Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan
(19) 11 Countryside, Green Spaces and Green Infrastructure
Objective 4: To protect and enable Tiptree's green environment, wildlife and biodiversity to thrive and grow. To protect local, national and international designated sites and habitats, and integrate green corridors into new developments.
11.1 One of the benefits of living in a village like Tiptree is to be surrounded by countryside. As the wide-open spaces within the village become fewer the countryside around us is increasingly important. In our consultation survey it was considered very important that we protect our countryside, especially our wildlife areas and there was a strong call for more accessible open countryside. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) also recognises the importance of our natural countryside and requires planning authorities to contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by 'protecting and enhancing valued landscapes' and 'minimising impacts on and providing net gains for biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures' (NPPF paragraph 174).
11.2 Tiptree also has a range of green infrastructure assets. Green infrastructure is a network of multi-functional high quality green spaces and other environmental features, (such as footpaths, leafy lanes, play parks, village greens, street trees) which together delivers multiple environmental, social and economic benefits, through:
- contributing to the quality and distinctiveness of the local environment and landscape character;
- creating a 'green wedge' and buffer;
- providing opportunities for physical activity, improving health and well-being and generally adding to quality of life;
- adapting and mitigating against a changing climate through the management and enhancement of existing habitats and the creation of new ones to assist with species migration, to provide shade during higher temperatures, reduce air pollution and for flood mitigation; and
- encouraging a modal shift from car to walking and cycling by linking publicly accessible green space wherever possible to form walking and cycling routes.
11.3 Tiptree has a number of ancient byways and leafy lanes including Pennsylvania Lane, Park Lane and a section of Grove Road. These are small access routes which have historic importance and natural beauty that should be preserved. Built development on the village edge alongside an ancient byway/ leafy lane should be designed and located in a way that ensures it does not create an adverse visual impact from the byway/lane (See Policy TIP02 Af).
11.4 It is important that these assets are better linked so that people can move more easily between them and into the countryside beyond. Policy ENV3 of the CLP S2 states that CBC will, "aim to protect, enhance and deliver a comprehensive green infrastructure network comprising strategic green links between the rural hinterland, urban Colchester, river corridors and open spaces across the Borough. It will seek to protect and enhance the existing network of green and blue infrastructure features and to secure the delivery of new green infrastructure where deficiencies and gaps are identified that will benefit communities, wildlife and the environment." The current network of green spaces and Local Wildlife Sites in Tiptree Parish is shown in Map 11.1. As identified by the NPPF, Local Wildlife Sites are locally designated sites of importance for biodiversity and must be protected accordingly.
(32) POLICY TIP11: GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE
- New developments should integrate with the current green infrastructure network, seeking to improve the connectivity for as many user groups as possible between wildlife areas and green spaces through measures such as improving and extending existing footpaths, cycle paths and bridleways, allowing greater access from housing and retail facilities to green spaces, public open spaces and the countryside.
- The Local Wildlife Sites shown on The Policies Map (and Map 11.1) are locally designated sites of importance for biodiversity and are protected accordingly. Development proposals must meet the requirements of Colchester Local Plan Policy ENV1 (Environment) and any proposals that have adverse effects on the integrity of habitats sites (either alone or in-combination) will not be supported.
- In order to address the requirement for biodiversity net gain, development proposals should explore a wide range of opportunities throughout the parish including:
- enhancing ecological networks and the migration and transit of flora and fauna;
- restoring and re-creating wildlife habitats, particularly to enable priority species to flourish;
- designing Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) to maximise the potential for biodiversity to thrive.
- Development proposals that have adverse effects on the integrity of habitats sites (either alone or in-combination) will not be supported.
11.5 To ensure the long term ownership and stewardship of any new public green spaces created as a part of development, it is recommended that their ownership should be transferred either to Tiptree Parish Council or, if this is not possible, then to an appropriate alternative public body. The parish Council will work with site promoters from the earliest possible stage to ensure that an appropriate mechanism is in place when the development comes forward.
11.6 In order to help manage downstream flood risk, any new development within the Plan area should be directed away from areas of existing flood risk where possible. New development within the plan area must ensure that surface water runoff rates are not increased beyond existing rates. Historically some surface water flooding has occurred towards the north of the village in close proximity to the Elms Farm allocation. Site investigations have shown that the watercourse to the southwest of the site has limited capacity. Any development in this area should consider improvement works as part of the development.
11.7 All development within the plan area should use Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) to manage rainfall runoff from the site. These techniques should encompass the four pillars of SuDS, addressing water quantity, water quality, biodiversity and amenity. In order to achieve these results, the use of above ground SuDS should be promoted. Where possible these features should be multifunctional, not only providing flood risk mitigation but also enhancing green infrastructure within the plan area.
11.8 All drainage strategies for major development within the plan area should be based on the Essex Sustainable Drainage Design Guide. It is recommended that developers engage in pre-application discussions with the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) to ensure that any recommendations can be incorporated into site design as early into the planning process as possible. While the LLFA is not currently a statutory consultee on minor applications it is still recommended that the principles of the Essex SuDs Design Guide are implemented on smaller sites to ensure that the cumulative effect of multiple smaller developments does not result in a significant increase in downstream flood risk.
11.9 Although not directly linked with the planning process it should be ensured that any new development within the Plan area complies with the Land Drainage Act and an application is made to the LLFA for ordinary water consent before making any changes to existing ordinary watercourses.
Meltwater on the paddocks, looking towards Grange Road
Landscaping and Biodiversity
11.10 Community consultation has revealed the value placed by residents of Tiptree on the rural setting of the village. They expressed enjoyment in living in the countryside with visual and physical access to the fields, woods and streams that make up the Parish. It is important that new development in Tiptree integrates with the landscape in a way that preserves the rural 'feel' and setting.
11.11 Whilst the Neighbourhood Plan did not seek to identify any established existing green corridors, this does not mean that they do not exist or cannot be created and assisted by the design of new development. The design of individual buildings and of neighbourhood scale green and open spaces, including private gardens, will help to ensure that the species present in Tiptree can thrive. This is in line with the national planning guidance for achieving net biodiversity gain through all new development. Examples of the simple solutions that well-thought out design can easily incorporate are:
- Integral bird and bat boxes under the eaves of the new houses, or artificial nests sited in places away from windows and doors, can create vital new roosting sites to support populations of birds and bats.
- Boundaries between dwellings can be made hedgehog friendly by including pre-cut holes for hedgehogs to more effectively move across neighbourhoods to forage.
- New planting schemes can support bees and other pollinators by including nectar-rich plants.
(30) POLICY TIP12: LANDSCAPING AND BIODIVERSITY
- New developments must ensure that they minimise the visual and physical impact on the environment, maximise opportunities to retain existing trees and hedgerows and secure biodiversity net gain.
- Major new development (as defined in the NPPF) adjacent to existing built-up areas should not create a hard edge and, where possible, retain a green buffer. A green buffer should be sufficiently wide to accommodate:
- the planting of avenues of street trees of which, by virtue of their species, have a large canopy and root structure when mature;
- recreational facilities such as benches and water features;
- wide pedestrian and cycling paths.
- Where a green buffer area is faced by the back gardens of the existing development, new buildings should be designed to overlook it, in order to create active frontages and provide natural surveillance.
- Developments in or adjacent to the settlement boundary that face open countryside must:
- Respect prevailing building heights and ensure heights taper off at the edges of sites where they meet the open countryside;
- soften the appearance of buildings on the edge of the development where it meets the open countryside through the use of trees, natural materials and features such as green roofs (see also Policy TIP02 Ab).
- The incorporation of design features into new development that encourages local wildlife to thrive, is strongly encouraged. This includes the use of native species of trees, shrubs and grasses which should be designed in a way that would allow their use as stepping stones for wildlife (see also Policy TIP02 Ag).
Local Green Spaces
11.12 Under the NPPF, Neighbourhood Plans have the opportunity to designate Local Green Spaces which are of particular importance to them. This will afford protection from development other than in very special circumstances. Paragraph 100 of the NPPF says that the Local Green Space designation should only be used where the green space is:
- in reasonably close proximity to the community it serves;
- demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife; and
- local in character and is not an extensive tract of land.
11.13 The following 7 areas (shown on Map 11.1 and the Policies Map) are considered to fulfil all of the criteria of the NPPF:
- Brook Meadow LWS
- Warrior's Rest LWS
- Park Lane LNR & Amenity Land
- Grove Road Playing Field
- Grove Lake
- Windmill Green
- Birch Wood
1. Brook Meadow
11.14 At 12 hectares Brook Meadow is the largest area of open grassland within the Parish and it is highly valued for its wildlife and its great recreational value. This is a well defined area of unimproved neutral grassland that comprises part of the wider area of lakes, wood and grassland known as Inworth Grange Local Wildlife Site (LWS). Brook Meadow contains nationally rare species and is a prime candidate for protection under the Nature Recovery Programme.
11.15 It is also highly valued as one of the only large areas of accessible open space in the parish. Generally Essex lacks wide open areas where people are free to roam. We do not have the hills and mountains possessed by the north and the west of the UK, neither do we have the vast tracts of protected heathland found in the south or the Downland hills of Kent and Sussex.
11.16 As we see more development in Tiptree the areas we do possess, albeit rather small ones, become increasingly important for recreation and emotional well being. The lack of a significant area of public open space within Tiptree means we are leaving people with little choice but to get in their cars and drive to the Essex Coast Special Protection Area (SPA) to find recreational space. The provision of open space more locally reduces the carbon footprint and provides mitigation/compensation in lieu of a trip to the coast. In this respect local space contributes to the Recreational disturbance Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (RAMS) (see Policy TIP14) – the strategic solution to protect the special conservation areas of the Essex coast from the recreational pressures of a growing population.
11.17 As Tiptree grows, popular areas like Tiptree Heath Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) are suffering degradation from too many visitors and it is important that we develop a strategic approach to providing significant areas of open space where the residents of Tiptree can escape to the countryside and where wildlife can thrive.
11.18 Community consultation has identified Brook Meadow and the wider LWS area to be the most popular area to become a future 'country park' for the growing population of Tiptree. When asked for suggestions 191 people (37% of respondents) identified this area. Although the rare orchids on this meadow attract occasional visitors from all over the country, it is predominantly used by locals who value this beautiful patch of countryside on their doorstep and have done so for well over 20 years.
2. Warrior's Rest
11.19 Warrior's Rest is an area of 9.4 hectares consisting of woodland and heathland that was gifted to the community as part of the redevelopment of the Tiptree Book Services (TBS) site. Part of this area is used by a local clay-pigeon shoot but the wooded part has been leased by Colchester Borough Council to Tiptree Parish Council to provide an amenity area. It is an atractive wildlife area and the intention is to open up some rides and create woodland walks for the benefit of Tiptree's expanding population.
3. Park Lane Nature Reserve and Amenity Land
11.20 This area, owned by Tiptree Parish Council, comprises 8.8 hectares of neutral grassland with scattered trees and woodland. The Amenity land has a number of picnic benches. It is valued for its wildlife, recreation and dog-walking. In the community questionnaire it was identified as a peaceful and beautiful space for family walks.
4. Grove Road Playing Field
11.21 This is an imprtant community space containing play equipment for all ages from toddlers to seniors as well as a skate-board park and space for ball games. It provides a space for fairs and festivals in the centre of Tiptree. This well-equipped area is a popular meeting space for parents with young children as well as older, more independent young people. It is owned and managed by Tiptree Parish Council.
5. Grove Lake and Board Walk
11.22 This is another important greenspace within the village equipped with benches and picnic tables. It is a popular place for dog-walking, picnics or to simply sit and chat or enjoy the view. The area has been described as a restful place with calming water that create the village atmosphere. It is owned and managed by Tiptree Parish Council.
6. Windmill Green
11.23 This is common land, managed by Tiptree Parish Council. It is a dog-walking and recreational area adjoining the main cross-roads and village sign. The Scout hut occupies a wooded corner of this green but is excluded from the Local Green Space. This area has been described as 'setting the village character as people enter Tiptree'.
7. Birch Wood
11.24 This wood, owned and managed by Wilkin and Sons, is a valued woodland comprising oak, hornbeam and sweet chestnut trees. It is accessible to the public and used for walking and children's play. It surrounds a reservoir which is fished by the Kelvedon and District Angling Association.
(39) POLICY TIP13 LOCAL GREEN SPACES
- The following spaces as shown on the Policies Map are designated as Local Green Spaces:
- Brook Meadow
- Warrior's Rest
- Park Lane Nature Reserve and Amenity Land
- Grove Road Playing Field
- Grove Lake
- Windmill Green
- Birch Wood
- Proposals for built development on a Local Green Space will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances.
11.25 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, 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.
11.26 In view of that, Colchester Borough Council worked with ten other Greater Essex local planning authorities, and Natural England, on a Recreational disturbance Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (RAMS) for 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.
11.27 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. Details of the zones of influence and the necessary measures (including tariffs) are included in the Essex Coast RAMS Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). Compliance with this document and any updated version and updated tariffs is required.
11.28 Although the RAMS policy is in the CLP S1, a RAMS policy has appeared in all Colchester BC NPs.
(27) POLICY TIP14: RECREATIONAL DISTURBANCE AVOIDANCE AND MITIGATION
- All residential development within the zones of influence of Habitat sites will be required to make a financial contribution towards mitigation measures, as detailed in the Essex coast Recreational Disturbance Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (RAMS), to avoid adverse in-combination recreational disturbance effects on Habitat sites.
- Winter bird surveys and fully functional mitigation (if required) must be completed at any proposed site within Tiptree prior to the development of the site (see CLP S2 Policy SS14).
- Proposals for 100 dwellings or more will also require a shadow appropriate assessment to be submitted with the application, which assesses likely significant effects alone. This should clearly show how necessary avoidance measures are incorporated into the proposal. Payment of the RAMS tariff will address in-combination effects.
 Evidence base documents, Environment Group Report and Tiptree Lanes.
 EBC 4.2 Colchester Borough LoWS Review 2015 (Final Version November 2017) forms part of CLP S2 Evidence Base Supporting Documents Section 4. Environment.