West Mersea Neighbourhood Plan
9 Infrastructure and Services
10 - To support maintenance and improvement of Water, Gas, Electricity, Broadband, Mobile Telephone, Waste Disposal and Recycling services, to provide satisfactory utility infrastructure, emphasising Mersea Island's unique situation.
11 - To maintain the town centre's character and focal point for commerce and the community with its cafés, Community Centre and historical heritage.
9.1 The key policy is to protect, maintain and improve Medical services and Social cohesion in West Mersea including encouraging individuals and groups to cooperate and assist each other, no matter what their circumstances. Maintaining and improving social inclusion, for example by actively dealing with loneliness, has been shown to reduce emergency and unplanned hospital admissions. Social mobility requires opportunities for individuals and groups to achieve their full potential in education and business.
9.2 The current West Mersea Surgery was built in 1978 and now, with the population increased by 37.8%, it is far too small for current needs even with the additional NHS-leased clinic in Barfield Road. In addition, the General Hospital, together with the Military Hospital which also served Mersea, in the centre of Colchester town, have closed down, and the hospital is now 2 miles to the North of the Town Centre, as is A & E, whereas Mersea Island lies 9 miles to the South necessitating journeys traversing a highly congested town bottleneck. Therefore a visit even to A & E is an hour via two buses and by car 35/40 minutes. It is sometimes necessary for the local lifeboat to be launched to transfer a patient to the mainland. The Air Ambulance is a regular visitor for emergencies, emphasising the reliance on public subscription to voluntary services.
9.3 There have been three attempts over the past fifteen years to replace the Medical Centre and all have failed for one reason or another. However, this remains a requirement of the adopted Local Plan to 2021 and will continue to be pursued. The Neighbourhood Plan recognises that there is little chance of the construction of a new surgery in the centre of the Town and that land on the periphery, provided that is on the bus route, would be perfectly satisfactory.
9.4 There is also a need for a Daycare Centre attached to the Medical Practice for patients returning home from a stay in hospital who currently have to rely on after-care from the medical and social services. In some cases, where cover of sufficient intensity is not available, the stay in hospital is prolonged. A local Daycare Centre would conform to the NHS policy of integrated care systems that insure the vision of care closer to home. Further housing development in West Mersea has a potential impact upon the health services and facilities that are provided both on the island and across the wider area.
9.5 The Colchester Infrastructure Development Plan (2017) notes that a new Health Centre Hub is required in West Mersea to absorb proposed growth. The same document suggested that it would also involve relocation of existing West Mersea Surgery and that the total space requirement would be 600m2 Gross Internal Area.
9.6 Land at Brierley Paddocks is reserved for health services as part of a condition in planning approval (Application reference 192136) and is the favoured location for the new Health Centre Hub.
Policy WM 17 - New Health Facilities
Proposals that increase the capacity of medical facilities within the Neighbourhood Plan Area will be supported where:
- they are accessible by a range of modes of travel;
- the hours of operation would not have a detrimental impact on the amenity of residents in the vicinity of the site through, in particular, noise and traffic movements.
Land at Brierley Paddocks is reserved for health facilities as part of the outline planning consent for the site (Application reference 192136).
9.7 Healthy living can be promoted through the careful design of new development including its accessibility by foot or cycle. The potential impact of development on health and health services needs to be assessed to ensure that adequate services continue to be provided for the community as a whole. The Neighbourhood Plan, in line with the requirements of the emerging Local Plan, requires that Health Impact Assessments (HIA) should be produced to accompany all proposals for residential development in excess of 100 units, for non-residential development in excess of 2,500 square metres and for other developments where the proposal is likely to have a significant impact on health and wellbeing. For developments which have relatively little impact upon health services, an initial assessment may be sufficient to satisfy the requirements of this policy. For developments where an initial assessment indicates more significant health impacts, a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment (HIA) will be required.
Policy WM 18 - Health and Wellbeing
All development should be designed to help promote healthy lifestyles and avoid causing adverse impacts on public health through:
- Ensuring good access to health facilities and services;
- Providing a healthy living environment where healthy lifestyles can be promoted including green space and creating attractive opportunities for activities including walking and cycling; and
- Providing appropriate mitigation to avoid harmful emissions.
Health Impact Assessments (HIA) will be required for all residential development in excess of 100 units and non-residential development in excess of 2500 square metres and for other developments where the proposal is likely to have a significant impact on health and wellbeing. The purpose of the HIA will be to identify the potential health consequences of a proposal on a given population, maximise the positive health benefits and minimise potential adverse effects on health and inequalities. Any HIA must be prepared in accordance with up to date advice and best practice for such assessments.
Where appropriate, remedial measures required as a result of the HIA shall be required as part of the planning approval of the development concerned.
9.8 The Medical Practice is looking to establish an Adult Daycare facility within the new Medical Hub. Given the age profile of residents on the Island, this facility is strongly supported.
Community Aspiration 2
The Town Council will support Mersea Island Medical Practice in their negotiations to include a Daycare Centre within the new Medical Centre.
9.9 In October 2019 Mersea Primary School had 391 on the school roll. Forecasts published by the County Council in January 2019 suggest that the school will reach capacity in 2024/25, it is presumed as a result of the growth planned in the emerging Local Plan. There may, therefore, need to increase the capacity of the Primary School to accommodate the forecast numbers if they cannot be managed in other ways, such as changing the admissions policy.
9.10 With no secondary education provision on the Island, children have to be bused either to Tiptree or Colchester. Additional housing development is likely to increase the demand for services over the coming years. And the Colchester Infrastructure Development Plan (2017) noted that to accommodate growth in Tiptree and Mersea, an additional form of entry at Thurstable School, Tiptree is required.
Policy WM 19 - Education Infrastructure Capacity
Proposals that generate additional school age children should demonstrate that there is sufficient capacity in all levels of the education system to support the development or that such capacity will be delivered to accommodate the need.
Where necessary, developer contributions will be required towards the construction and (where appropriate) land to secure new school places required as a result of the development.
Community Support Group, Clubs, Organisations and Societies
9.11 Mersea has many organisations which perform very important role on the Island in providing both physical and social activities for all age groups. The organisations provide the social cohesion of Island from the younger age group to the retired and more elderly age groups.
9.12 West Mersea Town Council lists on their web site at www.westmersea.org some 102 Groups and organisation that meet at a various venues around the village
9.13 Mersea has a number of volunteers that run the various emergency service for the Island which are critical to support the residents and visitors. These groups are also very important to the Island at times when the tide covers the Strood and evacuation for medical reason is required. Also when the fire brigade have been unable to access the Island from the mainland.
Fire Service: There is a fire station and a team of retained firemen who have to live and work within 3 minutes of the station in Barfield Road.
Royal National Lifeboat Institution: There is a lifeboat station at the eastern end of Coast Road which is all run by volunteers who both man the station, launch the lifeboat and crew the lifeboat, normally about 20 individuals.
HM Coastguard: There is a team of volunteers who have a vehicle and are stationed at Rushmere Close industrial area.
They are called out by Dover Coastguard to respond to any incidents in the local area.
Mersea Island Community First Responders: a team of volunteers who are called via the East of England Ambulance Service to respond to a medical emergency.