Cabinet to consider next stage in developing new Local Plan

The Council is preparing an innovative new Local Plan to manage future growth.

Southend seafront

The next stage of that process will see the council’s cabinet (Tuesday 15 June) considering the results of the 2019 public consultation and refining options ahead of another public consultation this summer.

Cabinet members will discuss the ‘Refining the Plan Options’ document (item 6, Tuesday 15 June). This is the second of five key stages required to prepare the Southend New Local Plan. Subject to approvals, an 8-week consultation will take place from July, where local people will be able to have their say.

In early 2019 the Council consulted on the Southend New Local Plan ‘Issues and Options’ document. This was the first stage in the preparation of a new Local Plan for Southend to guide future development decisions over the next 20 years.

The new Local Plan is required by law to identify land for new housing, jobs, local services and supporting infrastructure to meet the needs of the Borough and meet national housing targets. It will also set out planning policies to manage new development in a way that protects and enhances our natural and historic environment whilst meeting Southend’s aspirations for the future of the Borough.

Comments and views made at this stage will help shape a Preferred Approach document which will be subject to further public consultation next year before the new Local Plan is finalised in 2023 for further public consultation and then submitted to be examined by an independent Inspector. Key Challenges being asked in the Refining the Plans Options document include:

Economic recovery and meeting employment needs

To ensure economic recovery and meeting employment needs, the Borough will need to plan for around 11,000 new jobs over a 20-year period. The plan sets out options for safeguarding economic growth areas including Town Centre, London Southend Airport, and the norther Southend corridor centred around Progress Road and Stock Road/Temple Farm. Within these areas, the principal growth drivers are identified as being the digital, cultural and creative; healthcare technology; advanced manufacturing and engineering; and tourism sectors. There is also potential within the Climate Change technology sector.

Providing community services and infrastructure

Providing quality services for the future health, education, sports and leisure and community needs of the Borough’s residents is fundamental in achieving a high quality of life.

Growth within Southend needs to be infrastructure led, ensuring key services and facilities are delivered when they are needed, taking account of existing capacity and the phasing of future development. The document asks what infrastructure provision is required in respect to new development and outlines that an Infrastructure Delivery Plan will be prepared to sit alongside the New Local Plan.

Protecting and enhancing Green Space and the Coastline

To provide protection against speculative inappropriate development on publicly accessible green space and to protect natural habitats, the document identifies sites to be safeguarded; supports in principle the ambition to create a Country Park to improve access to green space for residents in the north east of the Borough; and identifies areas of search where new and improved open spaces will be promoted within areas lacking access to local open space.

Providing new housing

Housing is an important issue, particularly its affordability, not just for Southend, but nationally. The Local Plan sets out options and potential sites in seeking to meet housing need as follows:

  • Increasing urban capacity - Refining the Plan Options considers options for meeting our future needs by developing within existing urban areas of Southend through windfall, existing allocations and sites located on previously developed land. This has the potential to contribute around 10,500 new homes
  • Facilitating urban change - Housing regeneration on existing housing estates in public ownership that may benefit from some renewal, redevelopment or expansion; outmoded/under used employment land that could be better put to alternative residential use; and a small number of sites on green space (less than 1% of all public green space) and agricultural land within settlement limits that could be suitable for housing. This has the potential to contribute around 2,000 new homes
  • New neighbourhood - development on the edge of the existing urban area that has the potential to create a comprehensive new neighbourhood to the north of Southend, including new jobs, supporting infrastructure, improved access and public green space. This includes nearly 2,000 new homes at Fossetts Farm and around 5,000 additional homes on land currently designated as Green Belt within the Borough of Southend
  • Series of new neighbourhoods – there is also an option of working with Rochford District Council to provide a series of new neighbourhoods to the north of Southend that could deliver an additional estimated 5,000 homes, new jobs, new link road, Country Park and supporting infrastructure

A full sustainability assessment will also be included throughout every stage of the consultation which looks at the environmental and sustainability aspects of the plan.

Cllr Gilbert, leader of the Council, said: “The new Local Plan will provide a degree of certainty for communities, businesses and investors on future development proposals, and a framework for guiding decisions on individual planning applications and how as a place we can meet the challenging housing targets set by central Government and deliver the infrastructure that we will need alongside it.

“Having an up-to-date Local Plan that is shaped through community engagement, provides an important tool to help manage future development proposals that would otherwise come forward without local policies guiding the type, scale and location of new development.

“The Covid Pandemic has had a significant impact on the global and local economy. The new Local Plan will play a key role in helping to act as a catalyst to recover from this impact. It will be important that we continue to monitor the impacts of Covid and the post pandemic recovery as the new Local Plan is prepared.”

Once adopted the Southend new Local Plan will be a key document in guiding and facilitating new development and growth in the Borough, helping to deliver some of the aspirations of the Southend 2050 vision developed in 2018 in partnership with the local community.

The pandemic and potential future restrictions means that the usual approach of engaging and consulting with local people by using physical exhibitions in town halls and neighbourhood centres may not be safe or appropriate options. Therefore an online consultation and virtual workshops will be held with various stakeholder groups. There are also plans to host some open-air pop-up events across the Borough’s neighbourhoods, in town and local centres, and parks and open spaces.

Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, said: "It is important to be clear that this is the second out of five stages in the process of developing a new Local Plan and this next stage is about looking at the results of the consultation undertaken in early 2019 and the call for sites, and undertaking further public consultation. We are not yet setting policy or making decisions, but we are duty bound to consider all options and include all possibilities at this stage, and we are also obligated by the Government to provide 1,200 homes a year up to 2040 and we cannot achieve this without an innovative new Local Plan.”

“By planning so far into the future, the new Local Plan gives greater certainty about where development will take place over the next 20 years and how we meet our national targets. It will enable the Council to better manage new development in a way that creates more sustainable communities, provides homes for all parts of the community and takes advantage of opportunities emerging from the anticipated economic growth.

"Alongside this, a longer-term Local Plan is vital in attracting investment and funding to create the opportunities to deliver the infrastructure that new development will need and health and wellbeing benefits for the residents of the Borough.

"A robust Local Plan also means the Council will be in a better position to make planning decisions, so they are made at a local level rather than by a national planning inspector.”

The Refining the Plans Options document will be discussed and considered at Cabinet on 15 June. You can view all of the documents and full agenda on our democracy site.

Published: 8th June 2021

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