Section 2 - Publication Draft Colchester Borough Local Plan

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15. Development Management Policies

15.1 The policies below will guide the development management (planning application) process. They set out how development will be managed to ensure that it contributes towards the vision and objectives, via the strategic framework put in place by the policies contained in Section 1 and those covering Sustainable Growth, Climate Change, Environmental Assets and Places in Section 2.

Health and Wellbeing

15.2 There is a strong evidence base that shows the impact that the built environment has on the health and wellbeing of residents. This evidence base is growing and consideration must be given to how new development will support and integrate health, wellbeing and lifestyle choices through the life course of residents, workers and visitors to these new developments. 

15.3 Most development has a potential impact upon the health services and facilities that are provided in the Borough. Likewise, through the design of new development, healthy living can be promoted. The extent of these impacts needs to be assessed to ensure that adequate health services continue to be provided for the community as a whole. For developments which have relatively little impact upon health services, an initial assessment may be sufficient to satisfy the requirements of this policy. For developments where an initial assessment indicates more significant health impacts, a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment (HIA) will be required. The Council will liaise with the NHS East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group and ECC Public Health when assessing the scope and scale of likely impacts. A HIA should be prepared following the current best practice advice and reflect the most up to date evidence. Further details on preparing HIAs can be found in the Guidance Note on HIAs produced by the Essex Planning Officers Association (March 2008).

(6) Policy DM1: Health and Wellbeing

All development should be designed to help promote healthy lifestyles and avoid causing adverse impacts on public health through:

(i) Ensuring good access to health facilities and services;

(ii) Providing a healthy living environment where healthy lifestyles can be promoted including green space and creating attractive opportunities for activities including walking and cycling; and

(iii) Providing appropriate mitigation to avoid harmful emissions.

Health Impact Assessments (HIA) will be required for all residential development in excess of 100 units and non-residential development in excess of 2500 square metres and for other developments where the proposal is likely to have a significant impact on health and wellbeing. The purpose of the HIA will be to identify the potential health consequences of a proposal on a given population, maximise the positive health benefits and minimise potential adverse effects on health and inequalities. Any HIA must be prepared in accordance with up to date advice and best practice for such assessments.

All developments with the potential to cause a deterioration in air quality will be required to provide comply with Policy ENV5.

Measures to mitigate any adverse impacts of the development will be provided and / or secured by planning conditions, Section 106 contributions or CIL.

Developments which will have an unacceptable significant adverse impact on health and wellbeing which cannot be mitigated, or that fail to offer reasonable provisions, will not be permitted.

Community Facilities

15.4 Community facilities are an essential element of sustainable communities providing for education, childcare, health, culture, recreation, religion and policing (see Glossary). Policies elsewhere in the plan also cover protection and provision of open space and recreation facilities.

15.5 The Local Planning Authority needs to deliver a comprehensive range of high quality and accessible community facilities to meet the needs of new and existing communities in Colchester. Community projects such as the Community Stadium and Firstsite, have regional and national significance. Local facilities such as schools and health centres also need to be delivered to support new and existing communities.

15.6 The Local Planning Authority will safeguard existing community facilities and will work with partners including the local community to bring together funding from a variety of public and private sources to improve existing and deliver new community facilities.  Development proposals will be required to review community needs and provide community facilities to meet the needs of the new population, which will have positive impacts on existing communities.

15.7 The Local Planning Authority wishes to protect viable community facilities and services that play an important role in the social infrastructure of the area and support sustainable communities. In communities where access to alternatives may be very limited, the presence of key facilities may be very important in maintaining quality of life. Examples of community sites and buildings include amenity open space, children's play areas, sports fields, village halls, local shops, leisure and cultural centres, public houses, community centres, churches, cemeteries, allotments, post offices, petrol stations, doctor's surgeries, libraries and schools, etc.  In line with the NPPF (paragraph 70) the Local Planning Authority will guard against unnecessary loss of important facilities using processes such as listing facilities as Assets of Community Value where appropriate (under the provisions the Localism Act 2011).

15.8 The loss of any community facilities must be fully justified. The Local Planning Authority will require any application involving the loss of a facility to be supported by written evidence and applicants should contact the Local Planning Authority at the earliest stage to discuss the details.  The level of detail to be submitted will vary according to the level of access to alternative facilities and the extent to which the facility contributes towards sustainable communities but could be expected to include such evidence as:

(i) In the case of a business, the current and projected trading performance;

(ii) In the case of a community facility, the current and projected patterns of use;

(iii) The nature and condition of the building and the cost of repairs, renovations or improvements needed to allow the facility to continue in operation;

(iv) The extent of the local catchment including the location of the premises in relation to local settlement pattern and accessibility;

(v) The nature and location of comparable facilities;

(vi) The potential to relocate the use into other premises in the community;

(vii) In respect of public houses, the approaches and attempts to transfer from a chain of tied pubs to a free house;

(viii) In the case of a business, evidence that it has been offered on the open market as a whole (parts having not been identified for separate sale) and at a realistic market value.  This should be for a period of not less than six months by a competent agent.  Evidence should include sales literature, details of approaches, and details of offers; and

(ix) Evidence that the local community has been notified in writing of the intention to close the facility and has not, within a period of six months come forward with a realistic proposal to assume operation of the facility, including its proposals to finance and operate the facility. 

15.9 The importance of particular facilities will vary between communities, and it is essential that the community is involved in considering the importance of any facility and the suitability of any proposals for alternative forms (and locations) of provision, and in developing means of retaining facilities, should their continued viability of operation be in doubt. Applicants proposing to redevelop or convert facilities valued by the community will be expected to consult local communities about the relative importance of the facilities which could be lost. Not all facilities satisfactorily meet the needs of local communities, and it may be that combining or rationalising facilities might be appropriate.  This will be informed by the most up to date relevant evidence.

15.10 Support will be given to the provision of additional facilities where this will enhance the sustainability of community life and will meet the anticipated needs of a growing and changing population. The use of developer contributions and/or the Community Infrastructure Levy may well be appropriate in this respect.  The Local Planning Authority will work with local partners, such as Town/ Parish Councils or Community Associations, to plan and manage community facilities.

(5) Policy DM2: Community Facilities

The Local Planning Authority will seek the retention of all existing community facilities and services and allocations for such uses where they meet or will meet an identified local need.

Any proposal that would result in the loss of a site or building currently or last used for, or allocated for the provision of facilities, services, leisure or cultural activities that benefit the community, will only be supported in cases where the Local Planning Authority is satisfied that:

(i) An alternative, equivalent community facility to meet local needs is, or will be, provided in an equally or more accessible location within walking distance of the locality (800 m); or

(ii) It has been proven that it would not be economically viable to retain the site/building for a community use; and

(iii) The community facility could not be provided or operated by either the current occupier or by any alternative occupier, and it has been marketed to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority in order to confirm that there is no interest and the site or building is genuinely redundant.

New development will be required to provide, or contribute towards the provision of community facilities including education, to meet the needs of new and expanded communities and mitigate impacts on existing communities, which will be secured by Section 106 contributions or CIL/equivalent infrastructure levy.

Where existing facilities can be enhanced to serve new development, the Local Planning Authority will work with developers and local partners to audit existing facilities and deliver any requirements for such facilities to deliver comprehensive provision of services to serve these extended communities.

Education Provision

15.11 Expansion to existing as well as new primary schools, secondary schools and early years provision, including special educational needs, will be required in the Borough to support the new homes and communities that are being created. The NPPF (paragraph 72) states that great importance should be placed on the need to provide new school places. It also states that local planning authorities should take a proactive, positive and collaborative approach to meeting this requirement, giving great weight to the need to create, expand or alter schools. The amount of land required is specified by Essex County Council as Local Education Authority. New designations will be subject to detailed design and layout to ensure that schools are located in the best positions for new communities.

15.12 Existing schools and education facilities, including early years, special needs, higher and further education will be supported to ensure they are able to deliver high quality educational provision and act as hubs for their local community. Remodelling and expansion of schools and education facilities will be supported wherever possible. The loss of school grounds or school buildings themselves will only be supported where it has been proven that there is no longer an educational need for the site, now or in the future, or that improved accommodation is being provided in an alternative location. Applications for existing schools are often dealt with by Essex County Council, but in some circumstances the Borough Council will be the relevant local planning authority. The policy below will apply for decisions made by Colchester Borough Council, and will be used to inform any consultation responses submitted to applications which are determined by Essex County Council, or any other appropriate agency.

15.13 The Local Planning Authority recognises the differences in location and design requirements between rural and urban based education proposals in the Borough and will assess applications accordingly. For example, a school with a rural based catchment must promote safe walking and cycling routes. Residential developments may need to contribute to upgrading such routes and to providing adequate and reliable public transport provision for students.

(6) Policy DM3: Education Provision

Sites proposed for, or in current educational use, or which have ceased to be used for education in the recent past, will be protected for that use. Where it is demonstrated that the educational use of the site is genuinely redundant the change of use, or re-development of educational establishments and their grounds, will be supported where:

(i) No other alternative educational, or community use can be found;

(ii) Satisfactory alternative and improved facilities will be provided; and

(iii) The area of the site to be redeveloped is genuinely in excess of government guidelines for playing field provision, taking into account future educational projections.

The Local Planning Authority will respond positively to appropriate and well-designed applications regarding the creation of new school and education facilities. As expressed in the NPPF, the Local Planning Authority will use a presumption in favour of the development of schools and educational uses. The Local Planning Authority will engage in pre-application discussions with promoters to develop a collaborative approach to suitable applications.

Sports Provision

15.14 The existing sport, leisure and public and private open spaces within the Borough represent important assets serving the communities in which they are located (or in some instances wider areas). This importance can relate not only to their function, but also to the amenity value and contribution to the character of an area in general in providing a 'green lung', opportunities for a well-designed and inclusive public realm, and visual breaks in the built environment. If such provisions are lost to other uses it can be extremely difficult to find alternative locations particularly as open land is scarce and, therefore, at a premium.

15.15 Against this background, it is intended to secure the retention and enhancement of existing facilities unless a case can be made that alternative provision will be provided in a wholly acceptable manner. There are a wide range of organisations currently delivering sport and leisure facilities within the Borough including strategic sports providers such as the University of Essex, the Garrison and Colchester Institute as well as Colchester Borough Council.

15.16 A Strategic Sports Board has been established and a Sports Delivery Group is being formed to ensure that the delivery of sports and leisure facilities is planned and delivered in a coherent way.

15.17 The Local Planning Authority will work with the strategic sports providers as well as developers, schools, sports governing bodies, sports clubs, Active Essex/Active Colchester and Sport England to plan for and secure the delivery of a range of new sport and leisure facilities across the Borough over the plan period to serve residents' needs, encourage active lifestyles and increase participation in formal and informal recreation.

15.18 A number of documents will be used by the Local Planning Authority when assessing planning applications relating to proposed development of open space and sports facilities. These include the Sports Facilities Strategies (and subsequent updates) and Sports Development Plans prepared by other strategic sports providers in Colchester. Sport England will be consulted on any application that is likely to prejudice the use of or lead to the loss of use of land used as a playing field (whether presently used, or used within the last 5 years, or allocated for such use).

(4) Policy DM4: Sports Provision

Colchester Borough Council will work with sports providers across the Borough to protect, enhance and deliver new sports and leisure facilities to encourage active lifestyles and to increase participation in formal and informal recreation.

The delivery of new strategic sports facilities will be focused at hub sites including the Garden Communities; North Colchester; the University of Essex and the Garrison. Development at these locations will be required to contribute to the delivery of the sport and leisure needs identified in the Sports Facilities Strategies, in the respective Sports Development Plans for The Garrison, University of Essex and North Colchester (Northern Gateway).

New residential development, outside the strategic sports hubs in the Borough will also be required to contribute to the provision or enhancement of sport or leisure facilities where a need has been identified.

The Local Planning Authority will seek to secure community use as part of all new strategic sports proposals and as part of other smaller sport and leisure schemes submitted where it is practical to do so.

Development, including change of use, of any existing or proposed sports ground or playing field will only be supported where it can be demonstrated that:

(i) Alternative and improved provision will be created in a location well related to the functional requirements of the relocated use and its existing and future users; and

(ii) The proposal would not result in the loss of an area important for its amenity or contribution to the green infrastructure network or to the character of the area in general; and

(iii) It achieves the aims of the Colchester Sports Facilities Strategy.

Development proposals resulting in a loss of indoor or outdoor sport/recreational facilities must additionally demonstrate that:

(iv) There is an identified excess provision within the catchment of the facility and no likely shortfall is expected within the plan period; or

(v) Alternative and improved sport /recreational provision will be delivered at a location well-related to the functional requirements of the relocated use and its existing and future users.

In all cases, development will not be permitted that would result in any deficiencies in sports provision or increase existing deficiencies in the area either at the time of the proposal or be likely to result in a shortfall within the plan period.

Tourism, Leisure, Culture and Heritage

15.19 Colchester's rich historic environment and range of beautiful landscapes provides the basis for an important tourism sector which creates jobs and provides facilities, attractions and environments for visitors that also enhance the quality of life for local residents. Proposals to support this sector will accordingly be supported subject to their accordance with the Local Planning Authority's spatial hierarchy and policies. It is important to ensure that new development does not detract from the settings and features that make visitor destinations attractive and distinctive.

15.20 The Borough's historic Town Centre is the focal point for visitor attractions and accommodation as well as leisure and cultural facilities.  In line with national policy, proposals falling within the category of 'town centre uses' as defined in the NPPF glossary will be subject to a sequential test to ensure they align with the Local Planning Authority's spatial hierarchy and centres hierarchy, which prioritises the Town Centre.

15.21 In rural areas, the Local Planning Authority recognises that existing visitor accommodation sites may be an acceptable location for further small-scale development although not readily accessible by public transport.  In order to maximise the benefits of tourism to rural economies it is important to locate new tourism development in locations where visitors can help to support local shops, pubs and other rural services.  Some leisure and cultural facilities including sports facilities such as golf courses, sports pitches and water-based attractions require significant amount of open space and accordingly can be appropriate for suitable countryside locations.  Given that they also entail environmental and visual impacts from built structures, increased traffic and landscape and habitat changes, it is important to ensure new facilities are evaluated carefully in light of considerations of amenity, environmental and landscape impact and accessibility. Proposals for new or extended visitor facilities will be assessed against their ability to help deliver policies SG1, SG5, ENV1, ENV4, OV1, OV2, DM23, DM24, WC3 and other relevant policies.

(4) Policy DM5: Tourism, Leisure, Culture and Heritage

Development for new and extended visitor attractions, leisure, cultural and heritage facilities along with visitor accommodation (including hotels, bed and breakfast accommodation, self-catering accommodation, holiday lodges, static and touring caravans and camping sites) will be supported in suitable locations subject to minimising their impact on neighbouring areas. 

Proposals for tourism, leisure, culture and heritage development should be appropriate in scale and function to the surrounding area; be accessible by a choice of means of transport; and not cause significant harm to the amenity of people living and working nearby.

Proposals that are likely to have an adverse impact on the integrity of European sites or the Dedham Vale AONB will not be supported.

In locations where residential use would be inappropriate, developments of visitor accommodation will be limited by condition or legal agreement to holiday use only and/or certain periods of the year in order to prevent permanent or long-term occupation.

Economic Development in Rural Areas and the Countryside

15.22 The Local Plan supports rural communities and sets out a flexible approach that maintains a balance between environmental considerations and appropriate business growth. The countryside is viewed as a good location for some businesses, particularly those specific to rural tourism.  Business preference for rural sites also reflects the pleasant environment and the availability of relatively cheaper premises in comparison with built-up areas. The Borough is also coming under particular pressure for employment based development in the countryside because there are a significant number of large agricultural buildings and other rural buildings that are potentially suitable for conversion to employment use. Improvements to broadband is also enabling more businesses to locate to rural areas. This demand needs to be considered in the context of environmental impacts and accessibility.

15.23 Policy SG4 sets out the Local Planning Authority's approach for appropriate land uses within all employment sites in the rural area and the criteria for consideration of proposals involving alternative use of employment land. The 'B' Use Class traditionally encompassed the majority of uses considered to constitute employment uses in planning terms.  In some cases a more flexible approach around employment uses is now needed to ensure compliance with national planning policy and guidance. 

15.24 Economic development proposals in the countryside, within a designated Local Economic Area or on a rural site serving a similar function, must contribute to the local rural economy and help sustain rural communities. The proposed use is likely to be small scale and not harm the rural character of the local area either by the nature and level of activity (including the amount of additional traffic generation on rural roads) or any other detrimental effects such as noise, fumes and pollution.

15.25 The loss of employment land in the Borough could affect the Council's ability to achieve its economic development objectives. The Local Plan establishes the scale and general location of land for employment purposes and states that as a general principle such land should be safeguarded. However, in accordance with the NPPF, land and premises will not be protected where there is no reasonable prospect of it being developed for an economic use.

15.26 Proposals for alternative uses on existing rural employment sites may exceptionally be acceptable, providing evidence is submitted in support of the alternative use and it complies with other policies in this Plan. Consideration of overall economic benefits must also extend to include addressing the future of any firms displaced through the redevelopment, including redevelopment for a new employment use. Applicants will need to demonstrate that the site is no longer usable and viable for another form of employment use, for example where continuation of the employment use would be detrimental to other planning objectives such as regeneration, protecting or enhancing the appearance of the countryside, or where other economic benefits to the area might result such as through tourism.

15.27 The Local Planning Authority is more likely to be supportive of the re-use and conversion of rural buildings that are adjacent to or closely related to a sustainable settlement. Conversely, change of use of isolated buildings is unlikely to be acceptable unless they would ensure the retention and preservation of a heritage asset and the use does not result in a significant increase in the level of activity and traffic generation to and from the site. Each proposal will be considered on its merits in line with this policy and other relevant policies in the Local Plan.

15.28 Schemes involving the re-use of historic rural buildings will be required to comply with the provisions of policy DM16. Proposals that are small-scale in nature and which respect local character are more likely to be supported, whereas those with the potential to generate traffic related problems may not be supported.  There is a presumption that heritage assets will be retained rather than replaced.  The replacement of heritage assets in the countryside, which have suffered deliberate neglect or damage will not be supported.

15.29 Preference will always be towards re-use and conversion of existing buildings where this is possible rather than the construction of new buildings. Consequently, where a building is to be replaced applicants will need to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority that any available buildings are not capable of renovation and may be requested to submit a structural survey.

15.30 There are a number of well-established employment sites in the rural areas of the Borough, where some important local businesses are located. Companies are often seeking to expand their operations within their site and this can be more appropriate than the company seeking alternative premises outside of the Borough, in order to retain the economic and social benefits which can arise from companies located in rural areas. It will be beneficial for applications to expand existing operations to be supported by a business plan, depending on the scale of the development proposed. In some cases for the purposes of business or employment use, replacement buildings can be more appropriate than the continued use of existing buildings. There are a number of sites in the rural areas of the Borough which are visually intrusive and where redevelopment could significantly enhance the local environment.

15.31 Landscaping and planting should be used to mitigate the impact of new development on the countryside. Proposals for new isolated buildings in the countryside will not normally be permitted in accordance with national policies. Change of use to residential will not be supported within allocated Local Economic Areas or at unallocated rural sites providing an economic uses.

15.32 Proposals in close proximity to a European site must demonstrate through HRA screening that the scheme will not lead to likely significant effects to the integrity of the European site.  Additionally, any planning application within 400 metres of a European site must provide mechanisms to prevent fly tipping, the introduction of invasive species and vandalism. Where this cannot be ruled out a full appropriate assessment will be required to be undertaken. 

(2) Policy DM6: Economic Development in Rural Areas and the Countryside

The Local Planning Authority will protect Local Economic Areas in rural Colchester that provide an economic function both on allocated sites shown on the policies maps and at other rural locations that provide a similar function.

Sites and premises currently used or allocated for employment purposes in rural parts of the Borough will be safeguarded for appropriate economic uses to ensure local residents have access to local job opportunities without the need to travel. Proposals for alternative uses will be supported where they comply with policy SG4.

Within allocated rural Local Economic Areas and on rural sites providing an economic function, the following uses are considered appropriate in principle:

(i)  Business (B1), general industrial (B2), storage and distribution (B8);

(ii) Repair and storage of vehicles and vehicle parts, including cars, boats and caravans; and

(iii) Other employment-generating uses, such as those related to recreation and tourism, which meet local needs and/or promote rural enterprise.

The following additional considerations will also be taken into account where relevant:

(A) Conversion and re-use of existing rural buildings:

Proposals for acceptable uses will only be supported where the building is capable of re-use without significant rebuilding, and the building is deemed to be desirable for retention. In the case of former agricultural or forestry buildings of recent construction (less than 10 years), it will also need to be demonstrated that the original need for the building was genuine and that it is no longer required for agricultural or forestry purposes.

(B) Extension of existing rural employment buildings:

Proposals for extensions will be supported where these are limited to plans which are essential to the operation of an established business. All extensions shall be accommodated satisfactorily in terms of design, scale and appearance within the existing employment site boundary.

(C) Replacement rural employment buildings:

Replacement buildings will only be supported where the existing development is visually intrusive or otherwise inappropriate in its context and a substantial improvement in the landscape and surroundings will be secured through replacement.  New buildings should not significantly increase the scale, height and built form of the original building. There is a presumption that heritage assets will be retained rather than replaced.

(D) New rural employment buildings:

Proposals will only be supported in exceptional cases where there are no appropriate existing buildings, there is no available employment land in the locality and a site/area specific business need has been adequately demonstrated.

(E) Expansion of an existing business:

Proposals to expand an existing employment use into the countryside will only be supported in exceptional cases where there is no space for the required use on the existing site, the need has been adequately demonstrated, and the proposals are essential to the operation of an established business on the site. Consideration must be given to the relocation of the business to available land within a Strategic or Local Economic Area or alternative rural site providing an economic function and in a more sustainable location.

In all cases, any new development will be expected to have adequate landscape mitigation to compensate for any additional impact upon the surrounding countryside.

Agricultural Development and Diversification

15.33 Paragraph 28 of the NPPF promotes the development and diversification of agricultural and other land-based rural businesses. This may well involve adaptation to new markets and ways of operation and diversification of activities.

15.34 The agricultural economy in the Borough is changing, as increasingly farmers are seeking to diversify in order to remain in farming. Accordingly the Local Planning Authority is seeking to encourage farm diversification schemes that are planned on a comprehensive basis to retain a viableagricultural unit by seeking additional incomes from other sources which still relate to the countryside. Whilst the Local Planning Authority will support appropriate farm diversification schemes, proposals that would harm the rural area or segregate the existing agricultural use or farm holding will be resisted. A farm shop selling products produced on the farm unit itself and which does not require a new building is unlikely to require planning permission.

15.35 In order to protect the quality and distinctiveness of the local landscape, the Local Planning Authority wishes to prevent un-coordinated development in rural areas and the gradual stripping of assets from farms without regard for the viability of the holding. Appropriate sustainable business proposals could include tourism, or conversion of buildings for employment and other uses related to an activity that would normally be found in rural areas. However, schemes that include or could lead to future pressure for new residential dwellings will not be permitted unless there are exceptional circumstances, in line with national policy.

15.36 Proposals for farm diversification should also take account of other relevant policy criteria, in particular but not exclusively, policy DM6 in relation to the re-use of existing buildings and appropriate rural employment uses; policy DM16 in relation to the re-use of historic farm buildings and policy DM21 in relation to access considerations.

15.37 The Local Planning Authority recognises that provisions within the General Permitted Development Order 2015 (such as Classes P, Q, R and S) are in place to enable a speedy supply of rural-based businesses and a housing stock of smaller rural dwellings, that utilises existing buildings.  However, these measures should not be regarded as "fall-back" positions for speculative development by rural land-owners and will not be treated as such by the Local Planning Authority. Any applications falling outside the scope of Permitted Development will be considered against other relevant policies in the Local Plan in the interests of sustainable development.

(3) Policy DM7: Agricultural Development and Diversification

The Local Planning Authority will support and encourage appropriate farm diversification proposals where they help support the rural economy, are compatible with the rural environment and help to sustain the existing agricultural enterprise without the need for subdivision of the holding or separate enterprises unrelated to the existing agricultural use.

All proposals must be accompanied by a satisfactory diversification plan according to the scale of proposals, which describes how it will assist in retaining the viability of the farm and how it links with any other short or long term business plans for the farm. Proposals for farm shops as part of a farm diversification scheme must identify the products produced on site or locally and demonstrate that the location of farm-based retailing is necessary to assure farm income where their needs cannot be met within a nearby settlement or district or local centre.

Proposals that are likely to have an adverse impact on the integrity of European sites or the Dedham Vale AONB will not be supported.

Proposals for farm diversification schemes will be supported where they meet the following criteria:

(i)  Existing buildings are re-used wherever possible. Schemes involving the re-use of historic farm buildings shall maintain and enhance the historic environment; including the character of the built heritage; or

(ii) The development is well-related to existing buildings if no suitable buildings are available for re-use; and

(iii) The development is secondary to the main agricultural use of the farm; and

(iv) The proposal will not be likely to require new dwellings within the rural area to support the enterprise either at the time of first submission or at any future date.

Where new buildings are proposed, the development should incorporate the removal of any redundant, under-used, unsightly or otherwise harmful buildings elsewhere within a site as part of the compensatory mitigation for the additional development being proposed.

In all cases, any new development will be expected to have adequate landscape mitigation to compensate for any additional impact upon the surrounding countryside.

New agricultural buildings requiring planning permission will be guided to locations on the farm which are sensitive to their environment.

Affordable Housing

15.38 The need for affordable housing is high in Colchester Borough, as it is elsewhere in the Eastern region. The evidence in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment supports a target of 30-35% affordable housing in new developments, but this target must be balanced with viability considerations and the fact that some sites may not deliver affordable housing for example, due to government policy thresholds. The urban area threshold is over 10 units, but a lower policy threshold of 6 or more dwellings in rural areas has been set to allow for the provision or contribution towards affordable housing in areas where larger schemes are very infrequent.  Policy DM10 (Housing Diversity) provides further guidance on how developers will be expected to meet demand identified in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment for those with particular housing needs. Viability work will be updated as required to ensure the target reflects the balance between essential housing need and viability. Where 30% is not considered to be viable, applicants will need to submit information on viability.  The Local Planning Authority will expect developers to meet the Council's reasonable costs associated with viability appraisals in instances where the level of affordable housing is disputed.

15.39 In instances where the provision of affordable housing is supported by the delivery of some open market units on a rural exception site, it will be essential to ensure that the number of open market units never dominates a particular scheme.  In determining the number of open market units required to facilitate the delivery of affordable units, the Local Planning Authority will expect applicants to demonstrate viability calculations starting with 100% affordable housing.  The same calculations should then be applied with the introduction of one open market unit at a time until a point is reached where the delivery of the rural exception site becomes viable.  The number of open market units on a rural exception site should be less than the number of affordable units delivered.

(12) Policy DM8: Affordable Housing

The Council is committed to improving housing affordability in Colchester. Accordingly 30% of new dwellings (including conversions) on housing developments of more than 10 dwellings in urban areas and above 5 units in designated rural areas (in accordance with Planning Policy Guidance), should be provided as affordable housing (normally on site).

Where it is considered that a site forms part of a larger development area, affordable housing will be apportioned with reference to the site area as a whole.

This level balances the objectively assessed need for affordable housing in the Borough established by the evidence base, against the requirement for flexibility to take account of changing market conditions. At present the overwhelming need in Colchester is for affordable rented properties, which should be reflected in development proposals. For sites where an alternative level of affordable housing is proposed below the target, it will need to be supported by evidence in the form of a viability appraisal. 

In exceptional circumstances, where high development costs undermine the viability of housing delivery, developers will be expected to demonstrate an alternative affordable housing provision.

The Local Planning Authority will require developments to integrate affordable housing and market housing, with a consistent standard of quality design and public spaces, to create mixed and sustainable communities. The affordable housing provision should proportionately reflect the mix of market units unless otherwise specified by the Local Planning Authority. In schemes over 15 units the affordable housing should be provided in more than one single parcel. Elsewhere the affordable housing mix on any site should normally be "pepper potted" throughout the scheme in groups, the size and location of which should be discussed and agreed with the Local Planning Authority.

Affordable housing development in villages will be supported on rural exception sites close to village settlement boundaries, provided a local need is demonstrated by the Parish Council on behalf of their residents, based on evidence gained from an approved local housing needs survey.  A proportion of market housing which facilitates the provision of significant additional affordable housing may be appropriate on rural exception sites.  Information to demonstrate that the market housing is essential to cross-subsidise the delivery of the affordable housing and that the development would not be viable without this cross-subsidy will be required.  At the scheme level, the number of open market units on the rural exception site will be strictly limited to only the number of units required to facilitate the provision of significant affordable housing units on a rural exception site.  The number of affordable units and total floorspace on a site should always be greater than the number of open market units or floorspace. The actual number will be determined on local circumstances, evidence of local need and the overall viability of the scheme.  

Development Density

15.40 The density of new developments can have significant implications for sustainability, local character, travel behaviour, the efficient use of land and residential amenity. In practice many factors will have a moderating effect on densities including the provision of on-site facilities such as the provision of public open space, vehicular access, sustainable drainage systems, vehicle parking and cycle storage facilities.

15.41 Where development is proposed in highly accessible locations, it is important to optimise capacity through the use of higher densities. For example locations with good accessibility to services and sustainable transport, such as the Town Centre, are more suited to higher density development than areas with poor accessibility to services and sustainable transport. Higher densities in accessible locations can accommodate more people and allow residents to easily access their needs by walking and cycling as well as providing a sufficient threshold of demand to support public transport provision which in turn supports the viability of local businesses, and other forms of key economic and social infrastructure.

15.42 However it is important that the Local Planning Authority has a flexible approach to housing densities in order to reflect site-specific considerations such as local character and townscape because development that is poorly located or poorly designed can have adverse impacts on the quality of life of both existing and future residents. It is therefore vital that high density developments are well designed and have regard to the provision of adequate open spaces and a high quality public realm whilst also enhancing heritage and biodiversity conservation.

15.43 Densities therefore may need to be moderated at less accessible locations and to reflect local character. The provision of open space, parking and a mix of housing will also have moderating affect on densities. The density of developments also needs to be informed by the provision of open space, parking, the character of the area, and the mix of housing.

(2) Policy DM9: Development Density

The Local Planning Authority will support development densities that make efficient use of land and relate to the specific opportunities and constraints of proposed development sites. Proposals with development densities that encourage sustainable transport and help sustain local amenities will be supported. In particular all residential development will need to be at an appropriate density and massing, having regard to:

(i) The character of the site and its immediate surroundings, as well as the wider locality, including where applicable the setting of important heritage assets;

(ii) The adequacy of the access and the local road network to accommodate the traffic likely to be generated by the proposed development as well as the scope to enhance walking and cycling access to local amenities and  public transport;

(iii) The existing landscaping, trees and hedgerows on the site and the need for further landscaping;

(iv) The provision of appropriate on-site amenities to serve the development in accordance with policy SG6 and any relevant adopted guidance including the provision of open space and sustainable drainage facilities where suitable;

(v) The provision of appropriate parking to serve the development in accordance with the relevant standards and policy DM22.

(vi)  An adequate standard of residential accommodation being provided for future occupants in accordance with policy DM12.

(vii) An appropriate mix and type of housing as informed by the various housing   policies set out in the Local Plan.

Housing Diversity

15.44 All housing developments in Colchester should be inclusive and accommodate a diverse range of households and housing need to create mixed communities. Housing developments must provide a range of housing types that can accommodate a range of different households, including families, single persons, older persons, those with care and/or support needs, and low income households.

15.45 There is an important relationship between housing diversity, density and the accessibility of the location. Town Centre locations, for example, are highly accessible and can support high density flats, but they also need to accommodate a range of household sizes. Suburban locations have moderate access and should accommodate a range of housing types and household sizes. Rural locations have low accessibility and will suit low density development, but should also still provide for small and low income households.

15.46 In 2011, the average household size was 2.33 persons.  Approximately 29% were single person households, roughly 36% were 2 person households, and another 29% of households had dependent children. In 2021, the average household size is projected to shrink to around 2.31 persons, and single person households are likely to grow to about 35% of the total. The Council's Strategic Housing Market Assessment indicates that the number of lone parent households is expected to increase the most in the Housing Market Area over the period 2015-2037, followed by one person households.  Couples with children are projected to fall in number.

15.47 All housing developments therefore need to provide a more balanced range of housing types to reflect identified community need. The mix of housing should reflect the housing needs of the community, and therefore higher density developments in the urbanised areas still need to provide accommodation suitable to families and larger households, and low density developments in villages still need to provide housing for small and low income households. 

15.48 The NPPF requires local authorities to have a clear idea of the housing needs of various subgroups in the population. The Strategic Housing Market Assessment undertaken to provide this understanding provides information on the following sub-groups:

Older persons and specialist housing – Colchester is expected to record a 60.6% increase in its population of those age 65 and over.  In response to this growth, the SHMA indicates that if occupation patterns of specialist accommodation remain at current levels there is a requirement for 2,147 additional specialist units of which 2,066 should be specialist and older person's housing and 81 extra care housing.  In Colchester, this means that an additional 94 specialist and extra care housing units should be provided each year. This is in addition to the requirement for housing suitable for the needs of older people which allows people to live in their own homes for as long as possible. Addressing this need will entail a number of solutions as people have different housing requirements. As well as the adaption and design of buildings to allow people to stay in their own homes, the need may also be met through the delivery of smaller properties or small scale residential complexes in areas where a demand can be demonstrated.

This approach, as well as increasing the stock of small scale properties, enables older people to downsize to smaller houses and to continue to live independently in an area they know well, and also enables larger dwellings to be freed up within the housing market. An extra care scheme is planned as part of the Northern Gateway proposals.

Essex County Council is the provider of social services in the Borough. Its Independent Living Programme is encouraging the provision of specialist accommodation in Essex as a means by which older people can continue to live healthy and active lives within existing communities and for Colchester Borough has set the target of delivering 297 additional units of specialist accommodation (124 through rental and 173 through ownership) to enable older people to live independently within the community by 2020. This target is set out in the Essex County Council's Independent Living Position Statement (2016). This approach to meeting the specialist accommodation needs of older people is intended to reduce the demand for residential/nursing home care, which is a considerably more expensive way of meeting the needs of older people, and can unnecessarily restrict independence within this age group.

Self-build/custom build housing – As required by national guidance, the Council maintains a register of persons interested in purchasing self-build/custom build plots. This register requires applicants to disclose their financial capacity and the Local Planning Authority will use this information to ensure that stated demand is realistic before using it to assess demand for this housing type. The Council will work with developers and housing providers to bring forward self-build allocations to meet identified need in appropriate development sites. The Garden Communities (Part One policies SP8 and SP9) will provide specific allocations for self-build allocations.

Gypsies and travellers – The Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment prepared for Essex local authorities provides that Colchester should provide 15 pitches to 2033 to meet need overall need. Policy DM11 provides criteria and allocations for meeting this need.

Students – The University of Essex had 11,657 students registered for the 2015/16 academic year.  The University plans to expand to accommodate around 15,000 students by 2019.  The University has long term plans to extend its accommodation provision to respond to increasing numbers.  Additionally, Wivenhoe, Greenstead and the Hythe areas house a number of students in both purpose-built and private rented accommodation.

Hospice Provision – St Helena Hospice currently provides hospice care for residents of Colchester and Tendring. In response to a rising need and a rising population in north east Essex, the Hospice is considering options as to how it provides care in future. This may involve a new site, new facilities and/or different options for delivering care. The hospice service is much valued in the local community and the Council will support proposals which increase the number of patients who are able to receive care and support.

(5) Policy DM10: Housing Diversity

The Local Planning Authority will seek to secure a range of housing types and tenures on developments across the Borough in order to create inclusive and sustainable communities. Housing developments should provide a mix of housing types to suit a range of different households as identified in the latest Strategic Housing Market Assessment, whilst also realising the opportunities presented by accessible locations.

The Local Planning Authority will seek to provide for the needs of particular groups as follows:

Older people – The Local Planning Authority will require developers to demonstrate how their proposal will be capable of meeting and adapting to the long term needs of the increasing number of older residents.  This would include the provision of dwellings constructed to meet requirements M4(2) of the Building Regulations 2015 (accessible or adaptable dwellings) as provided in the Housing Standards policy DM12, or subsequent government standards as appropriate, where there is proven need. The Council will also support proposals that make specific provision for older persons housing, subject to proposals meeting other policy requirements or the need outweighing other considerations.

Specialist Housing- The Local Planning Authority will support provision of schemes providing higher levels of care for specialist groups including those eligible under Essex County Council's Independent Living Programme; disabled people; people with care needs; and other vulnerable people.  New development proposals for these groups will be supported where there is a proven need; they are located within settlements; and are accessible by public transport. As provided in the Housing Standards policy DM12, the Council will require a provision of dwellings constructed to meet requirements of M4(3) of the Building Regulations 2015 (wheelchair user dwellings), or subsequent government standard as appropriate, where there is proven need.

Self-build/custom-build housing – The Local Planning Authority will support proposals for self-build/custom-build housing, to meet demand as indicated by registrations on the Council's Self-Build Register. Registrations should accord with eligibility criteria as appropriate, which may include demonstration of sufficient financial resources and a sufficient local connection.  Proposals will be encouraged both on individual sites and as part of larger schemes, including rural exception sites.

Gypsies and Travellers – The Local Planning Authority will meet identified need for gypsy and traveller accommodation, with specific allocations and policy considerations set out in Policy DM11.

Students - Planning permission will be granted for purpose-built student accommodation subject to other policies in this plan and where:

(i) the location is appropriate in terms of access to public transport and university and college facilities; and

(ii) the proposal will not result in an excessive concentration of student accommodation in any one locality.

Specific proposals for University based accommodation are contained in policy EC1.

Hospice provision – The Local Planning Authority will support the provision of hospice care in the local community through the use of existing or new sites.

Gypsies, Travellers, and Travelling Showpeople

15.49 The Local Planning Authority will seek to provide appropriate sites to meet the needs of gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople in the Borough as identified through the latest Gypsy and Traveller assessment work and further to guidance from government set forth in 'Planning Policy for Traveller Sites'. These sites need to provide gypsy and traveller communities with good access to education, health, welfare and employment infrastructure, bearing in mind the need to have due regard to the protection of local amenity and local environment.

15.50 In August 2015 a new definition of Gypsy and Traveller was introduced via 'Planning Policy for Traveller Sites' which limits the definition of gypsies and travellers to those who continue to travel as part of their work. This required an update to the existing evidence base looking only at those households that fall within the new planning definition. As a result of this assessment only two pitches were identified as being needed to meet the needs of nomadic travellers. It is however still considered necessary to provide for the full need of those identifying as gypsies and travellers as they are amongst the groups identified as having particular needs in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment.   This is reflected in the provision of a further 13 units to meet the needs of non-nomadic travellers.

15.51 No current need has been identified in the Borough for accommodation for travelling showpeople, however any need that arises over the life of the plan will be addressed using the criteria based policy approach below.

(4) Policy DM11: Gypsies, Travellers, and Travelling Showpeople

The Local Planning Authority will identify sites to meet the established needs of gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople in the Borough.

There is an overall need for 15 pitches over the life of the plan to 2033 which takes into account the need for both the statutory requirement to provide 2 pitches for nomadic travellers as well as the additional need for 13 pitches for those identifying as gypsies and travellers.

The need for 6 pitches by 2021 can be met by expansion of the existing site at Severalls Lane. The existing site has successfully operated since 2012 and is considered a sustainable location for small scale expansion.  The need for the remainder of the plan period will be met through strategic sites and allocations within the Garden Communities, to be finalised through the process of agreeing detailed allocations and masterplans for those areas.

Proposals for any further applications will be judged on the basis that sites should be located within reasonable proximity to existing sustainable settlements, and with access to shops, schools and other community facilities. Sites should also provide adequate space for vehicles and appropriate highway access.

Housing Standards

15.52 It is important to strike an appropriate balance between providing freedom and flexibility for the housing market to operate and ensuring that a range of sites are available for different areas of the housing market. However, the different types of dwelling should be suitably designed to consider the potential needs of their perspective occupiers and the Design and Access Statements submitted with planning permissions should cover this point.

15.53 The revised Part M Building Regulations stipulate the minimum standard for all new dwellings which make them suitable to be visited by a wheelchair user. The Council has identified a baseline standard of a minimum of 10% of market housing and 95% of affordable housing to meet Building Regulations 2015 Part M4 (2) accessible and adaptable standards and 5% affordable homes to be Part M4 (3)(2)(b) - wheelchair user standards. This means that new affordable housing will be suitable at all stages of life.  The application of these Part M requirements will be subject to consideration of the impact on viability as well as site constraints, in accordance with national policy and guidance.

15.54 Building for Life is endorsed by government and is the industry standard for the design of new residential developments. The assessment tool can be used by local authorities, developers and community groups to help highlight design quality, local design constraints and opportunities for improvement.  The Local Planning Authority will encourage new developments to apply the Building for Life design standard.

15.55 Accessible, well-designed and easy to use waste and recycling facilities (or storage) will be needed in new developments to help the Local Planning Authority meet its recycling targets. High quality sustainable development must also include adequate arrangements for servicing and refuse vehicles, storage, parking for cars and cycles and electric vehicle charging points, in accordance with Policy DM22.

(8) Policy DM12: Housing Standards

Residential development will be supported where high standards of design, construction and layout are promoted.  In considering proposals for new residential development, the Local Planning Authority will have regard to the following:

(i) New buildings or extensions should be designed to minimise the overshadowing of neighbouring properties as well as to avoid other adverse microclimatic effects;

(ii) Acceptable levels of daylight to all habitable rooms and no single aspect north-facing homes;

(iii) Acceptable levels of privacy for rear-facing habitable rooms and sitting-out areas;

(iv) A management and maintenance plan to be prepared for multi- occupancy buildings and implemented via planning conditions to ensure the future maintenance of the building and external spaces;

(v) Internal space standards demonstrated to be in accordance with the National Described Space Standards (DCLG, 2015) or any future replacement of this;

(vi) A minimum of 10% of market housing and 95% of affordable housing to meet Building Regulations 2015 Part M4 (2) accessible and adaptable standards and 5% of affordable homes to be Part M4 (3)(2)(b) wheelchair user standards.

(vii) Vehicle parking standards as set out in Policy DM22 including the requirements for cycle parking facilities. In the case of flats, secure cycle storage should be incorporated into flat blocks  and readily located at the building entrances;

(viii) An accessible refuse and recycling storage area, and external drying areas; and

(ix) Measures to maximise the potential of broadband provision and ensure other infrastructure requirements are met as referenced in Policy SG6.

Domestic Development: Residential alterations, extensions, conversions and replacement dwellings

15.56 There have been a number of changes to planning regulations in recent years which have increased the forms and scope of domestic development proposals not requiring planning permission. Further guidance on the types of development that do not require planning permission can be obtained from the government's Planning Portal website.

15.57 This policy should be read in conjunction with Policy DM15 (Design and Amenity). Together the policies set out the criteria for assessing planning applications for domestic development proposals which includes residential alterations, extensions and annexes as well as replacement dwellings and flat conversions. In addition to these policies the Local Planning Authority may publish further guidance relevant to domestic development which should be consulted prior to submitting a planning application.

15.58 The Local Planning Authority wishes to retain and promote a balanced mix of dwelling types and sizes in the Borough and avoid the loss of smaller and more affordable units. Therefore extensions and annexes should always be compatible and subordinate to the original dwelling and not result in the over-development of residential plots.

15.59 The Local Planning Authority also wishes to ensure that dwellings do not incrementally grow by a succession of small extensions which cumulatively can alter the scale and character of the original dwelling. Therefore the cumulative impact of proposals will be taken into account when determining applications for domestic alterations. For the purposes of this policy, the 'original' dwelling is defined as the building as it existed on 1st July 1948, or as it was originally built, if later than this date.

15.60 In order to retain the availability of smaller and more affordable dwellings in the countryside, it will be appropriate to require replacement dwellings to be of an appropriate scale.

15.61 Extensions to and replacement dwellings in the countryside should respect their rural setting and not result in any greater adverse impacts than the original dwelling. Countryside means all areas outside of defined settlement boundaries.

15.62 In order to protect the Borough's countryside, proposals for extensions of domestic gardens into the open countryside will not be permitted if they result in an adverse impact on the surrounding countryside; result in the loss of good quality agricultural land; or set a precedent for unacceptable extensions to gardens at one or more neighbouring properties. Where planning permission is granted, applicants may be expected to relinquish their permitted development rights over the new area of garden.

15.63 The Local Planning Authority recognises the important contribution flat conversions make to the provision of smaller and more affordable dwellings in the Borough, particularly in urban areas where demand for such units are at their highest. However flat conversions will only be permitted where they are sympathetic to the original dwelling and make appropriate provision for amenity, storage and parking. Importantly flat conversions should not result in unsatisfactory living conditions for future residents.

15.64 Domestic development proposals represent a large number of planning applications received by the Local Planning Authority. It is important to reflect the competing interests of planning applicants and other stakeholders, including those most affected by development proposals such those occupying neighbouring dwellings.

15.65 Policy DM13 allows householders the freedom to develop their property in a manner they choose whilst ensuring that proposals do not adversely affect the original dwelling or the surrounding area or residential amenity.

15.66 From a strategic perspective the policy recognises the requirement to retain and promote a balanced housing stock by preventing smaller and more affordable properties from being either extended into a much larger property or being replaced with a larger dwelling.

(1) Policy DM13: Domestic development

Residential alterations, extensions and outbuildings

Residential alterations, extensions and outbuildings will be permitted, provided the proposal meets the following criteria:

(i) The proposal is compatible with the scale, appearance and character of the original dwelling including taking into account the cumulative impact of such development;

(ii) The proposal does not result in the over-development of the site, and demonstrates design in  scale with its surroundings, taking into account the footprint of the existing dwelling and the relationship to neighbouring site boundaries;

(iii) Proposals for extensions and outbuildings are subordinate to the original dwelling in terms of design and setting;

(iv) The proposal will not result in unacceptable adverse impacts on the amenities of neighbouring residential properties, including on privacy, overbearing impact, overshadowing or loss of light;

(v) The proposal will not result in adverse impact to the appearance of the street scene and character of the area.

Residential annexes

Residential annexes will be supported where the need for additional space cannot be met within an existing dwelling or buildings suitable for conversion on the site in the first instance, provided the proposal meets the following criteria:

(i) The proposal is physically attached or closely related to the main dwelling so that it cannot be subdivided from the main dwelling;

(ii) The proposal retains some form of demonstrable dependence on the main dwelling, such as shared access (including both vehicular access and doorways) and communal amenity spaces (the use of annexes as a separate dwelling will not be permitted and the desire for annexed occupants to be independent from existing residents will not be considered as adequate justification to allow self-contained dwellings in annexes);

(iii) The proposal respects and enhances both the character of the original dwelling and the context of the surrounding area through high quality design; and

(iv) The proposal does not result in the loss of amenity to neighbouring properties.

Replacement dwellings in the countryside

Replacement dwellings in the countryside within existing curtilages will be supported, provided the proposal meets the following criteria:

(i) It is on a one-for-one basis and the property to be demolished is a permanent lawful dwelling;

(ii) It is of a high quality design that is appropriate to the rural area in scale and character and preserves or enhances access, siting and dwelling orientation;

(iii) It is of a scale appropriate to the size of the original dwelling to maintain a supply of smaller more affordable dwellings in the countryside;

(iv) It provides high quality landscaping, where necessary, to integrate the new dwelling into the wider rural context with no greater adverse impacts than the existing dwelling;

(v) There is a presumption against the demolition of properties considered to be heritage assets and/or properties which positively contribute to the character of a rural conservation area; and

(vi) The flood risk sequential test will have to be applied.

Flat conversions

Proposals for the conversion and sub-division of existing residential premises within settlement boundaries into flats and other self-contained residential units will be considered having regard to the intensity of the use proposed and the sustainability of the location in respect of the proximity of the site to key services and public transport provision. Proposals should also be in accordance with the requirements set out in the Housing Standards policy.

In addition, proposals for the conversion and sub-division of existing residential premises and, conversions of non-residential buildings where planning permission is required, will only be supported if they meet the following criteria:

(i) The proposal does not result in detrimental effects to the appearance of the building by reason of unsympathetic additions or alterations, either in isolation or due to cumulative impact;

(ii) Opportunities are taken for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions;

(iii) Appropriate provision is made for parking, private amenity space, cycle storage and refuse storage facilities, in a visually acceptable manner;

(iv) The internal layout minimises possible noise disturbance and/or overlooking to the immediate neighbours; and

(v) Overall, the proposal will not result in an unsatisfactory living environment for prospective occupiers.

Rural Workers Housing

15.67 The NPPF states that one of the few circumstances where a new dwelling within the countryside may be justified is when accommodation is required to enable agricultural or rural workers to live at or in the immediate vicinity of their place of work.

15.68 While the Local Planning Authority's preference is for such workers to live in nearby towns or villages, or suitable existing dwellings to avoid new and potentially intrusive development in the countryside, it acknowledges that there will be some instances where the nature and demands of certain rural businesses will make it essential for one or more people engaged in the enterprise to live at, or very close to, their place of work.

15.69 Such a need however must be essential to the successful operation of the rural business. Any proposal for a new agricultural/rural workers dwelling will be expected to satisfy all the criteria set out in Policy DM14.

15.70 The need for a rural workers dwelling could be generated by a range of traditional rural land activities such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, rural estate management, certain equestrian businesses and horticulture.

15.71 Applications will be subject to a functions test to establish whether it is essential for the proper functioning of the business enterprise for one or more workers to be readily available. Such a requirement might arise where a worker or workers need to be available round the clock to respond to situations where livestock/animals or agricultural processes require essential care at short notice or emergencies that could otherwise cause a serious loss of crops or products e.g. by frost or failure of automatic systems.

15.72 Given the restrictions on the delivery of new dwellings in the countryside, the scale and design of any proposals for rural workers' dwellings should reflect their countryside location and their function as housing for a rural worker.  While many people work in rural areas e.g. in offices, schools, workshops, garages and garden centres, it is unlikely that they will have an essential need to live permanently at or near their place of work. Being employed in a rural location is not considered sufficient justification to qualify as a rural worker with an essential housing need.

15.73 Changes in the scale and character of agricultural and forestry businesses have the potential to effect the longer-term requirement for dwellings in the countryside particularly where these had an "agricultural worker occupancy" condition attached when planning permission was granted. In such cases, the Local Planning Authority recognises that it would fulfil no purpose to keep such dwellings vacant, or that existing occupiers should be obliged to remain in occupation simply by virtue of a planning condition that has outlived its usefulness.

15.74 Nevertheless, the Local Planning Authority will expect applications for the removal of an occupancy condition to demonstrate convincingly that there is no long-term need for an agricultural dwelling in the locality. Such dwellings could be used by other agricultural and rural workers seeking accommodation within the wider surrounding area, therefore it will need to be demonstrated to the Local Planning Authority that the dwelling tied to an occupancy condition has been effectively marketed to likely interested parties in the area concerned, over a period of time, and that no genuine interest has been shown regarding the purchase or rental of the dwelling for a rural worker with an essential need to live in the local community.

(1) Policy DM14: Rural Workers' Housing

Permanent Rural Workers' Dwellings

Planning permission will be granted for new agricultural/rural workers' dwellings as part of existing businesses where all of the following criteria are met:

(i) Evidence is provided to show that there is an essential functional need for a permanent dwelling;

(ii) The need is related to a full time worker who is primarily employed locally in agriculture, forestry or some other rural based business that requires a new dwelling in the countryside;

(iii) The size and design of dwelling is commensurate with the needs of the rural business;

(iv) The business has been established for at least 3 years, has been profitable for at least one of them, is financially viable and is likely to remain so in the future;

(v) The functional need cannot be met by another suitable and available dwelling;

(vii) The conversion of an existing building should be considered in preference to new build;

(viii) The proposed development is not located in a recognised area of flood risk; and

(ix) The proposed development satisfies all other Local Plan policy requirements.

Temporary Rural Workers Dwellings

Where a new dwelling is essential to support a new activity, whether a newly-created unit or an established one, it will normally, for the first three years, be provided by a caravan or other temporary accommodation.

Applications will need to be supported with the following information:

(i)  Clear evidence of a firm intention and ability to develop the enterprise concerned (significant investment in new buildings is often a good indication of intentions);

(ii)   Evidence is provided to show that there is an essential functional need;

(iii) Clear evidence that the proposed enterprise has been planned on a sound financial basis. The evidence should include a business plan of at least 3 years duration;

(iv) The functional need could not be fulfilled by another existing dwelling on the unit, or any other existing accommodation in the area;

(v)  If permission for temporary accommodation is granted, permission for a permanent dwelling is unlikely to be granted within 3 years. If, after 3 years, a permanent dwelling is approved, the temporary dwelling must be removed from the site; and

(vi) The proposed temporary accommodation is not located in a recognised area of flood risk.

Conditions will be attached to all permissions granted for new rural workers dwellings to remove permitted development rights and restrict the occupancy to that required for the rural business concerned or other agricultural/rural uses nearby.

Existing Rural Workers Dwellings

Where a rural dwelling is no longer needed to support a rural business, applications to remove the occupancy restrictions will have to submit evidence demonstrating that an essential functional need no longer exists for the property and is unlikely to in the foreseeable future. The applicant will be expected to provide details of instructions to estate agents, and the response to that advertising, demonstrating that:

(i)  The property has been continuously marketed for rent and sale for at least 12 months and advertised in that period at a price reflecting the occupancy condition;

(ii) The advertising should include on-line advertising, local newspapers and relevant national agricultural magazines; and

(iii) The property has been offered both for sale and to rent on the same basis as above to all farmers, horticulturalists and other rural businesses where a dwelling may be justified in the locality (i.e. having holdings within a two mile radius of the dwelling.)

Design and Amenity

15.75 Good design is indivisible from good planning and a key NPPF requirement for ensuring sustainable development. High quality design benefits everyday users and society as a whole, by creating desirable, functional and efficient places, which help support improved amenities, inclusive communities, economic activity and reduced environmental impact.  Design quality is particularly relevant in Colchester given the need to generate local support for planned growth, complement historic assets and to ensure regeneration activities leave a lasting place-making legacy.

15.76 In Colchester, as elsewhere in the UK, there is a need to deliver high quality design, whilst still ensuring sustainable development is viable.  As a result there is a need to make sure policy guidance helps achieve best practice, providing clarity and securing development which is both good enough to approve and deliverable.

15.77 The promotion of good processes will be important in raising standards, including as appropriate for guidance/development:

  • Good design team selection; 
  • Design guidance (e.g. masterplans, design codes, development briefs and neighbourhood plans) for priority growth and regeneration areas. These might be produced by the Local Planning Authority or other key stakeholders as appropriate;
  • Site and context analysis to identify issues and opportunities;
  • Alternative options to test the pros and cons of alternative proposals; 
  • Pre-application dialogue (perhaps as part of a Planning Performance Agreement), to help identify improvements;
  • Independent Design Review on appropriate schemes;
  • Proposals being informed by key stakeholder consultation;
  • Supporting well designed self and community led development; 
  • Submission of design material which allows for accurate assessment.    

15.78 Requests by the Local Planning Authority for information in relation to applicant's design proposals will be reasonable and proportionate to the nature and scale of the proposal. The NPPF highlights the importance of plan-led development through to detailing, especially on larger scale developments.  This can be achieved by following the principles of Garden Cities (TCPA publication) or those of other potentially appropriate urban design models, such as urban, village and arcadian case studies outlined in the Essex Design Guide.      

15.79 Development must positively contribute to the public realm, preserving or enhancing the sense of place, including historic interest, landscape, townscape, streetscape, character areas, route hierarchy, roofscapes, key views, gateways, nodes, edges, landmarks, green links and spaces.  However it is important guidance does not attempt to impose architectural styles or personal tastes, though high quality traditional/contemporary designs and materials should positively respond to their physical and cultural context, and be correctly interpreted through to forms and detailing.  Common design risks should be avoided such as excessive standardisation, mono-use sprawl, ungainly forms, uninspired public realm design, parking dominated streets, use of second-rate materials, poorly applied design styles, weakly defined spatial enclosure, screening as justification for poor design and a lack of townscape interest or legibility. 

15.80 Retail centres can play an important role in promoting community vitality, lifestyle and well-being, yet good design and place-making is often particularly challenged by narrow private interests and competing uses.  New development should contribute to centres which are compact, genuinely mixed-use, including vertically where appropriate, in particular offering viable retail and service circuits meeting local need, business uses offering local jobs, and residential dwellings providing a self-policing community presence.  Centres should be highly accessible, prioritising sustainable transport, and offer a high quality public realm for pedestrians which is not vehicle dominated.

15.81 The promotion of walking, cycling and public transport will assist in creating an environment that is attractive, healthy, sociable and safe, whilst more generally helping promote sustainable forms of development. This can be achieved through good connectivity especially for strategic desire lines, high quality streetscape and landscape, shared space, filtered permeability, car-free zones and wayfinding measures.         

15.82 Well-thought out site plans include a consideration of how design can reduce anti-social behaviour by orientating and placing buildings, windows and access points to provide clear lines of sight and natural surveillance. Public and private open space should be clearly differentiated, avoiding piecemeal and isolated patches of public space that could be prone to vandalism.

15.83 The Local Planning Authority's Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) provide further design guidance, which is updated from time to time.  Reference may also be made to relevant nationally produced guidance, such as By Design: Urban Design in the Planning System and the Urban Design Compendium. The Building for Life assessment tool is promoted for use on major housing schemes. It is the industry standard, endorsed by government, for well-designed homes and neighbourhoods, helping prompt improvements, qualitative review and performance monitoring.

15.84 Internal infrastructure and services necessary for a development to function effectively should be provided in conjunction with the commencement of the development so as not to place undue strain on the existing environment and local economy.

(3) Policy DM15: Design and Amenity

All development, including new build, extensions and alterations, must be designed to a high standard, positively respond to its context, achieve good standards of amenity, and demonstrate social, economic and environmental sustainability.  Great weight will be given to outstanding or innovative designs which help raise the standard of design more generally in the area.  Poor design will be refused including that which fails to take the opportunity for good design or improving the local area. 

The Local Planning Authority will use and/or promote a range of planning processes and tools to help achieve high quality design.  Ultimately, development proposals must demonstrate that they, and any ancillary activities associated with them, will:

(i)  Respect and, wherever possible, enhance the character of the site, its context and surroundings in terms of its layout, architectural approach, height, scale, form, massing, density, proportions, materials, townscape and/or landscape qualities, and detailed design features. Wherever possible development should positively integrate the existing built environment and other landscape, heritage, biodiversity and arboricultural assets and remove problems as part of the overall development proposal;

(ii)  Help establish a visually attractive sense of place for living, working and visiting, through good architecture and landscaping;

(iii) Promote and sustain an appropriate mix and density of uses which are well located and integrated, optimise the efficient use of land (including sharing), contribute to inclusive communities, and support retail centres and sustainable transport networks;

(vi) Provide attractive, well connected and legible streets and spaces, which encourage walking, cycling, public transport and community vitality, whilst adequately integrating safe vehicle access;

(v) Protect and promote public and residential amenity, particularly with regard to privacy, overlooking, security, noise and disturbance, pollution (including light and odour pollution), daylight and sunlight;

(vi) Create a safe, resilient and secure environment, which supports community cohesion and is not vulnerable to neglect; 

(vii) Provide functional, robust and adaptable designs, which contribute to the long term quality of the area and, as appropriate, can facilitate alternative activities, alterations and future possible development; 

(viii) Minimise energy consumption/emissions and promote sustainable drainage, particularly with regard to transport, landform, layout, building orientation, massing, tree planting and landscaping;  

(ix) Incorporate any necessary infrastructure and services including utilities, recycling and waste facilities to meet current collection requirements, highways and parking.  This should be sensitively integrated to promote successful place-making; and 

(x) Demonstrate an appreciation of the views of those directly affected and explain the design response adopted. Proposals that can demonstrate this inclusive approach will be looked on more favourably.

For the purpose of this policy ancillary activities associated with development will be considered to include vehicle movement.

Historic Environment

15.85 Colchester's importance as a historic town warrants a policy detailing and reinforcing the need to protect and enhance the historic environment.  The policy is also applicable to heritage assets in rural areas of the Borough and will help to protect and enhance assets in these areas.  In the local area there are a number of buildings which detract from the appearance of heritage assets and the opportunities for redevelopment should be encouraged.

15.86 There will be a presumption in favour of the physical preservation in situ of nationally important archaeological remains (whether scheduled or not).  The more important the asset, the greater the weight will be for preservation in situ.  In accordance with national legislation, preservation of remains may require the refusal of development that could be detrimental.

15.87 Developers will be required to make provision for the recording of any heritage assets adversely impacted by development and to make provision for full analysis and reporting, and to ensure this, and any archive generated, is publically accessible.  Provision will be required to enhance the Urban Archaeological Database and to provide for the long term curation of the archive.

15.88 Where appropriate, provision will be required for interpretation and access in situ, where public access is possible without detriment to the site, or at a suitable off-site location, and for realising the social, cultural, economic and environment benefits of the historic environment.

15.89 There are a number of existing buildings and built environments within the Borough, which do not have a statutory basis for protection, but which nevertheless retain a distinctive historical or architectural character that it is considered desirable to keep.  The Local Planning Authority, working with local experts, will prepare a Local List of buildings and groups of buildings, which are considered to be of particular historic or architectural merit; this will be used to ensure that when assessing applications for planning permission their particular character is considered.  Conditions will be applied to allow for the inspection and recording of buildings on the Local List.

15.90 There are also a number of neighbourhoods within the Borough that are characterised by spacious properties built at low density within a well treed setting, or else that retain a particular "period" character.  Context appraisals will be required for all development and where a proposal is within a neighbourhood with a distinctive character which it is desirable to keep, the proposal will need to demonstrate that it protects and enhances the special qualities of the area.

(4) Policy DM16: Historic Environment

Development that will lead to substantial harm to or total loss of significance of a listed building, conservation area, historic park or garden or important archaeological remains (including development that adversely affects the setting of heritage assets) will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances where the harm or loss is necessary to achieve substantial public benefits that outweigh the harm or loss.  Where development will lead to less than substantial harm this harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal.

Development affecting the historic environment should seek to conserve and enhance the significance of the heritage asset and any features of specific historic, archaeological, architectural or artistic interest. In all cases there will be an expectation that any new development will enhance the historic environment or better reveal the significance of the heritage asset, in the first instance, unless there are no identifiable opportunities available. In instances where existing features have a negative impact on the historic environment, as identified through character appraisals, the Local Planning Authority will request the removal of the features that undermine the historic environment as part of any proposed development.  The Local Planning Authority will request the provision of creative and accessible interpretations of heritage assets impacted by development.

Conservation of the historic environment will also be ensured by:

(i)   Identifying, characterising, protecting and enhancing Conservation Areas;

(ii)  Protection and enhancement of existing buildings and built areas which do not have Listed Building or Conservation Area status but have a particular local importance or character which it is desirable to keep;

(iii)   Preserving and enhancing Listed Buildings, Scheduled Monuments, Historic Parks and Gardens, including their respective settings, and other features, which contribute to the heritage of the Borough; and

(iv)  Sites of archaeological interest will be clearly identified and protected, and sites that become known, whether through formal evaluation as part of a Planning Application or otherwise, will similarly be protected according to their importance.

Heritage Statements and/or Archaeological Evaluations will be required for proposals related to or impacting on the setting of heritage assets and/or known or possible archaeological sites, and where there is potential for encountering archaeological sites so that sufficient information is provided to assess the significance of the heritage assets and to assess the impacts of development on historic assets together with any proposed mitigation measures.

Open Space

15.91 Existing open spaces, green link networks and allotments provide the people of Colchester with opportunities for passive and active recreation and encourage healthy and active lifestyles.  Open space also includes areas of water, which offer important opportunities for sport and recreation, and can act as a visual amenity. It is important that all residents have access to open space within walking distance of their home.  Strategic green links provide valuable corridors for the movement of people and biodiversity. The green spaces along the Colne River, for example, connect the town centre, suburbs, countryside, villages and the coast. These corridors provide alternative means for people making journeys into and across Colchester. The Local Planning Authority will therefore seek to protect and enhance these important links. The Colchester Orbital project (see Appendix 1) celebrates and protects Colchester's existing green spaces and creates a sense of environmental connectivity between them.

15.92 The Local Planning Authority commissioned an Open Space Study in accordance with the NPPF to identify areas with deficiencies of open space. Development will be required to make contributions towards meeting these deficiencies where they will exacerbate the situation in accordance with the Local Planning Authority's adopted SPD for Open Space, Sport and Recreation (updated as required). The Open Space Study sets specific targets to guide the provision of different types of open space across the Borough.

15.93 The existing public and private open spaces, including allotments, within the Borough, represent important assets serving the communities in which they are located (or in some instances wider areas). This importance can relate not only to their function, but also to the amenity value and contribution they make to the character of an area in general by providing a 'green lung', opportunities for a well-designed and inclusive public realm, and visual breaks in the built environment. They also provide alternative green spaces which help alleviate pressure on internationally designated nature conservation sites.  If such provisions are lost to other uses it can be extremely difficult to find alternative locations particularly as open land is scarce and, therefore, at a premium.

15.94 Well designed open spaces can deliver multiple functions. As well as their value for wildlife, quality of life, health and recreation, they also provide opportunities for Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDs) for surface water runoff management. Open space provides opportunities for climate change adaptation 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, and for flood mitigation

15.95 Against this background, it is intended to secure the retention of existing facilities unless a case can be made that alternative provision will be provided in a wholly acceptable manner. Alternative provision could comprise existing provision in the locality of the type of open space as defined by the NPPF, providing there is not a deficiency in that type of open space. A number of documents including the PPG17 Audit and Assessment of the Borough's public open spaces, Colchester Parks and Green Spaces Strategy (2008) and Colchester's Green Infrastructure Strategy (2011) and any updated evidence as appropriate, will be used by the Local Planning Authority when assessing planning applications relating to proposed development of open space and sports facilities. 

15.96 New development can place increasing pressure on existing open spaces. Developments therefore will be expected to deliver areas of open space to meet the varying needs of residents for recreation and leisure and also deliver attractive high quality neighbourhoods for people to live in. At least 10% of the total gross site area should be provided as local open space as an integral part of new development proposals. Exceptionally, where this is not possible, particularly where a development site is small, the site developer will be expected to provide a commuted sum towards the provision of open space off site.

15.97 Developments should help contribute to the accessibility, quantity and quality standards set out in Appendices N, P and Q in the Local Planning Authority's PPG17 Open Space, Sport and Recreation study (or updates as required). All open space shall be provided in a timely manner (so as to enable reasonable and appropriate access by new residents to this facility); should be fully equipped in a satisfactory manner as agreed by the Local Planning Authority; and, laid out at the expense of the developer and where appropriate, dedicated to the Local Planning Authority with suitable provision for ongoing maintenance.  Further guidance on the level of contributions for commuted sums and the methodology for their calculation is set out in the Supplementary Planning Document on Provision of Open Space, Sports and Recreation Facilities (which will be updated as required).

15.98 All housing developments, including higher density development, should provide new residents with access to private and/or communal open space, in addition to public open space requirements. At least 25m2 per dwelling of private/communal open space will be sought for flats and maisonettes, whilst houses should provide larger private gardens. Higher density schemes will be encouraged to utilise innovative design solutions to provide open space on difficult sites.

15.99 The Essex Design Guide sets standards for amenity space provision for new residential developments.  The Urban Place Supplement recognised these standards were not always helpful for producing good quality development in compact urban developments and this evaluation has informed the requirement of this policy that generally seeks the provision of a minimum of 25m2 of high quality, private amenity space for each dwelling.  It is important that new development avoids the piecemeal provision of small areas of open space and instead provides sufficiently large areas of open space to serve as accessible and attractive zones for residents' leisure activity and recreation. Green links alongside existing hedgerows and tree lines can also have high amenity value.

(4) Policy DM17: Retention of Open Space and Recreation Facilities

The Council will protect and enhance the existing network of green links and open spaces and secure additional areas where deficiencies are identified. The provision of public open space in developments should be informed by an appraisal of local context and community need and up to date evidence, with a particular regard to the impact of site development on biodiversity.

Development, including change of use, of any existing or proposed public or private open space, including allotments, will not be supported unless it can be demonstrated that:

(i)   Alternative and improved provision will be created in a location well related to the functional requirements of the relocated use and its existing and future users; and,

(ii) The proposal would not result in the loss of an area important for its amenity or contribution to the green infrastructure network or to the character of the area in general; and

(iii) It achieves the aims of any relevant prevailing strategy relating to open space and recreation. 

Development proposals resulting in a loss of open space must additionally demonstrate that:

(iv) There is an identified excess provision within the catchment of the facility and no likely shortfall is expected within the plan period; or

(v) Alternative and improved provision will be supplied in a location well-related to the functional requirements of the relocated use and its existing and future users.

In all cases, development will not be permitted that would result in any deficiencies in public open space requirements or increase existing deficiencies in the area either at the time of the proposal or be likely to result in a shortfall within the plan period.

Additionally, development that would result in the loss of any small incidental areas of open space, not specifically identified on the policies map but which contribute to amenity value and the character of existing residential neighbourhoods, and any registered common, heathland or village green or which contribute to green infrastructure will not be permitted.

(2) Policy DM18: Provision of Public Open Space

New residential development must provide for the recreational needs of new communities. The provision of open space helps to alleviate recreational pressure on sites of high nature conservation value (e.g. European sites) and also increases opportunities for participation in healthy lifestyles.

All new residential development will be expected to provide new public areas of accessible open space. Precise levels of provision will depend on the location of the proposal and the nature of open space needs in the area but as a guideline, at least 10% of the gross site area should be provided as useable open space.  The Local Planning Authority will expect large sites of 5 hectares or more to provide at least one strategic area of open space within the site. This will be secured through planning obligations or CIL/equivalent infrastructure levy. 

Where the Local Planning Authority accepts commuted sums in lieu of open space, the commuted sums will be used to provide additional open space or to improve existing open space in the locality of the development. Contributions may be pooled towards larger infrastructure projects and/or to provide larger areas of strategic open space where a need has been identified. A commuted sum is only likely to be acceptable in the following circumstances:

(i)   smaller developments of less than 0.5 ha, or where for some other reason open space requirements cannot be met within the site; or

(ii)   developments of dwellings which are legally secured for occupation by the elderly (where some compensating increase in private amenity space may be required); or

(vi) in a town centre location or where it is justified by an outstanding urban design approach based on site constraints and opportunities.

(5) Policy DM19: Private Amenity Space

The Local Planning Authority will expect all new residential development to provide easy access to private amenity space and in the case of flatted development, private communal amenity space. The area of amenity space should be informed by the needs of residents and the accessibility of the location. Private amenity space and communal amenity space must be designed to optimise its use and meet the recreational needs of residents.

All new residential development shall provide private amenity space to a high standard, where the siting, orientation, size and layout make for a secure and usable space, which has an inviting appearance for residents and is appropriate to the surrounding context. All private amenity spaces shall be designed so as to avoid significant overlooking.

The following standards shall apply:

For houses:

• One or two bedroom houses – a minimum of 50m2

• Three bedroom houses – a minimum of 60m2

• Four bedroom houses – a minimum of 100m2

For flats:

• A minimum of 25m2 per flat provided communally (where balconies are provided the space provided may be taken off the communal requirement).

A larger amount of private amenity space may be required for small infill (including backland) schemes to reflect the character of the surrounding area. Proposals for infill development will not be permitted if they unacceptably reduce the level of existing private amenity space provision for existing dwellings.

For proposals in accessible locations (in accordance with Policy DM9) where higher densities may be appropriate, reduced garden sizes for houses may be acceptable but a minimum of 25m2 of useable private amenity space shall be provided for every home (either as gardens, balconies or roof gardens/terraces).

Promoting Sustainable Transport and Changing Travel Behaviour

15.100 The Spatial Strategy ensures that development is located to reduce the need to travel or development is of a scale that promotes sustainable transport that is accessible for all.

15.101 The NPPF requires the transport system to be balanced in favour of sustainable transport modes while recognising that different policies and solutions will be necessary in different areas.  2011 Census data shows that car ownership is highest in the rural areas of the Borough and lower in urban areas.  However, the car is still the highest mode of travel used for journeys to work, even in urban areas, and congestion and air quality affect many of the roads within the urban areas.  Therefore sustainable transport will continue to be encouraged where possible, particularly where growth is planned.

15.102 Good accessibility and access to a high quality and efficient transport network is essential to support new development and ensure that it is sustainable, enabling the community to access their needs (e.g. employment, shopping, schools) easily and without always needing a car.  The Local Planning Authority will continue to work closely with Essex County Council, as the highway authority, Highways England, Network Rail, public transport infrastructure providers and operators or third party organisations with the ability and resources to deliver projects in the Borough.

15.103 Active modes such as walking and cycling are a high priority, being an essential and highly sustainable means of transport which also support a healthy lifestyle and a strong economy.  Census data shows that 69% of people who live within Colchester Borough work within the Borough.  The majority of Colchester residents live within 5km of the town centre and therefore walking and cycling have great potential as modes of transport. Travel change behaviour programmes will be pursued to encourage greater use of alternative modes. The Essex Cycling Strategy sets out the key elements of a long term plan that will lead to a significant and sustained increase in cycling in Essex.  It acts as the over-arching policy framework to enable, provide and promote cycling in Essex.  To encourage walking and cycling within Colchester, and to the town centre, the Local Planning Authority will seek to make improvements to the network to remove barriers to pedestrians and cyclists and enhancing the environment to provide people-friendly streets which give priority to sustainable modes of transport.  Priority, safety and convenience for walking and cycling should be ensured at the design stage of any road schemes and all users should be considered.

15.104 Public transport has a crucial role to play in Colchester.  Providing a quality public transport network that offers a genuinely attractive alternative to the car is vital.    Transit corridors that prioritise public transport over other traffic will attract people to use public transport.  Park and Ride facilities that offer easy access to the town via transit corridors will also help reduce congestion.  For this reason it is important to safeguard land for new public transport infrastructure, such as bus lanes, interchange facilities and junction improvements.

15.105 The Local Planning Authority will also seek to deliver improvements to transport interchanges and public transport gateways.  At present there are over 5 million passenger movements at Colchester's railway stations each year.  Enhancing transport interchanges such as the railway and bus stations will present a more attractive gateway to businesses, commuters, tourists and local residents.  The Colchester Station Travel Plan aims to manage congestion in the area by investing in infrastructure; increasing accessibility; encouraging access by sustainable travel and encouraging a high level of connectivity linking the station to the town centre and other key destinations.

7.106 The private car will continue to be a major mode of transport.  However, growth in car travel and traffic needs to be managed to reduce congestion, improve air quality and promote a high quality of life and economic growth in Colchester.  Car travel demand can be more carefully managed in urban areas through the use of alternatives and new technologies.  Combining demand management of car traffic with improvements to sustainable alternatives and improved street design can greatly benefit the local community, businesses and the environment. All development should consider the content of Essex County Council's Highway Authority Development Management Policies.

15.107 Road freight and servicing will be facilitated where appropriate to promote economic and employment growth.  Support will be given for improvements to the strategic road and rail network to accommodate growth. Consideration will be given to measures that discourage the use of high emission vehicles.

15.108 It is recognised that different policies and measures will be required in different communities and opportunities to maximise sustainable transport solutions will vary from urban to rural areas.  Those living in rural areas are often most affected by lack of transport choices.  Where appropriate, the Local Planning Authority will encourage connectivity by sustainable modes of transport including enhancing and promoting rural bus services.

15.109 There are two rail branch lines off the Great Eastern mainline in the Borough serving rural communities: the Gainsborough Line that links Marks Tey to Sudbury, serving both Chappel and Wakes Colne and Bures Stations; and the Sunshine Coast line; the Colchester to Clacton/Walton line.  The Local Planning Authority will work with partners, including the Community Rail Partnership, to make the best use of rural rail stations, increase accessibility to stations and promote and increase the use of the branch lines in the Borough.  The Local Planning Authority supports the aim to provide at least two trains an hour to all stations, including the rural branches.

15.110 The green infrastructure network in Colchester provides alternative sustainable transport corridors for people making journeys into and out of Colchester by active modes of transport.  Policy ENV3 seeks to develop green infrastructure in the Borough, and the Local Planning Authority will support the development of the Colchester Orbital route around urban Colchester.  The Local Planning Authority will seek opportunities from future developments where appropriate to improve connectivity between the Colchester Orbital route, the new developments and the wider countryside.  The Local Planning Authority will also seek opportunities where appropriate to improve the creation of and connectivity to the England/Essex Coast Path.

(11) Policy DM20: Promoting Sustainable Transport and Changing Travel Behaviour

The Local Planning Authority will work with developers and other partners to increase modal shift towards sustainable modes by improving accessibility of development through the promotion of walking and cycling as an integral part of development, and by further improving public transport.  In line with policy SG1 (Spatial Strategy), development that reduces the need to travel will be encouraged and sustainable transport will be improved to provide better connections between communities and their needs.  This will be achieved by:

(i) Safeguarding existing and proposed routes for walking, cycling and public transport, including rapid transit, park and ride, and green infrastructure, from development.  New development will be expected to contribute towards maintaining continuity and enhancing these connections where appropriate;  

(ii) Focusing new walking and cycling improvements on areas of employment, education and health facilities, and on the town centre and public transport interchanges;

(iii) Ensuring new developments are supported by quality public transport linking them to the main urban areas and major centres of employment, health and education.  Access to public transport should be within walking or cycling distance of any new development;

(iv) Reducing the need to travel by car by promoting higher densities near retail centres and public transport hubs, and encouraging mixed use development in appropriate locations;

(v) Enhancing public transport gateways to Colchester to provide attractive entry points to, and excellent onward connections from, the rail stations in urban Colchester and Marks Tey, Wivenhoe, and Colchester Bus Station.

The Local Planning Authority will also work with partners to accommodate necessary car travel making the best use of the existing network and managing the demand for road traffic.  The Local Planning Authority will support improvements to the strategic road, rail and cycle network where appropriate evidence is provided and local consultation undertaken.

Improvements will be made to the road network to support sustainable development and to reduce the impact of congestion.  The demand for car travel will be managed to prevent adverse impacts on sustainable transportation, air quality, safety, local amenity and built character by:

(vi) Encouraging a reduction in through traffic in the town centre to encourage trips to be undertaken by more sustainable modes;

(vii) Encouraging use of new technology to better manage traffic, provide alternatives, facilitate the use of ultra-low emission vehicles and reduce the need to travel, particularly at peak times.

Where appropriate the use of sustainable travel in rural areas will be encouraged to minimise the impact of transport on sensitive rural areas.  The Local Planning Authority will seek to make best use of rural rail services through promotion and improving access at stations.

Sustainable Access to Development

15.111 Good easy access to a high quality and efficient transport network is essential to support new development and ensure that it is sustainable.  The NPPF sets out the government's approach to the location and design of developments to ensure that plans protect and exploit opportunities for the use of sustainable transport modes for the movement of goods or people.  The Local Planning Authority will work closely with Essex County Council as the highways authority to help promote good access to high quality, sustainable modes of travel within and from new developments.

15.112 One of the best ways to encourage sustainable modes is to fully consider the needs of all users at the design stage. Public transport has a crucial role to play in encouraging sustainable travel patterns at an early stage from new developments.  Walking and cycling are also a high priority being healthy, affordable sustainable modes of travel and priority, convenience and safety for both modes should be ensured through design layout and the provision of on-site facilities. The current Colchester Cycling Delivery Strategy was adopted as SPD in January 2012.  The latest version of this document should be taken into account in the design stage of new development to ensure cyclists and cycling facilities are taken into consideration through the provision of quality infrastructure, and funding promotion and cycle training to increase levels of cycling and create more sustainable and healthy travel patterns.  The infrastructure appendix to the current SPD illustrates the network of existing and planned routes in Colchester.

15.113 Electric vehicle charging points and facilities for other ultra-low emission vehicles, or the infrastructure to ensure their future provision, should be provided within a development where appropriate to help reduce carbon emissions from transport. Providing for the future could include the provision of sufficient capacity on the electrical consumer unit and conduit to install an external charging point at a later date. Electric charging points should be provided within new commercial developments and car parks.

15.114 Any proposals must include sufficient information to assess the likely impact of the development.  Transport Assessments or Transport Statements will be required for all developments likely to generate significant amounts of movement. Development should consider the Essex County Council (ECC) Development Management Policies which also provide further detail on the thresholds for Transport Assessments and Statements. Developers will need to demonstrate that the opportunities for sustainable transport modes have been taken up, safe and suitable access for all can be achieved and the impacts can be effectively mitigated within the transport network. Where lower than standard trip rates are proposed development will be expected to demonstrate through a package of sustainable transport measures that the proposed trip rates can be achieved.  Where significant impacts are identified, development will not be permitted when the residual cumulative impacts are severe.

15.115 Developers will also be required to provide a Travel Plan for developments that generate significant amounts of movement in accordance with Essex County Council Travel Plan guidelines.  Current Essex County Council guidance requires all non-residential development proposals with 50 employees or more, residential developments of 250 dwellings or more, and new schools to produce a Travel Plan. Residential Travel Information Packs will be provided to all dwellings on new residential developments.  Developments that generate significant amounts of movement will also be required to become members of the Colchester Travel Plan Club which provides a range of resources to promote travel behaviour change for local business and organisations in Colchester.

(7) Policy DM21: Sustainable Access to Development

All new developments should seek to enhance accessibility for sustainable modes of transport.  Proposals for development should:

(i) Give priority to the movement of people walking and cycling;

(ii) Create safe, secure, convenient and attractive layouts which minimise conflicts between traffic, cyclists and pedestrians;

(iii) Link the development to the surrounding walking, cycling and public transport networks taking into consideration the Cycle Strategy SPD;

(iv) Provide and give access to quality public transport facilities;

(v) Ensure streets and junctions are designed to provide people-friendly street environments and to give priority to sustainable transport;

(vi) Incorporate charging facilities for electric and other ultra-low emission vehicles where appropriate, or as a minimum the ability to easily introduce such facilities in the future;

(vii) Ensuring accessibility for those with impaired mobility; and

(viii) Accommodate the efficient delivery of goods and services.

Access to all development should be created in a manner which maintains the right and safe passage of all highway users.  Where development requires a new road or road access it should be designed to give high priority to the needs of pedestrians and cyclists.

Development will only be allowed where there is physical and environmental capacity to accommodate the type and amount of traffic generated in a safe manner.    Developments that generate significant amounts of movement will require a Transport Statement or Transport Assessment in line with the thresholds set in the latest Essex County Council development management policies relating to highways. Where lower than standard trip rates are proposed development will be expected to demonstrate through a package of sustainable transport measures that the proposed trip rates can be achieved. A masterplan approach to assess cumulative impacts may be required in complex locations with closely related and located developments.

All non-residential developments that generate significant amounts of movement will be required to produce a Travel Plan in accordance with Essex County Council Travel Plan Framework guidance and where appropriate will be required to become members of the Colchester Travel Plan Club. All new residential developments and schools will be required to produce a Travel Plan or provide Residential Travel Packs in accordance with Essex County Council Travel Plan Framework guidance.

Parking

15.116 The Local Planning Authority will work with partners to ensure that car parking is managed to support the economy and sustainable communities.  The lack of, or poor planning of parking provision, can have a negative impact on the public realm and the local highway network and can restrict the accessibility and mobility needs of people and businesses.  Over provision and poor management can lead to the inefficient use of land and can also discourage greater use of more sustainable modes of transport.

15.117 The Essex Parking Standards 2009 provide the Local Planning Authority with advice and guidance on the provision and role of parking within residential, commercial and leisure areas.  However, the Local Planning Authority recognises that there needs to be flexibility to provide appropriate car and cycle parking based on local circumstances.  The adopted SPD will continue to inform this policy and will provide guidance on levels of parking considered necessary to serve development.  Developers will be expected to provide car parking on new developments in accordance with the most up to date standards, having regard to the nature of the development and location.  The parking standard will be used as a point of reference for non-residential development but a more flexible approach will be considered if the applicant can demonstrate through parking surveys and accumulation data, provision of alternative forms of transport and or use of an alternative car park that a lower level of parking is acceptable. However, a lower standard will not be permitted where local evidence demonstrates a high demand for parking spaces, i.e. convenience stores.

15.118 The Parking SPD will be reviewed to ensure it is applicable locally with regard to the most recent evidence and Census data regarding local car ownership and car usage.

15.119 Where new development requires the submission of a Travel Plan, it will be necessary to ensure that the Travel Plan integrates proposals for parking with proposals to encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport.  Parking for staff, visitors and operational uses will be managed as part of the Travel Plan.

15.120 Car free and low car development will be allowed in the Town Centre where it can be demonstrated that this is appropriate as a result of effective alternative modes of transport, and or access to a car provided through a car club.

15.121 Where the Local Planning Authority receives an application for a stand-alone new car park, or for the expansion of an existing car park, this will be considered on its merits based on evidence of need.  Proposals should include the provision of electric charging points. In the town centre, short stay car parking will be provided where necessary to facilitate the economic and social wellbeing of the town centre.  Redevelopment of existing surface car parks will be considered in the context of needing to ensure a neutral effect on the overall supply of town centre parking.  Greater use of park and ride will be encouraged and additional sites will be sought that support growth, help manage congestion and can deliver more people sustainably to the key destinations in and around the town centre. 

15.122 Encouraging the use of electric and other ultra-low emission vehicles helps reduce carbon emissions and reduces harmful emissions, particularly as Colchester has a number of transportation related air quality areas.  With the growth in electric vehicles owners will need to have suitable infrastructure to re-charge vehicles.  Infrastructure needs to be installed at a variety of locations to enable effective recharging.  Different chargers will be needed such as slow, fast or rapid chargers depending on location and the target market.  The market and technology are still developing and the situation may change significantly during the plan period.  

15.123 To encourage greater take up of electric vehicles more charging points are required particularly in public places or in car parks (public and private).  In order to ensure that new developments are equipped with the necessary infrastructure, proposals should include appropriate provision for electric car charging points. For larger developments, details of how electric vehicle charging will be allocated, located and managed should, where applicable, be included within the relevant Transport Assessment.

(7) Policy DM22: Parking

The amount of car parking to be provided in association with new residential development will be assessed using the most recent local Parking Guidance taking account of the following factors:

(i) Levels of local accessibility;

(ii) Historic and forecast car ownership levels;

(iii) The size, type, tenure and location of the dwellings; and

(iv) The appropriate mix of parking types including opportunities for car-sharing (e.g. unallocated, on-street, visitor, car club etc).

Parking standards for non-residential development should be agreed through joint discussions with the local Highway Authority and the Local Planning Authority in accordance with the most recent local Parking Guidance, with a more flexible approach to the parking standards only considered if supported by a parking survey and accumulation data. Local evidence suggests some uses require the maximum parking standard to be applied. Non-residential development shall include provision of electric charging points. Parking for staff, visitors and operational uses should be managed as part of a Travel Plan.  Where opportunities arise, for example on mixed use sites, shared parking and car sharing will be encouraged as part of an agreed Travel Plan to make efficient use of land to support quality development.

Secure cycle parking should be incorporated into all residential development proposals and should be accessible, convenient to use, well laid out and used exclusively for cycle parking. In the case of flats and shared accommodation, secure cycle parking will be incorporated into development proposals and located near the entrance to the building. Cycle parking must be useable and function to serve its purpose and Sheffield type stands will be the preferred cycle stand.

In appropriate circumstances, namely urban locations served by sustainable travel options and alternative car parking spaces in public/communal facilities within approximately 400m, parking standards may be relaxed or car-free development may be acceptable in order to reflect accessibility by non-car modes, and/or to enhance the character of sensitive locations. The use/establishment of a car club may be required.

Applications for new or expanded car parking provision will be considered on an individual basis in relation to evidence and need.  The existing car parking availability, current usage and, where appropriate, the existence of a Travel Plan and the current use of non-car modes, should all be demonstrated.  New car parks should include electric charging points.

Where possible large car parks, for example serving town centres and out of town retail, leisure and business parks, should be stacked and/or underground to facilitate improved place-making, provide town centre equality, and result in more compact forms of development which use less land and prioritise sustainable transport. Redevelopment of existing surface car parking will also be considered to make efficient use of land, improve the townscape and support regeneration.

Greater use of Park & Ride will be encouraged especially for trips to the town centre and other major establishments along the route of the service.  Further Park and Ride sites will be developed to help support growth and give access to the town centre.

Proposals for additional car parking in Dedham will be supported where they comply with all other policies in the Local Plan.

The Local Planning Authority will work with transport providers and highways authorities to provide facilities for freight and servicing.

Flood Risk and Water Management

15.124 National policycategorises zones of flood risk as Zone 1 (low probability), Zone 2 (medium probability), Zone 3a (high probability) and Zone 3b (functional floodplain). These flood zones are defined in Table 1 in the National Planning Practice Guidance and are shown on the on the Environment Agency's Flood Map for Planning (Rivers and Sea). The Environment Agency have also produced the updated Flood Map for Surface Water. Both are available on the GOV.UK website.

15.125 The overall aim of national policy and guidance on flood risk is to steer new development to land with  the lowest risk from flooding) (Flood Zone 1) as a priority  and to ensure that the development being proposed is compatible and safe over its lifetime relative to the Flood Zone it will be located in. Table 2 of the Planning Practice Guidance sets out a flood risk vulnerability classification for different land uses while Table 3 provides a 'compatibility' table for specific land uses in the different flood zones (including in Flood Zones 3a and 3b).

15.126 It is important that flood risk is assessed early in the plan making process. National policy/guidance requires the production of Strategic Flood Risk Assessments to enable flood risk from all types of flooding (including an allowance for climate change) to be considered at a strategic level. The SFRA is the key piece of evidence used to allocate land in the Local Plan. The NPPF and PPG also requires Local Planning Authorities to adopt a sequential approach when allocating development sites in their Local Plans relative to their flood risk, flood vulnerability and proposed use.

15.127 The Sequential Test and (Exception Test where applicable) enables Local Planning Authorities to employ this sequential approach when allocating land.

15.128 Flood risk was considered early in the site selection process in the Colchester Local Plan. As part of the site assessment process (SLAA), greenfield sites where more than 50% fell within flood zone 3 were immediately ruled out. On completion of the SLAA, the Local Planning Authority commissioned a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) for Colchester. The SFRA was then used to apply the Sequential and Exceptions Test (where necessary) to assist the allocation of development sites in the emerging Local Plan.

15.129 The application of the Sequential Test involved initially directing new development to land in Flood Zone 1 (areas with a low probability of river or sea flooding). Where there were no reasonably available sites in Flood Zone 1, reasonably available sites in Flood Zone 2 (areas with a medium probability of river or sea flooding), were then considered. Where there were no reasonably available sites in Flood Zones 1 or 2 the suitability of developing sites in Flood Zone 3 (areas with a high probability of river or sea flooding) was then considered. When considering the allocation of sites in Flood Zones 2 & 3, the Local Planning also took flood risk vulnerability of the proposed land uses and the need for the application of the Exception Test into account.

15.130 When applying the Sequential Test the area of search for reasonably available sites was applied at the Borough level. The exception to this was in East Colchester Special Policy Area where the area of search for reasonably available alternative sites was restricted to East Colchester.

15.131 This alternative approach for East Colchester which was agreed by both DCLG and the Environment Agency in 2008 when the Core Strategy was being prepared was deemed necessary to enable the continued regeneration of this part of town. The regeneration of East Colchester is still ongoing therefore the Council will continue to apply the alternative approach.

15.132 The methodology for the application of the Sequential Test has been agreed with the Environment Agency.  The Sequential Test Report will be published as part of the Local Plan evidence base. When preparing planning applications, developers should refer to the Flood Risk Sequential Test Report, for detailed site specific measures and mitigations that need to be delivered to ensure that flood risk is properly addressed as part of development proposals.

15.133 The NPPF and PPG also require individual Flood Risk Assessments to be prepared in certain circumstances to assess flood risk at the site specific level. Site specific Flood Risk Assessments must therefore be submitted with planning applications for development proposals on sites of 1 hectare (ha) or more in Flood Zone 1 or for all development proposals in Flood Zone 2 or 3.

15.134 The NPPF and PPG also set out the requirements for the use for Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) to minimise the risk of flooding from new development.  While all development should include SuDS within their design, only major development proposals are subject to consultation with ECC as Local Lead Flood Authority. A surface water drainage strategy should therefore be submitted with all major planning applications to ensure that the need for SuDS has been properly considered as part of the planning application process. These and the Local Planning Authority's most up to date SFRA will be used to consider planning applications where relevant.

15.135 Development in higher risk flood zones will be restricted to certain categories where an identified need for that type of development in that location exists. The Exception Test allows for development in high risk areas but is only to be applied where there is no other option i.e. where there are large areas of land in Flood Zones 2 and 3 and the Sequential Test cannot deliver acceptable alternative sites, but where some continuing development is necessary.  Advice on the Exception test is included in the PPG. Where development proceeds in areas with a known flood risk, mitigation measures will need to be delivered as part of proposals not only to alleviate risk to people and property, but also to ensure that the development is safe over is planned lifetime.

15.136 Small sites (less than 1ha) in Flood Zone 1 that are surrounded by Flood Zone 2 or 3 land, i.e. dry islands, are likely to be treated in the same way as the surrounding land. Each area will have its unique characteristics and a site specific Flood Risk Assessment may be required even for those sites less than 1ha to ensure that safe access / egress exists for the development and that residents are safe during the duration of the flood period. 

15.137 The use of SuDS to manage water run-off can be an important tool in minimising flooding by increasing the provision of permeable surfaces in an area that allow water to seep gradually into the ground rather than running directly into a drainage network, thereby reducing the risk of overloading the system.  SuDS can also help reduce the impact of diffuse pollution from run-off and flooding.  The effective use of permeable surfaces, soakaways and water storage areas should be incorporated in all new development where technically possible. Early consideration should be given to the potential to use SuDS to identify when/where the use of such technologies is feasible and to also identify which type of SuDS is most appropriate to local site conditions.  Only where there is a significant risk of pollution to the water environment, inappropriate soil conditions and/or engineering difficulties, should alternative methods of drainage discharge of water from a site be considered. 

15.138 Developers will be encouraged to enter into early discussions with the Local Planning Authority and the Lead Local Flood Authority and as part of discussions, maintenance and long term adoption responsibilities should be explored and agreed, where possible, as part of the SuDS approval process, prior to the start of development.

15.139 Colchester's Surface Water Management Plan (SWMP), which only covers urban Colchester, has identified 9 Critical Drainage Areas (CDAs) and Local Flood Risk Zones (LFRZs). These delineate the areas where the impact of surface water flooding is expected to be greatest within Colchester. It is acknowledged that the CDAs (and LFRZs) do not account for all the areas that could be affected by surface water flooding. It is therefore important that the policies seek to reduce the risk from surface water flooding throughout the whole Borough. The SWMP also encourages Essex County Council to implement similar policies, so that both authorities promote and apply best management practises regarding the implementation of SuDS and the reduction of runoff volumes.

15.140 All new developments in urban Colchester falling within Critical Drainage Areas will be required to contribute towards the delivery of flood defence solutions within the respective CDAs as specified in the SWMP for Colchester.

(4) Policy DM23: Flood Risk and Water Management

The Local Planning Authority will seek to direct development away from land at risk of flooding in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework and the Planning Practice Guidance. Sites proposed for allocation in the Local Plan have been considered sequentially with respect to flood risk. The Sequential Test will be applied to planning applications for new sites coming forward that have not been allocated through the Plan.

Development will only be supported where it can be demonstrated that the proposal meets flood management requirements in the NPPF, the PPG and policy DM23.

Development proposals will be required to deliver or contribute to the delivery of flood defence/protection measures and/or flood mitigation measures to minimise the risk of increased flooding both within the development boundary and off-site in all flood zones and to ensure that the development remains safe throughout the life of the development. Proposals that include measures to enhance the flood resilience of new or renovated buildings will be encouraged, particularly in areas with a history of local flooding.

Where proposals that require planning permission include driveways, hardstanding or paving, the use of permeable materials and landscaping will be sought to minimise the cumulative impacts of flooding from such developments.

Developments will also be required to comply with the following as indicated in the Colchester Surface Water Management Plan (or updates if appropriate):

(i) All developments across the catchment (excluding minor house extensions less than 50m2) which result in a net increase in impermeable area are to include at least one 'at source' SuDS measure e.g. bio-retention planter box, green/brown roofs). This is to help reduce the peak volume of run off discharging from development sites. It is recommended that a SuDS treatment train is utilised to assist in this reduction;

(ii) All development proposals are required to reduce post-development runoff rate back to the greenfield 1 in 1 year rate, with an allowance for climate change. On brownfield sites where this is not achievable, then a minimum betterment of 50% should be demonstrated for all flood events. This approach accords with the  NPPF/PPG and the most up to date UKCIP guidance);

(iii) Developments located in any of the Critical Drainage Areas (CDAs) as defined in Colchester's Surface Water Management Plan or Local Flood Risk Zones (LFRZs) and redevelopments of more than one property or area greater than 0.1 hectare should seek betterment to a greenfield runoff rate;

(iv) New developments in Critical Drainage Areas will be required to provide or contribute towards the provision of flood mitigation options via CIL/ S106 contributions, identified in the Colchester Surface Water Management Plan, to reduce or mitigate the risk of flooding to existing properties located within the CDA and to accommodate the drainage needs of the new developments.

(3) Policy DM24: Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems

All new residential and commercial development, car parks and hard standings should incorporate Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) appropriate to the nature of the site. Such systems shall provide optimum water runoff rates and volumes taking into account relevant local or national standards; and shall ensure that the quality of runoff is consistent with the requirements of the Water Framework Directive. SuDS design quality will be expected to conform with standards encompassed in the relevant BRE, CIRIA standards and Essex County Local Planning Authority's SuDS Design Guide (and as updated) to the satisfaction of the Lead Local Flood Authority.

Surface water should be managed as close to its source as possible and on the surface where practicable to do so through the use of green roofs, rain gardens, soakaways and permeable paving. Maximum use should also be made of low land take drainage measures such as rain water recycling, green roofs, permeable surfaces and water butts. Appropriate pollution control measures should be incorporated as part of SuDS to reduce the risk of pollution. Including through reference to the CIRIA SuDS Manual, it must be ensured that sufficient treatment steps are provided prior to any surface water discharge. Regard should be given to both the nature of the proposed development and the sensitivity of the receiving water environment.

Opportunities should be taken to integrate sustainable drainage within the design of the development, to create amenity space, enhance biodiversity and manage pollution. Existing drainage features such as ditches and ponds should be retained on site where possible as part of SuDS schemes.

Only where there is a significant risk of pollution to the water environment, inappropriate soil conditions and/or engineering difficulties, should alternative methods of drainage be considered. It will be necessary to demonstrate why it is not achievable. If alternative methods are to be considered, adequate assessment and justification should be provided and consideration should still be given to pre- and post-runoff rates.

SuDS design should be an integral part of design proposals and clear details of proposed SuDS together with how they will be managed and maintained will be required as part of any planning application. Only proposals which clearly demonstrate that a satisfactory SuDS layout with appropriate maintenance is possible, or compelling justification as to why SuDS should not be incorporated into a scheme, or are unviable, are likely to be successful. Contributions in the form of commuted sums may be sought in legal agreements to ensure that the drainage systems can be adequately maintained into the future. The SuDS should be designed to ensure that the maintenance and operation requirements are economically proportionate.

Renewable Energy, Water, Waste and Recycling

15.141 Climate change is an important issue, which underpins the Local Plan. New developments will need to help address the challenges of climate change, and contribute positively towards the future sustainability of Colchester Borough. Policy CC1 sets out how the Local Planning Authority will achieve a low carbon future for Colchester.

15.142 To tackle climate change and improve sustainability, it is important for the Local Planning Authority to promote energy, water, waste and recycling efficiency and renewable energy in new developments. In its commitment to deliver sustainable communities the Local Planning Authority is seeking to create communities that use natural resources sustainably, and minimise waste.

15.143 Nationally 15% of energy is required to come from renewable energy sources by 2020 increasing to 30% by 2030 (UK Climate Change Committee, 2011). Whilst this is a national target the Local Planning Authority must contribute to meet and exceed it where possible. Regard must be had to any future national targets.

15.144 The Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy E1 (2011), identifies wind energy as the biggest potential for renewable energy in the UK. Wind technologies are considered to have the potential to deliver 30% of the UK's electricity needs by 2020 (UK Climate Change Committee, 2011).

15.145 The Local Planning Authority will support proposals for onshore and offshore wind farms (and associated infrastructure) and solar farms that satisfy the broad objectives set out in Policy DM25. Preferable locations include industrial areas and utilising roofs. The Local Planning Authority will also support the development of community led renewable energy schemes as part of Neighbourhood Plans and encourage the delivery of District Heating Schemes within the West Colchester Garden Community and University Garden Village and as part of future development in the Northern Gateway and East Colchester. Colchester Borough Council, enabled by DECC, commissioned a Heat Network Feasibility Study for the Northern Gateway and East Colchester, which provides a basis for future implementation of district heating in these areas. Funding has recently been secured to deliver a District Heating Network as part of Northern Gateway proposals and feasibility work is continuing on a similar proposal in East Colchester.

15.146 To help contribute to renewable targets, new residential development will be required to meet energy efficiency targets in part L of national Buildings Regulations (or in any higher standards subsequently introduced later in the plan period). Non-residential development will be encouraged to achieve a BREEAM rating of 'very good'.

15.147 BRE has developed the Home Quality Mark (HQM) as part of the BREEAM family of quality and sustainability standards. The HQM will enable developers to showcase the quality of their new homes, and identify them as having the added benefits of being likely to need less maintenance, cheaper to run, better located, and more able to cope with the demands of a changing climate.  The HQM demonstrates a home's environmental footprint and its resilience to flooding and overheating in a changing climate, highlights the impact of a home on the occupant's health and wellbeing, and evaluates the digital connectivity and performance of the home. The Local Planning Authority will support developers who choose to register their homes under the HQM.

15.148 Ensuring a continual supply of water in the Borough is likely to become increasingly important in light of climate change. It will be important that water resources continue to be protected for present and future generations. They should be used efficiently to make the maximum use of the resource and to reduce the need for major new water storage facilities and related infrastructure

15.149 The WCS report also concluded that development at sites shown to have potentially limited sewer network capacity should be subject to pre-development enquiry with Anglian Water to determine if infrastructure upgrades are needed prior to planning permission being granted.

15.150 With regards to water supply, the overall recommendation in the WCS was the need to move towards a more water neutral position to enhance the sustainability of new development coming forward.  To achieve this, the report recommended reducing water demand and retrofitting easy fit water savings devices into the existing domestic housing stock and business premises where practical to do so.

15.151 Colchester Borough falls within an area classified as having serious water stress. (Environment Agency 2013 'Water stressed areas final classification report' The Anglian River Basin Management Plan (2015) highlights the role that increased efficiency can play in preventing deterioration in water bodies. In recognition of the increasing demand for water and serious water stress within the Borough, the Local Planning Authority will require developments to incorporate water saving measures, in line with the tighter optional requirement of Part G2 of national Building Regulations of 110/l/h/d.

15.152 The Council is seeking to minimise waste and improve reuse and recycling rates through better recycling services and public awareness programs. It has a current aspirational target of 60% recycling of household waste. At present approximately 48% of household waste is recycled. The Council will continue to improve services and information to further help increase recycling rates over the Local Plan period. New developments will be expected to support this target by employing best practice technology to optimise the opportunities for recycling and minimising waste and by providing better recycling facilities. This will include easy recycling systems for the householder as required in DM12 Housing Standards, but also recycling on the go facilities in public areas.

(7) Policy DM25: Renewable Energy, Water, Waste and Recycling

The Local Planning Authority's commitment to carbon reduction includes the promotion of efficient use of energy and resources, alongside waste minimisation and recycling.

The Local Planning Authority will support residential developments that help reduce carbon emissions in accordance with national Building Regulations.  The use of the Home Quality Mark will be supported. Non-residential developments will be encouraged to achieve a minimum BREEAM rating of 'Very Good'.

The Local Planning Authority will encourage the use of sustainable construction techniques in tandem with high quality design and materials to reduce energy demand, waste and the use of natural resources, including the sustainable management of the Borough's water resources.

To achieve greater water efficiencies new residential developments will be required to incorporate water saving measures in line with the tighter optional requirement of Part G2 of national Building Regulations of 110/l/h/d.

To help meet waste reduction and recycling targets, the Local Planning Authority will support proposals for sustainable waste management facilities identified in the Waste Management Plan which minimise impacts on the communities living close to the sites (noise, pollution, traffic) and on the local environment and landscape. New developments will be expected to support this objective by employing best practice technology to optimise the opportunities for recycling and minimising waste and by providing better recycling facilities.

The Local Planning Authority will support proposals for renewable energy projects including micro-generation, offshore wind farms (plus land based ancillary infrastructure) solar farms, solar panels on buildings, wind farms, District Heating Networks and community led renewable energy initiatives at appropriate locations in the Borough to help reduce Colchester's carbon footprint.

Renewable energy schemes with potential for adverse effects on internationally designated sites or nationally designated landscapes (Dedham Vale AONB), will only be supported in exceptional circumstances, where it can be demonstrated that the designation objectives for the area will not be compromised, that adverse impacts can be adequately mitigated or where it can be demonstrated that any adverse impacts are clearly outweighed by the social and economic benefits provided by the energy proposal.

All applications for renewable energy proposals should be located and designed in such a way to minimise increases in ambient noise levels. Landscape and visual impacts should be mitigated through good design, careful siting and layout and landscaping measures. Transport Assessments covering the construction, operation and decommissioning of any wind farm or solar farm proposal will be required and should be produced at the pre-application stage so acceptability can be determined and mitigation measures identified. A condition will be attached to planning consents for wind turbines and solar farm proposals to ensure that the site is restored when the turbines or panels are taken out of service.

All proposals for solar farm development or wind farms  should have regard to the advice in the Local Planning Authority's Guidance Note'Designing solar farm renewable energy development' and in the Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy EN1.

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