Copford with Easthorpe Neighbourhood Plan
Neighbourhood Plan Objectives and Policies
The Objectives set out below provide a clear view of the priorities, hopes and ambitions of the Neighbourhood Plan on behalf of the Community. Following on from these Objectives, the Policies set out what will be supported, what will be done and actions which will, in the interests of the Parish, be discouraged or opposed.
Objective 1 Parish Identity
- Ensure that the villages maintain their separate and distinctive rural identity
- Protect and improve the most valued areas of biodiversity and landscape
Objective 2 Design and Character
- Ensure that all development maintains and enhances the character of the area, respecting local heritage alongside high quality new architecture
See policies CE3, CE4, CE5 and Copford Design Guidance and Codes (pages 31-73).
Objective 3 Housing
- Favour and promote the use of brownfield sites over greenfield land
- Ensure a mix of well designed, high quality housing that meets local needs.
- Favour small developments, including self-build, with a commitment to low or zero carbon housing
See policy CE4 and Copford Design Guidance and Codes (pages 44-73).
Objective 4 Transport and Getting Around
- Promote an enhanced, connected network, enabling sustainable travel by public transport, foot and cycle
- Protect and enhance accessibility, linkages and permeability by utilising existing historic tracks, foot paths, roads and green spaces
- Discourage the use of local roads by non-agricultural heavy goods vehicles
- Manage parking provision by considering and influencing provision in each development
See policy CE5 and Copford Design Guidance and Codes (pages 76-84).
Objective 5 Infrastructure and Community Use
To ensure that infrastructure is sufficient for existing and future needs, the plan requires
- New facilities for all age groups as well as protecting and improving the existing ones
- The protection of reliable, long-term supply of water services and all utilities serving the community
Objective 6 Economy
- To encourage local employment, proportionate in scale to the villages
- To enable local job opportunities and provide services for local residents and visitors
See policy CE8
Objective 7 Environment and Climate Emergency
Copford with Easthorpe Parish Council takes the climate emergency and environmental impact in the Parish very seriously. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is developing a National Framework for the protection and stewardship of the natural environment through positive Environmental Land Management (ELM), which the Neighbourhood Plan needs to recognise and facilitate.
Our objectives are to:
- minimise the generation and emission of greenhouse gases by adopting alternatives to fossil fuels to heat new homes
- provide community owned renewable energy projects
- provide energy efficient lighting, particularly to reduce light pollution
- include measures to control and reduce air, light and noise pollution
- promote the collection, control, conservation and effective use of water, including surface water
- provide facilities to encourage additional recycling, including public and household waste
- promote sustainable transport, favouring cycling, walking and connection to public transport
See policies CE3, CE5, CE7 and Copford Design Guidance and Codes (pages 87-88).
Settlement Boundaries and Development
The Neighbourhood Character Assessment describes the separate character and identities of the three village areas within the Parish, namely Copford, Copford Green and Easthorpe, and their respective settings within the rural landscape. Residents value the individuality of these distinct villages and thus wish to ensure that they are not damaged by coalescence either with each other; or with neighbouring parishes; or with any significant new adjacent developments. Therefore in principle, development will only be supported within the identified settlement boundaries of the three villages, in order to enhance their separate identities.
Recently, residents have been much concerned by the large housing developments currently underway in Stanway immediately to the east of the Parish; and the 26,000 homes "garden community" proposed at Marks Tey immediately to the west (has been removed from the emerging local plan). Such large scale development in adjoining parishes directly impacts on, and significantly diminishes, the rural character of Copford with Easthorpe.
Furthermore, Colchester Borough Council has stated in its emerging Local Plan that it does not want any degradation of rural separation, and thus supports the Parish's opposition to coalescence with neighbouring parishes.
This Policy protects the Parish by resisting development which may lead to the merging of separate village settlement areas; coalescence with neighbouring parishes; the loss of agricultural land; damage to the rural character of the Parish; and urban sprawl. The Neighbourhood Plan is fully compliant with HRA and SEA
New development must:
- Preserve the separate and distinctive identities of the three villages of Copford, Copford Green and Easthorpe by avoiding any coalescence between the three villages
- Avoid coalescence between the Parish of Copford with Easthorpe and any adjoining parishes
- Large scale development of land will not be supported within the Parish which impacts on its rural character and sense of place.
- Avoid the loss of greenfield agricultural land
- Protect vulnerable Grade 2 listed buildings such as Copford Place and see them returned to housing.
The policy seeks to protect areas of existing open space, views and the bio-diversity of the natural environment which underpins the character of those places within the landscape.
The idea of a 'view' is an emotive one, often a matter of personal connection. The parish has a varied landscape, blessed with diverse habitats and many views across fields which, in turn, have been shaped by routeways, settlement and human activity for thousands of years, often in very subtle ways which are not immediately obvious. This 'quiet' beauty needs to be acknowledged and should inform high quality development, rather than preventing it.
This policy applies mainly, but not exclusively to key features of landscape and environment identified (page 26). These valued places should influence development, so that the landscape of the parish harmoniously blends new and old.
New development should take every available opportunity to enhance existing open space, views and the environment as well as providing new amenities. Any future developments, should settle into a blend which represents the periods through which the parish passes, with attention paid to changing needs alongside the biodiversity and landscape which is the bedrock for the continuing story of the village.
New development must:
- Provide new areas of accessible public open space as appropriate to the scale and type of development
- Maintain existing views and environmental features identified in Map 1, which contribute to the unique character of the Villages
- Support, promote and protect biodiversity
- Retain indigenous and other trees, hedgerows, boundaries and other natural features
- Replace landscape features where they are unavoidably lost
- Incorporate design or landscape features which preserve the balance of environmental types and provides new wildlife habitats and corridors
- Provide planting schemes and soft boundaries
- Protect and enhance the amenity and biodiversity of Aldecar Road, a protected lane as a valued amenity which we would wish to protect by mitigating against damage. There are other areas such as Hall Road and Fountains Lane which are also valued, despite not having protected lane status.
- All applicable developments will require a 10% Biodiversity Net Gain following the introduction of the Environment Act 2021 and Policy ENV1 of the emerging local plan.
Policy CE2b Essex Coast RAMS Policy
Habitat Regulations Assessments have been completed for Colchester Borough Council's Section 1 Local Plan and Section 2 Local Plan. Both of these assessments identified that the in-combination effects of the Section 1 and Section 2 Local Plans (including the cumulative effects of the Section 2 allocations), together with neighbouring local planning authorities Local Plans and neighbourhood plans are likely to adversely affect the integrity of European designated nature conservation sites (habitats sites), in particular the Colne Estuary Special Protection Area and the Blackwater Estuary Special Protection Area (both are protected under the Ramsar international treaty) and also the Essex Estuaries Special Area of Conservation.
In view of that, Colchester Borough Council is working with eleven other Greater Essex local planning authorities, and Natural England, on the Essex Coast Recreational disturbance Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (RAMS). The Essex Coast RAMS is a strategic solution to protect the Essex coast from the recreational pressures of a growing population. A RAMS is usually driven by challenges and opportunities arising from planning issues. RAMS generally applies more broadly than at a single designated habitat site, provides strategic scale mitigation and enables the development of a generic approach to evidence collection and use.
Financial contributions will be sought for all residential development, which falls within the zones of influence, towards a package of measures to avoid and mitigate likely significant adverse effects in accordance with policy SP2 of the Shared Strategic Section 1 Plan and policy ENV1 (Environment) of the Section 2 Colchester Borough Local Plan. This includes development allocated in Neighbourhood Plans within Colchester Borough. The whole of Colchester borough is located within the zone of influence. Details of the zones of influence and the necessary measures are included in the Essex Coast RAMS Strategy Document and Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).
In addition to payment of the RAMS tariff, all development sites over 100 dwellings should include provision of well-designed open space/green infrastructure, proportionate to its scale, to avoid likely significant effects from recreational disturbance alone. Such provisions can help minimise any predicted increase in recreational pressure to habitats sites by containing the majority of recreation within and around the development site, away from habitats sites. New Suitable Accessible Natural Greenspace (SANG) should include: high-quality, informal, semi-natural areas; a circular dog walking route of 2.7 km; dedicated 'dogs-off-lead' areas; signage/information leaflets to householders to promote these areas for recreation; dog waste bins; and a commitment to the long term maintenance and management of these provisions.
POLICY: ESSEX COAST RECREATIONAL DISTURBANCE AVOIDANCE AND MITIGATION STRATEGY (RAMS)
All residential development within the zones of influence of habitats sites will be required to make a financial contribution towards mitigation measures, as detailed in the Essex Coast RAMS, to avoid adverse in-combination recreational disturbance effects on habitats sites.
This policy requires that all new developments meet the highest standards of design, taking account of sources of best practice.
The Plan is ambitious in encouraging imaginative, high quality development which merges well with the mixed character of the Parish, while not seeking to imitate. This policy expects developers to meet local needs and respond to the challenge of climate emergency, while respecting the character of the Parish and its unique sense of place. Copford design guidance and codes provides clear principles for new developments.
Good design can also enhance affordability. This policy champions a principle that affordable homes will not be compromised to reduce cost.
Development must be designed in a way which:
- Is ambitious in tackling the challenge of climate emergency by meeting and where possible exceeding the minimum energy standards; reviewing and adopting new ideas and technology as they arise.
- Responds to its local context and ensures that its visual impact respects that context
- Protects the positive features of the eclectic characteristics of the local area and its heritage as defined in the Heritage list.
- Uses materials that are sympathetic to the palette within the parish and maintains this diversity
- Provides amenity space which meets or exceeds the modest standards set by the 'Technical housing standards – nationally described space standard'
- Has lighting of a quality and design to prevent light pollution and promote 'dark skies'
- Minimises water run-off by applying permeable surface drainage
- Ensures the privacy of adjoining residences
Policy CE4 Housing
CE4a: New development must promote:
- Small scale development appropriately located, on 'brown field' sites where and when they become available.
- Developments which have the least impact on sites with heritage, landscapes, or biodiversity of importance or significance.
- Housing which is planned in the light of the post-Covid world, to enable local home working and work hubs close to where people live.
- An appropriate housing mix, which respects the underlying character of the area, alongside the most up to date, assessed needs of households.
Copford Design Guidance and Codes (pages 46-75). This is the premier source of design guidance for village developments and accompanies the Neighbourhood Plan as an intergral technical section.
CE4b: Affordable Housing
The Parish Council wishes to ensure that there are sufficient affordable homes for residents, relatives of residents who wish to remain in the Parish, those wishing to downsize, first time buyers, and those on low income, in line with Colchester Borough Council Policy H4 and the recommendations of the Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) Survey 2020. RCCE Survey recommends the need for affordable rented housing units, 6x1 bed & 2x2 bed. As of July 2020, data from the CBC Housing Register indicated that there were currently 7 applicants who have stated a local connection to Copford & Easthorpe.
Policy on affordable housing will fall in line with Colchester Borough Council Policy. All future development must promote:
- A mix of tenure with a minimum of 30% of rented properties including 1 and 2 bed units (ref CBC policy)
- Good design to intelligently reduce purchase and running costs, without sacrificing quality
- It is fully integrated with open market housing across development sites such that once completed any quality and location differences are indiscernible
- That it is first offered to existing residents or those who have recently been forced to leave the parish because of the current unaffordability of houses within Copford & Easthorpe and those with a local connection
- That where affordable houses are built on rural exception sites, they are held for the benefit of local residents in perpetuity.
(1) Policy CE5 Transport and Getting Around
Transport policy must increasingly take account of major changes in our way of life as well as the threats facing us into the future. The International Climate Emergency, together with the changes to work - life balance in a post-Covid world will offer significant challenges. To continue in the same way as we have always done in the past is simply not an option.
There are stark differences in access to public transport within the parish. Easthorpe is isolated from public transport, while Copford Green is a long walk from the only bus route on London Road. This inequality of access to public transport in the Parish means that cars will continue to dominate, thus creating a local strategic need for reduced car dependency and better infrastructure for walking and cycling.
Development proposals will be supported where:
- They take account of 'Healthy Streets' guidance and advice in the Essex Design guide http://www.essexdesignguide.co.uk/design-details/streets-and-roads
- The traffic generated is managed to ensure road safety
- Measures are taken to reduce car usage by promoting alternatives including cycling, walking, horse-riding and public transport
- They include cycle ways, bridlepaths for equestrian use and footpaths which link into local networks and where possible, improve connections between routes and places, or create new networks
- Applications show clearly how they intend to enhance and connect to a growing network of 'Green' transport
- Adequate off-street parking is provided in order to minimise obstruction of the local road network
- Provision of electric charge points and other facilities are supported in anticipation of changes in travel technology
- There are clear measures to reduce the impact of heavy goods vehicles on local roads
- Narrow, rural roads are protected from excessive traffic and avoiding the creation of rat-runs, by careful planning with highways authorities Copford Design Guidance and Codes (pages 76-84).
Policy CE6 Infrastructure and Local Community Facilities
The key facilities and assets which contribute to life for existing and future residents need to be developed as part of the Neighbourhood Plan. Necessary developments include physical amenities and vital services, as well as intangible demands such as broadband access, which is essential for homeworking but is currently variable across the parish.
All future development must enable:
- Local community facilities to be protected, retained and enhanced. Any loss or harm to an Asset of Community Value (ACVs) will be strongly resisted
- Existing and future residents of the three villages to have access to a secure, reliable and fast broadband network, applying varied technologies
- Section 106 contributions to be applied to infrastructure priorities identified by the community with the Parish Council
- The preservation, protection and promotion of reliable long-term supply of water services.
- Protection of utilities and the promotion of sustainable, low carbon energy
- Effective collaboration with Health and Education authorities so that future health and education needs are accommodated
Policy CE7 Environment
CE7a Water Conservation:
Despite ancient origins, Copford with Easthorpe is a modern community, well aware of the environmental problems which it faces and the climate emergency declared by Colchester Borough Council in particular. Located in one of the driest areas in the country, residents are frequently affected by summer water shortages, and therefore actively support measures for the conservation and optimum utilisation of locally sourced water. Planning applications (which are otherwise acceptable) will be supported if they meet, and preferably exceed, environment agency requirements for the conservation and use of water.
Diagrams illustrating the functioning of a soakaway.
Development proposals will be supported which clearly show:
- Limited use of paved areas
- Provision of porous surfaces
- Rainwater harvesting
- Use of vegetation and planting schemes to slow run-off
Essex County Council is the Lead Local Flood Authority: www.essexdesignguide.co.uk/suds
Rainwater harvesting systems
Greywater for domestic users
Anglian Water Alternative Water Systems
This Neighbourhood Plan encourages the Parish Council and residents to be increasingly ambitious in the efficient and effective use of energy. If we are to limit the increase in global temperature rises to a level that will avoid the worst impacts, housing development should not emit greenhouse gases.
Development will be supported if it adopts the following policy principles or criteria:
- The increasing adoption of alternatives to fossil fuels in all future developments
- The installation of energy efficient lighting.
- The adoption of highest standards of insulation in all future developments
- Proposals for housing development should demonstrate how 100% of the energy requirements of the development will be met from renewable and low carbon energy sources.
- Where the energy requirements of the proposed development cannot be met from onsite installations, developers should first demonstrate that all feasible steps have been taken to minimise energy consumption on the site and then identify and secure alternative sources of renewable and low carbon energy generation to meet the needs of the development.
- In demonstrating that the development will meet this requirement, developers are encouraged to work with community energy organisations to provide the necessary energy generation.
- Where an existing building is extended or refurbished, or there is a change of use: high quality, thermally efficient building materials; double glazing (at a minimum); energy efficient lighting should be included where technically feasible; consideration should also be given to upgrading the whole property to meet higher energy efficiency standards
CE7c Dark Skies:
Copford with Easthorpe is proud of its rural character, and very conscious of the adverse impact of unrestricted artificial light at night. Residents therefore support measures to control light pollution for the better preservation of the ambient countryside at night, the well-being of its resident wildlife, and the beauty of the night sky.
- Wherever possible new development will be required to avoid installing unnecessary outdoor lighting.
- If new lighting is unavoidable, steps must be taken to avoid its impacts on our dark skies by making sure that it is properly designed, taking into consideration the direction of lighting and number of lumens emitted.
- If that is not possible, adverse impacts of lighting will be required to be mitigated – for example, by installing timing restrictions and making sure that the light emitted is of a colour that won't disturb residents and wildlife.
Residents endorse Colchester Borough Council's declaration of a climate emergency and support the Council's policies for the environmentally friendly recycling of household waste.
Development proposals and planning applications must show:
- Strategies for the re-cycling of household waste
- Provision of composters for gardens and cultivated areas
Residents of the Parish, particularly those close to its northern and western access roads, are continuously aware of air and noise pollution from the nearby A12 trunk road and the busy B1408 London Road, to the detriment of their peace, health and well-being. The development plan will support measures to control and mitigate such pollution.
In the possible event of the car boot sale field site coming forward in the future, (off the B1408, London Road between Copford and Marks Tey) then it would be an aspiration for this to be developed subject to discussion and agreement with Marks Tey parish. This site was the most popular site for development in the 2015 and 2017 Copford with Easthorpe residents questionnaire responses.
- Favour the allocation of roads to sustainable transport to mitigate the effects of pollution.
- Support for noise restriction (with appropriate measures to baffle noise such effective bunds and by the management and restriction of road speed, reduction of car-dependency and encouragement of cycling and walking.
Policy CE8 Existing, new and Expanding Businesses
This rural parish and its Neighbourhood Plan will encourage a successful, mixed economy, taking account of both physical space and a need for digital infrastructure. The Pandemic has irreversibly altered working practices. For many, working life is likely to include a blend of home working, use of local, shared office hubs and more selective travel than has traditionally been the norm, where face to face meeting is needed.
Such adaptation also supports the necessary response to climate change by being inherently less wasteful of time and resources including energy and transport. The Neighbourhood Plan needs to support local business by anticipating and supporting such change as it emerges.
- To strongly encourage developers to install high standards of fibre, wireless and broadband connectivity to new and newly converted properties.
- Development proposals will be supported where there is a mix of workplaces in co-operation with existing community assets such as the village hall and the Alma to enable workplaces which provide a blend of options including home and local working.