely to have mixed effects on SA objective 3: biodiversity as all are within 250m of biodiversity designations (most of which are Local Wildlife Sites and Potential Local Wildlife Sites) that could potentially be affected by development.  However, in all cases the SUE policies in the submitted JCS require development proposals to include an ecological assessment of the site and any necessary mitigation, and all provide for green space within the development which should help to provide new areas of habitat and avoid fragmentation.  The housing proposed in the urban area is less likely to result in ecological disturbance, as it is more likely to take place on brownfield sites further from ecological designations, but this is uncertain until its exact location is known.  It is also recognised that brownfield sites may still harbour valuable biodiversity, which would need to be assessed during development proposals.

8.20 None of the elements of the development at Northampton proposed in the submitted JCS would be expected to affect SA objective 4: crime and safety as this will be determined by factors other than the geographical distribution of development, such as the incorporation of design measures to create safer environments, e.g. appropriate lighting and open spaces with natural surveillance. 

8.21 The SUE policies in the submitted JCS all provide for new schools or school places as part of the SUEs, meaning that positive effects on SA objective 5: education and training are likely in relation to all of the SUEs and development in the urban area.  However, in some cases the effects are mixed because provision is only made for primary school places, meaning that secondary pupils may need to travel further to school, particularly where there are no existing secondary schools within walking distance of the SUE.  For example, the Northampton North SUE provides for a primary school as part of the development but not a secondary school and the nearest existing secondary school is 1.2km away, making walking or cycling difficult.

8.22 None of the elements of the development at Northampton proposed in the submitted JCS would be expected to affect SA objective 6: energy and climatic factors as this will be determined by factors other than the geographical distribution of development, such as the incorporation of renewable energy infrastructure within development proposals, which is not known at this stage.

8.23 All of the SUEs will have at least a minor positive effect on SA objective 7: health, with most of the likely effects being significantly positive, as all of the SUE policies in the submitted JCS specify that healthcare facilities will be provided within the local centres that will be included in the SUEs.  This will help to ensure easy access to doctor’s surgeries etc. and will help to ensure that existing facilities do not become overloaded.  In addition, the SUEs will all incorporate walking and cycling routes and open space which will help to facilitate and encourage active outdoor activities.  However, for the Northampton South SUE the likely effects are mixed as the north east corner of the site is adjacent to the A45 London Road air quality management area (AQMA), while the southern boundary of the site is adjacent to the M1 Corridor AQMA.  This means that there could be a minor negative impact on health, particularly if vehicle movements associated with the new development compound existing air quality problems.  However, it is noted that the accompanying text to Policy N5 in the JCS as submitted mentions the need for mitigation measures to address the issues of noise and air pollution caused by the strategic roads.  Two of the SUEs (South of Brackmills and Kings Heath) would have a minor rather than a significant positive effect as there are known to be topography issues around the site which could mean that healthcare facilities within 600m are not easily accessible on foot.  While it is recognised that new facilities will be provided within the sites themselves, it cannot be known whether these will meet particular needs and residents may still be required to use other facilities in the area.  The element of housing to be delivered within the urban area could have both positive and negative effects in relation to health.  This is because although the housing would be centrally located in relation to healthcare facilities and there would be good opportunities to walk and cycle in the town, it is recognised that there are pockets of poor air quality in the town with seven AQMAs that have been declared in Northampton, and which could affect residents’ health.

8.24 All components of the development at Northampton proposed in the submitted JCS will have a positive effect on SA objective 8: employment as all of the SUEs provide at least for local employment opportunities.  Two of the SUEs (Northampton North and Kings Heath) are likely to have a significant positive effect as they provide for 10ha of employment land alongside the housing.  This co-location of housing and employment land means that the employment opportunities should be easily accessible for new residents.

8.25 The effects of the SUEs as set out in the submitted JCS on SA objective 9: landscape are broadly very mixed.  Three of the SUEs (South of Brackmills, Kings Heath and Upton Park) are located in areas of medium-high or high landscape sensitivity which means that development in these locations could have a significant negative effect.  The other SUEs are located in medium sensitivity areas where minor negative effects could still occur.  However, in all cases the effects are uncertain depending on the specific design of the developments, which are all likely to include areas of green infrastructure which could help to mitigate effects on the landscape.  It is also recognised that the SUE policies in the submitted JCS provide some mitigation as they require detailed masterplans that will demonstrate how the development will positively respond to context and design issues.  Development in the urban area may have a positive effect as directing housing development into the urban area of Northampton would steer it away from the areas of high landscape sensitivity that exist around the periphery of the town, particularly to the north and east.  However, while large areas of the town are not classed as sensitive from a landscape/townscape point of view, there are significant areas that are sensitive to development, particularly in the centre and north.  Therefore, the likely positive effect is uncertain depending on the specific location of the development within the urban area. 

8.26 The likely effects of the proposed development at Northampton, as allocated in the submitted JCS on SA objective 10: housing are all significantly positive as all of the SUEs, as well as development within the urban area, would result in the provision of large number of new homes and it is assumed that the new development would be built to high standards and would be in accordance with JCS Policy H1: Housing Density and Mix of Type, which specifies the need to accommodate the needs of older and vulnerable groups, as well as Policy H2: Affordable Housing, which specifies that 35% of new housing developments in the Northampton Related Development Area must be affordable.  However, it is noted that while the SUEs all individually provide for high numbers of new homes, the combined total housing numbers provided by the allocated SUEs and urban capacity figures set out in the submitted JCS would not meet the most up-to-date objectively assessed housing need figure for West Northamptonshire[1] .  The scale of the development proposed at each SUE means that new services and facilities would be provided in the form of a new local centre (as specified in the policies for the SUEs).

8.27 All of the allocated SUEs will have a significant positive effect on SA objective 11: population as all of the SUE policies provide for a new local centre which would include health, retail and community services and facilities to serve the local residents and which would avoid existing facilities nearby becoming overloaded.  Development in the urban area would have a mixed effect - it is likely to be dispersed rather than coming forward on one or two larger sites; therefore it is not considered likely that the new development under either option would result directly in the delivery of new services and facilities.  However, the fact that development is to be located within the town means that residents would be able to easily access the existing community, social and transport infrastructure that is in place although it is recognised that increased demand may result in them becoming overloaded depending on existing levels of capacity which is not known at this stage. 

8.28 All of the allocated SUEs will have a minor positive effect on SA objective 12: social deprivation as the SUE policies in the submitted JCS specify that development would include an integrated transport network.  This would help to provide access for all to social opportunities, including for both residents of the new housing and residents of adjacent neighbourhoods (particularly where they may currently be deprived in terms of access to services) as they will be able to make use of new facilities and services in the SUE.  Housing development in the urban area may have a positive effect as focussing new housing development within Northampton is likely to have a positive effect on enabling access to services by walking, cycling and public transport.   

8.29 The likely effects of the proposed development at Northampton, as set out in the submitted JCS, on SA objective 13: soil, geology and land use are largely negative for soil preservation as the SUEs are generally on greenfield land, some of which is still in agricultural use.  Northampton North SUE could have a significant negative effect on this objective as more than half of the site is classed as Grade 2 agricultural land.  However, the development within the urban area would have a positive effect on soil preservation by steering development away from greenfield sites in more peripheral locations, which may be classed as having agricultural value.  While negligible effects are generally likely in relation to land instability, further minor negative effects are identified for two of the SUEs: Northampton South and Kings Heath as those sites include some areas that are classed as category C land where land instability problems may be present or anticipated.  In those cases, it is recommended that site investigations at the planning application stage should consider specifically the slope stability of the site (the sites would also need to meet the requirements of JCS policy BN10: Ground Instability, which requires potential ground instability issues to be assessed and addressed prior to development). 

8.30 None of the SUEs will have an effect on SA objective 14: waste as they are on greenfield land and effects will depend more on waste management practices within the development than their geographical location.  However, housing development in the urban area may have a minor positive effect as there are more likely to be opportunities to re-use existing buildings and materials.

8.31 Generally negligible effects are likely in relation to SA objective 15: water as most of the SUEs are located away from flood zones 2 and 3 and will incorporate greenspace that will aid infiltration, as well as other flood risk management measures.  However, the location of housing in the urban area could have a negative effect as it could contribute to further loss of impermeable surfaces within the urban area, particularly if the housing is located in proximity to the areas of flood zone 2 and 3 that are present within the urban area.  However, this is uncertain depending on the location of the development and whether it takes place on brownfield land.  One of the SUEs (Upton Park) could have a minor negative effect as that site includes areas of higher flood risk.  The Northampton site could also have a minor positive effect, as policy N5 states that the SUE will include open space and its accompanying text refer to plans for the reconfiguration of the golf course (a compatible use within a flood plain area) within the SUE which would provide a minor positive effect in terms of flood alleviation from the Wootton Brook and the surrounding area.

Table 8.3 Summary of SA scores for the distribution of development at Northampton as set out in the submitted JCS

SA Objectives

North SUE (Policy N3)

West SUE (Policy N4)

South SUE (Policy N5)

South of Brackmills SUE (Policy N6)

Kings Heath SUE (Policy N7)

North of Whitehills SUE (Policy N8)

Upton Park SUE (Policy N9)

Urban Capacity (Policy S3)

 

Northampton Upton Lodge/ Norwood Farm SUE 

1.       Air Quality and Noise

+/-

+/-

+/--

+/-

+/-

+/-

+/-

+/-?

n/a

2.       Archaeology and cultural heritage

-?

-?

-?

--?

-?

--?

--?

-?

n/a

3.       Biodiversity, flora and fauna

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/-

n/a

4.       Crime and community safety

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

n/a

5.       Education and training

++/-?

++/-?

+/-?

+/-?

+?

++/-?

++/-?

+?

n/a

6.       Energy and climatic factors

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

n/a

7.       Health and wellbeing

++

++

+/-

+

+

++

++

+/-?

n/a

8.       Labour market and economy

++

+

+

+

++

+

+

+

n/a

9.       Landscape and townscape

+/-?

+/-?

+/-?

+/--?

+/--?

+/-?

+/--?

+?

n/a

10.     Material assets

++

++

++

++

++

++

++

++

n/a

11.     Population

++

++

++

++

++

++

++

+/-?

n/a

12.     Social deprivation

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

n/a

13.     Soil, geology and land use

--/0

-/0

-/0

-

-

-/0

-/0

-?/+/0

n/a

14.     Waste

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

+?

n/a

15.     Water

0

0

+/0

0

0

0

-

-?

n/a

1. Objectively Assessed Housing Needs V2. West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, December 2013. [back]

SA findings for the distribution of development at Northampton under the Preferred Choice

8.32 Table 8.4 summarises the SA scores for the distribution of development at Northampton, as proposed under the Preferred Choice.  All of the SA scores for the SUEs proposed under the Preferred Choice are the same as for the distribution of development set out in the submitted JCS, except for the dwellings to be delivered in the urban area and the additional SUE proposed (Upton Lodge/Norwood Farm), which was not allocated in the submitted JCS.  Therefore, the potential sustainability effects set out above also apply to the Preferred Choice, except for a few differences highlighted below.

8.33 The similarity in sustainability effects is because the proposed SUEs and the housing numbers have not changed in the Preferred Choice for four of the SUEs (Northampton South, Kings Heath, North of Whitehills and Upton Park). 

8.34 While the number of new homes to be provided at three of the SUEs has increased (Northampton North, West and South of Brackmills), the additional land area that would be included in these SUE boundaries to accommodate those extra houses has not resulted in any different SA scores from the allocated SUEs in the submitted JCS on the basis of the assumptions that have been used for the appraisals.  For example, the allocated Northampton West SUE was already scored as likely to have a significant negative effect (as part of an overall mixed, uncertain effect) on SA objective 3: biodiversity because the SUE is within 250m of a potential Local Wildlife Site designation.  The increased site area of the SUE now means that the potential Local Wildlife Site is now just within the site boundaries; however the potential for a significant negative effect had already been identified.  While the SUE boundary under the Preferred Choice now extends further towards the village of Harpole, the proposed boundary for the SUE includes large areas of green infrastructure along the southern and western boundaries of the SUE (closest to the village), and the extended area still lies within an area of low to medium landscape sensitivity.  Therefore, the likely effect on SA objective 9: landscape remains minor negative.

8.35 An additional 1,750 dwellings are proposed to be delivered in the urban area of Northampton under the Preferred Choice compared to the submitted JCS which allows for 1,500 dwellings to be delivered.  This has resulted in some effects being likely to be more significant under the Preferred Choice than the submitted JCS for the urban area, as there may be more pressure on some receptors from a higher number of dwellings being delivered, or the benefits may be greater.  For example, focussing more housing development in the urban area under the Preferred Choice could result in improved opportunities for sustainable transport use (e.g. walking and cycling), but may mean that a greater number of people are exposed to noise from traffic and other urban activities, therefore a mixed significant positive and negative effect is identified for SA objective 1: air quality and noise under the Preferred Choice.  In addition, there may be more potential for a significant negative effect on SA objective 2: heritage assets under the Preferred Choice compared to the submitted JCS, as it would steer more housing development into the urban area which may contain higher concentrations of heritage features such as listed buildings.  Conversely, the Preferred Choice may have a significant positive effect rather than minor positive under the submitted JCS for SA objective 5: education because the higher amount of housing development in the urban area is likely to mean that more residents have convenient access to schools and colleges and may be more likely to be able to travel via modes other than car.  In relation to SA objective 8: employment, the increase in urban capacity under the Preferred Choice is associated in part with the change in national planning policy, which allows under permitted development rights for the conversion of commercial uses and potentially some empty retail uses to residential uses, which could lead to the loss of jobs or potential opportunities to create jobs within parts of the urban area.  Therefore, a mixed effect is likely under the Preferred Choice, rather than a minor positive effect on employment under the submitted JCS.  Finally, the combined total housing numbers provided by the proposed SUEs and urban capacity figures in the Preferred Choice would meet the most up-to-date objectively assessed housing need figure for West Northamptonshire, therefore, a significant positive effect is identified for the urban capacity figure for SA objective 11: population under the Preferred Choice.

8.36 The key difference under the Preferred Choice is that an additional SUE is proposed for allocation at Upton Lodge/Norwood Farm.  The development of this SUE would give rise to many of the same social and economic effects as development at the other SUE locations, including significant positive effects on health, education, housing provision and access to services and facilities, and minor positive effects on employment opportunities and reducing social deprivation.  However, the Upton Lodge/Norwood Farm does have the potential for significant negative effects on SA objective 2: heritage assets as it borders the St. Crispin Conservation Area which is identified as an area of high cultural heritage sensitivity and there are significant areas within the SUE boundary mainly in its eastern half, as well as, a small area on the western boundary which are classified as medium sensitivity in terms of the historic environment.  This effect is uncertain though as the potential for negative effects will depend on the exact scale, layout and design of the new development and opportunities may also exist to enhance the setting of heritage features.  In addition, the SUE is within 100m of two potential local Wildlife Sites, Quinton House School and part of St Crispin’s Redevelopment, and one Local Wildlife Site and ancient woodland, Berry Wood.  Therefore, development at this site has the potential to have a significant negative effect on SA objective 1: biodiversity, although again, this is uncertain as effects could be avoided and mitigated through appropriate design and the incorporation of biodiversity enhancement measures into the development.  The draft Main Modification policy for this SUE (Policy N9a) also specifies that an ecological assessment of the site will be required, as well as any necessary mitigation.  Finally, development of the Upton Lodge/Norwood Farm would reduce the area of greenfield land between Northampton and the village of Harpole to the west, which could have a negative effect in relation to settlement coalescence(SA objective 9: landscape).  However, the draft Main Modification policy for this SUE specifies that a new Country Park will be delivered as part of the SUE along the western edge, and this will act as a buffer between the urban area and the village of Harpole. 

8.37 Overall, as more greenfield land around Northampton would be developed under the Preferred Choice than in the submitted JCS, cumulatively, there is potential for more negative effects on biodiversity, heritage assets, landscape and loss of high quality agricultural land.  However, there are a number of policy safeguards within the JCS and the Main Modifications proposed for the revised SUE allocations which would seek to reduce and mitigate these potential effects.

Table 8.4 Summary of SA scores for the distribution of development at Northampton under the Preferred Choice

SA Objectives

North SUE

West SUE

South SUE

South of Brackmills SUE

Kings Heath SUE

North of Whitehills SUE

Upton Park SUE

Upton Lodge / Norwood Farm SUE

Urban Capacity

1.       Air Quality and Noise

+/-

+/-

+/--

+/-

+/-

+/-

+/-

+/-

++/--?

2.       Archaeology and cultural heritage

-?

-?

-?

--?

-?

--?

--?

--?

--?

3.       Biodiversity, flora and fauna

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/-

4.       Crime and community safety

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

5.       Education and training

++/-?

++/-?

+/-?

+/-?

+?

++/-?

++/-?

++?

++?

6.       Energy and climatic factors

0?

0?

0?

0?

0?

0?

0?

0?

0

7.       Health and wellbeing

++

++

+/-

+

+

++

++

++

++/--?

8.       Labour market and economy

++

+

+

+

++

+

+

+

++/-

9.       Landscape and townscape

+/--?

+/-?

+/-?

+/--?

+/--?

+/-?

+/--?

+/-?

++?

10.     Material assets

++

++

++

++

++

++

++

++

++

11.     Population

++

++

++

++

++

++

++

++

++/--?

12.     Social deprivation

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

++

13.     Soil, geology and land use

--/0

-/0

-

-/0

-

-/0

-/0

-

-?/++/0

14.     Waste

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

+?

15.     Water

0

0

+/0

0

0

0

-

0

--?

 

 

SA findings for the distribution of development at Northampton under the NCC option

Comparison with the Submitted JCS

8.38 Table 8.5 summarises the SA scores for the distribution of development at Northampton, as proposed under the NCC option.  The key difference between this option and the submitted JCS is that the SUEs at Northampton West and South would not be developed and the 2,500 homes that would have come forward in those locations under the submitted JCS (1,500 at Northampton West and 1,000 at Northampton South) would instead be delivered at the Northampton North SUE, the area of which would be extended to the west to accommodate the additional 2,500 homes.  As a result, the areas of greenfield land to the west and south of Northampton would remain undeveloped and the potential positive and negative effects of the Northampton West and South SUEs identified above in relation to the submitted JCS would not occur.  Overall, as less greenfield land to the west and south of Northampton would be developed under the NCC option than in the submitted JCS, cumulatively, there is potential for less negative effects on biodiversity, heritage assets, landscape and loss of high quality agricultural land. All of the SA scores for the remaining SUEs proposed under the NCC option (Northampton North, South, Kings Heath, North of Whitehills and Upton Park) and the urban area, are the same as those for the distribution of development set out in the submitted JCS, except for one difference in the Northampton North SUE.  Therefore, the potential sustainability effects for these locations described above for the submitted JCS also apply to the NCC option.

8.39 The similarity in sustainability effects between the NCC option and the submitted JCS is because the proposed SUEs and the housing numbers have not changed in the NCC option for four of the SUEs (South of Brackmills, Kings Heath, North of Whitehills and Upton Park).  The number of homes to be delivered in the urban area of Northampton under the NCC option is also the same as under the submitted JCS, as is the total number of houses to be delivered at Northampton. 

8.40 While the number of new homes to be provided at one of the SUEs (Northampton North) is significantly higher under the NCC option in comparison with the submitted JCS (4,500 as opposed to 2,000), the additional land area that would be included within the boundary of that SUE to accommodate the 2,500 extra houses has only resulted in one different SA score from the allocated SUE in the submitted JCS on the basis of the assumptions that have been used for the appraisals.  For example, the allocated Northampton North SUE was already scored as likely to have a significant negative effect (as part of an overall mixed, uncertain effect) on SA objective 3: biodiversity because the SUE (prior to the increase in site area) was already within 250m of Crowfields Common Local Nature Reserve and Cowpasture Spinney Local Wildlife Site lies within the SUE itself.  The increased site area of the SUE under theNCC option would mean that another Local Wildlife Site (Hog Head Spinney) would lie within 800m of the SUE to the west; however this level of proximity would only be associated with a potential minor negative effect and the potential for a significant negative effect had already been identified in relation to the other, closer biodiversity designations. 

8.41 The key difference between the extended area of the Northampton North SUE under the NCC option and the allocated Northampton North SUE in the submitted JCS is that there could be a potentially significant negative effect on SA objective 4: landscape under the NCC option, with only a minor negative effect identified for this SUE as allocated in the submittedJCS. This is due to the area of the SUE that would be delivered under the NCC option being within an area of medium to high landscape sensitivity.  The additional land that would be developed to the north of Moulton under this option would encroach on the areas of open land to the north of the village. 

Comparison with the Preferred Choice

8.42 The NCC option varies quite considerably from the Preferred Choice in terms of the distribution of development and the total number of homes to be delivered at Northampton would be lower.  The Northampton West and South SUEs would not be delivered and a greater number of houses would instead come forward at the Northampton North SUE (4,500 in total).  In addition, under the NCC option the Upton Lodge/Norwood Farm SUE proposed as part of the Preferred Choice would not be delivered and the number of dwellings to be delivered in both the urban area and the South of Brackmills SUE would be lower (in both cases the figure would be the same as in the submitted JCS).

8.43 As a result, the areas of greenfield land to the west and south of Northampton would remain undeveloped and the potential positive and negative effects of the Northampton West, Northampton South and Upton Lodge  SUEs identified in relation to the Preferred Choice would not occur.  Therefore, cumulatively, there is potential for less negative effects on biodiversity, heritage assets, landscape and loss of high quality agricultural land under the NCC option compared to the Preferred Choice.

8.44 The number of homes to be delivered in the urban area of Northampton would also be lower under the NCC option than under the Preferred Choice (1,500 instead of 3,250).  This reduction means the figure would be the same as that described above under the submitted JCS and the effects of a lower urban capacity figure under the NCC option remain as described above under the submitted JCS option.  Overall, the NCC option would have more minor positive effects associated with development in the urban area compared to a number of potentially significant positive effects identified for the urban area under the Preferred Choice.  Similarly, the potentially significant negative effects on SA objective 1: air quality and noise, 2: heritage assets, 7: health, 11: population and 14: water identified for the urban area under the Preferred Choice would be minor negative effects under the NCC option due to the lower number of net additional dwellings to be delivered resulting in less pressure on infrastructure, facilities and services or sensitive receptors.

8.45 While the number of new homes to be provided at the Northampton North SUE is higher under this NCC option in comparison to the Preferred Choice (4,500 as opposed to 3,500) and the number of homes to be provided at the South of Brackmills SUE is slightly lower, the SA scores for both SUEs (as shown in Tables 8.3 and 8.4) are the same.  Based on the assumptions that have been applied throughout the SA, the changes in the land area of these SUEs between the NCC option and the Preferred Choice would not lead to any major differences in the characteristics/circumstances of the SUE that would warrant different SA scores.  However, it should be noted that while Northampton North SUE is identified as having a potential significant negative effect on SA objective 4: landscape under both the NCC option and JPU’s Preferred Choice, the landscape impacts relate to both the extended area proposed in the Preferred Choice, as well as the additional land that would be developed to the north of Moulton under the NCC option.  Therefore, although both options are identified as significant, potentially more landscape effects would occur under the NCC option due to the larger area proposed for development, and the proximity to Moulton village.

Table 8.5 SA Scores for the distribution of development at Northampton under the NCC option

 

SA Objectives

North SUE  (increase by 2,500)

West SUE

South SUE

South of Brackmills SUE

Kings Heath SUE

North of Whitehills SUE

Upton Park SUE

Urban Capacity

1.       Air Quality and Noise

+/-

SUE Rejected

SUE Rejected

+/-

+/-

+/-

+/-

+/-?

2.       Archaeology and cultural heritage

-?

--?

-?

--?

--?

-?

3.       Biodiversity, flora and fauna

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/-

4.       Crime and community safety

0

0

0

0

0

0

5.       Education and training

++/-?

+/-?

+?

++/-?

++/-?

+?

6.       Energy and climatic factors

0

0

0

0

0

0

7.       Health and wellbeing

++

+

+

++

++

+/-?

8.       Labour market and economy

++

+

++

+

+

+

9.       Landscape and townscape

+/--?

+/--?

+/--?

+/-?

+/--?

+?

10.     Material assets

++

++

++

++

++

++

11.     Population

++

++

++

++

++

+/-?

12.     Social deprivation

+

+

+

+

+

+

13.     Soil, geology and land use

--/0

-

-

-/0

-/0

-?/+/0

14.     Waste

0

0

0

0

0

+?

15.     Water

0

0

0

0

-

-?

 

Reasons for selecting the preferred alternatives

8.46 The Preferred Choice has been selected by the JPU because it considers that:

  • It supports the Joint Core Strategy Vision.
  • It is consistent with the spatial strategy of concentrating growth at the principal urban area of Northampton.
  • It would focus growth on and joined to the urban area of Northampton helping to foster a successful economy and expanding diverse and sustainable communities, supported by good social and integrated transport facilities and infrastructure.
  • It could support existing communities through the provision of a range of facilities including education and health.
  • The Planning Assessment indicates that environmental constraints identified in the SA are capable of mitigation and outweighed by other social and economic benefits.
  • The sites are suitable, available and achievable in the plan period and therefore would meet the objectively assessed housing needs for Northampton.
  • Infrastructure requirements have been identified for the site and are capable of being delivered within the plan period.