West Mersea Neighbourhood Plan
4 Planning Strategy
4.1 As noted above, the planning policy framework for Colchester is currently evolving from the adopted Local Plan to an emerging Local Plan for the period to 2033 (the emerging Local Plan). Until such a time as the emerging Local Plan is fully adopted, the existing Local Plan policies remain in force, albeit that the emerging Local Plan should be taken into account in making planning decisions, given its advanced stage.
The West Mersea Planning Strategy
4.2 The emerging Local Plan designates West Mersea as a "Sustainable Settlement" given the level of services, facilities and jobs in the town. However, it also recognises that the town is heavily constrained by its coastal boundaries and the associated wildlife and landscape designations that come with an estuarine location. The strategy of the emerging Local Plan is to channel some growth to the most sustainable settlements appropriate to their size, local landscape character, local constraints, identified need and the availability of infrastructure.
4.3 The Neighbourhood Plan supports an appropriate level of growth in accordance with the approach in Policy SG1 of the emerging Local Plan, where such growth will not have an unacceptable impact on the historic and natural environment and the capacity of essential infrastructure.
4.4 A Settlement Boundary, illustrated on Map 2, is defined for the town and conforms with that in the emerging Local Plan. In order to manage the potential impacts of growth, new development will be focused within the Settlement Boundary. This will ensure that the undeveloped rural countryside is preserved and remains largely undeveloped
4.5 There may be situations where it is necessary for development to take place outside the Settlement Boundary, but such development will be limited to that which is essential for the operation of existing rural businesses, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, outdoor recreation and other uses appropriate to the locality that need to be located in the countryside. For the purposes of policy WM1 this would include development required by a utility company to fulfill their statutory obligations to their customers. However, this approach is not intended to restrict the conversion of existing agricultural buildings to residential uses, where any proposals meet government regulations and local planning policies for such conversions.
Map 2 – Settlement Boundary
Policy WM 1 - Planning Strategy
The Neighbourhood Plan area will accommodate development commensurate with West Mersea's designation as a Sustainable Settlement in the emerging Colchester Local Plan 2017 - 2033.
The focus for any new development will be within the Settlement Boundary, as defined on the Policies Map.
Proposals for development located outside the Settlement Boundary will only be permitted for those that are essential for the operation of an existing business, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, outdoor recreation, utilities infrastructure and other exceptional uses, where:
- it can be satisfactorily demonstrated that there is an identified local need for the proposal; and
- it cannot be satisfactorily located within the Settlement Boundaries
In exceptional circumstances, the redevelopment of existing brownfield sites may be acceptable where it can be demonstrated that the public benefit will outweigh the loss of the existing use.