Local Plan

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West Bergholt Neighbourhood Plan


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No Comments 16. Business and Commerce

16.1 Objectives

  • To support local business and retain local employment.
  • To encourage local employment opportunities through controlled expansion of existing employment located on, or adjacent to, the existing business parks.

16.2 Background & Intent

The main employment in the parish is a mixture of traditional farming activities and those which have evolved from diversification on existing and former farm sites; business parks which in the main consist of small multiple units of varying size and scale; more isolated businesses; healthcare; retail and leisure/entertainment and finally businesses run from home. The Neighbourhood Plan will need to provide the opportunity for further employment which is likely to come from the business parks and a summary of these follows.

16.3 Evidence

16.3.1 Pattens Yard Business Park - Nayland Road

This is a long-established village business enterprise site, which provides mixed-use office space and storage type facilities. A number of business tenants operate from this site. The site lies on Nayland Road with little if any on-street parking occurring and vehicles are parked within the boundary of the business park. Site ownership changed in 2013 following planning and boundary rationalisation of the site. Conditions were placed on operating hours etc. at this time. In 2015 planning permission was granted for limited development of the buildings facing the entrance to the site which greatly enhanced the site appearance whilst providing expansion. This business park largely operates in harmony with the wider village community providing local mixed employment. The green space to the immediate west of the active building business area is under the same ownership. Agricultural and private land is evident on all sides to the west of Nayland Road. This site is capable of being expanded to increase and enhance village business opportunities.

16.3.2 Armoury Farm Business Park – Armoury Road

This is a well-established business park formed initially as a family business and has developed to accommodate mixed business types for more than 40 years. The only road to the site is Armoury Road, which starts at Colchester Road as a public road and it then becomes a private road (un-adopted by the local authorities) at the north-east end to feed the business park and some residential housing. The condition of the private road is maintained through private investment. The site is surrounded by open space used for the stabling and exercise of horses to the west and farmland laid to crops to the north, east and south. Low-density residential homes form part of the main site with the nearest properties making use of the stable facilities. A number of small mixed and diverse businesses operate from within the industrial units located on this site. Lying to the north east of the village and on sloping ground towards the A12 this business park is capable of expansion without overly compromising the wellbeing of nearby residents. Some improvement to Armoury Road will be necessary if this site is expanded and any resulting increased traffic may have an impact on those residents that live in and off Armoury Road towards Colchester Road.

16.3.3 Bourne Farm Business Park – Bourne Road

A small but well-established business park located at the bottom of Bourne Road operated as a family business. The business park provides mixed business accommodation originally from a set of farm outbuildings, which have been renovated and updated over the years. Open space farmland surrounds the business park on three sides and expansion to the park in relation to open space available is possible. The area is located within the Colne Valley and any potential expansion must be considered in terms of erosion of the natural characteristics of the valley. The site lies on Bourne Road, which is fed by Chapel Lane, Queens Road and Newbridge Hill (Lexden Road). Bourne Road is an adopted road maintained by Essex County Council and in places it narrows significantly as it passes through the more densely residential areas to the west of the site towards the village core. If the site is to be considered for expansion, then traffic restrictions should be imposed for vehicular access to the site so as to retain the rural feel currently enjoyed by residents along Bourne Road. Bourne Road becomes a dead end from a private vehicle perspective once the road meets Bourne Farm. There is a public right of way footpath that continues from Bourne Farm towards Braiswick and the "Playgolf" golf course.

16.3.4 Chancers Farm Business Park - Fossetts Lane

This business park is a small modern conversion of former poultry sheds and provides mixed business accommodation. Open space farmland surrounds the business park on three sides and expansion to the park in relation to open space available is possible. The area is located within the Colne Valley and any potential expansion must be considered in terms of erosion of the natural characteristics of the valley. The site lies on Fossetts Lane, which is fed by Church Road and Mill Lane (in Fordham) and Rams Farm Road leading toward West Bergholt village. Fossetts Lane is an adopted road maintained by Essex County Council and is extremely narrow making the business park unsuitable for HGV access. If the site is to be considered for expansion, then usage must remain either service industry or light/specialized manufacturing, with minimal traffic movements in order to retain the rural feel currently enjoyed by residents. Although the site is in the parish adjacent fields to the west are in the neighbouring parish of Fordham.

16.3.5 Other Employment Areas

These are provided by:

  • Village shops
  • Pubs
  • The Parish Council
  • Churches
  • The Hop House
  • Various peripheral businesses inside and outside the village
  • Farms

These commercial, retail and employment sites provide useful opportunities to work locally and any expansion plans will be viewed sympathetically on a case by case basis.

In particular every effort will be made to include these in advertising in the Village Bulletin and in the Business Directory on the village website.

Farm diversification sites will be supported as a means of improving employment opportunities in the more rural areas of the Plan.

16.4 Summary of SWOT

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Good mix of employment in the parish, both modern and traditional.
  • Several small business park sites.
  • Reasonable road access to employment sites.
  • Three well-used village pubs.
  • Strong concentration of professional trades in the village.
  • Variety of shops.
  • Strong agricultural community.
  • Lack of space for shops to expand.
  • Poor accessibility by public transport, cycling and walking to business parks.
  • Lack of dedicated parking at shops.
  • Limited retail facilities.
  • Lack of integration of business parks with the village.
  • Poor or patchy broadband.
  • Lack of employment areas zoned in the Local Plan as employment sites.

Opportunities

Threats

  • All business parks have capability to expand.
  • Promotion of businesses through marketing and publicity.
  • New broadband connectivity.
  • Upgrading of business parks.
  • Further farm diversifications.
  • Pub companies altering tenancy agreements and pubs subject to short term closures and long-term threat of redevelopment for housing.
  • Business parks being developed as housing sites.
  • High business rates.

16.5 The Plan's Approach

This will be to support appropriate expansion of the business parks and encourage and support individual businesses wherever possible.

As the objectives relate in part to the use and development of land only, Planning Policies alone have been developed.

16.6 Policies

Policy No.

Business, Commerce and Employment Planning Policies

PP26: Expansion of Employment Sites

Proposals to upgrade or extend existing employment sites will be supported provided that:

  • the impact on the amenities enjoyed by occupants of nearby properties is acceptable; and
  • they do not compromise the character of the area or openness of the countryside; and
  • traffic impact is acceptable in terms of highway safety and living conditions for residents. Proposals may be required to submit a traffic impact analysis or transport assessment which is proportionate to the development and demonstrates traffic impact and any measures which may be taken to mitigate impacts.

PP27: Protection of Employment Sites

There will be a strong presumption against the loss of commercial premises or land which provide employment and are of demonstrable benefit to the local community. Applications for a change of use to an activity that does not provide employment opportunities will only be permitted if it can be demonstrated that:

  • the commercial premises or land in question have not been in active use for at least 12 months and there is little, or no prospect of the premises or land being reoccupied by an employment generating user. This must be proven through an independent sustained marketing campaign lasting for a continuous concurrent period of at least six months; and
  • the new use will enhance road safety and the living conditions of residents.

PP28:

Farm Diversification

Development proposals for the diversification of farms will be supported where this enables production from the land to continue and where:

  1. There are no significant negative effects upon the landscape.
  2. It does not result in significant increased traffic by way of Heavy Goods Vehicles on rural roads.
  3. There is sustained or increased local employment.

PP29:

Rural Businesses

Proposals for new rural businesses, including the provision of tourism-related facilities, attractions & accommodation, and homeworking will be encouraged when they meet the following criteria:

  1. They do not have a significant adverse impact on residential amenity; and
  2. They do not have a significant adverse impact on the landscape, tranquility or the Green Infrastructure network of the Parish;
  3. and they provide suitable access and appropriate car parking.
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