Evidence base

Settlement hierarchy

In considering the content of the Local Plan there is a need to balance the requirements of development against other needs such as sustainability and environmental impacts. Development needs to be accommodated in settlements where the need to travel can be reduced through good access to facilities and services and where it can be accommodated without significant adverse impacts.

A settlement hierarchy or ranking is a way of categorising an area's settlements to recognise their different roles and function. A hierarchy groups together those settlements that have similar characteristics. At the top of the hierarchy are settlements that play a key role within the District, providing services used by a much wider catchment, having the best infrastructure (facilities and services) and which are relatively well connected in terms of transport links. At the bottom of the hierarchy are settlements, which have relatively few functions, less infrastructure and are more isolated in terms of transport links.

The hierarchy will be used to inform the location of future development in the District. It will be used with other technical studies such as the Strategic Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment to determine the right amount of new development that is appropriate for each settlement.

It is important to note that the paper itself cannot establish a settlement hierarchy as a policy tool; that is a matter for the statutory Local Plan. This paper represents the analysis and evidence to underpin the consideration of a settlement hierarchy which is to be included in that Local Plan.

View settlement hierarchy documents