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Please find below our comments on the current Preferred Options consultation, which are submitted on behalf of our client, The Chelmsford Diocesan Board of Finance (CDBF) (commonly known as the Diocese of Chelmsford, the Church of England in Essex and East London), in relation to the land comprising the site of the Colchester Rugby Club, Mill Road, Mile End. It should be noted that the site is not within the ownership of our client.
The rugby club site is located to the north Colchester, and the whole of this part of the Borough has been the subject of various planning applications and development in recent years and this is expected to continue through the plan period. The Preferred Options plan identifies that the Council will deliver the next phase of the Northern Gateway Masterplan vision through the development of a new sports and recreational hub on land in its ownership to the north of the A12 (referred to as zone 3 on the policies map). It is proposed that the rugby club will relocate to this area.
In the Preferred Options plan and on the policies plan the rugby club site at Mill Road is shown as being safeguarded for the employment as well as allocated for residential development and open space to provide enabling development to assist in the delivery of the sports facilities in the northern gateway. It is noted that there will be a master plan to provide a detailed framework for the area, securing the provision of a significant area of public open space as well as approximately 150 dwellings.
It is noted that Colchester Borough, and in particular Mile End in northern Colchester is growing at an enormous rate in terms of housing provision. The Preferred Option plan identifies that Colchester needs to make a minimum provision of 14,720 homes between 2017 and 2033 in accordance with its evidence based housing target, which equates to at least 920 new homes per year (Policy SG2).
There is an acknowledged need to ensure that the provision of housing is balanced with the appropriate provision of community facilities. Policy DM2 (Community Facilities) is supported particularly in relation to the allocation of new community uses where there is an identified need, and the provision of additional community facilities in conjunction with new development. The CDBF would support the provision of additional facilities in the form of a place of worship, or dual use place of worship and community centre, in Colchester north. The churches in this part of Colchester are growing and are already working to develop community in areas of new housing.
The Borough Council is requested to ensure that specific reference is made in the relevant policies and Local Plan text for the provision of a site for a new place of worship within the residential and open space allocation on the land at the existing rugby club site. This will enhance the sustainability of community life and meet the anticipated needs of a growing and changing population.
I trust you will take these representations into account and I look forward to being kept up-to-date on the progress of the Plan.