Preferred Options Local Plan

Ended on the 16 September 2016
If you are having trouble using the system, please try our help guide.

4. Sustainable Growth Policies

(6) The Spatial Strategy

4.1 The Spatial Strategy directs development towards the most sustainable locations, as illustrated by the Key Diagrams, and provides for supporting facilities and infrastructure to create sustainable local communities. The Spatial Strategy provides the framework for the place-based approach of the Local Plan and relates allocations to the unique characteristics of particular communities within the Borough.

4.2 Following on from the Spatial Strategy for North Essex set forth in Part 1 of the plan, the Strategic Growth policies in Part 2 of this Plan provide the complete strategic picture of the role and functions of different areas of Colchester within its sub-regional context.

4.3 Policy SG1 sets out the spatial hierarchy for Colchester, with the urban area of Colchester at its centre. Sustainable settlements form the next tier of the borough's Spatial Hierarchy. This includes the two new Garden Communities straddling boundaries with Braintree to the west and Tendring to the east, which will provide strategic locations for 5000 additional dwellings within the plan period as well as accompanying employment development. The tier also includes the District Centres of Tiptree, West Mersea and Wivenhoe, with their associated commercial centres, and 15 larger villages. All other villages are included in an 'other villages' category which restricts further development to a limited set of criteria. The remaining area of the Borough is categorised as countryside, where more restrictive development policies apply. The Key Diagram in Appendix 2 illustrates the Spatial Strategy.

4.4 By focusing future development on highly accessible locations this will reduce the need to travel. Good accessibility means that the community can access their needs easily and without always needing a car. Accessibility can be improved by locating development at accessible locations and improving public transport, walking and cycling facilities and services.

4.5 Policy SG2 details the housing targets for the plan period and list the allocations aligning with the spatial hierarchy which will provide the locations for this new development.

4.6 Policy SG3 explains the economic growth strategy for the plan period and provides the locations and rationale for new employment generating uses in the Borough.

4.7 Policy SG4 details the approach to protect and enhance the delivery of jobs throughout the Borough with an indication of areas where a more flexible approach is appropriate to secure a range of economic opportunities in sustainable locations in the Borough

4.8 Policy SG5 recognises the role existing commercial clusters play in the economy and the importance to the surrounding area

4.9 Policy SG6 sets out the strategy for provision of infrastructure required during the plan period to support development in the Borough.

(3) Spatial Strategy Policy

4.10 The strategic Part One section of this plan states in Policy SP6 that new development will be focused on the principal settlements within Colchester Borough. It also provides that the Council will identify a hierarchy of settlements where new development will be accommodated according to the role of the settlement, its sustainability, its physical capacity and local needs. This hierarchy, to be developed by each of the three authorities within the Part 1 Plan area, is to include strategic locations for growth in the form of new garden communities.

4.11 The Spatial Strategy for Colchester reflects the Council's evidence base on sustainable settlements along with a range of associated issues including development needs; environmental constraints; and deliverability. At the Issues and Options stage, the Council posed three potential options for growth - development to the east and west; development to the west; and development to the east and north.

4.12 Overall, the Sustainability Appraisal determined that the broad locations selected for growth to the east and west were considered to be more sustainable than alternate locations for the following reasons:

  • They provide good access to the Town Centre and community facilities.
  • They provide good access to public transport interchanges or services and the strategic road network and in some instances the ability to expand provision.
  • They are not designated as environmental conservation areas or identified as areas of landscape importance.
  • They provide sufficient capacity to establish new sustainable communities.
  • They will help deliver infrastructure and facilities that will support nearby regeneration areas.

4.13 The preferred Spatial Strategy, and the results of the Sustainability Appraisal, accordingly mean that a proposal for a Garden Community at Langham which was submitted through the Call for Sites was rejected for inclusion in the Plan.

4.14 A further tool used to analyse both broad options for growth and specific site proposals is the Strategic Land Availability Assessment (SLAA), which identifies whether sites potentially available for development are 'suitable', 'available' and 'deliverable'. Sites considered in the SLAA included both sites put forward by developers as well as a range of other potential sites the Council identified through such sources as earlier assessment work completed in 2009 and current allocations which remain undeveloped. This work is then fed into other parts of the plan including the Sustainability Appraisal, Settlement Boundary Review and Infrastructure Delivery Plan.

Growth Locations

Urban Area of Colchester

4.15 In Colchester's spatial hierarchy, the urban area of Colchester is ranked as the most sustainable location for growth, given its high level of accessibility and concentration of housing, jobs and services. Proposals for town centre uses such as retail, offices, leisure, culture and entertainment facilities, and food/drink establishments will accordingly be directed to Colchester Town Centre in the first instance. Policy TC1 provides further guidance on the mechanisms for maintaining Colchester Town Centre's pre-eminent position.

4.16 Some areas of the Colchester have been a focus for regeneration over a number of years, with significant progress and delivery evident in some areas such as the Garrison and North Colchester. Other areas will continue to be a focus for regeneration and enhancement delivered via a range of mixed use, commercial, social and residential opportunities. These areas have been designated as Special Policy Areas to provide a clear context against which to promote opportunities for appropriate growth, enhanced public realm and connectivity. Colchester has a number of existing established Commercial Areas which serve a particular function which is important for the economy and the surrounding area. Whilst expansion of such areas is not appropriate, retention and support for their current function is considered to be important, which is reflected in a specific policy (SG5). Site allocations along with specific policy considerations for other parts of the urban area of Colchester are contained in the following policies:

Central Colchester

  • TC1 - Town Centre and
  • TC3- Central Colchester other allocations

North Colchester

  • NC1- Northern Gateway/SeverallsStrategic Economic Area
  • NC2- North Station Special Policy Area
  • NC3- North Colchester other allocations

East Colchester

  • EC1 - Knowledge Gateway and University Strategic Economic Area
  • EC2 - East Colchester- The Hythe Special Policy Area
  • EC3- East Colchester other allocations.

West Colchester

  • WC1 - Stanway Strategic Economic Area
  • WC2 - Stanway
  • WC3 -Colchester Zoo Special Policy Area
  • WC4- West Colchester other allocations

(4) Sustainable Settlements

4.17 The next tier of Sustainable Settlements includes the Garden Communities programmed for long term growth beyond the plan period as well as larger existing settlements within the Borough which are considered to have the potential to accommodate further proportionate growth.

4.18 As the underlying principle of the NPPF and therefore the new Local Plan is to support the principle of sustainable development, it is important that new allocations for growth and the associated settlement development boundaries relate to sustainable locations. The Local Plan therefore defines those settlements which are "sustainable" using evidence to justify this. By implication any other settlements (or parts of settlements currently defined by a settlement boundary) are less sustainable, although it is recognised that these other villages serve an important community function within the rural areas around the Borough.

4.19 Policies SP8 and SP9 in Part One describe the requirements of two new Garden Communities at University Garden Village to the East and the West Colchester Garden Community to the West. They are programmed to be initiated during the life of the plan to allow for necessary infrastructure to be planned for and phased as required, but they will continue to grow gradually over a number of years beyond the plan period.

4.20 To develop a list of settlements considered to qualify as 'sustainable', each village has been assessed against the criteria listed below which relate to the NPPF identification of the three dimensions of sustainability - economic, social and environmental. Please see the Settlement Boundary Review document prepared as evidence to support the development of this plan which incorporates findings of the Sustainability Appraisal of potential sites within Sustainable Settlements. The three District Centres have automatically been included in the Sustainable Settlements category due to their larger populations and concentrations of jobs, facilities, and services and function.

  • Access to sustainable transport (Railway station; bus stop - including crude consideration of quality of service; good accessibility is considered to be a distance of up to 2,000m to train station with a frequent service at least six days a week, or up to 400m of a bus stop with a frequent service at least six days a week.
  • Environmental constraints such as flooding, protected landscapes, etc;
  • Proximity to community facilities with good accessibility being judged for most as judged as a distance up to 400m including;
  • Public open space
  • Primary school
  • Small shops to meet local needs
  • Community / village Hall;
  • Doctors Surgery
  • Proximity to Secondary School;
  • % of people who travel less than 2km to work;

4.21 Those settlements which tend to have the most sustainable characteristics are, for the most part the larger villages which have a population of at least 500. This reflects the historic development of settlements both planned (and unplanned in the more distant past) which have evolved around good accessibility and key community facilities such as churches and primary schools. These types of considerations are now widely recognised in planning policy nationally and locally and the approach in this plan is to channel some growth to the most sustainable settlements to encourage their continued growth recognising the key function they play beyond the urban area of Colchester. A review of the settlement boundaries in these settlements and identification of new allocations are identified in each of the place policies, providing a more proactive approach to new development in these settlements. The growth provided for in these settlements is proportionate to the size of the settlement, local landscape character, other local constraints, identified need and the availability of infrastructure.

4.22 The settlements highlighted in bold in Table SG1 have active Neighbourhood Plan working groups which have chosen to pursue site allocations through their respective Neighbourhood Plans under the Localism Act 2011. More detailed proposals for site allocations and other policy matters are set out in the Neighbourhood Plan for these areas. More information on these are included in the relevant sustainable settlement sections of this plan.

Other Villages

4.23 Other Villages tend to be small villages with only limited facilities. Functionally, however, they act as local service centres which local communities rely on for basic facilities and as social hubs. Settlements now classed as Other Villages are listed in Table SG1 above. These smaller rural villages often operate as clusters by sharing key services and facilities which help provide a strong sense of identity for the communities living and working there. Although this plan does not seek to promote substantial housing growth or other development in these less sustainable settlements, their role in serving a community function in the rural areas is still recognised. The Plan continues to define the village core with tightly drawn Settlement Boundaries for the Other Villages which reflects the core community focus of that village. These settlements can accommodate a limited amount of small scale development and the policy context setting out the types of development considered appropriate within the Other Villages is set out in policy OV1.


4.24 Within the countryside, there a number of very small isolated clusters of dwellings or small hamlets across the Borough, which lack any community facilities or services and rely on nearby villages or towns to meet their daily needs. Although they provide a community function for the small groups of residents living within these areas, as their location is physically detached, and sometimes remote, from the core villages to which they relate these clusters/hamlets will no longer be defined by a settlement boundary and they will comprise small groups of dwellings within the countryside. Development within the countryside will be restricted to activities that either require a rural location or proposals that help sustain a rural community and local economy and which help protect the rural character of the areas where the development is being proposed. The type of development considered appropriate within the countryside is set out in policy OV1 of the Local Plan. The settlement areas which no longer have a defined settlement boundary, are illustrated on the individual settlement policy maps and listed in Appendix 1

(33) Policy SG1: Colchester's Spatial Strategy

Throughout the Borough, growth will be located at the most accessible and sustainable locations in accordance with the spatial strategy for North Essex set forth in Policy SP6 in Part One above and with the Settlement Hierarchy set out in Table SG1. The Settlement hierarchy ranks areas of the Borough in order of their sustainability merits and the size, function and services provided in each area.

Development will be focused on highly accessible locations to reduce the need to travel. Development will be supported where there a real travel choice is provided and sustainable travel for different purposes is promoted throughout the day.

This Spatial Hierarchy focuses growth on the urban area of Colchester, reflecting its position as the main location for jobs, housing, services, and transport. Sequentially, the next tier of preferred growth includes Garden Communities straddling boundaries with adjacent authorities and providing new greenfield sites in sustainable communities which will grow gradually, over time, extending beyond the plan period. The second tier also includes proportionate growth in existing Sustainable Settlements within the Borough, including 15 large villages and the 3 District Centres of Tiptree, West Mersea, and Wivenhoe.

In the remaining Other Villages and Countryside areas of Colchester, new development will only be acceptable where it accords with policy OV1. New development in the open countryside will only be permitted on an exceptional basis to preserve its rural character.

(10) Table SG1: Spatial Hierarchy

Urban Area of Colchester including;

Central Colchester;

Town Centre

North Colchester;

  • Northern Gateway/Severalls Strategic Economic Area,
  • North Station Special Policy Area,
  • Cowdray Centre, Turner Rise and Highwoods Mixed Use Areas

East Colchester;

  • Knowledge Gateway/University Strategic Economic Area,
  • The Hythe/East Colchester Special Policy Area,

West Colchester;

  • Stanway Strategic Economic Area,
  • Colchester Zoo Special Policy Area,
  • Peartree Mixed Use Area

Garden Communities

University Garden Village

West Colchester Garden Community

Sustainable Settlements including District Centres. Settlements in BOLD are preparing Neighbourhood Plans to guide development

Abberton and Langenhoe



Chappel and Wakes Colne

Copford and Copford Green


Eight Ash Green


Great Horkesley

Great Tey


Layer de la Haye

Marks Tey



West Bergholt

West Mersea


Other Villages



East Mersea


Great Wigborough

Layer Breton

Little Horkesley


Mount Bures





Alternative options considered

(3) 4.25 Alternative spatial strategy - The Borough clearly contains sufficient undeveloped land to accommodate required growth in alternative locations, however Sustainability Appraisal work has discounted many of these potential alternative locations on the basis of environmental constraints. As noted in the Explanation above, the preferred Spatial Strategy has evolved from firstly, consideration of the individual characteristics and capacity of different parts of the Borough and secondly, consideration of the overall linkages and functionality of settlements within the area and the best strategy for enhancing their sustainability.

Housing Delivery Policy

4.26 As provided in Part 1 of this plan, Colchester BC has reached agreement with other local Essex authorities, including Braintree, Chelmsford and Tendring, to identify sufficient deliverable sites or broad locations for growth to 2033 to meet Objectively Assessed Need for new development land.

4.27 Colchester needs to make a minimum provision of 14,720 homes between 2017 and 2033 in accordance with its evidence based housing target. This housing target has been developed in line with national guidance, beginning with agreement on the effective market area for housing. The boundaries of Colchester's Strategic Housing Market Area have been determined to also include Braintree, Chelmsford and Tendring. A figure of 920 homes per year has been determined as the Objectively Assessed Need for Colchester. This housing provision is made up of existing commitments (which includes sites with planning permission and sites allocated in the adopted local plan which are being re-allocated in this plan). The Housing Trajectory illustrates these sites and the current total is 7634. The remaining balance is made up from new allocations identified in this plan, illustrated in Table SG2.

4.28 National planning policy requires the Local Plan to ensure that the minimum housing requirement can be delivered with confidence. It is therefore necessary to identify broad locations and sites that are available and deliverable over the plan period for new housing to supplement existing completions, permissions and allocations. This involves firstly ensuring that the selection of each area programmed in this plan for new housing development aligns with the location's place in the Spatial Hierarchy set forth in Policy SG1. The number of new dwellings for each area then follows on from firstly, the broad distribution established by the Spatial Strategy and secondly the analysis of capacity, deliverability, suitability and proportionality carried out by the Council through the Strategic Land Availability Assessment and the Sustainability Appraisal

4.29 The two broad locations for Garden Communities identified in Part 1 of this plan are expected to collectively deliver 5000 new homes shared between Colchester and Braintree/Tendring within the plan period, growing to 20-30,000 beyond the plan period, along with employment space, green infrastructure, strategic and community infrastructure. The housing provision table SG2 makes an allowance for an additional 930 dwellings to be located to the east of Colchester and 500 to the west of Stanway, the sites for which will be determined once the boundaries for the Garden Communities to the east and west of Colchester have been defined. This will allow for opportunities to deliver appropriate linkages between the new Garden Communities and the existing urban areas to the east and west of Colchester and ensure that sufficient green buffers are maintained between the new and existing communities. It is important that the principles of development are established by each Council with details being set out in the joint plans. Part 1 policies SP7, 8 and 9 provide a policy framework for the new garden communities and further detail will be provided in area specific local plans.

4.30 The Place policies in this plan provide detail on specific allocations within each area of new housing development, along with further information on infrastructure and mitigation required to address site constraints and opportunities.

4.31 Ensuring the quality of new housing development is equivalent in importance to ensuring its quantity. Policies in the Development Management section of this plan accordingly provide for affordable housing (DM8), housing to meet the needs of a range of different groups within the population (Housing Diversity DM10), and well-designed (Design and Amenity DM15)

(36) Policy SG2: Housing Delivery

The Borough Council will plan, monitor and manage the delivery of at least 14,720 new homes in Colchester Borough between 2017 and 2033. The Council's housing target is based on a robust Objectively Assessed Need figure of 920 homes a year and provides alignment with the targets for the delivery of employment land.

Colchester has a good track record of using previously developed land within its urban area. As a result of this, the borough has a limited and diminishing supply of brownfield sites that can contribute to accommodating new growth. Accordingly, development sites for the 2017-33 period include new greenfield sites which have been selected on the basis of their sustainable location and deliverability.

The overall distribution of new housing, as shown in Table SG2, will be guided by the Settlement Hierarchy set forth in the Spatial Strategy and Policy SG1. New housing development will be focused on the following key areas:

  • Colchester urban area (Place policies for Central, North, East and West Colchester)
  • University Garden Village (East) (Part 1 Policy SP8)
  • West Colchester Garden Community (West) (Part 1 Policy SP9)

Detailed decisions on the location, type and level of development to be carried out in the new settlements will be made through joint plans to be agreed with the relevant local authority, either Braintree (west) or Tendring (east), as outlined in Part 1 of this plan.

To maintain the vitality and viability of the Borough's smaller towns and villages, an appropriate level of new development will be brought forward in Sustainable Settlements to support new homes and economic and social development. Details on those allocations are provided in Policies SS1- SS18 (Sustainable Settlements)

(12) Table SG2: Colchester's Housing Provision

Settlements and Key Development Areas

Existing commitments


Estimated minimum

housing provision


Policy reference

Colchester Urban Area



TC3, NC3, EC3, WC4





East New Settlement



Part 1 SP7 and SP8

West New Settlement



Part 1 SP7 and SP9

Sustainable Settlements

Abberton and Langenhoe








Chappel and Wakes Colne


Copford and Copford Green




Eight Ash Green




Great Horkesley


Great Tey




Layer de la Haye


Marks Tey






West Bergholt


West Mersea




Windfall allowance (2022-2033)






* Note- This includes an allowance of approximately 930 dwellings for sites to the east of Colchester and, 500 to the west of Stanway, the sites for which will be determined once the boundaries for the Garden Communities have been defined.

(3) 4.32 Alternative options considered

Restrict allocations to plan period -Confine allocations to those which can be delivered entirely within the plan period. This would preclude the development of Garden Communities, given their long lead time, and would not allow the Council the opportunity to optimise long-term planning.

Provide a more dispersed pattern of new development -This option would spread the impact of new development more widely across the Borough, but would not secure the critical mass of new supporting infrastructure required to support sustainable growth and could therefore be expected to result in higher overall levels of growth in villages and within existing communities; congestion; and restricted infrastructure.

(1) Economic Delivery Policies

4.33 In accordance with the NPPF, the Council has set forth a clear strategy for Economic Growth in its Economic Development Strategy 2015-21which has the following priorities:

  • Creating new jobs
  • Raising the employability and skill levels of our residents and retaining talent
  • Creating, supporting and retaining businesses
  • Improving 'hard' (road, rail and broadband connectivity) and 'soft' infrastructure (business and employment support, employment sites)
  • Securing greater inward investment and funding.

4.34 The Council's allocations support this strategy and also reflect the need for economic growth to be targeted at the most accessible and sustainable locations. The Council commissioned studies including an Employment Land Needs Assessment, (ELNA) (January 2015) to update the evidence base and enable effective planning to facilitate the provision of appropriate employment to reflect current trends, market changes and projections for the plan period. The ENLA looked at provision in relation to B class uses and found that as a Borough there is sufficient supply to meet future needs when considering various scenarios, based on the allocations in the Adopted Local Plan (Core Strategy, Site Allocations and Development Policies) however, it recognised that achieving this is dependent upon all remaining land coming forward on 3 existing large Strategic Employment Zones with almost 80% of this being on the Stanway and Knowledge Gateway sites.

4.35 As part of the preparation of the Local Plan a full review of the unimplemented Strategic and Local Employment sites has been considered, informed by the ELNA as well as settlement assessments, strategic land availability assessments and policy review in the light of national guidance and other evidence as relevant. It is also recognised that a significant contribution to jobs in the Borough comes from other economic uses which are not classified as B class uses. In order to respond to this and to provide greater flexibility to aid delivery of further jobs throughout the Borough, employment areas will be provided within wider economic areas which will allow for a mix of appropriate economic uses in some areas.

4.36 In order to bring forward these sites and maintain an appropriate level and type of employment provision a specific policy approach for each area is appropriate. Around the edge of Colchester there remains 3 Strategic Locations for economic growth to the east, north and west of Colchester. Local Economic Areas around the Borough are retained where appropriate and designations have been removed where the ELNA or other evidence suggests them as no longer being suitable. These include areas which may have been identified for potential redevelopment, but are now functioning successfully with an existing successful operation. Those previously allocated sites which are no longer designated are identified as such on the individual settlement policies maps and listed in appendix1. Some LEAs are located within sustainable settlements which provide a key role in supporting the economic sustainability of the settlements. Other established areas are operating successfully in more remote rural locations, although these are less sustainable in terms of accessibility, the role they play in contributing to the wider rural economy and the function within the wider area is important hence the continued protection of some of these sites. The ELNA highlights some sites as being somewhat dated and that the potential for modernisation to be encouraged should opportunities arise through reuse or expansion proposals

(1) Strategic Economic Areas

4.37 The Strategic Economic Areas review the former Strategic Employment Zones with some revisions to all of these areas. These are the best employment sites in the Borough and should be retained for employment purposes to meet anticipated needs over the plan period, in accordance with Paragraph 22 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The Knowledge Gateway and University SEA reflects opportunities associated with the growth plans for the university and the benefits linked to the new University Garden Village to the east of Colchester. The Northern Gateway and Severalls SEA responds to the potential to maximise the its prime location adjacent to Junction 28 of the A12 and for enhanced connectivity to the Colchester's Northern Gateway, for the retention and expansion of the Business Park and for opportunities to deliver an enhanced sports and leisure hub. The third SEA at Stanway continues to be a favoured location for strategic economic opportunities given its relative sustainability taking advantage of good access to the A12. To allow for flexibility the Strategic economic areas are divided into sub areas (zones), the policy context for which is set out in the individual policies. The Council will work with other key stakeholders to ensure a comprehensive approach to the delivery of employment land and other mixed commercial uses within the Strategic Economic Areas in accordance with policies NC1, EC1 and WC1.

Garden Communities Strategic Allocations

4.38 Policy SP3 in Part 1 of this plan indicates that the new garden communities will make a strategic contribution to employment provision serving the sustainable communities and the rest of the Borough. The extent, location and policy context for this in new garden communities to the east and west of Colchester will be informed by future master planning for these areas.

(2) Centres Hierarchy

4.39 The NPPF provides specific guidance on town centre uses and requires that local authorities should define a network and hierarchy of centres to help ensure their vitality. The Council's Centre Hierarchy accordingly provides that town centre uses should follow a sequential approach to location, with Colchester Town Centre at the top of the hierarchy. Policy TC3 provides detail on the allocation of land within the Town Centre to provide additional town centre use capacity. Town centre uses elsewhere in the urban area of Colchester are dealt with through area based policies set out below for the Central, North, East and West areas. but are not given a specific role in the centres hierarchy given the limits placed in those locations on expansion of town centre uses. Small parades of shops of purely neighbourhood significance along with existing out-of-centre developments are excluded in the NPPF glossary definition of centres. The second tier of the centres hierarchy includes the District Centres of Tiptree, West Mersea and Wivenhoe along with new Garden Community centres which are expected to serve as centres for their surrounding local communities.

4.40 Areas within Colchester which were formerly District Centres are no longer designated as such, but are all now part of other policies with the approach set out to reflect the intended function of these areas. For clarity these are listed in Appendix 1. Furthermore the numerous areas previously designated as Neighbourhood Centres are also no longer designated within Colchester since most of them comprise small parades of shops purely of a neighbourhood significance which are expressly excluded in the NPPF definition. These areas are indicated on the policies maps and listed in appendix 1

(19) Policy SG3: Economic Growth Provision and Centre Hierarchy

The Borough Council will encourage economic development and will plan for the delivery of at least 55.2 ha* (B class uses) of employment land in Colchester Borough up to 2033. Existing economic uses on the sites identified will be safeguarded in accordance with the relevant policies. New development for employment uses will primarily be provided on a range of sites to ensure jobs are accessible to new and existing communities across the borough. Sites include;

  • Land within Strategic Economic areas as indicated on the proposals maps (policies NC1, EC1 and WC1)
  • Land within existing and proposed Local Economic Areas including those identified on the policies maps
  • Land within defined Commercial / mixed use special policy areas as shown on the policies maps (Policies TC3, NC2-3, EC2-3, WC4)
  • Existing sites with planning permission;

Within some of the defined economic areas alternative economic non- B class uses contribute to the provision of jobs providing flexibility and securing delivery of the additional jobs. Suitable alternative economic uses will be supported within the defined areas in accordance with the relevant policies.

Centre Hierarchy

In accordance with the NPPF the centres identified in the following hierarchy will be the preferred location for main town centre uses such as retail, office, leisure and entertainment. Proposals for such uses outside of these centres as defined on the proposals map will be subject to a sequential test as required by policy TC1

Regional Centre

Colchester Town Centre

District Centres


West Mersea


Proposed District Centres

New Garden Community East Colchester

New Garden Community West Colchester

(1) Table SG3: Economic Provision- Including Employment Land

Location / Site

Land available

(approx. ha *)

Policy Reference

Strategic Economic Areas

Northern Gateway / Severalls Strategic Economic Area


Zone 1

Policy NC1

Knowledge Gateway and University Strategic Economic Area


Zone 1

Policy EC1

Stanway Strategic Economic Area


Zone 1

Policy WC1

University Garden Village (East)

To be informed by master planning


West Colchester Garden Community

To be informed by master planning


Total Employment Land (B class uses) within SEAs (Hectares)

45.4 hectares

*note the figure provided for hectares relates only to the Zones within the SEAs which are allocated primarily for B class uses.

Local Economic Areas


Total Area and Land available



Clarendon Way



Maldon Road including the Shrub End Depot



Davey Close



Whitehall Industrial Estate (Place Farm)



The Hythe

Outside Urban Colchester

Tiptree ** - Tower Business Park



Total Employment Land from LEAs (Hectares)

9.8 hectares

Total Employment Land SEAs and LEAs combined

55.2 hectares

4.41 Additionally, further floorspace for non B-class economic uses will be provided within the following areas of urban Colchester:

  • Colchester Town Centre (Policy TC3)
  • North Station Special Policy Area (Policy NC2)
  • East Colchester - Hythe Special Policy Area (Policy EC2)
  • Colchester Zoo (Policy WC4)

(1) Local Economic Areas

4.42 The Local Employment Areas provide an important contribution to the Colchester economy alongside the Strategic Areas. The ELNA reviewed the majority of the former Local Employment Zones and suggested whether they should be reallocated, reviewed or deallocated. The sites are listed in policy SG3 and SG4 and in each case they are cross referenced in the appropriate place policy including policies for Colchester, Special policy areas, sustainable settlements or the other villages / countryside policies.

4.43 The Economic Areas shown on the Policies Maps provide a framework within which Colchester's business community can develop and compete at a local, regional, national and international level. The Council will work with businesses within these areas to encourage them to adapt and respond to changing economic conditions in order to support business growth and ensure the economic viability of local communities.

4.44 The East of England Economic Strategy states that employment sites are under increasing pressure to be developed for housing and other uses but it is important to retain existing employment sites where possible and appropriate. Employment site retention and provision is particularly necessary to enable balanced job and housing growth and to provide choices for businesses looking to expand or relocate.

4.45 Employment Areas contain a range of sites and premises that meet the needs of the business community and offers flexibility and choice. However, the National Planning Policy Framework advises local authorities to take a pragmatic approach to the protection of employment sites where there are high vacancy rates and/or where there is no reasonable prospect of a site being used for the allocated employment use. To build a strong, responsive and competitive economy, policies need to be flexible whilst ensuring that the needs of the community are met. To this end, the Council will, where possible, seek to retain Class B uses at employment sites whilst at the same time seek to prevent the long-term vacancy of land and units where other non-Class B uses may be appropriate.

4.46 There is pressure to change commercial land and premises into higher value uses but if an employment site was lost to a higher value use every time an application was made then there runs the risk of a declining stock of employment premises that would hamper the ability of the Borough to maintain and increase employment growth. The loss of commercial space to other uses could also lead to future social problems such as increased unemployment and increased out commuting.

(10) Policy SG4: Local Economic Areas

The Local Economic Areas as defined on the policies maps and listed in policy tables SG3 and SG4, will be safeguarded primarily for B class uses to provide, protect and enhance employment provision in a range of locations across the borough to enable balanced job and housing growth. Planning permission will be granted for the redevelopment or change of use for non-Class B uses where:

  1. it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable prospect of the site concerned being used for Class B purposes; and
  2. The supply, availability and variety of employment land is sufficient to meet Borough and local needs; and
  3. it can be demonstrated that the alternative use cannot be reasonably located elsewhere within the area it serves; and
  4. The proposal does not generate potential conflict with the existing proposed B class uses / activities on the site; and
  5. the use will not give rise to unacceptable traffic generation, noise, smells or vehicle parking; and
  6. The proposal provides the opportunity to maximise the sites potential for economic growth and support the continued operation of existing employment uses within the economic area.

Opportunities to enhance and renew more dated buildings within Local Economic Areas will be supported when proposals are promoted for improvements to existing operations or for new operations where the use and scale is appropriate.

(3) Table SG4: Local Economic Areas

Local Economic Area

Place Policy Reference


Barrack Street


Brook Street, Colchester


Chandlers Row - Port Lane


COLBEA Business Centre George Williams Way


Crown Interchange


Davey Close


Gosbecks Road


Maldon Road including the Shrub End Depot


Middleborough Area (including Fairfax House/Digby House, Causton Road & Sheepen Road)


St Peters Street (South)




Whitehall Industrial Estate (including extension and Fieldgate)


Outside Colchester

Abberton Pantiles Farm, Peldon Road


Boxted - 30a Straight Road (known as the Classic Pot Emporium)


Boxted - Straight Road, (known as Tin Bins Ltd)


Dedham - Depot (Old Ipswich Road)


Great Tey - Tey Brook Farm


Great Horkesley - Holly Lodge


Langham - Langham Airfield,


Layer de Le Haye - Queensmead, The Folley


Langham - Powerplus Engineering and Whitnell Contractors Site, School Road


Rowhedge Business Centre


Tiptree Alexander Cleghorn Ltd


Tiptree - Tower House


Tiptree - Tiptree Jam Factory


Tiptree - Basketworks site


West Bergholt - Pattens Yard, Nayland Road,


West Mersea - Waldegraves Farm


West Mersea - Boat Yards, Coast Road,


West Mersea - Rushmere Close,


Wormingford Airfield - (Packards Lane, Fordham

Road North and South)


(3) Existing Mixed Use Commercial areas within Colchester

4.47 Within the Colchester urban area, there are existing mixed use commercial areas that comprise large supermarkets and/or retail units together with smaller retail units, community facilities, offices and food and drink outlets. In some cases these areas also include large surface parking areas that could provide space for intensification.

4.48 Expanding the retail components significantly in these areas could undermine the vitality of the town centre. However, it is important to retain and, where appropriate, increase the mix of uses, improve the public realm and improve the provision of community facilities within these areas. The areas listed below have individual functions and these roles will be safeguarded by supporting proposals that are complimentary to the existing function. These areas will be categorised as 'out of centre' in relation to the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework for a sequential test (Paragraph 24). This is a change from their previous designation as 'Urban District Centres'. The removal of this designation is intended to avoid any ambiguity over what constitutes a 'centre' for the purposes of the sequential test and thereby to reinforce the primacy of Colchester Town Centre. This means that proposals for town centre uses in these Mixed Use Commercial Areas will need to satisfy the sequential test to demonstrate that no alternative Colchester Town Centre sites are available.

4.49 Any development should enhance the role that these areas provide to the local community and seek to enhance the public realm. Proposals should also seek to encourage and promote the use of sustainable transport to the area and minimise the impact of traffic on the local highway network and parking and to enhance connectivity opportunities to the town centre and to residential areas in the vicinity.

Turner Rise

4.50 Turner Rise is a retail park dominated by large buildings set within extensive areas of surface car parking. It is located approximately 1km to the north of the town centre, and within 250m to the east of Colchester Rail Station. The surrounding area is characterised by a mix of uses with residential development to the north and east of the site, and commercial uses to the west around the railway station. The Turner Rise Commercial Area consists of a large supermarket, retail units and a restaurant. The retail mix has changed over recent years from mainly bulky goods retail to an increased range of retail units. In 2016, two new food and drink pod units have been constructed.

Cowdray Centre

4.51 The Cowdray Centre is located to the north of the town centre currently a mix of employment, retail and leisure uses separated by vacant land which has planning permission for residential development. The area extends from the northern end of Clarendon Way, to the mixed use area on Mason Road and the retail units on Colne View Retail Park.

4.52 In general, the mixed commercial and residential uses are considered appropriate for this area given its links to the railway station and proximity to the town centre. Any new proposals should seek to enhance the mixed use role of this area and contribute to the enhancement of the public realm.

4.53 The Cowdray Centre is located between the North Station Special Policy Area and the town centre and provides opportunities to improve connectivity in the corridor between the station and the town centre. Development proposals should also enhance connectivity and contribute towards a green link between Highwoods Country Park and Castle Park.

Peartree Road,

4.54 The Peartree Road Commercial Area is located approximately 3.5km to the south west of the town centre and the surrounding area is predominantly residential. It consists of three separate areas:

  • North of Peartree Road - supermarket, retail units, offices and food outlets.
  • The Peartree Business Centre and Peartree Road - variety of small retail units ranging from bicycle sales, bulky goods and builders merchants in addition to services such as dry cleaners and a gym.
  • South of Peartree Road and Moss Road - variety of units including bulky goods retail, offices, builders merchants and leisure units.


4.55 The Highwoods Commercial Area is located approximately 2.5km to the north east of the town centre and serves a distinct surrounding residential catchment area. It consists of a large supermarket and local community facilities and services such as a dry cleaners, post office, surgery and community centre.

(6) Policy SG5: Existing Mixed Use Commercial Areas within Colchester

Within the urban area of Colchester there are a number of existing mixed use commercial areas which are established and serve a current function important to the surrounding area and the urban area beyond.

The following areas as shown on the policies maps will be safeguarded and subject to the principles identified below:

  • Turner Rise (north)
  • Cowdray Centre (north)
  • Peartree Road (west)
  • Highwoods (north)

Within the areas listed above, the current function of the area will be safeguarded and proposals for development which is of a scale appropriate to the function of the area and is complimentary to this will be supported.

The areas will be classed as 'out-of-centre' areas in terms of retail policy contained within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in paragraphs 24-27. Accordingly, proposals for further main town centre uses must:

  • Meet the sequential test and the Borough Council are satisfied that there are no alternative sites located closer to the town centre in accordance with the hierarchy;
  • Where the scale of the proposal requires a retail impact assessment, CBC are satisfied that the proposal will not impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre.

Proposals should encourage the use of sustainable transport modes and minimise the impact of traffic and parking.

(3) Strategic Infrastructure Policy

4.56 The Council fully appreciates that the delivery of new homes and jobs needs to be supported by necessary infrastructure, including a wide range of transport options, utilities, and community facilities. This issue is of particular concern to existing residents and businesses. The Council will prepare an Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) based on work carried out for the current Local Plan: studies prepared for the Garden Communities; relevant Neighbourhood Plans; topic based national and local studies; and discussions with infrastructure providers. The IDP will sit alongside this plan and provide specifics on the main items of infrastructure, when they are likely to be provided and who will pay for them. Additionally, the place-based policies in this plan will highlight essential pieces of infrastructure for communities within Colchester.

4.57 The broad categories of infrastructure covered in the IDP will include:

  • Water and Drainage - water supply, waste water, flood risk management and resilience, and water quality
  • Energy - electricity, gas, and renewable energy
  • Communications - broadband coverage and provision
  • Leisure and green infrastructure - sport, open space and community facilities
  • Education -early years and childcare, primary, secondary, further education, and higher education
  • Health - hospitals, health centres, GP surgeries, dentists, public health, and preventative health care.
  • Transport - highways, cycle and pedestrian facilities, rail, bus, park and ride, travel management, and car parking.

4.58 Infrastructure and community facilities are mainly provided by partner agencies and service providers such as water and energy provision by the utility companies; highways and social services by Essex County Council; education by a range of public and private sector providers, and healthcare services and facilities by the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group and National Health Service (NHS) England. The IDP will identify the different investment and development time scales for these providers and will work with those providers to help deliver a co-ordinated approach to new infrastructure delivery.

4.59 In the event that essential infrastructure cannot be appropriately delivered to support new development in spite of best efforts to secure this, policy will be used to restrict development from being commenced or, in certain cases, from being permitted, in the absence of proven infrastructure capacity.

(21) Policy SG6: Strategic Infrastructure

All new development should be supported by, and have good access to, all necessary infrastructure. Planning Permission will only be granted if it can be demonstrated that there is, or will be, sufficient infrastructure capacity to support and meet all the necessary requirements arising from the proposed development. Development proposals must consider all of the infrastructure implications of a scheme; not just those on the site or its immediate vicinity. Conditions or planning obligations, as part of a package or combination of infrastructure delivery measures, are likely to be required for many proposals to ensure that new development meets this principle. Consideration must be given to the likely timing of infrastructure provision. As such, development may need to be phased either spatially or in time to ensure the provision of infrastructure in a timely manner. Conditions or a planning obligation may be used to secure this phasing arrangement.

Policy SP4 in Part 1 provides the strategic priorities for infrastructure provision or improvement. Further guidance on the delivery of necessary infrastructure as detailed in the Part 1 Garden Communities policies SP7, 8, and 9) and in particular Place Policies in Part 2 will be set out in an Infrastructure Delivery Plan, which will detail the type and nature of infrastructure required; phasing; delivery partners; and funding.

4.60 Alternative options considered

Leave to NPPF -The NPPF provides a general requirement for Local Plans to plan positively for the development and infrastructure required in the plan area, but this needs to be backed up with specific Local Plan policy detailing the processes for ensuring delivery.

(2) Neighbourhood Plan Policy

4.61 The 2011 Localism Act introduced the concept of Neighbourhood Planning. Under this Act local communities in urban and rural areas were given new powers to prepare Neighbourhood Plans enabling these communities to have a greater influence over the future land use within their areas.

4.62 Neighbourhood Plans can vary in their terms of their complexity and approach and can cover one or more of the following topics areas: site allocations, housing type/size, local housing need, affordable housing, local character considerations, design and building materials, boundary fences/walls design criteria, community facilitates and services to sustainable development. The Council will be supportive of communities who want to prepare Neighbourhood Plans covering one or more policy topic.

4.63 Neighbourhood Plans are subject to examination and referendum and Plans which successfully pass these 2 tests will be adopted as part of the Development Plan for Colchester. Any issues which are not covered by the scope of a Neighbourhood Plan will be determined in accordance with the Local Plan.

(13) Policy SG7: Neighbourhood Plans

Town and villages are encouraged to plan for the specific needs of their communities by developing Neighbourhood Plans. The Borough Council will support Parish Councils and Neighbourhood Forums (in un- parished areas) to prepare Neighbourhood Plans, containing locally determined policies to guide land use and meet future development needs in their areas. Neighbourhood Plans are being prepared for Boxted, Eight Ash Green, Marks Tey, Myland and Braiswick, Stanway, West Bergholt and Wivenhoe. While Neighbourhood Plans are not required to promote growth, where they do intend to, the plans should aim to promote additional growth to that promoted in the Local Plan and should be in general conformity with national planning polices and guidance and strategic local policies.

Eight Ash Green, Marks Tey, Tiptree, West Bergholt and Wivenhoe Neighbourhood Plans will allocate development sites and require a different policy approach to the Neighbourhood Plans in the Borough that are not allocating sites. i.e. Copford with Easthorpe, Myland and Braiswick and Stanway.

The policy approach for each Neighbourhood Plan allocating sites is set out in the policy for the relevant sustainable settlement under the Place section in the Local Plan. Neighbourhood Plans not allocating sites will be progressed in accordance with the NPPF/PPG and the most current Neighbourhood Plan Regulations.

The Council will support new Neighbourhood Plans coming forward over the plan period. Either of the two approaches set out above could apply depending on the objectives of the Neighbourhood Plan.

4.64 Alternative Options considered

No change to existing policy - the wording of the current policy ENV2 in the adopted Core Strategy is NPPF compliant but it does not highlight the need for different policy approaches for Neighbourhood Plans allocating sites and plans that are not allocating sites. This is necessary to provide an appropriate balance between providing adequate certainty for the Local Plan and flexibility for the Neighbourhood Plans to make their own informed choices.

(1) Developer Contributions and Community Infrastructure Levy Policy

4.65 New development gives rise to the need for many new or improved services, facilities and other infrastructure which can be considered as part of the overall cost of development. Developers will accordingly be expected to contribute towards meeting these costs, having regard to overall consideration of viability and costs. This will include contributions to both on-site costs and strategic off-site infrastructure costs. Contributions will be secured under S106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) and/or secured through a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). CIL will complement and not duplicate planning obligations. A CIL charging schedule would stipulate a charge, per square metre of gross internal floorspace, for relevant classes of development. CIL is being developed and consulted on in parallel with the Local Plan but will need to be adopted after adoption of the Plan. A proportion of CIL funds would be passed to Parish/Town councils. Elected Council members would agree a list of strategic projects which would be the priorities for CIL funding.

4.66 The Council will seek to expand infrastructure funding sources and will work with partners to identify and secure funding from all relevant sources for infrastructure identified in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan; relevant Local Plan policies; and or in more current evidence at the time of submission of a planning application.

4.67 When infrastructure cannot be provided within, or is not appropriate to be located on, the development site itself, developers will be expected to make a contribution to the cost to provide what is necessary to support new development.

(16) Policy SG8: Developer Contributions and Community Infrastructure Levy

Developers will be expected to contribute towards the delivery of relevant infrastructure. They will either make direct provision or will contribute towards the provision of local and strategic infrastructure required by the development either alone or cumulatively with other developments.

Further guidance on how this policy will be implemented will be set out in separate documents. In addition to the Infrastructure Delivery Plan referred to in Policy SG6 (Infrastructure), such documents will include, a Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (new Supplementary Planning Document), and a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charging schedule and CIL related policies which will explain how, when and who will collect contributions along with how contributions are intended to be spent.

4.68 Alternative options considered

No Policy/Leave to NPPF: The NPPF provides a general requirement for Local Plans to plan positively for the development and infrastructure in the plan area, but this needs to be backed up with specific Local Plan policy detailing the processes for ensuring delivery. There is a risk that strategic and local infrastructure improvements are not delivered if the policy does not exist.

If you are having trouble using the system, please try our help guide.
back to top back to top