Policies contained in the previous section of the Local Plan, together with relevant national, regional and Structure Plan policies will be instrumental in determining the principle of development in particular locations. However, in determining whether a particular development proposal can be accommodated, it also needs to be considered against a range of more detailed considerations.


Through the Local Plan, the Council is seeking to ensure high standards of development that respect and contribute to its setting and promote sustainable development. This embraces conserving landscape character and bio-diversity as well as making most efficient use of finite water and energy resources. It also embraces the need to foster local identity and safeguard amenities.


The following policy is applicable to all development proposals. It recognises that all aspects of a development need to be satisfactorily addressed in order for it to be acceptable and successfully integrated within its setting. Such aspects include the scale, form, layout, design and materials of development and landscape treatment of external areas, as well as the availability of adequate infrastructure and services necessary to serve it.

POLICY GD1 View Map of this site ?

All development should meet the following criteria:

  1. it meets the needs of future occupiers, including providing appropriate amenities and the provision of appropriate means of access for disabled users;
  2. it is in keeping with and does not unreasonably harm the amenities of adjoining properties;
  3. it provides for adequate and safe access by all relevant modes of transport, appropriate parking provision, in accordance with Policy TR3 and does not result in unacceptable traffic or transport conditions;
  4. it respects and does not detract from the character and appearance of the locality;
  5. it is compatible with the conservation of the natural beauty of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty;
  6. it respects the topography, important views to and from the site and retains site features that contribute to the character or amenities of the area;
  7. it protects habitats of ecological value and incorporates, wherever practicable, features that enhance the ecological value of the site, with particular regard to wildlife refuges or corridors, or fully compensates for any necessary loss;
  8. it does not prejudice the character, appearance or setting of heritage features, notably scheduled ancient monuments and sites of archaeological importance, listed buildings, conservation areas, registered historic parks and gardens, the registered battlefield at Battle, or other buildings and spaces of historic importance;
  9. the infrastructure and facilities necessary to serve the development are available, or suitable provision is made as part of the development, in accordance with Policy GD2;
  10. it provides adequate and appropriate means for foul and surface water drainage, with suitable alleviation and mitigation measures where necessary and does not prejudice water quality;
  11. it is compatible with deterring crime, including maximising opportunities for natural surveillance of public places;
  12. it promotes the efficient use of energy and water through the layout and design of buildings.
  13. it properly addresses any known or suspected contamination of the site, or threat from landfill gas, through site investigations and suitable remediation;
  14. where significant development of agricultural land is unavoidable, it makes use of poorer quality land (grade 3b, 4 and 5) in preference to that of higher quality except where this would be inconsistent with other sustainability considerations;
  15. it takes account of flood risk and in the areas of flood risk, as shown on the Proposals Map, it is expected to minimise and manage the risk to flooding.

These considerations are elaborated upon below and, in some cases, by further policies in the Plan. It is also proposed to prepare planning guidance on certain matters including parking standards and design/landscape considerations.


Protecting amenities

All development should be fundamentally “fit” for its purpose. Especially for residential development, it should be capable of accommodating the reasonable expectations of likely occupiers, including in terms of indoor and outdoor space, personal safety and not unduly affected by adjacent intrusive uses and buildings.


Developments also need to cater for practical needs, such as adequate parking and access arrangements, refuse and recycling facilities and open space. Further elaboration is given in Section 7 to the retention and provision where necessary of open space and other recreational facilities. Section 8 elaborates on transport matters including sustainable travel objectives. The Structure Plan and Waste Local Plan include policies to minimise waste during development and to have regard to the provision of facilities within developments so as to assist recycling; relevant adopted Waste Local Plan policies are included in Appendix 2 of this Plan.


Conversely, the amenity of neighbouring properties needs to be protected. Hence, the impact of development needs to be carefully considered in relation to issues such as loss of light and privacy, avoiding an overbearing presence and otherwise causing intrusion such as through noise, activity at unsocial hours, lighting, etc.


The Safer Rother Partnership has produced a local Crime and Disorder Reduction Strategy. This includes looking towards making properties more secure, car parks safe and promoting a wide provision of recreational and sporting activities, amongst other measures. These considerations will be assessed alongside national ‘Secured by Design’ guidance.


Design and respecting local character

A feature of the District is the diverse landscape character, which is the result of a combination of topography, agriculture and historic influences. The greater part of the District, over 80%, falls within the High Weald Area of Natural Beauty, as shown on Figure 4. Its landscape is recognised as being of national importance, where priority is given to the conservation of its natural beauty. 


There are increasing pressures on the landscape from new development proposals and changes in agricultural practices that tend to an inappropriate fragmentation of the countryside. Landscape character can be eroded by a combination of individually limited changes and care will be taken to avoid this. Structure Plan policies EN2 – EN9 deal with conserving and enhancing landscape quality and character, particularly within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the coast and urban fringes. The District’s coast is covered by the South Foreland to Beachy Head Shoreline Management Plan which addresses coastal protection issues.


A large amount of tree and woodland cover, estimated to be 19% of the District, is a defining landscape characteristic and one that makes an important contribution to local amenities in both urban and rural contexts. Landscaping proposals will often form an important component of development schemes, enabling them to blend in with their setting. They should generally retain existing trees and utilise indigenous species. A detailed tree survey will normally be required with a planning application.


In addition to protecting sites of recognised nature conservation value in accordance with Policy DS1, all new development may provide some wildlife habitats. This can be achieved by retaining features such as trees and hedgerows, ponds, small woodlands, streams and ditches, as well as by introducing features that provide new habitats. An ecological survey will be sought where a site is or is likely to be of ecological value.


Structure Plan policies, notably EN17 to EN21 provide protection for areas and features of nature conservation importance.


The Sussex Biodiversity Partnership has produced the Sussex Biodiversity Action Plan that provides a framework for conservation within the County. As part of this process the Partnership is producing a series of Habitat and Species Action Plans, which deal with the conservation of selected habitat types and species. The Council would have regard to the Sussex Biodiversity Action Plan when dealing with development proposals. In their absence, regard would be had to the relevant national Action Plan.


Habitat types that are the subject of current Sussex Biodiversity Action Plans are: arable land, coastal, coastal vegetated shingle, floodplain grassland, hedgerows, marine, reedbeds, rivers and streams road verges, saline lagoons, standing open water, unimproved neutral grassland or meadows, urban and woodland.


When dealing with development sites which contain protected species an ecological survey should be carried out before an application is submitted. It is essential when dealing with species that have a European protection, such as great crested newt and species of bats, that a thorough survey should accompany the planning application and there is a strong case for this with nationally protected species.


It is proposed to produce a supplementary planning document on landscape design, drawing on the principal landscape characteristics of the area. This will elaborate on the need for landscape appraisals for developments in environmentally and visually sensitive locations.


Rother District is fortunate in the legacy that exists in terms of the quality of the built environment. Towns and villages have grown up over time and display a special relationship with their surroundings. The pattern, form and appearance and use of buildings and spaces are peculiar to each location and contribute to the unique sense of place and cultural identity.


Good design should respect the character of its setting, whether urban or rural, and can make a positive contribution to reinforcing local distinctiveness. This should still allow room for imaginative design solutions that respond sensitively to the site and setting. Particular care needs to be taken to ensure that developments do not create an alien, cramped appearance or, in some locations such as rural settings, an equally inappropriate suburban appearance. Where an area has a well-defined and distinctive character, particular care should be taken to maintain it. This will bear upon not only the layout and design of buildings, but also the treatment of external areas, which should respect landscape character. Where a development proposal would be likely to require external lighting that can be subject to planning control, regard is to be had to its impact on the character and appearance of the surroundings to include the avoidance of unnecessary light spillage into the surrounding area and into the night sky. Structure Plan Policy EN14 is also relevant (see Appendix 2).


High standards of design and layout are applicable to all developments, large and small, housing commercial and leisure. The Council will prepare a planning application validation guide which will set out, inter alia, the circumstances when an application should be accompanied by a design statement to address the relationship of development proposals to their surroundings.


The historic, architectural and archaeological heritage of the District contributes much to the high quality of its built environments. A considerable number of buildings are ‘listed’ (currently 2,114) by government, as being of special architectural or historic interest. There are also many more, the continued survival of which is important because of the contribution they make to the character and appearance of Rother District.


Ten Conservation Areas of special architectural and historic interest are currently designated: at Battle, Bexhill Old Town, Bexhill Town Centre, Burwash, Northiam, Robertsbridge, Rye, Sedlescombe, Ticehurst and Winchelsea. It is also intended to designate Conservation Areas at Brede, Brightling, Dallington, Ewhurst Green, Hurst Green, and Salehurst. The designation of further conservation areas and review of existing areas may also be considered during the Plan period, subject to detailed assessments.


PPG15: Planning and the Historic Environment provides a full statement of Government policies for the identification and protection of historic buildings, conservation areas and other elements of the historic environment, including historic parks and gardens, and battlefields.


There are the 39 Scheduled Ancient Monuments of national importance. Also, there are numerous Sites of Archaeological Interest, identified by East Sussex County Council. English Heritage has also compiled registers of nationally important historic parks and gardens and battlefields. There are seven designated parks and gardens in the District: Asburnham Place, Batemans, Battle Abbey, Brickwall, Great Dixter, Brightling Park and Ticehurst House, and one battlefield site, at Battle!


Structure Plan policies EN22 – EN24 already provide quite detailed statutory ‘development plan’ policies that apply within Rother District, while PPG16: Archaeology and Planning provides advice on how archaeological remains should be preserved and recorded and also on the handling of such discoveries under planning processes. (See Appendix 2 for the web links to these documents).


Ensuring availability of infrastructure and services

“Infrastructure” is taken to include transport links and access arrangements, water supply, flood defences, surface and foul water drainage, education provision, public open space and leisure facilities, health care, community buildings (such as village halls), waste disposal and recycling facilities. For larger developments, it may also relate to the emergency services, libraries and social services.


In order to make certain that any development is sustainable in the longer term, it is essential that adequate infrastructure and services are made available. This will help to ease any added pressure on existing services and infrastructure, which is inevitable with any new development.


Therefore, development will only be permitted when it is satisfactorily demonstrated that the infrastructure and facilities required to service the development are available or will be provided. Such provision may require funding contributions, off-site works, the provision of land or phasing which will be secured normally by legal agreements.


As far as practicable at the present time, the scope of improvements to infrastructure and services considered necessary to justify the release of allocated sites for development, is highlighted in the relevant settlement section. These will be kept under review and may be updated by the Local Planning Authority, informed by assessments undertaken by the relevant infrastructure and service providers.


In view of the potential for mixed-use developments and other developments involving land in separate ownerships, it is important to ensure that a co-ordinated approach to infrastructure provision is taken. Where a site, either defined in the Local Plan or otherwise proposed for development, comprises land in separate ownerships, it must be demonstrated that proposals will secure the provision of necessary infrastructure to serve the whole site.


It is proposed that a supplementary planning document will be prepared on determining infrastructure and service requirements and securing development contributions in line with the policy below.

POLICY GD2 View Map of this site ?

Development will only be permitted when it is satisfactorily demonstrated that the infrastructure and facilities required to service the development are available or will be provided.

Such provision may require funding contributions, off-site works the provision of land or phasing, which will be secured normally by legal agreements.

Where a site, either defined in the Local Plan or otherwise proposed for development, comprises land in separate ownerships, it must be demonstrated that proposals will secure the provision of necessary infrastructure to serve the whole site.


As regards drainage, it will be expected that foul sewerage is connected to the public mains system. Only exceptionally will other provision be allowed, where it is not feasible to connect. Drainage principles will need to be agreed before the grant of planning permission.


Surface water must also be properly dealt with. The rate of run-off from developments will be carefully controlled to avoid any adverse impacts on watercourses and increasing the risk of flooding downstream. This may involve mitigation or alleviation measures. The use of appropriate sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) will be encouraged in this respect (to include adequate arrangements for their future maintenance), as would rainwater and grey water recycling and other water efficiency techniques. Adequate access should be retained to all watercourses for maintenance purposes.


Development must not prejudice the integrity of floodplains or flood defences. PPG25 defines areas at flood risk associated with main rivers and these are shown on the Proposals Map. It is noted that the boundaries of these areas are only indicative, and that a range of considerations will need to be taken into account for a particular development. Any flood risks associated with ordinary watercourses, or problems with surface water drainage, will also be considered in relation to any development proposal. PPG25 advice will be followed, on the basis of consultation with the Environment Agency. An assessment of flood risk and run-off implications may be required for certain applications, notably those within floodplains. The uncertainties that are inherent in the prediction of flooding must be recognised and that flood risk is expected to increase as a result of climate change. The Council will apply the precautionary principle to the issue of flood risk, using a risk-based search sequence to avoid such risk where possible and managing it elsewhere.


All development should meet the transport and access demands they create. These should be met in ways that take account of the need to promote journeys other than by car but may also entail highway improvements where necessary to avoid prejudice to road safety or unacceptable harm to the free flow of traffic. It may be necessary, particularly for larger developments, for the implications to be identified by a transport assessment. In line with PPG13, the submission of travel plan may be required alongside a planning application for developments likely to have significant transport implications. Measures to promote sustainable transport together with car parking provision are addressed in Section 8.


Making best use of environmental resources

Energy efficiency is primarily secured through the Building Regulations. Emerging regional policy looks to strengthen the regard to the orientation of buildings for maximum solar gain, promoting and advising on various schemes and services, together with promoting Combined Heat and Power.


The Council is supportive of such initiatives, while recognising that there will be circumstances, notably where listed buildings and Conservation Areas are affected, where solar panels particularly must respect the historic character. It is anticipated that local policies may need to be further reviewed in the light of forthcoming revised Government and regional guidance, will need to be updated.


Energy efficiency in new development may look to be improved through design and orientation, as a means of achieving maximum passive solar gain. Further consideration will be given to supplementary planning guidance as more research and experience is forthcoming. 


The quality of the physical environment – buildings, street and areas – should meet people’s expectations. The Council is currently involved in a partnership with English Heritage and others to encourage investment in commercial properties in Bexhill town centre. Environmental enhancement is also a key element in efforts to regenerate the Rye Harbour Road area.


The Council will continue to promote the environmental enhancement of buildings and the streetscape through refurbishment, redevelopment, conservation and regeneration schemes, liaison with the Highway Authority and other providers of street furniture and through planning enforcement, as appropriate, where such buildings or streets detract from the physical and visual qualities of an area. Particular locations will be identified and proposals developed through development briefs, regeneration strategies and local “action plans”.

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