Policy 02: Spatial Strategy

What we're trying to achieve

[3.02.01] The spatial strategy will set out the level and type of development that is appropriate for different places, and encourages more sustainable living and working patterns by reducing unnecessary travel and avoiding sporadic development in the open countryside.

Policy 02: Spatial Strategy

We will enable development that contributes towards achieving the four
themes of the Vision, supports and maintains the vibrancy and sustainability of
settlements and reinforces local distinctiveness and sense of place.

We will achieve this by supporting development that is:

  1. in accordance with the table below, and
  2. of a scale and nature appropriate to the character and function of the
    location in which it is proposed; and
    – contributes towards meeting the needs of the local community, or
    – brings benefit to the local community; or
    – delivers a prosperous economy; and
  3. proportionate to the size and population of the settlement and is compatible with environmental and infrastructure capacity of the settlement to accommodate further growth. Planned growth is facilitated through the allocation of development sites for residential and employment purposes (including mixed use sites) and the Distinctive Area policies.

Settlement: Rural Service Centres

(see Glossary)

The settlement role

Locations which provide the basis for self-sufficiency to live and work, minimising the need to travel.

Provide or have access to a range of local services and community facilities, a range of housing types
and tenures, and local employment opportunities.

Act as a transport hub serving predominantly nearby communities and the wider rural area but with accessibility to larger centres.

At least 50 per cent of all housing, employment and retail related development will be facilitated in Rural Service Centres. 

Development will….

Reinforce or the enhance the role of Rural Service Centre, and

Sustain and enhance the range of local services needed for both the Centre and its wider hinterland, and 

Be within or relate well to the form of the settlement, and to existing buildings within the settlement, and to utility and community infrastructure, and

Protect, maintain or enhance the local distinctiveness character and landscape setting, and

Maximise development opportunities.

Settlement: Villages 

(see Glossary)

The settlement role

Settlements that have a more limited supply of social and economic infrastructure including employment,
services and facilities, but demonstrate strong linkages with Rural Services Centres and other settlements.

Approximately 20 per cent of all housing, employment and retail related development will be facilitated in villages.

Development will….

Strengthen community viability and resilience, and

Sustain and enhance existing local service provision, and

Be within or relate well to the form of the settlement, and to existing buildings within the settlement, and to utility and community infrastructure, and

Protect, maintain or enhance the local distinctiveness, character and landscape setting, and

Maximise development opportunities.

Settlement: Cluster communities

The settlement role

A small settlement or group of small settlements which collectively or individually, have limited local services and facilities.  

Approximately 10 per cent of all housing, employment and retail related development will be facilitated in Cluster Communities.

Development will….

Be small-scale to meet local needs, and

Reinforce the distinctive settlement pattern of the area, and

Utilise previously developed land, buildings and domestic gardens, or

Helps sustain an existing business, or

Exceptionally, where the identified housing need is proportionately high, we may consider a greenfield site.

Settlement: Open Countryside

Exceptionally, we will only support proposals for development in the open countryside where it demonstrates:

- an essential need for a rural location; or
- the location is necessary for the provision of public utilities and infrastructure; or
- that it helps to sustain an existing business; or
- it is necessary for and designed to support agricultural or forestry use; or
- an appropriate extension, or reuse of an existing building.

We will support the reuse of buildings for business or residential use where the building:
- contributes to the landscape character or historic environment, and
- is structurally sound and capable of conversion, and
- the development would not result in an unacceptable
change to its character, and
- is large enough to accommodate the use proposed without the necessity of major alteration, extension or reconstruction, and
- is easily accessible to the existing road network and suitable access arrangements can be secured.

We will only support the redevelopment of an existing building where it can be demonstrated that the development would result in a significant enhancement of the landscape character or historic environment and enhances its immediate setting.

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Current Situation

[3.02.02] The distinctive settlement character comprising hamlets, villages and small towns is a Special Quality of the Lake District. The traditional settlement pattern has evolved over centuries and has been influenced by topography. Many of our settlements have developed strong links between one another . Larger towns outside the Lake District provide access to higher tier services, such as hospitals and large retail outlets. Much of the Lake District is classed as being ‘in a sparse setting’ and 99.4 per cent is defined as open countryside.

[3.02.03] The 'Core Strategy (Local Plan Part One)' first identified the 13 Rural Service Centres and 21 Villages set out in this Policy, and this Local Plan continues that approach. Whilst the scale and extent of development in the Lake District should be limited, the Rural Service Centres and Villages provide the locations for the majority of housing, employment and retail development within the Lake District, and to a lesser extent the cluster communities (see table in Policy 02).

[3.02.04] The limited environmental capacity for new development within the Lake District is a significant issue as highlighted by the Landscape Capacity Study (April 2017) and flooding data (Strategic Flood Risk Assessment 2018). This reinforces the long used assertion that the Lake District has limited development opportunities. Although many of our larger settlements are reaching their natural development capacity as dictated to by physical and environmental limitations, there remains a need for certain types of development to support and maintain the viability, sustainability and resilience of our local communities, particularly affordable housing.

[3.02.05] The Local Plan is not required to facilitate a large quantity of development; its focus is on the management of the Lake District in accordance with its statutory purposes and duty, and on meeting the needs of its communities.


[3.02.06] The spatial strategy reflects the traditional settlement pattern and allows a measure of dispersal across the Lake District’s most sustainable settlements, whilst also ensuring a degree of flexibility to avoid the over-concentration of development in those settlements with limited development capacity.

[3.02.07] We wish to maximise development opportunities by requiring developments in Rural Service Centre and/or Village locations to utilise the site efficiently, and by ensuring the proposal contributes towards meeting identified local needs as fully and as reasonably possible and within the limitations of the site. For example, if the identified housing need in the locality is largely for three bed family homes and the site can reasonably deliver five dwellings of this size and type, that is our default position, we would not consider a proposal for a single six bed dwelling in these instances.

[3.02.08] Residential gardens in built up areas are classed as 'greenfield' on which development should be resisted, however we recognise that many such sites can potentially make a modest but significant contribution towards meeting the identified housing need in the local community. Residential gardens are often within the natural limits of a settlement and they do not share the same characteristics or intrinsic value as the open countryside. As such, development opportunities on residential gardens to meet an identified local need is supported in principle. Development must be of a scale that is sympathetic to the role of the settlement and respect its appearance and physical capacity. We will take environmental constraints and pressures into account, and also consider infrastructure requirements and limitations.

[3.02.09] To help define which settlements we consider are Cluster Communities, these settlements should have two or more local services or community facilities, such as public houses, community halls and places of worship.

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