In terms of the volume of housing, most of the decisions have already been made in the
Housing Land Supply : follows Structure Plan but "to assist in long term masterplanning of development areas beyond 2023 ... may bring forward site specific supplementary planning guidance for periods beyond 2023". 20% housing due to be delivered in via Countryside policies with other 80% in allocated sites in settlements. Attempt to address an issue that has arisen of plots being developed for more houses than originally envisaged via masterplanning/design briefs and justifications. Provision to bring forward to maintain 7 year supply.
Affordable Housing : The plan maintains 25% requirements for affordable (read subsidised) housing and encourages a mix of house types and integration with non affordable housing. (Hurrah!) However there are some get out clauses which could mean less provision or provision off site or provision via Low Cost Home Ownership rather than for rent.
Special Needs : there are new policies to deal with 3 type. Residential caravans are discouraged except as temporary arranagements. Special needs housing is accepted and most types are encouraged to be within or at edge of settlements. However there is explicit provision for "continuing care retirement communities" (CCRC) outside settlement. The need for Traveller and Gypsy sites is recognised.
There are no great surprises as this has to follow the Structure Plan which is available as a pdf, in rtf or as an MP3 audio file. I was worried about the sheer scale of the allocation overall and in particular in the Blackdog - Ellon corridor but we are where we are. I can understand why there is concern about over-development of sites but in general, if the design is good, it is better to try to achieve higher densities which mean more people can live closer to shops, bus routes and other services - and we lose less valuable farmland to development.
While there is some progress for improvement in affordable housing, I still worry that some developers will try to get out of on-site provision and there is enough wriggle room in policy for this. I also note that the rule allowing the additional of 3 houses at the edge of rural settlements is just below the 25% threshold - perhaps making slightly larger extensions that gave more scope for some affordable housing provision would be better.
Continuing care retirement communities outside settlements does not fits well with other policies. Visitors, staff and others servicing such facilities will need to travel and this seems to me to go against other policies aimed at reducing the need to travel and encouraging use of public transport. I also worry about isolating groups from the wider community.
The policy on Gypsy and Traveller site indicates that there will be sites allocated specifically for this need. We will see later where these sites are. Other sites could be allocated according to need. In all cases, there are requirements for sites not to "appreciably detract from the character and appearance of the area" not "significantly detract from the amenity currently enjoyed." This will be a challenge to us all to achieve but I see no need for such sites to be a blot if we work with the users on design to fit everyone's needs.
Over to you - comments back by 20th please.