West Mersea Neighbourhood Plan
13 Development Design
18 - To preserve the Town Centre character, the Strood Causeway and Packing Marsh Island.
19 - To minimise the impact of new development on the environment
13.1 Artificial lighting, including street lights, floodlighting of buildings, while increasing security, can also impact upon residential amenity, the character and appearance of an area and the environment. West Mersea generates relatively little light pollution when compared with larger settlements nearby and it is important that we keep it that way. Aspects such as poor design, location or the expulsion of unnecessarily high levels of light can also have a harmful impact. Paragraph 180 (c) of the NPPF states that planning policies and decisions should "limit the impact of light pollution from artificial light on local amenity, intrinsically dark landscapes and nature conservation".
Policy WM 28 - Minimising Light Pollution
Outdoor lighting systems should have a minimum impact on the environment, minimising light pollution and adverse effects on wildlife subject to highway safety, the needs of particular individuals or groups, and security. Schemes should reduce the consumption of energy by promoting efficient outdoor lighting technologies and reducing glare.
13.2 The detail of new development can, without careful consideration, have a significant impact on the character of an area and existing residents living there. As noted in the emerging Local Plan, development must positively contribute to the public realm, preserving or enhancing the sense of place, including historic interest, landscape, townscape, streetscape, character areas, route hierarchy, roofscapes, key views, gateways, nodes, edges, landmarks, green links and spaces.
13.3 It is also essential that the sustainability of development, its location and the materials used is given the highest consideration at the design stage. Sustainable development aims to ensure a better quality of life for everyone, now and in the future. The principles of sustainable development should form the basis for individual decisions which people take regularly about where to live, and work, shop, where to travel, how to dispose of waste, and how to use energy and other natural resources efficiently.
13.4 There are certain broad requirements which all development should meet if it is to be acceptable in terms of the impact on:
- the landscape, natural environment and cultural heritage;
- quality of design;
- sustainable use of resources;
- highway safety; and
13.5 Colchester Borough Council has declared a Climate Emergency and has committed to being carbon neutral by 2030. The purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development as defined in the Framework. Achieving sustainable development means that the planning system has three overarching objectives, which are interdependent and need to be pursued in mutually supportive ways. These are economic, social and environmental objectives. Being an island only connected to the mainland by The Strood, Mersea Island is especially susceptible to the consequences of climate change as witnessed by more frequent flooding of The Strood and Coast Road and the consequent knock-on transport issues and delays and coastal erosion. In worse case scenarios, traffic queues at the time of flooding has been known to stretch as far as Abberton Hill, some 2½ miles away, and take between 2 and 3 hours to clear.
13.6 When planning applications are submitted to the Borough Council they should, as a matter of course, demonstrate how they meet the considerations of Policy WM 30.
Policy WM 29 - Design Considerations
Proposals for new development must reflect the local characteristics and circumstances in the Neighbourhood Plan area and create and contribute to a high quality, safe and sustainable environment.
Planning applications will be supported where, as appropriate to the proposal, they:
- recognise and address the key features, characteristics, landscape/building character, local distinctiveness and special qualities of the area (including The Coast) and/or building as identified in the Built Character Assessment and, where necessary, prepare a landscape character appraisal to demonstrate this;
- maintain or create a sense of place and/or local character avoiding, where possible, cul-de-sac developments;
- do not involve the loss of important open spaces identified on the Policies Map, which make a significant contribution to the character and appearance of the locality;
- take mitigation measures into account, do not affect adversely the amenities of adjacent areas by reason of overlooking, overshadowing, loss of light, other pollution (including light pollution), or volume or type of vehicular activity generated; and/or residential amenity;
- not locate sensitive development where its users and nearby residents would be significantly and adversely affected by noise, smell, vibration, or other forms of pollution from existing sources, unless adequate and appropriate mitigation can be implemented;
- produce designs that respect the character, scale and density of the locality;
- are designed to remove the threat or perceived threat of crime and improve community safety;
- produce designs, in accordance with standards, that maintain or enhance the safety of the highway network ensuring that all vehicle parking is provided within the plot and seek always to ensure permeability through new housing areas, connecting any new development into the heart of the existing settlement;
- wherever possible ensure that development faces on to existing roads, retaining the rural character and creates cross streets or new back streets in keeping with the settlement's hierarchy of routes;
- through the incorporation of Sustainable Drainage Systems, do not result in water run-off that would add-to or create surface water flooding;
- where appropriate, make adequate provision for the covered storage of all wheelie bins and for cycle storage in accordance with adopted cycle parking standards.
- include suitable ducting capable of accepting fibre to enable superfast broadband; and
- provide access to electric vehicle charging points equal to one charging point for every off-street parking space provided.
13.7 Many energy-saving initiatives can be installed on homes within permitted development rights
(ie – planning permission is not required) but there may be occasions where schemes that do require planning permission could have a potential adverse impact on the character of the area and the amenity of nearby residents.
Policy WM 30 - Sustainable Construction Practices
Proposals that incorporate current best practice in energy conservation will be supported where such measures are designed to be integral to the building design and minimise any detrimental impact on the building or its surroundings. Development proposals should demonstrate how they:
- maximise the benefits of solar gain in site layouts and orientation of buildings;
- incorporate best practice in energy conservation and be designed to achieve maximum achievable energy efficiency;
- avoid fossil fuel-based heating systems; and
- incorporate sustainable design and construction measures and energy efficiency measures including, where feasible, ground/air source heat pumps, solar panels and grey/rainwater harvesting and recycling.
13.8 Being an island Mersea is especially susceptible to rising sea levels and high tides already flood The Strood and cause flooding along Coast Road and at its junction with The Lane, where a purpose-built portable Flood Barrier can be installed when necessary. The NPPF and supporting Planning Practice Guidance require individual Flood Risk Assessments to be prepared in certain circumstances to assess flood risk at the site-specific level. Site specific Flood Risk Assessments must therefore be submitted with planning applications for development proposals on sites of 1 hectare (ha) or more in Flood Zone 1 or for all development proposals in Flood Zone 2 or 3.
13.9 Over the course of time, ditches and ponds are likely to have been lost to property infill, hard landscaping and ditch infill. Surface water drainage is a problem in many parts of the town as illustrated on the extract from the Government's Long-Term Flood Risk information map. New development will be required, where appropriate, to make provision for the attenuation and recycling of surface water and rainwater in order to reduce the potential for making the situation worse.