East Hampshire District Local Plan: Joint Core Strategy

Ended on the 16 March 2012
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4. Spatial Strategy

4.1 The Spatial Strategy is central to achieving the vision and key objectives of the Joint Core Strategy. There are four key considerations that underpin its proposals. They are the need to:

  • achieve sustainable development;

  • protect East Hampshire’s high quality built and natural environment, including conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the South Downs National Park;

  • ensure that local economic, housing and social needs are addressed; and

  • ensure that the future scale of development takes account of East Hampshire’s regional and sub-regional context, the opportunities for the regeneration of Whitehill Bordon and the opportunities for the promotion of the understanding and enjoyment of the National Park’s special qualities.

4.2 Sustainable development is a key theme of the Council’s sustainable community strategy as well as national planning policy guidance. Development needs to be distributed in a sustainable way and an effective tool for measuring this is via a settlement hierarchy. A settlement hierarchy is essentially classifying a list of towns, villages and hamlets to identify their role in meeting the housing, economic and service needs of the local communities using some form of criteria. In the case of East Hampshire, the criteria used include the availability of, and ease of, access to facilities and services while being aware of environmental constraints. An analysis of the facilities and accessibility of towns and villages in the District is set out in the background paper for settlement hierarchy.

4.3 A hierarchy based on these factors provides a framework for focusing future levels of development. The hierarchy can group together similar settlements. It does not follow that all the settlements in each group will accommodate the same levels of development - that will depend on constraints to development and appropriate sites being available – but it is a key guide.

4.4 The South Downs National Park, unlike many others, includes towns and large villages as well as open countryside. Many other urban areas are adjacent to the National Park boundary where particular sensitivities will need to be managed. Development in the District will need to ensure that the South Downs National Park purposes and duty are taken fully into account.


New development growth in the period up to 2028 will be directed to the most sustainable and accessible locations in the District in accordance with the Spatial Strategy shown on the Key Diagram.

The Council and National Park Authority will promote and secure sustainable development to maintain the vitality and viability of existing communities, to meet the need for new resource efficient housing and economic growth that is supported by necessary infrastructure and to ensure the protection and the enhancement of the built and natural environment in particular the protection of the special qualities of the South Downs National Park which is fundamental to the Core Strategy.

New development must fully acknowledge the constraints and opportunities of the South Downs National Park and the form, scale and location of development must ensure that the duty and purposes of the National Park are delivered. In particular, major new development will only be considered if it supports National Park purposes.

The Spatial Strategy identifies four distinct areas of the District:

  • South Downs National Park
  • Whitehill Bordon
  • North of the South Downs National Park
  • Southern Parishes

New development will make the best use of previously developed land and buildings within existing built-up areas and additional land for development will be released in accordance with a sequential approach identified in the Settlement Hierarchy.

Provision is made for a minimum increase of 5,720 new dwellings in the period 2006-2028 and in addition up to 4,000 new dwellings as part of the development of a new Eco-town at Whitehill Bordon. The detailed distribution of housing numbers is set out in Policies CP8 and CSWB4.

Provision is made for up to 25.9ha of additional employment land which includes 18.4ha as part of the development of a new Eco-town at Whitehill Bordon which will provide approximately 5,500 new jobs.

Map 1 – Key Diagram

Map 1

4.5 A sustainable hierarchy of settlements is set out below based upon the accessibility of settlements, the availability of a broad range of facilities, their economic role, and the environmental constraints to development. Development in all settlements will have to be consistent with maintaining and enhancing their character.

4.6 Level 1 Market Towns are the most sustainable locations for most new development in terms of access to local services and facilities. Within environmental constraints, they will continue to offer the widest range of shopping and to be main destinations for social, leisure, entertainment, cultural, commercial and economic activity, serving wide catchment areas. Small, independent traders will continue to thrive, contributing to a strong sense of place.

4.7 Level 2 Large Local Service Centres have a range of services and are suitable locations to accommodate new development. Their role will be maintained to ensure they continue to serve a wider, rural hinterland with vibrant centres and a range of local services. They will complement the market towns by providing for main convenience food shopping and a reasonable range of other shops and other services.

4.8 Level 3 Small Local Service Centres have a more limited range of services but are suitable locations to accommodate some new development. These centres will have different roles depending on their size, but they will all play an important part in the life of their communities. They will be maintained to ensure that they provide basic food and grocery shopping, supported by a limited choice and range of other shops plus a range of non-retail services and community uses. Modest development to meet local needs for housing, employment, community services and infrastructure will secure their continuing vitality and ensure thriving communities.

4.9 Level 4 Other settlements with a settlement policy boundary have a limited range of local services and may be appropriate for some further small scale local development.

4.10 Level 5 Rural villages considered as being in the countryside with limited access to facilities and workplaces and new development limited to that which is appropriate to rural areas (see Policy CP2).

4.11 The majority of development will be focused in or adjoining the most sustainable towns and larger villages where it is consistent with maintaining and enhancing their character. Policy boundaries for each settlement will be defined through a Development Allocations DPD taking into account sites allocated to meet the community’s development needs. The proposed hierarchy is:

South Downs National Park Position in Hierarchy
Petersfield Market Town
Liss Small Local Service Centre
Blackmoor, Binsted, Blendworth, Bucks Horn Oak, Buriton, Chawton, East Meon, East Worldham, Greatham, High Cross, Hill Brow, Liss Forest, Lower Farringdon, Selborne, Sheet, Steep, Stroud, Upper Farringdon, West Liss Other settlements with a settlement policy boundary
All other settlements Small rural villages/hamlets within the countryside
North of South Down National Park and Whitehill Bordon Position in Hierarchy
Alton Market Town
Whitehill Bordon (see chapter 9)
Liphook Large Local Service Centre
Four Marks/South Medstead, Grayshott Small Local Service Centres
Arford, Beech, Bentley, Bentley Station, Bentworth, Bramshott, Griggs Green, Headley, Headley Down, Holt Pound, Holybourne, Kingsley, Lindford, Medstead village, Passfield Common, Ropley, Ropley Dean, Upper Froyle Other settlements with a settlement policy boundary
All other settlements Small rural villages/hamlets within the countryside
Southern Parishes Position in Hierarchy
Horndean, Large Local Service Centre
Clanfield, Rowlands Castle Small Local Service Centre
Catherington, Lovedean Other settlements with a settlement policy boundary
All other settlements Small rural villages/hamlets within the countryside

South Downs National Park

4.12 Development within the South Downs National Park will be restricted to that which meets the National Park purposes and duty and will be focused on local needs. The UK Government Vision and Circular 2010 on National Parks explicitly states that National Parks are not suitable locations for unrestricted housing. Housing built within the South Downs National Park must be focused on proven local need and should usually be small in scale and of a high standard of design in terms of sustainability and appropriateness to its context.

4.13 The market town of Petersfield will retain its current role as a main centre for facilities and services although this may change to meet the challenges of becoming a sustainable hub at the heart of the National Park. Constraints on its growth include views from and to the surrounding hills and the need for any growth to support National Park purposes and its duty towards the local community (where this does not conflict with its purposes).

4.14 Although Liss will be an important transport hub within the South Downs National Park, its growth will be constrained by its inclusion within the National Park and by its proximity to the internationally protected Wealden Heaths SPA.

Whitehill Bordon

4.15 In the area to the north of the South Downs National Park future development will be focused mainly on Whitehill Bordon. The closure of the Bordon Garrison will leave around 570 acres (about 230 hectares) of vacant brownfield and greenfield land in the town which can be released for civilian use. It brings a real prospect of regenerating the town, including the building of a new town centre, new businesses, community facilities, improvements to public transport, new open spaces and an increase in biodiversity to create a more sustainable settlement. The town can respond to the challenge of climate change, the need for more homes, and the need for more sustainable living in an innovative and ground-breaking way.

4.16 However, it needs to be borne in mind that the town lies on the edge of the South Downs National Park and is bounded by areas of environmental designations of European, national and local significance.

4.17 Chapter 9 sets out the specific policies relating to the regeneration of the town.

North of the South Downs National Park

4.18 Alton (market town) and Liphook (large local service centre) will also be focuses for further development in this part of the District. The market town of Alton will retain its current roles as a main centre for facilities and services though its roles will change to meet the challenges of the town becoming a gateway to the South Downs National Park. The market town feel and scale should be retained. Constraints on building at Alton include the need to retain the undeveloped hillsides that are important in the wider landscape. New development in Liphook will have to respect its strong historic core, proximity to internationally protected wildlife sites and views from and to the National Park.

4.19 Development in Four Marks/South Medstead and Grayshott (small local service centres) will be primarily that to achieve sustainable communities. The quantity and type will reflect their respective roles, distinct character and development constraints. Four Marks lies close to the boundary of the National Park. Development potential in Grayshott will be affected by its proximity to the internationally protected Wealden Heaths SPA.

4.20 The scale of development in the National Park and the area to the north of the National Park should not undermine the need for significant new housing, jobs and retail development to be attracted to Whitehill Bordon together with the need for new social and physical infrastructure. Development in the other defined villages (Level 4) will be limited to minor infilling and redevelopment, or that which is necessary to meet specific local needs.

Southern Parishes

4.21 The strategy for development, including housing and employment provision, in the part of the District within the South Hampshire Sub-region follows that derived by the PUSH local authorities. The main focus will be on Horndean, the large local service centre. Clanfield and Rowlands Castle, the small local service centres, may accommodate some development, but the quantity and type of future development will reflect their respective roles, distinct character, the level of housing land already released to maintain a five year supply of housing land, and development constraints. New development in all three settlements will have to respect their proximity to the South Downs National Park in particular views from and to the surrounding hills.

4.22 A sequential approach to development will be adopted. If development requirements are not met by sites with existing planning permission, the requirements should be provided firstly through previously developed land and buildings, followed by greenfield land except where the previously-developed site has biodiversity or other value worth retaining.

4.23 The spatial strategy will make services and facilities available in the most accessible locations and to serve affordable housing. The market towns (Level 1) and local service centres (Levels 2 and 3) are distributed around the District. As such the more rural villages with policy boundaries (Level 4) and without (Level 5) will have reasonable access to one or more of these centres for at least their daily needs. Where appropriate these rural villages will be able to accommodate development to meet local needs. This will also help to safeguard the rural economy.

4.24 The settlement hierarchy background paper identifies the services and facilities available in the towns and villages of East Hampshire. This provides a guide to determining which of these should have a Settlement Policy Boundary (SPB) within which development will be permitted subject to environmental constraints and satisfying the usual policies, for example access, traffic generation, design, impact on neighbouring properties and overlooking.

4.25 More detail on the future roles and scale of development anticipated in the market towns, the large and small local service centres is set out in Appendix 6.

4.26 The settlement hierarchy has been developed based on the market towns and the main larger villages that have been categorised as local service centres. These centres are distributed around the District with good access to them and will serve smaller villages within their catchments with most of their daily needs.

4.27 The Level 4 villages provide a limited range of local services and may be appropriate for limited local development. These villages have been defined previously through Local Plans as ‘built-up areas’ primarily because of the nature and extent of built development suggests potential for some further small scale development within them provided it is consistent with maintaining and enhancing their character. Most have access to local facilities and workplaces. Additional housing infill within Settlement Policy Boundaries can be beneficial where it should support local services, such as schools or shops. New business development can also help to maintain sustainability in these villages.

4.28 The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) reviewed12 the evidence base for the settlement hierarchy focusing on the key issues and themes of the Matthew Taylor Report13, namely sustainability, affordable housing and economic viability. The review concludes that the identification of a settlement hierarchy is central to a spatial approach to planning rural areas. The range of factors used in the study are regarded as sound for the Joint Core Strategy but could eventually be supplemented by others:

  • widening the range of services considered
  • quality of services
  • vulnerability of services
  • need for additional services
  • functional relationship of services

4.29 This approach will move the focus of the settlement hierarchy towards one that addresses the more specific needs of individual communities. It will enable it to become a more proactive tool for community engagement and support. A checklist of the key criteria that may affect a rural settlement’s sustainability is provided. This will be used to assess the need for growth of particular settlements during the preparation of the Development Allocations DPD and Neighbourhood Plans.

Where else to look?

Background paper for settlement hierarchy (Spring 2008) provides the evidence base for supporting and justifying the spatial strategy for the location of new development in East Hampshire.

Living Working Countryside: the Taylor Review of Rural Economy and Affordable Housing (July 2008) is a review undertaken on behalf of the Government on how land use and planning can better support rural business and deliver affordable housing. www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/livingworkingcountryside

12 Rural Settlement Hierarchy Commentary available on EHDC website 13 Living Working Countryside: the Taylor Review of Rural Economy and Affordable Housing.
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