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Local plan draft options EqIA - Analysing the impact

4. Analysing the impact

Who the service, strategy, policy, project or change impacts.

Age 

Effect: Positive/negative

The Local Plan will affect all age groups however some policies will impact specific age brackets in both positive and negative ways. 

Housing Mix

Housing, including affordable housing, will be provided across the plan area to meet the needs of those who wish to live and work in the area. Around 30,000 new homes will be provided over the lifetime of this plan, of a range of types, sizes and tenures to meet Dorset’s diverse needs for all age groups. Helping to delivery affordable housing and housing of different tenures is consider to advance equality of opportunity for all age groups.

The provision of education and training facilities

Where new homes are built, any additional demand for education and training will usually be catered for through the expansion of existing education provision. In some cases, particularly on larger sites, this may trigger the need for substantial changes in how the service is provided, e.g. the provision of a new school. This policy will particularly affect children / young adults and young families.

In many cases new education facilities can be provided on or near new development which is a positive factor however in some instances new development will be delivered further away from existing or new education facilities which will have a negative effect on children and young adults due to the distance and time required to access these facilities.

Hot food takeaways

Takeaway foods tend to be high in energy, salt, fat and sugar, often with single meal portions containing levels higher than the recommended daily amounts. Evidence indicates that the availability of such foods is one factor associated with increased levels of obesity and excess weight amongst adults and children.

Restricting the provision of hot food takeaways close to facilities frequented by children can help to tackle childhood obesity levels. This includes educational establishments used primarily by children and other facilities such as children’s play areas; skate parks; leisure centres; and youth centres.

Hot food takeaways will be restricted within ‘easy walking distance’ of these facilities, which is considered to be anywhere within a five minute walk, equating to 400m. This policy is considered to have a positive impact on children’s lifestyles. 

Affordable Housing: First Homes

There is a significant need for affordable housing in Dorset to meet the needs of those who cannot afford to rent or purchase homes on the open market. First Homes are proposed as homes sold at a discount of at least 30% of market rates prioritised for local first time buyers who are predominantly young couples or families. Outside designated rural areas, national policy is to be amended to allow for ‘First Homes’ exception sites. These will enable the delivery of First Homes for purchase by local first-time buyers along with a proportion of other types of affordable housing.

First Homes is a national policy which can’t be changed locally however this policy does require local support for delivery. This policy has the potential to give positive benefits for first time buyers in Dorset by making housing more affordable for qualifying residents. Although not exclusively so, most first time buyers will be younger adults. 

Housing for older people and those with disabilities

Dorset already has a high percentage of older people. At present 29% of our residents are over 65 years of age and by the end of the plan period this proportion is projected to grow.

As people become less mobile or when facing a disability their accommodation needs change. Often this can mean having to move away from their family home and community resulting in significant upheaval and sometimes a feeling of isolation.

The strategy for meeting care needs of older people is to enable people requiring differing levels of care to remain within their community, living independently for as long as possible whilst enabling varying levels of care to be provided as needs change.

Enabling people to stay in their communities helps them lead a more active and engaged life and reduces the number of times they need to move home is considered a positive outcome for older residents.

Although this policy combines issues relating older people and those with disabilities it is important to note that these two characteristics are discreet and have only been combined within the plan for conciseness. 

Specialist purpose built accommodation

Other smaller scale care provision is also needed in the Dorset Council area. This type of housing would be for older people or those with disabilities and would be provided through specialist purpose built accommodation.

Specialist purpose built accommodation can take a variety of different forms such as extra care, sheltered housing, age specific housing as well as housing for those with autism or learning difficulties. Support for further provision is considered positive for older people.

Residential Care Homes

Nursing or residential care homes provide an additional level of care for those who are in greatest need. These residential institutions have individual units where a high level of care is provided to support daily living. Examples include facilities that provide specialist dementia care, end of life care or nursing care for people with complex needs. People who are capable of independent living would not normally qualify for a bed in a residential care home.

Proposals for new residential care homes will only be permitted where they respond to an identified need. Support for new nursing or residential care homes is considered to have a positive benefit for older residents by increasing capacity when need is identified.

Disability (including physical, mental, sensory and progressive conditions)

Effect: positive and unclear

The draft Local Plan will affect all disabilities. 

The draft Local Plan does not seek to identify or address the needs of specific disability groups with the exception of those with limited mobility, a common design requirement in building regulations. The Local Plan instead seeks only to address the broader definition of disability and therefore does not consider more specific disabilities as a matter of brevity.

A generic approach to disability may however disadvantaged or discriminated against groups with specific needs not covered by a broad policy approach. For example, the Plan is silent on modifications to the home that might be required for specific disabilities. As not enough information is currently available to make an informed decision, as an action, it is recommended that further evidence is gathered. 

Strategy for meeting care needs

Housing appropriate for those living with disabilities is important in helping them to live safe and independent lives and Dorset Council need to plan to meet these needs.

The strategy for meeting care needs is to enable people requiring differing levels of care to remain within their community, living independently for as long as possible whilst enabling varying levels of care to be provided as needs change.

The local plan will help to achieve this aim through the provision of the range of accommodation types including:

  • a greater proportion of all new homes delivered as Accessible and Adaptable Dwellings M4[2]
  • the delivery of ‘community integrated care hubs’ providing a range of care accommodation to respond to different needs;
  • individual care provision schemes that meet the identified needs of a specific area in the form of specialist purpose built accommodation for older people or those with disabilities;
  • care homes for complex dementia and nursing care.

Enabling people to stay in their communities helps them lead a more active and engaged life and reduces the number of times they need to move home is considered a positive outcome for residents living with disabilities or complex care needs.

Accessible and Adaptable Dwellings standard

The provision of accessible and adaptable dwellings, as part of the overall housing mix, is an important part of meeting Dorset’s housing needs. These homes are suitable for those with or without mobility problems and are adaptable to suit care needs as they change.

On major residential development sites (those of 10 or more dwellings or of 0.5 hectares or more), it is expected that at least 20% of the overall housing provided across all tenures will be provided at the accessible and adaptable dwellings standard established through building regulations. This enables residents to remain in their own home, reducing the upheaval and costs associated with moving home, a positive benefit to those with disabilities.

A higher percentage of provision above 20% is not currently thought viable but this is a question in the Local Plan for consideration.

Community integrated care hubs

Community integrated care hubs will provide for a range of needs from day opportunities, extra care to complex care as well as housing for workers with key skills. This approach enables a progression through different types of homes within a community setting with greater levels of care being available as care needs change.

Dorset Council is in the process of delivering a care village on its own land. The Bridport Gateway development will deliver a care home, extra care housing and communal space. Another scheme is proposed in Wareham over three sites incorporating the former middle school site, the current Wareham Hospital site and a site on Bonnets Lane.

There is an identified need for similar schemes in Central, South Eastern and Northern Dorset. Proposals for care hubs within these areas will be supported by the Plan where they meet identified needs and provide: extra care units including affordable extra care units; key worker affordable housing; communal areas; and a nursing home for those with dementia.

Proposals should be in an accessible location that has easy access to town centre facilities and a GP surgery or community hospital.

The delivery of new integrated care hubs in accessible locations is considered a significant benefit for Dorset residents who have a range of care needs (for example residents with dementia).

Specialist purpose built accommodation

Other smaller scale care provision is also needed in the Dorset Council area. This type of housing would be for older people or those with disabilities and would be provided through specialist purpose built accommodation.

Specialist purpose built accommodation can take a variety of different forms such as extra care, sheltered housing, age specific housing as well as housing for those with autism or learning difficulties. Support for further provision is considered positive.

Residential Care Homes

Nursing or residential care homes provide an additional level of care for those who are in greatest need. These residential institutions have individual units where a high level of care is provided to support daily living. Examples include facilities that provide specialist dementia care, end of life care or nursing care for people with complex needs. People who are capable of independent living would not normally qualify for a bed in a residential care home.

Proposals for new residential care homes will only be permitted where they respond to an identified need. Support for new nursing or residential care homes is considered to have a positive benefit for older residents by increasing capacity when need is identified.

Gender Reassignment and Gender Identity

Effect: unclear

The Plan makes no specific reference to the need to personalise and ensure appropriateness of care for trans and non-binary people, particularly in reference to personalised older LGBTI+ care. For example, do building design requirements reflect the specific needs of trans and non-binary people? Although the Plan aims to treat all groups equally, the Plan could unfairly discriminate against this protected characteristic group.

As not enough information is known about the effects of draft policies on trans and non-binary people further data should be collected on gender identity. 

Pregnancy and maternity

Effect: positive

New or improved local community buildings and structures

The provision of new and/or improvements to health facilities are likely to have a positive impact to individuals during pregnancy and maternity by making facilities as accessible as possible and increasing capacity, considering the likely increased use of the facilities for this group.  

Design

Healthy lifestyles will be promoted through the way development is designed, by building in safe and convenient routes for active travel, recreational opportunities and access to green space. This will have a positive impact on pregnant individuals or families with small children, improving access to outdoor recreation and the uptake of healthier modes of travel. This is also expected to positively affect quality of life and neighbourhood satisfaction for this group.

Race and ethnicity

Effect: unclear

The Dorset Local Plan will affect all race and ethnicity groups. Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople have specific needs associated with their way of life which are addressed through national planning policy however there may be other issues associated with Black and minority ethnic groups that make up 4.4% of the Dorset population that adversely affect these communities that are currently unknown. As not enough information is known about how planning proposals affect these communities further evidence should be collected.

Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

Housing is one of the key outputs of the Local Plan. The council recognises that Travellers are entitled to specific types of accommodation that allow them to continue with their traditional and nomadic way of life. The council has sought to develop a strategy that provides fair and equal treatment for Travellers by supporting the needs of their way of life, whilst respecting the interests of the settled community, through the identification of suitable sites to meet the identified need, and setting out how individual proposals for Traveller sites will be considered.

Land is allocated for 57 pitches for Gypsies and Travellers; 5 plots for Travelling Showpeople; 31 pitches for ‘Travellers who are excluded from the planning definition’; and 25 pitches as a transit site.

The draft Local Plan policies identify and make specific provision for Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople to meet identified needs outside the of the usual planning system. A supportive approach to development for an ethnic group with a unique way of life is considered positive although planning policy by itself can’t directly stop the continuation and perpetuation of prejudice and hate against gypsies and travellers which requires a wider strategy.

Applications for Traveller sites must however be assessed against relevant national and local planning policies. These include policies relating to: the protection of habitats and species, landscape impact, impact on heritage assets, green belt, design, amenity, flood risk and land stability and coastal erosion. Applications must also be within a reasonable distance of a settlement that provides for everyday facilities such as shops, schools, health facilities and public transport. As these criteria limit the scope of travel for this transient group, an unclear impact is also recorded.

Religion or belief

Effect: positive, negative and unclear

The draft Plan does not seek to identify or address the needs of specific religions or beliefs. The Local Plan instead seeks only to address the broader definition of community facilities which can include religious buildings or meeting places. Proposals for specific religious groups and beliefs are instead considered on a case by case basis. A generic approach to religion or believe may however disadvantaged or discriminated against the needs of specific religious groups or beliefs groups not covered by a broad policy approach.

New or improved local community buildings and structures

The provision of, and improvements to, community facilities may positively affect religious groups depending on the type of facility and intended use. Positive effects are expected where community facilities include places of worship and religious activities. This may include cultural facilities and community meeting spaces.

Retention of local community buildings and structures

The loss of local community facilities and services such as a place of worship can significantly reduce a community’s ability to meet its day to day needs locally, decreases choice and will also have an adverse impact on the social interaction and wellbeing of that community.

The local plan policy restricts the loss of community facilities (including places of worship) unless it can be demonstrated that there is no local need for the facility or a suitable replacement is provided in an equally accessible location to serve the local community.

The change of use of community facilities could result in negative impacts; and as such it is recommended that specific EqIAs should be undertaken for Planning applications where necessary.

Heritage assets

The protection and enhancement of designated and non-designated heritage assets may have a positive impact for religious groups who have connections to these assets, for example places of worship. Where proposals would have an overall negative impact on a heritage asset, the council will seek to establish whether the scale of harm to its significance is: less than substantial; substantial; or total loss. Any level of harm to a designated heritage asset will require clear and convincing justification. 

Sexual orientation

Effects: unclear

Further information is required to make an informed assessment. 

Sex (considering both men and women)

Effects: neutral

No impacts anticipated at this present time. 

Marriage or civil partnership

Effects: neutral

No impacts anticipated at this present time.

Carers

Effects: unclear and positive

The Local Plan makes no specific reference to informal and unpaid carers. Not enough information has been collected to make an informed assessment on the impact of the Plan on this group. Further evidence should be collected in order to make an informed decision.  

The Local Plan does however make some provision for paid care workers who are classified as key workers.

Community integrated care hubs

Community integrated care hubs will provide for a range of needs from day opportunities, extra care to complex care as well as housing for workers with key skills.

Dorset Council is in the process of delivering a care village on its own land at the Bridport Gateway. The development is in the early stages but aims to provide a new purpose built extra care housing scheme at Flood Lane. Alongside the housing scheme, a new care home providing care services for people with dementia and a respite care facility are proposed. In addition around 25 affordable housing units, some of which will be targeted for workers in care and health jobs, are currently proposed at the Fisherman’s Arms Site.

Another scheme is proposed in Wareham over three sites incorporating the former middle school site, the current Wareham Hospital site and a site on Bonnets Lane. The redevelopment of the former Middle School site will deliver a replacement ambulance station and GP surgery, relocated from their current location at Streche Road. The remainder of the site will deliver a ‘health care and housing hub’ including extra-care housing, key-worker housing, a care home and affordable housing, in total delivering around 100 homes.

There is an identified need for similar schemes in Central, South Eastern and Northern Dorset. Proposals for care hubs within these areas will be supported by the Plan where they meet identified needs and provide: extra care units including affordable extra care units; key worker affordable housing; communal areas; and a nursing home for those with dementia.

Affordable housing for key workers is an important part of a care hub as it would enable those who deliver care to live close to their place of work. This policy would allow paid carers to live in affordable housing closer to their place of work, a positive impact for paid carers. 

Rural isolation

Effects: positive and negative

Isolated homes in the countryside

National policy indicates that planning policy should avoid the development of isolated homes in the countryside except in certain circumstances. As the plan area is largely rural in character, it is important to specify under which circumstances isolated homes in the countryside would be considered.

Isolated homes in the countryside may be permitted where the scheme improves the setting and character of the immediate area and/or heritage asset; has particular regard to minimising its impact on the landscape; and is of exceptional quality with innovative design.

Isolated homes in the countryside suitable for rural workers may be permitted where: it provides for a rural worker either near to or at their place of work; it is essential for the economically viable rural business that one, or more, rural workers are readily available at most times; no other suitable accommodation exists; and the accommodation is well related to any existing building.

Within the Green Belt, new homes can be suitable where they are replacing or extending an existing building, provided that it is of the same use and not materially larger than the original.

These policies contain both positive and negative elements reflecting the need on one hand to direct development to sustainable locations in accordance with national policy and on the other, maintain a thriving rural economy.

Affordable housing in designated rural areas

In line with national policy, major development sites will be expected to make provision for affordable housing. For residential development, a ‘major development’ is one where 10 or more homes will be provided or the site is of 0.5 hectares or more. Above this threshold a proportion of affordable housing can be sought however any proportion of affordable housing must be viability tested. Different market areas are also likely to have different viability considerations and consequently different levels of affordable housing provision that can be sought. The exact affordable housing proportions and boundaries of zones are subject to questions in the consultation document.

Under national policy, the Local Plan can however choose to lower the affordable housing threshold in designated rural areas to help bring forward more units. Designated rural areas include areas within the two AONBs as well as areas designated by order of the Secretary of State as a rural area.

The Local Plan is proposing that in designated rural areas, affordable housing will be sought on sites of 5 to 9 dwellings. Provision at these thresholds will also be expected on sites that form part of a mixed-use scheme.

Having a lower threshold in designated rural areas will help to balance the overall delivery of new homes against the delivery of affordable housing. Often, given the smaller size of sites in rural areas. The rate of delivery of affordable housing can be low if a higher threshold is used. However, given the characteristics of development finance on smaller sites, a lower threshold may restrict the provision of housing overall.

This draft policy seeks to balance these two competing demands by lowering the threshold for affordable housing in designated rural areas without over burdening local developers. The provision of more affordable homes in designated rural areas is considered a positive benefit for rural isolation by allowing low income families to live in the communities that they grew up in.

The Transport Network

Dorset is a largely rural area with a dispersed population and with mostly poor public transport. People in rural areas without access to a private car often find it more difficult to meet their daily needs. 15.2% of Dorset Council households do not have a car or van (Census 2011). By influencing the location of new development, land use can reduce the need to travel particularly by private car and minimise rural isolation.

The Local Plan proposes that new development should be located in accordance with the settlement hierarchy to facilitate the move away from car dependency and towards healthy, lower carbon travel choices and lifestyles. Significant new developments should therefore be located close enough to existing facilities or deliver viable new facilities to make walking and cycling a realistic choice.

By influencing the location of new development, land use can reduce the need to travel particularly by private car and minimise its impact on the environment. At the same time the planning system must respond to the need for new transport infrastructure and recognise the challenges faced by rural settlements, where reliance on private car travel for many people, is the only realistic option. Accordingly, strategic developments will be located on or have access to existing public transport networks so that they are convenient, accessible, safe and attractive to use.

This approach has both positive and negative implications for rural isolation. Although the majority of new development is being directed to locations with good accessibility to local facilities or on existing transport links, some isolated homes in the countryside are still permitted and this Plan does not seek to address this issue, further emphasising rural isolation. 

Broadband

Digital connectivity plays a key role in both improving productivity and addressing environmental challenges. Changing working practices and increased digitisation mean it is more important than ever to be “connected”. Reliable, resilient and up-to-date digital infrastructure can support economic activity and provide community services.

The provision of broadband and electronic communications in some villages and rural areas remains very poor, particularly in terms of capacity and coverage. Across Dorset, 150,000 adults need help with digital skills and 70,000 have never been online.

In order to improve connectivity, infrastructure to achieve access to the high-speed electronic communications network will be required in all new homes and businesses. On larger developments (10+ dwellings), and on other developments where practicable, this should be provided through direct fibre to the premise (FTTP) access. This policy should apply to both market housing and affordable housing. These requirements are considered to benefit rural communities. 

Single parent families

Effects: unclear

The Local Plan does not specifically mention single parent families, as all residents are treated equally however single parent families would benefit alongside the wider community from access to local amenities and facilities that they depend on. Further research on the impact of new development on single parent families would be necessary to make an informed assessment. 

Social and economic deprivation

Effects: positive, negative and unclear

The supply of employment land and premises

As Dorset’s population grows, employment opportunities are vital to the maintenance of balanced, sustainable and prosperous communities. Sufficient land needs to be provided if future economic growth is to be successfully delivered.

The Local Plan can help to deliver economic growth by enabling sustainable economic development in the right locations and providing homes for those who work in the area. Infrastructure provision to meet the area’s needs is important to facilitating this growth. Around 21,000 new jobs are to be created across the area over the lifetime of this Plan.

We estimate that this equates to a need for between 131ha and 151ha of employment land for offices, light industrial, general industrial, storage and warehousing (use classes B2 and B8 and former use class B1). We are aware that further evidence is needed to evaluate fully the potential impacts of Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic, and recent changes to the Use Classes Order on these figures. This will be undertaken prior to the next stage of the local plan production. The scale and type of new employment development should be appropriate to its location and focused in places where it will provide people with the opportunity to work locally, helping to promote social inclusion and reduce the need to travel.

The Local Plan is however only able to plan for the estimated amount of employment land that we anticipate. The Local Plan is unable to ensure this land is delivered or that the jobs created are of the right type to match with the skills of the local community. The Plan provides some benefit to economic and social deprivation by providing opportunities for future economic development but would not in itself eliminate discrimination. 

Protecting employment sites

Existing employment sites may come under pressure for change of use to non-employment uses. The loss of employment sites can reduce local job opportunities and impact negatively on economic competitiveness, potentially undermining economic growth.

Development which would lead to the loss of B2, B8 or similar sui generis employment land and/or premises will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that it would achieve substantial benefits that outweigh the loss. This assessment does not explicitly consider the local population, the local employment market and business sector however these factors would be material considerations. Other uses on these sites that do not provide direct, on-going local employment opportunities (including residential development) will not be permitted.

Suitable protection of existing employment sites (taking into account their significance) will help to provide sufficient opportunities for employment needs to be met locally, to reduce the need to travel, and to promote economic growth and social inclusion. Protecting key employment sites within the district is considered a benefit to social and economic deprivation.

The Transport Network

The car continues to be the main mode of transport for most people, enabling them to access work, education, leisure and shopping opportunities.

Settlement patterns which enable better public transport services, promote active travel and reduce car dependency form the basis for the strategy within the local plan. This approach provides the opportunity to reduce out-commuting to other centres, reducing the need and distance travelled by private car for work or shopping, thus increasing ‘self-containment’. Further development in accordance with the settlement hierarchy will help to maintain their role as service centres, contribute to their future regeneration and help to sustain the rural areas that surround them.

The plan does not however help existing isolated communities. As 15.2% of Dorset Council households do not have a car or van (Census 2011) the proposed strategy does not support these communities, particularly where transport links have been reduced or stopped. The Local Plan must however balance the needs of future residents against those of existing rural communities within the limits of development viability.

Town centres and retail development

Through town centre regeneration and by protecting town centres, the Local Plan will enhance people’s quality of life. 

Design

Healthy lifestyles will be promoted through the way development is designed, by building in safe and convenient routes for active travel, recreational opportunities and access to green space.

Armed Forces communities

Effects: Neutral

No impacts identified anticipated at this present time.

Key

Type of impact Description
Positive impact

The proposal eliminates discrimination, advances equality of opportunity and/or fosters good relations with protected groups.

Negative impact

Protected characteristic group(s) could be disadvantaged or discriminated against.

Neutral impact

no change/ no assessed significant impact of protected characteristic groups

Unclear

not enough data/evidence has been collected to make an informed decision

Next page - Local Plan draft options EqIA: Part 5 - action plan

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