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8.50 Green Belt boundaries are intended to endure over the longer-term. Therefore, when reviewing Green Belt boundaries, it is important to draw the new boundaries having regard to potential development needs arising well beyond the Plan period.
8.51 Consequently, it is necessary to identify areas of 'safeguarded land' that are between the urban area and the new Green Belt boundary in order to meet these potential long-term development requirements and avoid the need for another review of the Green Belt at the end of this plan period.
Policy PG 4
Safeguarded land is land between the existing urban area and the inner boundary of the Green Belt that may be required to meet longer-term development needs stretching well beyond the period of the Local Plan.
Provision of sufficient areas of open space to the south and east of Hollyhedge Farmhouse to maintain its open rural setting;Provision of a substantial landscaped edge to the south/south east of the development parcel immediately to the south of the railway line (on the opposite side of Main Road to Hollyhedge Farm). This should combine a mix of copse and individual tree planting contained by a new native hedgerow. At the point nearest Hollyhedge Farm in the south eastern corner, a copse should be created. It should include woodland planting on the western edge of the parcel, tying in with the woodland buffer of the Basford East site; Provision of open space and appropriate parkland landscaping alongside the access/drive and to the south of Crewe Hall Farmhouse and associated barnProvision of an area of greenspace to the east of Stowford hamlet, retaining the existing pond, trees and other positive planting as a key space within the development;
8.52 The National Planning Policy Framework requires that, when amending Green Belt boundaries, Local Planning Authorities should 'where necessary, identify in their plan areas of safeguarded land between the urban area and the Green Belt, in order to meet longer-term development needs stretching well beyond the plan period'.They should also 'make clear that the safeguarded land is not allocated for development at the present time. Planning permission for the permanent development of safeguarded land should only be granted following a Local Plan review which proposes the development' as well as 'satisfy themselves that Green Belt boundaries will not need to be altered at the end of the development plan period''.
8.53 The development needs beyond this plan period will be determined through future reviews of the Local Plan. In the absence of guidance on the amount of land that should be safeguarded, a balanced approach is required that gives confidence on the permanence of the Green Belt boundary whilst minimising the impact on the Green Belt and making the most efficient use of land.
8.54 Within the South Cheshire Green Belt area, the main settlements of Congleton and Alsager are located adjacent to, but beyond the Green Belt. There is a significant supply of potential non-Green Belt land in these areas and therefore no need to designate safeguarded land to ensure permanence of the South Cheshire Green Belt boundary. Within the North Cheshire Green Belt, the main settlements are inset within the Green Belt and do not have the same expansion options on non-Green Belt land. It is therefore necessary to include areas of safeguarded land to make sure that the North Cheshire Green Belt boundaries will not need to be altered again at the end of the plan period.
8.55 A number of Local Plans have indicated that a 15 year plan period, followed by 5-10 years worth of safeguarded land will ensure that the Green Belt boundary retains a degree of permanence. As safeguarded land is only required in the North Cheshire Green Belt, the development requirement for the northern sub-area in this plan period has been projected forward beyond 2030 to determine the amount of safeguarded land required.
8.56 Consideration has been given to the likely availability of land beyond 2030. Whilst it is difficult to identify specific land that may become available so far into the future, there is a range of evidence to suggest that there will be a continued and reliable source of recycled and other land for development post 2030. There may also be other further options available to accommodate development including:
8.57 Given the desire to protect the countryside and minimise the impact on the Green Belt, it is appropriate to provide only the minimum amount of safeguarded land needed to make sure that Green Belt boundaries do not need to be altered again in the next plan period. Considering the potential options for accommodating development post 2030, it is considered that there are grounds for a modest reduction in the timescale for projecting forward needs, to provide for between 8-10 years of safeguarded land. Factors in relation to future housing densities have also been considered, including an ageing population, increased provision of smaller units and enabling higher densities through improved urban design. It is considered that there are sufficient grounds for assuming future housing densities of between 30 and 40 dwellings per hectare. A range of scenarios have been tested using the parameters on time period for projections and housing densities, which result in a requirement of between 155 ha and 244 ha of safeguarded land. Overdependence on any single influence is not appropriate given the timescales and variables involved, and a mid-point of 200 hectares is selected to take account of all factors concerned.
8.58 At the end of the plan period, the continued supply of recycled and other land for development as well as the other options to accommodate development and the use of the identified safeguarded land if required, will be sufficient to ensure that the Green Belt boundary will not need to be reviewed again at this time.