Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan
(17) 9 Employment
Objective 6: To ensure that Tiptree is an attractive location for a range of businesses so that its local economy can thrive.
9.1 The founding of the jam factory by Wilkin & Sons in 1885 was a big factor in the establishment of the village and has made a major contribution to the identity and heritage of Tiptree. The presence of the jam factory is highly valued by the community as an employer and as a contributor to the life and culture of the village not to mention its role in putting Tiptree 'on the map'. Subsequently a growing number of businesses have made their home in the village – each contributing to making Tiptree the thriving community it is today.
9.2 Through the Community Questionnaire, 64 respondents indicated that they operated a business within the village which together accounted for a total of 463 employees. Of these 64 businesses, 11 need space to expand including 3 that would like an affordable unit. In addition a further 25 respondents currently operate a business outside of Tiptree but have expressed a desire to relocate into Tiptree should suitable premises be available. The expressed need is for office space (15 units) and retail or business units (15 units). In each case about half the required units to be available to rent.
9.3 Besides Tiptree District Centre, the CLP S2 Policies SG4 and SS14 (Policy Map) designate four Local Economic Areas (LEAs) in Tiptree. These are:
- Alexander Cleghorn site
- Basketworks site
- Tiptree Jam Factory
- Tower Business Park
9.4 CLP S2 Policy SG4 safeguards these areas for employment purposes which primarily relates to general industrial, storage and distribution uses and for office, research and development and light industrial uses (within Use Class E). Alternative uses will only be permitted in particular circumstances, as explained in Policy SG4.
9.5 Market research indicates that there is a limited requirement for further provision of community services, financial or business services or leisure facilities. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that demand for small scale office space will increase, albeit this will be limited as demand for these uses was decreasing before the pandemic. It is likely to be focused on new ways of working, e.g. remote workers seeking shared workspaces closer to where they live. Many in the community felt that more shops and services would be of value to Tiptree but there is uncertainty in the retail sector over the need for more space.
9.6 Commercial agents covering the Tiptree area stated that by far the most active employment requirement identified is the provision of light industrial workshops, with demand well exceeding supply across the region. Lack of new-build stock is preventing companies from moving which creates a 'trickle down' effect leading to a lack of entry-level workshop space.
9.7 Tiptree is considered to be a small commercial market, barely known outside of the local area and has limited stock of units and floor space. However, if new employment land was made available this could accommodate demand for new build light industrial or general industrial workshop or warehouse space which would potentially expose Tiptree to a wider market. Such provision of a range of small and medium sized units is precisely where market demand is centred. It should be noted that the LEAs in Tiptree which have traditionally serviced these markets are largely at capacity. (For further evidence of the commercial requirements in Tiptree see the Employment Topic Paper).
9.8 For a village such as Tiptree, economic growth is expected to come not only from traditional industrial activities on edge-of-centre estates but also from micro-businesses, start-ups and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Over the last few years there has been local growth in these types of businesses, particularly start-ups and micro-businesses. Local agents have confirmed that small scale accommodation would be very popular and would meet the market demand. The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the likelihood that more people in the future will be working from home or working more flexibly. With train services from Kelvedon or Witham providing easy access to London, as well as the proximity of large employment centres of Colchester and Chelmsford, this makes such an approach more feasible. Flexible networking/shared workspaces are needed to support this changed employment pattern. As has been identified in Section 8 on the Village Centre, the provision of such space in the District Centre – particularly above ground floor so that traditional shops and services are not lost – would be welcomed. However, other locations are needed to attract the providers of such space.
9.9 The growth of these types of businesses requires suitable premises – small, flexible spaces that are well-located in the village. The LEAs provide limited space that is suitable for such provision. The allocation of new employment land will therefore provide a different offer which will help to diversity and create resilience in the local commercial employment market.
9.10 Accordingly, the plan makes provision for an additional 1.1 hectares of employment land in addition to the LEAs. This will be located on the Highland Nursery site allocation. It is also considered that site/plot sales on freehold terms would be very popular whilst seeking leasehold/pre-let opportunities for these plots is likely to be harder to deliver. It would therefore be prudent to provide a mix of serviced and unserviced land and units.
(29) POLICY TIP09: SMALL-SCALE COMMERCIAL WORKSPACES
- The provision of small-scale offices/workspaces on flexible terms that would encourage the creation and growth of start-up and micro-businesses is supported. Where necessary, such provision can be made as part of a mix of uses.
- Such provision can be made in any of the following locations as shown on the Policies Map:
- On land identified as part of the allocation at Highland Nursery (Policy TIP15)
- The Local Economic Areas (LEAs) specified by CLP S2 Policy SG4.
- Tiptree District Centre.
- The design of developments is expected to demonstrate that it is compatible with its surroundings and suitable landscaping measures should be applied to ensure appropriate screening from non-commercial activities.