Local Plan

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Representation 2137 on Preferred Options Local Plan by Mr William Baker

Support / Object: OBJECT
Document Link: Preferred Options Local Plan - Sustainable Settlements, Mersea Island
Representation: There are significant infrastructure and service constraints on any additional or accelerated development in West Mersea. Much of the infrastructure is in need of maintenance or improvement to accommodate existing load and services are at or near capacity so that even a modest increase in population would require significant investment. Costs 'per unit/per capita' are likely to be far greater than development to the East or West of Colchester as West Mersea is isolated (an island) and there are no economies of scale.

Original submission

There are significant infrastructure and service constraints on any additional or accelerated development in West Mersea. Much of the infrastructure is in need of maintenance or improvement to accommodate existing load and services are at or near capacity so that even a modest increase in population would require significant investment. Costs 'per unit/per capita' are likely to be far greater than development to the East or West of Colchester as West Mersea is isolated (an island) and there are no economies of scale.
Our emergency services (Coastguard, Lifeboat, First Responders and PCSOs etc.) are all voluntary or based 'off island' and it is unlikely that this voluntary provision could (or would wish to) cope with supporting more calls.
The costs of all these essential facilities could not be met from S106 monies received from developers and so the costs would be borne by West Mersea Town Council, Colchester Borough Council and Essex County Council plus providers of these services e.g. Anglian Water, NHS Trust etc. Ultimately, the development would therefore be subsidised by existing tax payers and customers.
We note that all the Growth Options in the paper include development of Rural District Centres such as West Mersea. However, West Mersea differs from other centres in that we are unable to 'provide essential services and facilities to our (sic) rural hinterland' (Core Strategy 2008) as we are regularly cut off by the tide; most of our emergency services are voluntary or off island and the surgery, school etc. are already at capacity. Finally, we have by definition, as an island fringed by low lying beach and saltings, extremely limited supply of suitable land for development. There is no site above the coastal protection belt that could accommodate development proportionate to Colchester Borough's aim of 10% over 17 years.
From 2001 to 2011 population of West Mersea has increased by 262 or 4% and current constraints mean that we could not accommodate any additional or accelerated growth. Even at this level (or shared with surrounding villages as per option 1B) we would need significant investment, far in excess of what is available from S106.
Finally, with reference to our Neighbourhood profile E05004144 (attached) our population and housing profile clearly indicate that any future development needs to include affordable homes for local people. There are 10% residents on benefits and 16.8% in fuel poverty yet only 6.3% social/affordable housing. This has led to a 'waisted' (wasted) population profile with many aged 20-40 having to move elsewhere in the borough.


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