Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community Development Plan Document (DPD)

Ended on the 25 June 2023
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Chapter 5: Buildings, Places and Character

The garden community will provide the right homes, jobs and spaces for all aspects of life. The garden community will create thriving distinctive places. It will be memorable for its landscape and architecture and will be widely recognisable of its place in North Essex.

The Councils have very high expectations for how the Garden Community will create unique and distinctive buildings and neighbourhoods, whilst still respecting the character and visual amenity of nearby towns, villages, historic buildings, structures and the character and features of the landscape. The Councils also have high expectations in terms of sustainable design and construction, and this is covered in Chapter 9: Sustainable Infrastructure.

The Garden Community will be inclusive and accommodate a diverse range of households meeting a range of housing needs. The Garden Community will provide a mix of different housing sizes and types to meet the needs of differing groups, including but not limited to students, those with disabilities, older people, service families, single person households, first time buyers and gypsy and travellers. There will also be opportunities for those who wish to commission or build their own home via self and custom build plots.

Section 1 Local Plan

Under the theme of 'Buildings, Places and Character', some of the main requirements covered in this Plan, as set out in the policies of the adopted Section 1 Local Plan include:

  • The creation of a unique and distinctive place that responds positively to local character and context to preserve and enhance the quality of existing places and their environment – including assets of historic value;
  • Provide a mix of land uses and services with well-defined public and private spaces to create sustainable well-designed neighbourhoods;
  • Well-designed and integrated public realm with high quality landscape design, street furniture and other distinctive features that help to create a sense of place;
  • Integrates green infrastructure that creates spaces and places for healthy living, biodiversity recovery, play, noise, visual, heat and air quality mitigation, and natural SuDS;
  • Creating streets and places that are overlooked and active and promote inclusive access;
  • Development to be of appropriate densities which reflect both the context, place-making aspirations and opportunities for increased levels of development around centres and transport hubs;
  • A mix of housing types and tenures including self and custom build and starter homes including a minimum of 30% affordable housing, phased through the development; and
  • Protecting the amenity of existing and future residents and users with regard to noise, vibration, smell, loss of light, overbearing and overlooking.



Inherently authentic, memorable and delightful, the Garden Community will have a locally-rooted character drawn from its surroundings, but also a strong identity of its own. The community will be varied in its built form, densities and architectural style. Its impact on the human and physical environment will be considered. Strong and purposeful buffers will provide separation where they are needed while in other areas strong connections and planned links will ensure it is never isolated.


The Garden Community will be designed to ensure interaction and activity is common. Centres will encourage a variety of mixed use, flexible spaces that are accessible in close proximity to homes and jobs. It will be known for its quality of livability, equitable prosperity, and social cohesion.


New housing will provide opportunity for young renters, flat sharers, first time buyers, growing families, empty nesters and ageing members of society to live side by side - there will be a real sense of belonging and community with homes designed to be more flexible and adaptable to whole life needs.


The Garden Community will create high quality and desirable homes designed to meet the changing needs of society whilst ensuring high quality spaces.


Map showing a possible buildings, places and character 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.


Taking forward the requirements of the Section 1 Local Plan and taking into account the views of local people and other stakeholders, GC Policy 3 sets out the Councils' expectation for the Garden Community to be unique and distinctive in its character and appearance, and for the new homes to meet high standards that will meet a variety of different needs and demands for people and families over the courses of their lives. It includes the Councils' expectations around housing mix, density, and space standards.

Part A: Creation of a Unique and Distinctive Place

The Garden Community will be a unique place with a distinctive character that takes a positive and innovative approach to architecture, urban design, landmarks, and public realm provision. It will adopt a landscape led approach to design and build, follow healthy new towns principles, and achieve Active Design, and secured by design certification.

The 'Neighbourhoods' within the Garden Community will themselves adopt different approaches to distinctiveness to provide a rich variety of homes, spaces and other structures to appeal to different needs and lifestyles.

To achieve a unique place with a distinctive character, the Garden Community will be developed in accordance with a comprehensive site wide Garden Community Masterplan, detailed Area Specific Masterplans and Design Codes for relevant phases of development. These will be prepared by the developers through a collaborative process with the Councils and key stakeholders and should have regard to the Councils 'Strategic Masterplan'.

Part B: Design of Places

Alongside the requirements of other policies within this Plan and Section 1 Local Plan, the submitted Masterplans and Design Codes should adopt progressive and innovative approaches to placemaking, that seek to future proof the development and have a positive impact on societal behaviour, promoting culture change, and must:

  • Provide for high quality, beautiful and sustainable buildings and places.
  • Ensure that character areas within the Garden Community contribute to a distinct and legible sense of place for each of the Neighbourhoods.
  • Provide for a network of integrated green and blue infrastructure features.
  • Establish a clear and legible hierarchy of streets, that promotes active and sustainable transport modes, alongside filtered permeability, and prioritises the needs of users in accordance with the Highway Code 'Hierarchy of Road Users'.
  • Ensure that the built form within each Neighbourhood establishes a distinct, positive and coherent identity.
  • Establish a parking strategy that adopts innovative approaches to parking that de-prioritise parking as a land use, contribute towards modal shift and minimise its impact on placemaking.
  • Provide for places that are safe, inclusive and accessible and which promote health and well-being, with a high standard of amenity for existing and future users; and where crime and disorder, and the fear of crime, do not undermine the quality of life or community cohesion and resilience.

Part C: Design Quality

All new development (including changes of use) must achieve an exemplary standard of design, should maximise health and wellbeing, achieve high standards of amenity, make a positive contribution to the quality of the local environment, and protect or enhance local character. To achieve this, detailed design proposals must:

  • Ensure that the layout of the development and positioning of elements of landscape and built environment create a series of diverse and distinct spaces, and take the opportunity to create character areas within the development.
  • Ensure areas of public open space are fronted by units to ensure good levels of activity and natural surveillance.
  • Ensure new buildings, alterations and structures are well designed, reflect relevant Masterplans and Design Codes and, where appropriate, respect or enhance local character and distinctiveness.
  • Ensure the development relates well to its site and surroundings, particularly in relation to its siting, height, scale, massing, form, design and materials;
  • Ensure the development respects and/or enhances local landscape character, views, skylines, landmarks, existing street patterns, open spaces and other locally important features.
  • Ensure the design and layout of the development maintains and/ or enhances existing features of landscape, ecology, heritage, or amenity value; and
  • Ensure boundary treatments, and hard and soft landscaping, are designed as an integral part of the development reflecting the function and character of the development and its surroundings. The Councils will expect the use of locally distinctive materials and/ or locally occurring and characteristic hedge species.
  • Ensure that new streets are tree-lined and that opportunities are taken to incorporate trees elsewhere within the development.
  • Ensure high levels of mitigation for the visual impact of parking on public amenity.
  • Protect and promote public and residential amenity, particularly with regard to privacy, overlooking, security, noise and disturbance, pollution (including light and odour pollution), daylight and sunlight.
  • Create well-connected places that prioritise the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport services above use of the private car.
  • Provide quality living environments that are responsive and adaptable to changing lifestyles and societal requirements.
  • Provide sufficient space and appropriate sustainable design solutions for waste minimisation, collection, storage and recycling.

Part D: Designing Out Crime

All development must be designed with:

  • Windows that overlook places such as parks and streets, courtyards, parking areas and civic spaces to provide natural surveillance.
  • Streets, pedestrian routes, footpaths and cycle paths that are easy to navigate with permeable, direct routes that provide good visibility and avoid sharp or blind corners, tunnels, and hidden alcoves.
  • Clear and uniform signage that helps people move around, making the public realm and public transport safer and more attractive for people to use.
  • Effective street lighting that illuminates the public realm, enabling natural surveillance and avoiding the creation of dark, shadowed areas.
  • Clearly defined boundaries between public and private spaces that reduce the likelihood of anti-social behaviour by establishing ownership and responsibility.
  • Security measures for buildings and places are proportionate to their use and function, considering the need to avoid creating places that are hostile or unwelcoming.
  • Achieve relevant Secured by Design (SBD) principles.

Part E: Residential Design

Development must achieve an exemplary standard of residential design. All new residential development must take into consideration the site context, the impact on the amenity of adjoining occupiers, and the quality of accommodation as follows:

  • Provide a high standard of quality of accommodation for living conditions.
  • Be arranged to safeguard the amenity and privacy of occupiers and neighbours.
  • Avoid having more than eight dwellings accessed from a single core per floor.
  • Provide acceptable levels of natural daylight by providing a window in every habitable room, except in loft space where a roof light may be acceptable.
  • Achieve a floor to ceiling height of at least 2.5 metres for at least 75 per cent of the Gross Internal Area of each dwelling to maximise natural ventilation and natural daylight in the dwelling.
  • Be predominantly dual aspect and allow for natural cross ventilation. In circumstances where due to site constraints it is impossible or impractical to provide dual aspect dwellings it must be demonstrated how overheating and ventilation will be mitigated. Single aspect dwellings will not be acceptable if they have three or more bedrooms, or are north facing.

Part F: Internal Space Standards, Home-working and Adaptability in New Homes

To ensure homes provide a high standard of living conditions for the residents of the Garden Community, all new dwellings will, as a minimum, be expected to comply with the government's latest 'Technical housing standards – nationally prescribed standard'. Wherever possible, dwellings should exceed these standards to ensure a variety of dwelling sizes across the Garden Community and within each neighbourhood to enable scope for homes and space within them to be adapted in the future to meet residents' and families' changing needs – including the potential for multiple generations of a family to live together.

To provide maximum scope for new residents to be able to work or operate a business from home, all new dwellings should include innovative approaches to home working.

Part G: Private Amenity Space Standards

All new residential development must provide an adequate amount of useable outdoor amenity space to meet the needs of residents. The nature and scale of amenity space should be appropriate to the location of the development, its function and the character of the area within which it is situated. As a minimum:

  • All new houses must provide an area of private amenity space. The majority of space should be located at the rear of the property and should not be overlooked from public areas.
  • All flat developments must provide an area of communal amenity space and where possible private amenity space in the form of gardens, terraces or useable balconies. For units containing three or more bedrooms an area of private space must be provided.

All amenity space must be intrinsic to the design of the development and communal amenity areas should be accessible to all residents in the development. In determining the provision of private amenity space, proposals should consider the opportunity to provide space both for growing food and the scope for adapting and extending properties to meet residents and families' future needs, whilst still maintaining an appropriate level of garden provision.

The approach to private amenity space will be determined through detailed Design Codes.

Part I: Historic Environment

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

Development affecting the historic environment should seek to conserve and enhance the significance of the heritage asset and any features of specific historic, archaeological, architectural or artistic interest. In all cases there will be an expectation that any new development will enhance the historic environment or better reveal the significance of the heritage asset unless there are no identifiable opportunities available.

Part J: Planning Application Requirements

  1. To ensure proposals minimise impact on the existing landscape character and sensitive receptors, both on the site itself and in the surrounding settlements or countryside, a comprehensive Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) of detailed proposals is required. The LVIA must demonstrate how the layout and design of proposals has evolved to avoid or minimise harmful impacts.
  2. A Heritage Impact Assessment and Mitigation Strategy is required to demonstrate the measures that can minimise harm and maximise the potential to enhance the heritage significance of Elmstead Hall, the Church of St Anne and St Laurence, Allen's Farmhouse the Round Barrows (Scheduled Monument) on Annan Road.
  3. The following Archaeological Evaluation is required:
    • An archaeological desk-based assessment incorporating an up-to-date aerial/cropmark assessment.
    • A report on a geophysical survey of the proposed development site.
    • A report on an archaeological trial-trenched evaluation of the proposed development site.
  4. Design & Access Statement.
  5. Comprehensive site wide Garden Community Masterplan, detailed Area Specific Masterplans and Design Codes.


For the Garden Community to be successful, it is one of the Councils' main objectives to ensure it is unique, self-sufficient and can provide high quality design.

The Councils will expect the Masterplans and Design Codes to establish an innovative approach to development both across the Garden Community as a whole, and within each of the neighbourhoods. Masterplans and Design Codes will be informed by use of design review and assessment frameworks such as the National Design Guide, National Model Design Code, Building for a Healthy Lifeand Building with Nature, or similar.

person working from home on computer

A Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) forms part of the evidence base. It ensures that a positive strategy for the historic environment is secured through the Plan and that the Plan avoids harming the significance of both designated and non-designated heritage assets, including their effects on setting.

The HIA suggests that the development of the Garden Community would potentially result in significant effects to Elmstead Hall, the Church of St Anne and St Laurence, Allen's Farmhouse, and the Round Barrows (Scheduled Monument) on Annan Road. This would primarily be through the development of the proposed employment areas adjacent to the A120 and A133, the A120-A133 Link Road, and the proposed woodland planting which impacts on the open landscape that is an important element of the settings to these assets. Non-significant adverse effects are likely on Salarybrooke Farmhouse, Lamberts, Collierswood Barn, Wivenhoe House, Hill Farm agricultural buildings, Wivenhoe House Lodges and Wivenhoe Park.

The HIA identifies the potential to provide enhancement opportunities through archaeological/cultural heritage pre-commencement work to more fully understand the historic development of the area and then to promote this information for the benefit of local people and visitors.

Landscaping will have a huge part to play in mitigating the impact on heritage assets and will need to be underpinned by Landscape Visual Impact Assessments. The design and landscaping must be carefully considered in each neighbourhood to ensure it responds to the local character (built and natural) to minimise the potential for adverse impacts and to achieve the best design quality which is an important consideration in determining the balance of harm and benefit.

Proposals must consider how infrastructure design can support the new communities to move towards achieving zero avoidable waste and maximising the value of resources. This will include the need to ensure adequate storage is provided to enable the segregation and treatment of wastes at both a householder and a community level, alongside opportunities for local recovery and reuse for the benefit of the wider community. Whilst it is not possible to be prescriptive about the logistical approaches and future technologies that will be adopted in the management of waste, consideration must be given to how systems are designed to provide for future flexibility. Opportunities for waste management to deliver social and community benefits alongside the development of low carbon energy and heat systems will be supported.


Taking forward the requirements of the Section 1 Local Plan and taking into account the views of local people and other stakeholders, this policy sets out the Councils' expectation for new homes within the Garden Community to be of a high standard that will meet a variety of different needs and demands for people and families over the courses of their lives. It includes the Councils' expectations around housing mix, density, and space standards.

Part A: Projected Housing Needs

All residential development must ensure an appropriate mix of dwelling size, type and tenure that broadly reflects the housing needs for the area and adequately addresses the needs of residents on low incomes.

The proposed mix of dwelling types, sizes and tenure should reflect the latest available evidence of housing demand and need, either contained within the Councils' latest 'Strategic Housing Market Assessment' (which will be updated on a periodic basis) or an assessment of housing demand and need otherwise produced by the developer, which will need to be submitted to the Councils and approved prior to submission of any planning application.

Housing within the Garden Community should meet the need of different groups including the following:

  • Specialist Housing (for Older People and People with Disabilities)
  • Student Accommodation
  • Key Worker Housing
  • Families with children
  • Affordable Housing, in accordance with the national definition as applicable at the time.
  • Gypsies and Travellers
  • Self and Custom Build Homes

Part B: Affordable Housing

To ensure the Garden Community makes suitable provision to meet the needs of first-time buyers, key workers and local people and families on lower incomes who cannot afford to buy or rent housing on the open market, at least 30% of all new homes across the Garden Community and within each of its neighbourhoods must be provided in the form of 'affordable housing'.

Whilst it remains a requirement of government policy, 10% of all qualifying new homes will be expected to be provided for 'affordable home ownership' in line with the NPPF and these will count towards the overall provision of affordable housing. The mix, size, and tenure of the remainder of the affordable housing requirement will be determined through a Housing Strategy to be agreed by the Councils, having regard to latest evidence of affordable housing need.

To ensure positive integration between the Affordable and Market Housing, there should be no difference in the appearance and quality between dwellings (and associated public realm) to be sold on the open market and those to be delivered as Affordable Housing. Affordable Housing should be provided in more than one single parcel and the mix should normally be "pepper potted" throughout the scheme in groups; the size and location of which should be discussed and agreed with the Councils.

In addition, proposals must be accompanied by and delivered in accordance with an 'Affordable Housing Phasing Strategy' which could form part of the wider Housing Strategy, and which would have been approved in writing by the Councils, prior to the determination of relevant planning applications.

Part C: Adaptable and Accessible Housing Standards

All new dwellings must be built to Building Regulations Part M4 (2) 'adaptable and accessible standards' (or subsequent equivalent building regulations standards). Within each of the neighbourhoods, at least 10% of market dwellings and 10% of affordable dwellings should also be built to Building Regulations Part M4 (3) 'wheelchair- user' standards' (or subsequent government standards). This will ensure that the needs of people living with disabilities and older households will be met, both from the early phases of development at the Garden Community, and into the future as people's needs change.

Part D: Housing Density

The 'density' of new housing development within the Garden Community and within its Neighbourhoods, typically expressed in 'dwellings per hectare' (dph) will vary, having regard to a variety of factors. Factors influencing the appropriate density for any given area include:

  • Accessibility to existing and proposed centres, employment areas, services and facilities.
  • The Council's 'Strategic Masterplan'.
  • Accessibility to the Rapid Transit System, sustainable movement corridors and facilities.
  • The need to achieve minimum internal floorspace and private amenity space standards, along with requirements for car parking set out within this Plan, Masterplans, Design Codes or Council guidance.
  • The required mix of housing.
  • The character of proposed development as determined through the relevant Masterplans and Design Codes.
  • The character and proximity to any designated and non- designated heritage or environmental assets, or the impact on their settings.
  • The need for an appropriate transition between built development and sensitive areas, such as the open countryside and the Crockleford Heath Area of Special Character,
  • The land requirements for infrastructure to be incorporated as part of the development (including key transport corridors, existing and proposed green and blue infrastructure, open space, including green corridors and areas of biodiversity net gain, sustainable drainage systems, centres, footpaths, cycleways and highways, schools and other community facilities).

Part E: Self-Build and Custom-Built Homes

The provision and opportunities for constructing self-build and custom-built homes will need to form part of the mix of housing at the Garden Community. The Councils will consider, on their merits, small developments of sensitively designed self-build and custom-built homes on land within the 'Crockleford Neighbourhood.

This provision should be made in the form of serviced plots to be brought forward by those looking to occupy those homes. Details of this provision must form part of the submitted Housing Strategy. The requirement for self-build and custom-built homes will be determined having regard to the Councils' 'self-build registers' and local market testing.

Part F: Care, Assisted Living and Other Specialist Housing

To meet the needs of older and disabled people who require specialist care, an element of residential provision in the form of high-quality care homes, assisted living and other specialist housing (including independent living) should be delivered as part of the overall mix of development. These should be located either within, or adjoining, each of the new centres.

The size and specification of any care home or extra-care housing will be determined through the Housing Strategy (see Part B) and will be informed by evidence held by the Councils and their partners in the health sector.

Part G: Gypsy and Travellers

As set out in GC Policy 1, a new site for the accommodation of gypsies and travellers will be delivered within the northern neighbourhood of the Garden Community, south of the A120 and west of the new A120-A133 Link Road, with good access to those roads.

The site will be expected to include suitable circulation and amenity space and must achieve safe access for large vehicles from the road network, access to utilities and must be of high-quality design and landscaping, providing a good standard of residential amenity for occupiers.

Part H: Student Accommodation

The University of Essex has long term plans to expand student numbers and to extend its accommodation provision. Student accommodation will be encouraged in accessible locations within the 'South Neighbourhood' where it would have good sustainable links to the University of Essex and where it will contribute to a mixed and diverse community. The size and specification of any student accommodation will be determined through the Housing Strategy (see Part B) and will be informed by evidence held by the Councils in partnership with the University of Essex.

Part I: Planning Application Requirements
  1. Proposals for the Garden Community as a whole, and for each of the neighbourhoods within it, must be accompanied by a Housing Strategy(ies). This must clearly set out how the development will deliver a mix of housing of different types, sizes and tenure that meet a variety of needs, demands and aspirations, including self and custom build housing, the size and specification of any care home or assisted living housing, and the need for student accommodation.
  2. Where relevant all planning applications must be accompanied by a Housing Mix Statement addressing the proposed housing mix, explaining how it reflects the viability, site layout, density, tenure and local housing needs; and how it responds to the site wide and neighbourhood Housing Strategies.
  3. An Affordable Housing Phasing Strategy should form part of the Housing Strategy for each neighbourhood. This must demonstrate how affordable housing will be integrated into the development in smaller clusters within each neighbourhood and delivered in phases, alongside market housing, throughout the development.


To ensure the effective use of land within the Garden Community developers should seek to optimise the housing and economic potential of particular areas and local centres by identifying and ensuring the appropriate building forms and design for each location.

In assessing the range of densities that may be appropriate for the Garden Community, it is necessary to look at what density means in practice. There are various measurements of density, but the most commonly used measure is the calculation of the number of dwellings per hectare. Density is measured as a net figure, only including land directly associated with housing, including the following:

  • Access roads
  • Private garden space
  • Car parking areas
  • Incidental open space and landscaping
  • Children's play areas

and excluding the following:

  • Major roads (including major roads and spine roads)
  • Schools and sports grounds
  • Strategic open and public space
  • Landscape buffers
  • Major drainage installations
  • Land for other educational or community purposes.

It is appropriate to use a 'blanket' average net density across a whole site for wider planning purposes such as for a Local Plan, but this can be a blunt instrument in trying to assess the capacity of a site, and this Plan takes a more refined approach for this particular site.

The density of new housing within the Garden Community will be expected to vary both across the Garden Community and within its constituent neighbourhoods in order to achieve the overall requirement of circa 7,500 homes. Densities will be determined by a range of factors as set out in Policy 5. Across the Garden Community, there is a general expectation that the overall average density of development and the total number of new homes will be greatest in the southern neighbourhood of the Garden Community to reflect its proximity to the University of Essex, which might allow for the provision for some additional student accommodation, and the opportunity for early connection to the Rapid Transit System. The overall density and housing numbers across the northern and central neighbourhoods is expected to step down to lower levels to reflect the more sensitive nature of the landscape and existing communities further north. However, densities must also reflect the sensitive landscape and heritage value of Wivenhoe Park Registered Park and Garden and its setting that forms part of the University estate and abuts the southern boundary of the Garden Community. Overall housing numbers including their distribution between each of the neighbourhoods will be determined by the Strategic Masterplan.

The density of housing development within each of the neighbourhoods will itself vary to reflect the specific factors identified above and will generally be higher density within immediate proximity to the proposed centres and lower densities further out from those centres – particularly where development affects sensitive heritage or environmental assets and other sensitive features including existing dwellings or groups of dwellings.

As well as a range of densities, a mix of different sizes, types and tenures of housing will be expected to meet the needs of a wide variety of people with different requirements, demands and aspirations – including a minimum requirement of 30% affordable housing. The mix will be established through a separate Housing Strategy submitted by the developer for the Councils' approval, that has taken into account the latest evidence and projections of need and demand and relates to a demographic study.

There is also an expectation for all new homes to be built to an adaptable standard, to allow them to be easily upgraded to wheelchair accessible standard if or when residents' mobility needs change. 10% of homes will need to be wheelchair accessible on construction. The development will also be expected to provide for care and assisting living provision, self-build and custom-built homes and student accommodation. Providing homes that are suitable for people living with impaired mobility gives them a choice to remain living within their homes for longer and provides them with wider care options such as receiving domiciliary care instead of having to move to an institutional care setting, thus improving quality of life whilst also reducing pressures on adult social care and local health services.

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