Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community Development Plan Document (DPD)

Ended on the 25 June 2023
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Chapter 7: Community and Social Infrastructure

The garden community will be known for its healthy and happy community. It will have a variety of diverse community spaces, play spaces, great local schools and a network of sport and leisure facilities. It will establish long term and participative stewardship of infrastructure from the outset.

This chapter 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 and how the development will incorporate measures to encourage inclusive, healthy, and happy lifestyles.

Section 1 Local Plan

Under the theme of Community and Social Infrastructure, the main requirements for the Garden Community, as set out in the policies of the adopted Section 1 Local Plan are set out below.

  • Establishment of new neighbourhood centres of an appropriate scale and easily accessible by walking, cycling and public transit to the majority of residents of the Garden Community – each containing community meeting places.
  • New secondary school, primary schools and early-years facilities.
  • Measures for increasing capacity in, and accessibility to, primary health care – either through new infrastructure or the improvement, reconfiguration, extension, or relocation of existing medical facilities.
  • Creation of healthy communities through the pattern of development, urban design, access to local services and facilities, and safe places for active play and food growing.
  • The provision of new indoor leisure and sports facilities and/or contributions towards the improvement or expansion of existing facilities in the wider area.
  • New community parks, allotments, a new country park and the provision of sports areas and play areas with associated facilities.
  • An infrastructure delivery strategy and phasing plan that sets out how infrastructure, services and facilities will be provided.

knitting class



The Garden Community will be home to a multi-generation and multi-cultural community for people of different ages, ethnicities, interests and lifestyles. A variety of spaces for social interaction will encourage existing and new communities to meet with facilities designed to be accessible and inclusive.


The Garden Community will be designed to make it easy for residents and visitors to live well. It will be about far more than the delivery of healthcare services but focused on creating environments that promote healthy living, are regenerative, restorative and relaxing - being active and tranquil will come naturally.


The Garden Community will be planned with lifelong learning in mind. While early years, primary and secondary education will all be planned for it will also develop a more holistic place that creates opportunity for lifelong learning, training and local opportunities with employers and key institutions such as the University of Essex.


In addition to purpose-built sport and leisure facilities the Garden Community will include opportunities for recreation and activity including for children and young people.


Long term stewardship and governance will be considered and built-in from the initial stages of planning and designing the Garden Community. A clear understanding will be established from early on, of how the assets generated by the development process will be managed on behalf of the community in perpetuity and how income streams will be generated. Meaningful community participation will be established from the outset to enable people to engage in the management of their infrastructure. Community needs and opportunities will be identified in a participative manner and there will be local representation on delivery teams and partnerships.


Map showing a possible community and social 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 deliver local community services and facilities, including opportunities for joint provision and co-location to provide services which best meet people's needs, are accessible to all and which are multi-purpose and innovative. The community and social infrastructure needs of the Garden Community will be determined in accordance with detailed assessments and strategies, prepared by the developer in partnership with the Councils, key stakeholders and infrastructure providers having regard to up to date evidenced need, informed by bespoke demographic studies. These should be approved alongside and/or prior to the determination of relevant planning applications, as appropriate.

Phasing of the delivery of community and social infrastructure will be aligned with other aspects of the development to ensure that the needs of the community are met from the outset and that the development meets the principle of 'infrastructure first'.

The Garden Community will promote wellbeing and a happy, healthy community that is engaged, empowered and socially inclusive. Stewardship will be important to ensure that the new community has a stake in the long-term development, maintenance and management of the Garden Community.

Part A: Neighbourhood Centres

Each of the 'Garden Community Neighbourhoods' must include at least one 'Neighbourhood Centre' which will complement one another. All centres must be accessible by a comprehensive sustainable travel network (walking and cycling) designed around the 20-minute neighbourhood principles and have good access to one or more of the Rapid Transit System halts. All centres must include a diverse range of uses, including, but not limited to, education, retail, community space and a dedicated or flexible space to enable activities to support the wider determinants of health. All centres must include community meeting places, which can provide for a range of community uses and needs. Buildings should be designed flexibly to ensure they are resilient to respond to changing needs over time. The upper floors of buildings in centres may be used for residential uses where it can be demonstrated that there will be no harm to residential amenity arising from noise, pollution or other impacts of the ground floor uses. The public realm must be inclusive and create a sense of place, safety, and interaction with nature.

Part B: Community Buildings and Spaces

Multifunctional community buildings and spaces must be provided throughout the Garden Community, including within each of the 'Neighbourhood Centres'. Community buildings and spaces must be convertible and flexible to accommodate a variety of users, including faith groups, social prescribing activities, community fitness, play and cultural activities. Community buildings and spaces must be inclusive and accessible to all, including those with mobility and sensory issues and must meet Part M1, 2 and 3 of the Building Regulations. Schools may be an appropriate location for such uses and relevant planning applications should be accompanied by a 'Community Use Statement/Plan'.

Part C: Education, Early Years and Childcare

The Garden Community will provide for early years and childcare facilities, and schools, that are located centrally to the Neighbourhoods they serve and away from primary traffic routes. Land and commensurate financial contributions are required for:

  • One secondary school on at least 12.4ha of suitable land, or two secondary schools each on 7.9ha of suitable land allocated for education use.
  • Up to five new primary schools, each with a co-located early years and childcare facility and each on at least 2.1ha of suitable land allocated for education and childcare use.
  • At least five new 56 place stand-alone early years and childcare facillities, each on 0.13ha of suitable land allocated for education and childcare use.
  • One new 30 place stand-alone early years and childcare facility on 0.065ha of suitable land allocated for education and childcare use.
  • One new 26 place stand-alone early years and childcare facility on 0.058ha of suitable land allocated for education and childcare use.

Each of the Neighbourhoods must include at least one co-located primary school with early years and childcare facility and provision for stand-alone early years and childcare facility.

A secondary school site should be co-located with a primary school and early years and childcare facility to provide for the option of an all through school.

Additional space must also be provided for co-located Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision and any community uses being delivered by the school.

Proposals should have regard to the Essex County Council 'Developers' Guide to Infrastructure Contributions' and Garden Communities and Planning School Places' guide.

Vehicle free 'school zones' must be provided around schools, with the area around the main pupil entrance entirely traffic free and away from streets and car parks, connected by safe and direct walking and cycling routes to the Neighbourhood the school serves. All schools should be well connected to the natural environment to provide the option of providing forest school sessions.

Part D: Sports, Recreation and Open Space

The sports and recreation requirements of the Garden Community, as set out in the Colchester and Tendring Sports, Recreation and Open Space Strategy (2022) or any updates to this Strategy, must be met in full in terms of the typology, quantity, quality, and location of facilities provided. Opportunities should be taken to deliver multipurpose facilities well integrated into the built environment and well designed in terms of their landscape settings. The Councils will only consider offsite provision where it is well connected to the Garden Community and/or where it will deliver multiple benefits, including benefits to existing communities.

Part E: Health

The Garden Community will create an active environment that promotes health and wellbeing and builds a strong community. The conditions for a healthy community will be provided through the pattern of development, good urban and public realm design, access to local services and facilities, opportunities for local employment, high quality open space and landscape design and safe places for active play, biodiversity and food growing, and which are all accessible by walking, cycling and public transport. Proposals must take account of the healthy new towns principles, the developing integrated neighbourhood model of working, as well as Sport England's Active Design principles.

Appropriate health and wellbeing services must be provided to new residents and occupiers of the Garden Community from first occupation. Proposals for the development of the Garden Community must include:

  • A new Health and Wellbeing Hub to be provided in the early phases of development (potentially via a phased approach to delivery). The facility shall be designed to deliver an integrated service for patients – including a cluster of general practitioners, a wide range of diagnostic services and primary care treatment – to minimise the requirement for secondary care treatment at hospital. It should be located on an accessible site close to other community facilities.
  • Flexible space for health provision, located within the Neighbourhood Centres and community buildings.

Developers should enter into early conversations with the local NHS Integrated Care Board, the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance, and other relevant partners to ensure that proposals reflect current health and social care models.

The phasing of health facilities and services must be set out as part of the Phasing & Implementation Strategy to explain how health provision will meet the needs of the community as it grows. Proposals must be accompanied by a 'Health Strategy' that sets out what health and wellbeing services will be provided, prepared in collaboration with key health stakeholders. This will include detail on the size of the Health and Wellbeing Hub, the provision of and relationship to other flexible community space and any off-site mitigation to address the needs of the population.

Each Planning Application must be supported by a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) prepared in accordance with the advice and best practice as published by Public Health England and locally through the Essex Planning Officers' Association HIA Guidance Note, using the most up to date guidance. Any mitigation measures identified in the HIA should be incorporated into the proposed development.

Part F: Stewardship

To help establish a strong community, arrangements for the sustainable long-term governance and stewardship of local assets, and community development activities appropriate to the creation of a new community, must be agreed as part of the planning permissions and planning obligation agreement(s) relating to the site (except for those applications related to the provision of the A120-A133 Link Road or RTS). Provision will need to be made and agreed to ensure the appropriate financial, physical, and human resources are secured to deliver stewardship aspirations. This will include the transfer of suitable income-generating assets, or equivalent endowment, that can provide a long-term source of revenue for the stewardship body.

The preferred solution for stewardship arrangements will need to be determined as part of future planning permissions for the site. This will be achieved through collaboration between the developers, the Councils (including Essex County Council), and other relevant stakeholders, and will be secured through planning conditions or planning obligations attached to planning permissions.

Developer contributions will be required to fund the initial set up and running costs, including staff, premises, and equipment costs. This support will need to be provided for a minimum of 10 years, or until such time as stewardship activities are financially self-sustaining, before the occupation of the first home.

Part G: Planning Application Requirements

  1. Proposals for the development of the Garden Community must include planning obligations enabling the phased delivery of community and social infrastructure.
  2. Proposals must include a Phasing and Implementation Strategy, which explains how the rate of development will be linked to the provision of the necessary social, physical, and environmental infrastructure. This must be based on the latest evidence from infrastructure providers, statutory bodies and governing bodies and will include the employment of community development workers.
  3. Proposals must be supported by bespoke demographic studies commissioned by the developer to provide a consistent evidence base for the planning of all social and community infrastructure, particularly schools.
  4. Proposals must be supported by a Health Strategy, prepared in consultation with Integrated Care Board and NEE Health and Wellbeing Alliance.
  5. Proposals must be supported by a Health Impact Assessment, prepared in accordance with the latest advice and best practice.
  6. Proposals must be supported by a Healthy Living and Play Strategy. This Strategy should demonstrate how the development will be designed to encourage active lifestyles, independence, and wellbeing, through the provision of sites, facilities, and informal opportunities for people to play, socialise, play sport, keep fit and have fun.
  7. A detailed Stewardship Strategy, supported by a (independently reviewed) business case, will need to be prepared and agreed in writing with the Councils which will need to establish the scope of the stewardship and community governance arrangements, how it will evolve and develop over time, and the long-term financial sustainability of the model. This strategy will need to show how the arrangements proposed will successfully interact with and work alongside existing local governance arrangements including town/ parish councils.
  8. Proposals should explain how information on a range of issues will be passed on to future residents, this could be by digital means such as a dedicated app developed for the Garden Community.
  9. Proposals for educational use/buildings should be accompanied by a 'Community Use Statement/Plan'.


The Garden Community will be underpinned by a package of community and social infrastructure that is based on up-to-date evidence of need, to enable residents to meet the majority of their day-to-day needs. The Garden Community is an opportunity to explore, with service providers, new ways to provide and deliver the education, health and other community and social infrastructure needed to support the new community, and the Councils have worked with service providers throughout the production of the Plan.

Community and social infrastructure covers a wide range of facilities, such as health; education; sports, recreation and greenspace; places of worship; community halls; public houses and cultural infrastructure. Green- blue infrastructure, including the provision of Suitable Accessible Natural Greenspace (SANG), is another important element of community and social infrastructure and requirements for this are included in the Nature policy.

Infrastructure first is a Garden Community principle. The policy is clear that necessary community and social infrastructure will need to be provided but is flexible to respond to changing approaches to service provision as the Garden Community develops over time.

The provision of a local centre within each of the neighbourhoods will provide residents with access to services and facilities, reducing the need to travel and contributing to the creation of 'walkable neighbourhoods'. Social interaction will be promoted through a mix of uses and layouts that allow for easy pedestrian and cycle connections. This policy plans positively for the provision and use of shared space, multifunctional community facilities and other local services.

school children

The availability of good quality schools is consistently ranked as amongst the most important indicators of a high quality of life. Schools will be an important part of the Garden Community and it is key that the size and location of each is carefully considered and confirmed with the Councils as part of the comprehensive and details masterplanning process.

The scale of the Garden Community will require the provision of new education facilities that are comparable with the total number of homes built and the housing mix delivered. Garden Communities by their nature are unique developments and the precise level and pattern of demand for school places may differ from the norm that has been observed on other developments. Therefore, it is important that the planning of new schools is informed from the outset by bespoke demographic studies commissioned by the developer to provide a consistent evidence base for the planning of all social and community infrastructure.

Essex County Council's 'Garden Communities and Planning School Places' guidance document and the 'Developers' Guide to Infrastructure Contributions' provide detail on school and early years and childcare requirements and specifically new schools serving new Garden Communities in Essex. The Department for Education have published guidance, titled 'Education Provision in Garden Communities', which should also be read in conjunction with these documents. There is an expectation that school buildings will be carbon positive, deliver exemplar learning environments and generate low lifetime costs.

Schools should be designed to encourage health and wellbeing especially physical activity by the design and layout of the schools, e.g. storage facilities to support cycling and designing the school grounds to promote informal physical activity as well as providing the conventional and required sport and play facilities.

The Healthy Living and Play Strategy required under Part G should be informed by the recommendations of the 2022 Colchester Tendring Open Space Strategy and should be co-ordinated with other relevant strategies for the development such as the Green-Blue Infrastructure Strategy and the Active Travel Strategy. The strategy should demonstrate how the broader design of the development has encouraged active lifestyles (e.g. through the use of the Active Design principles).

Healthy new towns principles and Sport England's Active Design principles have been incorporated throughout this Plan. The policy explains the conditions for a healthy community will be provided through the pattern of development and good quality placemaking and design. Green-blue infrastructure, sports facilities, local shops, allotments, and layouts that encourage walking and cycling are all important for healthy lifestyles, and these are incorporated into the policies of this Plan. To ensure proposals plan positively and address the determinants of health from the outset, proposals will be required to carry out a Health Impact Assessment (HIA). The purpose of the HIA is to identify opportunities for positive health impacts and potential negative impacts and how they might be mitigated. The HIA can evidence that development will be safe, secure, and accessible. Mitigating the opportunities for crime is not only about reducing and preventing injury and crime, but it is also about building strong, cohesive, vibrant, and participatory communities. Safety, and the perception of crime is paramount, as each individual member of the community should have the right to use the appropriate space available and the environment without promoting and inducing the fear of crime. The conclusions and recommendations of the HIA will need to be incorporated into proposals.

New community and social infrastructure, including open spaces, need to be managed and maintained in perpetuity. Stewardship is the term for the long-term management of such assets. The Councils consider that stewardship also includes the development of the Garden Community as a friendly, inclusive, happy, and healthy place where residents are encouraged to interact through the design of community infrastructure and the provision of community development activities such as organising events and establishing clubs and interest groups.

There are numerous stewardship models available, and it is important for the long-term development of the Garden Community that stewardship is considered early on. The Section 1 Local Plan includes policy requirements to establish long term governance and stewardship arrangements for community assets, including the provision of community support workers for a minimum of 10 years. 

Stewardship arrangements should include a stewardship strategy, supported by a (independently reviewed) business case, that establishes the scope of the stewardship and community governance arrangements, and sets out how they will evolve over time, as well as the financial sustainability of the arrangements proposed. To ensure financial sustainability is achieved it will be essential for the stewardship body to be endowed with income- generating assets that are capable of providing a secure and long-term source of revenue for the stewardship body.

The strategy should include an initial activation program to support community development delivery early on. For example, initiatives to support the establishment of community walking, running, cycling activities and to support sports club development. Without this, there is a risk that staffing and premises will be in place but their ability to deliver community development initiatives will be constrained.

Stewardship and governance arrangements will need to achieve the following principles:

  • To achieve a high quality of place: to ensure that the quality of place and services delivered are exemplar and provide great places to live, work, visit, and play.
  • To steward a range of community assets: to ensure that a range of assets are held in perpetuity in community ownership and managed for the benefit of the community.
  • To promote community identity and cohesion: to ensure that residents and business are directly engaged in the long-term management of the community assets, fostering a shared sense of ownership and identity.
  • To act with professionalism and entrepreneurship: to provide proactive management of land and property endowments, be entrepreneurial and evolve as the community grows and circumstances change.
  • To be financially sustainable: to be long-term financially viable and self-sustaining with secure income streams. If and where service charges are required, they will be set up and enforced in an equitable way with local control over the management of the system, with rent charges not being imposed on residents. Local authorities and local residents must be protected against financial liability or risk.
  • To be accountable and well-governed: to ensure open, transparent and accountable governance with the community having the ability to exercise influence and control over stewardship decisions and delivery. The legal form of the stewardship body will be determined through consultation with all relevant stakeholders.
  • To be adaptable and follow an incremental approach: to recognise the long-term undertaking and take a staged approach to developing stewardship structures and identifying the opportunities that stewardship allows for due diligence and community engagement throughout the planning and development process.
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