Section 1 - Publication Draft Local Plan
3.1 Future growth will contribute to maintaining and enhancing a well-connected network of sustainable settlements across North Essex. New homes, jobs, retail and leisure facilities serviced by new and upgraded infrastructure will be accommodated as part of existing settlements according to their scale, sustainability and role, and by the creation of strategic scale new settlements. The countryside will be protected and enhanced.
3.2 For the majority of settlements these issues are addressed in the second part of the Local Plan dealing with each authority's area. However, it is relevant here to set out the spatial strategy at an appropriate level, as it relates to the main settlements and strategic-scale new development.
3.3 In Braintree District the growth will be mainly addressed via a mixture of urban extensions and new communities. Braintree town, as the largest service centre in the District, will have a number of new urban extensions. Over 4,000 new homes will be allocated in this area. The other main focus for development will be the A12 corridor with the main town of Witham and service villages of Hatfield Peverel, Kelvedon and Feering with allocations of over 2,000 new homes. Other parts of the District, including the town of Halstead, will have smaller allocations to reflect a more local need and make the best use of brownfield sites, recognising that these areas are not as sustainable. A new strategic scale garden community will be located to the west of Braintree, on the boundary with Uttlesford DC and on the eastern boundary with Colchester BC.
3.4 In Colchester Borough, the urban area of Colchester will continue to be a focus for growth due to its pre-eminent role as a centre for jobs, services and transport, with 4,000 new homes expected to be delivered over the Local Plan period. The urban area of Colchester, however, has a limited and diminishing supply of available brownfield sites, so new communities are included in the spatial hierarchy as a sustainable option for further growth of homes and jobs, in locations both to the east and west of Colchester on the borders with Tendring and Braintree Districts. Approximately 1,200 new homes will be allocated in the Rural District Centres of Tiptree, West Mersea and Wivenhoe. Smaller sustainable settlements will receive limited allocations proportionate to their role in the spatial hierarchy.
3.5 In Tendring District the spatial hierarchy promotes growth in settlements that are the most accessible to the strategic road network, public transport and offer a range of services. Clacton and Harwich with Dovercourt are classified as strategic urban settlements and will accommodate around 5,000 new homes. A new cross-boundary garden community will be located in the west of the district and to the east of Colchester. The smaller urban settlements of Frinton with Walton and Kirby Cross, Manningtree with Lawford and Mistley, Brightlingsea and Weeley will accommodate between 1,500 and 2,500 new homes. The rural service centres and smaller rural settlements will accommodate around 1,500 new homes including a windfall allowance.
Existing settlements will be the principal focus for additional growth across North Essex within the Local Plan period. Development will be accommodated within or adjoining settlements according to their scale, sustainability and existing role both within each individual district and, where relevant, across the wider strategic area.
Future growth will be planned to ensure settlements maintain their distinctive character and role. Re-use of previously-developed land within settlements is an important objective, although this will be assessed within the broader context of sustainable development principles, particularly to ensure that development locations are accessible by a choice of means of travel.
Each local authority will identify a hierarchy of settlements where new development will be accommodated according to the role of the settlement, sustainability, its physical capacity and local needs.
Beyond the main settlements the authorities will support diversification of the rural economy and conservation and enhancement of the natural environment.
Three new garden communities will be developed and delivered as part of the sustainable strategy for growth at the locations shown on Map 3.3 below and the Proposals Map. These new communities will provide strategic locations for at least 7,500 additional homes within the Plan period in North Essex. . Employment development will also be progressed with the expectation that substantial additional housing and employment development will be delivered in each community beyond the current Local Plan periods. They will be planned and developed drawing on Garden City principles, with necessary infrastructure and facilities provided and a high quality of place-making and urban design.