Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community Development Plan Document (DPD)
Chapter 6: Economic Activity and Employment
The Garden Community will provide and promote opportunities for employment within the new community, within sustainable commuting distance and will facilitate a vibrant, thriving local economy with the latest digital infrastructure.
The Councils have high expectations for ensuring that residents of the Garden Community have access to a range of opportunities for employment, education and training across a variety of sectors with the aim of achieving a minimum of one job per household, either close to home or within a sustainable commuting distance.
Creating opportunities for employment, education and training at the Garden Community, both throughout its construction and for the lifetime of residents as the community becomes established, is going to be critical to its success. The approach to maximising the economic potential of the Garden Community has been informed by the evidence base and discussions with education providers and businesses within different sectors. There will be an expectation that as many opportunities to create jobs at the Garden Community, and within a sustainable commutable distance, are followed up and delivered. GC Policy 5 explains how this will be achieved, with an aim of creating at least one job per new household.
Section 1 Local Plan
Under the theme of Economic Activity and Employment, some of the main requirements covered in this Plan, as set out in the policies of the adopted Section 1 Local Plan include:
- Provide and promote opportunities for employment within the new community and within sustainable commuting distance of it.
- Provide a mix of land uses and services with well-defined public and private spaces to create sustainable well-designed neighbourhoods.
A PLACE WITH A THRIVING LOCAL ECONOMY
The local economy will be vibrant and will provide a wide range of new and exciting economic opportunities, maximising opportunities from the adjacent University of Essex and capitalising on the success of the
Knowledge Gateway. The site will provide a range of flexible and modern workspaces together with state-of-the-art digital infrastructure to allow for modern ways of working.
A PLACE THAT IS VIBRANT AND ACTIVE
The Garden Community will be designed to ensure interaction and activity is common. The neighbourhood 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.
POLICY 5: ECONOMIC ACTIVITY AND EMPLOYMENT
Part A: Achieving a Balance of Homes and Jobs
Residents of the Garden Community will have access to a range of opportunities for employment, education, and training across a variety of sectors with the aim of achieving a minimum of one job per household, either within or close to home or within a sustainable commutable distance. To achieve this, the developers, working with the Councils and other partners, will prepare an Economic and Employment Strategy, which will detail a variety of measures aimed at fostering the conditions for economic activity and employment.
Proposals will need to reflect an Economic and Employment Strategy and demonstrate how the following will be achieved:
- How delivery of the first phase of business accommodation in each employment area is tied to occupation of housing to provide an alignment between jobs and housing, and any future review of employment allocations will need to take account of market dynamics and best practice and avoid sterilisation of parcels of land;
- Expansion of the University of Essex and the Knowledge Gateway through the allocation of land for expansion and ongoing development including an appropriate high quality pedestrian/ cycle connection across the A133;
- Creation of 'centres' serving each of the Garden Community's new neighbourhoods providing facilities such as shops, services and community facilities, including schools, care facilities and flexible community buildings that can be used for a variety of purposes, including health provision, and could include employment land and job opportunities including touch down space;
- The provision of a mixture of employment units including smaller workshop space, grow-on space (150-500sqm) for businesses that have overgrown their initial accommodation. Developer contributions will be sought for the provision of affordable employment space.
- Employment areas offering a high-quality, pedestrian and cycle friendly environment, including access to green spaces and amenities for employees
- Construction of new homes with innovative approaches to home working and the highest standard of broadband access to promote home working, business creation and self-employment;
- Creation of the Rapid Transit System to enable a rapid commute for residents to and from all neighbourhoods within the Garden Community to key areas of employment including the new A120 business park and centres as well as those outside of the Garden Community, such as the University of Essex, Colchester City Centre, Colchester General Hospital, Colchester Business Park and Colchester Sports Park;
- Effective networks, technology and resources that facilitate up- skilling, re-skilling, employability and innovation throughout the life of the development. This is to include positive partnership working between the Councils, University of Essex, the Colchester Institute and other local educational establishments, and the developers to increase capacity and improve facilities to deliver training in identified 'growth sectors (construction, education, life sciences, health and care, and knowledge-sector digital/creative;)'; and
- Working with government, the local authorities and other partners to secure public sector intervention where market failure can be evidenced and to explore the potential for central government functions and related supply-chain industries to be relocated to the Garden Community.
Part B: Employment Allocations
GC Policy 1 of this Plan allocates approximately 25 hectares of employment land in the form of a new Business Park and a 'Knowledge-Based Employment' site, and three Garden Community Neighbourhoods which will also accommodate employment uses in 'Neighbourhood Centres'.
A120 Business Park
Land within the Business Park is allocated for uses falling within the following Use Classes:
- E(g)(ii) Research and Development
- E(g)(iii) Industrial Processes
- B2 General Industrial
- B8 Storage and Distribution
Development should include a mix of uses and unit sizes. Ancillary business uses such as a hotel, food and drink will only be permitted where they support the primary use of the Business Park.
Knowledge-Based Employment Land
Land within the Knowledge-Based Employment Land is allocated for uses falling within the following Uses Classes:
- E(g)(i) Offices
- E(g)(ii) Research and Development
Ancillary business uses such as food and drink will only be permitted where they support the primary uses of the Knowledge-Based Employment Land.
North and South Neighbourhood Centres
The North and South Neighbourhood centres should support flexible E and F Class Uses that are able to achieve a critical mass of activity and footfall. These centres should be focused on sustainability, convenience and community uses, and may include serviced office- type hot desk and meeting room facilities.
Part C: Protection of Employment Land
Land allocated for employment use in this Plan and any employment land or employment space created as part of the Garden Community will be protected for employment use as specified in Part B of this Policy unless a future review of this Plan determines otherwise. Proposals for non-employment uses, or alternative use classes for allocated land and premises will not be supported to ensure the Garden Community is served by a flexible range of land and property for the provision of commercial activity and jobs.
Part D: Planning Application Expectations
- An Economic and Employment Strategy will be required to help achieve the objective in Part A of this policy. This must be prepared collaboratively with the Councils and relevant stakeholders, and subsequently approved by the Councils. The strategy should complement the Councils' skills and employment ambitions, including resourcing interventions for those hardest to reach and who would otherwise not benefit from this development.
- An Employment and Skills Plan (ESP) (sometimes known as a 'Construction Workforce Development Strategy and Agreement') will be required. This must be prepared collaboratively with the Councils and relevant stakeholders, and subsequently approved by the Councils.
The Garden Community can make a contribution to addressing the challenges of increasing productivity, delivering prosperity and productivity, and contributing towards the creation of mixed and balanced new communities that are successful and sustainable in the long term.
The NPPF advises local planning authorities to take a pragmatic approach to the protection of employment sites. To build a strong, responsive and competitive economy, policies need to be flexible whilst ensuring that the needs of the community are met. Employment sites are under increasing pressure to be developed for other uses, but it is important to retain and protect employment sites where possible and appropriate. Employment land retention and provision is particularly necessary within the Garden Community to enable balanced job and housing growth and the aim of achieving a minimum of one job per household, either within or close to home or within a sustainable commutable distance.
The Economic and Employment Study (Quod, January 2022) sets out the evidence, analysis and recommendations which has informed this Plan. The study concluded that the prospects for a business park (B2/B8 logistics, industrial and ancillary office) with direct access to the A120 are very strong. Market signals indicate these uses should be capable of being delivered early in the programme. The opportunity for a university-linked commercial space and/or higher density office and lab space should be developed in the 'Knowledge-Based Employment Land'. The study shows there is a long-term opportunity to build networks to promote and sustain commercial activity at the Garden Community creating highly skilled jobs.
The study also recommends the provision of flexible office space concentrated in the North and South Neighbourhood Centres; this should be small in scale to meet local need. A key objective is to ensure economic uses help to create a successful, integrated, and balanced community with vibrant centres that include a mix of employment opportunities and services. A mix of employment uses provides flexibility and the ability to respond to market strengths and opportunities. A realistic level of self-containment should also be achieved, with as many commuting journeys as possible undertaken through walking, cycling and public transport. Sustainable access to employment opportunities in neighbouring major employment centres or surrounding towns in Tendring and Colchester will need to be provided.
The Economic and Employment Strategy should as a minimum set out:
- How skilled workers can be attracted to live within the new community.
- How many workers may take up jobs in the foundational economy, in sectors such as construction, retail and leisure, health and education.
- How the number of employment opportunities in the tradeable economy can be maximised within the new community itself – particularly, in the advanced manufacturing, clean energy, digital, and life sciences sectors.
- How business accommodation can meet the needs of business occupiers in terms of location, placemaking and building design.
- How workers will gain the skills and employability support required to access good jobs.
- The cumulative impacts but also opportunities of other growth nearby.
- Potential barriers to delivery – and how these can be overcome.
- Risks to successful long-term stewardship – and how these can be managed.
- How the employment and skills landscape and partners will be coordinated and managed to maximise benefits for residents and businesses e.g. via a skills and employment brokerage service or links with Job Centre Plus and the Essex Opportunities Portal.
The Garden Community will contain a vibrant mix of occupiers, including suitable uses in the evening and night-time economy. Non-residential development on lower floors should be flexible and adaptable to accommodate a range of uses and sectors, including studio based Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) or third sector organisations.
Employment areas will need to offer a high-quality, pedestrian-friendly environment, including access to green spaces and amenities for employees. There will also be a commitment to futureproof broadband connectivity to all homes and businesses.
In the current economic climate and national skills shortage, the Councils will expect the developer to prepare an 'Employment and Skills Plan' (ESP) to increase local construction employability levels and workforce numbers. Improving the skills of the local labour force will be key to improving the areas economic competitiveness. Through the ESP, increased skills and employability will enable residents to take advantage of opportunities created by new development at the Garden Community. The ESP will enable relevant and proportionate targets to increase the volume and quality of employment and skills interventions. The ESP should consider the skills required for the development of sustainable infrastructure, for example design and construction of sustainable buildings and infrastructure; renewable energy; and sustainable waste management.
The ESP should seek to maximise the potential for local people to be trained and employed in the long-term development of the Garden Community. The ESP will demonstrate the measures that will be employed to maximise the opportunities for local people to access training and employment in the construction of the Garden Community and associated supply-line industries, and enable wider employment opportunities for those requiring additional support to enter the job market.