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12. Infastructure

Core Strategy Strategic Objective

To build stronger communities by protecting and improving social, economic, green and physical infrastructure through supporting its development and enhancement, and through securing contributions from new development

Related SCS Strategic Aims

The transport infrastructure enables easier access to key services and facilities

There is a strong learning culture that spans all age groups

There are opportunities for everyone to enjoy and participate in sport, the arts and cultural activities

Why is this a strategic objective?

11.1 Building stronger and more sustainable communities is an important objective for the District as it looks to plan its growth to 2026. A key component of any community is its infrastructure, i.e. the things that make a place work. This includes its public transport, its roads and footpaths, its schools and libraries, flood defences, its sports and leisure facilities, its health and community facilities, its energy and water supplies, and its green spaces and parks. It is important therefore to protect this infrastructure where necessary and to support its improvement as it responds to the changing needs of the community and the ongoing agenda for more efficient delivery of public services.

11.2 As well as maintaining and improving existing infrastructure, there is a need to ensure new development makes a fair contribution towards improving, or providing new infrastructure. This will be very important given the scale of development that needs to be accommodated in the District and the need to ensure that existing infrastructure, such as roads or schools, is not overloaded. As almost all development has some impact on the need for infrastructure, services and amenities, or benefits from it, it is only fair that such development pays towards improving infrastructure.

Evidence:

Participation

11.3 In response to the public consultation on the Issues Paper, infrastructure considerations were highlighted as an issue that the Core Strategy needed to address. Not surprisingly, most people felt that ensuring people could access a range of services and land uses, such as schools, health and community facilities, close to where they live was important. The majority of respondents considered there were adequate facilities (health, community, leisure, etc.) within the District. However, there were also suggestions for improvements, particularly in terms of health services closer to communities, and more community, sports and cultural facilities.

11.4 The Place Survey 2008 also highlighted the fact that people view health and education facilities as very important components in making somewhere a good place to live. In terms of their local area, they also highlighted traffic congestion and the state of roads and pavements as things which needed most improving.

Research

11.5 The Core Strategy will need to be supported by the evidence of what social, economic, green and physical infrastructure is needed to enable the amount of development proposed for the District, taking account of its type and distribution. Initial discussions have been had with infrastructure providers, such as the County Council and Severn Trent Water and this is summarised within the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment which is available on the Council's website. However, it has not been possible to gather this evidence in detail due to the uncertainty as to the distribution of development. This will, however, be gathered prior to publication of the Draft Core Strategy later this year.

National and Regional Planning Policies

11.6 National planning policy is committed to developing strong, vibrant and sustainable communities and to promoting community cohesion in both urban and rural areas. This means meeting the diverse needs of all people in existing and future communities, promoting personal well-being, social cohesion and inclusion and creating equal opportunity for all citizens.

11.7 It also allows for new development to be brought in line with the policies and objectives for delivering sustainable communities through contributions towards improving or providing infrastructure. Any contributions must be necessary to make the proposed development acceptable, be fair and reasonable, be relevant to planning, and directly related to the development. For example, they may be used to achieve improvements to public transport, walking and cycling for people using a development.

11.8 Local planning authorities are expected to outline the high level policies towards developer contributions, such as when they will be sought, the range of infrastructure, services and facilities sought, and their type.

11.9 Regional planning policy requires local authorities to work with service providers and community organisations in partnership to deliver improved social infrastructure, such as new school and education facilities, local health services, business development and training, and local community facilities. Regional planning policy also requires local authorities to provide greater opportunities for other infrastructure, such as sustainable travel and green space.

What are the options?

11.10 The options identified for delivering this strategic objective are considered to relate to the way in which the Council will secure contributions from developers towards infrastructure in the future.

11.11 The Government are in the process of introducing what will be called a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). This will be a new financial charge which local authorities can choose to levy on types of new development in their area, for example housing. The charges will be based on simple formulae which relate to the size of the charge, and to the size and character of the development paying it. The proceeds of the levy would be spent on local and sub-regional infrastructure to support the development of the area, for example a new school or train station.

11.12 Further guidance on how the CIL should operate is still awaited, but it is envisaged this would be a move away from the current approach of securing contributions for infrastructure from developers on a site by site basis, to a more strategic approach where all development in the area contributes towards meeting District-wide infrastructure needs, irrespective of its size or location.

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What is our Preferred Option?

11.13 The Council will continue to gather evidence on the infrastructure required to support the growth identified to take place to 2026 and will prepare an infrastructure delivery plan alongside the draft Core Strategy to show what is required and how and when it will be delivered. This will be supplemented by a policy within the Core Strategy. However, the Council will await the publication of the national guidance on the Community Infrastructure Levy before deciding the best way to secure contributions towards the cost of delivering this infrastructure. However, in responding to this consultation, the Council would welcome views on whether it should adopt the Community Infrastructure Levy approach to securing developer contributions.

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