Sustainability Appraisal of the Main Modifications to the Section 2 Colchester Local Plan 2017 to 2033

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Object

Sustainability Appraisal of the Main Modifications to the Colchester Section 2 Local Plan 2017 to 2033

Representation ID: 8009

Received: 03/11/2021

Respondent: dr linda mahon-daly

Representation Summary:

the sustainability assessment lacks any background detail and makes assumptions which are not backed up.
SC2 Middlewick developement will increase traffic, ( and thus air polution and CO2 emissions), result in loss of habitat, biodiversity and open space.
other statemnets not substantiated

Full text:

Sustainability analysis -Comments

SC2 Middlewick ranges
no detail is given as to how developing the Middlewick ranges will improve any of the following. The statements are open to dispute
SA4 will it reduce the need to travel -NO IT WILL INCREASE IT
SA4 will it improve sustainable transport infrastructure and linkages. ONLY TO A VERY MINOR EXTENT WITH THE CREATION OF A FEW NEW CYCLE PATHS, THESE ARE CURRENTLY NOT NEEDED AS THE LAND IS UNDEVELOPED
SA5 existing open space be protected and new ones created, -UNTRUE
SA5 improve the skills of boroughs population. HOW?
SA6 Reduce the actual fear of crime protect. HOW?
SA7 enhance and heritage and cultural assets of the borough. UNTRUE
SA8 'will protect and enhance designated areas of the countryside and coastal environment'. THIS IS BLATENTLY UNTRUE
SA8 Protect and improve biodiversity. UNTRUE
SA10 will it reduce the risk of flooding. HOW?
SA10 with it deliver effective suds and improve drainage. HOW?

In summary, the sustainability assessment lacks any background detail and makes assumptions which are not backed up.

Object

Sustainability Appraisal of the Main Modifications to the Colchester Section 2 Local Plan 2017 to 2033

Representation ID: 8728

Received: 18/11/2021

Respondent: Miss Sarah Munson

Representation Summary:

1. Non alignment with NPPG
2. Negative impact underestimated
3. Key Climate Change indicator monitors missing
4. SA8 Indicator Monitors too vague
5. No Sustainability Assessment for failed mitigation measures
6. Assurances needed that development not allowed if mitigation attempts fail.
7. Negative impact on Health and Wellbeing

Full text:

1. Para 1.31 within this Sustainability Appraisal cites Plans and documents which were taken into consideration during the Plan preparation and SA process. One of these documents, The SLAA Strategic Land Availability Assessment 2017 was not prepared according to the NPPG. The process by which the Middlewick allocation was taken forward for allocation was fundamentally flawed and the site should have been rejected at the 1st/2nd sieve. The Sustainability Appraisal fails to have picked up this discrepancy and, consequently, the inclusion of this site within the Sustainability Appraisal (and the Plan) carries the error forward, rendering it out of alignment with NPPF guidelines.

2. The negative impacts of development on the Middlewick Site are hugely underestimated in the New Sustainability Matrix. The development is likely to result in 1000-2000 more cars. It will drive up car usage in the area and impact negatively on air quality, biodiversity, landscape and heritage and flood risk – local people are all too aware of these issues which have not been fairly reflected in the new Matrix.

3. The role of Green Infrastructure is known to be an important tool in the battle to reduce Climate Change. Following COP26 at least 45 countries including the UK have signed up to protecting natural habitats and green space and expanding carbon sinks. How is it then, that Colchester having declared a Climate Emergency, makes no mention of using protection and creation of Green Infrastructure as a monitoring indicator for their Climate Change Policies. This omission should be addressed and appropriate Green Infrastructure indicators added to monitor the Plan’s Climate Change Policies.
In the words of Sir David Attenborough:

“Nature has extraordinary powers to lock up carbon dioxide”

“We must bring wildlife and wild places back on an ambitious scale...”

“We need bold action, supporting local communities and landowners to create thriving and connected wild places”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb_q-goLBtA

4. The monitoring indicators for SA8 are too vague and should be qualitative as well as quantitative. For example, we know that different types of habitat can have very different biodiversity values – and this also needs to be measured and monitored.

5. The Government’s SA Guidance in the National Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) states that proposals for monitoring focus on the significant sustainability effects that may give rise to irreversible damage (with a view to identifying trends before such damage is caused) and the significant effects where there is uncertainty in the SA and where monitoring would enable preventative or mitigation measures to be taken. Therefore, monitoring measures are proposed in this SA Addendum in relation to all of the SA objectives in the SA framework for which likely (or uncertain) significant positive or significant negative effects have been identified from the Local Plan.

Following the clarification of the Council’s approach to CS2 mitigation and their requirements for long term management of the ecological areas and habitats (MM35 - 47) the Sustainability Appraisal has only included an appraisal of the outcome, which assumes that the complex mitigation measures to replace irreplaceable habitat are successful. MM46 highlights the “…high distinctiveness of the biodiversity of the site and the complexity of recreating and managing protected habitats for the long term, both onsite and in the mitigation lands.” This is not the same assured mitigation as building an additional school or adding an additional bus routes to mitigate the need for increased public amenities, and should not be assumed to be so. Experts would agree that attempting to re-create Acid Grassland is not a guaranteed outcome and carries its own risk of causing damage/contamination, aside from the lengthy and indeterminate timescales involved. The attempt and failure of this approach should therefore be considered as a possible outcome, and the Sustainability Assessment of this scenario should also be described within this document.

6. In the same vein, the Modifications to SC2 should also reassure that re-creation of Acid Grassland habitat must be successful and fully functional before any development takes place.


7. The Sustainability Appraisal does not adequately assess or update the negative impact on Health and Wellbeing - a key sustainability Issue – caused by the proposed development of the Middlewick site. The community has consistently and repeatedly highlighted the significance of this Green Space and its contribution to Health and Wellbeing. It cannot be emphasised enough how tangibly the proposed development is already negatively impacting on this key issue. The loss of this much loved natural amenity; the disruption and disturbance; the loss of landscape; the impact is felt by the community but not recorded in this document under any indicator. The council have met their housing targets and there are alternative sites for development. This is the wrong site for development as the harm caused will far outweigh the benefits, on many levels, but critically and significantly on Health and Wellbeing. In its current form, on this specific point, the Local Plan is completely out of kilter with Local wishes.

There is still time and opportunity to make this element of the Plan relevant to the Local Community and not simply a ‘tick box’ exercise.

Object

Sustainability Appraisal of the Main Modifications to the Colchester Section 2 Local Plan 2017 to 2033

Representation ID: 8999

Received: 15/11/2021

Respondent: Mr Charlie Pearce

Representation Summary:

I will once again point out that the Green Infrastructure Strategy 201 is out-of-date. It refers to the Middlewick Ranges as a farmland plateau, not acid grassland which is a much rarer ecosystem and so must be considered as such in planning. Furthermore the ‘Sustainability Appraisal’ (SA) failed to highlight Local Wildlife Sites; lowland acidic grassland in particular which is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan habitat and cannot simply be ignored or relocated.

Full text:

I will once again point out that the Green Infrastructure Strategy 201 is out-of-date. It refers to the Middlewick Ranges as a farmland plateau, not acid grassland which is a much rarer ecosystem and so must be considered as such in planning. Furthermore the ‘Sustainability Appraisal’ (SA) failed to highlight Local Wildlife Sites; lowland acidic grassland in particular which is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan habitat and cannot simply be ignored or relocated.

Object

Sustainability Appraisal of the Main Modifications to the Colchester Section 2 Local Plan 2017 to 2033

Representation ID: 9000

Received: 10/11/2021

Respondent: Mrs Anita Gregory

Representation Summary:

I do not believe that the site has been properly assessed. Lots of information seems to be missing and this has not been challenged. The Green Infrastructure Strategy 2011 is out of date and incorrect. Middlewick Ranges is not farmland but rare acid grassland, containing protected species Why did the Sustainability Appraisal not highlight Local Wildlife Sites? Ecologists cited extreme concern at the loss of this habitat and at the high risk of the mitigation proposed.

Full text:

I do not believe that the site has been properly assessed. Lots of information seems to be missing and this has not been challenged. The Green Infrastructure Strategy 2011 is out of date and incorrect. Middlewick Ranges is not farmland but rare acid grassland, containing protected species Why did the Sustainability Appraisal not highlight Local Wildlife Sites? Ecologists cited extreme concern at the loss of this habitat and at the high risk of the mitigation proposed.

Object

Sustainability Appraisal of the Main Modifications to the Colchester Section 2 Local Plan 2017 to 2033

Representation ID: 9001

Received: 11/11/2021

Respondent: Mr Jonathan Greenwood

Representation Summary:

CBC does not need this allocation to fulfil its Dwelling targets. In view of the constraints the only beneficial opportunity here is to protect a valuable habitat. This site should not be included in the CBC strategic plan. The CBC appraisal of Policy SC2 (Table 31) includes the desire to avoid development on greenfield land. Clearly the amber designation with a question mark awarded to the question, ‘Will it reduce the need for development on greenfield land’ indicates that the inclusion of this valuable greenfield site is an anomaly that contradicts the aims and aspirations of the Local Plan.

Full text:

CBC does not need this allocation to fulfil its Dwelling targets. In view of the constraints the only beneficial opportunity here is to protect a valuable habitat. This site should not be included in the CBC strategic plan. The CBC appraisal of Policy SC2 (Table 31) includes the desire to avoid development on greenfield land. Clearly the amber designation with a question mark awarded to the question, ‘Will it reduce the need for development on greenfield land’ indicates that the inclusion of this valuable greenfield site is an anomaly that contradicts the aims and aspirations of the Local Plan.

Object

Sustainability Appraisal of the Main Modifications to the Colchester Section 2 Local Plan 2017 to 2033

Representation ID: 9002

Received: 15/11/2021

Respondent: Marden Homes Ltd

Agent: Strutt & Parker

Representation Summary:

SA does not appraise the impact of reduced number of new homes at Tiptree nor explained why this is the preferred approach

Full text:

MM5 - Colchester's Housing Provision

We have reviewed the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) which accompanies the Draft Schedule of Proposed Main Modifications. We would expect to seek to provide justification for the modification, given that a) the NPPF makes clear that it has an important role in the plan making process; and b) the Environmental Assessment
of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 require the SA to appraise the proposed along with all reasonable alternatives, and explain the reason for the selection of the preferred approach and the rejection of alternatives. The SA does not appear to have appraised the impact of the reduced number of new homes nor has it explained why this approach is preferred (neither in its consideration of MM5 relating to total housing numbers for all of the Borough’s settlements, nor in consideration of MM71 and Policy SS14 relating specifically to Tiptree).

MM71 - Policy SS14 Tiptree
In relation to a new B1022-B1023 link road, and MM71’s proposal that Policy SS14 requires the Neighbourhood Plan to seek to provide this, we consider this to be unsound for the reasons set out in response to MM69. In addition, we note that the lack of justification for this modification to be made to policy is further compounded by the lack of any appraisal of the impacts of a new link road in the SA which accompanies the Draft Schedule of Proposed Main Modifications. Instead, the SA appears to make no mention of the proposed link road, let alone seek to appraise it or explain why such an approach is preferred when compared with alternatives. We consider this matter should be left to the Neighbourhood Plan to explore, and it is entirely unjustified for the Local Plan to seek to insist the Neighbourhood Plan must seek to deliver a new link road.

Object

Sustainability Appraisal of the Main Modifications to the Colchester Section 2 Local Plan 2017 to 2033

Representation ID: 9003

Received: 15/11/2021

Respondent: Marden Homes Ltd

Agent: Strutt & Parker

Representation Summary:

SA des not appraise impact of new link road in Tiptree, there is no explanation of why the approach is preferred when compared to alternatives

Full text:

MM5 - Colchester's Housing Provision

We have reviewed the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) which accompanies the Draft Schedule of Proposed Main Modifications. We would expect to seek to provide justification for the modification, given that a) the NPPF makes clear that it has an important role in the plan making process; and b) the Environmental Assessment
of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 require the SA to appraise the proposed along with all reasonable alternatives, and explain the reason for the selection of the preferred approach and the rejection of alternatives. The SA does not appear to have appraised the impact of the reduced number of new homes nor has it explained why this approach is preferred (neither in its consideration of MM5 relating to total housing numbers for all of the Borough’s settlements, nor in consideration of MM71 and Policy SS14 relating specifically to Tiptree).

MM71 - Policy SS14 Tiptree
In relation to a new B1022-B1023 link road, and MM71’s proposal that Policy SS14 requires the Neighbourhood Plan to seek to provide this, we consider this to be unsound for the reasons set out in response to MM69. In addition, we note that the lack of justification for this modification to be made to policy is further compounded by the lack of any appraisal of the impacts of a new link road in the SA which accompanies the Draft Schedule of Proposed Main Modifications. Instead, the SA appears to make no mention of the proposed link road, let alone seek to appraise it or explain why such an approach is preferred when compared with alternatives. We consider this matter should be left to the Neighbourhood Plan to explore, and it is entirely unjustified for the Local Plan to seek to insist the Neighbourhood Plan must seek to deliver a new link road.

Object

Sustainability Appraisal of the Main Modifications to the Colchester Section 2 Local Plan 2017 to 2033

Representation ID: 9004

Received: 06/12/2021

Respondent: Bloor Homes

Agent: Strutt & Parker

Representation Summary:

No robust evidence to justify reduction from 600 to 400 dwellings in Tiptree. SA appears to have not considered this change at all, let alone appraise it against alternatives and explain its reason for selection

Full text:

MM5

Secondly, even if the 600-dwelling allocation were to be found unsound, it would need to be evidenced that the proposed figure of 400 was sound. This would need to include robust justification. However, we have seen no robust evidence justifying this figure. Perhaps most disconcertingly, the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) which accompanies the SPMM appears to have not considered this change at all, let alone appraise it against alternatives and explain its reason for selection.

MM71
The PSMM is accompanied by Sustainability Appraisal (PSMM SA). One would expect the PSMM to consider the social, environmental and economic impacts of the reduction in dwelling numbers; and to consider these in relation to alternatives, which logically must include retaining reference to 600. Indeed, it is a requirement of the SEA Regulations that it does so. In addition, the NPPF (paragraph 165) reiterates the importance of SA in the plan-making process, and the need to consider all the likely significant effects on environmental, economic and social factors.

However, the PSMM SA published as part of consultation on the PSMM fails to do so. Indeed, it appears to have totally failed to register this element of MM71. In considering MM71, the PSMM states the following:
“No changes to SA findings No effects from Policy SS14 were identified in the previous SA as the policy does not propose any development but rather defers to the Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan. The SA findings remain unchanged for the Main Modification as any development proposed in Tiptree will be assessed against the requirements set out in the Neighbourhood Plan rather than Policy SS14 However, the Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan will be informed by Policy SS14 and its supporting text which sets out criteria that are likely to have positive effects in relation to the provision of housing, including affordable homes; the diversity of the type and tenure of properties
which will help meet the diverse needs of the population; the delivery of community facilities and transport infrastructure; the allocation of employment land and open space; and the protection of biodiversity.” (Original emphasis)

The PSMM SA appears to have not even recognised that MM71 proposes reduction of dwellings for which the Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan will be required to plan, let alone adequately appraised the impacts of this.

To assist in justifying this modification (as well as complying with the SEA Regulations) one would expect the PSMM SA to have considered the likely environmental, social and economic effects of a requirement to provide a new link road, and explain the reason for requiring this as opposed to alternative options (i.e. not insisting on a new link road). However, the PSMM SA is, as in relation to the number of new homes, entirely silent on the issue. As with the issue of development quantum, the PSMM SA appears to have
failed to recognise what MM71 entails and that what is proposed clearly has environmental, economic and social impacts. To suggest otherwise – that requiring provision of a new link road does not have any likely environmental, economic or social impacts – is simply not a feasible stance to take.

Object

Sustainability Appraisal of the Main Modifications to the Colchester Section 2 Local Plan 2017 to 2033

Representation ID: 9005

Received: 06/12/2021

Respondent: Bloor Homes

Agent: Strutt & Parker

Representation Summary:

SA fails to register reduction of dwelling numbers from 600 to 400 in Policy SS14 assessment. SA has not recognised provision of link road and explained the reason for requiring this as opposed to alternative options. SA has failed to recognise what MM71 entails and what is proposed clearly has environmental, economic and social impacts.

Full text:

MM5

Secondly, even if the 600-dwelling allocation were to be found unsound, it would need to be evidenced that the proposed figure of 400 was sound. This would need to include robust justification. However, we have seen no robust evidence justifying this figure. Perhaps most disconcertingly, the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) which accompanies the SPMM appears to have not considered this change at all, let alone appraise it against alternatives and explain its reason for selection.

MM71
The PSMM is accompanied by Sustainability Appraisal (PSMM SA). One would expect the PSMM to consider the social, environmental and economic impacts of the reduction in dwelling numbers; and to consider these in relation to alternatives, which logically must include retaining reference to 600. Indeed, it is a requirement of the SEA Regulations that it does so. In addition, the NPPF (paragraph 165) reiterates the importance of SA in the plan-making process, and the need to consider all the likely significant effects on environmental, economic and social factors.

However, the PSMM SA published as part of consultation on the PSMM fails to do so. Indeed, it appears to have totally failed to register this element of MM71. In considering MM71, the PSMM states the following:
“No changes to SA findings No effects from Policy SS14 were identified in the previous SA as the policy does not propose any development but rather defers to the Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan. The SA findings remain unchanged for the Main Modification as any development proposed in Tiptree will be assessed against the requirements set out in the Neighbourhood Plan rather than Policy SS14 However, the Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan will be informed by Policy SS14 and its supporting text which sets out criteria that are likely to have positive effects in relation to the provision of housing, including affordable homes; the diversity of the type and tenure of properties
which will help meet the diverse needs of the population; the delivery of community facilities and transport infrastructure; the allocation of employment land and open space; and the protection of biodiversity.” (Original emphasis)

The PSMM SA appears to have not even recognised that MM71 proposes reduction of dwellings for which the Tiptree Neighbourhood Plan will be required to plan, let alone adequately appraised the impacts of this.

To assist in justifying this modification (as well as complying with the SEA Regulations) one would expect the PSMM SA to have considered the likely environmental, social and economic effects of a requirement to provide a new link road, and explain the reason for requiring this as opposed to alternative options (i.e. not insisting on a new link road). However, the PSMM SA is, as in relation to the number of new homes, entirely silent on the issue. As with the issue of development quantum, the PSMM SA appears to have
failed to recognise what MM71 entails and that what is proposed clearly has environmental, economic and social impacts. To suggest otherwise – that requiring provision of a new link road does not have any likely environmental, economic or social impacts – is simply not a feasible stance to take.

Object

Sustainability Appraisal of the Main Modifications to the Colchester Section 2 Local Plan 2017 to 2033

Representation ID: 9007

Received: 15/11/2021

Respondent: Mr David Hill

Representation Summary:

The assessment of reasonable alternatives has not been sensitive enough to accurately assess reasonable alternatives for Marks Tey and also in relation to other sites in the plan and so we do not believe that an objective view has been taken of development.
The SA/SEA process needs to assess more reasonable alternatives in relation to the quantum of development in Marks Tey and also in relation to other sites allocated in the plan. Simply identifying 24,000 homes or 0 homes is not appropriate to be able to identify the “most appropriate strategy”.

The SA / SEA needs to assess both a smaller scale of development and development sites in Marks Tey as an alternative to sites allocated in the plan rather than just an option of 24,000 or nothing.

Full text:

The updated SA/SEA identifies no growth as the preferred option for Marks Tey (SG11), instead deferring it to the emerging Neighbourhood Plan. This is clearly a significant change from the submission version of the document, which included the assessment of the provision of a new settlement and the associated significant sustainability implications.
In addition to this change, the SA/SEA also assesses another potential reasonable alternative to the preferred option as SG11(1) titled “accommodate additional appropriate growth”.

The SA document at page 30 and Appendix C page 24 concludes that neither the preferred option or alternative approach would provide any significant secondary or temporal effects or benefits, hence the preferred option is chosen.
In crude terms, the allocation of sites to meet need must at the very least generate a positive impact on the delivery of housing and infrastructure provision in line with criterion SA1, SA3, SA4 from of the authority’s SA Framework as opposed to a “0” that would be appropriate for the non-allocation of sites, albeit, the assumption for the preferred approach is that appropriate growth could occur through the neighbourhood plan process. It is our view that this assessment does not seem objective in this regard as it is clear (that although in draft) the neighbourhood plan has no intention of allocating land for development and so cannot be relied upon for delivery and as no sites are currently being allocated, how can development being delivered now not score more positively for delivery of housing / infrastructure…etc?

As a result of the removal of the Garden Community the level of development in this area has decreased from circa 24,000 down to 0 and as such it feels as though the SA process has being engineered retrospectively to ensure that the chosen approach is considered the most appropriate. There has been no consideration of different scales of development in Marks Tey and whilst the SA process can give rise to assessment of potentially endless reasonable alternatives, there has been no assessment of development sites in Marks Tey as alternatives to other sites allocated in the plan, which must be considered a flaw.
This overarching assessment should be a fundamental part of the process at a site-specific level but following the removal of the garden community an approach of 0 homes for this plan has been chosen, however, it is clear that it is an acceptable location for strategic development, which is also confirmed by commentary in the SA/SEA (Appendix C page 24). This, however, is not reflected in the consideration of alternatives and allocation of sites. As a result, it is not clear if the “most appropriate strategy” has been chosen, in line with the definition of the “justified” test in the Framework (2012).

Attachments: