5. Economy


Snapshot of the Local Economy

The area has undergone significant employment change over the past 30 years. Although employment in farming has declined, it is still an important element in the local economy. Farmers are facing serious problems due to falling prices, increased competition, the impacts of BSE and the foot and mouth outbreak. Only one coalmine remains, Daw Mill, which employs about 450 workers. 


The majority of employment within the Borough is within the wholesale/retail distribution and public administration sectors. Almost three quarters of the Borough’s businesses are small enterprises employing 1 – 10 employees. 


There has been considerable growth in distributive and service activities. The reclamation of abandoned and derelict land has been key to new employment development over the last 5 years. Hams Hall, the former power station site which has been redeveloped for employment use with its own railhead facility, is typical of this trend. The former Kingsbury Colliery is now Kingsbury Link industrial area, the former Arley Colliery site embraces a concentration of smaller firms and the former Birch Coppice Colliery is at present being redeveloped. Baddesley Colliery site is being marketed for rail based vehicle storage and distribution. 


The unemployment rate in the Borough has fallen slowly over an extended period. It was 2.2% in March 2001 then 1.7% in March 2002 (UK rate 3.1%). This masks small pockets of deprivation in the area. Low skills and pay are particular issues characteristic of employment in the Borough. 


Tourism is an important part of the economy and in 1995/6 one million visitors came into the Borough. Tourists spent a total of £34 million and this supported approximately 1,400 jobs in the Borough. 7 out of 10 of these jobs were full-time posts.


The Borough is served by the M6 and M42 motorways, which together with the A5 afford excellent communication links in all directions. The completion of the M6 Toll Road has further enhanced accessibility. Around 80% of the UK’s population is within a 4 hour lorry drive. The National Exhibition Centre and Birmingham International Airport abut the south west of the Borough and direct motorway links mean that the International Convention Centre and the National Indoor Arena, in the centre of Birmingham, are only 30 minutes away. 


National Context

PPG4: Industrial and Commercial Development and Small Firms (November 1992)

  • Planning Authorities can determine appropriate locations for types of employment
  • Meeting the locational demands of business subject to sustainable transport, avoiding congestion and access to main road network, availability of freight networks

PPS6 Planning for Town Centres (2005)

  • Promotes town centre vitality and viability
  • Promotes sustainable transport choices and mixed use development in town centres
  • Requires adoption of the Sequential Approach to site selection in town centres
  • Identifies typologies for types of centres, types of location and descriptions of types of development

PPS7: Sustainable Development in Rural Areas (2004) 

  • Local Planning Authorities to be supportive of well-conceived farm diversification for business purposes
  • Support for sustainable rural tourism as means of contributing to rural economic activity
  • Economic use promoted as first priority in reuse of rural buildings

PPG13: Transport (March 2001)

  • Promotion of rural employment to reduce out-commuting
  • Encouragement for diversification and investigation of car reliance
  • Small-scale business development or expansion not to be rejected

Rural White Paper (November 2000) - The Rural White Paper has direct implications for the Local Plan:

  • To support and re-establish basic village services such as village shops, post offices, pubs and petrol filling stations
  • The market towns regeneration programme which seeks to build a diverse rural economy that encourages new businesses
  • Supporting farm restructuring and diversification
  • The promotion of Parish Plans

Planning Tomorrow’s Countryside (2000) The Countryside Agency’s document has two overarching principles:

  • That all policies should aim for sustainable development
  • Social, economic and environmental objectives need to be met together and any conflicts reconciled

The document puts forward six propositions for the planning system:

  • Consider what development is needed for the countryside as well as where it should go
  • Integrate policies
  • Use positive objectives as the basis for planning; not ‘predict and provide’
  • Encourage high quality applications: ‘good enough to approve’ rather than ‘bad enough to refuse’
  • Give a positive role to communities and community planning
  • Respect the character of all landscapes, and protect and enhance the best

Regional Context

RSS11: Regional Planning Guidance for the West Midlands (June 2004)

  • Approach focuses on establishment and maintenance of a portfolio of sustainably located employment sites
  • Encourages tourism as means of employment generation
  • Identifies need for rural areas to broaden their economic base
  • Promotes agriculture and farm diversification

The West Midlands Economic Strategy (2004)

  • Objective is to develop a diverse and dynamic economic base with a skilled workforce
  • Looks to create conditions for growth by securing improvements to transport, communication and property infrastructure

Sub regional Context

The Economic Regeneration Strategy for the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Sub-Region 2002 – ‘An Engine for Growth’ - Key strategic priorities for the sub-region are:

  • Continuing prosperity for manufacturing and automotive industry
  • Diversification and modernisation of the economy
  • Tackling uneven prosperity and opportunity

The Warwickshire Structure Plan (August 2001) - The Structure Plan contains a number of policies that address employment issues.

Structure Plan policies form part of the Development Plan as a whole and therefore need to be taken into consideration in new development alongside the Local Plan policies.

Applicable policies are, in summary, as follows:

  • In considering applications support for existing businesses; expansion of the service sector and maximisation of the use of existing industrial land are important (Policy I.1).
  • No further industrial land shall be allocated in North Warwickshire because adequate provision has been brought forward. Development on the 279 hectares allocated between 1996 and 2011 has already commenced or is committed (Policy I.2).
  • District Councils should make provision for sites for small investors (Policy I.3).
  • The ongoing expansion needs of existing businesses should be catered for (Policy I.7).
  • Local Plan policies should support new tourist, leisure and recreation development, where the facility would create new jobs, where there is easy access to main transport routes and where there is the opportunity to use alternative transport to the car (Policy I.8).

Local Strategies

The North Warwickshire Sustainable Community Plan - This overarching plan for the area has ‘The Local Economy’ as one of its 8 themes. Its stated aim is ‘to create a strong and successful local economy where businesses thrive, local people have employment choices suited to their skills and aspirations, and at the same time where support is provided to those who are least well off’.


The four key priorities for the local economy are:

  • North Warwickshire people will benefit from the growth in employment development and diversification in the borough.
  • Regeneration of the market towns of Atherstone, Polesworth and Coleshill, and the rural areas beyond.
  • Tourism will be promoted and developed.
  • A review of derelict, polluted and brownfield land will be carried out and appropriate proposals for regenerating these sites developed.

North Warwickshire Economic Strategy 2003 - 2008 and North Warwickshire Economic Action Plan: The Strategy was published in 2003 and is owned by the Economy Group, one of the themed groups in the North Warwickshire Community Partnership (A Local Strategic Partnership). The Action Plan is revised on an annual basis. The Strategy and Action Plan has 4 key themes:

  • North Warwickshire people will benefit from the growth in and promotion of investment, employment development and diversification in the Borough.
  • The Market Towns of Atherstone, Polesworth and Coleshill and rural areas beyond will be regenerated.
  • Tourism will be developed and promoted throughout the Borough.
  • The Council will, with others, review derelict, polluted and brownfield land and encourage reclamation and re-use.

A Summary of Local Needs and Opportunities

An analysis of the above shows that the overarching issues are market town regeneration, taking advantage of tourism opportunities, agricultural support, farm diversification, the protection of village life and community facilities and the encouragement of local enterprise.


Regional Significant Industrial Estates:

  1. The following sites, identified on the Proposals Map, are employment sites of regional significance:
    • Hams Hall
    • Birch Coppice
  2. Within these sites, development will continue in accordance with extant planning permissions and further development will be permitted only within the context of RSS review.

Industrial Estates

  1. The following existing industrial estates, as identified on the Proposals Map, are the sites designated for local employment purposes to support the functioning of the Main Towns, the Green Belt Market Town and the Local Service Centres:
    • • Holly Lane, Atherstone
    • • Carlyon Road, Ratcliffe Road / Netherwood Estate, Atherstone
    • • Manor Road, Mancetter
    • • Coleshill Industrial Estate
    • • Kingsbury Link
    • • Colliers Way, New Arley.
  2. Class B1(a) office development will not be permitted on any of the identified industrial estates other than where ancillary to classes B1(b), B1(c), B2 or B8 use, and will otherwise be permitted only within the town centre areas defined on the Proposals Map of the Main Towns and the Green Belt Market Town.
  3. Class B1(b) and B1(c) uses will be permitted on the identified industrial estates or where the proposal involves the use of existing commercial land or buildings elsewhere within the development boundaries of the Main Towns and the Green Belt Market Town but only outside their defined town centre boundaries.
  4. Class B2 or B8 uses will be permitted on the identified industrial estates, with the exception of Colliers Way, New Arley, and Manor Road, Mancetter where only class B2 uses will be acceptable. Use of existing commercial land or buildings for such purposes will also be permitted within the development boundaries of the Main Towns and the Green Belt Market Town but outside their defined town centre boundaries provided that the scale and nature of the intended operation would not cause demonstrable harm to residential amenity or to the safe and free flow of traffic on the local road network.

All Sites

  1. In all cases, the quantum of development arising from any expansion, conversion or redevelopment of existing premises will be limited to that provided for by Classes B and D of part 8 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995.

Small Units

  1. Where the redevelopment or refurbishment of an industrial estate is proposed the creation of small industrial units (up to 465 sq m) and their management through s106 agreements will be sought.

Reasoned Justification

Hams Hall, a former power station was granted planning permission as a rail freight terminal, manufacturing and distribution park in 1994. Birch Coppice, a former colliery site was granted permission as an office, industrial and warehousing park in 2000. Both Hams Hall and Birch Coppice are sites of regional significance. However they are not explicitly identified as such within RPG/RSS11 and therefore are not governed by the provisions of policies PA.7-PA.9. Until such time as this is reassessed through the RSS review development will continue to be permitted in line with the conditions of the extant permissions attached to these sites.


A purpose of this policy is to guide employment development (within the limitations set by Core Policy 9) to sustainable locations as outlined in the distribution strategy of Core Policy 2. Reflecting this, employment is provided for Arley at Colliers Way, Baddesley and Grendon at Atherstone and Birch Coppice, Hartshill at Nuneaton and Kingsbury at Kingsbury Link. The policy also seeks to enhance the quality of the portfolio of premises and their environs and encourage small industrial premises. to reflect the recommendations of the Chesterton Report (Industrial and Commercial Building Study - Chesterton, March 2001). 


Any expansion, conversion or redevelopment at sites covered by this policy will be limited to that contained in classes B and D of the GDPO. This is to allow businesses to continue to contribute to the local economy but ensure that there is a cap on the level of over-provision of employment land in the Borough in relation to WASP. 


Land at Birch Coppice, Kingsbury Link and Colliers Way, New Arley are designated Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation. Where development is proposed at these sites reference should therefore be made to policy ENV3. At existing rural industrial estates not specified in this policy, policy ENV7 will apply.

*All references to B1, B2 and B8 uses are explained fully in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 2005.


Land east of Holly Lane, Atherstone, extending to 6.9 hectares as shown on the Proposal Map, is allocated for employment development subject to:

  1. Development being for small B1 (b) and (c) and B2 units up to 465m²;


  1. Expansion for Class B1 (b) and (c) or B2 use for an existing North Warwickshire based company;


  1. Permission will not be granted for development prior to January 2009; and
  2. Land bordering residential properties and on the Holly Lane frontage at the junction of Rowland Way shall be restricted to B1 (b) and (c) use only.

Reasoned Justification

The employment site in this policy is an allocation carried forward from the 1995 Local Plan. It does not therefore add further to the Borough’s over provision of employment land in relation to WASP. The site has however been phased to the post 2009 period of the Plan in response to the existing level of over provision in the Borough. The phased development of the site is also to ensure that employment development takes place on brownfield sites first. 


The 2001 Chesterton Report (Industrial and Commercial Building Study - Chesterton, March 2001). states that there is a lack of good quality small employment units in North Warwickshire. The site has therefore been allocated for small units to improve the portfolio of employment sites available in the Borough.


The restriction to business use along part of the northern boundary is to protect the residents of houses on Holly Lane and Gypsy Lane from noise and disturbance. 


Existing employment sites and buildings within the development boundaries of the Main Towns, the Green Belt Market Town and Local Service Centres will be retained for employment purposes unless:

  1. Redevelopment or re-use is proposed as a mixed use scheme within a town centre defined on the Proposals Map; or
  2. There would be no negative impact on the range or quality of employment sites available in the settlement concerned.

Reasoned Justification

This policy has been written in response to the fact that no new employment land is allocated in the Plan, as outlined in Core Policy 9. It also responds to a need to ensure the retention of a portfolio of employment land and buildings sufficient to meet locally generated needs and to maintain mixed communities in which homes, jobs, services and facilities are provided close together. 


The focus of the policy is the retention of employment sites in the Borough’s Main Towns, the Green Belt Market Town and Local Service Centres. On identified industrial estates policy ECON1 will be applied. In all other locations policies ECON9 and ENV7 will be most relevant. 


The retention of suitable sites for continued employment use should not be perceived as an obstacle to redevelopment and/or the qualitative improvement of such sites. The Council encourages redevelopment and improvement of sites within the constraint of not adding to the supply of employment land which is contrary to WASP policy I.2.


It is not the intention of the policy that all employment sites within the development boundaries of the Main Towns, the Green Belt Market Town and Local Service Centres be retained. There may for example, be cases where the loss of an employment use would not have a harmful impact on the portfolio of sites available in a particular settlement or where the site may be better suited to meet an identified need for community facilities or services. In such cases, proposals will be considered on the basis that the site will be retained in employment use unless clauses (i) and (ii) of the policy are satisfied. In all cases environmental safeguards will be required in accordance with policies ENV11, ENV12, ENV13 and ENV14. 


  1. Employment development which would provide or include office or workshop accommodation suitable for new or small businesses (including managed workspace units) will be welcomed within the Main Towns of Atherstone & Mancetter and Polesworth & Dordon subject to no more than 2000 sq m of new employment floorspace being created within these settlements and where it:
    1. Makes productive use of upper floors above town centre retail premises, provided existing or potential residential accommodation and affordable housing in particular is not thereby displaced; or
    2. Is provided in the form of live/work units.
  2. Elsewhere, the provision of accommodation suitable for new or small businesses will be welcomed where it:
    1. Facilitates the adaptation and re-use of existing rural buildings in accordance with policy ECON9; or
    2. Diversifies and enhances the range of employment opportunities in existing industrial estates listed in policy ECON1, subject to no more than 2000 sq m of new employment floorspace being created within those at Coleshill and the Local Service Centres combined.
  3. In all cases, conditions may be imposed to prevent any subsequent expansion or extension of such accommodation that would result in it no longer being suitable for the provision of managed workspace/starter units in accordance with the terms of this policy.

Reasoned Justification

The need for managed workshops/starter units for new start-up businesses was identified in both the Industrial and Commercial Building Study (Chesterton, March 2001) and the market towns Health Checks of Atherstone and Polesworth (carried out in 2002 under the West Midlands Market Towns Initiative). Managed workshops and starter units will therefore be encouraged to help secure qualitative improvements to the Borough’s existing portfolio of employment sites and premises and their environments. 


Managed workshops and starter units are premises from which small businesses can trade and may include central administration and IT facilities and shared security. Individual units should be no greater than 465 sq metres and ideally less than 93 sq metres in size. Planning conditions may be imposed or Obligations sought to ensure that the size and tenure of the units provided under this policy provide a stock of accommodation suitable for new and small business at various stages in their development.


The total amount of floorspace that will be permitted through this policy during the whole Plan period will be restricted to 2000 sq metres in each of the Main Towns and in Coleshill and the Local Service Centres combined. This is to adhere to Core Policy 9 and WASP policy I.2. In line with policy ECON1 free-standing office development will be confined to the town centre areas defined on the Proposals Map.



  1. Proposals for additional shopping, office, entertainment and leisure floorspace will only be permitted if they are located within the town centre boundary identified on the Proposals Map (Inset No. 3) and are of less than 2,500 sq m. Proposals for mixed use developments will be welcomed within the town centre provided there is no loss of existing Class A1 retail floorspace at ground floor level within the defined core area.

Polesworth and Coleshill

  1. Proposals for additional shopping, office, entertainment and leisure floorspace will only be permitted if they are located within the town centre boundary identified on the Proposals Map (Inset Nos. 6 and 14) and are of less than 1,000 sq m. Proposals for mixed-use developments will be welcomed within the town centres provided there is no loss of existing class A1 retail floorspace at ground floor level within the defined core areas.

Local Service Centres

  1. Proposals for additional shopping, office, entertainment and leisure floorspace will only be permitted within the Local Service Centres if they fall within the typology set out in Appendix 3, are commensurate in nature and scale with the role and function of the local service centre concerned and the size of its catchment area, are grouped with existing facilities of a similar nature and are readily accessible from within the settlement by a range of means of travel and transport, including on foot.

In other settlements and elsewhere outside development boundaries

  1. Proposals for additional shopping, office, entertainment and leisure floorspace will not be permitted.

Reasoned Justification

This policy aims to direct facilities, particularly retailing to the appropriate location depending on the size of settlement. The policy directly relates to the settlement hierarchy as shown in Appendix 2. 


The Council will adopt a plan led approach to town centre development as outlined in PPS6. It will therefore undertake a retail needs assessment in conjunction with stakeholders and the community. The assessment will include a review of retail need and the development of a strategy to strengthen the town centres. In the meantime the existing ground floor retail floorspace of the core areas of the town centres will be protected so that the town’s primary frontages are retained. 


Above ground floor level in the core areas and outside the core areas, in the areas of secondary frontage, there is greater opportunity for a diversity of uses. As such in these areas of the town centres a mix of uses will be encouraged including residential. Flats over shops in town centres offer a number of benefits. They help to maximise the use of existing buildings and in doing so provide additional housing without the need to build more properties on Greenfield sites. There are also social and economic benefits from an evening presence in the towns. Mixed-use schemes should include at least two of the following uses of the Use Classes Order; A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, C1, C3, D1 or D2 or a sui generis use normally found in town centres. 


In the Local Service Centres the size of provision should reflect the function of the facilities, which is to serve a small catchment area. Such provision will nevertheless be beneficial as a source of convenience and to those with limited access to the town centres. 


In the countryside the creation of new shops or food and drink premises is not sustainable and therefore will not be permitted. 


The Council proposes to pursue early development of this site in a form that will enhance the functioning of the town centre and lead to environmental revitalisation of the area. Within the Plan period, the Council will therefore:

  1. Consult with the local community, potential developers, existing town centre traders, businesses and infrastructure agencies with a view to agreeing a mixed pattern of land uses that will sustain and enhance the vitality and viability of the town centre while securing significant environmental improvement;
  2. Undertake informed appraisal of the site’s historic and architectural interest to identify those parts of the site and buildings that are to be retained and conserved.
  3. Formulate a development brief to guide development of the site in a way that will complement the traditional form, scale and character of the town centre and provide a secure economic future for the buildings to be retained.
  4. Seek to secure all possible sources of finance, including grant aid and to facilitate land assembly using compulsory purchase powers if necessary, with a view to securing early development in accordance with a comprehensive plan;
  5. Work constructively with a selected development partner to bring the agreed scheme to fruition.

Reasoned Justification

This is a prominent brownfield site at an important entrance to Atherstone. Covering an area of 0.79 hectares this major site is currently under-utilised and the buildings are in need of comprehensive redevelopment / refurbishment. 


The Council wishes to see a mixed-use development on the site that will deliver environmental improvements and revitalise this part of the town. The development should be of the highest architectural standard and be appropriately related in scale and form to the adjoining Conservation Area and Listed Buildings. To physically link the site to the rest of the town centre a pedestrian link from Station Street to Long Street is also expected. In determining any application on the site primary consideration will be given to securing a development of enduring quality rather than responding to short-term expediency. 


Since publication of the Revised Draft Local Plan planning permission has been granted on appeal for a food retail store on part of the site. However, further regeneration of the site will continue to be sought on the back of the investment that has been made.


  1. The construction or extension of agricultural or forestry buildings or structures will be permitted provided that:
    1. They can be demonstrated to be required for the efficient long-term operation of the farm holding;
    2. It can be demonstrated that no existing buildings or structure on the holding is suitable for the purpose;
    3. New buildings or structures form a group with existing agricultural buildings or structures on the holding;
    4. The siting and materials of new buildings or structures will not cause visual intrusion into the landscape; and,
    5. In the case of livestock buildings, their siting is not likely to cause disturbance or loss of amenity to occupants of any permanent building off the farm.
  2. Where notification is made under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning General Development Order 1991, as amended, prior approval of details will be required where criteria (iii) or (iv) do not appear to be met.

Reasoned Justification

Agriculture is still the main business of the countryside and planning legislation and national policies contain a general expectation that buildings genuinely required for the purposes of agriculture or forestry will be permitted. However, modern agricultural buildings and structures, because of their size and the construction materials commonly used, can be obtrusive in the landscape, and livestock units can be "bad neighbours" if located too close to housing and other occupied premises. Accordingly there is a need to ensure that any new structures do not have an adverse impact on the landscape and adjacent properties.


The Town and Country Planning General Development (Amendment) (No 3) Order 1991 introduced a new system of planning control over agricultural buildings and structures and roads, which would not otherwise be subject to planning control. Under these provisions, an agricultural / forestry determination application and site plan of the proposed development must be supplied to the Borough Council, as Local Planning Authority, who then has 28 days to grant or refuse the application. This policy sets out the criteria the Council will use to assess these applications. 


Proposals for farm diversification will be permitted providing the following criteria are met:

  1. The proposal, in terms of its scale, nature, location and layout would contribute towards sustaining the long term operation and viability of the existing farm holding.
  2. The proposal would not cause any additional impediment to the safe and free movement of pedestrian, vehicular or other traffic on the rural road network, particularly as a result of heavy vehicle usage.
  3. There would be no adverse impact on the character of the surrounding natural and historic environment and no demonstrable harm would be caused to the living or working conditions of neighbouring occupiers or to the vitality and viability of existing shops, services or other facilities in the local service centres.

Reasoned Justification

Farm diversification projects are being actively promoted at national, regional and local levels. Benefits of this include the continued survival of the farm, the retention of rural jobs and the safeguarding of the vitality of rural communities. 


Projects will be supported where the proposed use will enable the continued operation of the farm. Applicants will need to demonstrate this link when submitting applications. This should be done in a manner appropriate to the scale of the proposal and may range from a simple description of what the proposal involves to the submission of a whole farm plan. This should be discussed with the Council prior to submitting the application. Proposals should also be appropriate to a countryside location both in their size and nature.


Where sites are located in the Green Belt cross-reference should be made to policy ENV2. Where a diversification proposal involves the re-use of an existing rural building reference should also be made to policy ECON9.


  1. Proposals for the adaptation and re-use of existing rural buildings will be permitted where:
    1. The building has direct access to the rural distributor road network and is accessible by a range of means of travel and transport from the nearest Main Town, Green Belt Market Town, Local Service Centre or other rural settlement with a development boundary identified on the Proposals Map; and
    2. The building is of permanent and substantial construction and its form, scale, bulk and general design is in keeping with the surroundings; and
    3. The building is capable of adaptation and re-use without major or complete reconstruction, alteration or enlargement; or
    4. Irrespective of the foregoing, adaptation and re-use is the only means of preventing the loss or deterioration of a listed building, or of a building that makes an essential contribution to the group value of listed buildings and their setting, or of a building that warrants retention because of its unique local architectural or historic interest or contribution to the landscape.
  2. If the building is deemed to be suitable for adaptation and re-use in accordance with the foregoing criteria, the use to which the building may be put will be determined having regard to the extent to which it is capable of fulfilling the following order of land use objectives:

Economic objectives:

  1. Farm diversification, in accordance with policy ECON8 or, failing that
  2. Provision of local services and facilities for which there is an identified need and for which no planned provision has been made within the nearest settlement having a development boundary or, failing that
  3. Facilitating public access to and enjoyment of the countryside for the sake of its beauty, the diversity of its landscape and historic character, its geological, ecological, agricultural and archaeological value, and for quiet recreational pursuits or, failing that
  4. Employment provision in the form of managed workspace/starter units of no more than 500 sq m in total.
  1. Only if the building can be demonstrated not to be suitable for any of those uses will the following additional order of land use objectives apply:

Housing Objectives

    1. Provision of local needs housing in accordance with policy HSG2, or HSG3 or, failing that
    2. Increasing the supply of locally affordable housing or, failing that (xi) Provision of live/work units or, failing that
    3. Contributing to the range and supply of market housing.
  1. Any such scheme will also be required protect or enhance the local environment by satisfying each of the following criteria:
    1. The proposal would not give rise to any additional hazard or impediment to the safe and free movement of pedestrian, vehicular and other traffic on the rural road network, particularly as a result of heavy vehicle usage.
    2. The proposal would not cause pollution or the risk of pollution in consequence of a lack of foul or surface water drainage.
    3. The proposal would respect the inherent characteristics of the layout, structure and design of the building, and would preserve any special architectural or historic interest that the building may have.
    4. The setting of the building in the landscape would not be compromised, especially by external parking and storage areas or garden structures including boundary walls and fences.
  2. Conditions may also be imposed withdrawing defined classes of permitted development rights in order to control future enlargement and/or alteration.

Reasoned Justification

This policy has been written to reflect guidance outlined in PPS7. 


The starting point for the consideration of conversion proposals will be whether the existing building is in an appropriate location and condition for re-use. This is to reflect the principles of sustainability that concern accessibility and the prudent use of natural resources. Large modern farm buildings with prefabricated portal framed structures may not satisfy the criteria if not sufficiently substantial. Separate and specific provision is made for buildings worthy of retention and in need of rescue. 


If deemed appropriate for re-use consideration will then need to be given to the uses for which the building might be suitable. This is because some buildings are more suitable than others for particular types of use and because priorities for different types of use may vary according to location and identified needs.


In terms of economic development priority will be given to farm diversification in accordance with policy ECON8. This is to strengthen countryside stewardship and avoid the farm economy being weakened through the disposal of fixed assets. Of second priority is the provision of local services and facilities, where a need has been identified in for example the Community Plan or a Parish Plan, followed thirdly by proposals that offer access to an enjoyment of the countryside. This will include facilities for rural pastimes such as equestrianism and other forms of intrinsically rural leisure and tourism. Of fourth priority are local employment uses which should take the form of small business units. The size restriction imposed supports policy ECON4 and reflects the employment land restraint imposed by WASP. The criteria of the policy focus on local and rural uses and would therefore exclude town centre uses of the type and scale referred to in PPS6, large single employment developments and those whose employment base is anything other than local.


With regards to residential conversions the development of market housing will only be considered if the building is deemed suitable for re-use in accordance with criteria 1-4 and where in addition to points 5-8 it is clearly demonstrated that the building is not suitable for the uses outlined in points 9-11 of the policy. Reflecting this it must be demonstrated that there is no unfulfilled rural exceptions housing need such as that necessary to accommodate a farm or forestry worker or other person in intrinsically rural employment or in the case of a single large building that it cannot meet an identified need in the area for a care home, sheltered retirement unit or another type of social housing. It must also be demonstrated that it is not suitable as affordable housing including housing for key workers in the rural community and that residential use cannot form part of a mixed-use scheme. 


Where permission is granted for the re-use of a building permitted development rights will be removed to avoid external clutter. This will include boundary enclosures.


  1. 1. Outside the Main Towns, Green Belt Market Town and Local Service Centres, small scale development in connection with existing tourism facilities and alongside the canal network will be permitted subject to:
    1. The scale, siting and design of facilities respecting the character of the area and its surroundings
    2. The development not generating traffic of a type or amount inappropriate to the character of local roads
    3. The proposal having a direct functional relationship with the tourism or heritage site concerned, or to use and enjoyment of the canal network.
    4. Any jobs created meeting a local need
  2. 2. Where development of sites with historic features, fittings or equipment is proposed development will not be permitted unless suitable provision is made for them to be preserved in situ. Where this is not practicable, prior to development, the Council will require a photographic and written record of such features, fittings and equipment to be made by the developer.
  3. 3. Where development is permitted on new sites with a nature conservation interest, the developer will be required to protect and enhance the existing assets.

Reasoned Justification

This policy is supported by Structure Plan Policy I.8 which states that the creation of new and expansion of existing facilities should be supported in Local Plans where this would result in the retention or creation of jobs and environmental improvements. 


Important tourism sites in the Borough include Kingsbury Water Park, Hartshill Hayes Country Park, Pooley Fields Heritage Centre and Hartshill Wharf. Some of these are close to the Borough’s extensive and attractive canal network and many are designated for their nature conservation value. 


Community consultation has revealed a very high interest in heritage and local distinctiveness. A key objective of the Borough Council Tourism and Economic Development Strategy 2003-2008 is the promotion of tourism and this embraces the celebration of the mining history of the area. 


This policy protects features on sites with industrial heritage links. Previously little has been left to celebrate the past as sites have been reclaimed. A good example is the winding gear at Daw Mill. This mine is of particular significance because it is the last remaining mine in the West Midlands and the deepest mine in Britain. 


Warwickshire Museum holds details of many sites of industrial heritage, agricultural significance and nature conservation. Any photographic or written record of existing artefacts required by this policy should also be lodged with the County Museum Service. 


It will be important to ensure traffic management and travel safety in these locations and Policy TPT2 should be read in conjunction with this tourism policy. In particular there will need to be more footpath links between tourism sites, canal corridors and the market towns and villages. Cross reference should also be made to policies Core Policy 2, ENV2, ENV3 and ENV16.


New hotels and guest houses in town centres and extensions to existing hotels and guest houses inside development boundaries will be permitted subject to the following criteria:

  1. The number of bedrooms provided is commensurate with the size and function of the settlement in the Plan’s Appendix 2 Settlement hierarchy and the resultant buildings are of a design and scale which will be in harmony with the surroundings;
  2. The amenities of nearby residential properties will not be significantly reduced;
  3. The vehicular access and local road network are suitable for the traffic that will be attracted; and;
  4. Any jobs created meet a local need.

Reasoned Justification

New hotels will help satisfy tourism demands, particularly business tourism demands, for quality accommodation in the Borough and will help exploit and cater for demands from the Birmingham International Airport and National Exhibition Centre. It is appropriate to encourage overnight visitors to the area as they spend 2.5 times as much as day visitors (Heart of England Tourist Board). 


Structure Plan Policy I.8 deals with tourist facilities, saying that the expansion of existing facilities should be supported in Local Plans where this would result in the retention or creation of jobs. However, this needs to be balanced against the overall sustainability thrust of the Plan and advice contained in PPS6 which now takes precedence over WASP. 


The scale of hotel/ guesthouse development that will be permitted will be related to the status of the settlement in the settlement hierarchy. As such a hotel or guesthouse of more than 10 bedrooms will be directed to the Main Towns. In the Green Belt Market Town and Local Service centres the number of bedrooms should not exceed 10 and in other settlements with a development boundary the number of bedrooms should not exceed 3. Only where a guesthouse forms part of a farm diversification scheme under policy ECON8 or involves the re-use of an existing rural building under policy ECON9 would a guesthouse be permitted in the countryside. Where such development is permitted the number of bedrooms should not exceed 3.


  1. Within the development boundaries of the Local Service Centres, proposals for alteration, extension or diversification designed to improve the viability of existing services and facilities, or which introduce new uses that would contribute to the functioning of the settlement as a Local Service Centre, will be welcomed. Changes of use that would result in the loss of an existing service or facility that contributes to the functioning of Local Service Centres will only be permitted if:
    1. The service or facility is, is to be, or can be, provided to a similar level in an equally or more accessible location elsewhere within the settlement or, in the case of a petrol filling station, close by; and
    2. The change of use would be to a use providing services or facilities within the same category as that being lost; or, failing that
    3. The change of use would be to a use providing services or facilities (other than housing) within a different category to that being lost; or, failing that
    4. The change of use would provide locally affordable housing; or, failing that
    5. The change of use would contribute to the mix of housing available within the settlement.
  2. Changes of use that would result in the loss of an existing service or facility that contributes to the functioning of a Category 4 settlement will only be permitted where the proposal complies with ECON9.

Reasoned Justification

Within North Warwickshire local services and facilities provide a vital commercial, social and community role and are central to the continued vitality of the smaller settlements. However in recent years many facilities have been lost for a variety of demographic, social and economic reasons. In particular a number of shops have been lost to residential conversion because of the attractiveness of the buildings and their siting. Public transport options in the Borough are limited and therefore any further loss of local facilities would seriously disadvantage those without access to a car and conversely encourage more car journeys by those who do have access to this mode of transport. This would undermine the sustainability of these communities. 


Reflecting guidance outlined in PPS6 and PPS7 this policy has been written to protect and support the retention of local facilities and services in the Borough’s Local Service Centres and smaller settlements. It also seeks to ensure that the importance of facilities and services to the community are taken into account in assessing proposals that would lead to their loss or change of use. 


In line with Core policies 2 and 9, part 1 of the policy deals with Local Service Centres. These are settlements listed within Category 3 of the Settlement Hierarchy in Appendix 2 of the Plan. The services and facilities, and their various categories referred to in the policy are those listed in the typology at Appendix 3. The policy extends to premises providing services and facilities that contribute to the functioning of a Local Service Centre but which may lie outside the development boundary of the settlement. 


Clause (i) of the policy is formulated to ensure that suitable alternative provision is made for any services and facilities that may be lost. This requirement should be satisfied in discussion with the Council, the local community and other providers of local services before a proposal is put forward. Clauses (ii)-(v) of the policy will then be applied sequentially. Reflecting this, any application for change of use should be accompanied by a written statement demonstrating that each stage in the sequence above that in which the proposal falls has been investigated. The statement should indicate the steps that have been taken and the reasons for rejection. 


Clause (ii) of the policy seeks to ensure that the existing range of services and facilities in a settlement is not diminished. To satisfy the criterion consideration must be given to the existing range of facilities and their distribution within the particular settlement in question. Particular focus should be placed on any existing duplication of provision or over provision. If for example clause (i) has been satisfied a change of use of a shop to an insurance company, taxi office or estate agent may be acceptable whereas a high proportion of vacant shops may be indicative of a need for consideration under clause (iii) of the policy. 


Clause (iii) recognises that the next best alternative to the same type of use is re-use for some other purpose that would contribute to the functioning of the Local Service Centre. If therefore clauses (i) and (ii) have been satisfied a change of use from for instance a public house to a dental practice may be acceptable. Consultation with the local community and potential service providers would be an essential contribution to evidence informing this subject.


Before moving to clause (v), clause (iv) would require consultation with providers of locally affordable housing. At clause (v) consideration of whether there are any particular types of market housing in the settlement that are absent or in short supply and which the property concerned could usefully provide is required. Evidence of consultation with local people (including the Parish Council, local employers and local estate agents) is also required to support a proposal in this respect. 


Part 2 of the policy deals with the local services and facilities that serve the Category 4 settlements of the Settlement Hierarchy listed in Appendix 2. In such locations proposals should accord with policy ECON9 to reflect the development distribution of Core Policy 2. 


Where proposals involve redevelopment or change of use in locations outside a development boundary and in the Green Belt cross-reference should be made to policy ENV2. 

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