Site Specific Allocations

Adopted January 2011

5. Halesworth Area

Introduction

Halesworth Town Sign.jpg5.1 Halesworth is located on the southern boundary of the District, on a tributary to the River Blyth. It is surrounded by gently rolling agricultural land. Halesworth serves as a small market town and shopping centre for a large rural hinterland. The population of the town is 4,870 (2007).

5.2 To the east of Halesworth is the larger village of Holton with a population of 820 (2007). Within the village are limited services and facilities, however, the gradual expansion of Halesworth has led to an almost continuous built up area between the two centres.

5.3 The historic core of the town is dominated by the pedestrianised Thoroughfare and the Market Place. The remainder of the town is largely residential in character. The historic town centre is part of the Conservation Area which places limitations on future development in the centre of the town. This townscape has evolved over time since the Saxon era and its development has led to a street layout that does not easily accommodate vehicular traffic.

5.4 The linear growth pattern of the town has been shaped by environmental constraints. To the west is the Tin River and its tributaries. The area is also prone to flooding as has been identified in the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (2008).

5.5 The town has the busy A144 London Road running through its centre, which connects the town to the A12 in the south and Bungay in the north. Regular buses run along this road, providing links to both Lowestoft, Southwold and surrounding villages. The B1123 also links Halesworth to the A12 at Blythburgh. Halesworth is also connected to Lowestoft and Ipswich by a train service. Trains currently depart in each direction every two hours. An hourly service to both of these destinations will be introduced once the Beccles rail loop has been completed.

Delivering the Core Strategy Vision for the Halesworth Area

5.6 The Core Strategy vision for Halesworth is for the town to become more self-contained. This means that the town will increasingly be able to meet the needs of the local community and some of the surrounding villages in Waveney, Suffolk Coastal and Mid Suffolk districts. As part of this vision, the town will experience some employment, residential and retail development. Improved playing field and community facility provision are also a key part of achieving the vision.

5.7 Public consultations undertaken during the preparation of the Site Specific Allocations documents have been crucial in identifying local issues and addressing how these can be met over the life of the Local Development Framework.

Residential Development
5.8 Policies CS01: Spatial Strategy and CS11: Housing of the Core Strategy indicate that Halesworth will accommodate a relatively large proportion of the total housing growth in the market towns from 2001 to 2025, due to the brownfield development opportunities. Previously developed land will be the priority for housing development.

5.9 A number of the brownfield sites that are known to exist are small sites or sites that can otherwise not be allocated for housing in this Development Plan Document. A proportion of the housing growth in the District is therefore expected to be delivered on these windfall sites. The Core Strategy makes an allowance for an annual supply of windfall sites in the later phases of the plan period for the market towns.

5.10 The Waveney Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2007) suggests a general need for smaller dwellings in the Halesworth area, in particular 2 and 3 bedroom terraced properties and flats. There is also an unmet need for 2 and 3 bedroom affordable homes plus a small number of 3 and 4 bedroom properties.

5.11 As identified in Core Strategy Policy CS01: Spatial Strategy, smaller settlements in the Halesworth area, including the larger village of Holton, may be appropriate locations for small developments of affordable housing where a local need is demonstrated. At the current time, no local housing needs assessments have been undertaken to demonstrate a local need for affordable housing in these villages. As a result, it is not proposed that specific sites are identified or allocated.

Thoroughfare Halesworth.jpg5.12 The Council has already made good progress towards meeting the target for housing delivery in the District. Locations for 245 new homes have already been identified, with 175 completed, in Halesworth between 2001 and 2009. A further 13 new dwellings have been identified in Holton during this period.

5.13 This document allocates land for approximately 90 additional dwellings in Halesworth for the period to 2025 through two sites. Dairy Hill (HAL3) is allocated for housing and development on this site will help to fund improved playing field provision at an alternative location. The location for new playing fields has yet to be determined due to difficulties in identifying an accessible and available site. Dairy Farm (HAL4) will provide housing close to the town centre and well connected to existing shops and facilities. It is envisaged that housing development here will contribute to new community facilities on the northern half of this site.

Industrial Development
5.14 Halesworth is a significant centre of employment for the surrounding area. The town has two industrial estates: one at Blyth Road to the southeast of the town, the other to the west of the Norwich Road (A144) on the northern edge of the town.

5.15 Core Strategy Policy CS07 identifies a shortage of industrial land, reflecting the findings of the Employment Land Study (2006). There are limited opportunities for industrial development close to the town centre. As a result, industrial land allocations will be located at the edge of the town. HAL1 (2.62 hectares) is part of an existing allocation carried over from the Waveney Interim Local Plan (May 2004), while HAL2 (9.63 hectares) is located directly to the north, bordering the A144 Norwich Road. Together, these will form an extension to the existing Norwich Road Industrial Estate.

Retail Development
5.16 Halesworth is a small retail centre with a range of mostly independent shops selling food and everyday items to residents and those from surrounding areas. The Halesworth Town Centre Retail Needs and Opportunity Sites Assessment (January 2010) identified capacity for limited retail development over the course of the current plan period to 2021. However, encouraging a greater level of self containment for the town and attracting residents who normally travel elsewhere to shop in Halesworth, would increase local demand and need for retail development. The findings of the assessment indicate that a small supermarket (i.e. up to approximately 1000 sqm net) adjacent to the main shopping area could act as an anchor to attract customers to the town, who would then visit existing shops in the Thoroughfare. This approximate figure reflects the flexibility to respond to changing economic circumstances recommended in the Halesworth Needs Assessment and required in PPS4 (Planning for Sustainable Economic Growth, 2009). There might also be capacity for retail outlets selling comparison (non food) items, although the exact type and nature of these outlets will be subject to market demand during the life of the Local Development Framework.

5.17 To have a beneficial effect on the town centre, new retail development should be located within or very close to the town centre. The Retail Needs and Opportunity Sites Assessment identified the site between the Thoroughfare and Saxons Way as the sequentially preferable site for future retail development. Delivery on this site should therefore be fully investigated before considering alternative sites for retail use.

5.18 There is already an extant outline planning permission for a retail food store, with a gross internal area floorspace that shall not exceed 2000m2, on the site between the Thoroughfare and Saxons Way which has not yet been developed. The site lies in part within flood zone 3. Development of this site will require further discussions with the Environment Agency to ensure that any development proposals are compliant with Planning Policy Statement 25: Development and Flood Risk.

5.19 The site is situated within the Halesworth Conservation Area. New retail development on this site must therefore be of a high quality and respect the character of the surrounding historic townscape.

Community Facilities
5.20 The vision for Halesworth, as reflected in Core Strategy Policies CS14: Culture and CS04: Infrastructure, refers to the need for additional playing fields and a community centre/multi-agency Customer Access Centre in Halesworth. Both Halesworth Playing Fields Association and the District Council, through the Pitch and Non-Pitch Sport Assessment (2002) have drawn attention to serious shortages of playing pitches in the town. For example, local sports clubs are concerned about having to train and play matches at locations outside Halesworth, often as far away as Kirkley in Lowestoft and Beccles. Halesworth serves a wide area in terms of community and recreation facilities. However, consultation responses, as well as other surveys of local residents, have indicated a high level of dissatisfaction with both community facilities and sports field provision. Residents have clearly stated that the condition of the Rifle Hall is unsatisfactory and that a more modern and adaptable facility is required. There is also the need for improved buildings to accommodate Council offices and voluntary organisations operating in the Halesworth area.

5.21 The following two Site Specific Allocations are designed to enable improved provision of both community facilities and sports fields. HAL4, land at Dairy Farm is allocated for housing and community facilities. It is expected that housing development on the south of this site will help to fund the provision of a new community centre, which will include a Customer Access Centre for voluntary and public sector services.

5.22 HAL3 is the location of the current Dairy Hill Playing Fields. The swimming pool, tennis courts, bowling green, play area and Kuk Sool Won School will remain on the southern half of this site, while the playing fields on the north of this site will be allocated for housing. Development on the playing fields is on the strict proviso that development contributes towards the provision of new and improved playing fields at an alternative location. One possible interim solution is that the Halesworth Playing Fields Association extend their playing field use onto the middle school site playing fields to the the north, should that become available through the School Organisation Review.

Halesworth Area Site Allocations

Halesworth Area Site Allocations.jpg

Halesworth Area Site Allocations Table