4. The reasons for the Council's strategy
Purpose of the strategy
4.1 The policies in Part One of this Plan comprise a strategy, a set of interrelated aims and actions covering the main areas of planning policy, for this borough over the next decade. The relationships between these policies are particularly important since together they represent what the Council sees as the best balance between potentially conflicting aims and objectives. It follows that none of these policies should be pursued in isolation. Each must be considered in the context of the strategy as a whole. The policies numbered G1 to G36 are fundamental to this overall strategy.
4.2 The strategy describes the main thrust of the Council's planning policies, the direction in which the Council will steer the borough in the period to 2016 or until replaced by a new development plan. It deals with the following key issues.
- The quality of life of borough residents, expressed in terms of the quality of the environment in which they live, the leisure, community facilities, shops and services which they use and the freedom of access they have to employment, housing, public transport and services.
- Bexley's role within Thames Gateway and the contribution it can make to meeting the objectives of regional strategy.
- Bexley's role in the London economy, expressed in terms of the location, scale and type of economic activity and development the Council will pursue and encourage.
- The adequacy of infrastructure and services in the borough to cope with new demands for development and the means by which any deficiencies are overcome.
- Bexley's role in meeting London's housing needs.
The Council's strategy has emerged from careful examination of these issues and the interaction between them.
The vision for Bexley
4.3 The starting point for the strategy described in Chapter 3 is the role it has in London as a whole. From this, four themes are developed, each describing a different aspect of Bexley's role within London.
4.4 The principal theme is one of concern for the environment and of quality of life in Bexley. This sets the tone of the policies in Part One of the Plan. Bexley is a place to live and Bexley residents value high environmental standards, parks and open spaces, good design and good quality shops and services. Moreover, the theme is compatible with economic development objectives since a good quality environment is becoming increasingly important in attracting investment to the borough in the face of growing competition. The Council can also meet its housing objectives within this overall vision.
4.5 With the increased emphasis on Best Value in public expenditure, importance is attached to making the most efficient use of resources and of regulating development in a way that does not overburden infrastructure and meets a share of the costs of improving infrastructure and community facilities to meet new demands. This, too, is consistent with an environment-led vision for the borough since, without adequate infrastructure and services, development would add to congestion on roads and pressure on services affecting the quality of life of all who use them.
4.6 Its position on the outer edge of southeast London means that Bexley looks towards both south and east London and to northwest Kent for its strategic context. The planning strategy in Bexley needs to be consistent with both. The context diagram shows the wider picture of development and constraint policies in this part of the southeast. It illustrates a clear division between the policies of constraint that apply to much of the area, associated with the Metropolitan Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land policies, and the corridor of major development opportunities, shown as Zones of Change and Opportunity Areas that exists along both banks of the Thames between Greenwich and Gravesend. This area forms part of Thames Gateway.
4.7 In Bexley, this is manifested in a corridor of opportunity in the north of the borough between Thamesmead and Erith. This is associated with planned improvements to road access, surplus statutory undertakers' land and the need to continue the process of revitalising older riverside industrial areas.
4.8 The Council's strategy has the following elements:
- a backcloth of policies to ensure that new development will not detract from the environmental quality of the borough as a place to live and work and, in areas of poorer surroundings, makes a contribution towards improving the environment;
- the protection and enhancement of those features of the built and natural environment which are important to the character and quality of the borough;
- the encouragement and support of new investment and economic activity in suitable locations and the revitalisation of older housing and industry, particularly within the Thames‑side area;
- the identification of good quality sites for new housing, industry and commercial development in accordance with the requirements of Strategic Guidance;
- the scale and location of new development to be related to the capacity of existing roads and infrastructure, together with planned improvements; and
- provision for the shopping and service needs of the borough's residents based on existing town and Neighbourhood Centres.
- Strategic policies G1 to G36 provide the basic planning framework for Bexley combining the different elements of the strategy and applying them in a consistent way.
Policies that apply to all developments
4.9 Policies G1 to G9 apply to all proposals for development and change of use and establish important principles relating to the protection of the environment, the co‑ordination of development with infrastructure, access to housing and community facilities, the supply of land for development, design and layout and the need to safeguard against flooding.
4.10 The Regulations require local planning authorities to have regard to environmental considerations in preparing their general policies and proposals. Strategic Planning Guidance for London states that UDPs should give high priority to the environment and this theme runs throughout this Plan. Bexley is fortunate in enjoying a generally high standard of environment and good amenities, but firm policies are needed for its protection and enhancement. The Plan contains policies for specific areas such as the Metropolitan Green Belt, Metropolitan Open Land, Conservation Areas and for specific topics such as conservation of the natural heritage. Important as these areas are, every part of the borough should enjoy good environmental quality and every planning decision needs to be judged against its effect on the environment.
4.11 Policy G1 is intended to discourage any development that would reduce the quality of the environment, including its safety, and encourage development that would help to enrich it and the quality of life of those who live or work in the borough. In part, it also addresses sustainable development objectives by seeking to conserve natural resources, make the best use of land and safeguard environmental quality in the broadest sense. Many of the policies and proposals in Part Two of this plan will have environmental implications. Policy G1 is needed to ensure that environmental considerations are taken into account consistently and comprehensively and given due weight. In this way environmental improvement and protection can be planned and individual development decisions taken against an overall strategic framework that reflects environmental priorities. This policy applies to all forms of development, including changes of use and public transport schemes and to all locations including residential, industrial, commercial, shopping areas, open spaces and leisure.
4.12 The quality of life and the environment will be affected by congestion and the demands made on services and community facilities available to those living and working in the borough. An important function of the planning process is to ensure that development and land use change are related to the capacity of infrastructure and services and to proposals for their improvement. To this end Policy G2 provides that all development proposals should be assessed for their effects, both individual and cumulative, on infrastructure and services. With greater emphasis placed on Best Value in public expenditure, it is important to make the most efficient use of limited resources and to regulate development so that it does not overburden infrastructure. Where appropriate, developers will be asked to meet a share of the costs of improvements to meet reasonable needs arising from development.
4.13 This will be achieved through the normal process of development control where in granting planning permission, or in negotiations with developers and other interests, the Council will seek modifications or improvements to proposals. In certain circumstances, it may not be possible to overcome a planning objection to a proposal by means of planning conditions. In these circumstances, Section 106(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 provides that an applicant may enter into a planning obligation by agreement with the Council which would be associated with any permission granted. Similar provisions apply under other legislation. Circular 1/97 requires that where it is intended that planning obligations are to be sought regularly, the Council's policy on this should be made clear in the Unitary Development Plan. Policy G3 accordingly provides that the Council will, where appropriate, seek provision by way of planning obligations or other agreements where this would assist towards securing the best use of land and a properly planned environment. Policies in Part Two set out the particular circumstances in which planning obligations will be sought. In applying Policy G3, the Council will have regard to the tests of reasonableness and relationship in scale and kind to the proposed development as set out in Circular 1/97.
4.14 The Regulations require planning authorities to have regard to social considerations in preparing their general policies and proposals in UDPs. Planning Policies will have impacts on different groups in the population. The Council is keen to sustain and, where possible, improve the quality of life of all sections of the community. This means that all sections of the borough's population should have access to housing, jobs, community and recreational facilities. Policy G4 establishes an important general principle that the Council will use its powers to influence land use change and development to create opportunities for those on low and middle incomes to obtain low cost housing, those seeking local employment or starting their own businesses to be able to do so and for all sections of the community to have good access to shops, services and community facilities. Part Two of the Plan sets out detailed policies for the achievement of this aim. Policy G5 refers in particular to the need to ensure that Council policies take account of the needs of people with disabilities and other less agile individuals. This is consistent with advice given in Planning Policy Guidance Note 12.
4.15 An important task of this Plan is to ensure that sufficient land is available to meet future housing needs, the needs of industry and commerce and the provision of recreational, social, educational facilities and the future requirements of other public services. This is reflected in Policy G6. Strategic Guidance requires the Council to ensure that there is sufficient land available for industry and commerce and that the variety of sites is sufficient to meet the differing needs of employers. The Council has sought to adopt a positive, flexible and realistic approach to business development in the borough and this is reflected in this Plan. Part of Bexley is situated within Thames Gateway and the Council is well placed in terms of potential land availability and access to the major road network to contribute to the major objective of redressing the imbalance between east and west London. Through its own road building programme and in conjunction with those of the Government and Kent County Council, access to the northern industrial areas of the borough should be greatly improved during the next decade and, in anticipation of this, the Plan identifies nearby sites for job creating development. The Plan takes into account the importance of sport and recreational facilities, including playing fields.
4.16 Nearly all the land available for development for industry and commerce in the borough during the Plan period is situated in Thames Gateway. Taking into account national and regional policy guidance, the Council reviewed the supply of industrial land in relation to the anticipated demand during the life of the Plan both prior to the adoption of the 1996 Plan and again as part of the 2000 review of the Plan. This was in order to reconcile the anticipated need for industrial land with the competing demands for other forms of development and for the protection of the environment. Five areas originally allocated as sites within preferred industrial locations in the Bexley Borough Plan were reallocated for other uses in the 1996 Plan and have subsequently been redeveloped, or in the case of land at Erith Marshes, preserved for open land and nature conservation. No further industrial land was reallocated for other uses following the 2000 review, except for boundary updates to reflect developments that have already taken place. This is because surveys showed a strong demand for land for industry and warehousing which would mean that current available land would be taken up before the end of the Plan period. Including previously developed industrial land that has come forward for redevelopment, approximately 69 hectares of industrial land were taken up for development between 1992 and 2002. Some 25 hectares of this was previously undeveloped land allocated for industrial purposes. Much of the new development has taken place since 1997, and based on these recent take up rates current land allocations will be exhausted before 2012.
4.17 Appendix I to this Plan gives details of land available for development for industry and commerce as at 2002. It shows that 26 hectares of previously undeveloped land in 1992 remained available for development ten years later. It also shows that land available for industry and commerce has been supplemented as previously developed land became available for redevelopment and intensification of use. This process is likely to continue throughout the Plan period, but the remaining large, undeveloped sites present a rare opportunity to create modern business park developments. Most of the land remaining to be developed is in the Belvedere Employment Area, identified by the Government as part of a zone of change within Thames Gateway with potential for employment growth. Taken together this land is sufficient to meet the needs of industry and commerce in the borough. The development of this land should also contribute to the goal of reducing the need for longer distance commuting to work, in the interests of the conservation of energy resources and as encouraged by Government policy.
4.18 These areas are mostly far enough away from housing to avoid any significant environmental impact and, with planned road improvements, will be well-served by primary and secondary roads. Consequently the policies in this Plan make sites in Thames Gateway available for a wide range of employment uses with only local limitations where it is necessary to protect residential amenities or where there are local access difficulties.
4.19 There is a limited supply of land for industry and commerce in the southern end of the borough compared with the north, it being located primarily at the Foots Cray Business Area and Sidcup Town Centre. At Sidcup Town Centre the priority given in the Plan to retail uses and the character of the area act so as to constrain the scope for industrial and commercial development. The Council notes the area's locational advantages, having ready access to the A20 with good links to the strategic road network serving London, the M20 which links directly to the Channel Tunnel and the M25 serving the Home Counties and beyond. The Foots Cray Business Area does, however, adjoin residential areas. Policy E6 in Part 2 of this Plan sets out the limited circumstances where storage and distribution and general industry may be allowed, so as to protect residential amenity.
4.20 The London Planning Advisory Committee's Housing Capacity Study (1998/1999) showed that London has capacity for 579,000 dwellings in the period 1992 to 2016. The LPAC Study identified Bexley Borough as contributing 5,320 dwellings towards this capacity in the period 1997-2016. The LPAC Study capacity figures for London as a whole have been adopted in Regional Planning Guidance for the South East (2001) The local element of the London-wide capacity is, therefore, an appropriate dwelling figure to adopt.
4.21 Progress towards achieving additional dwellings in the borough is shown in Appendices F1 and F2, which form part of this reasoned justification. This statement of 'dwelling provision' is derived from an ongoing assessment of dwelling numbers in terms of completions, under construction, planning permissions and Development Plan allocations. Only dwellings completed since 1997 or reasonably capable of completion by 31st December 2016 are included.
4.22 Appendix F1 shows totals for the main types of dwelling provision described above, together with allowances for the contribution from conversions and smaller sites (fewer than ten dwellings). The allowances are based on historic completions.
4.23 Appendix F2 details site-by-site the land supply elements of Appendix F1 for the large (10 or more dwellings) sites, that is planning permissions and development plan allocations. No such site‑by‑site details are provided for dwellings completed or under construction as these are matters of fact rather than policy, but where a site is only partially complete or under construction, the other elements are included in Appendix F2.
4.24 It is anticipated that land for additional dwellings will become available as 'windfalls', perhaps as a consequence of school land being declared surplus to requirements or through the resolution of constraints on sites excluded from Appendix F2. These sites should be the subject of regular monitoring and future reviews of the Plan.
4.25 From the above analysis, the Council is confident that a further 5,320 dwellings can be accommodated in the Borough in the period 1997-2016 whilst giving adequate protection to the character of established residential areas and without unsatisfactory incursions into open land. There is a range of sizes and the types of location identified and this, together with the overall quantity of dwelling provision, should adequately meet the needs of the local economy. The Council estimates that over 70% of additional dwellings have been and will be developed on previously developed land and progress will be monitored.
4.26 The Plan takes into account the importance of sports and recreational facilities, including playing fields. In accordance with PPG17, policies are included to safeguard against development land of recreational value where a demand for recreational use can be demonstrated. In this connection, the Council has carried out an assessment of local user requirements and revised its recreational policies in the light of new evidence.
4.27 The design, construction and layout of new development will have an important influence on the appearance and convenience of people's surroundings and decisions made now will have implications lasting well into the century. The Council attaches high priority to the environment and is determined that standards of design and layout in the borough are set at a high level and applied to all development. Policy G7 establishes this general policy. The scale and character of new development in relation to existing development and the natural environment are material considerations, which the Council must take into account when determining planning applications. Planning Policy Guidance Note 1 encourages good design and advises planning authorities to reject obviously poor designs, which are out of scale or character with their surroundings.
4.28 Policy G8 is intended to safeguard flood defences against unsuitable development and minimise the risks of flooding from the Thames and its tributaries. Floods, even when limited in depth or extent, can cause rapid and severe damage to homes, streets and workplaces. They can bring about personal hardship, disrupt travel and increase danger to public health and safety. Unless carefully sited and detailed with attenuation or storage run-off, new developments can exacerbate problems of flooding through an increase in surface water run‑off and reduction in floodwater storage. The effectiveness of the River Thames flood defences could also be prejudiced by development next to the river wall. The Council will consult the Environment Agency and have regard to its advice on run-off control and flood defences.
4.29 Policy G9 reiterates the responsibility of the Council under the Town and Country Planning Act and the Race Relations Act, to have regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity and good race relations, in carrying out its functions. This is in accordance with Government Guidance and represents one of the fourfold visions for London set out in Section 3.3 of this Plan.
Policies relating to the physical structure of the borough
4.30 Policies G10 to G15 are concerned with the physical structure of the borough and should enable the Council to guide development or land use change to the areas where it can best meet the Council's strategic objectives.
4.31 Policy G10 refers to the Thames Gateway initiative and is included in the emerging strategic and regional policy for the South East. Bexley has an important role to play in contributing to the potential to achieve a balance of development and environmental enhancement. The Thamesmead East ward has retained its Assisted Area status. On certain sites, achieving successful development can be hindered or considerably lengthened by relatively minor land interests. It is therefore suggested that limited powers, possibly on a site-specific basis, would be appropriate to help facilitate the kinds of development that the Thames Gateway strategy will require if it is to achieve its objectives.
4.32 The environment of the Bexley part of Thames Gateway varies. However there is clearly a need for further resources to be directed at programmes of environmental enhancement and improvement to ensure the overall image of the Gateway is improved if significant amounts of investment are to be achieved. Bexley's award-winning Environmental Improvements in Industrial Areas scheme continues to show what can be achieved. Accordingly, it is important that selective development incentives, together with other funding, especially from the European Union, should be sought to help fund the range of environmental and infrastructure improvements that are fundamental to the achievement of the Thames Gateway strategy.
4.33 National policy and Strategic Guidance affirms that existing town centres should continue to be the main focus for the provision of shopping facilities. Town centres and neighbourhood centres also provide a focus for other services catering for the surrounding communities. In reviewing its shopping and town centre policies, the Council has taken the view that the needs of the borough can best be met by promoting Bexleyheath as the borough's strategic centre, four other centres, Erith, Sidcup, Welling and Crayford as major district centres and other district and neighbourhood centres. Policy G11 identifies these centres and detailed policies for them are elaborated in Part Two. The Government recognises the importance of maintaining the vitality and viability of existing centres because they are accessible both to drivers and their passengers and to other road users, including people who use public transport. Ongoing investment and enhancement are required if town centres are to maintain their role. In addition to the role of retailing activity in contributing to economic regeneration, there are economic benefits in clustering facilities so that local businesses gain benefits of competition and mutual support. The following uses that will normally be considered appropriate in town centres include:
- Shops (UC Class A1)
- Restaurants, public houses and take-away hot food shops (UC Class A3)
- Financial and professional services (UC A2)
- Business class (UC Class B1)
- Assembly and leisure (UC Class D2)
- Residential (UC Classes C2 and C3)
- Non-residential institutions (UC Class D1)
This list is not prescriptive nor is it exhaustive. The Council will seek to retain existing uses in these centres, whether or not the use falls within the Use Classes identified, provided that the use contributes positively to the function and character of any individual town centre.
4.34 Policy G11 accordingly states the Council's intention to resist any out‑of‑centre proposals that would undermine them. The Council nevertheless recognises the need to provide for some out‑of‑centre retailing to give shoppers choice and to accommodate those kinds of outlet that cannot easily be provided in a town centre. Provision for these is made in the Plan. In assessing the impact of shopping proposals on the vitality and viability of existing centres, the Council will be concerned with the impacts on the centres as a whole, except where developments are likely to lead to the disappearance of food retailing. In those circumstances the Council will have regard to the implications for maintaining the quality and accessibility of shopping, particularly for the less mobile.
4.35 Policies G12 and G13 provide for the safeguarding, against inappropriate development, of the Metropolitan Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land. The Metropolitan Green Belt is a long‑standing and essential element of planning policy to which the Government has attached great importance. Its functions are:
- to check the unrestricted sprawl of London;
- to prevent the merging of settlements within the Green Belt;
- to safeguard an area of mainly open countryside around London, for the enjoyment of its residents and those of settlements within the Green Belt; and
- to assist urban regeneration.
In Bexley, the Green Belt is particularly important in maintaining the break between the outer edge of London's built‑up area and the settlements of Joyce Green, Dartford, Joydens Wood and Swanley. It also enhances the setting of Bexley Village. It is the Government's intention, as set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 2, to strictly restrain development within the Green Belt and this is reflected in Policy G12 and Policies ENV2, ENV3 and ENV4 in Chapter 5.
4.36 The functions of Metropolitan Open Land are:
- to contribute to the physical structure or character of London by providing attractive breaks in the built‑up area;
- to accommodate open air facilities (especially for leisure, recreation and sport) for the people of the whole of London or this part of it; and
- to safeguard features or landscape of historic, recreational, nature conservation or scientific interest worthy of protection on account of their value nationally or to the whole or part of London.
RPG3 states that the presumption against development within the Metropolitan Green Belt applies equally to Metropolitan Open Land. Policy G13 and Policy ENV15 in Chapter 5 reaffirm the accepted uses on and status of Metropolitan Open Land.
4.37 The Council is fully committed to the Government's policy of preserving and enhancing both Metropolitan Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land and the policies in this Plan are consistent with this objective. In each case, the boundaries have been reviewed and minor, detailed changes made aimed at giving a permanent, logical and defensible boundary. In accordance with RPG3, the Plan sets out acceptable uses and the policies that would normally apply to development in these areas.
4.38 RPG3 calls upon boroughs to adopt a positive, flexible and realistic approach to business development in London. It considers it important to foster economic growth and development while taking careful account of the impact on the environment and on transport and encourages London boroughs to ensure a wide range of well‑serviced and accessible accommodation is available for job‑creating development. Policy G14 sets out the Council's approach to this, which is amplified in Chapters 7 and 12 of this Plan. Primary Employment Areas include the main industrial areas of the borough and the main locations where land has been identified as available for employment-creating uses. By encouraging existing firms to expand in situ in these areas and other firms to locate in them, the most effective use can be made of planned road and infrastructure improvements. By this means the environment of shopping, recreational and residential areas can be protected.
4.39 Secondary Employment Areas are defined in recognition that local, easily accessible employment opportunities are required in addition to the main employment areas, where businesses need to be close to their customers.
4.40 The Preferred Office Location notation applies to sites that are suitable for office development in the borough. This policy is consistent with PPG12, which requires local planning authorities to provide for choice, flexibility and competition, to enable the market to work efficiently. By providing for a number of acceptable office locations, the opportunity is presented for more jobs whilst having regard to environmental safeguards. For the purposes of this policy and Policy E15 in Part Two of the Plan, a small-scale office building is defined as one which is compatible in design, scale and layout with its surroundings.
4.41 PPG12 requires that development plans must include land use policies and proposals for the improvement of the physical environment. Policies should aim to protect and enhance those aspects of the environment regarded as being of high quality and improve areas of poor environment. In a suburban borough such as Bexley, housing is the predominant land use and policies for the protection, enhancement or improvement of housing areas will play an important part in the overall strategy. The Council's approach to this, set out in Policy G15, is to define areas for primarily residential use, wherein only uses and development appropriate to a residential district will normally be accepted. By this means, the future housing needs of the borough may be met without compromising the quality of housing areas both now and in the future. Uses appropriate to a residential district will normally include uses such as recreational open space, allotments, schools, local shops and services and local community facilities, as well as housing. New business and commercial uses will only be acceptable in areas designated for primarily residential use where they are of a scale appropriate to a residential area and they would not adversely affect residential amenity or the character of an area. Policy E1 sets out specific criteria that will need to be satisfied by industrial and commercial proposals.
Policies relating to transport and accessibility
4.42 The Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997 places a statutory obligation on the Council to undertake a review of the existing and forecast levels of traffic on local roads and to prepare a report. This report will be prepared when the Mayor of London issues directions or guidance on its preparation, in accordance with the Greater London Authority Act 1999. The report will specify targets and time scales and will define the baseline data to be used and the action to be taken to achieve the targets. These may relate to the whole or parts of the borough, particular time of day, classes (vehicle) of traffic and particular types (commuter, school journeys, etc) of traffic. The criteria to be considered will include: making roads safer; improving local amenity; reducing congestion; benefiting the local economy; or improving air quality.
4.43 Policy G16 sets out the Councils approach to road traffic reduction. The Council supports the principle of traffic reduction and the need to reduce traffic congestion and pollution. However it recognises that this will not be easy in the short term for an outer London Borough like Bexley in view of its high and growing car ownership, relatively poor public transport and its proximity to competing areas outside London that are not subject to the same targets or standards. Policies set out in this UDP will contribute to a reduction in the rate of growth of traffic but current Council policy on traffic reduction is: Initially the Council aims to stabilise road traffic in the borough and will consider proposals for achieving actual reductions in road traffic levels in the longer term.
4.44 Policy G17 indicates how the Council will adopt Policies which contribute to the transport strategy set out in the White Paper A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone and the Revision to Planning Policy Guidance Note (PPG) 13: Transport. The road network will be unable to cope with unrestrained growth of traffic in addition to new traffic from development. It will therefore be necessary to reduce the need to travel and to encourage the use of more sustainable means of transport. Development will need to provide the opportunity to easy access by a range of transport modes and will have to make adequate provision for all means of transport.
4.45 The Council will implement strategies that will maximise the choice of modes available and will introduce measures to make it safer and easier to use them. Particular emphasis will be given to public transport, walking and cycling.
4.46 PPG12 stipulates that Part One of a UDP should specify the network of major roads of more than local importance. This should include all roads, including Strategic Roads, in the national Primary Route Network agreed with the Department for Transport. It should also set out any major improvements to the network proposed by the Council as local highway authority and its broad policy on priorities for minor improvements. This is in order that the need for strategic local road schemes can be investigated as part of the preparation of the Plan. Strategic Guidance also recommends that in preparing UDPs, London boroughs should classify roads according to their function in the local hierarchy of primary, secondary, local distributors and local access roads. The classification has been reviewed and is set out in Policy G18. The road network shown on the Proposals Map takes account of planned road proposals and improvements. It may be necessary to change the status of some parts of the network if and when other schemes go ahead. In addition, traffic studies have shown that traffic and environmental problems in Crayford are, in part, a consequence of a designated road, the A223/A2000, passing through Crayford town centre. The Council intends to investigate measures to overcome these problems and it will seek the removal of the current designated road status of the A223/A2000 from Bourne Road to Perry Street.
4.47 Under the Road Traffic Act 1991, a network of priority routes was designated for London. Roads designated in Bexley were the A2 Rochester Way and that part of the A20 Sidcup bypass between the Bexley/Greenwich border and Crittalls Corner.
4.48 Policy G19 reinforces the strategic London road network by supporting improved Strategic and designated roads and, in so doing, aids the efficient functioning of London's road hierarchy. Strategic Guidance encourages the fullest use of the strategic road network in preference to alternative routes through unsuitable streets and residential areas, and acknowledges that private cars predominate as the main means of travelling in outer London. Strategic Guidance recognises the beneficial effect of good transport systems for economic growth. This includes providing through traffic with good alternative routes around London linking national and international networks. As selective improvements of the strategic London road network, the schemes supported by Policy G19 encourage use of the network and improve access from east London to and from the M25, so reflecting the above terms of Strategic Guidance.
4.49 Strategic Guidance recognises that policies aimed at improving the attractiveness of east London can help redress the imbalance of development pressures between west and east London. All the identified improvements in Policy G19 act in support of this objective. The Council is also seeking to support, through this policy, SERPLAN's strategy for the East Thames Corridor (now known as Thames Gateway). SERPLAN identified the East Thames Corridor as the principal area in the east of the region in need of and with scope for urban renewal and development. They went further in specifying the London end of the East Thames Corridor as the focus for infrastructure development and for the encouragement of economic development, given that this area has the greatest need for regeneration and offers the main development opportunities. SERPLAN pick out the improvement of the South Thames Development Route between Thamesmead and the M25 at Dartford as being a transport scheme of particular strategic importance, given the development opportunities in the vicinity, the need for a further crossing of the Thames to link areas of the East Thames Corridor and the significance of this route relative to the A13.
4.50 The South Thames Development Route (STDR): The improvement of the STDR between the M25 and Thamesmead consists primarily of the construction of dual carriageways. Recently completed sections include Bronze Age Way, Queens Road and University Way, leaving only the Thames Road section in Crayford to be completed. This will then become a high quality route for traffic from Thamesmead, Belvedere, Erith and Crayford, both to the M25 and to central, southeast and north‑east London. It is thus an important connection for existing industrial areas with considerable growth potential. The proposed London river crossings and STDR are vital elements of the Council's planning strategy for the northern part of the borough, where the major industrial and residential development opportunities are located. Aside from their other benefits, they have been and will continue to be an important incentive to the development and revitalisation of this part of Thames Gateway.
4.51 Thames Road improvements: The Council has commissioned studies into the future capacity of Thames Road between Northend Road and University Way and investigated the need for it to be dualled. Planning permission has been granted for the improvement of the road to dual carriageway and a junction improvement has already taken place, associated with redevelopment of the adjacent site.
4.52 Although the proposed London river crossings will provide a high quality north‑south route to the west of the borough, there remains a need to complete a route to a similar standard on the east side. The A223 north‑south link between the A2 and A20 through the Cray Valley is of a high standard, except through Old Bexley. The construction of the Bexley bypass will facilitate north‑south movement in the borough by completing the improved route between the A2 and A20. It will also relieve Old Bexley Conservation Area of much heavy traffic enabling environmental improvements to take place.
4.53 In accordance with PPG12, Policy G20 sets out the Council's broad approach to minor road improvements, consistent with their function in the road network defined in Policy G18. In general and in accordance with Government guidelines, road improvements will be concentrated on secondary roads in order to secure their effective use or to relieve the burden on local roads. In the case of local traffic routes, local congestion and traffic hazards will be removed by implementation of minor improvements and junction works.
4.54 The Council is also required to indicate its policies for the management of the road network in this Plan. These are stated in Policy G21 and are consistent with Government objectives as set out in Government Guidance.
4.55 In accordance with Government announcements in March 1993, Policy G22 sets out the general principle of support for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link on its eastern approach to London St. Pancras. However, it is considered that an eastern gateway international station close to the M25 would be of considerable benefit to the economic and development potential of this central part of Thames Gateway, which includes Bexley. The Council also supports the Crossrail proposal (previously Thames Gateway Metro), based on heavy rail, which would link the North Kent line (Dartford - Erith - Abbey Wood - Woolwich Arsenal) to the Royal Docks and Stratford via a Thames crossing between Woolwich Arsenal and Silvertown / North Woolwich. The additional accessibility for the Thamesmead / Belvedere / Erith area, arising from additional use of this North Kent line and its stations affords the opportunity to link areas of Bexley closer to the recent and planned developments in the Royal Docks and Stratford. Equally, it will improve the accessibility of employment areas in this part of Bexley to potential recruitment from a wider labour market area, thereby improving their attraction for existing and future employers making their investment and location decisions. Of the various station location options, a station at Ebbsfleet on the Dartford/Gravesham boundary is favoured as it offers the best opportunity for direct benefit to parts of Bexley with economic and employment opportunities. Furthermore, this station offers the prospect of the Crossrail proposal feeding into an international rail interchange and thereby providing improved connections between the north of this borough and continental Europe.
4.56 Policy G23 sets out the general principles and aims of the Councils parking policies. Levels of parking provision can have a significant influence on the means of travel that people choose to make their journeys, particularly for journeys to work. It can also affect traffic congestion and environmental standards. By regulating the number of available parking spaces, the Council will play its part in encouraging: more people to use public transport, walking and cycling, in preference to the car; development to be located in more accessible locations; and helping to improve public transport. Developers will not be expected to provide more spaces than they themselves wish unless exceptionally, circumstances suggest otherwise. The approach to parking policy in Bexley is consistent with the Governments national policy guidance. It has regard for local regeneration priorities and the relatively low level of public transport accessibility in much of the borough when compared with other parts of London.
4.57 The Government requires Councils to describe in Unitary Development Plans their policies for traffic management and parking. The policies in the two previous local plans have been reviewed and substantially developed in line with Government policy. A major achievement of the Council is in developing and, where appropriate, implementing traffic and environmental management schemes to reduce road accidents in residential streets and improve their environment by removing or discouraging through or extraneous traffic and reducing traffic speeds. All schemes for traffic management in areas designated for primarily residential use will be developed after a period of local public consultation. Parking policies and standards, too, have been modified in the light of recent experience and the enforcement of parking regulations has become more effective since powers were transferred to the Council from the Metropolitan Police.
Other strategic policies
4.58 Policy G24 is concerned with the promotion of the borough as a centre of industrial and business growth. Most of the Primary Employment Areas identified on the Proposals Map are located within Thames Gateway and can contribute to redressing the imbalance between economic growth in the east of the southeast region compared with the west. These areas are well placed to benefit from planned road, railway and infrastructure improvements that will foster economic growth, in particular the proposed river crossings and associated approach roads and the South Thames Development Route. Besides this sub‑regional dimension, Policy G24 will contribute to the objectives of sustaining the local economy and providing jobs for those seeking to work locally and, by this means, should reduce the need for commuting.
4.59 Associated with the promotion of local employment is the growing dependence of businesses and households on telecommunications. This is addressed in Policy G25, which recognises the need or desire for telecommunications equipment to support individual businesses or households and to improve wider services, e.g. to mobile phone users. Whilst accepting the need or desire for such equipment, the Council also recognises that it could be visually intrusive, particularly if located insensitively. It is therefore necessary to balance the impact on the environment with the need for the equipment and to consider all possible solutions, which may serve to minimise any adverse effects.
4.60 A large number of features contribute to the special character of the built and natural environment. Policy G26 identifies the most important of these in Bexley. These cover natural features such as the River Thames, the Cray Valley and Abbey Ridge and areas of ecological importance and built elements such as the borough's heritage of archaeological sites and buildings of architectural and historic interest. Whilst the Council is concerned to protect the environment as a whole, these elements make a special contribution or are especially vulnerable or sensitive to land use change and development. They, therefore, require special treatment in the Plan. Part Two of the Plan sets out detailed policies for these features.
4.61 Open spaces and playing fields that are developed for housing and other built development are generally lost forever. These are often important to the environmental quality of the borough and very careful consideration needs to be given before a decision is made to release open land for other uses. The policies for the Metropolitan Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land safeguard open land of importance to London as a whole. Policy G27 aims to safeguard other open spaces, which are important at the borough level both as recreational resources and in terms of their environmental value as areas of open land.
4.62 Tourism is an important industry in London. The completion of the Channel Tunnel and the removal of political and legal obstacles to trade and travel throughout Europe will place particular pressures on Kent and southeast London. Policy G28 recognises that Bexley has a part to play in providing for the predicted increase in tourism activity in this part of London. The Government favours the development of new hotel accommodation; tourist facilities and attractions in appropriate locations and boroughs are urged to make provision for this in UDPs. Bexley is well placed to provide for some of London's tourist needs located, as it is, on the closest edge of London to the A2 and A20 trunk roads from the channel ports and Channel Tunnel and only a short distance from the M25. In doing so, regard will be paid to the effects of tourist‑related facilities on residential areas to ensure that new development is consistent with maintaining high standards of residential amenity and protecting the character of an area.
4.63 Policy G29 acknowledges the need to encourage the provision of new leisure and recreational facilities in the borough, particularly where there are existing shortfalls. This is supported by Strategic Planning Guidance for London and is required both to contribute to the quality of life in the borough and in order to provide opportunities for better access to these facilities.
4.64 Policies G30 and G31. Minerals Planning Guidance Note 1 requires that UDPs should, where appropriate, set out the authority's strategy for mineral working and related development taking account of national and regional policy and of Strategic Guidance issued by the Secretary of State. Most workable mineral reserves in the borough have been exhausted and those that remain are mainly in areas of higher-grade agricultural or recreational land. Mineral workings can have widespread effects on public amenity and safety and on the appearance of the countryside. The purpose of Policy G30 is to minimise the impacts of mineral working in accordance with the overall objectives of the Plan. Policy G31 accords with Strategic Guidance, which calls upon local authorities to identify areas for mineral working or where mineral resources are to be safeguarded against surface development.
4.65 Policy G32 The National Waste Strategy and PPG10 stress the importance of close liaison between WPAs and the Environment Agency to ensure that the Government's sustainable waste management principles are met. Waste strategies for London and for the southeast will provide the regional overview, which WPAs should take into consideration when determining applications and in preparing and reviewing waste management policies in development plans. The National Strategy for Waste for England and Wales 2000 sets out the Governments vision for changing the way waste and resources are managed, reducing waste and increasing recycling and waste recovery. Policy G32 reflects the principles of the national strategy as they apply to new development for waste management facilities in Bexley. All proposals should take account of the need to demonstrate the best practicable environmental option, the proximity principle and the waste hierarchy as set out in the National Waste Strategy 2000.
4.66 Policy G33 The Council is a waste collection and waste disposal authority responsible for disposing of the municipal waste arising in the borough. In addition, the Council is a Waste Planning Authority (WPA), with responsibility for planning control over waste management. It is the responsibility of the WPA to ensure that there is an adequate planning framework to facilitate the establishment by the waste management industry of appropriate facilities and to balance this provision with the need to protect the environment. Policy G32 sets the broad framework for planning and development control locally, in accordance with PPG10. Detailed policies in Part Two provide the means by which proposals may be assessed to be in accordance with the Government's sustainable waste management principles of Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO), hierarchy of waste management options and the proximity principle.
4.67 The proximity principle states that waste should be dealt with as near as practicable to its place of production. The waste hierarchy suggests that the most effective environmental solution is to reduce the amount of waste generated but where further reduction is not practicable, waste should be recovered to use again. If this is not possible, the hierarchy suggests waste should be recycled or composted or used for energy recovery. Only if none of these options is possible should it be disposed. In London, the Mayor has prepared a Municipal Waste Management Strategy (2003) but this was not available to inform the review of this UDP in 2000. IT is the Mayors intention to develop the land use requirements of his Waste Strategy through the Sub Regional Development Frameworks. Until these are produced the Council will need to liase closely with national bodies such as the Environment Agency and regional interests such as the Mayor and Greater London Authority to ensure a co-ordinated approach across the region.
4.68 Policy G34 The Council recognises that a range of air, noise, land and water pollution issues are of increasing concern to borough residents. The Council will, therefore, in general, not permit developments that will have an adverse impact on the environment in terms of pollution of all kinds, to such an extent that there is risk to the quality of life and public health. It is important that full regard is had to the cost to the community of pollution in its various forms. Careful consideration will also be given to the effects on proposed developments of polluted or contaminated land to ensure there is no danger to public safety or health. It is also important that the borough's energy needs are met in an efficient, safe, secure and environmentally‑acceptable way. The Council will seek to ensure that proposals for development achieve energy efficiency and conservation with the use of appropriate technology. The conservation of energy is a key Government objective which local planning authorities are asked to address in their development plans.
Monitoring and review
4.69 Policy G35 Local planning authorities are required to keep under review the matters which may be expected to affect the development of their area and or its planning. The former London Planning Advisory Committee (LPAC) established an annual monitor of trends in London, bearing particularly on strategic planning policy for London as a whole. This responsibility has now passed to the Mayor and Greater London Authority. It is the Councils intention to prepare an annual monitoring report to assess the degree to which the Plans objectives have been achieved at any point in time and to monitor local conditions against London-wide trends and issues identified by the GLAs monitoring. This will enable the Council to respond quickly to changing circumstances. In particular, the following matters will be monitored:
- the implications for the plan of any developments or updates of strategic planning guidance in London, Regional Strategic Guidance and Government circulars and Planning Policy Guidance Notes;
- any future Government initiatives to encourage regeneration in Thames Gateway;
- the implications for housing policy of new forecasts in the number and type of households and changing demands for housing;
- trends in the local economy arising from Londons national and international role, structural changes in Londons economy and the implications of the single European market;
- trends in retailing and the implications for the borough's shopping centres;
- the supply and take up of land for housing and employment generating uses, and in particular progress towards the target of an additional 5,320 dwellings between 1997-2016;
- progress towards the achievements of the environmental objectives of the Plan; and
- the need for and provision of affordable housing, by type of affordable housing, number of units, size and as a percentage of total number of units built.
Departures from the Plan
4.70 In 1991 Parliament underlined the role of development plans in providing guidance, incentive and control by amending the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The amendment requires all development control decisions to accord with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. This Plan, therefore, provides the main component in the plan‑led planning system introduced by the amended 1990 Act. This Council is firmly committed to the strategy set out in this Plan and to the policies for its achievement, which have been arrived at after a long period of public debate and scrutiny. Policy G36 accordingly states that the Council will not normally grant planning permission for developments that would substantially conflict with the Plan.
4.71 All proposals substantially in conflict with the Plan must be advertised locally for public comment. In exceptional circumstances, the Council may be minded to set aside the Plan where a policy is no longer relevant because of changed circumstances or where there are significant benefits to the community in allowing a development to proceed, with no significant disbenefits. Where these are also in conflict with Government guidelines, Regulations provide for their referral to the Secretary of State.