A settlement hierarchy ranks and classifies settlements based on the availability and accessibility of a broad range of facilities.

Settlements that are in a higher tier of the hierarchy will often be more sustainable locations for new development, because residents would be able to access a greater range of services and facilities more easily, without the need to travel as far by car.

A review and update of the settlement hierarchy for areas outside of the South Downs National Park was carried out in 2018. This supported the Draft Local Plan consultation (2019). The review includes a background paper to explain the methods and its results.

A further review of the settlement hierarchy was carried out in accordance with a revised methodology in 2022.

The revised methodology recognises the council’s declaration of a climate emergency in 2019 and reflects an increased emphasis on ‘living locally’ to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Interactive mapping enables people to explore the facilities and services that were considered in the further review.

Responses to the 2022-23 'issues and priorities' consultation identified concerns relating to the 2022 methodology.

The council remains committed to an approach to determining a settlement hierarchy that prioritises accessibility by the most sustainable transport modes of walking and cycling in order to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

The council commissioned a bespoke accessibility study to be undertaken by transport consultants and has been used as a robust evidence base on which to re-consider the results of the 2022 settlement hierarchy work and help determine necessary amendments. 

In addition to applying the results of the East Hampshire accessibility study, resident populations of settlements have been taken into account using data from the 2021 census.

This is so that the proposed settlement hierarchy takes account of the relative size of individual settlements in terms of their population.

A revised settlement hierarchy for areas outside of the South Downs National Park is put forward in the revised settlement hierarchy 2024 background paper, with further supporting information and evidence included in the appendices.