Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community Development Plan Document (DPD)
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Chapter 1: Introduction
What is this document about?
This document is the Submission Version of a Plan setting out the detail of a new Garden Community proposed for land crossing the Tendring and Colchester border. It has been prepared by Tendring District Council and Colchester City Council, in partnership with Essex County Council ('the Councils'), following consultation on a first draft of the Plan which took place between March – April 2022.
What is a Regulation 19 consultation?
This Submission Version Plan is the subject of a formal consultation under 'Regulation 19' of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (PCPA). We are inviting comments from all interested parties including (but not limited to) local residents, community organisations, statutory consultees and businesses.
The purpose of the 'Regulation 19' consultation is to provide an opportunity for representations to be made on the content of the Plan before it is examined by a Planning Inspector. This is a formal process that requires comments on the soundness and legal compliance of the Plan. In accordance with the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (PCPA), the appointed Planning Inspector will consider all comments on the plans that were made within the consultation period.
The Councils will submit this Submission Version Plan, all the comments received from the consultation, and the evidence base that has informed the production of the Plan, to the Secretary of State. An independent, government-appointed Planning Inspector will then scrutinise the Plan by carrying out an 'Examination in Public' before making a decision on whether the Plan is legally compliant, sound and can be adopted by the Councils.
The examination will assess whether the Plan has been prepared in accordance with legal and procedural requirements and if it is sound. The four tests of soundness are set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
What is the Garden Community and why is it needed?
To meet the needs of a growing population over the next 30 to 40 years for housing, employment and associated community facilities and infrastructure, the Councils are working together to plan for a new Garden Community. The Garden Community will be on a large area of land east of Colchester, crossing into the Tendring District and adjacent to the University of Essex.
The Garden Community will be large enough to accommodate new homes and supporting community facilities and services, alongside employment land for business and industrial use. It will be served by a network of green and beautiful spaces to promote wildlife, attractive places, healthy living, recreational activity, sustainable drainage and to tackle the climate emergency; and new services, facilities and infrastructure including a new Rapid Transit System (RTS) and a new dual carriageway Link Road between the A120 and the A133.
Building a new Garden Community brings the opportunity to create a brand-new place for people to live, work and play, which will be planned from the start to provide high quality, energy efficient and innovatively designed homes. These homes will be located in well-designed neighbourhoods to meet a variety of needs and aspirations, as well as jobs, transport infrastructure, green and blue infrastructure and leisure and recreation facilities.
By building a Garden Community, the pressure for existing towns and villages to expand around their edges across North Essex can be more carefully managed, to avoid housing developments that can overwhelm existing facilities and infrastructure and compromise the character and feel of existing communities.
What has already been agreed?
In 2021, Tendring District Council (TDC) and Colchester City Council (CCC) both agreed to formally adopt the 'North Essex Authorities' Shared
Strategic Section 1 Local Plan' (Section 1 Local Plan) which, amongst other things, identifies the broad location of the Garden Community and sets out the Strategic Policies and the overarching requirements and expectations that it will need to meet. The Garden Community will be underpinned by key 'Garden Community Principles' developed from the Town and Country Planning Association principles, in consultation with stakeholders, to be specific to North Essex.
The adoption of the Section 1 Local Plan followed years of technical analysis, public consultation, and an independent examination by a government-appointed Planning Inspector. The independent examination enabled the Planning Inspector to conclude that the Garden Community would be the most appropriate and sustainable option for meeting the need for long-term growth in the North Essex area – having considered and discounted a variety of alternative ideas and options.
The content of this Submission Version Plan has been informed by technical evidence, masterplanning work and comments received through formal and informal public engagement activities. However, like the Section 1 Local Plan, this Plan is the subject of a formal legal process of public consultation, decisions from locally elected Councillors, and an examination by an independent Planning Inspector once it is submitted to the Secretary of State.
There is also now a legal requirement that the Plan for the Garden Community will need to be reviewed every five years, to ensure it is kept up to date and responds, as necessary, to any changes in the economy or the environment, or actual changes on the ground, as well as complying with any new government policies.
Policy SP8 of the Section 1 Local Plan explains that this Plan must set out how the new Garden Community will be designed, developed, and delivered in phases, in accordance with a detailed set of principles. The Garden Community will be holistically and comprehensively planned with a distinct identity that responds directly to its context and is of sufficient scale to enable residents to meet the majority of their day-to-day needs, reducing the need for outward commuting. It will be comprehensively planned from the outset, phased to achieve the whole development in a coordinated manner, and will be underpinned by a broad package of infrastructure.
Policy SP9 of the Section 1 Local Plan includes principles and requirements for the design, development, and delivery of the Garden Community under the themes of; Place-Making and Design Quality, Housing, Employment and Jobs, Transportation and Community Infrastructure. Relevant requirements from the Section 1 Local Plan are included in each of the themed chapters of this Plan.
In addition to the Section 1 Local Plan, TDC and CCC each have their own Section 2 Local Plans, which contain policies and allocations that apply to any land or properties outside of the Garden Community. There is also a Neighbourhood Plan for Wivenhoe and Neighbourhood Plans are being prepare----d for Ardleigh and Elmstead, but they will only apply to land and property outside of the Garden Community. TDC adopted its Section 2 Local Plan in January 2022 and CCC adopted its Section 2 Local Plan in July 2022. Requirements from relevant development management policies from the TDC and CCC Section 2 Plans have been included in this Plan. Therefore, proposals for the Garden Community will need to comply with all policies set out in this Plan, which replaces all policies set out in both the TDC and CCC Section 2 Local Plans.
The Essex Minerals Local Plan and the Essex and Southend-on-Sea Waste Local Plan also apply to the Garden Community and plan policies will be applied where relevant.
The Councils' first step in the Draft Plan making process was the publication of a Community and Stakeholder Engagement Report in December 2020. The strategy outlined the approach the Councils would take to engage and communicate with various audiences, to help produce both the content of the 2022 Draft Plan and this 2023 Submission Version of the Plan. The strategy pointed out the different 'engagement' and 'consultation' activities that the Councils would carry out.
A dedicated website was established to provide a central source of information on the Garden Community and an engagement website was established, providing information and different tools to engage people and gather ideas.
All of the formal and informal engagement feedback has been carefully considered by the Councils. Following the informal engagement activity, two reports were published summarising the feedback received.
One report was prepared by the Councils and summarises the Council led informal engagement activity that took place between February – October 2021. The report looks at the feedback received via the various engagement opportunities that were made available to the community and stakeholders.
The other report was produced by Traverse and Community Regen who were commissioned to design and facilitate an engagement program over the summer and autumn of 2021, in close collaboration with masterplanners Prior + Partners, as part of their visioning work and for the preparation of the masterplan layout options.
Following the statutory Draft Plan consultation in the spring of 2022 ('Regulation 18'), a Consultation Statement has been produced summarising the representations (comments) received and the Councils responses, and documents the consultation activity undertaken.
What does this Submission Version Plan contain?
With the principle of a Garden Community already agreed, this Submission Version Plan contains more detail about the development and the specific requirements that developers will be expected to follow, when applying for planning permission and carrying out the development.
The Plan policies have been prepared to get the best possible design and placemaking. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a place for people to live, work and play in a better way.
The structure of this Planfollows some overarching 'themes' which emerged from the main requirements for the Garden Community set out in the Section 1 Local Plan, the National Model Design Code, the main topics of interest raised and discussed during public engagement activities, and wider evidence gathering. The chapter themes are listed below.
Chapter 2: Vision
Chapter 2 sets out a vision for what it is hoped the Garden Community will be like in the future - informed by the discussions with residents, stakeholders and other interested parties through the various engagement activities that took place. From the vision, a set of specific principles and objectives have been identified – to which all the policy requirements, and guidance in this Plan will help to achieve.
Chapter 3: Land Uses and Spatial Approach
Chapter 3 confirms the boundary of the Garden Community, includes a 'Policies Map', and explains how planning applications for development of the Garden Community will be expected to come forward.
The big decisions about what land will be included in the Garden Community; how the development will broadly be laid out; which areas will be allocated to housing, employment, open space or other uses or infrastructure; and which areas will be protected from development, are set out in the Policies Map.
The Policies Map has been informed by an evidence base supported by technical analysis, survey work and the comments of local people, stakeholders, and other interested parties as part of public engagement and formal consultation activities.
Chapter 4: Nature
Chapter 4 sets out the Councils' expectations and its policy on nature within the Garden Community – including the protection and creation of open spaces and green and blue infrastructure; the planting of trees; tree-lined streets; the creation of wildlife habitats; the protection and enhancement of woodland, historic lanes and other important landscape, heritage, and biodiversity assets.
Chapter 5: Buildings, Place and Character
Chapter 5 contains the policy expectations for creating unique and distinctive places, buildings and neighbourhoods whilst respecting the character of nearby towns, villages, and heritage assets.
Chapter 6: Economic Activity and Employment
Chapter 6 sets out the details around the use of employment land; the promotion of economic growth and developing skills; as well as the creation of a variety of job opportunities across different sectors, including research and development, on-site construction and the service sector industries; and measures for embracing self-employment and home working.
Chapter 7: Community and Social Infrastructure
Chapter 7 contains the Councils' expectations and policy on ensuring the Garden Community is served by community services and facilities of the right type in the right location, including schools and sports facilities; as well as access to health services, including acute care and emergency services, and how the development will incorporate measures to encourage inclusive, healthy, and happy lifestyles.
Chapter 8: Movement and Connections
Chapter 8 sets out policy and the expectations around the focus on active travel and the creation of 'walkable neighbourhoods' in the Garden Community where walking, cycling and rapid public transport facilities are prioritised, convenient and available to all as the preferred means of travel. It also sets out requirements for car parking for residents, workers, and visitors with the aim of embracing advancements in electric vehicle technology.
Chapter 9: Sustainable Infrastructure
Chapter 9 sets out the Councils' aspirations and expectations for creating a Garden Community fit for the future and incorporates measures aimed at tackling climate change, minimising carbon emissions and climate change adaptation.
Chapter 10: Infrastructure Delivery, Impact Mitigation and Monitoring
The final Chapter sets out the mechanisms for securing developer contributions towards infrastructure and social and community services, including contributions towards the A120-A133 Link Road and Rapid Transit System. Chapter 10 also sets out a draft framework of 'indicators' that the Councils will use as measures to periodically monitor the progress and success of the Garden Community and to determine whether any changes in approach are required when this Plan is reviewed.
Each of the themed chapters outlined above includes a summary of the Section 1 Local Plan requirements, the principles for the theme, the policy, justification, a summary of alternative approaches considered, and information on how to comment on the Submission Version Plan consultation.
The policies in this Planhave been assessed against a series of 'sustainability objectives' as part of a 'Sustainability Appraisal'. The 'Sustainability Appraisal' is a legal requirement of the planning system which has helped the Councils to ensure that the social, economic and environmental impacts of the policies it has chosen have been identified and properly considered, and that the most appropriate strategy and policies have been chosen, when considered against reasonable alternatives.
The 'Sustainability Appraisal' concluded that taken as a whole, the Plan sets out a positive plan for the achievement of the Garden Community. The policies of the Plan set a high standard which development will be required to meet, and it is considered consistent with the principles of sustainable development. This Plan contains references to the 'Sustainability Appraisal' and any alternative approaches that were considered through the plan making process.
How can I comment on this Submission Version Plan?
This Plan has been published for a period of six weeks for public consultation from 15th May – 25th June 2023.
The Plan has been published on the Tendring Colchester Borders (TCB) Engagement website, with hyperlinks from the Council's websites, along with instructions on how to comment. Information has been presented online to enable people to view a high-level summary, and the whole Submission Version Plan. Hard copies of the Plan will be made available to view at Colchester Town Hall, Tendring District Council Offices, Wivenhoe library, Greenstead library, Colchester library, and all libraries in the Tendring district.
Please note that in this consultation, it is recommended that comments be focused on whether the Plan is sound and legally compliant, There have been previous opportunities for more general comments and feedback on the Plan which have been considered by the Councils.
Many of these were taken forward, however due to the need to comply with national policy, some could not be. This consultation is for you to formally tell the government-appointed Planning Inspector, whether with the changes, you consider the Councils have prepared a sound and legally compliant Plan.
If you commented on the Draft Plan in 2022, your representations will still be submitted to the Planning Inspector. Please do not re-submit your comments from the last consultation. Instead, submit your comments on the changes which have subsequently been made. The government-appointed Planning Inspector will have access to all the comments from the 2022 consultation as well as reports highlighting the main issues raised in both consultations.
What happens next?
Once the consultation closes the Councils will submit this Submission Version Plan, all the comments received from the consultation, any recommended changes, and the evidence base, to the Secretary of State. An independent, government-appointed Planning Inspector will then scrutinise the Plan via an 'Examination in Public' before making decisions on whether the Plan is legally complaint, sound and can be adopted by the Councils.