Core Strategy - Consultation Draft

CS17: Residential Sites Providing Affordable Housing Only

CS17: Residential Sites Providing Affordable Housing Only

Rural Exception Sites

Housing schemes for 100% affordable housing to meet local needs within small rural communities will be supported where:

1)  the development meets an identified local need demonstrated by an up-to-date needs survey or other evidence, and

2)  the development is supported or initiated by the parish council, and

3)  the site search has followed a sequential approach with priority given to sites within any settlement boundary, sustainability principles, and avoiding sensitive locations, and

4)  the scale of development is appropriate for the location, and

 5)  the affordable housing is provided in perpetuity.

Allocated sites

In order to meet an identified local need for affordable housing, specific sites may be allocated at Weston-super-Mare, the defined Market and Coastal Towns and Service Villages, for 100% affordable housing either within or adjacent to settlement boundaries. Affordable housing provided in this way must be available in perpetuity.

Affordable housing sites (rural exceptions and allocated sites) will not be permitted in the Green Belt.

This policy contributes towards achieving Priority Objective 8.


The affordability of housing, particularly within the rural areas is a key issue for many communities. This is exacerbated by the principles of sustainability and protection of the countryside which results in very few opportunities for new residential development in such areas. This policy sets out the mechanisms through which new schemes for 100% affordable housing could be delivered.

The Core Strategy approach

The council will use the rural exceptions approach to address local needs in rural communities. This permits the development of affordable housing in locations where market housing would not be acceptable, but only where it meets identified local needs, has local community support, alternative sites have been carefully assessed, and that the housing provided will be affordable in perpetuity. Elsewhere, there may be opportunities to allocate sites for affordable housing through the Site Allocations Development Plan Document.

When assessing potential sites, it is important to balance the need for affordable housing within a particular community with sustainability principles and other planning considerations, such as transport accessibility and access to jobs, facilities and services. This may mean that the site assessment may conclude that affordable housing is best provided in a higher order settlement to meet the needs of a surrounding rural area. Where there is a settlement boundary then priority will be given to sites within the boundary. In all cases, development of locally sensitive sites will not be acceptable.

The Green Belt is a key policy constraint within the north of the district. Those rural communities living within the Green Belt are generally well related to higher order settlements, including Bristol, where affordable housing opportunities should be concentrated. Affordable housing proposals in the form of either rural exceptions sites or allocations will not be acceptable in the Green Belt.

How and where the policy will be delivered

New affordable housing will be specifically targeted to meet the needs of local communities.

In the case of rural exceptions sites the process will be bottom-up, championed by the local community to meet identified housing needs, and involving a site assessment process which considers wider issues than simply the merits of a particular development proposal. The allocations route will provide an opportunity to formally allocate specific sites to meet identified needs, perhaps within or adjacent to urban areas where sufficient affordable housing is being delivered by other means.

Partnership working is key to the delivery of affordable housing, particularly the need for close liaison between housing and planning functions of North Somerset, Registered Social Landlords, landowners and the local communities.

Alternative options and contingency planning

An alternative would be to apply the rural exceptions approach to all sites outside settlement boundaries, but this could be seen as being inconsistent with government guidance that such development is targeted towards small sites within rural communities.

Monitoring and review

Assessment of permissions, allocations and completions of affordable housing will be monitored.