CHARACTERISTICS OF THE AREA AND LOCAL ISSUES:

Environment
The built environment contains areas of high historic value and character, which need to be preserved. There are 3 Conservation Areas in the area, covering Halesworth, Holton and Wissett. Halesworth and Holton were the first 2 areas in Waveney to be subject to detailed Conservations Area Appraisals, which were completed in 2006.

The Blyth Valley, which runs throuah southern parts of Halesworth, Holton and Blyford, is currently designated as a Special Landscape Area, for its high local landscape value.

Housing
The Council has to make provision for an additional 5,800 homes in Waveney between 2001 and 2021. However, almost half of these homes have already been built or have planning permission. As of 31sI March 2006, 1,943 dwellings had been built in the District since 2001. A further 1,043 homes had been granted planning permission, of which only 40 were in the Halesworth area; most were located in and around Lowestoft.

In accordance with the Waveney Core Strategy most of the remaining growth is expected to take place in the Lowestoft area, and modest housing growth will also take place in Halesworth. As a larger village, Holton may take some small-scale development, commensurate with its scale and character, where opportunities arise. Priority will be given to affordable housing. In the countryside outside of these settlements, only infill development and other exceptions (e.g. affordable housing) will be allowed. Therefore, the need to allocate more land for housing outside of the larger settlements is limited.

Employment
The Council has to make provision for around 5,000 additional jobs in Waveney between 2001 and 2021. Most additional employment land is expected to be allocated in Lowestoft and Beccles, with some additional provision in Halesworth and Bungay. Sites that provide for a range of business needs in terms of location, size and quality are required. The Waveney Employment Land Study (2006) recommended that more employment land may need to be allocated in Halesworth. This is in addition to land which already has planning permission for industry to the west of Broadway Drive, and the extension to the existing employment area which is allocated in the Interim Local Plan (site 95).
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Community characteristics and needs
Consultation has shown a need for more playing fields and sports provision in the Halesworth area. Halesworth Playing Field Association suggested a site for new playing fields and sports provision at Sparrowhawk Way, Holton (site 115). Halesworth Town Council also put forward this site, and suggested that the existing playing fields at Dairy Hill, Halesworth (site 99) could be developed for housing. An agent for the landowner put forward the same Sparrowhawk Way site, but as a package together with housing and a village green at Lodge Road/Bungay Road, Holton (site 116).

There is also a need for a new community centre in the town, to replace and improve upon the community facilities offered in the existing Rifle Hall. The site suggested by Halesworth Town Council for the new community centre (site 113, between Thoroughfare and Saxons Way) currently has planning permission for retail use, so this site may not be available.

The baseline data revealed that Halesworth has the lowest proportion of pupils continuing education after year 11 (GCSE) in Waveney, which may reflect the educational and other opportunities available to young people in the area. The North Suffolk Vocational Centre, which has recently been granted planning permission in Halesworth, may help to address this issue. Data from the 2001 Census showed that a relatively high proportion of people living in Halesworth were aged 65 and over, which could influence the type of housing and other development needed in this area.

Rural areas
The rural areas surrounding Halesworth have issues in common with other rural parts of the District. There is a shortage of children's play space, parks and gardens across much of rural Waveney, and access to shops, services and public transport can be poor outside of the main towns.

Summary of site specific requirements in the Halesworth area

· A modest amount of housing development in Halesworth.
· Sites for community facilities and playing fields in the Halesworth area.
· Possibly some small-scale development in Holton, particularly for affordable housing.
· Possibly some exceptions sites in the countryside (e.g. where a need for affordable housing can be demonstrated).

Site options

In Halesworth, 2 allocations in the Waveney Interim Local Plan (May 2004) have not yet been granted planning permission. (An allocation at Ridgeons, Quay Street, is the subject of a current planning application, and as such is not included here). A number of alternative sites have been put forward for development in this area. All sites have been assessed against Core Strategy policies and Sustainability Appraisal criteria. The results of these assessments are summarised at the end of this section.

At this stage the Council has not made any decision on its preferred options for development. The Council is seeking views of stakeholders on all the site options that have been suggested to help make a decision. Inclusion in the lists and documents does not mean that the site will necessarily be approved for development. Many of the suggested sites will not be required to meet predicted future needs.