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As noted above, the site abuts the boundary of the North Colchester and Severalls Strategic Economic Growth Area as well as the new housing allocation on land at Colchester Rugby Club. It is important that the plan provides sufficient sites for housing in sustainable locations and we support the growth strategy for the north of Colchester.
However, we OBJECT to the housing allocation as it stands and would suggest that the site at Oxley Parker Drive forms a natural extension to the rugby club allocation and should therefore be included under Policy NC1. Alternatively, the site would more easily be developed as a stand-alone allocation as it does not involve the need to relocate existing uses.
Allocation of the site should therefore be viewed favourably in comparison to other proposed allocations in the vicinity.
Previous representations have advocated allocation of the site for residential development, and we can confirm the site is still available and suitable for such development.
The site is currently grassland and as such is available for development immediately, without any significant constraints or significant works to prepare for development.
A Phase 1 Ecology Survey has been undertaken on the site which concludes there are no apparent restrictions to development. It advises mitigation measures in the form of retention of hedgerows and trees and enhancement of hedgerows through additional native planting; bat and bird boxes in trees; integrated bat roost units in buildings and specific nest boxes for house martins, starlings and house sparrows.
Access to the site can be achieved from Oxley Parker Drive and the site is of an appropriate scale and position to provide a suitable development that does not result in significant impacts on the amenities of existing or future residents. It has previously been suggested that the site is capable of delivering a scheme of approximately 40 dwellings.
The site benefits from good access to the town centre, local amenities and facilities, including existing and proposed commercial/employment uses, open space and links to both public and private transport interchanges. The site lies within walking and cycling distance of existing bus stops and the railway station and as such growth in this location would assist in achieving more sustainable travel behaviour and reducing congestion levels in the town.
In conclusion, the site represents an available, suitable and deliverable opportunity for sustainable development that could contribute to the delivery of housing early in the plan period and would complement the vision for the Colchester Northern Gateway development area.