The Placemaking Plan has been a B&NES initiative to complement their Core Strategy by setting out the development aspirations and the planning requirements for the delivery of key development sites and updating and reviewing the planning policies used in the determination of planning applications. It provides the detail to show how development can benefit and enhance local communities.
In line with the recent push towards ‘localism’, the plan has been drawn up in a different way to previous plans B&NES has produced. It has been developed in a collaborative way with those who live and work or have an interest in the different parts of Bath and North East Somerset. The aim has been to discover what people’s needs and aspirations are and how these can best be addressed through the Placemaking Plan.
One of the most regular criticisms of new developments is that their designs have nothing to do with, even damage, the character of the village in which they take place.
This happens mainly because house-builders often propose standard off the shelf ‘products’ and local authority planning officers do not have the time to undertake detailed assessments of every single town or village to produce the type of strong information that can stop ‘anywhere design’ in its tracks. Not just that but, even if they did have the time, it is the people who live in those towns and villages who know the distinctive local character best and are best placed to analyse and describe it.
The drawing up of a Character Assessment using detailed local knowledge can stop the worst and help to produce the best, i.e. designs that are based on a proper understanding of what makes the place special and distinctive, and how that can be enhanced through new buildings. This is necessary in small villages where no significant development is anticipated (greenbelt villages are classed as RA3) because small projects, infill and alterations will still happen and can have a damaging effect, perhaps more so on a very small settlement. It is also just as necessary where larger developments are likely because of the tendency for their designers to try to create a new character rather than complement what is there. So, whether the village is an RA1, RA2 or RA3 settlement, the production of a Placemaking Plan can become a material consideration when determining planning applications. Hinton Blewett, not being in the greenbelt, is classed as RA2.
Through involvement in the Placemaking Plan Parish Councils have had the opportunity to contribute locally generated assessments and evidence to the process that B&NES is currently undertaking to allocate sites and to their drafting of updated policies to be used to determine planning applications.
Click to see the Character Assessment drawn up at part of the Placemaking Plan in December 2013. The Character Assessment includes sites identified as having potential for future development, sites rejected (for various reasons including non-availability or sensitive location) and sites regarded as Important Open Spaces.
In producing and validating the Hinton Blewett Character and Site Assessment the attached village assets in both the built and natural environment were identified.