Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community Development Plan Document (DPD)

Ended on the 25 June 2023
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Chapter 9: Sustainable Infrastructure

The garden community will make living sustainably easy for its residents. Green infrastructure and building solutions will be integrated from the outset and follow best practice standards.

Chapter 9 of this Plan sets out the Councils' aspirations and expectations for creating a Garden Community fit for the future and which embraces Garden Community principles and incorporates measures aimed at tackling climate change, minimising carbon emissions and climate change adaptation. The policy sets high expectations for energy efficiency, renewable energy generation, water efficiency and water recycling. Tree planting, facilities for electric vehicles and promoting walking, cycling and public transport are covered in other policies of the Plan.

Climate change is a global issue affecting everyone. Co-ordinated action from all sectors, national and local governments, and individuals is needed to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The science tells us that to avoid catastrophic effects we need to limit the increase in global temperature to 1.5oC. Mitigation measures are required to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature rise. However, even with efforts to limit the cause of global warming, further climatic changes are inevitable in the future and the UK will need to adapt to the growing risks from climate change.

The Garden Community is an opportunity to address the climate emergency through high quality design and place making, by designing climate change mitigation and adaptation measures at an early stage and encouraging behavioural change. The Councils cannot anticipate every aspect of the technological changes and will adopt a flexible approach to innovation.

To ensure that proposals for the Garden Community can respond to changing technologies, new standards and best practice, Design Codes will be prepared and updated as necessary, which could include requirements for energy efficiency standards, passive energy design, low energy networks, onsite renewable sources, environmental standards, water use, and waste.

Section 1 Local Plan

solar panels

Under the theme of Sustainable Infrastructure, some of the main requirements covered in this Plan, as set out in the policies of the adopted Section 1 Local Plan include:

  • Measures to ensure environmental sustainability, including addressing energy and water efficiency.
  • Water and wastewater and flood mitigation measures.
  • Sustainable waste/recycling and minerals management facilities.
  • Measures for delivering reliable high speed/ultrafast broadband at all new and existing property.
  • Consideration of potential on-site mineral resources.



The Garden Community will look at options which maximise energy efficiency, minimise energy use and promote renewable energy technologies. Smart technology and integrated data service will be used to accommodate people's needs and make their lives better. The Garden Community will ensure homes and infrastructure are futureproofed, affordable and adaptable to everybody's individual and collective needs now and in the future.


The impacts of climate change will be actively tackled through developing initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that actively take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.


The Garden Community will use as few resources as possible in the first place, keep resources in circulation for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, then recover and regenerate products at the end of service life.


Key to creating a vibrant and attractive Garden Community is the phased delivery of infrastructure and services on site which fully meets the future needs of residents and supports healthy and sustainable lifestyles. The range and nature of facilities considered should ensure that the majority of everyday needs can be met within the site.


Map showing a possible sustainable infrastructure framework plan for the site. This map is illustrative only. If you require this map in an alternative/accessible format, please contact tcbgardencommunity@colchester.gov.uk

*The location of specific land uses, facilities and activities are illustrative and subject to further masterplanning.


The Garden Community will be an exemplar development that addresses the climate emergency. The Garden Community will create energy efficient, sustainable buildings and places where communities can lead resilient and low carbon lifestyles, reducing the need to travel and a biodiverse landscape which incorporates carbon sequestration and natural flood management. This policy includes examples, but the focus is on achieving the end goals of a net zero carbon development and maximised water efficiency through the best solutions, which are likely to change over time.

Proposals must comply with approved Design Codes that set standards in terms of climate change mitigation and adaptation and sustainable design.

Part A: Net Zero Carbon

All buildings must be net zero carbon in operation and achieve net zero operational energy balance onsite. The Councils will encourage carbon and energy positive buildings. A holistic area wide approach to energy and associated infrastructure will need to be implemented. Proposals must follow the principles of the energy hierarchy by reducing energy demand for both regulated and unregulated energy use (including heating, lighting, and cooling), ensuring efficient systems and renewable energy technology are in place, and that carbon dioxide emissions are minimised.

Proposals must demonstrate how new homes will achieve:

  • Space heating demand less than 30kWh/m2/per annum.
  • Total energy consumption (energy use intensity) of less than 40kWh/m2/annum.
  • Onsite renewable generation to match or exceed the total energy consumption (energy use intensity).

Where the use of onsite renewables to match total energy consumption (energy use intensity) is demonstrated to be not technical feasible or economically viable onsite, renewable energy generation should be maximised as far as possible and/or connection to a district heating network. Where this is not possible, the residual energy should be offset by a contribution to an offset fund.

Compliance should be demonstrated by using an energy assessment tool proportional to the scale of the development.

The Councils will expect the integration of smart technology and integrated data services for controlling energy using activities and appliances.

Part B: Design and Construction

All buildings must be designed to reduce energy demand and maximise fabric energy efficiency including such measures as: building orientation; high levels of insulation of roofs, floors, and walls; maximising airtightness; and using solar gain through window/ door orientation whilst avoiding overheating. The Councils expect all applicable buildings to meet BREEAM 'Excellent' or 'Outstanding' and encourage Passivhaus or similar certification for residential buildings.

Part C: Renewable Energy

To achieve a net zero carbon development, that will not use fossil fuels, the Garden Community will generate energy from renewable sources and proposals will need to show how this has been maximized. Solar photovoltaic (PV) and either, air or ground source heat pumps should be installed on every building where feasible. The Councils will encourage the development of a district heating network(s) and/or smart local energy systems that are viable, maintained and managed in the long term.

Part D: Water Conservation and Wastewater

All buildings must include water efficiency measures and seek to achieve water neutrality. All homes must include water saving measures and, as a minimum, meet the Building Regulations optional tighter water standard of 110 litres per person per day. Proposals should submit a water efficiency calculator report to demonstrate compliance.

Proposals must include clear evidence on the approach to water conservation, including the potential for the re-use of greywater and rainwater capture and re-use and should also provide the infrastructure to support options for rainwater re-use in the building design, e.g. rainwater harvesting systems, water saving devices, greywater recycling or other agreed solutions. The Councils will require safe systems and measures to be implemented for all new development within the Garden Community.

Part E: Green-Blue Infrastructure

In accordance with GC Policy 2, multifunctional green-blue infrastructure will be delivered across the Garden Community for biodiversity, flood and drought control, soil health, air quality, and reduced urban heat island effect. Proposals must demonstrate how the planting palette features a diverse range of plant species that are adaptable/ resilient to climate change. Details should be submitted of appropriate biosecurity standards for sourcing, quarantining, and inspecting plant material supplied to the development.

Part F: Digital and Fast Technology

Proposals must provide the new community with:

  • For non-residential development: Ultra-fast Gigabit capable, future proofed broadband including a requirement for "open access" broadband infrastructure provided by at least two suppliers or a neutral host. This definition is likely to evolve over the plan period and consideration of an up-to-date definition of ultra-fast will be made at the time of the planning application submission based on government/ industry guidance.
  • Unless an equivalent technology/approach delivers a better outcome, demonstrate early engagement with infrastructure providers and ensure the provision of fibre to the premises (FTTP) infrastructure.
  • For all applicable development: Mobile phone network capacity and improvements, to ensure that the likely impact of developments on the existing mobile networks in the area is assessed, and appropriate action taken, at an early stage. At present this will require 4G / 5G level technology. This is likely to evolve over the plan period and consideration of up-to- date requirements will be made at the time of the planning application submission based on government/ industry guidance.
  • Smart multifunctionality for all public realm street furniture, such as lampposts and signage.

Part G: Materials

All proposals must take into consideration the embodied carbon associated with materials using the RICS Whole Life Carbon approach or successor documents and incorporate measures into the development design, materials, construction and transportation methods etc to reduce those emissions. Development must be designed to maximise resource efficiency and identify, source, and use environmentally and socially responsible materials, giving consideration to circular economy principles and design for deconstruction.

Part H: Minerals – Prior extraction

Proposals must be informed by a Minerals Resource Assessment (MRA), with evidence supplied in support of the scheme demonstrating how the scheme reflects and takes advantage of the opportunities afforded by prior extraction, as required by the Minerals Planning Authority. Given the scale of the Garden Community and duration of construction, the MRA can be undertaken in phases, but must be done ahead of any detailed masterplanning for that phase, such that the conclusions of the MRA can demonstrably influence the masterplan to ensure that minerals are not unnecessarily sterilised by non-mineral development.

Part I: Planning Application Requirements
  1. All proposals must be accompanied by an 'Energy and Carbon Reduction Strategy' which considers all the measures set out in this policy and puts forward detailed solutions for the Councils approval, which will then be implemented as part of the development.
  2. Proposals should include an assessment or measured confirmation of actual performance to address the performance gap between 'as designed' performance and 'as built' performance.
  3. All proposals must be accompanied by a 'Digital Connectivity Report' demonstrating how the development will provide digital connectivity (including appropriate standards, timescales etc.) having regard to approved connectivity strategies applicable to the local planning authority areas.
  4. All proposals must be accompanied by a 'Water Efficiency Calculator Report' to demonstrate compliance with the water efficiency target.
  5. An Embodied Carbon Assessment using a recognised RICS tool should be submitted with all proposals.


In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report which advised that we must limit global warming to 1.5°C, as opposed to the previous target of 2°C. Tackling climate change requires action by every part of society – this includes all tiers of government, businesses, and residents. Individuals can influence the size of their carbon footprint by how much and what they buy and how they travel and the homes they live in.

In 2019, both CCC and TDC declared climate emergencies acknowledging that urgent action is required to limit the environmental impacts produced by the climate crisis. Both Councils aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. This is supported by ECC who established the Essex Climate Action Commission in 2020 to promote and guide climate action in the county and move Essex to net zero by 2050. It is an independent, voluntary, and cross- party body bringing together groups from the public and private sector, as well as individuals from other organisations. The Commission published its report Net Zero: Making Essex Carbon Neutral in July 2021 and its recommendations are relevant to ECC, Essex local authorities, parish and town councils, as well as Essex businesses, residents, and community groups. The report sets out a comprehensive plan for Essex to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 in line with UK statutory commitments; and to make Essex more resilient to climate impacts such as flooding, water shortages and overheating. The report covers a wide range of topic areas including land use, energy, waste, transport, plus the built and natural environments. The report's recommendations are now incorporated into a Climate Action Plan and a focused work programme over the coming years to ensure the effects of climate change can be mitigated.

The Garden Community will aim to achieve a net zero operational energy balance onsite. This means that renewable energy technology integrated into the development (i.e. rooftop solar mainly) generates the equivalent, or exceeds if possible, the annual average operational energy use from the built development (i.e. not including transport EVs but includes everything else). Modelling done by LETI(London/Low Energy Transformation Initiative), and Etude (for Cornwall and Greater Cambridge Councils) show that this is technically feasible and also viable in most development types. To achieve this principle it is necessary to have high standards of fabric efficiency, use efficient and smart systems, and maximise onsite renewable energy generation.

Net zero carbon should be based on the LETI approach to defining a net zero carbon building. This frames net zero carbon around Energy Use Intensity (EUI) – the annual measure of the total energy consumed in a building. LETI achieves a level of energy performance in buildings that is in line with climate change targets. LETI set out the energy targets to use in their climate emergency design guide. They modelled that this approach was necessary to keep the UK climate targets still achievable (to achieve net zero carbon at a UK scale then all buildings must achieve net zero operational energy/carbon). The LETI approach also future proofs policy for when the grid is completely decarbonised. Another advantage is that it addresses issues such as fuel poverty and rising energy costs because it drives down energy use in the first place by ensuring highly fabric efficient buildings. Unlike Building Regulations, it is based on total energy use so covers both regulated and unregulated energy.

There are numerous national and international sustainability accreditation standards and the Councils will expect development to meet the BREEAM rating of 'Excellent' or 'Outstanding'. BREEAM is the world's leading science-based suite of validation and certification systems for sustainable built environment. The BREEAM rating of Excellent is best practice and rating of Outstanding is classed as innovator, with less than 1% of new UK non- domestic buildings meeting this rating. BREEAM is a way to measure the sustainability of buildings in a holistic way and ensure that a wide range of sustainability considerations, including energy, land use and ecology, waste, water, health and wellbeing, pollution, transport, materials, and management are incorporated. The Councils encourage Passivhaus certification.

Renewables should be maximised onsite; the aim is to achieve operational energy balance onsite and exceed it if possible. This contributes to wider energy system targets including the Essex Climate Action Commission target for Essex to generate all its own energy needs from local renewable sources by 2040. Renewable power generators, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) and air and ground source heat pumps are established, well understood and mature technologies, which would be anticipated to be deployed across the site where feasible and considering the desire to include green roofs. The Essex Climate Action Commission recognises that solar PV is affordable and performs well and recommends that it should be fitted by default on new buildings. The goal is to deliver a net-zero/carbon positive community by providing a secure, reliable, and affordable energy system. There is opportunity for entrepreneurship and the ability to export energy (heat and/or power) should be explored. The Hydrock report recommends the following technologies: hydrogen, Biogas Anaerobic Digestion (sewage and food), heat pumps and thermal storage (for heat) and solar and wind and the associated various forms of storage (for power).

Filling a watering can from a water tank

An Energy and Carbon Reduction Strategy is required for all proposals, which will set out measures that will be incorporated into the design, layout and construction aimed at maximising energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy. The Energy and Carbon Reduction Strategy must demonstrate how different measures have been considered and incorporated which should include: triple glazing; solar roof panels or solar tiles; air source heating systems; ground source heating systems; super insulation (walls and loft void); rainwater capture system; electric vehicle rapid charging points (provided to an individual dwelling or through an appropriate communal facility); superfast broadband and a flexible space within each home to enable home working and a reduction in the need to travel; Mechanical Heat Recovery Ventilation; solar thermal systems; and solar and battery storage systems. This list will be kept under review as techniques and technologies develop and evolve. Targets and requirements in design codes and guidance may include phased requirements to ensure that targets and requirements reflect latest techniques, technologies, and best practice.

Proposals must be submitted with a whole-life carbon assessment., Whole life-cycle carbon emissions, or embodied carbon, are the carbon emissions resulting from the construction and use of a building over its entire life, including its end-of-life demolition and disposal. There is currently low levels of understanding about the embodied carbon impacts of new buildings and it is expected that over the next few years, there will be a consistent level of understanding on how to measure whole-life-carbon.

Green-blue infrastructure is important for biodiversity, flood and drought control, soil health, air quality, reduced urban heat island effect and human health and wellbeing. Details of the blue-green infrastructure requirements for the Garden Community are included in GC Policy 2. In terms of addressing climate change, the evidence-based selection of a planting palette featuring a diverse range of plant species known to be adaptable / resilient to climate change, such as drought resilient plants, will be critical to establishing and delivering a robust and resilient green infrastructure network over the long-term for the benefit of people and wildlife. Forest Research has a climate matching tool that can be used to show where species and provenance material might be sources for sites in England. Details of the appropriate biosecurity standards for sourcing, quarantining and inspecting plant material supplied to the development should be submitted as part of the application.

The Councils and Environment Agency suggest that developers submit a water efficiency calculator report, or equivalent information, at the planning application stage to demonstrate compliance with the optional tighter water standard of 110 litres per person per day. Developers should engage with Affinity Water as soon as possible regarding supply matters due to the increased demand for water in the area.

Local skills will be required for the development of sustainable infrastructure. Skills required include design and construction of sustainable buildings and infrastructure; renewable energy; and sustainable waste management. The need for these skills should be considered as part of the Employment and Skills Plan required under GC Policy 5.

Ultra-fast Gigabit broadband and the provision of fibre to the premises (FTTP) infrastructure is essential for work-life balance, flexible working, non- commutable working, and progress towards net zero carbon communities. This policy requires smart multifunctionality for all public realm street furniture. This should include the requirement for street furniture to be self-powered through solar panels and, where appropriate, it should aim to include wayfinding information, publicly accessible Wi-Fi, and electric charging points for phones and/or electric vehicles. All data collected by street furniture should be open source.

The sustainability of a development is not simply a measure of how it functions, it also includes how it is constructed and the sourcing of minerals used in that construction. This is made clear in the NPPFwhich states that minerals are a finite natural resource, and that best use needs to be made of them, including encouraging their extraction where practical and environmentally feasible, if it is necessary for non-mineral development to take place.

Extracting minerals prior to development of the land avoids not only their needless sterilisation, it is also an opportunity to design and shape landforms to support the masterplanning of significant developments. It provides the opportunity to create land topographies, transforming how the land is developed and used post extraction, through imaginative land reclamation and landscape enhancement that help create desirable places to live. Prior extraction itself is therefore not just an indication of sustainable development, it can be used as an opportunity in major developments to deliver sustainable development initiatives, such as those highlighted within this Plan, including:

  • Opportunities for biodiversity net-gain and multifunctional green-blue infrastructure.
  • Sustainable Drainage Schemes (SuDS) and increased flood resilience.
  • Mitigation and adaptation measures against climate change.
  • Positive contributions to the health and wellbeing of communities through the provision of open space and recreational resources.
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