Section 2 - Publication Draft Colchester Borough Local Plan

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12. Sustainable Growth Policies

The Spatial Strategy

12.1 The Spatial Strategy directs development towards the most sustainable locations, as illustrated by the Key Diagrams, and provides for supporting facilities and infrastructure to create sustainable local communities.  The Spatial Strategy provides the framework for the place-based approach of the Local Plan and relates allocations to the unique characteristics of particular communities within the Borough.  The Spatial Strategy reflects the Local Planning Authority's evidence base, which includes a Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Land Availability Assessment, along with a range of associated issues including development needs, environmental constraints, and deliverability.  It also reflects sustainable development principles underpinned by the NPPF which seeks to achieve all development meeting the three dimensions of sustainable development, that is; social, economic and environmental sustainability. Examples of development which may meet all of these are illustrated below:

(a) Development being located at accessible locations where residents will have good access to employment opportunities and be in close proximity to regularly used services, facilities, shops, etc to contribute towards the economic and social dimensions of sustainable development.

(b) Proposals showing how new users can access social services and facilities to contribute towards the social dimension of sustainable development.

(c) Proposals which demonstrate that they will not adversely affect landscape character and the undeveloped nature of the countryside and coast and would not lead to reliance on the private car, increasing carbon emissions, to contribute towards the environmental element of sustainable development. 

All development will need to be in accordance with the spatial strategy and should meet the three dimensions of sustainable development.

12.2 Following on from the Spatial Strategy for North Essex set forth in Section 1 of the plan, the Strategic Growth policies in Section 2 of the Plan provide the complete strategic picture of the role and functions of different areas of Colchester within its sub-regional context. 

Growth Locations

Urban Area of Colchester

12.3 In Colchester's spatial hierarchy, the urban area of Colchester is ranked as the most sustainable location for growth, given its high level of accessibility and concentration of housing, jobs and services.  Within this urban area, the Central Area of Colchester including the Town Centre is the most sustainable location for new development given that it can accommodate higher densities, it has good access to public transport, walking and cycling routes and provides a concentrated mix of uses which minimise the need to travel. The surrounding built up, North, South, East and West (including Stanway) urban areas of Colchester provide the next tier of sustainable locations for growth.

12.4 Policy SG3 sets out the Centres Hierarchy. Proposals for town centre uses such as retail, offices, leisure, culture and entertainment facilities, and food/drink establishments will accordingly be directed to Colchester Town Centre in the first instance.  Policy TC1 provides further guidance on the mechanisms for maintaining Colchester Town Centre's pre-eminent position. 

12.5 Some areas of Colchester have been a focus for regeneration over a number of years, with significant progress and delivery evident in some areas such as the Garrison and North Colchester.  Other areas will continue to be a focus for regeneration and enhancement delivered via a range of mixed use, commercial, social and residential opportunities. Estate regeneration in line with the Government's Estate Regeneration Strategy will be explored in estate areas such as Greenstead that could benefit from a comprehensive upgrading of community facilities, infrastructure and housing in line with overall strategic priorities. Special Policy Areas have been designated where required to provide a clear context against which to promote opportunities for appropriate growth, enhanced public realm and connectivity.  Site allocations along with specific policy considerations for other parts of the urban area of Colchester are contained in the policies indicated below:

12.6 Urban Colchester comprises of the following areas listed below along with relevant policy references:

Central Colchester

  • TC1 - Town Centre Policy and Hierarchy
  • TC2 -  Retail Frontages
  • TC3 -  Central Colchester other allocations
  • TC4 – Transport in Colchester Town Centre

North Colchester

  • NC1- Northern Gateway/SeverallsStrategic Economic Area
  • NC2- North Station Special Policy Area
  • NC3 - North Colchester other allocations
  • NC4 – Transport in North Colchester

South Colchester

  • SC1- South Colchester Allocations
  • SC2 - Middlewick Ranges
  • SC3 – Transport in South Colchester

East Colchester

  • EC1 - Knowledge Gateway and University Strategic Economic Area
  • EC2 - East Colchester- The Hythe Special Policy Area
  • EC3 - East Colchester other allocations
  • EC4 – Transport in East Colchester

West Colchester

  • WC1 – Stanway Strategic Economic Area
  • WC2 – Stanway
  • WC3 – Colchester Zoo Special Policy Area
  • WC4 - West Colchester other allocations
  • WC5 – Transport in West Colchester 

Sustainable Settlements

12.7 The next tier in the spatial hierarchy includes larger existing 'Sustainable Settlements', which are considered to have the potential to accommodate further proportionate growth and the Garden Communities, which are programmed for long term strategic growth beyond the plan period. Policies SP8 and SP9 in Part One describe the requirements of two new Garden Communities: to the East and the West of Colchester.

12.8 As the underlying principle of the NPPF and therefore the Local Plan is to support the principle of sustainable development, it is important that new allocations for growth and the associated settlement boundaries relate to sustainable locations.  The Local Plan therefore defines those settlements which are 'sustainable'.  This is justified using evidence from the Strategic Land Availability Assessment, Sustainability Appraisal and Settlement Boundary Review.  By implication any other settlements  are less sustainable, although it is recognised that these 'Other Villages' serve an important community function within the rural areas of the Borough.

12.9 To develop a list of settlements considered to qualify as 'sustainable', each village was assessed as part of the Settlement Boundary Review against criteria related to the NPPF identification of the three dimensions of sustainability.  Tiptree, West Mersea and Wivenhoe have automatically been included in the Sustainable Settlements category due to their larger populations and concentrations of jobs, facilities, services and function.

12.10 Settlement boundaries are an essential tool for the management of development and contribute to the achievement of sustainable development by preventing the encroachment of development into the countryside.  The Borough's settlement boundaries have been reviewed as part of the evidence base of the Local Plan and drawn tightly to exclude areas that are more rural in character.  This approach protects Colchester's rich countryside, seeks to avoid development that would be detrimental to the character and identity of the Borough's villages and reduces the likelihood of the private car being the sole mode of transport.

12.11 Those settlements which tend to have the most sustainable characteristics are, for the most part the larger villages which have a population of at least 500.  This reflects the historic development of settlements which have evolved around good accessibility and key community facilities such as churches and primary schools.  The approach in the Local Plan is to channel some growth to the most sustainable settlements to encourage their continued growth recognising the key function they play beyond the urban area of Colchester.   Site allocations are identified in each of the place policies, providing a more proactive approach to new development in these settlements. The growth provided for in these settlements is considered appropriate to the size of the settlement, local landscape character, other local constraints, identified need and the availability of infrastructure.

12.12 The settlements highlighted in bold in Table SG1 have active Neighbourhood Plan working groups which have chosen to pursue site allocations through their respective Neighbourhood Plans under the Localism Act 2011.  More detailed proposals for site allocations and other policy matters are set out in the Neighbourhood Plan for these areas. 

Other Villages

12.13 Other Villages tend to be small villages with only limited facilities, which local communities rely on for basic needs and as social hubs. Settlements classed as Other Villages are listed in Table SG1. These smaller rural villages often operate as clusters by sharing key services and facilities which help provide a strong sense of identity for the communities living and working there.  Although the Local Plan does not promote substantial housing growth or other development in these Other Villages, their role in serving a community function in the rural areas is recognised. Other Villages are defined by tightly drawn settlement boundaries which reflect the core community focus of each village and protect the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside. Other Villages can accommodate a limited amount of small scale development and the policy context setting out the types of development considered appropriate is set out in policy OV1.

Countryside

12.14 Within the countryside, there are a number of very small isolated clusters of dwellings or small hamlets across the Borough, which lack any community facilities or services and rely on nearby villages or towns to meet their daily needs.  Although they provide a community function for residents, their location is physically detached and sometimes remote, from the larger village to which they relate, and accordingly they are classed as countryside.  Development within the countryside will be restricted to activities that either require a rural location or proposals that help sustain a rural community and local economy and which help protect the rural character of the areas where the development is being proposed.  The type of development considered appropriate within the countryside is set out in policy OV2 of the Local Plan.

(32) Policy SG1: Colchester's Spatial Strategy

Throughout the Borough, growth will be located at the most accessible and sustainable locations in accordance with the spatial strategy for North Essex set forth in Policy SP6 in Section One and with the spatial hierarchy set out in Table SG1.  The spatial hierarchy ranks areas of the Borough in order of their sustainability merits and the size, function and services provided in each area.  The centres hierarchy is set out in Policy SG3.

Development will be focused on highly accessible locations to reduce the need to travel. Development will be supported where a real travel choice is provided and sustainable travel for different purposes is promoted throughout the day.

This spatial hierarchy focuses growth on the urban area of Colchester, reflecting its position as the main location for jobs, housing, services, and transport. Within this urban area, the Central Area of Colchester including the Town Centre is the most sustainable location for new development given that it can accommodate higher densities reliant on its good access to public transport and concentrated mix of uses which minimise the need to travel. The surrounding built up, North, South, East and West (including Stanway) urban areas of Colchester provide the next sub-level of well-connected, sustainable locations for growth.   The next tier of preferred growth includes Garden Communities straddling boundaries with adjacent authorities and providing new greenfield sites in sustainable communities which will grow gradually, over time, extending beyond the plan period. The second tier also includes existing Sustainable Settlements within the Borough which are planned for appropriate growth. 

In the remaining Other Villages and Countryside of Colchester, new development will only be acceptable where it accords with policies OV1 and OV2.  New development in the open countryside will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances to preserve the rural character of the Borough.

Table SG1: Spatial Hierarchy Settlements in Bold are preparing Neighbourhood Plans to guide development

Urban Area of Colchester

Central Colchester

South, East, North and West Colchester, including Stanway and Myland and Braiswick (Neighbourhood Plan made 2016),


Garden Communities

Tendring /  Colchester Borders Garden Communities

Colchester / Braintree Borders Garden Community

Sustainable Settlements

Abberton and Langenhoe

Boxted(Neighbourhood Plan made 2016)

Chappel and Wakes Colne

Copford and Copford Green

Dedham

Eight Ash Green

Fordham

Great Horkesley

Great Tey

Langham

Layer de la Haye

Marks Tey

Rowhedge

Tiptree

West Bergholt

West Mersea

Wivenhoe


Other Villages

Aldham

Birch

Dedham Heath

Easthorpe

East Mersea

Fingringhoe

Great Wigborough

Layer Breton

Little Horkesley

Messing

Mount Bures

Peldon

Salcott

Wormingford


Countryside

Housing Delivery

12.15 Colchester Borough shares its housing market area with Braintree District, Tendring District and Chelmsford City. The Council has worked with all of these authorities in jointly commissioning housing studies to determine the respective levels of housing needs for each district over the plan period. For Colchester these studies have determined that the Objectively Assessed Housing Needs (OAHN) for Colchester Borough is 920 new dwellings per year or 14,720 new homes over the plan period between 2017 and 2033.

12.16 Colchester has an excellent track record of housing delivery. Since 1974 an average of 833 new dwellings have been delivered in the Borough every year. Over the current plan period to date (2001 – 2016) the Council exceeded its cumulative housing target by almost 900 dwellings. Therefore at the beginning of the new plan period the Council is not in a position where it needs to make up any previous shortfall in housing delivery.

12.17 To plan for the Borough's OAHN, the Council needs to ensure enough land is allocated for residential uses to accommodate the predicted level of housing growth over the plan period. The land required to accommodate this housing growth is known as the housing land supply. The housing land supply comprises existing commitments, new allocations and broad locations for growth.

12.18 Existing commitments are residential sites with planning permission or where the granting of planning permission is considered to be imminent. Many of these sites, particularly the larger sites, were allocated for residential use in the previous Local Plan. Within the new Local Plan period these existing commitments account for approximately 7,200 new dwellings. Site specific information on existing commitments can be found in the Housing Trajectory.

12.19 New allocations are sites which have been allocated for residential uses as part of the preparation of this Local Plan. Colchester has a very good track record of regenerating previously developed land within its urban area and as a result the Borough has a limited and diminishing supply of brownfield sites that can contribute to accommodating new growth. Accordingly, new allocations within the plan include a level of new greenfield sites. These sites have been subject to thorough assessment and public consultation to determine their sustainability and suitability for residential uses. All new allocations have also been subject to exhaustive discussions with stakeholders including land owners and service providers to ensure sites have been selected based on their availability, achievability and deliverability.

12.20 The Place policies in this plan provide detail on specific new allocations along with further information on infrastructure improvements and mitigation measures required to address site constraints and opportunities at each location. Within the new Local Plan period new allocations account for approximately 5,200 new dwellings. New allocations are set out in their respective Place policies as well as detailed in the Housing Trajectory.

12.21 Housing land supply is also comprised of broad locations for growth. As set out in Section One of the Local Plan the two broad locations for Garden Communities are expected to collectively contribute 2,600 new dwellings to Colchester Borough's housing supply within the plan period. Information relating to these broad locations for growth are detailed in Section One and listed in the Housing Trajectory.

12.22 Ensuring the quality of new housing development is equivalent in importance to ensuring its quantity. Policies in the Development Management section of this plan accordingly provide for affordable housing (DM8), housing to meet the needs of a range of different groups within the population (Housing Diversity DM10), and good design (Design and Amenity DM15). 

(31) Policy SG2: Housing Delivery

The Local Planning Authority will plan, monitor and manage the delivery of at least 14,720 new homes in Colchester Borough between 2017 and 2033. The housing target is based on a robust Objectively Assessed Housing Need figure of 920 homes a year and provides alignment with the targets for the delivery of employment land.

The overall distribution of new housing, as shown in Table SG2, is guided by the settlement hierarchy set out in the Spatial Strategy and Policy SG1.  New housing development will be focused on the following key areas:

  • Colchester urban area (Place policies  for Central, North, South, East and West Colchester)
  • Tendring / Colchester Borders Garden Community (Section 1 Policy SP8)
  • Colchester / Braintree Borders Garden Community (Section1 Policy SP9)

Detailed decisions on the location, type and level of development to be carried out in the Garden Communities will be made through joint plans to be agreed with the relevant local planning authority, either Braintree (west) or Tendring (east), as outlined in Section1 of this plan.

To maintain the vitality and viability of the Borough's smaller towns and villages, an appropriate level of new development will be brought forward in Sustainable Settlements to support new homes and economic and social development.  Details on those allocations are provided in Policies SS1- SS16 (Sustainable Settlements).


Table: Colchester's Housing Provision

Settlements and Key Development Areas

Existing commitments

(2017-2033)

New Allocations

(2017-2033)

Policy reference

Colchester Urban Area

5,261

2,018

TC3, NC3,  SC1, SC2 EC3, WC4

Stanway

1,137

1,106

WC2

Tendring / Colchester Borders Garden Community

0

1,250

Part 1 SP7 and SP8

Colchester / Braintree Borders Garden Community

0

1,350

Part 1 SP7 and SP9

Sustainable Settlements

Abberton and Langenhoe

812

55

SS1-16

Boxted

36

Chappel and Wakes Colne

30

Copford and Copford Green

120

Eight Ash Green

150

Fordham

20

Great Horkesley

93

Great Tey

40

Langham

80

Layer de la Haye

35

Marks Tey

0

Rowhedge

40

Tiptree

600

West Bergholt

120

West Mersea

200

Wivenhoe

250

Extra Care Housing (Self Contained)

0

245

245





Total

7,210

7,853

15,063

Source: CBC, Colchester Housing Trajectory 2017-33, May 2017

Economic Delivery Policies

12.23 This section of the Plan sets out the Council's approach to economic growth, including retailing.

12.24 In accordance with the NPPF, the Council has set forth a clear strategy for Economic Growth in its Economic Development Strategy 2015-21, which has the following priorities:

  • Creating new jobs;
  • Raising the employability and skill levels of our residents and retaining talent;
  • Creating, supporting and retaining businesses;
  • Improving 'hard' (road, rail and broadband connectivity) and 'soft' infrastructure (business and employment support, employment sites); and
  • Securing greater inward investment and funding.

12.25 The focus on digital connectivity in the Economic Development Strategy is further supported by a Digital Strategy for the Borough (2017), with a vision for Colchester to be 'the best-connected borough in the East of England, offering all businesses and all new residential developments world-class, future-proofed connectivity and to drive the uptake of digital technology to make the best of its potential for delivering economic growth and job creation'. Advanced digital connectivity will enhance economic growth and public service delivery, reducing costs while improving coverage and introducing new products and processes. Delivering improved digital connectivity will involve making optimum use of national initiatives, combined with the innovative use of local assets and suppliers.

12.26 The Local Planning Authority's allocations support these strategies and also reflect the need for economic growth to be targeted at the most marketable, accessible and sustainable locations. The Council commissioned studies including an Employment Land Needs Assessment, (ELNA) (January 2015)  to update the evidence base and enable effective planning to facilitate the provision of appropriate employment to reflect current trends, market changes and projections for the plan period. The ELNA analysed the forecast fastest growing sectors in the Borough and found that of these, three are fully B class occupiers– Professional Services, Business Services and Real Estate – and one part B class – Construction. The inability of existing stock to accommodate job growth in these sectors requires new suitable land and premises which are well-located within the Borough. Inevitably, this will be predominantly on greenfield employment land as previous development has absorbed the Borough's brownfield land availability.

12.27 The ELNA looked at demand for employment land using four scenarios and concludes that the Council should plan to accommodate at least the 2012 demographic baseline scenario to ensure that the Borough's growth potential arising from its resident workforce is not constrained by lack of spatial capacity in future.  The ELNA goes on to state, however, that the Council should consider planning to accommodate the greater requirement arising from Colchester's good economic growth prospects.  The range provided of between 22 - 55.8 ha accordingly allows for flexibility in allocations between minimum levels and capacity to respond to higher growth levels, as highlighted in the Section 1 strategic employment Policy SG4.

12.28 As part of the preparation of the Local Plan a full review of the unimplemented Strategic and Local Employment sites has been considered, informed by the ELNA as well as settlement assessments, strategic land availability assessments and policy review in the light of national guidance and other evidence as relevant. The employment land allocations listed in Table SG3 below provide for a total of  39.7 ha of B use employment land in Strategic and Local Employment Areas and a further 4.5 ha of B use employment land in Garden Communities within Colchester during the plan period.  This total figure of 44.2 ha sits within the baseline and higher growth demand scenarios.  Table SG3 also illustrates the potential B use floorspace that could be delivered on these sites.  It is also recognised that a major contribution to jobs in the Borough comes from other economic uses which are not classified as B class uses.  Essex County Council has undertaken a 'Grow on Space Feasibility Study' to explore the need for employment 'Grow-On Space' within the County. Such flexible employment space, between 100 – 300 sqm in scale, is required to enable flexible premises for businesses to move on from incubation / enterprise centres / start-up spaces, and free up these units for other start-ups. The Essex Economic Commission also identified an inadequate supply of flexible tenures (e.g. Grow-on Space), which is holding back successful businesses that want to expand and grow. The Council will consider which interventions are the most appropriate and viable to ensure the provision of flexible local employment space (by tenure) in the plan area.

12.29 In order to bring forward these sites and maintain an appropriate level and type of employment provision a specific policy approach for each area is appropriate.  Around the edge of urban Colchester there are three Strategic Locations for economic growth; to the east, north and west of Colchester.  Local Economic Areas (LEAs) are dispersed around the Borough. Some LEAs are located within sustainable settlements which provide a key role in supporting the economic sustainability of the settlements. Other established sites are operating successfully in more remote rural locations. While the latter are less sustainable in terms of accessibility, the role they play in contributing to the wider rural economy and their function within the Borough-wide economic area is important, hence the continued protection of some of these sites.  The ELNA highlights some sites as being somewhat dated and that modernisation should be encouraged if opportunities arise through reuse or expansion proposals.

Strategic Economic Areas

12.30 The Strategic Economic Areas (SEAs) are the best employment sites in the Borough and should be retained for employment purposes to meet anticipated needs over the plan period, in accordance with Paragraph 22 of the NPPF.   Up to date evidence however suggests not all the land previously allocated for employment will be required and, accordingly, the boundaries of each SEA has been reassessed.

12.31 The Knowledge Gateway and University SEA reflects opportunities associated with the growth plans for the University of Essex and the benefits linked to the new Garden Community to the east of Colchester. Additional land to expand the Knowledge Gateway is expected to be allocated within the Garden Community to the east.

12.32 The Northern Gateway and Severalls SEA responds to the potential to maximise its prime location adjacent to Junctions 28 and 29 of the A12, for the retention and expansion of the Business Park and for opportunities to deliver an enhanced sports and leisure hub.  A reconfiguration on the previous allocation has taken place to reflect approvals and the changing economic market which has seen a reducing demand for land for B uses.

12.33 The third SEA at Stanway continues to be a favoured location for strategic economic opportunities taking advantage of good access to the A12 and A120. The Stanway SEA has been reviewed and reflects planning approvals and the decreasing demand for traditional employment land.

12.34 To allow for flexibility, the SEAs are divided into sub areas (zones), the policy context for which is set out in the individual place policies. The Local Planning Authority will work with other key stakeholders to ensure a comprehensive approach to the delivery of employment land and other mixed commercial uses within the SEAs in accordance with policies NC1, EC1 and WC1.

Garden Communities Strategic Allocations

12.35 Policy SP3 in Section 1 of this plan indicates that the new garden communities will make a strategic contribution to employment provision serving the sustainable communities and the rest of the Borough.  The extent, location and policy context for the garden communities to the east and west of Colchester will be informed by future master planning and Development Plan Documents for these areas.

(14) Policy SG3: Economic Growth Provision

The Local Planning Authority will encourage economic development and have allocated 39.7 hectares of land to plan for the delivery of B use class employment land in Colchester Borough up to 2033. An additional 4.5 hectares of employment land is expected to come forward in Colchester within the Garden Communities. Existing economic uses on the sites identified will be safeguarded in accordance with the relevant policies. New development for employment uses will primarily be provided on a range of sites to ensure jobs are accessible to new and existing communities across the borough. Sites include;

  • Land within Strategic Economic Areas as indicated on the policies maps (policies NC1, EC1 and WC1)
  • Land within Local Economic Areas identified on the policies maps
  • Land within defined mixed use special policy areas as shown on the policies maps (Policies TC3, NC2-3, EC2)
  • Existing sites with planning permission.

Within some of the defined economic areas alternative economic non- B class uses contribute to the provision of jobs providing flexibility and securing delivery of the additional jobs.  Suitable alternative economic uses will be supported within the defined areas where they are in accordance with all relevant policies in the plan.

Table SG3: Colchester Employment Land Supply 2017-2033

Location / Allocations

Site area (ha.)

Office

(B1 a/b) sqm

Industrial (B1c/2/8) sqm

Total

sqm


Strategic Economic Areas (SEAs)

North Colchester

10.4

56,696

0

56,696

Stanway

15.6

20,506

42,054

62,560

Knowledge Gateway

7.0

22,538

0

22,538

Local Economic Areas (LEAs)

Colchester Town Centre

Town Centre Core

0.7

3,160

0

3,160

Edge of Centre

3.5

0

13,959

13,959

District Centres (outside Colchester)

1.5

3,078

3,078

6,156

Other Rural Areas

1.0

2,000

2,000

4,000

Total SEAs and LEAs

39.7

107,978

61,091

169,069

Garden Communities Employment Areas (GCEAs)

Colchester Braintree Borders GC

1.7

6,858

0

6,858

Colchester Tendring Borders GC

2.8

11,276

0

11,276

Total GCEAs

4.5

18,134

0

18,134

Total all allocations

44.2

126,112

61,091

187,203

Sources: Lichfields (March 2017); CBC Planning Policy (April, 2017)

12.36 Additionally, further floorspace for non B-class economic uses will be provided within the following areas of urban Colchester:

  • Colchester Town Centre (Policy TC3)
  • North Station Special Policy Area (Policy NC2)
  • East Colchester – Hythe Special Policy Area (Policy EC2)
  • Colchester Zoo (Policy WC4).

Local Economic Areas

12.37 The Local Economic Areas provide an important contribution to the Colchester economy alongside the Strategic Economic Areas. Local Economic Areas are listed in policy/table SG4 and in each case they are cross referenced in the place policies. 

12.38 The Economic Areas shown on the Policies Maps provide a framework within which Colchester's business community can develop and compete at a local, regional, national and international level. The Council will work with businesses within these areas to encourage them to adapt and respond to changing economic conditions in order to support business growth and ensure the economic viability of local communities.

12.39 Employment sites are under increasing pressure to be developed for housing and other uses but it is important to retain existing employment sites where possible and appropriate. Employment site retention and provision is particularly necessary to enable balanced job and housing growth and to provide choices for businesses looking to expand or relocate.

12.40 Economic Areas contain a range of sites and premises that meet the needs of the business community and offers flexibility and choice. However, the NPPF advises local planning authorities to take a pragmatic approach to the protection of employment sites where there are high vacancy rates and/or where there is no reasonable prospect of a site being used for the allocated employment use. To build a strong, responsive and competitive economy, policies need to be flexible whilst ensuring that the needs of the community are met. To this end, the Local Planning Authority will, where possible, seek to retain Class B uses at employment sites whilst at the same time preventing the long-term vacancy of land and units where other non-Class B uses may be appropriate.

12.41 There is pressure to change commercial land and premises into higher value uses but if an employment site were lost to a higher value use every time an application was made then this would run the risk of a declining stock of employment premises that would hamper the ability of the Borough to maintain and increase employment growth. The loss of commercial space to other uses could also lead to future economic and social problems such as increased unemployment and increased out commuting.

(7) Policy SG4: Local Economic Areas

The Local Economic Areas as defined on the policies maps and listed in policy tables SG3 and SG4, will be safeguarded primarily for B class uses to provide, protect and enhance employment provision in a range of locations across the borough to enable balanced job and housing growth.  Planning permission will be granted for the redevelopment or change of use for non-Class B uses where:

i) it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable prospect of the site concerned being used for Class B purposes; and

ii) The supply, availability and variety of employment land is sufficient to meet Borough and local needs; and

iii) it can be demonstrated that the alternative use cannot be reasonably located elsewhere within the area it serves; and

iv) The proposal does not generate potential conflict with the existing proposed B class uses / activities on the site; and

iv) the use will not give rise to unacceptable traffic generation, noise, smells or vehicle parking; and

v) The proposal provides the opportunity to maximise the sites potential for economic growth and support the continued operation of existing employment uses within the economic area.

Opportunities to enhance and renew more dated buildings within Local Economic Areas will be supported when proposals are promoted for improvements to existing operations or for new operations where the use and scale is appropriate.

Table SG4: Local Economic Areas

Local Economic Area

Place Policy Reference

Colchester

Barrack Street

EC3

Brook Street

EC3

Chandlers Row (Port Lane)

EC3

COLBEA (George Williams Way)

EC3

Crown Interchange

NC3

Davey Close (including Oyster Park)

EC3

Gosbecks Road

SC1

Maldon Road (including Shrub End Depot)

SC1

Middleborough Area (including Fairfax House/Digby House, Causton Road and Sheepen Road)

TC3

Eastgates (including Moorside)

EC3

Southway

TC3

Whitehall Industrial Estate

EC3

Outside Colchester

Abberton -  Pantiles Farm, Peldon Road

SS1

Boxted - Classic Pot Emporium

SS2

Boxted - Tin Bins Skip Hire)

SS2

Dedham/Langham - Depot (Old Ipswich Road)

SS9

Great Horkesley - Holly Lodge

SS7

Great Tey - Tey Brook Farm

SS8

Langham – Lodge Lane

SS9

Langham -  Powerplus Engineering and Whitnell Contractors Site, School Road

SS9

Marks Tey – Timber Yard

SS11

Tiptree -  Alexander Cleghorn

SS13

Tiptree - Tower Business Park

SS13

Tiptree  - Wilkins & Son

SS13

Tiptree – Basket Works

SS13

West Bergholt - Pattens Yard, Nayland Road

SS14

West Mersea - Waldegraves Farm

SS15a

West Mersea - Boat Yards, Coast Road 

SS15c

West Mersea - Rushmere Close

SS15a

Wormingford Airfield – (Packards Lane, Fordham

Road North and South)

OV1

RETAILING

Centres Hierarchy

12.42 The NPPF provides specific guidance on town centre uses and requires that local authorities should define a network and hierarchy of centres to help ensure their vitality.  The Local Planning Authority's Centre Hierarchy accordingly, identifies Colchester Town Centre at the top of the hierarchy, followed by District and then Local Centres, in accordance with the recommendations of the 2016 Retail and Town Centre Study.

12.43 The hierarchy in Colchester Borough has two principal functions. Firstly, it will help to establish the Local Planning Authority's overarching strategy for the growth and management of town centre uses in the Borough's centres. It should therefore influence developer's decisions about where they seek to bring forward new development and of what type and scale. Secondly, when planning applications are submitted, the hierarchy will inform decisions on whether a particular centre is an appropriate location for the type and scale of town centre use(s) proposed, having regard for the primary role and function of that centre refer to Policy SG5 'definitions' below.

12.44 National planning guidance provides for the definition of Primary Shopping Areas to safeguard concentrations of retail uses which underpin the vitality and viability of Town Centres.  In Colchester, Primary Shopping Areas have been defined for the Town and District Centres and will be used for the purposes of assessing sequentially preferable locations for retail developments. Within the Town Centre Primary Shopping Area, further refinement of town centre character is made in Policy TC2 through the definition of primary and secondary retail frontages in recognition of the Town Centre's more diverse character and larger size in relation to the District Centres.   To help manage the appropriate growth of the District Centres, Primary Shopping Areas (PSA) are defined primarily having regard to the extent of main retail and service uses. 

Town Centre

12.45 Colchester Town Centre is the principal comparison goods shopping destination in the Borough supported by a number of non-retail facilities including services, leisure, cultural, and community uses. Research and analysis has established that the Town Centre is relatively healthy, although there are areas of weakness and concerns over longer term investment prospects. New retail and leisure development in particular is necessary to ensure the Town Centre's vitality and viability over the plan period.  To address this, a robust 'town centre first' approach is adopted to ensure that larger scale development is focused on the Town Centre, helping to protect it against competition from other shopping destinations and maintain its position at the top of the Borough's retail hierarchy.  Policy TC3 provides detail on the allocation of land within the Town Centre to provide additional town centre use capacity.  Policy TC1 (Town Centre) provides more detail on the implementation of this approach.  In line with the requirements of the NPPF the Town Centre Boundary is defined on the policies map, together with the Primary Shopping Area and within this both Primary and Secondary Street Frontages referred to in Policy TC2.

District Centres

12.46 Colchester Borough has a number of district centres, each with their own characteristics and functions but each serving the day-to-day needs of their local populations as well as providing access to shops and services for neighbouring areas across and beyond the Borough, but not to a level comparable with Colchester Town Centre.  Further district centres will be planned within the new garden communities to serve their populations as the master planning for these areas progresses.

12.47 The evidence indicates that the overall strategy for the Borough's district centres should focus on the appropriate diversification of the non-retail offer, including services and community facilities, to better serve the day-to-day needs of their local communities. They do not require substantial new retail development to ensure their vitality and viability over the plan period. Instead, larger scale retail development should be focused on Colchester Town Centre in accordance with the hierarchy to help strengthen its primary role as a sub-regional shopping destination.

District Centres within Colchester Urban Area

  Tollgate

12.48 Tollgate is located in Stanway (approximately 4.8 km) to the west of Colchester Town Centre) and is the largest of Colchester's district centres. It has evolved from a predominantly 'bulky' retail park into an established shopping destination with a substantial range of multiple comparison goods retailers (such as Next, Argos, Sport Direct, Boots, Currys and PC World), a Sainsbury's food / non-food superstore, and a number of food and drink uses.

12.49 Tollgate competes with Colchester Town Centre for comparison goods expenditure. This is likely to be further exacerbated as work has commenced to implement a scheme for additional development of town centre uses allowed on appeal.  Another proposal for a large retail led expansion is currently the subject of an appeal.  Accordingly it is important that planning policy for Tollgate District Centre ensures that it enables it to fulfil a subsidiary position to the Town Centre in the centre hierarchy as set out in Policy SG5 and Table SG5a. Its role and function as a district centre would be enhanced through the introduction of new services and/or community facilities, as opposed to further new retail development. 

12.50 To help protect the Centre Hierarchy with Colchester Town Centre at the apex and to manage the potential impacts of any further retail and leisure growth at Tollgate on the Town Centre, the local impact thresholds set out in the 'Impact Assessments Thresholds' table below and the requirement for a Retail Impact Assessment will also apply to proposals within the Tollgate District Centre (including changing of use or variation of conditions).  This will need to demonstrate that there will not be any significant adverse impacts on the Town Centre (and /or any other defined centre) as a result of proposals within the Tollgate District Centre.

Turner Rise 

12.51 Turner Rise is a District Centre dominated by large buildings set around extensive areas of surface car parking.  It is located approximately 1km to the north of the town centre, and within 250m to the east of Colchester Rail Station.  The surrounding area is characterised by a mix of uses with residential development to the north and east of the site, and commercial uses to the west around the railway station.  The Turner Rise District Centre consists of a large supermarket, retail units and a restaurant.  The retail mix has changed over recent years from mainly bulky goods retail to an increased range of retail units.  In 2016, two new food and drink pod units were constructed.  Overall, the retail evidence confirms that Turner Rise is performing well, largely underpinned by the Asda superstore and a 'value' focused comparison goods retail offer. Its role and function as a district centre would be enhanced through the introduction of new services and/or community facilities, as opposed to new retail development. The PSA is defined on the policies Map and will be the focus for any further retail uses, in accordance with Policy SG6.

Peartree Road

12.52 The Peartree Road District Centre is located approximately 3.5km to the south west of the town centre and the surrounding area is predominantly residential.  It consists of three separate areas:

  • North of Peartree Road – supermarket, retail units, offices and food outlets.
  • The Peartree Business Centre and Peartree Road – variety of small retail units ranging from bicycle sales, bulky goods and builders merchants in addition to services such as dry cleaners and a gym.
  • South of Peartree Road and Moss Road – variety of units including bulky goods retail, offices, builders merchants and leisure units

12.53 Overall, the retail evidence confirms that Peartree Road is performing well albeit is lacking in terms of services and/or community facilities. Its role and function as a District Centre would be enhanced through the introduction of such uses, to complement the existing retail and leisure attractions. The PSA is defined on the policies Map and will be the focus for any further retail uses, in accordance with Policy SG 6

Highwoods

12.54 The Highwoods District Centre is located approximately 2.5km to the north east of the town centre and serves a distinct surrounding residential catchment area.  It consists of a large supermarket and local community facilities and services such as a dry cleaners, post office, surgery and community centre. Overall, the retail evidence confirms that Highwoods District Centre is performing well for the main food shopping needs of the surrounding communities. It also has a limited but important service-based role and function. The PSA is defined on the policies Map and will be the focus for any further retail uses, in accordance with Policy SG6.

District Centres Outside Colchester Urban Area

Tiptree

12.55 Tiptree is situated approximately 16 km to the southwest of Colchester Town Centre.  It is dominated by Tesco and Asda superstores with Tesco in particular, given its closer relationship with the core shopping area focused along Church Road, being an important anchor to the centre. According to the market share evidence, Tiptree's substantial convenience goods shopping offer also principally serves the western parts of the Borough, including some smaller rural settlements where there is a very limited retail offer. The centre is situated within a substantial residential area which is reasonably well served by bus.  It includes a wider range of retail, service and community uses including a library. Key retailers include Iceland and Boots, while there are also several independents.

12.56 Overall, the retail evidence confirms that Tiptree performs an important role in terms of serving predominately localised shopping and service needs, and it is a vital and viable centre.

West Mersea

12.57 West Mersea is situated approximately 16 km to the south of Colchester Town Centre.  It includes a range of retail, service and community facilities (i.e. Post Office, library, leisure and / community centre and several food and drink establishments). Key retailers include Boots, Tesco Express, Co-Op and Spar. Reflecting its Island location, the market share evidence indicates that the centre principally draws trade from its immediate catchment.  Mersea Island also has a tourist/ holidaymaker function, which is likely to help support its shops and other facilities. The centre's retail offer is somewhat dispersed but relatively distinct owing to the diversity of independent retailers. It has a substantial walk-in catchment and is reasonably well served by bus.

12.58 Overall, the retail evidence confirms that West Mersea is a vital and viable centre within the limitations of its small scale and localised nature. The mix of uses and the high level of occupancy would suggest that it serves an important role in the retail hierarchy.

Wivenhoe

12.59 Wivenhoe is situated approximately 6.4 km to the southeast of Colchester Town Centre.  It has a limited range of retail, service and community facilities (i.e. Post Office, library, hair/ beauty salon).  There are also a number of food and drink establishments and the Co-op. Thus the centre has a convenience-based function, principally serving the day-to-day needs of the local community, and this is reflected by the market share evidence. The centre has an attractive historic character and is reasonably well served by bus and rail.

12.60 Overall, the retail evidence confirms that Wivenhoe is a vital and viable centre within the limitations of its small scale and localised nature. The mix of uses (albeit very limited) and the high level of occupancy would suggest that it serves an important role in the retail hierarchy.

Local Centres

12.61 The Retail and Town Centre study commented that local centres "perform an important role in terms of providing small scale retail and service uses to meet the basic needs of local communities".   

12.62 Local centres are categorised as containing at least one foodstore or convenience store and a small range of other shops/ services/ community facilities of local importance.  Smaller retail areas are neighbourhood parades and whilst they fulfil an important role for local communities, they do not form part of the centres hierarchy.

12.63 It is important to retain retail, retail services, community uses, financial/ business uses and leisure services within local centres at ground floor level.  These uses serve local communities and reduce the need to travel for basic services.  If lost to residential use and / or alternative uses they are unlikely to return, to the detriment of local communities.  Many of the Borough's local centres include residential within upper floors, which the Local Planning Authority encourages.

12.64 The Local Planning Authority will consider favourably proposals for expansion of Local Centres where they are of an appropriate scale and type, having regard to the definition set out in Policy SG5, which would enhance the vitality of the Local Centre and would not adversely affect residential amenity. Where appropriate, measures will be required to promote sustainable travel to ensure that the amount of vehicular movements to / from the local centre is not increased as a result of the expansion.  Where necessary conditions will be attached to control hours of operation, types of use etc to protect residential amenity.   

12.65 The Borough's local centres are largely located within the heart of residential areas within the urban area of Colchester.  Local centres outside of the urban area of Colchester include Dedham; London Road, Marks Tey; and Vine Road, Wivenhoe.

12.66 Dedham is situated in a rural location approximately 11.2 km to the northeast of Colchester Town Centre. It has a limited range of retail, service and community facilities including a community centre, various retail outlets and several food and drink establishments. Dedham also has a tourism industry, which is likely to help support its retail shops and other facilities. The centre's retail offer is concentrated along the High Street and whilst limited, it does serve as a local centre providing a vital role for the settlement and for other surrounding villages in North Colchester where there are very few shops and services. The mix of uses and the high level of occupancy would suggest that it serves an important role in the retail hierarchy in a local context.

12.67 London Road, Marks Tey local centre is remote from the main residential area of Marks Tey.  The Food Company is the largest of the uses and this also includes a café/ restaurant and a car park.  There are other high end convenience uses in this centre; a butchers and Chateau Wines.  There are also three take-aways and a garage with a shop.

12.68 Vine Road in Wivenhoe includes a One Stop convenience store, florist and gift shop, pharmacy, hairdressers and beauty salon, and take away.  These uses serve a local catchment and parking is located in front of this linear local centre.

12.69 As the master planning work on the garden communities develops local centres will be planned to serve communities and compliment the district centres, as appropriate.

(8) Policy SG5: Centre Hierarchy

In accordance with the NPPF the centres identified in the following hierarchy will be the preferred location for main town centre uses such as retail, office, leisure and entertainment. 

Definitions of centres;

Town Centre: the Borough's principal and a sub-regional centre for comparison goods shopping, services, culture, leisure, with 'regional' aspirations

District centre: important role serving the day-to-day needs of their local populations as well as providing access to shops and services for neighbouring areas across and beyond the Borough, but not to a level comparable with Colchester Town Centre.

Local centre: essential role providing a range of small shops and services to meet the basic needs of local communities, serving a small catchment.

Table SG5a: Colchester Borough's Hierarchy of Centres

Town Centre

Colchester Town Centre

District Centres

Tiptree

West Mersea

Wivenhoe

Tollgate

Peartree Road

Turner Rise

Highwoods

Proposed District Centres

New Garden Community East Colchester

New Garden Community West Colchester

Local Centres:

St Christopher Road, St Johns

Hawthorne Avenue, Greenstead

Iceni Way, Shrub End

William Harris Way, Garrison

Homefield Road, Garrison

Monkwick and Mersea Road

The Willows

Old Heath Road

Hythe Quay

London Road, Stanway

Villa Road, Stanway

Blackberry Road, Stanway

The Commons, Prettygate

Dedham

London Road, Marks Tey

Vine Road, Wivenhoe

The new Garden Communities will include local centres to compliment district centres and build on the network of centres in the hierarchy.

12.70 In order to manage appropriate growth within the Town and District Centres and to help safeguard the current hierarchy and the role and function of each of the centres, planning applications will be required to address the provisions in the National Planning Policy Framework concerning the sequential test and retail impact assessments.

Sequential Test

12.71 Applications for main town centre uses that are not in an existing centre and are not in accordance with an up-to-date Local Plan should demonstrate that sequentially preferable sites have been thoroughly considered.  Centre sites are sequentially preferable, followed by edge of centre sites.  Only if suitable sites are not available should out of centre sites be considered.  In accordance with Paragraph 24 of the Framework, sequential testing will start from the Primary Shopping Area boundary for retail uses and the town centre boundary for all other town centre uses. 

Impact Assessments

12.72 Above a specified threshold, planning applications for town centre uses, not in an existing centre and not in accordance with an up-to-date Local Plan, will be required to include a Retail Impact Assessment.  Paragraph 26 of the NPPF provides for Local Planning Authorities to set local floorspace thresholds, above which retail impact assessments will be required.  Based on this floorspace thresholds will apply to Colchester Town Centre and the District Centres as set out in the table below;

12.73 In addition proposals for retail and leisure uses within the Tollgate District Centre, above the floorspace thresholds set out below will also be subject to an Impact Assessment and will be supported where no significant adverse impacts to Colchester Town Centre (and/or any other defined centre) are demonstrated.  This policy response seeks to manage the growth of the Tollgate District Centre and protect the Town Centre's position at the apex of the hierarchy.

12.74 Where a retail impact assessment is required, this should include an assessment of:

  • The impact of the proposal on existing, committed and planned public and private investment in a centre or centres in the catchment area of the proposal; and
  • The impact of the proposal on town centre vitality and viability, including local consumer choice and trade in the town centre and wider area, up to five years from the time the application is made.  For major schemes where the full impact will not be realised in five years, the impact should also be assessed up to 10 years from the time the application is made.

12.75 In accordance with paragraph 27 of the NPPF in cases where a planning application fails to satisfy the sequential test or is likely to have significant adverse impact on one or more of the factors identified above in the impact assessment, it should be refused.

(9) Policy SG6: Town Centre Uses

Proposals for town centre uses that are not within a defined centre and are not in accordance with the Local Plan, including proposals for a change or intensification of use, or variation of a planning condition, will need to demonstrate that a sequential approach has been under taken to site selection. Sites should be assessed in terms of their availability, suitability and viability for the broad scale and type of development proposed; and only when alternative sites have been discounted should less sequentially preferable sites be considered. In cases where the Local Planning Authority are satisfied that the sequential test has been met, proposals will be supported where they also comply with each of the requirements set out in criteria (i- vi below).

i) The proposal is of a type, proportion and scale appropriate to the role and function of the centre and would not threaten the primacy of Colchester Town Centre at the apex of the centre hierarchy, either individually or cumulatively with other committed proposals, and;

ii) The proposal is suitable to the town / district centre function and maintains or adds to its viability and vitality and enhances the diversity of the centre without changing the position of the centre within the overall hierarchy and;

iii) Proposals would not give rise to a detrimental effect, individually or cumulatively, on the character or amenity of the area through smell, litter, noise or traffic problems and

iv) The proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Colchester Town Centre and/or any other centre either individually or cumulatively with other committed proposals and;

v) The proposal would not have a significant adverse impact on committed and / planned public or private investment in Colchester Town Centre and /or any other centre either individually or cumulatively with other committed proposals and;

vi) In relation to criteria  (iv)  and (v) above an Impact Assessment must be provided where the proposal;

  1. In any centre exceeds the thresholds set out in table SG6 below, or;
  2. Where the proposal is within Tollgate District Centre and exceeds the thresholds set out in table SG6 below or;
  3. Where the Council considers that there are potential impacts arising from the proposal cumulatively with other committed development.
Table SG6 Impact Assessments Thresholds

Centre

Floorspace (sq. m gross)

Comparison Retail

Convenience Retail

Leisure Services

Colchester Town Centre

2,500

1,500

1,500

Tiptree, Wivenhoe and West Mersea District Centres

1,000

1,000

500

Tollgate (applies also for proposals within the Tollgate District Centre)

2500

1500

1500

Turner Rise, Highwoods and Peartree Road District Centres

1,500

1,500

1,000

(2) Policy SG6a Local Centres

Local centres will be protected and enhanced to provide shops, services and community facilities for local communities.  Proposals for change of use within designated local centres will need to demonstrate that it will provide a retail use, retail service, community use, financial/ businesses service or a leisure service and will meet the basic needs of local communities.

Proposals to expand a local centre will be considered favourably where it can be demonstrated that the use is small scale proportionate to the role and function of such centres and will serve the basic needs of local communities. Proposals outside of local centres will be assessed in accordance with the sequential test.

Proposals will be required to demonstrate that they will not adversely affect residential amenity, particularly in terms of car parking, noise and hours of operation.  Proposals should take every opportunity to promote sustainable travel behaviour.

New strategic residential sites should incorporate local centres at accessible locations within the site where appropriate to provide for the needs of new communities.

Infrastructure

12.76 The Local Planning Authority fully appreciates that the delivery of new homes and jobs needs to be supported by infrastructure, including a wide range of transport options, utilities, and community facilities.  This issue is of particular concern to existing residents and businesses.  The Local Planning Authority has prepared an Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP), to inform the local plan, based on other evidence work; studies prepared for the Garden Communities; relevant Neighbourhood Plans; topic based national and local studies; and discussions with infrastructure providers.  The IDP will sit alongside this plan and provide specifics on the main items of infrastructure required, when they are likely to be provided and who will pay for them.  Additionally, the place policies in this plan will highlight essential pieces of site specific infrastructure as relevant for all new allocations.

12.77 The broad categories of necessary infrastructure covered in the IDP include:

  • Water and Drainage – water supply, waste water, flood risk management and resilience, and water quality.
  • Energy – electricity, gas, and renewable energy.
  • Communications – broadband coverage and provision.
  • Leisure and green infrastructure – sport, open space and community facilities.
  • Education –early years and childcare, primary, secondary, further education, and higher education.
  • Health – hospitals, health centres, GP surgeries, dentists, public health, and preventative health care.
  • Transport – highways, cycle and pedestrian facilities, rail, bus, park and ride, travel management, and car parking.

12.78 Infrastructure and community facilities are mainly provided by partner agencies and service providers such as water and energy provision by the utility companies; a range of services including highways and social services by Essex County Council; education by a range of public and private sector providers, and healthcare services and facilities by the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group and National Health Service England Midlands and East (NHSE) England.  The IDP identifies the different investment and development time scales for these providers and the Council will work with those providers to help deliver a co-ordinated approach to new infrastructure delivery. 

12.79 Telecommunications and digital infrastructure technologies are evolving rapidly, and proposals will need to enable sites to access high quality digital infrastructure including fibre and wireless services (5G and Long Term Evolution i.e. successor technologies) which are accessible from a range of providers.

12.80 Developers will be expected to contribute towards meeting appropriate infrastructure costs.  This will include contributions to both on-site costs and strategic off-site infrastructure costs.  Contributions will be secured under S106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) and/or secured through a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) as appropriate.  CIL will complement and not duplicate planning obligations.  A CIL charging schedule linked to this Plan would stipulate a charge, per square metre of gross internal floorspace, for relevant classes of development.  A proportion of CIL funds would be passed to Parish/Town councils. The Government is currently considering changes to CIL and it may be that contributions are secured under other provisions in future legislation. 

12.81 In the event that essential infrastructure cannot be appropriately delivered to support new development it may be necessary to restrict development from being commenced or, in certain cases, from being permitted. When infrastructure cannot be provided within, or is not appropriate to be located on, the development site itself, developers will be expected to make a contribution to the cost to provide the infrastructure elsewhere.

12.82 Section 1 provides the strategic priorities for infrastructure provision or improvement in Policy SP4, and Policies SP7, 8 and 9 provide further information on specific Garden Community infrastructure requirements. In Section 2, Policy PP1 provides generic infrastructure requirements for new allocations. Locational specific infrastructure requirements are identified within allocation policies for urban Colchester and the Sustainable Settlements.

(19) Policy SG7: Infrastructure Delivery and Impact Mitigation

All new development should be supported by, and have good access to, all necessary infrastructure.

Permission will only be granted if it can be demonstrated that there is sufficient appropriate infrastructure capacity to support the development or that such capacity will be delivered by the proposal. It must further be demonstrated that such capacity as is required will prove sustainable over time both in physical and financial terms.

Where a development proposal requires additional infrastructure capacity, to be deemed acceptable, mitigation measures must be agreed with the Local Planning Authority and the appropriate infrastructure provider. Such measures may include (not exclusively):

(i) Financial contributions towards new or expanded facilities and the maintenance thereof;

(ii) On-site provision (which may include building works);

(iii) Off-site capacity improvement works; and/or

(iv) The provision of land.

Developers will be expected to contribute towards the delivery of relevant infrastructure. They will either make direct provision or will contribute towards the provision of local and strategic infrastructure required by the development either alone or cumulatively with other developments.

Small sites can have a cumulative effect on infrastructure and proportional contributions will be sought from all developments where this is demonstrated to be the case.  Developers and land owners must work positively with the Local Planning Authority, neighbouring authorities and other infrastructure providers throughout the planning process to ensure that the cumulative impact of development is considered and then mitigated, at the appropriate time, in line with published policies and guidance.

Exceptions to this policy will only be considered whereby:

(i) It is proven that the benefit of the development proceeding without full mitigation outweighs the collective harm;

(ii) A fully transparent open book viability assessment has proven that full mitigation cannot be afforded, allowing only for the minimum level of developer profit and land owner receipt necessary for the development to proceed;

(iii) Full and thorough investigation has been undertaken to find innovative solutions to issues and all possible steps have been taken to minimise the residual level of unmitigated impacts; and

(iv) Obligations are entered into by the developer that provide for appropriate additional mitigation in the event that viability improves prior to completion of the development.

Neighbourhood Plans

12.83 The 2011 Localism Act introduced the concept of Neighbourhood Planning. Under this Act local communities in urban and rural areas were given new powers to prepare Neighbourhood Plans enabling these communities to have a greater influence over the future land use within their areas.

12.84 Neighbourhood Plans can vary in terms of their complexity and approach and can cover one or more of the following topics areas: site allocations, housing type/size, local housing need, affordable housing, local character considerations, design and building materials, boundary fences/walls design criteria, community facilitates and services to sustainable development. The Local Planning Authority will be supportive of communities who want to prepare Neighbourhood Plans.

12.85 Neighbourhood Plans are subject to examination and referendum and Plans which successfully pass these two tests will be made (adopted) as part of the Development Plan for Colchester.  Any issues which are not covered by the scope of a Neighbourhood Plan will be determined in accordance with the Local Plan.

12.86 Practice has shown that the process of developing Neighbourhood Plans is very time intensive for local communities and they face many challenges which are not always anticipated.  Where a community has committed to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan, the Local Planning Authority wishes to support them with this and encourage continued commitment to lead to successfully made Neighbourhood Plans. Where circumstances lead to the significant stalling of Plans, serious blockages with little likelihood of solution or failing a Referendum, every effort will be made to work with the Neighbourhood Plan Group to resolve issues, but where this is unsuccessful, there will be a need for the planning function to revert to the Local Planning Authority, in particular when this impacts on planned housing delivery.  In such circumstances the Local Planning Authority will intervene as appropriate.

12.87 Eight Ash Green, Tiptree, West Bergholt and Wivenhoe Neighbourhood Plans will allocate development sites and require a different policy approach to the Neighbourhood Plans in the Borough that  are not allocating sites i.e. West Mersea and Stanway.

12.88 The policy approach for each Neighbourhood Plan allocating sites is set out in the relevant place policy. Neighbourhood Plans not allocating sites will be progressed in accordance with the NPPF/PPG and the most current Neighbourhood Plan Regulations.  The preparation of all plans will be reviewed under the Authority Monitoring Report and where progress is stalled for any significant time, in particular for those plans which are allocating sites, the Local Planning Authority will consider the need for intervention.

(17) Policy SG8: Neighbourhood Plans

Towns and villages are encouraged to plan for the specific needs of their communities by developing Neighbourhood Plans. The Local Planning Authority will support Parish and Town Councils and Neighbourhood Forums (in unparished areas) to prepare Neighbourhood Plans containing locally determined policies to guide land use and meet future development needs in their areas. Neighbourhood Plans are being prepared for Eight Ash Green, Marks Tey, Stanway, Tiptree, West Bergholt, Wivenhoe and West Mersea.

In cases where a Neighbourhood Plan fails at any time prior to being made, responsibility for all planning policy matters within that plan area will revert back to the Local Planning Authority.

Neighbourhood Plans have been made for Boxted and Myland and Braiswick and these now form part of the Development Plan for Colchester.


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