Preferred Options Local Plan

Ended on the 16 September 2016
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(2) 7. Development Management Policies

7.1 The development management policies below will guide the development management (planning application) process. They set out how development will be managed to ensure that it contributes towards the vision and objectives, via the strategic framework put in place by the policies contained in Part 1 and those covering Sustainable Growth, Climate Change, Environmental Assets and Places in Part 2.

(1) Health and Wellbeing

7.2 In recent years there has been a growing acknowledgement that the quality of the built environment and its sustainability are key factors in both the direct health of and the life style choices affecting the health of residents, workers and visitors of new developments.

7.3 Most development has a potential impact upon the health services and facilities that are provided in the Borough. Likewise, through the design of new development, healthy living can be promoted. The extent of these impacts needs to be assessed to ensure that adequate health services continue to be provided for the community as a whole. 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. The Borough Council will liaise with the NHS East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group when assessing the scope and scale of likely impacts. HIA should be prepared following the current best practice advice and reflect the most up to date evidence. Further details on preparing Health Impact Assessments can be found in the Guidance Note on HIAs produced by the Essex Planning Officers Association (March 2008).

7.4 Colchester has designated Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA) due to levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) that exceed legally binding limits and have a significant impact on the health of local residents. Development schemes with a potential to cause harmful emissions to the atmosphere, including considerations of cumulative impact, will be required to assess these impacts and provide appropriate mitigation in line with the Borough's Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) and Low Emission Strategy (LES).

(12) Policy DM1: 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;
  • 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 the advice and best practice for such assessments.

All developments with the potential to cause a deterioration in air quality will be required to provide appropriate mitigation and where relevant, schemes will be required to provide an air quality assessment.

Measures to mitigate any adverse impacts of the development will be provided and / or secured by planning conditions, Section 106 contributions or CIL.

Development which will have an unacceptable significant impact on health and wellbeing which cannot be mitigated will not be permitted.

(1) 7.5 Alternative Options considered

No change to existing policy - Whilst the policy may be adequate, reviewing the wording enables a clearer steer against which to determine applications where there are adverse impacts on the health and wellbeing of the community.

Relate requirement for HIA to EIA development - It may emerge in the future that an HIA is incorporated into Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EIA) so by implication will be required only when an EIA is triggered. The revised EU EIA Directive provides an opportunity for an integrated impact assessment to be undertaken, incorporating HIA within the EIA process. Provided this is undertaken thoroughly, then the EIA may be an adequate vehicle for consideration of the effects of projects on human health. However, the mechanisms for dealing more comprehensively with health in EIA have not been tested through practitioners' best practice, public consultation, the decision-making processes, or the courts. HIA is much more of a subjective and qualitative process and currently does not lend itself well to specific predicted outcomes or levels of significance in terms of community health impacts. It is therefore considered premature for the requirement for an HIA to be linked to an EIA, furthermore there may still be smaller proposals which do not trigger the requirement for an EIA, but that there is justification to assess the health impacts and therefore require an HIA.

No requirement for HIA - This would leave the Council open to challenge since it would not have any means to seek supporting information to measure the potential impacts of proposed development on health and wellbeing which in turn may lead to non-compliance with national policy.

(2) Community Facilities

7.6 Community facilities are an essential element of sustainable communities providing for education, childcare, health, culture, recreation, religion and policing (see Glossary). Policies elsewhere in the plan also cover protection and provision of open space and recreation facilities.

7.7 The Council needs to deliver a comprehensive range of high quality and accessible community facilities to meet the needs of new and existing communities in Colchester. Community projects which have been delivered recently, such as the Community Stadium and Firstsite, have regional and national significance. Local facilities such as schools and health centres also need to be delivered to support new and existing communities. A table will be included in the full/final plan) that will set out the key community facilities to be delivered in Colchester during the plan period. Additional facilities may also be delivered as part of new developments.

7.8 The Borough Council will safeguard existing facilities and will work with partners including the local community to bring together funding from a variety of public and private sources to deliver new community facilities. Development proposals will be required to review community needs and provide community facilities to meet the needs of the new population and mitigate impacts on existing communities.

7.9 The Council wishes to protect viable community facilities and services that play an important role in the social infrastructure of the area and support sustainable communities. In communities where access to alternatives may be very limited, the presence of key facilities may be very important in maintaining the quality of life. Examples of community sites and buildings include amenity open space, children's play areas, sports fields, village halls, local shops, leisure and cultural centres, public houses, community centres, churches, allotments, post offices, petrol stations, doctor's surgeries, libraries and schools, etc. In line with the NPPF (paragraph 70) the Council will guard against unnecessary loss of import facilities using processes such as listing facilities as Assets of Community Value where appropriate (under the provisions the Localism Act 2011).

7.10 The release of any community facilities must be fully justified. The Council will require any application involving the loss of a facility to be supported by written evidence and applicants should contact the Council at the earliest stage to discuss the details. The level of detail to be submitted will vary according to the level of access to alternative facilities and the extent to which the facility contributes towards sustainable communities but could be expected to include such evidence as:

  1. In the case of a business, the current and projected trading performance;
  2. In the case of a community facility, the current and projected patterns of use;
  3. The nature and condition of the building and the cost of repairs, renovations or improvements needed to allow the facility to continue in operation;
  4. The extent of the local catchment including the location of the premises in relation to local settlement pattern and accessibility;
  5. The nature and location of comparable facilities;
  6. The potential to relocate the use into other premises in the community;
  7. In respect of public houses, the approaches and attempts to transfer from a chain of tied pubs to a free house;
  8. In the case of a business, evidence that it has been offered on the open market as a whole (parts having not been identified for separate sale) and at a realistic market value. This should be for a period of not less than six months by a competent agent. Evidence should include sales literature, details of approaches, and details of offers; and
  9. Evidence that the local community has been notified in writing of the intention to close the facility and has not, within a period of six months come forward with a realistic proposal to assume operation of the facility, including its proposals to finance and operate the facility.

7.11 The importance of particular facilities will vary between communities, and it is essential that the community is involved in considering the importance of any facility and the suitability of any proposals for alternative forms (and locations) of provision, and in developing means of retaining facilities, should their continued viability of operation be in doubt. Applicants proposing to redevelop or convert facilities valued by the community will be expected to consult local communities about the relative importance of the facilities which could be lost. Not all facilities satisfactorily meet the needs of local communities, and it may be that combining or rationalising facilities might be appropriate. This will be informed by the most up to date relevant evidence such as the Community Facilities Audit and Open Space, Sport and Recreation Facilities.

7.12 Support will be given to the provision of additional facilities where this will enhance the sustainability of community life and will meet the anticipated needs of a growing and changing population. The use of developer contributions and/or the Community Infrastructure Levy may well be appropriate in this respect. Further details of appropriate contributions can be found in the Community Facilities SPD and the Provision of Open Space, Sports and Recreation Facilities SPD.

(5) Policy DM2: Community Facilities

The Council will seek the retention of all existing community facilities and services and allocations for such uses where they meet / will meet an identified local need.

Any proposal that would result in the loss of a site or building currently or last used for the provision of facilities, services, leisure or cultural activities that benefit the community, will only be supported in cases where the Council is satisfied that:

  1. An alternative community facility to meet local needs is, or will be, provided in an equally or more accessible location within walking distance of the locality (800 m); or
  2. It has been proven that it would not be economically viable to retain the site/building for a community use; and
  3. The community facility could not be provided or operated by either the current occupier or by any alternative occupier, and it has been marketed to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority in order to confirm that there is no interest and the site or building is genuinely redundant; and
  4. A satisfactory assessment has taken place that proves that there is an excess of such provision and the site or building is not needed for any other community facility or use.

New development will be required to provide, or contribute towards the provision of community facilities including education to meet the needs of new and expanded communities and mitigate impacts on existing communities, which will be secured by Section 106 contributions or CIL.

Where existing facilities can be enhanced to serve new development, the Council will work with developers and local partners to audit existing facilities and assess the requirement for additional facilities to deliver comprehensive provision of services to serve these extended communities.

The Council will work with local partners, such as Parish Councils or Community Associations, to plan and manage community facilities.

Education Provision

7.13 Expansion to existing as well as new primary schools, secondary schools and early years provision will be needed in the Borough to support the new homes and communities that are being created. The NPPF (paragraph 72) sets out that great importance should be placed on the need to provide new school places. It also states that local planning authorities should take a proactive, positive and collaborative approach to meeting this requirement, giving great weight to the need to create, expand or alter schools. The amount of land required is specified by Essex County Council as Local Education Authority. New designations will be subject to detailed design and layout to ensure the schools are located in the best positions for new communities.

7.14 Existing schools and education facilities, including early years, higher and further education will be supported to ensure they are able to deliver high quality educational provision and act as hubs for their local community. Remodelling and expansion of schools and education facilities will be supported wherever possible. The loss of school grounds or school buildings themselves will only be supported where it has been proven that there is no longer an educational need for the site, now or in the future, or that improved accommodation is being provided in an alternative location. Applications for existing schools are often dealt with by the County Council, but in some circumstances the Borough Council will be the relevant local planning authority. The new policy will apply for decisions made by Colchester Borough Council, and will be used to inform any consultation responses submitted to applications which are determined by Essex County Council, or any other appropriate agency.

(5) Policy DM3: New Education Provision

Sites proposed, or in current educational use, will be protected for that use. The change of use, or re-development of educational establishments and their grounds, will not be permitted unless:

  • It can be clearly demonstrated that the use of the site is genuinely redundant and no other alternative educational, or community use can be found; and
  • Satisfactory alternative and improved facilities will be provided; and
  • The area of the site to be redeveloped is genuinely in excess of Government guidelines for playing field provision, taking into account future educational projections.

The Council will respond positively to and support appropriate and well-designed applications regarding the creation of new school and education facilities. As expressed in the NPPF, the Council will use a presumption in favour of the development of schools and educational uses. The Council will engage in pre-application discussions with promoters to develop a collaborative approach to suitable applications. Where necessary, the Council will utilise planning obligations to help to mitigate any adverse impacts of an educational development and assist in delivering development that has a positive impact on the community.

The Council recognises the differences in location and design requirements between rural and urban based education proposals in the Borough and will assess applications accordingly. For example, a rural based school application in particular must promote adequate and reliable public transport provision for its students.

7.15 Alternative options considered

No Policy / Rely on the NPPF - Whilst the NPPF provides support for the principles set out in the policy it is necessary to add more specific guidance to enable policy guidance to respond to the local priorities and context. In respect of policy on education, a strong permissive steer is to support new academies and free schools in the NPPF, so it is therefore important that a policy provides further guidance to provide the opportunity to inform proposals and seek appropriate mitigation if required.

(2) Strategic Sports

7.16 The existing sport, leisure and public and private open spaces within the Borough, represent important assets serving the communities in which they are located (or in some instances wider areas). This importance can relate not only to their function, but also to the amenity value and contribution to the character of an area in general in providing 'green lung', opportunities for a well-designed and inclusive public realm, and visual breaks in the built environment. If such provisions are lost to other uses it can be extremely difficult to find alternative locations particularly as open land is scarce and, therefore, at a premium.

7.17 Against this background, it is intended to secure the retention and enhancement of existing facilities unless a case can be made that alternative provision will be provided in a wholly acceptable manner. There are a wide range of organisations currently delivering sport and leisure facilities within the Borough including strategic sports providers such as the University of Essex, the Garrison and Colchester Institute.

7.18 A Strategic Sports Board has been established and a Sports Delivery Group is being formed to ensure that the delivery of sports and leisure facilities is planned and delivered in a coherent way.

7.19 The Council will work with the Strategic Sports Providers as well as developers, schools, sports governing bodies, sports clubs, Active Essex/Active Colchester and Sport England to plan for and secure the delivery of a range of new sport and leisure facilities across the Borough over the plan period to serve residents' needs, encourage active lifestyles and to increase participation in formal and informal recreation.

7.20 A number of documents will be used by the Council when assessing planning applications relating to proposed development of open space and sports facilities. These include the Sports Facilities Strategies (and subsequent updates) and Sports Development Plans prepared by other strategic sports providers in Colchester. Sport England will be consulted on any application that is likely to prejudice the use of or lead to the loss of use of land used as a playing field (whether presently used, or used within the last 5 years, or allocated for such use).

(5) Policy DM4: Sports Provision

CBC will work with a range of sports providers across the Borough to protect, enhance and deliver new sports and leisure facilities to encourage active lifestyles and to increase participation in formal and informal recreation.

The delivery of new sports facilities will be focused at hub sites including The Teys Garden Community and the University Garden Village; North Colchester; the University of Essex and the Garrison. Development at these locations will be required to contribute to the delivery of the sport and leisure needs identified in the Sports Facilities Strategies, in the respective Sports Development Plans for The Garrison, University of Essex and North Colchester (Northern Gateway).

Development at other locations in the Borough will be also required to contribute to the provision or enhancement of sport or leisure facilities where a need has been identified.

The Council will seek to secure community use as part of all new strategic sports proposals and as part of other smaller sport and leisure schemes submitted where it is practical to do so.

Development, including change of use, of any existing or proposed sports ground or playing field will not be supported unless it can be demonstrated that:

  1. Alternative and improved provision will be created in a location well related to the functional requirements of the relocated use and its existing and future users;
  2. The proposal would not result in the loss of an area important for its amenity or contribution to the green infrastructure network or to the character of the area in general; and
  3. It achieves the aims of the Colchester Sports Facilities Strategy.
Development proposals resulting in a loss of indoor or outdoor sport/recreational facilities must additionally demonstrate that:
  1. There is an identified excess provision within the catchment of the facility and no likely shortfall is expected within the plan period; or
  2. Alternative and improved sport /recreational provision will be delivered at a location well-related to the functional requirements of the relocated use and its existing and future users.
In all cases, development will not be permitted that would result in any deficiencies in sports provision or increase existing deficiencies in the area either at the time of the proposal or be likely to result in a shortfall within the plan period.

Policy alternatives

7.21 No change to existing policy - the current policy could have been retained but new evidence has been gathered about sport and leisure needs in the Borough which is not reflected in the current policy.

Tourism, Leisure, Culture and Heritage

7.22 Colchester's rich historic heritage and range of beautiful landscapes provides the basis for an important tourism sector which creates jobs and provides facilities, attraction and environments for visitors that also enhance the quality of life for local residents. Proposals to support this sector will accordingly be supported subject to their accordance with the Council's spatial hierarchy and policies. It is important to ensure that new development does not detract from the settings and features that make visitor destinations attractive and distinctive.

7.23 The Borough's historic Town Centre is the focal point for visitor attractions and accommodation as well as leisure and cultural facilities. In line with national policy, proposals falling within the category of 'town centre uses' as defined in the NPPF glossary will be subject to a sequential test to ensure they align with the Council's spatial hierarchy which prioritises the town centre.

7.24 In rural areas, the council recognises that existing visitor accommodation sites may be an acceptable location for further small-scale development although not readily accessible by public transport. In order to maximise the benefits of tourism to rural economies it is important to locate new tourism development in locations where visitors can help to support local shops, pubs and other rural services. Some leisure and cultural facilities including sports facilities such as golf courses, sports pitches and water-based attractions require significant amount of open space and accordingly can be appropriate for suitable countryside locations. Given that they also entail environmental and visual impacts from built structures, increased traffic and landscape and habitat changes, it is important to ensure new facilities are evaluated carefully in light of considerations of amenity, environmental and landscape impact and accessibility. Proposals for new or extended visitor facilities will be assessed against their ability to help deliver policies SD1, SG4; ENV1 (Environment) OV1) (DM23) & DM24, ENV4 and WC3 and other relevant policies.

(5) Policy DM5: Tourism, Leisure, Culture and Heritage

Development for new and extended visitor attractions, leisure, cultural and heritage facilities along with visitor accommodation (including hotels, bed & breakfast accommodation, self-catering accommodation, holiday lodges, static and touring caravans and camping sites) will be supported in suitable locations subject to minimising their impact on neighbouring areas. Proposals for tourism, leisure, culture and heritage development should be appropriate in scale and function to their surrounding area; be accessible by a choice of means of transport; and not cause significant harm to the amenity of people living and working nearby.

In locations where residential use would be inappropriate, developments of visitor accommodation will be limited by condition or legal agreement to holiday use only and/or certain periods of the year in order to prevent permanent or long-term occupation.

7.25 Alternative options considered

No policy/rely on the NPPF - The importance of the tourism, leisure and culture sectors to the Colchester economy and quality of place warrants specific policy attention to ensure an appropriate level of provision.

(1) Economic Development in Rural Areas and the Countryside

7.26 The Local Plan supports rural communities and sets out a flexible approach that maintains a balance between environmental considerations and appropriate business growth. The countryside is viewed as a good location for some businesses, particularly those specific to rural tourism. Business preference for rural sites also reflects the pleasant environment and the availability of relatively cheaper premises in comparison with built-up areas. The Borough is also coming under particular pressure for employment based development in the countryside because there are a significant number of large agricultural buildings and other rural buildings that are potentially suitable for conversion to employment use, coupled with the high rental values to be found within the built up area. This demand needs to be considered in the context of environmental impacts, accessibility and in relation to local rural economic development in the Borough, and specific economic needs. Improvements to rural broadband is also enabling more businesses to locate to rural areas.

7.27 Policy SG4 sets out the Council's approach for appropriate land uses within all sites across rural Colchester that are in employment use. The 'B' Use Class traditionally encompassed the majority of uses considered to constitute employment uses in planning terms. In some cases a more flexible approach around employment uses is now needed to ensure compliance with national planning policy and guidance.

7.28 The loss of employment land, in the Borough could affect the Council's ability to achieve its economic development objectives. The Local Plan establishes the scale and general location of land for employment purposes and states that as a general principle such land should be safeguarded. However, in accordance with the NPPF, land and premises will not be protected where there is no reasonable prospect of it being developed for an economic use.

7.29 In rural areas, where the local need for employment land can be met elsewhere, it may be that alternative uses could be considered favourably (within the context of the other policies in the Local Plan). Exceptionally, an alternative use may be preferable, providing evidence is submitted in support of the alternative use. Applicants will need to demonstrate that the site is no longer usable and viable for another form of employment use, for example where continuation of the employment use would be detrimental to other planning objectives such as regeneration, protecting or enhancing the appearance of the countryside, or where other economic benefits to the area might result such as through tourism.

7.30 Consideration of overall economic benefits must also extend to include addressing the future of any firms displaced through the redevelopment, including redevelopment for a new employment use. The Local Planning Authority is more likely to be supportive of the re-use and conversion of rural buildings that are adjacent to or closely related to a sustainable settlement. Conversely, change of use of isolated buildings is unlikely to be acceptable unless they would ensure the retention and preservation of a heritage building and the use does not result in a significant increase in the level of activity and traffic generation to and from the site. Each proposal will be considered on its merits in line with this policy, other relevant policies in the Local Plan and permitted development rights.

7.31 Schemes involving the re-use of historic rural buildings will be required to comply with the provisions of policy DM16. Proposals that are small-scale in nature and which respect local character are more likely to be supported, whereas those with the potential to generate traffic related problems may not be supported.

7.32 Preference will always be towards re-use and conversion of existing buildings where this is possible rather than the construction of new buildings. Consequently, where a building is to be replaced applicants will need to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority that any available buildings are not capable of renovation and may be requested to submit a structural survey. Where suitable developments can be identified, support may be given to the provision of workspace or incubator units.

7.33 There are a number of well-established employment sites in the rural parts of the Borough, where some important local companies are located. Companies are often seeking to expand their operations within the site and this can be more appropriate than the company seeking alternative premises outside of the Borough, in order to retain the economic and social benefits which can arise from companies located in rural areas. It will be beneficial for applications to expand existing operations to be supported by a business plan, depending on the scale of the development proposed. In some cases for the purposes of business or employment use replacement buildings can be more appropriate than the continued use of existing buildings. There are a number of sites in the rural areas of the Borough which are visually intrusive and where redevelopment could significantly enhance the local environment.

7.34 Landscaping and planting should be used to aid in the reduction of impact on the countryside of development. Proposals for new isolated buildings in the countryside will not normally be permitted in accordance with national policies. Change of use to residential will not be supported within allocated Local Economic Areas or at unallocated rural sites providing an economic uses.

(3) Policy DM6: Economic development in rural areas and the countryside

The Council will protect Local Economic Areas in rural Colchester that provide an economic function both on allocated sites shown on the policy maps and at other rural locations that provide a similar function.

Sites and premises currently used or allocated for employment purposes in rural parts of the Borough will be safeguarded for appropriate economic uses to ensure local residents have access to local job opportunities without the need to travel. Proposals for alternative uses will be supported where they comply with policy SG4

Within allocated rural Local Economic Areas and on rural sites providing an economic function, the following uses are considered appropriate:

  1. Business (B1), general industrial (B2), storage and distribution (B8);
  2. Repair and storage of vehicles and vehicle parts, including cars, boats and caravans;
  3. Other employment-generating uses, such as those related to recreation and tourism, which meet local needs and/or promote rural enterprise.

Economic development proposals in the countryside, within a designated Local Economic Area or on a rural site providing a similar function, must contribute to the local rural economy and help sustain rural communities. The proposed use is likely to be small scale and not harm the rural character of the local area either by the nature and level of activity (including the amount of additional traffic generation on rural roads) or any other detrimental effects such as noise and pollution.

The following additional considerations will also be taken into account

where relevant:

(A) Conversion and re-use of existing rural buildings:

Proposals will only be supported where the building is capable of re-use without fundamental rebuilding, and the buildings are deemed to be desirable for retention. In the case of former agricultural or forestry buildings of recent construction (less than 10 years), it will also need to be demonstrated that the original need for the building was genuine and that it is no longer required for agricultural or forestry purposes.

(B) Extension of existing rural employment buildings:

Proposals will be supported where these are limited to expansion plans which are essential to the operation of the established business. All extensions shall be accommodated satisfactorily in terms of design, scale and appearance within the existing employment site boundary.

(C) Replacement rural employment buildings:

Replacement buildings will only be supported where the existing development is visually intrusive or otherwise inappropriate in its context and a substantial improvement in the landscape and surroundings will be secured through replacement. New buildings should not significantly increase the scale, height and built form of the original building.

(D) New rural employment buildings:

Proposals will only be supported in exceptional cases where there are no appropriate existing buildings, there is no available employment land and need has been adequately demonstrated.

(E) Expansion of an existing business:

Proposals to expand an existing employment use into the countryside will only be supported in exceptional cases where there is no space for the required use on the existing site, the need has been adequately demonstrated, and the proposals are essential to the operation of an established business on the site. Consideration must be given to the relocation of the business to available land within a Strategic or Local Economic Area site or alternative rural site providing an economic function and in a more sustainable location.

7.35 Alternative Options considered

No policy/rely on the NPPF - The current Local Plan includes two policies DM6 and DM9 that guide employment uses in rural areas. Both polices have been amended to reflect the introduction of the NPPF and also in response to recommendations about the future use of allocated Local Economic Sites in the Employment Land Needs Assessment Report.

(1) Agricultural Development and Diversification

7.36 Paragraph 28 of the NPPF promotes the development and diversification of agricultural and other land-based rural businesses. This may well involve adaptation to new markets and ways of operation, and diversification of activities.

7.37 The agricultural economy in the Borough is changing, as increasingly farmers are seeking to diversify in order to remain in farming. Accordingly the Council is seeking to encourage farm diversification schemes that are planned on a comprehensive basis to retain a viable agricultural unit by seeking additional incomes from other sources which still relate to the countryside. Whilst the Council will support appropriate farm diversification schemes, the Council will resist proposals that would harm the rural area or segregate the existing agricultural use or farm holding. A farm shop selling products produced on the farm unit itself and which does not require a new building is unlikely to require planning permission.

7.38 In order to protect the quality and distinctiveness of the local landscape, the Council wishes to prevent un-coordinated development in rural areas and the gradual stripping of assets from farms without regard for the viability of the holding. Applicants must also have regard to the policies regarding conversion and replacement of rural buildings. Appropriate sustainable business proposals could include tourism, conversion of buildings for employment and other uses related to an activity that would normally be found in rural areas. However, schemes that include or could lead to future pressure for new residential dwellings will not be permitted unless there are exceptional circumstances in line with national policy.

7.39 Proposals for farm diversification should also take account of other relevant policy criteria, in particular but not exclusively, policy DM6 in relation to the re-use of existing buildings and appropriate rural employment uses, policy DM16 in relation to the re-use of historic farm buildings and policyDM21 in relation to access considerations.

7.40 The Council recognises that provisions within the General Permitted Development Order 2015 (such as Classes P, Q, R and S) are in place to enable a speedy supply of rural-based businesses and a housing stock of smaller rural dwellings, that utilises existing buildings, under completely different sets of considerations to Planning applications. However, these measures should not be regarded as "fall-back" positions for speculative development by rural land-owners and will not be treated as such by the Council. Any applications falling outside the scope of Permitted Development will be considered against other relevant policies in the Local Plan in the interests of sustainable development.

(5) Policy DM7: Agricultural Development and Diversification

The Council supports appropriate proposals for rural diversification that help sustain the rural economy.

The Council will support and encourage appropriate farm diversification proposals where they help support the rural economy, are compatible with the rural environment and help to sustain the existing agricultural enterprise without the need for subdivision of the holding or separate enterprises unrelated to the existing agricultural use.

All proposals must be accompanied by a satisfactory diversification plan according to the scale of proposals, which describes how it will assist in retaining the viability of the farm and how it links with any other short or long term business plans for the farm. Proposals for farm shops as part of a farm diversification scheme must identify the products produced on site or locally and demonstrate that the location of farm-based retailing is necessary to assure farm income where their needs cannot be met within a nearby town or District Centre.

Proposals that fall within the scope of Permitted Development will be considered on their individual merits. Ancillary development proposals submitted in conjunction with a Permitted Development scheme but falling outside the scope of the most up to date General Permitted Development Order will require the submission of a separate planning application.

Proposals for farm diversification schemes will be supported where they meet the following criteria:

  1. Existing buildings are re-used wherever possible. Schemes involving the re-use of historic farm buildings shall maintain and enhance the historic environment; including the character of the built heritage;
  2. The development is well-related to existing buildings if no suitable buildings are available for re-use;
  3. The development is secondary to the main agricultural use of the farm; and
  4. The proposal will not be likely to require new dwellings within the rural area to support the enterprise either at the time of first submission or at any future date.

New agricultural buildings requiring planning permission will be guided to locations on the farm which are sensitive to their environment.

Alternative Options considered

7.41 No policy/rely on the NPPF - The current Local Plan includes policies that guide employment uses in rural areas, including diversification. Polices have been amended to reflect the introduction of the NPPF and also in response to recommendations about the future use of allocated Local Economic Sites in the Employment Land Needs Assessment Report.

(1) Affordable Housing

7.42 The need for affordable housing is high in Colchester, as it is elsewhere in the Eastern region. The Council's evidence in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment supports a target of 30-35%, but this target must be balanced with viability considerations and allowance will need to be taken of the fact that some sites may not deliver affordable housing for example, due to government policy thresholds. Viability work will be updated as required to ensure the target reflects the balance between essential housing need and viability. Where 20% is not considered to be viable, applicants will need to submit information on viability. The Council will expect developers to meet the Council's reasonable costs associated with viability appraisals in instances where the level of affordable housing is disputed.A target of 20% will optimise affordable housing delivery on greenfield land whilst facilitating the regeneration of rundown areas.

7.43 In instances where the provision of affordable housing is supported by the delivery of some open market units on a rural exception site, it will be essential to ensure that the number of open market units never dominates a particular scheme. In determining the number of open market units required to facilitate the delivery of affordable units, the Council will expect applicants to demonstrate viability calculations starting with 100% affordable housing. The same calculations should then be applied with the introduction of one open market unit at a time until a point is reached where the delivery of the rural exception site becomes viable. The number of open market units on a rural exception site should be less than the number of affordable units delivered.

(11) Policy DM8: Affordable Housing

The Borough Council is committed to improving housing affordability in Colchester. The Council will be seeking to secure 20% of new dwellings (including conversions) on housing development for more than 10 dwellings to be provided as affordable housing (normally on site)

Where it is considered that a site forms part of a larger development area, affordable housing will be apportioned with reference to the site area as a whole.

This level balances the objectively assessed need for affordable housing in the Borough established by the Council's evidence base against the requirement for flexibility to take account of changing market conditions. For sites where an alternative level of affordable housing is proposed below the target, it will need to be supported by evidence in the form of a viability appraisal. The affordable housing provision should proportionately reflect the mix of market units and the requirement for Starter Homes. It should have regard to the latest assessment of local market conditions and housing need relative to supply in determining the optimum affordable housing mix.

In exceptional circumstances, where high development costs undermine the viability of housing delivery, developers will be expected to demonstrate an alternative affordable housing provision.

Affordable housing development in the villages of rural Colchester Borough will be supported on rural exception sites contiguous with village settlement boundaries, provided a local need is demonstrated by the Town/Parish Council on behalf of their residents based on the evidence gained from an approved local housing needs survey. A proportion of market housing which facilitates the provision of significant additional affordable housing may be appropriate on rural exception sites. Information to demonstrate that the market housing is essential to cross-subsidise the delivery of the affordable housing and that the development would not be viable without this cross-subsidy will be required. At the scheme level, the number of open market units on the rural exception site will be strictly limited to only the number of units required to facilitate the provision of significant affordable housing units on a rural exception site. The number of affordable units on a site should always be greater than the number of open market units delivered in this way. The actual number will be determined on local circumstances, evidence of local need and the overall viability of the scheme. General design of the homes should be comparable regardless of tenure within a single integrated development layout.

The Council will require developments to integrate affordable housing and market housing, with a consistent standard of quality design and public spaces, to create mixed and sustainable communities. In schemes over 15 units the affordable housing should be provided in more than one single parcel. Elsewhere the affordable housing mix on any site should normally be "pepper potted" throughout the scheme in groups, the size and location of which should be discussed and agreed with the Council.

7.44 Alternative Options

No Policy / Rely on the NPPF - The NPPF expects that Local Plans will provide further detail on how affordable housing will be provided given that targets need to reflect local circumstances as documented in the Council's evidence base..

Set an Alternative Target - Alternative targets could be set, in particular given the ever increasing need for more affordable housing, but the current target of 20% is considered to represent the best balance between housing need and viability considerations.

Housing Density

7.45 The density of housing development can have significant implications for sustainability, local character, travel behaviour, development land take, and residential amenity.

7.46 New developments must enhance local character and optimise the capacity of accessible locations. Locations with good access to the Town Centre, are more suited to higher density development, although a flexible approach will be important to ensure that densities are compatible with the surrounding townscape. Higher density developments in these locations can accommodate more people at locations with good access to employment, shops and education, and allow residents to easily access their needs by walking, cycling and public transport. This in turn supports the provision of local business, services and infrastructure. However, high density development that is poorly located or poorly designed can have adverse impacts on the local community, built character, traffic and sustainability. High density developments need to have regard to biodiversity and open spaces provided within urban areas and on brownfield sites.

7.47 Densities therefore may need to be moderated at less accessible locations and to reflect local character. The provision of open space, parking and a mix of housing will also have moderating affect on densities. The density of developments also needs to be informed by the provision of open space and parking, the character of the area, and the mix of housing.

(3) Policy DM9: Housing Density

The Borough Council will seek housing densities that make efficient use of land and relate to the context. All residential development will need to be at an appropriate density and massing for the area having regard to;

  • The character of the site and its immediate surroundings, as well as the wider locality
  • The adequacy of the access and the local road network to accommodate the traffic likely to be generated by the proposed development as well as the level of access to sustainable modes of transport;
  • The existing landscaping, trees and hedgerows on the site and the need for further landscaping;
  • Provision of appropriate on site amenities to serve the development in accordance with policy SG6 and any relevant adopted guidance;
  • Provision of appropriate parking to serve the development in accordance with relevant standards and policy DM22

The density of the residential development also needs to ensure an adequate standard of residential accommodation is provided for the occupants in accordance with policy DM12 which is also appropriate to the mix and type of housing provided as informed by the various housing policies set out in the local Plan0

7.48 Alternative options considered

Set Minimum / Maximum Densities - The policy could specify a minimum or maximum density for all sites in the Borough. This may address the efficient use of land, however, it will not allow for the density to have regard to the character of the area and respond directly to site specific characteristics.

Leave to NPPF - This would not be a compliant approach as the NPPF requires LPAs to set their own densities which reflect local circumstances

Housing Diversity

7.49 All housing developments in Colchester should be inclusive and accommodate a diverse range of households and housing need to create mixed communities. Housing developments must provide a range of housing types that can accommodate a range of different households, including families, single persons, older persons, those with care and/or support needs, and low income households.

7.50 There is an important relationship between housing diversity, density and the accessibility of the location. Town Centre locations, for example, are highly accessible and can support high density flats, but they also need to accommodate a range of household sizes. Suburban locations have moderate access and should accommodate a range of housing types and household sizes. Rural locations have low accessibility and will suit low density development, but should also still provide for small and low income households.

7.51 In 2011, the average household size was 2.33 persons. Approximately 29% were single person households, roughly 36% were 2 person households, and another 29% of households had dependent children. In 2021, the average household size is projected to shrink to around 2.31 persons, and single person households are likely to grow to about 35% of the total. The Council's Strategic Housing Market Assessment work indicates that the number of lone parent households is expected to increase the most in the Housing Market Area over the period 2015-2037, followed by one person households. Couples with children are projected to fall in number.

7.52 All housing developments therefore need to provide a more balanced range of housing types to reflect identified community need. The mix of housing should reflect the housing needs of the community, and therefore higher density developments in the urbanised areas still need to provide accommodation suitable to families and larger households, and low density developments in villages still need to provide housing for small and low income households.

7.53 The NPPF requires local authorities to have a clear idea of the housing needs of various subgroups in the population. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment undertaken to provide this understanding provides information on the following sub-groups:-

  • Older persons and specialist housing - Colchester is expected to record a 60.6% increase in its population of those age 65 and over. In response to this growth, the SHMA indicates that if occupation patterns of specialist accommodation remain at current levels there is a requirement for 2,147 additional specialist units of which 2,066 should be sheltered housing and 81 extra care housing. In Colchester, this means that an additional 94 sheltered and extra care housing units should be provided each year. This is in addition to the requirement for housing suitable for the needs of older people which allows people to live in their own homes for as long as possible.

Essex County Council is the provider of social services in the Borough. It is encouraging the provision of specialist accommodation in Essex as a means by which older people can continue to live healthy and active lives within existing communities and for Colchester Borough has set the target of delivering 205 additional units of specialist accommodation to enable older people to live independently within the community by 2020. This target is set out in the Essex County Council's Independent Living Position Statement (2015). This approach to meeting the specialist accommodation needs of older people is intended to reduce the demand for residential/nursing home care, which is a considerably more expensive way of meeting the needs of older people, and can unnecessarily restrict independence within this age group.

  • Self-build/custom build housing - As required by national guidance, Colchester maintains a register of those interested in self-build/custom build plots and will use this information to guide delivery of new self-build units. Policy for Garden Communities (Part One policies SP8 and SP9) will provide specific allocations for self-build allocations.
  • Gypsies and travellers - The Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment prepared for Essex local authorities provides that Colchester should provide 15 pitches to 2033. Policy DM11 provides criteria and allocations for meeting this need.
  • Students - The University of Essex had 11,657 students registered for the 2015-16 academic year. The University plans to expand to accommodate around 15,000 students by 2019. The University has long term plans to extend its accommodation provision to respond to increasing numbers. Additionally, the Wivenhoe and Hythe areas house a number of students in both purpose-built and private rented accommodation.

(8) Policy DM10: Housing Diversity

Colchester Borough Council intends to secure a range of housing types and tenures on developments across the Borough in order to create inclusive and sustainable communities. Housing developments should provide a mix of housing types to suit a range of different households as identified in the latest Strategic Housing Market Assessment, whilst also realising the opportunities presented by accessible locations. The Council will seek to provide for the needs of particular groups as follows:

Older people - The Council will require developers to demonstrate how their proposal will be capable of meeting and adapting to the long term needs of its increasing numbers of older residents. This would include the provision of Lifetime Homes and other measures to support independent living, further to the support for these types of dwellings in the Housing Standards policy DM10.

Specialist Housing- The Council will support provision of schemes providing higher levels of care for specialist groups including the disabled, those with care needs and other vulnerable people. New development proposals for these groups will be supported where there is a proven need; they are located within settlements; and are accessible by public transport.

Self-build/custom housing - The Council will support proposals for self-build housing, where demand as indicated by registrations on the Council's Self-Build Register and where this demand is realistic in terms of the financial capacity of applicants , both on individual sites and as part of larger schemes, including rural exception sites. Policies for Garden Communities (Part One SP8 and SP9) include specific targets for self-build/custom build allocations to help ensure their delivery.

Gypsies and Travellers - The Council will meet identified need for gypsy and traveller accommodation, with specific allocations and policy considerations set out in Policy DM11.

Students - Planning permission will be granted for purpose-built student accommodation subject to other policies in this plan and where:

  1. the location is appropriate in terms of access to public transport and university and college facilities; and
  2. the proposal will not result in an excessive concentration of student accommodation in any one locality.
  3. Specific proposals for University based accommodation are contained in policy EC1.

St Helena Hospice - The Council will support the provision of hospice care in the local community through the use of existing or new sites.

7.54 Alternative options considered

Set specific allocations for every type of specialist housing - this would increase levels of certainty that provision is made, but would not allow for sufficient flexibility for categories such as older people's housing that could be provided in a range of types and locations.

Gypsies, Travellers, and Travelling Showpeople

7.55 The Borough Council will seek to provide appropriate sites to meet the needs of the gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople in the Borough as identified through the latest Gypsy and Traveller assessment work and further to guidance from Government set forth in 'Planning policy for traveller sites'. These sites need to provide gypsy and traveller communities with good access to education, health, welfare and employment infrastructure, bearing in mind the need to have due regard to the protection of local amenity and local environment.

(8) Policy DM11: Gypsies, Travellers, and Travelling Showpeople

The Council will identify sites to meet the established needs of gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople in the Borough.

The Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment carried out for the Essex area in 2014 identified a need for 15 pitches to be provided in Colchester by 2033, broken down as follows:







No. of pitches






The need for 6 pitches by 2023 can be met by expansion of the existing site at Severalls. The existing site has successfully operated since 2012 and is considered a sustainable location for small scale expansion. The need for the remainder of the plan period will be met through allocation of gypsy and traveller provision in the Garden Communities, to be finalised through the process of agreeing detailed allocations and masterplans for those areas.

Proposals for any further applications will be judged on the basis that sites should be located within reasonable proximity to existing sustainable settlements, and with access to shops, schools and other community facilities. Sites should also provide adequate space for vehicles and appropriate highway access. Any identified need for 'transit' (temporary) sites for gypsies and travellers will be met in appropriate locations related to the current working patterns of the travelling community.

(1) Housing Standards

7.56 It is important to strike an appropriate balance between providing freedom and flexibility for the housing market to operate and ensuring that a range of sites are available for different areas of the housing market. However, the different types of dwelling should be suitably designed to consider the potential needs of their perspective occupiers and the Design and Access statements submitted with planning permissions should cover this point. It is expected that new residential development will address the requirements of Lifetime Homes standards, which incorporate 16 design features providing a flexible blueprint for accessible and adaptable housing to meet the needs of people at all stages of life. While Lifetime Homes can be converted to full wheelchair accessibility, there is a particular need for housing that is wheelchair accessible from the outset. The revised Part M building regulations require the minimum standard for all new dwellings which makes them suitable to be visited by a wheelchair user. Anything over and above this baseline standard will only be permitted where the council has demonstrated a clearly evidenced need, and where their impact on viability has been considered, in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework and Planning Guidance.

7.57 Accessible, well-designed and easy to use waste and recycling facilities will be needed in new developments to help the Council meet its recycling targets. High quality sustainable development also includes adequate arrangements for servicing and refuse vehicles, storage, parking for cars and cycles and electric vehicle charging points, in accordance with Policy DM22.

(8) Policy DM12: Housing Standards

Residential development will be guided by high standards of design, construction and layout. In considering proposals for new residential development, the Council will have regard to the following:

  1. New buildings or extensions should be designed to minimise the overshadowing of neighbouring properties as well as to avoid other adverse microclimatic effects resulting from high density layouts;
  2. Acceptable levels of daylight to all habitable rooms and no single aspect north-facing homes;
  3. Acceptable levels of privacy for rear-facing habitable rooms and sitting-out areas;
  4. A management and maintenance plan to be prepared for multi occupancy buildings and implemented via planning conditions to ensure the future maintenance of the building and external spaces;
  5. Flexibility in the internal layout of dwellings to allow adaptability to different lifestyles incorporating the design principles of Lifetime Homes wherever appropriate to do so;
  6. Internal space standards to be in accordance with the National described space standard (DCLG 2015) or any future replacement of this
  7. Vehicle parking as set by Policy DM22. In the case of flats, secure cycle storage should be incorporated into flat blocks and readily located at the building entrances;
  8. An accessible bin and recycling storage area, and external drying areas;
  9. Electric car charging points; and
  10. Provision of broadband and other required infrastructure as referenced in Policy SG6.

(1) Domestic Development: Residential alterations, extensions and outbuildings

7.58 There have been a number of changes to planning regulations in recent years which have increased the forms and scope of domestic development proposals not requiring planning permission. Further guidance on the types of development that do not require planning permission can be obtained from the government's Planning Portal: www.

7.59 This policy should be read in conjunction with Policy DM1 (Design and Amenity). Together the policies set out the criteria for assessing planning applications for domestic development proposals which includes residential alterations, extensions and annexes as well as replacement dwellings and flat conversions. In addition to these policies the Council may publish further guidance relevant to domestic development which should be consulted prior to submitting a planning application.

7.60 The Council wishes to retain and promote a balanced mix of dwelling types and sizes in the borough and avoid the loss of smaller and more affordable units. Therefore extensions and annexes should always be compatible and subordinate to the original dwelling and not result in the over-development of residential plots.

7.61 The Council also wishes to ensure that dwellings do not incrementally grow by a succession of small extensions which cumulatively can alter the scale and character of the original dwelling. Therefore the Council will take into account the cumulative impact of development when determining applications for domestic development proposals. For the purposes of this policy, the 'original' dwelling is defined as the building as it existed on 4th November 1993, or as it was originally built, if later than this date.

7.62 In order to retain the availability of smaller and more affordable dwellings in the countryside, replacement dwellings should be of an appropriate scale to their rural setting and not result in any greater adverse impacts than the dwellings they replace. For the purposes of this policy the countryside means all areas outside of defined settlement boundaries.

7.63 In order to protect the borough's countryside, proposals for extensions of domestic gardens into the open countryside will not be permitted if they result in an adverse impact on the surrounding countryside; result in the loss of good quality agricultural land; or set a precedent for unacceptable extensions to gardens at one or more neighbouring properties. Where planning permission is granted, applicants will be expected to relinquish their permitted development rights over the new area of garden.

7.64 The Council recognises the important contribution flat conversions make to the provision of smaller and more affordable dwellings in the borough, particularly in urban areas where demand for such units are at their highest. However flat conversions will only be permitted where they are sympathetic to the original dwelling and make appropriate provision for amenity, storage and parking. Importantly flat conversions should not result in unsatisfactory living conditions for future residents.

7.65 Domestic development proposals represent a large number of planning applications received by the Council. The wording of policies must reflect the competing interests of planning applicants and other stakeholders, including those most affected by development proposals such those occupying neighbouring dwellings.

7.66 The policy has to allow householders the freedom to develop their property in a manner they choose whilst ensuring that proposals do not adversely affect the original dwelling or the surrounding area.

7.67 From a strategic perspective the policy must recognise the requirement to retain and promote a balanced housing stock by preventing smaller and more affordable properties from being either extended into a much larger property or being replaced with a larger dwelling.

7.68 Finally the policy must ensure that the conversion of dwellings into flats is carried out in a satisfactory way from both the perspective of the original dwelling's appearance but also prospective residents who have the right to satisfactory living conditions.

(5) Policy DM13: Domestic development: Residential alterations, extensions and outbuildings

Residential alterations, extensions and outbuildings will be permitted, provided the proposal meets the following criteria:

  1. It is compatible with the scale, appearance and character of the original dwelling including taking into account the cumulative impact of such development;
  2. It does not result in the over-development of the plot out of scale to its surroundings, taking into account the footprint of the existing dwelling and the relationship to neighbouring plot boundaries;
  3. Proposals for extensions and outbuildings will be subordinate to the original dwelling in terms of design and position;
  4. It will not result in unacceptable adverse impacts on the amenities of neighbouring residential properties, including on privacy, overbearing impact, overshadowing or loss of light;
  5. It will not result in adverse impact to the appearance of the street scene and character of the area.

Residential annexes

Residential annexes will be supported where the need for additional space cannot be met within an existing dwelling or buildings suitable for conversion on the site in the first instance, provided the proposal meets the following criteria:

  1. It is physically attached or closely related to the main dwelling so that it cannot be subdivided from the main dwelling;
  2. It retains some form of demonstrable dependence on the main dwelling, such as shared access (including both vehicular access and doorways) and communal amenity spaces (the use of annexes as a separate dwelling will not be permitted and the desire for annexed occupants to be independent from existing residents will not be considered as adequate justification to allow self-contained dwellings in annexes);
  3. It respects and enhances both the character of the original dwelling and the context of the surrounding area through high quality design; and
  4. It does not result in the loss of amenity to neighbouring properties.

Replacement dwellings in the countryside

Replacement dwellings in the countryside within existing curtilages will be supported, provided the proposal meets the following criteria:

  1. It is on a one-for-one basis and the property to be demolished is a permanent lawful dwelling;
  2. It is of a high quality design that is appropriate to the rural area in scale and character and preserves or enhances access, siting and dwelling orientation; and
  3. It provides high quality landscaping, where necessary, to integrate the new dwelling into the wider rural context with no greater adverse impacts than the existing dwelling.

Flat conversions

Proposals for the conversion and sub-division of existing residential premises within settlement boundaries into flats and other self-contained residential units will be considered having regard to the intensity of the use proposed and the sustainability of the location in respect of the proximity of the site to key services and public transport provision. Proposals should also be in accordance with the requirements set out in the Housing Standards policy.

In addition to those considerations proposals for the conversion and sub-division of existing residential premises and, in cases of conversions of non-residential buildings where planning permission is required, will only be supported if they meet the following criteria:

  1. It does not result in detrimental effects to the appearance of the building by reason of unsympathetic additions or alterations, either in isolation or due to cumulative impact;
  2. Appropriate provision is made for parking, private amenity space, cycle storage and refuse storage facilities, in a visually acceptable manner;
  3. The internal layout minimises possible noise disturbance and/or overlooking to the immediate neighbours; and
  4. Overall, the proposal will not result in an unsatisfactory living environment for prospective occupiers.

7.69 Alternative Options

No Policy / Rely on National Guidance - if there was no domestic development policy included in the Local Plan there would have to be a reliance on the NPPF and PPG to inform the determination of such proposals. Given that both national policy and national guidance do not provide any detail on the types of development proposals covered in this policy, on their own they would not be sufficient to ensure development is of an acceptable standard. Although permitted development rights have increased the types and scale of development which doesn't require planning permission, the proposed policy is required to ensure development proposals for alterations, extensions, annexes, replacement dwellings and flat conversions outside of permitted development rights are carried out in a way which respects local areas as well as protecting the needs of existing and future neighbours and residents.

(1) Rural Workers Housing

7.70 The NPPF states that one of the few circumstances where a new dwelling within the countryside may be justified is when accommodation is required to enable agricultural or rural workers to live at or in the immediate vicinity of their place of work.

7.71 While Colchester Council's preference is for such workers to live in nearby towns or villages, or suitable existing dwellings to avoid new and potentially intrusive development in the countryside, it acknowledges that there will be some instances where the nature and demands of certain rural businesses will make it essential for one or more people engaged in the enterprise to live at, or very close to, their place of work.

7.72 Such a need however must be essential to the successful operation of the rural business. Any proposal for a new agricultural/rural workers dwelling will be expected to satisfy all the criteria set out in Policy H6.

7.73 The need for a rural workers dwelling could be generated by a range of traditional rural land activities such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, rural estate management, certain equestrian businesses and horticulture.

7.74 Applications will be subject to a functions test to establish whether it is essential for the proper functioning of the business enterprise for one or more workers to be readily available. Such a requirement might arise where a worker or workers need to be available round the clock to respond to situations where livestock/animals or agricultural processes require essential care at short notice or emergencies that could otherwise cause a serious loss of crops or products e.g. by frost or failure of automatic systems.

7.75 Given the restrictions on the delivery of new dwellings in the countryside, the scale and design of any proposals for rural workers' dwellings should reflect their countryside location and their function as housing for a rural worker. While many people work in rural areas e.g. in offices, schools, workshops, garages and garden centres, it is unlikely that they will have an essential need to live permanently at or near their place of work. Being employed in a rural location is not considered sufficient justification to qualify as a rural worker with an essential housing need.

7.76 Changes in the scale and character of agricultural and forestry businesses have the potential to affect the longer-term requirement for dwellings in the countryside particularly where these had an "agricultural worker occupancy" condition attached when planning permission was granted. In such cases, the Borough Council recognises that it would fulfil no purpose to keep such dwellings vacant, or that existing occupiers should be obliged to remain in occupation simply by virtue of a planning condition that has outlived its usefulness.

7.77 Nevertheless, the Borough Council will expect applications for the removal of an occupancy condition to demonstrate convincingly that there is no long-term need for an agricultural dwelling in the locality. Such dwellings could be used by other agricultural and rural workers seeking accommodation within the wider surrounding area, therefore it will need to be demonstrated to the Borough Council that the dwelling tied to an occupancy condition has been effectively marketed to likely interested parties in the area concerned, and that no genuine interest has been shown regarding the purchase or rental of the dwelling for a rural worker with an essential need to live in the local community.

(1) Policy DM14: Rural Workers Housing

Permanent Rural Workers Dwellings

Planning permission will be granted for new agricultural/rural workers dwellings as part of existing businesses where all of the following criteria are met :

  1. evidence is provided to show that there is an essential functional need for a permanent dwelling
  2. the need is related to a full time worker who is primarily employed locally in agriculture, forestry or some other rural based business that requires a new dwelling in the countryside
  3. the size and design of dwelling is commensurate with the needs of the rural business
  4. the business has been established for at least 3 years, has been profitable for at least one of them, is financially viable and is likely to remain so in the future
  5. the functional need cannot be met by another suitable and available dwelling. Conversion of an existing building should be
  6. considered in preference to new build
  7. the proposed development satisfies all other Local Plan policy requirements

(1) Temporary Rural Workers Dwellings

Where a new dwelling is essential to support a new activity, whether a newly-created unit or an established one, it will normally, for the first three years, be provided by a caravan or other temporary accommodation.

Applications will need to be supported with the following information:

  1. clear evidence of a firm intention and ability to develop the enterprise concerned (significant investment in new buildings is often a good indication of intentions);
  2. essential functional need
  3. clear evidence that the proposed enterprise has been planned on a sound financial basis. The evidence should include a business plan of at least 3 years duration;
  4. the functional need could not be fulfilled by another existing dwelling on the unit, or any other existing accommodation in the area
  5. If permission for temporary accommodation is granted, permission for a permanent dwelling is unlikely to be granted within 3 years. If, after 3 years, a permanent dwelling is approved, the temporary dwelling must be removed from the site.

Conditions will be attached to any permissions granted for new rural workers dwellings to remove permitted development rights and restrict the occupancy to that required for the rural business concerned or other agricultural/rural use nearby. Where a rural dwelling is no longer needed to support a rural business, applications to remove the occupancy restrictions will have to meet the following criteria.

Evidence should be submitted that an essential functional need no longer exists at the property and is unlikely to in the foreseeable future. The applicant will be expected to provide details of instructions to estate agents, and the response to that advertising, demonstrating that:-

  1. the property has been marketed for rent or sale for at least 18 months and advertised continuously in that period at a price reflecting the occupancy condition; and
  2. the advertising should be within both local newspapers and relevant national agricultural magazines; and
  3. the property has been offered both for sale and to rent on the same basis as above to all farmers, horticulturalists and other rural businesses where a dwelling may be justified in the locality (i.e. having holdings within a two mile radius of the dwelling.)

7.78 Alternative Options considered

No policy/rely on NPPF - the NPPF makes reference to the need to plan for rural workers housing needs in paragraph 55 but only at a very high level. A more detailed Local Plan policy is required to provide the local policy context clarity the criteria that applications. Policy OV2 is a new policy that was adopted in 2014. It is NPPF compliant and the policy sets clear guidance about the circumstances when proposals for rural workers houses will be supported and provides guidance about future uses of such dwellings when they are no longer required for a rural worker.

(1) Design and Amenity

7.79 Good design is indivisible from good planning and a key NPPF requirement for ensuring sustainable development. High quality design benefits everyday users and society as a whole, by creating desirable, functional and efficient places, which help support improved amenities, inclusive communities, economic activity and reduced environmental impact. Design quality is particularly relevant in Colchester given the need to generate local support for planned growth, complement historic assets and to ensure regeneration activities leave a lasting place-making legacy.

7.80 In Colchester, as elsewhere in the UK, there is a need to deliver high quality design, whilst still ensuring sustainable development is viable. As a result there is a need to make sure policy guidance helps achieve best practice, providing clarity and securing development which is both good enough to approve and deliverable.

7.81 The promotion of good processes will be important in raising standards, including as appropriate for guidance/development:

  • Good design team selection;
  • Design guidance (e.g. masterplans, design codes, development briefs and neighbourhood plans) for priority growth and regeneration areas. These might be produced by The Council or other key stakeholders as appropriate;
  • Site and context analysis to identify issues and opportunities;
  • Alternative options to test the pros and cons of alternative proposals;
  • Pre-application dialogue (perhaps as part of a Planning Performance Agreement), to help identify improvements;
  • Independent Design Review on appropriate schemes;
  • Proposals being informed by key stakeholder consultation;
  • Supporting well designed self and community led development;
  • Submission of design material which allows for accurate assessment;

7.82 Requests by the Council for information in relation to applicant's design proposals will be reasonable and proportionate to the nature and scale of the proposal. The NPPF highlights the importance of plan-led development through to detailing, especially on larger scale developments. This can be achieved by following the principles of Garden Cities or those of other potentially appropriate urban design models, such as urban, village and arcadian case studies outlined in the Essex Design Guide.

7.83 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. Guidance does not attempt to impose architectural styles or personal tastes, though high quality traditional/contemporary designs and materials should positively respond to their physical and cultural context, and be correctly interpreted through to forms and detailing. Common design risks should be avoided such as excessive standardisation, mono-use sprawl, ungainly forms, uninspired public realm design, parking dominated streets, use of second-rate materials, poorly applied design styles, weakly defined spatial enclosure, screening as justification for poor design and a lack of townscape interest or legibility.

7.84 The promotion of walking, cycling and public transport will assist in creating an environment that is attractive, healthy, sociable and safe, whilst more generally helping promote sustainable forms of development. This might be achieved in different ways, including through compact development models, good connectivity especially for strategic desire lines, high quality streetscape and landscape, shared space, filtered permeability, carfree zones and wayfinding measures.

7.85 Well-thought out site plans include a consideration of how design can reduce anti-social behaviour by orientating and placing buildings, windows and access points to provide clear lines of sight and natural surveillance. Public and private open space should be clearly differentiated, avoiding piecemeal and isolated patches of public space that could be prone to vandalism.

7.86 The Council's Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) provide further design guidance, which is updated from time to time. Reference may also be made to relevant nationally produced guidance, such as By Design: Urban Design in the Planning System and the Urban Design Compendium. The Building for Life assessment tool is promoted for use on major housing schemes. It is the industry standard, endorsed by Government, for well-designed homes and neighbourhoods, helping prompt improvements, qualitative review and performance monitoring.

7.87 Internal infrastructure and services necessary for a development to function effectively should be provided in conjunction with the commencement of the development so as not to place undue strain on the existing environment and local economy.

(3) Policy DM15: Design and Amenity

All development, including new build, extensions and alterations, must be designed to a high standard, positively respond to its context, achieve good standards of amenity, and demonstrate social, economic and environmental sustainability. Great weight will be given to outstanding or innovative designs which help raise the standard of design more generally in the area. Poor design will be refused including that which fails to take the opportunity for good design or improving the local area. The Council will use and/or promote a range of planning processes and tools to help achieve high quality design. Ultimately, development proposals must demonstrate that they, and any ancillary activities associated with them, will:

  1. Respect and, wherever possible, enhance the character of the site, its context and surroundings in terms of its layout, architectural approach, height, scale, form, massing, density, proportions, materials, townscape and/or landscape qualities, and detailed design features. Wherever possible development should positively integrate existing built/landscape/heritage assets and remove problems as part of the overall development proposal;
  2. Help establish a visually attractive sense of place for living, working and visiting, through good architecture and landscaping;
  3. Promote and sustain an appropriate mix and density of uses which are well located and integrated, optimise the efficient use of land (including sharing), contribute to inclusive communities, and support retail centres and sustainable transport networks;
  4. Provide attractive, well connected and legible streets and spaces, which encourage walking, cycling, public transport and community vitality, whilst adequately integrating safe vehicle access;
  5. Protect and promote public and residential amenity, particularly with regard to privacy, overlooking, security, noise and disturbance, pollution (including light and odour pollution), daylight and sunlight;
  6. Create a safe, resilient and secure environment, which supports community cohesion and is not vulnerable to neglect;
  7. Provide functional, robust and adaptable designs, which contribute to the long term quality of the area and, as appropriate, can facilitate alternative activities, alterations and future possible development;
  8. Minimise energy consumption/emissions and promote sustainable drainage, particularly with regard to transport, landform, building orientation, massing and landscaping. For the purpose of this policy ancillary activities associated with development will be considered to include vehicle movement; and
  9. Incorporate any necessary infrastructure and services including utilities, recycling and waste facilities, highways and parking. This should be sensitively integrated to promote successful place-making.
  10. Demonstrate an appreciation of the views of those directly affected and explain the design response adopted. Proposals that can demonstrate this inclusive approach will be looked on more favourably.

(1) Historic Environment

7.88 Colchester's importance as a historic town warrants a policy detailing and reinforcing the need to protect and enhance the historic environment. The policy is also applicable to heritage assets in rural areas of the Borough and will help to protect and enhance assets in these areas. In the local area there are a number of buildings which detract from the appearance of heritage assets and the opportunities for redevelopment should be encouraged.

7.89 There will be a presumption in favour of the physical preservation in situ of nationally important archaeological remains (whether scheduled or not). The more important the asset, the greater the weight will be for preservation in situ. In accordance with national legislation, preservation of remains may require the refusal of development that could be detrimental.

7.90 Developers will be required to make provision for the recording of any heritage assets adversely impacted by development and to make provision for full analysis and reporting, and to ensure this, and any archive generated, this is publically accessible. Provision will be required to enhance the Urban Archaeological Database and to provide for the long term curation of the archive.

7.91 Where appropriate, provision will be required for interpretation and access in situ, where public access is possible without detriment to the site, or at a suitable off-site location, and for realising the social, cultural, economic and environment benefits of the historic environment.

7.92 There are a number of existing buildings and built environments within the Borough, which do not have a statutory basis for protection, but which nevertheless retain a distinctive historical or architectural character that it is considered desirable to keep. The Council, working with local experts, will prepare a Local List of buildings and groups of buildings, which are considered to be of particular historic or architectural merit; this will be used to ensure that when assessing applications for planning permission their particular character is considered. Conditions will be applied to allow for the inspection and recording of buildings on the Local List.

7.93 There are also a number of neighbourhoods within the Borough that are characterised by spacious properties built at low density within a well treed setting, or else that retain a particular "period" character. Context appraisals will be required for all development and where a proposal is within a neighbourhood with a distinctive character which it is desirable to keep, the proposal will need to demonstrate that it protects and enhances the special qualities of the area.

(11) Policy DM16: Historic Environment

Development will not be permitted that will adversely affect a listed building, a conservation area, historic park or garden or important archaeological remains (including development that adversely affects the setting of heritage assets).

Development affecting the historic environment should seek to conserve and enhance the significance of the heritage asset and any features of specific historic, archaeological, architectural or artistic interest. In all cases there will be an expectation that any new development will enhance the historic environment or better reveal the significance of the heritage asset, in the first instance, unless there are no identifiable opportunities available. In instances where existing features have a negative impact on the historic environment, as identified through character appraisals, the Local Planning Authority will request the removal of the features that undermine the historic environment as part of any proposed development. The Local Planning Authority will request the provision of creative and accessible interpretations of heritage assets impacted by development.

Conservation of the historic environment will also be ensured by:

  1. Identifying, characterising, protecting and enhancing Conservation Areas;
  2. Protection and enhancement of existing buildings and built areas which do not have Listed Building or Conservation Area status but have a particular local importance or character which it is desirable to keep. Such buildings or groups of buildings will be identified through a Local List which will be adopted by the Council;
  3. Preserving and enhancing Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments, Historic Parks and Gardens, including their respective settings, and other features which contribute to the heritage of the Borough; and
  4. Sites of archaeological interest will be clearly identified and protected, and sites that become known, whether through formal evaluation as part of a Planning Application or otherwise, will similarly be protected according to their importance.
Heritage Statements and/or Archaeological Evaluations will be required for proposals related to or impacting on the setting of heritage assets and/or known or possible archaeological sites, and where there is potential for encountering archaeological sites so that sufficient information is provided to assess the significance of the heritage assets and to assess the impacts of development on historic assets together with any proposed mitigation measures.

7.94 Alternative options considered

No Change to Policy - The policy would not reflect the most up to date position regarding available evidence and also would not provide clarity in relation to the importance of the significance of the heritage asset as required by the NPPF.

(1) Open Space

7.95 Existing open spaces, green link networks and allotments provide the people of Colchester with opportunities for passive and active recreation and encourage healthy and active lifestyles. It is important that all residents have access to open space within walking distance of their home. Strategic green links provide valuable corridors for the movement of people. The green spaces along the Colne River, for example, connect the town centre, suburbs, countryside, villages and the coast. These corridors provide alternative means for people making journeys into and across Colchester. The Council will therefore seek to protect and enhance these important links.

7.96 The Council commissioned an Open Space Study in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework to identify areas with deficiencies of open space. Development will be required to make contributions towards meeting these deficiencies in accordance with Council's adopted SPD for Open Space, Sport and Recreation (updated as required). The Open Space Study sets specific targets to guide the provision of different types of open space across the borough.

7.97 All housing developments, including higher density development, should provide new residents with access to private and/or communal open space, in addition to public open space requirements. At least 25sqm per dwelling of private/communal open space will be sought for flats and maisonettes, whilst houses should provide larger private garden. Higher density schemes will be encouraged to utilise innovative design solutions to provide open space on difficult sites.

7.98 The existing public and private open spaces including allotments within the Borough, represent important assets serving the communities in which they are located (or in some instances wider areas). This importance can relate not only to their function, but also to the amenity value and contribution they make to the character of an area in general by providing a 'green lung', opportunities for a well-designed and inclusive public realm, and visual breaks in the built environment. They also provide alternative green spaces which help alleviate pressure on Internationally designated sites. If such provisions are lost to other uses it can be extremely difficult to find alternative locations particularly as open land is scarce and, therefore, at a premium. An Appropriate Assessment will be prepared to accompany the Submission Local Plan which may identify additional open space needs. Further discussion will be needed with Natural England regarding this issue.

7.99 Against this background, it is intended to secure the retention of existing facilities unless a case can be made that alternative provision will be provided in a wholly acceptable manner. Alternative provision could comprise existing provision in the locality of the type of open space as defined by the National Planning Policy Framework, providing there is not a deficiency in that type of open space. A number of documents including the PPG17 Audit and Assessment of the Borough's public); Colchester Parks and Green Spaces Strategy (2008) and Colchester Green Infrastructure Strategy (2011) and any updated evidence as appropriate will be used by the Council when assessing planning applications relating to proposed development of open space and sports facilities.

7.100 Well designed open spaces can deliver multiple functions. As well as their value for wildlife, quality of life, health and recreation, they also provide opportunities for Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDs) for surface water runoff management.

7.101 The Essex Design Guide sets standards for amenity space provision for new residential developments. The Urban Place Supplement recognised these standards were not always helpful for producing good quality development in compact urban developments and this evaluation has informed the requirement of this policy that generally seeks the provision of 25m2 of high quality, private amenity space for each dwelling. It is important that new developments avoid the piecemeal provision of small areas of open space and instead provide sufficiently large areas of open space to serve as accessible and attractive zones for residents' leisure activity and recreation. Green links alongside existing hedgerows and tree lines can also have high amenity value.

7.102 New development can place increasing pressure on existing open spaces. Developments therefore will be expected to deliver areas of open space to meet the varying needs of residents for recreation and leisure and also deliver attractive high quality neighbourhoods for people to live in. At least 10% of the total gross site area should be provided as local open space as an integral part of new development proposals. Where this is not possible, particularly where a development site is small, the site developer will be expected to provide a commuted sum towards the provision of open space off site subject to this being within any pooling restrictions which apply at the time.

7.103 Developments should help contribute to the accessibility, quantity and quality standards set out in Appendices N, P and Q in the Borough Council's PPG17 Open Space, Sport and Recreation study (or updates as required). All open space shall be provided in a timely manner (so as to enable reasonable and appropriate access by new residents to this facility); should be fully equipped in a satisfactory manner as agreed by the Local Planning Authority; and, laid out at the expense of the developer and where appropriate, dedicated to the Council with suitable provision for ongoing maintenance. Further guidance on the level of contributions for commuted sums and the methodology for their calculation is set out in the Supplementary Planning Document on Provision of Open Space, Sports and Recreation Facilities, (which will be updated as required).

(14) Policy DM17: Retention of Open Space and Recreation Facilities

The Council will protect and enhance the existing network of green links and open spaces and secure additional areas where deficiencies are identified. The provision of public open space in developments should be informed by an appraisal of local context and community need and up to date evidence, with a particular regard to the impact of site development on biodiversity.

Development, including change of use, of any existing or proposed public or private open space, including allotments (as identified on the Proposals Map) will not be supported unless it can be demonstrated that:

  1. Alternative and improved provision will be created in a location well related to the functional requirements of the relocated use and its existing and future users;
  2. The proposal would not result in the loss of an area important for its amenity or contribution to the green infrastructure network or to the character of the area in general; and
  3. It achieves the aims of any relevant prevailing strategy relating to open space and recreation.

Development proposals resulting in a loss of open space must additionally demonstrate that:

  1. There is an identified excess provision within the catchment of the facility and no likely shortfall is expected within the plan period; or
  2. Alternative and improved provision will be supplied in a location well-related to the functional requirements of the relocated use and its existing and future users. In all cases, development will not be permitted that would result in any deficiencies in public open space requirements or increase existing deficiencies in the area either at the time of the proposal or be likely to result in a shortfall within the plan period. Additionally, development that would result in the loss of any small incidental areas of open space, not specifically identified on the Proposals Map but which contribute to the character of existing residential neighbourhoods, and any registered common, heathland or village green or which contribute to green infrastructure will not be permitted.

(7) Policy DM18: Provision for Public Open Space

New development must provide for the recreational needs of new communities and mitigate impacts on existing communities. This open space provision as well as alleviating recreational pressure on sites of high nature conservation value (e.g. Natura 2000) from the growing population will also increase opportunities for participation in healthy lifestyles.

All new residential development will be expected to provide new public areas of accessible open space. Precise levels of provision will depend on the location of the proposal and the nature of open space needs in the area but as a guideline, at least 10% of the gross site area should be provided as useable open space. This will be secured through planning obligations or CIL. Where the Council accepts commuted sums in lieu of open space, the commuted sums will be used to provide additional open space or to improve existing open space in the locality of the development. Contributions may be pooled (within pooling restrictions that apply at the time) to provide larger areas of strategic open space where a need has been identified. A commuted sum is only likely to be acceptable in the following circumstances:

  1. smaller developments of less than 0.5 ha, or where for some other reason open space requirements cannot be met within the site;
  2. developments of dwellings for the elderly (where some compensating increase in private amenity space may be required);
  3. in a town centre location or where it is justified by an outstanding urban design approach based on site constraints and opportunities.

(3) Policy DM19: Private Amenity Space

The Borough Council will expect all new homes to provide easy access to private/communal open space. The area of open space should be informed by the needs of residents and the accessibility of the location. Private/communal open space must be designed to optimise its use and meet the recreational needs of residents.

All new residential development shall provide private amenity space to a high standard, where the siting, orientation, size and layout make for a secure and usable space, which has an inviting appearance for residents and is appropriate to the surrounding context. All private amenity spaces shall be designed so as to avoid significant overlooking. For the most accessible developments where, in accordance with Policy DM9, a higher density may often be appropriate, a minimum of 25m2 of useable private amenity space shall be provided for each home (either as gardens, balconies or roof gardens/terraces). Elsewhere, the following standards shall apply:

For houses:

  • One or two bedroom houses - a minimum of 50m2
  • Three bedroom houses - a minimum of 60m2
  • Four bedroom houses - a minimum of 100m2

For flats:

  • a minimum of 25m2 per flat provided communally (where balconies are provided the space provided may be taken off the communal requirement)

A higher standard of private amenity space may be required for small infill (including backland) schemes, to reflect the character of the surrounding area, Development will not be permitted if it unacceptably reduces the level of existing private amenity space provision for existing buildings, particularly dwellings.

7.104 Alternative options considered

No Change to Policies - This would retain elements of unnecessary repetition and also include some references which are no longer relevant;

No policies and rely on NPPF - This would not be compliant with national policy as there is a requirement for Local Plans to cover the local application of evidence to ensure adequate protection and provision of open space, sport and recreation to meet the needs of the local community.

(3) Promoting Sustainable Transport and Changing Travel Behaviour

7.105 The Spatial Strategy ensures that development is located to reduce the need to travel or development is of a scale that promotes sustainable transport that is accessible for all.

7.106 The NPPF requires the transport system to be balanced in favour of sustainable transport modes while recognising that different policies and solutions will be necessary in different areas. 2011 Census data shows that car ownership is highest in the rural areas of the Borough and lower in urban areas. However, the car is still the highest mode of travel used for journeys to work, even in urban areas, and congestion and air quality affect many of the roads within the urban areas. Therefore sustainable transport will continue to be encouraged where possible, particularly where growth is planned.

7.107 Good accessibility and access to a high quality and efficient transport network is essential to support new development and ensure that it is sustainable, enabling the community to access their needs (eg employment, shopping, schools) easily and without always needing a car. The Council will continue to work closely with Essex County Council, as the highway authority, Highways England, Network Rail, public transport infrastructure providers and operators to deliver projects in the Borough.

7.108 Active modes such as walking and cycling are a high priority, being an essential and highly sustainable means of transport which also support a healthy lifestyle. Census data shows that 69% of people who live within Colchester borough work within the borough. The majority of Colchester residents live within 5km of the town centre and therefore walking and cycling have great potential. To encourage walking and cycling within Colchester, and to the town centre, the Council will seek to make improvements to the network to remove barriers to pedestrians and cyclists and enhancing the environment to provide people-friendly streets which give priority to sustainable modes of transport. Priority, safety and convenience for walking and cycling should be ensured at the design stage of any road schemes and all users should be considered.

7.109 Public transport has a crucial role to play in Colchester. Providing a quality public transport network that offers a genuinely attractive alternative to the car is vital. Transit corridors that prioritise public transport over other traffic will attract people to use public transport. Park and Ride facilities that offer easy access to the town via transit corridors will also help reduce congestion. For this reason it is important to safeguard land for new public transport infrastructure, such as bus lanes, interchange facilities and junction improvements.

7.110 The Council will also seek to deliver improvements to transport interchanges and public transport gateways. At present there are over 5million passenger movements at Colchester's railway stations each year. Enhancing transport interchanges such as the railway and bus stations will present a more attractive gateway to businesses, commuters, tourists and local residents. The Colchester Station Travel Plan aims to manage congestion in the area by investing in infrastructure; increasing accessibility; encouraging access by sustainable travel and encouraging a high level of connectivity linking the station to the town centre and other key destinations.

7.111 The private car will continue to be a major mode of transport. However, growth in car travel and traffic needs to be managed to reduce congestion, improve air quality and promote a high quality of life and economic growth in Colchester. Car travel demand can be more carefully managed in urban areas through the use of alternatives and new technologies. Combining demand management of car traffic with improvements to sustainable alternatives and improved street design can greatly benefit the local community, businesses and the environment.

7.112 Road freight and servicing will be facilitated where appropriate to promote economic and employment growth. Support will be given for improvements to the strategic road and rail network to accommodate growth. Consideration will be given to measures that discourage the use of high emission vehicles.

7.113 It is recognised that different policies and measures will be required in different communities and opportunities to maximise sustainable transport solutions will vary from urban to rural areas. Those living in rural areas are often most affected by lack of transport choices. Where appropriate, the council will encourage connectivity by sustainable modes of transport including enhancing and promoting rural bus services.

7.114 There are two rail branch lines off the main Great Eastern mainline in the Borough serving rural communities: the Gainsborough Line that links Marks Tey to Sudbury, serving both Chappel and Wakes Colne and Bures Stations; and the Sunshine Coast line; the Colchester to Clacton/Walton line. The Council will work with partners, including the Community Rail Partnership, to make the best use of rural rail stations, increase accessibility to stations and promote and increase the use of the branch lines in the Borough. We support the aim to provide at least 2 trains an hour to all stations, including the rural branches.

(10) Policy DM20: Promoting Sustainable Transport and Changing Travel Behaviour

The Council will work with developers and other partners to increase modal shift towards sustainable modes by improving accessibility of development through the promotion of walking and cycling as an integral part of development, and by further improving public transport. In line with policy SG1 Colchester Spatial Strategy development that reduces the need to travel will be encouraged and sustainable transport will be improved to provide better connections between communities and their needs. This will be achieved by:

  1. Safeguarding existing and proposed routes for walking, cycling and public transport, including rapid transit and park and ride, from development. New development will be expected to contribute towards maintaining continuity and enhancing these connections where appropriate.
  2. Focusing new walking and cycling improvements on areas of employment, education and health facilities, and on the town centre and public transport interchanges.
  3. Ensuring new developments are supported by quality public transport linking them to the main urban areas and major centres of employment, health and education. Access to public transport should be within walking or cycling distance of any new development.
  4. Enhancing public transport gateways to Colchester to provide attractive entry points to, and excellent onward connections from, the rail stations in urban Colchester and Marks Tey and Colchester Bus Station.

The Borough Council will also work with partners to accommodate necessary car travel making the best use of the existing network and managing the demand for road traffic. The Council will support improvements to the strategic road, rail and cycle network where appropriate evidence is provided and local consultation undertaken.

Improvements will be made to the road network to support sustainable development and to reduce the impact of congestion. The demand for car travel will be managed to prevent adverse impacts on sustainable transportation, air quality, safety, local amenity and built character by:

  1. Encouraging a reduction in through traffic in the town centre to encourage trips to be undertaken by more sustainable modes;
  2. Encourage use of new technology to better manage traffic, provide alternatives, facilitate the use of ultra-low emission vehicles and reduce the need to travel, particularly at peak times.

Where appropriate the use of sustainable travel in rural areas will be encouraged to minimise the impact of transport on sensitive rural areas. The council will seek to make best use of rural rail services through promotion and improving access at stations.

7.115 Alternative Options considered

Retain existing policies as separate policies: the policy has been updated to reflect NPPF priorities and guidance.

(1) Sustainable Access to Development

7.116 Good easy access to a high quality and efficient transport network is essential to support new development and ensure that it is sustainable. The NPPF sets out the Government's approach to the location and design of developments to ensure that plans protect and exploit opportunities for the use of sustainable transport modes for the movement of goods or people. The Council will work closely with Essex County Council as the highways authority to help promote good access to high quality, sustainable modes of travel within and from new developments.

7.117 One of the best ways to encourage sustainable modes is to fully consider them at design stage. Public transport has a crucial role to play in encouraging sustainable travel patterns at an early stage from new developments. Walking and cycling are also a high priority being healthy, affordable sustainable modes of travel and priority, convenience and safety for both modes should be ensured through design layout and the provision of on-site facilities. The needs of all users should be considered as part of a planned approach to inclusive design. The current Colchester Cycling Delivery Strategy was adopted as SPD in January 2012. The latest version of this document should be taken account in the design stage of new development to ensure cyclists and cycling facilities are taken into consideration through the provision of quality infrastructure and funding promotion and cycle training to increase levels of cycling and create more sustainable and healthy travel patterns. The infrastructure appendix to the current SPD illustrates the network of existing and planned routes in Colchester.

7.118 Electric vehicle charging points and facilities for other ultra-low emission vehicles, or the infrastructure to ensure their future provision, should be provided within a development where appropriate to help reduce carbon emissions from transport.

7.119 Any proposals must include sufficient information to assess the likely impact of the development. Transport Assessments or Transport Statements will be required for all development likely to generate significant amounts of movement. The Essex County Council Development Management Policies and Guidance provide further detail on the thresholds for Transport Assessments and Statements. Developers will need to demonstrate that the opportunities for sustainable transport modes have been taken up, safe and suitable access for all can be achieved and the impacts can be effectively mitigated within the transport network. Where significant impacts are identified, development will not be permitted when the residual cumulative impacts are severe.

7.120 Developers will also be required to provide a Travel Plan for developments that generate significant amounts of movement in accordance with Essex County Council Travel Plan guidelines. Current ECC guidance requires all non-residential development proposals with 50 employees or more to produce a Travel Plan. Developments that generate significant amounts of movement will also be required to become members of the Colchester Travel Plan Club which provides a range of resources to promote travel behaviour change for local business and organisations in Colchester.

(14) Policy DM21: Sustainable Access to Development

All new developments should seek to enhance accessibility for sustainable modes of transport, by giving priority to people walking, cycling and accessing public transport, ensuring routes are safe, convenient and attractive and linked to existing networks. Proposals for development should:

  1. Give priority to the movement of people walking and cycling;
  2. Create safe and secure layouts which minimise conflicts between traffic, cyclists and pedestrians;
  3. Link the development to the surrounding walking, cycling and public transport networks taking into consideration the Cycle Strategy SPD;
  4. Provide and give access to quality public transport facilities;
  5. Ensure streets and junctions are designed to provide people-friendly street environments and to give priority to sustainable transport;
  6. Incorporate charging facilities for electric and other ultra-low emission vehicles where appropriate;
  7. Ensuring accessibility for those with impaired mobility;
  8. Accommodate the efficient delivery of goods and services.

Access to all development should be created in a manner which maintains the right and safe passage of all highway users. Where development requires a new road or road access it should be designed to give high priority to the needs of pedestrians and cyclists.

Development will only be allowed where there is physical and environmental capacity to accommodate the type and amount of traffic generated in a safe manner. Developments that generate significant amounts of movement will require a Transport Statement or Transport Assessment in line with the thresholds set in the latest Essex County Council Development Management Policies and guidance. A masterplan approach to assess cumulative impacts maybe required in complex locations with closely related developments.

All non-residential developments that generate significant amounts of movement will be required to produce a Travel Plan in accordance with Essex County Council Travel Plan Framework guidance and where appropriate will be required to become members of the Colchester Travel Plan Club. All new residential developments will be required to produce a Travel Plan or provide Residential Travel Packs in accordance with Essex County Council Travel Plan Framework guidance.

7.121 Alternative Options Considered Retain existing policy: the policy has been updated to reflect NPPF guidance and priorities, and local circumstances.

(2) Parking

7.122 The Council will work with partners to ensure that car parking is managed to support the economy and sustainable communities. The lack of, or poor planning or parking provision, can have a negative impact on the public realm and the local highway network and can restrict the accessibility and mobility needs of people and businesses. Over provision and poor management can lead to the inefficient use of land and can also discourage greater use of more sustainable modes of transport.

7.123 Essex County Council (ECC) carried out an Interim Review of the Essex Parking Standards in 2016 in light of NPPF guidance and in response to feedback from Local Planning Authorities requiring clarification of certain aspects of the document to facilitate implementation of the guidance. The Interim Review focused on the design of car parking and the standards for residential and non-residential parking remain the same as the 2009 standards which were adopted by Colchester Borough as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) in November 2009. ECC aim to undertake a fundamental review once a new evidence base has been established and this will include a reassessment of the need for maximum parking standards for commercial sites.

7.124 The Essex Parking Standards provide the Council with advice and guidance on the provision and role of parking within residential, commercial and leisure areas. However, the Council recognises that there needs to be flexibility to provide appropriate car and cycle parking based on local circumstances. The adopted SPD will continue to inform this policy and will provide guidance on levels of parking considered necessary to serve development. Developers will be expected to provide car parking on new developments in accordance with the most up to date standards, having regard to the nature of the development and location. The maximum parking standard will be used as a point of reference for non-residential development but a more flexible approach will be considered if the applicant can demonstrate through parking surveys and accumulation data that less than the maximum standard is acceptable.

7.125 The Parking SPD will be reviewed to ensure it is applicable locally with regard to the most recent evidence and Census data regarding local car ownership and car usage.

7.126 The current Essex Parking Standards set out the following standards for residential development: a minimum of 1 car parking space should be provided for each 1-bedroom dwelling or 2 car parking spaces for each dwelling of 2 or more bedrooms, in addition to 0.25 spaces per dwelling for visitors. A lower standard may be acceptable or required where it can be clearly demonstrated that there is a high level of access to services, such as a town centre location.

7.127 Where new development requires the submission of a Travel Plan, it will be necessary to ensure that the Travel Plan integrates proposals for parking with proposals to encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport. Parking for staff, visitors and operational uses will be managed as part of the Travel Plan.

7.128 Car free and low car development will be encouraged in the Town Centre where it can be demonstrated that this is appropriate as a result of effective alternative modes of transport.

7.129 Where the Council receives an application for a stand-alone new car park, or for the expansion of an existing car park, this will be considered on its merits based on evidence of need. Developers should provide justification of the need for a new car park based on a parking survey. In the town centre, short stay car parking will be provided where necessary to facilitate the economic and social wellbeing of the town centre. Redevelopment of existing surface car parks will be considered. Greater use of park and ride will be encouraged and additional sites will be sought that support growth, help manage congestion and can deliver more people sustainably to the key destinations in and around the town centre. Disabled, cycle and motorcycle parking will be provided where appropriate.

7.130 Encouraging the use of electric vehicles helps reduce carbon emissions and reduces harmful emissions particularly as Colchester has a number of transportation related air quality issues. With the growth in electric vehicles owners will need to have suitable infrastructure to re-charge vehicles. Infrastructure needs to be installed at a variety of locations to enable effective recharging. Different chargers will be needed such as slow, fast or rapid chargers depending on location and the target market.

7.131 To encourage greater take up of electric vehicles more charging points are required either at home or in car parks (public and private). With the market and technology still developing charging points should be initially installed at new residential dwellings where it is expected demand is at is greatest based on market trends. A phased approach will be adopted and be appropriate to start with larger dwellings of 4 or more bedrooms. The development of technology will be monitored but suggest where overnight charging is possible "slow" chargers should be installed. In other areas (including smaller residential properties) passive provision should be made for future retrofitting of charging equipment by owners in the future as required. In public and private car parks provision should be made with the type of charger specified to match the duration of stay but suggest where there is the potential to charge over 2 to 4 hour period "fast" chargers should be installed. In locations close to the trunk road network "rapid" charging (30 to 40 minute) should be installed, especially if the development serves as a trunk road service area.

(9) Policy DM22: Parking

The amount of car parking to be provided in association with new residential development will be assessed using the most recent local Parking Guidance taking account of the following factors:

  • Levels of local accessibility
  • Historic and forecast car ownership levels
  • The size, type, tenure and location of the dwellings
  • The appropriate mix of parking types including opportunities for car-sharing (eg unallocated, on-street, visitor etc)

Cycle parking facilities should be provided where suitable private storage is not provided.

Parking standards for non-residential development should be agreed through joint discussions with the local Highway Authority and the Local Planning Authority in accordance with the most recent local Parking Guidance, with a more flexible approach to the maximum standard if supported by a parking survey and accumulation data. Parking for staff, visitors and operational uses should be managed as part of a Travel Plan. Where opportunities arise, for example on mixed use sites, shared parking and car sharing will be encouraged as part of an agreed Travel Plan to make efficient use of land to support quality development.

In appropriate circumstances, namely sustainable locations, served by sustainable travel alternatives and alternative parking locations, parking standards may be relaxed in order to reflect accessibility by non-car modes, and/or if lower provision would protect or enhance the character of sensitive locations. Car-free or low car ownership development may be considered acceptable where there is clear justification, having regard to the location and the current and proposed availability of alternative transport modes and/or where there are available/provided car parking spaces in public/communal facilities within approximately 400m walking distance of dwellings.

Applications for new or expanded car parking provision will be considered on an individual basis in relation to evidence and need. The existing car parking availability, current usage and, where appropriate, the existence of a Travel Plan and the current use of non-car modes, should all be demonstrated.

Redevelopment of existing surface car parking will be considered to make efficient use of land, improve the townscape and support regeneration.

Greater use of Park & Ride will be encouraged especially for trips to the town centre and other major establishments along the route of the service. Further Park and Ride sites will be developed to help support growth and give access to the town centre.

Parking should incorporate facilities for electric vehicle charging and other ultra-low emission vehicles where appropriate, including parking courts and at non-residential locations. The type and number of chargers will vary dependant on location.

The Council will work with transport providers and highways authorities to provide facilities for freight and servicing.

7.132 Alternative options considered

Retain existing policy and rely on Essex Parking Standards: It is considered that there needs to be flexibility to provide appropriate car and cycle parking based on local circumstances and the maximum standard is not always considered appropriate. A flexible approach ensures that the standard is applicable locally.

(6) Flood Risk and Water Management

7.133 National policy categorises zones of flood risk as Zone 1 (low probability), Zone 2 (medium probability), Zone 3a (high probability) and Zone 3b (functional floodplain). These flood zones are defined in Table 1 of the Technical Guidance to the National Planning Policy Framework and are illustrated by the flood maps including the updated Flood Map for Surface Water, produced by the Environment Agency (EA) and available from their website.

7.134 National guidance states that the overall aim should be to steer new development to Flood Zone 1 (low risk), however it does set out a flood risk vulnerability classification for different land uses and provides a 'compatibility' table for allowing particular land uses in the different flood zones (including 3a and 3b in certain circumstances). It identifies the importance of assessing flood risk early in the planning process. It requires the production of Strategic Flood Risk Assessments to assess flood risk at a strategic level and individual Flood Risk Assessments in certain circumstances to assess flood risk at the site specific level. Accordingly Colchester Borough Council commissioned a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment to support the development of the Local Plan.

7.135 The national guidance stipulates that site specific Flood Risk Assessments should be submitted with planning applications for development proposals on sites of 1ha or more in Flood Zone 1 or for all development proposals in Flood Zone 2 or 3. It also sets out the requirements for the use for Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) to minimise the risk of flooding from new development. These and the Council's most up to date SFRA will be used to consider planning applications where relevant.

7.136 The risk from flooding to property and people will be minimised by applying the sequential test in accordance with the NPPF and National Technical Guidance. New developments will be directed away from areas at risk from all types of flooding, as identified in the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA). Where development occurs in areas with a known flood risk, practical and safe mitigation measures will need to be adopted to alleviate risk to people and property.

7.137 Development in higher risk flood zones will be restricted to certain categories where an identified need for that type of development in that location exists. The Exception Test allows for development in high risk areas but is only to be applied where there is no other option i.e. where there are large areas of land in Flood Zones 2 and 3 and the Sequential Test cannot deliver acceptable alternative sites, but where some continuing development is necessary. Advice on the Exception test is included in the Technical Guidance to the National Planning Policy Framework.

7.138 Small sites (less than 1ha) in Flood Zone 1 that are surrounded by Flood Zone 2 or 3 land, i.e. dry islands, are likely to be treated in the same way as the surrounding land.Each area will have its unique characteristics and a site specific Flood Risk Assessment may be required even for those sites less than 1ha to ensure that safe access / egress exists for the development and that the land will be sustainable for the duration of the flood period.

7.139 The use of SuDS to manage water run-off can be an important tool in minimising flooding by increasing permeable surfaces in an area that allows water to seep gradually into the ground rather than running directly into a drainage network, thereby reducing the risk of overloading the system.. SuDS can also help reduce the impact of diffuse pollution from run-off and flooding. The effective use of permeable surfaces, soakaways and water storage areas or SuDS should be incorporated in all new development where technically possible. Early consideration should be given to the potential to use SuDS to identify when/where the use of such technologies is feasible and to also identify which type of SuDS is most appropriate to local site conditions. Developers will be encouraged to enter into early discussions with the Council and the Lead Local Flood Authority and as part of discussions maintenance and long term adoption responsibilities should be explored and agreed where possible as part of the SuDS approval process, prior to the start of development.

7.140 The Colchester Surface Water Management Plan (Urban Colchester) has identified Critical Drainage Areas (CDAs) and Local Flood Risk Zones (LFRZs). This delineates the areas where the impact of surface water flooding is expected to be greatest, although it is acknowledged that the CDAs (and LFRZs) do not account for all the areas that could be affected by surface water flooding. It is therefore important that the policies seek to reduce the risk from surface water flooding throughout the whole Borough The SWMP also encourages Essex County Council also to implement similar policies, so that both authorities promote and apply Best Management Practises to the implementation of SuDS and the reduction of runoff volumes.

7.141 Ensuring a continual supply of water in the Borough is likely to become increasingly important in light of climate change. It will be important that water resources continue to be protected for present and future generations. They should be used efficiently to make the maximum use of the resource and to reduce the need for major new water storage facilities and related infrastructure.

(4) Policy DM23: Flood Risk and Water Management

The Council will seek to direct development away from land at risk of flooding in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework and Technical Guidance (or any future national policy /guidance), including areas where the risk of flooding is likely to increase as a result of climate change. The sequential test as set out in national guidance has informed the allocation of sites in the Local Plan and will also be applied in determining planning applications on new sites coming forward outside of those allocated.

Development will only be supported where it can be demonstrated that the proposal meets requirements set out in the NPPF and most recent Technical Guidance, recommendations in Colchester's Strategic Flood Risk Assessment Proposals will be required to include satisfactory flood defence measures or flood mitigation measures such as Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) to minimise the risk of increased flooding both within the development boundary and off site in all flood zones and to help protect water quality through the management of pollution . Proposals that include measures to enhance the flood resilience of new or renovated buildings will be encouraged, particularly in areas with a history of local flooding.

All development proposals shall incorporate measures for the conservation and sustainable use of water. These measures shall include appropriate SuDS for managing surface water runoff within the overall design and layout of the site and measures to conserve water within individual building designs. The use of SuDS will be particularly important as part of green field developments (but not exclusively).

Where Proposals which require planning permission include driveways / hardstanding or paving, the use of permeable materials and landscaping will be sought to minimise the cumulative impacts of flooding from such developments.

Developments are required to comply with the following as indicated in the Surface Water Management Plan (or updates if appropriate);

  • All developments across the catchment (excluding minor house extensions less than 50m2) which result in a net increase in impermeable area are to include at least one 'at source' SuDS measure (e.g. water butt, rainwater harvesting tank, bio-retention planter box etc). This is to assist in reducing the peak volume of runoff discharging from the site.
  • Proposed 'brownfield' redevelopments of more than one property or area greater than 0.1 hectare are required to reduce post-development runoff rates for events up to and including the 1 in 100 year return period event with an allowance for climate change (in line with NPPF and UKCIP guidance) to that of its greenfield condition.
  • Developments located in Critical Drainage Areas (CDAs), Local Flood Risk Zones (LFRZs) and for redevelopments of more than one property or area greater than 0.1 hectare should seek betterment to a greenfield runoff rate. It is recommended that a SuDS treatment train is utilised to assist in this reduction.
  • New developments in Critical Drainage Areas will be required to provide or contribute towards the provision of Flood Mitigation options via CIL and S106 contributions, as identified in the Colchester Surface Water Management Plan, in order to mitigate any impacts on the risk of flooding to the existing properties located within the CDA as well as to accommodate the drainage needs of the new developments.

(4) Policy DM24: Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems

All new development of 10 dwellings or more and major commercial development, car parks and hard standings should incorporate Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDs) appropriate to the nature of the site. Such systems shall provide optimum water runoff rates and volumes taking into account relevant local or national standards and the impact of the Water Framework Directive on flood risk issues. SUDs design quality will be expected to conform with standards encompassed in the relevant BRE, CIRIA standards and Essex County Council's SUDs Design Guide (and as updated) to the satisfaction of the Lead Local Flood Authority.

Maximum use should be made of low land take drainage measures such as rain water recycling, green roofs, permeable surfaces and water butts. Appropriate pollution control measures shall be incorporated where necessary to manage surface water run-off rates, and in areas close to underground aquifers and landfill sites to reduce the risk of pollution. Surface water should be managed as close to its source as possible and on the surface where practicable to do so.

Opportunities shall be taken to integrate sustainable drainage with the development, creating amenity and enhancing biodiversity.

Only where there is a significant risk of pollution to the water environment, inappropriate soil conditions and/or engineering difficulties, should alternative methods of drainage be considered. It will be necessary to demonstrate why it is not achievable. If alternative methods are to be considered, adequate assessment and justification should be provided and consideration should still be given to pre and post runoff rates.

SUDS design should be an integral part of design proposals and clear details of proposed SuDS together with how they will be managed and maintained will be required as part of any planning application. Only proposals which clearly demonstrate that a satisfactory SUDs layout with appropriate maintenance is possible, or compelling justification as to why SUDs should not be incorporated into a scheme, or are unviable, are likely to be successful. Contributions in the form of commuted sums may be sought in legal agreements to ensure that the drainage systems can be adequately maintained into the future. The sustainable urban drainage system should be designed to ensure that the maintenance and operation requirements are economically proportionate.

7.142 Alternative Options Considered Retain existing policy. Retaining the same policy was not an option as the current policies ENV1 and DP20 were not up to date. The new policy includes updates in relation to the use of Sustainable Drainage in new developments.

(1) Renewable Energy, Water, Waste and Recycling

7.143 Climate change is an important issue, which underpins the Local Plan. New developments will need to help address the challenges of climate change, and contribute positively towards the future sustainability of Colchester Borough.

7.144 To tackle climate change and improve sustainability, it is important for the Council to promote energy, water, waste & recycling efficiency and renewable energy in new developments. In its commitment to deliver sustainable developments the Council is seeking to create communities that use natural resources sustainably, and minimise waste.

7.145 Nationally 15% of energy is required to come from renewable energy sources by 2020 increasing to 30% by 2030 ( UK Climate Change Committee, 2011). Whilst this is a national target the Council must contribute to meet and exceed it where possible. Regard must be had to any future national targets.

7.146 The Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy E1( 2011), identifies wind energy as the biggest potential for renewable energy in the UK. Wind technologies are considered to have the potential to deliver 30% of the UK's electricity needs by 2020 (UK Climate Change Committee, 2011).

7.147 The Council will support proposals for on shore and offshore wind farms (and associated infrastructure), solar farms that satisfy the broad objectives set out in the policy above. The Council will also support the development of community led renewable energy schemes as part of Neighbourhood Plans and encourage the delivery of District Heating Schemes within the West Colchester Garden Community and University Garden Village and as part of future development in the Northern Gateway and East Colchester. The Council, enabled by DECC, has commissioned a Heat Network Feasibility Study for the Northern Gateway and East Colchester, which provides a basis for future implementation of district heating in these areas.

7.148 Further policy guidance for the delivery of renewable energy proposals within internationally designated sites, the Dedham Vale AONB and within the Coastal Protection Belt is set out in policies x, xx and xxx.

7.149 To help contribute to renewable targets, new residential development will be required to meet energy efficiency targets in part L of national Buildings Regulations ( or in any higher standards subsequently introduced later in the plan period).

7.150 The Water Cycle Study assesses the impact of planned growth on the Borough's water resources to ensure its sustainable management in recognition of the increasing demand for water the Council will encourage developments that incorporate water saving measures, in line with Part G2 of national Building Regulations 125/l/person/day). To deliver even greater water efficiencies in new builds, the Council will encourage developers to meet the tighter optimal water standards specified in G2 of the national Buildings Regulations 110/l/per person/day ( or above).

7.151 The Council has a current aspirational target of 60% recycling of household waste. At present approximately 48 % of household waste is being recycled. The Council will continue to improve services and information to further help increase recycling rates over the new plan period. New developments will be expected to support this objective by employing best practice technology to optimise the opportunities for recycling and minimising waste and by providing better recycling facilities.

(5) Policy DM25: Renewable Energy, Water, Waste and Recycling

The Council's commitment to carbon reduction includes the promotion of efficient use of energy and resources, alongside waste minimisation and recycling.

The Council will support housing developments that help reduce carbon emissions in accordance with national Building Regulations. As a minimum, new residential developments will be required to comply with current energy standards in Part L of the Building Regulations (or the relevant standard at the time of submission of an application.) Non-residential developments will be encouraged to achieve a minimum BREEAM rating of 'Very Good'.

The Council will also encourage the use of sustainable construction techniques in tandem with high quality design and materials to reduce energy demand, waste and the use of natural resources, including the sustainable management of the Borough's water resources.

The Council will support proposals for renewable energy projects including micro-generation, offshore wind farms (plus land based ancillary infrastructure) solar farms, wind farms, District Heating Networks and community led renewable energy initiatives at appropriate locations in the Borough to help reduce Colchester's carbon footprint.

Within internationally designated sites and nationally designated landscapes (Dedham Vale AONB) renewable energy schemes, will only be supported in exceptional circumstances, where it can be demonstrated that the designation objectives for the area will not be compromised, that adverse impacts can be adequately mitigated or where it can be demonstrated that any adverse impacts are clearly outweighed by the social and economic benefits provided by the energy proposal.

All applications for renewable energy proposals should be located and designed in such a way to minimise increases in ambient noise levels. Landscape and visual impacts should be mitigated through good design, careful siting and layout and landscaping measures. Transport Assessments covering the construction, operation and decommissioning of any wind farm or solar farm proposal will be required and should be produced at the pre-application stage so acceptability can be determined and mitigation measures identified. A condition will be attached to planning consents for wind turbines and solar farm proposals to ensure that the site is restored when the turbines or panels are taken out of service.

All proposals for solar farm development or wind farms should have regard to the advice in the Council's Guidance Note'Designing solar farm renewable energy development' and in the Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy EN1

As a minimum new residential development will be required to satisfy part G2 of the current Building Regulations (or subsequent updates to national Building Regulations in relation to water efficiency). The Council however will encourage developers to meet the higher optimal water standards in national Buildings Regulations to achieve greater efficiencies in new builds.

The Council is seeking to minimise waste and improve reuse and recycling rates through better recycling services and public awareness programs. To assist this aim, the Council will support proposals for sustainable waste management facilities identified in the Waste Management Plan which minimise impacts on the communities living close to the sites (noise, pollution, traffic) and on the local environment and landscape. New developments will also be expected to support this objective by employing best practice technology to optimise the opportunities for recycling and minimising waste and by providing better recycling facilities.

7.152 Alternative options considered- No change to policies ER1 and DP25- using the same policies would retain elements of un necessary repetition and retain targets in relation to energy efficiency and water which are out of date or completely obsolete now.

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