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On behalf of my client, B The Middle Ltd, I am responding to the Preferred Options Local Plan consultation in respect of the site at Birch Business Centre, Maldon Road, Colchester, CO2 0LT. The extent of the site is demonstrated on the accompanying plans, as listed on the Drawing Register.
The site is located to the south of Heckfordbridge, south west of Colchester. The closest village is Birch Green, being 1.1 miles via Maldon Road. Bus stops are available directly adjacent to the site along Maldon Road with regular bus services providing links to Maldon and Colchester. Maldon town centre can be reached within 30 minutes and Colchester town centre within 25 minutes by public transport. The site currently has no designations under the Proposals Map as adopted in 2010 or the draft Proposals Map currently undergoing consultation.
The site is surrounded by open fields that appear to be in agricultural use, with a number of scattered residential dwellings in large plots. The site itself is used by Hutton Joinery and Hutton Construction with numerous buildings, open storage and vehicle parking.
Whilst no planning history can be found for the site, the buildings and other activities are clearly visible on Google Earth from 2000, having been located on the site in excess of the ten years required to become lawful through the passing of time. Whilst no evidence in this regard is submitted with this consultation response, Smart Planning are in the process of collating the relevant evidence and a Certificate of Lawfulness application will be submitted shortly.
The buildings on site do vary, with stacked portacabins and brick buildings of substantial construction. Whilst there is some landscaping around the boundary of the site, this is not extensive, particularly to the north and west. As a result the buildings and other activities on the site can easily be viewed from the wider area, including from Maldon Road. The site in its current form has developed over an extensive period to reflect the needs of the occupiers.
Whilst the site does not currently have planning permission, the use and all current buildings are well established and operate with no restrictions on opening hours, delivery hours or vehicle movements.
The site was not submitted within the most recent Call for Sites, has not been assessed accordingly and is not proposed for development within the Preferred Options Local Plan currently undergoing consultation. The LPA are respectfully requested to consider the inclusion of the site for residential development to assist in meeting the identified housing need.
The redevelopment of the site will make efficient use of previously developed land and remove the current use and unsightly large portacabins and other activities that can be easily viewed from the surrounding area. Substantial landscaping could be provided along the boundaries of the site and any dwellings would be of a high quality design, creating a well-designed development.
The development of the site to provide dwellings would also remove the current unrestricted operating hours and vehicle movements. The current uses generate a substantial number of vehicle movements, including from employees, deliveries and visitors in cars, vans and HGVs. The total number of vehicle movements would be reduced, with only vehicles serving a residential site.
There are other dwellings in the vicinity, with the site having easy access to regular public transport and a wide range of services and facilities. B The Middle Ltd are in the process of obtaining an option over the land, with the landowner clearly being amenable to the redevelopment of the site.
The redevelopment of the site would make efficient use of previously developed land to provide housing to meet the identified need and provide choice within the area. The site is close to regular public transport and a range of services and facilities, being within a reasonably sustainable location. It will result in a reduction in the number of vehicle movements to and from the site and remove movements from vans and HGVs, resulting in an overall environmental benefit. The site is suitable and achievable, with a willing land owner and developer and the LPA are respectfully requested to consider the inclusion of the site within the Local Plan and allocate it for residential development.