Introduction

PURPOSE

  1. This Unitary Development Plan (UDP) for the period to 2016 sets out the policies and proposals for the future development and use of land and environmental conservation within the City and County of Swansea (hereafter referred to as the County). Its purpose is to promote sustainable development, protect the environment, facilitate regeneration and support community planning by ensuring that sufficient land is available for all development needs (for housing, industry, etc) and that the allocations are well located in terms of environmental, social and economic aspirations.
  2. The policies contained within the UDP are intended to guide and inform developers, investors and the local community through the development control process. Under the provisions of Section 54A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 planning decisions must be made in accordance with the UDP unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The UDP therefore provides a basis for rational and consistent planning decisions, offering certainty about what development will and will not be permitted. It applies national and regional policy guidance at the local level and also integrates with other Council strategies, thus helping to inform corporate action.
  3. The UDP comprises two parts (Parts 1 and 2), which are collectively referred to as the written statement. This is accompanied by a set of maps, which together comprise the UDP Proposals Map. Part 1 sets out the broad vision and aspirations for development and conservation together with the overall strategy for pursuing them. Part 2 translates these goals and objectives into more detailed policies and development proposals. In turn these form the basis for determining planning applications and the conditions to be attached to planning permissions. An index of all Part 2 policies is included as Appendix 1.
  4. The five strategic goals of Part 1 establish the direction of the plan. These goals form the basis of the Part 1 strategic policies and provide the link to the Part 2 topic chapters. The topic chapters are based on sustainability principles and cover the key themes of environmental protection, economic growth, social progress (community need), prudent use of resources and accessibility for all. Regular assessments will be made of the implementation and effectiveness of the UDP in practice and monitoring and evaluation matrices are included in this respect in Appendix 2.
  5. An explanation and justification of the Part 1 policies introduces each of the Part 2 chapters (highlighted in Italics). Each Part 2 policy is cross-referenced to related Part 1 and 2 policies in the Plan as well as to existing and proposed Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG). However the cross–referencing is not intended to be exclusive and the Plan should be read as a whole. Furthermore, the policies do not attempt to cover every type of development or land use proposal. The accompanying Proposals Map illustrates the detailed policies and proposals, defines sites for particular developments and land uses, and also delineates the areas to which specific policies will be applied. The extent and subdivision of the Proposals Map is outlined in Appendix 3.
  6. In the event of a contradiction between the written statement and the Proposals Map the provisions of the written statement prevail. When conflicts between policies arise, for example the socio-economic benefits of development versus protection of the environment, decisions should be taken in the light of all material considerations, including local priorities and needs, guided by relevant national and regional policy. Where land is not designated for a specific purpose (referred to as ‘white’ land), it is anticipated that the existing use will continue, and that if any development proposals affecting the land are forthcoming during the plan period they will be considered against national planning policy guidance and relevant criteria based UDP policies.
  7. For ease of reference, a glossary of those terms highlighted in bold and Italics within the text is included as Appendix 10, and a list of abbreviations as Appendix 11.

PROCEDURES

  1. There is a statutory requirement for the City and County of Swansea Council (the Council) to prepare the UDP and to keep it under review. Details of the main policy guidance, advice and strategies that have informed the preparation of the UDP are listed in Appendix 4, with links included where possible on the Council’s website version of this document.
  2. The Plan has been prepared in accordance with the relevant development plan regulations, including public consultation and the consideration of objections. Details of the procedures that have been followed are summarised in the Welsh Assembly Government publication Unitary Development Plans – A Guide to Procedures.
  3. Once adopted the UDP will provide the primary framework against which planning applications will be determined. It will supersede the prevailing Development Plan Policy Framework for the area, which is currently provided by the following plans:
    • West Glamorgan Structure Plan Review No.2 (Feb 1996)
    • Swansea Local Plan Review No.1 (Jan 1999)
    • Southern Lliw Valley Local Plan (June 1986)
    • Northern Lliw Valley Local Plan (Dec 1993)
    • City and County of Swansea Minerals Local Plan (Jan 1999)
  4. To avoid excessive detail, SPG produced following further public consultation, will be used where appropriate to expand upon and interpret policies. Although SPG may take a number of forms, there will in all cases be consistency with the UDP policies. Accordingly in Part 2 of the Plan a cross-referencing system has been applied so as to clearly identify the policy relationship. SPG already published separately from the Plan is listed in Appendix 5.

SUSTAINABILITY APPRAISAL AND STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

  1. The Consultation Draft version of the UDP was subject to a Sustainability Appraisal (SA). The purpose of the SA was to examine the extent to which the UDP contributed towards sustainable development, insofar as is possible through the land use planning system, and to identify ways of improving policies in relation to this. A full report on the SA methodology and application is available from the local planning authority at the address below.
  2. e Deposit version of the plan was subject to a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) together with a further SA. The SEA process is much more rigorous than that for a SA, with a prescribed methodology laid out within European (EU) Directive 2001/42/EC. SEA focuses on the environmental impacts of a plan, including the built environment and the effect on local populations and health. The SA and SEA processes have been integrated for the purposes of the Deposit UDP, as recommended within the ‘Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Unitary Development Plans – Interim Good Practice Guide’ published by the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG). An Environmental Report of the SEA process (combined with SA), including details of the baseline information identified through the SEA Scoping Report (see paragraph xviii below) and a non-technical summary, was published alongside the Deposit UDP and the same public consultation procedures applied.
  3. Notwithstanding the above assessments, development proposals that accord with the plan must still be subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment if required by the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999 (hereafter referred to as an EIA or EIA Regulations).
  4. The SEA Scoping Report contains a review of a number of plans, policies and programmes that may impact upon the UDP. The Scoping Report also provides an outline of the environmental characteristics of the County, via the collection of extensive environmental data (the baseline information). From studying the baseline information, environmental problems within the County have been identified and SEA objectives developed accordingly, along with objectives for the SA. The SEA objectives reflect the main environmental issues facing the County and have been used to assess how the UDP meets the criteria of the SEA Directive and contributes to sustainable development over the plan period. The SEA objectives are outlined within the Scoping Report and Environmental Report, both of which can be viewed on the Council’s Development Plan website. The Council determined that the Post Deposit Modifications to the Plan were not likely to have significant environmental effects and did not require a further environmental assessment. Notice of this determination together with a Statement of Reasons was published alongside the Modifications versions of the Plan, in accordance with statutory publicity procedures.

HABITATS REGULATIONS ASSESSMENT

  1. Part IVA of the Habitats Regulations (The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) (Amendment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007) transposes the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) for Unitary Development Plans adopted under the 1990 Act. One of the principles of the Habitats Regulations is that before the Council adopts a development plan, it must consider the potential effects of the plan on European sites. This process is known as the ‘Habitats Regulations Assessment’ (HRA). The Regulations apply irrespective of when the Council started the development plan process. Following advice contained within the Draft Annex to Technical Advice Note (TAN) 5 Nature Conservation and Planning (consultation draft) which was published in October 2006, prior to the UDP Public Inquiry, a HRA of the Pre-Inquiry Modifications version of the Plan was undertaken.
  2. For the purpose of HRA of the UDP, European sites are defined Special Protection Areas (SPA), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Ramsar sites. There is no current precedent for undertaking an appropriate assessment retrospectively and the draft Annex to TAN 5 states that it should be undertaken as soon as possible where a plan has begun preparation. The UDP was at an advanced stage of preparation when the amended Regulations came into force and the Council has therefore undertaken as rigorous a HRA as can reasonably be undertaken.
  3. The HRA process is detailed within Topic Paper No.5 published in January 2007 prior to the Public Inquiry. No representations were made from members of the public in relation to this Paper. The Paper outlines the methodology involved, amendments to the UDP that emerged from the process and the consultation that was undertaken with the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW).
  4. The HRA has concluded that the development plan will not be likely to have a significant effect on the integrity of any or all of the European sites identified. However, the HRA of the UDP does not exempt further assessment of sites or projects as these are progressed through the planning system.

PLAN AVAILABILITY

  1. A simplified version of the UDP is available in pamphlet form, containing a summary of the key proposals and a version of the strategic plan. It is also available in Welsh, large print and other formats or languages as required. The UDP may be viewed at The Civic Centre; all libraries and district housing offices within the County, or downloaded free of charge from www.swansea.gov.uk/devplan. In addition, all background information and accompanying reports are available to view at The Civic Centre, Oystermouth Road, Swansea, SA1 3SN, from where copies of the UDP and supporting documentation may be purchased.
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