West Mersea Neighbourhood Plan
2 Planning Policy Context
2.1 The Neighbourhood Plan must be" in general conformity with strategic policies in the development plan for the local area and contribute to sustainable development." For West Mersea, this means the National Planning Policy Framework and the Colchester Local Plan, as explained below.
National Planning Policy Framework
2.2 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the Government's high-level planning framework which must be taken into account in the preparation of development plan documents and when deciding planning applications. The most recent version of the NPPF was published in February 2019 and it sets out a presumption in favour of sustainable development.
Paragraph 11 states:
"Plans and decisions should apply a presumption in favour of sustainable development.
For plan-making this means that:
- plans should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area, and be sufficiently flexible to adapt to rapid change;
- strategic policies should, as a minimum, provide for objectively assessed needs for housing and other uses, as well as any needs that cannot be met within neighbouring areas, unless:
- the application of policies in this Framework that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development in the plan area; or
- any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole."
Local Development Plan
2.3 At the time of the preparation of this Neighbourhood Plan the following Local Plan documents relevant to the area were in place:
- Colchester Core Strategy (2008)
- Development Policies DPD (2010)
- Site Allocations DPD (2010)
- Focused Review of the Core Strategy (2008) and
Development Policies DPD (2010) (July 2014)
2.4 Work commenced on the preparation of the new Colchester Borough Local Plan 2017-2033 in 2014 and at the time of the preparation of the Neighbourhood Plan it had been submitted to the Government for examination by a Planning Inspector.
Colchester Core Strategy
2.5 For West Mersea, the Core Strategy contains strategic policies and that states the town "is a relatively self-contained coastal community offering quality tourism and recreation opportunities. The West Mersea waterfront will be conserved for its historic maritime character and distinctive maritime-related local businesses. There are some limited development opportunities in West Mersea and approximately 280 new homes will be developed during the plan period, including over 200 homes that have already been approved or completed. An additional 173sqm of net retail floorspace will also be sought to service the residents of Mersea Island. Key facilities to be delivered in West Mersea include allotments and a new health centre."
2.6 The town is categorised as a District Settlement in Policy SD1 - Settlement Hierarchy.
Development Policies DPD
2.7 The Development Management Policies document provides broad and generally non-location specific policies by which planning applications will be considered. Given that it's ten years since the policies were adopted, some will now be out of date and superseded by the NPPF.
Site Allocations DPD
2.8 This local plan document was also adopted in 2010 and identifies sites for development in the period to 2021. It identified sites for employment and housing development in West Mersea which have since been implemented.
Focused Review of the Core Strategy (2008) and Development Policies DPD (2010)
2.9 The introduction of the NPPF in 2012 meant that some of the adopted Local Plan policies had become out of date and required a review to make them compliant. The Focused Review of certain policies achieved this and, combined with the remaining policies of the previously adopted local plan documents, remains in place as the adopted local plan.
Emerging Colchester Local Plan 2017-2033
2.10 The emerging Local Plan will, when fully adopted, replace all the previous local plan documents referred to above. In February 2021 the Borough Council adopted the North Essex Authorities' Shared Strategic Section 1 Plan. Section 2 of the emerging Local Plan, the Colchester Borough specific policies, had yet to be examined.
2.11 The Neighbourhood Plan has been prepared to be in general conformity with the strategic planning policies in Section One, while Section Two also contains a number of policies and proposals for West Mersea which are referred to in the appropriate sections in this Neighbourhood Plan. The policies and proposals of the Neighbourhood Plan have regard to the content and status of the emerging Local Plan appropriate to the stage at which the preparation of that Plan has reached.
2.12 The Borough Council has also adopted a number of Supplementary Planning Documents and other planning guidance. These will, to a greater or lesser extent, have some relevance to planning in West Mersea. Their content, along with the adopted policies in both the adopted and emerging Local Plan, have been taken into account in preparing the Neighbourhood Plan.
Emerging Colchester Local Plan Policies Maps for West Mersea