1. Introduction

What is the Core Strategy?


Doncaster's Core Strategy is the first part of the council's Local Development Framework. It provides a planning framework for the 17 year period from 1st April 2011 to 31 March 2028 to deliver the vision and aspirations of the Borough Strategy, setting out:


The document includes the elements set out below.

Policy Context


The Local Development Framework forms part of the statutory development plan for Doncaster. The development plan informs decisions on planning applications and a range of implementation plans. As well as the Core Strategy, the Local Development Framework includes Development Plan Documents that allocate sites (and which collectively form the Proposals Map). Further detail on individual policies may also be provided in separate Supplementary Planning Documents. A separate Waste Core Strategy has been prepared with Barnsley and Rotherham (known as the Joint Waste Plan).


In line with national policy, the Core Strategy policies are positively worded and set out what will be supported. For each relevant policy, it will be necessary to consider whether the proposal would make a positive contribution towards its implementation, having regard to its nature and potential impact. It should be noted that the policies are flexibly worded and some indicate that proposals can contribute to meeting the objectives of the policy by ensuring that any negative impacts which cannot be avoided are properly justified, mitigated and compensated (e.g. policies CS16 and CS17). Where this is not the case, the proposal is contrary to the policy and so not supported by the Core Strategy.


The Local Development Framework must take account of national planning policy, which is underpinned by the need to achieve economic, social and environmental sustainability. At a regional level, the Regional Spatial Strategy for Yorkshire and Humber was adopted in May 2008 as part of the Development Plan, meaning that the Local Development Framework had to be in general conformity with it. However, the Secretary of State has made a clear intention to abolish Regional Spatial Strategies, and this is reflected in the Localism Act. While the regional policy context is therefore likely to disappear, the evidence base and consultation which informed it is still relevant. The Core Strategy therefore maintains an approach broadly in-line with the Yorkshire and Humber Plan, except where more up-to-date local evidence base which indicates otherwise. Appendix 2 summarises the key aspects of the Regional Spatial Strategy which have informed the Core Strategy.


Local Enterprise Partnerships need to be acknowledged in this context as the new mechanisms to make strategic economic decisions, based on the national imperatives around rebalancing economies from over reliance on public sector employment to new sectors of growth. The dramatic reduction in public spending provides further impetus for a shift towards new forms of wealth generation. Local flexibility will be key to ensuring Doncaster is able to respond positively to the changing conditions.


The Core Strategy (and wider Local Development Framework) is also closely linked to the Doncaster Borough Strategy (see Chapter 2), and other key strategies produced by the council, such as the Economic Strategy, Housing Strategy, Local Transport Plan, Greenspace Strategy and Biodiversity Action Plan.

Doncaster - the place


Archaeological evidence shows that there was human activity in the Doncaster area from prehistoric times. Doncaster's origins as a town, though, date from Roman times as 'Danum', a fortified crossing point of the River Don along the important Roman road which linked London to York. The town was rebuilt by the Normans after William I took the throne. The Normans also built castles in the Saxon settlement of Conisbrough (where its largely intact remains can be visited today), in Tickhill, and elsewhere in the borough. Doncaster continued to evolve as a busy market town which along with Bawtry, Thorne, Tickhill, Mexborough, and Conisbrough all provided centres for trade for the surrounding local agricultural villages. In 1248 the borough was granted a charter for Doncaster Market, which is still a thriving attraction. The town grew around the medieval St George's church which was eventually destroyed by fire in 1853 and replaced by Sir George Gilbert Scott's Minster in 1858, whose tower remains a distinctive landmark from many directions. Despite the plague striking down a large proportion of the town's population in the late 1500s, Doncaster continued to expand. During the early 1600s the Dutch Engineer Vermuyden was employed to drain much of the low-lying marshy land that existed to the East and North of the borough on the Don flood plain, in order to free up land for agriculture and reduce the risk of flooding (an issue that remains important today). The scattered homesteads and villages of clay and brick in the low lying East and North of the borough contrasts with the more concentrated settlements of the Magnesian limestone ridge in the west with their random coursed rubble limestone buildings.


This period also saw the growth in the stagecoach trade which led to the growth in horse-breeding in the town and subsequently horse racing. It is the St Leger Stakes, first held in the 1770s that the town is most famous for and remains the oldest classic horse race still run at the Racecourse, a key visitor attraction in the borough. Doncaster was renowned for its rich landowners, characterised by large estates and stately homes such as Brodsworth Hall, Cusworth Hall, Cantley Manor, Nether Hall and Wheatley Hall. This wealth is reflected in these historic properties, and the 18th century Mansion House located in the centre of the town. Doncaster capitalised upon its excellent communication links in the form of the Great North Road - the primary route from London to Edinburgh. Doncaster and Bawtry benefited particularly from this which has led to a legacy of Georgian buildings in both settlements. Christ Church (built 1827) reflected the growth of the town of Doncaster towards the racecourse.


The 1700s to the 1900s saw Doncaster evolve as an industrial centre. The railways and canals that were built in this period improved transport links and saw the town grow as a key location for locomotive and carriage works. In 1853 the Great Northern Railway Company opened its Locomotive Works – locally known as the 'Plant Works' – in Doncaster. For more than a century the Plant was a major employer in the town and the producer of some of the most famous locomotives in the world, including the Flying Scotsman and the Mallard. The huge expansion in the population during this period saw the rapid urbanisation of the central area through an extensive housing programme for workers. At the same time more spacious suburbs grew on the outskirts to house the town's more prosperous classes.


In the early 1900s Doncaster became a national centre for coal mining, resulting in further exponential population growth and in-migration, the industry employing more people in the area than anything else. A consequence of this growth was the development of mining communities located around the borough based around the numerous pits, sunk to exploit the rich coal seams underlying the area. The legacy of this process has resulted in Doncaster having a dispersed settlement pattern of standalone settlements outside of the main urban area. Some of these, such as Woodlands, have a distinctive planned form. Like many other parts of the country the post war period saw massive housing growth, clearance of sub-standard housing (particularly in and around the town centre) and further growth of the borough's suburbs - including several large municipal housing estates.


From the 1980s onward the mining industry declined leading to high levels of unemployment, particularly in the former mining communities. Whilst unemployment has been falling, it is still above the national average. Doncaster is now re-inventing itself in the service and tertiary industries, capitalising upon its assets, particularly its excellent communication links, to redefine its role and hierarchy within the region.


These processes have resulted in a complex, rich and varied heritage in which the layers of the borough's history are superimposed onto the geography of the place. It is this complexity and variety which has created the distinctive character of the borough.


Doncaster is the largest metropolitan borough in the country, covering over 220 square miles, and including a diverse local landscape. There are few particularly remote areas, but connectivity with the Main Urban Area and the primary job locations is still a key issue. This is particularly the case for the communities within Doncaster that suffer from higher levels of deprivation. Most of the outlying settlements look to Doncaster for much of their services and, together with employment sites on the strategic road network, their jobs. Some of the larger towns such as Mexborough and Thorne are more self-sufficient in terms of local services and some settlements look partly to centres and employment destinations outside the borough. The outlying urban areas act as local service centres for their rural catchments, with the villages being primarily commuter settlements with limited local services.


Doncaster's population is currently around 300,000. Over the plan period:


Official Government data sources project a population growth based on historical trends of almost 20,000 people over the plan period. However, independent forecasting by Oxford Economics commissioned by the council based on anticipated new projects estimates a much higher population growth closer to 40,000 people.

Doncaster - assets and future opportunities


Doncaster is asserting its weight in the region with developments such as a new international airport, Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield which opened in 2005, and the regeneration of the Town Centre. Central Doncaster and Robin Hood Airport are regionally significant investment priorities that should significantly accelerate economic growth and diversification in Doncaster and the sub-region. New developments, both completed and ongoing, have seen Doncaster benefit from significant public and private investment. This has helped the borough to retain a healthy town centre which is holding its own in the national and regional ranking of retail centres. Within and outside the centre there are major regionally significant development projects proposed that will help to redefine the physical and socio-economic characteristics of the town. The borough has sufficient land in the right locations to meet a range of investment needs whilst improving the quality of life and prospects for local communities. Doncaster's exceptional accessibility is reflected in ongoing development of distribution facilities alongside its motorways and the Strategic Rail Freight interchange at Rossington. In addition, office and other commercial developments at Lakeside, Doncaster Carr and Balby Carr are evidence of the economic base widening.


The Borough Strategy indicates that Doncaster has three 'Distinctive Strengths': its People, its Connectivity and its Local Attractions.


People: Doncaster's population is open, friendly, realistic, resolute and determined.


Connectivity: Doncaster occupies a strategic position in the national transport network, being served by:


Attractions: In addition to the town centre and its historic markets, Doncaster has many other recreation, tourism and retail opportunities, as summarised below:


Doncaster also has many environmental resources, as summarised below:

Doncaster - the challenges


Doncaster has experienced considerable economic growth in the seven years before 2006 and since then jobs growth has been affected by the recession. However, employment rates remain below national and regional averages, and there are relatively few employment opportunities in the highly productive sectors that create high wage, high value jobs.


Life expectancy in Doncaster is improving and there have been dramatic reductions in premature deaths from heart disease, however, there are still issues in terms of the number of people suffering from poor health. Doncaster faces a number of key challenges in improving the health and well-being of its population. In particular lifestyle factors (such as increasing physical activity) and an ageing population (adapting the provision of services and housing to meet the needs of an increasing number of older and vulnerable people).


Overall crime rates within Doncaster have fallen substantially in recent years, although they remain above the national average, particularly in Doncaster's most deprived areas. To improve the quality of residents' living environment, it is essential to keep local areas clean and tidy, and to provide access to safe and attractive parks and open spaces, this will help to discourage anti-social behaviour.


GCSE results across the borough have improved year on year, with more of Doncaster's young people achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C. Doncaster consistently outperforms the national average 'A' Level pass rate, and the proportion of the working age population qualified to NVQ equivalent levels 2, 3 and 4 has increased. However, a relatively low proportion of working age people hold a degree or equivalent and the number of young people participating in post-16 education and progressing to higher education is significantly lower than the national average.


Following the decline of Doncaster's economic base in coal mining and heavy industry, the Indices of Multiple Deprivation consistently show that the borough is within the forty most deprived areas in the country, with significant variations in the relative affluence of local communities. To achieve social inclusion it is important to ensure that existing residents across the borough benefit from both the growth itself, and also the housing, infrastructure and facilities to support this growth. It is therefore important to ensure that all areas (including deprived areas and those outside the main urban area) have access to homes, jobs and skills, and leisure, and cultural facilities, by a range of travel choices. As part of this, the renewal of the borough's secondary schools and other recreational and community facilities are priorities.


Doncaster's labour market has been characterised as 'isolated' from Sheffield by the 'Northern Way Sheffield City Region Report', as the commuting links between the two settlements are weak. Furthermore, although Doncaster is close to being an 'independent' town, as employment is not high value, the town is less economically successful than some other larger towns such as York or Warrington. Therefore the council, with both local and sub-regional partners, recognises the importance of improving the borough's connectivity within the wider Sheffield City Region and with other towns and cities in the region.


The findings of Doncaster's Local Economic Assessment suggest that Doncaster is too dependent on business sectors and funding based and controlled elsewhere, with issues being:


A key challenge is to balance growth and affordability/viability considerations with innovative, safe and environmentally sensitive development, including high standards of sustainable design and construction; conservation and restoration of historic assets; effective fluvial and pluvial flood risk management; and; multi-functional green infrastructure providing amenity, habitat, landscape and climatic benefits and access to travel choice (both road and public transport) for businesses and residents. In response to both Doncaster's significant areas of flood risk, and the effects of climate change which are likely to increase the current level of risk, future development aspirations must be located and designed in such a way that is appropriate and considerate of flood risk, and where achievable be implemented in a manner to improve the flood risk situation. There is also a need to address the various threats which the borough's environmental assets are facing and to ensure that they have a sustainable future.


Successful transformation will therefore depend on qualitative change as well as growth, and the factors set out below are integral to achieving this:

Map 1: Location of Doncaster

Core Strat Map 1