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1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
i. This submission provides Gladman Development's written representations on the Colchester
Borough Local Plan 2017-2032 Preferred Options Consultation (CBLP)
ii. Gladman specialise in the promotion of strategic land for residential development with associated community infrastructure and has previously been involved in the preparation of the CBLP as well as with site delivery in Colchester.
iii. These representations concern the following matters:
Duty to Cooperate
Objectively Assessed Housing Need
North Essex Authorities Plan - Part One
Sustainable Growth Policies
Development Management Policies
iv. To establish the needs within the HMA, the combined authorities (Colchester, Tendring and Braintree) commissioned PBA to undertake an update to the SHMA in January 2016. Since the update was published, the Government has released the 2014 Subnational Population Projections (SNPPs) and the 2014 Household Projections. The Framework states that Local Plans should be based on up-to-date evidence and therefore the Council will need to update the SHMA again to take account of this new data, before the production of the Pre-Submission Plan.
v. The creation of new garden communities is supported although it must be recognised that there can be long lead in times associated with this type of development as they are often complex and require significant levels of upfront investment in infrastructure to deliver. The Councils must be realistic when considering the delivery trajectories that are associated with the garden
communities and should allocate a range of smaller and medium sized sites that will deliver early in the plan periods to ensure that a rolling 5-year housing land supply can be maintained. The provision of smaller new settlements could also be an effective way of contributing to both short, medium and long term housing needs.
vi. Gladman consider that Policy SP7 is fundamentally flawed and is entirely in conflict with the guidance set out in the Framework in relation to its approach to unallocated proposals. Whilst it is understandable that the Councils wish to ensure the delivery of the new garden communities, this must not be at the expense of providing much needed housing across the entirety of the North Essex area.
vii. The Policy states that proposals on unallocated sites will not be permitted if it will prejudice the development of the garden communities, regardless of the status of the 5-year housing land supply position. This is diametrically opposed to the fundamental premise of the Framework to boost significantly the supply of housing and to identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years' worth of housing against their housing requirements.
viii. Whilst it is supported that the main urban areas continue to play a key role in the accommodation of future development within the district, this should not be at the expense of ensuring that the housing and employment needs of other settlements are met. Para 55 of the Framework seeks to promote sustainable development in rural areas to maintain and enhance rural vitality and
viability. It is essential, therefore, that the needs of the sustainable rural settlements and suburban areas, across the district, including Braiswick, Eight Ash Green and Rowhedge are assessed and meaningful growth apportioned to them to ensure their ongoing vitality and viability. In addition the Council should consider the provision of smaller new settlements as a way of accelerating the development of new housing, in new settlements within the district.
ix. Gladman Developments are promoting a range of sites as identified in Section 8 of the representation, it is considered that the balance and mix of sites will help meet overall plan targets and provide housing provision which can meet identified needs throughout the plan period.
2.1.1 Gladman Developments specialise in the promotion of strategic land for residential development with associated community infrastructure. This submission provides Gladman Development's representations on the CBLP.
2.1.2 The National Planning Policy Framework sets out four tests that must be met for Local Plans to be considered sound. In this regard we submit that in order to prepare a sound plan it is fundamental that it is:
Positively Prepared - The Plan should be prepared on a strategy which seeks to meet
objectively assessed development and infrastructure requirements including unmet
requirements from neighbouring authorities where it is reasonable to do so and
consistent with achieving sustainable development.
Justified - the plan should be the most appropriate strategy, when considered against
the reasonable alternatives, based on a proportionate evidence base.
Effective - the plan should be deliverable over its period and based on effective joint
working on cross-boundary strategic priorities; and
Consistent with National Policy - the plan should enable the delivery of sustainable
development in accordance with the policies in the Framework.
3 NATIONAL PLANNING POLICY
3.1 National Planning Policy Framework and Planning Practice Guidance
3.1.1 The National Planning Policy Framework has been with us now for over four years and the development industry has experience with its application and the fundamental changes it has brought about in relation to the way the planning system functions. The Framework sets out the Government's goal to 'significantly boost the supply of housing' and how this should be reflected through the preparation of Local Plans. In this regard, it sets out specific guidance that local
planning authorities must take into account when identifying and meeting their objectively assessed housing needs:
"To boost significantly the supply of housing, local planning authorities should:
Use their evidence base to ensure that their Local Plan meets the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area
Identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient
to provide five years' worth of housing against their housing
Identify a supply of specific, developable sites or broad locations for
growth, for years 6-10, and where possible for years 11-15" (Paragraph
3.1.2 The starting point of identifying objectively assessed housing needs is set out in paragraph 159 of the NPPF, which requires local planning authorities to prepare a Strategic Housing Market Assessment, working with neighbouring authorities where housing market areas cross administrative boundaries. It is clear from the Framework that the objective assessment of housing needs should take full account of up-to-date and relevant evidence about the economic and social
characteristics and prospects of the area, with local planning authorities ensuring that their assessment of and strategies for housing and employment are integrated and take full account of relevant market and economic signals (paragraph 158).
3.1.3 Once a local authority has identified its objectively assessed needs for housing these needs should be met in full, unless any adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of doing so (paragraph 14). Local planning authorities should seek to achieve each of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, and net gains across all three. Adverse impacts on any of these dimensions should be avoided. Where adverse impacts
are unavoidable, mitigation or compensatory measures may be appropriate (paragraph 152).
3.1.4 As the Council will be aware the Government published its final suite of Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) on the 6th March 2014, clarifying how specific elements of the Framework should be interpreted when preparing their Local Plans. The PPG on the Housing and Economic Development Needs in particular provides a clear indication of how the Government expects the Framework to be taken into account when Councils are identifying their objectively assessed housing needs. Key
points from this document include:
Household projections published by the Department for Communities and Local
Government should provide the starting point estimate of overall housing need
Plan makers should not apply constraints to the overall assessment of need, such as limitations imposed by the supply of land for new development, historic
underperformance, infrastructure or environmental constraints.
Household projection based estimates of housing need may need adjusting to reflect factors affecting local demography and household formation rates which are not captured by past trends, for example historic suppression by under supply and worsening affordability of housing. The assessment will need to reflect the consequences of past under delivery and the extent to which household formation rates have been constrained by supply.
Plan makers need to consider increasing their housing numbers where the supply of working age population is less than projected job growth, to prevent unsustainable commuting patterns and reduced local business resilience.
Housing needs indicated by household projections should be adjusted to reflect
appropriate market signals, as well as other market indicators of the balance between the demand for and supply of dwellings.
The more significant the affordability constraints (as reflected in rising prices and rents, and worsening affordability ratio) and the stronger other indicators of high demand (e.g. the differential between land prices), the larger the improvement in affordability needed, and the larger the additional supply response should be.
The total affordable housing need should be considered in the context of its likely
delivery as a proportion of mixed market and affordable housing developments, given the probable percentage of affordable housing to be delivered by market housing led developments. An increase in the total housing figures included in the local plan should be considered where it could help to deliver the required number of affordable homes.
4 LEGAL COMPLIANCE
4.1 Duty to Cooperate
4.1.1 The Duty to Cooperate is a legal requirement established through Section 33(A) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, as amended by Section 110 of the Localism Act. It requires local authorities to engage constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis with neighbouring authorities on cross-boundary strategic issues throughout the process of Plan preparation. As demonstrated through the outcome of the 2012 Coventry Core Strategy Examination and the 2013
Mid Sussex Core Strategy Examination, if a Council fails to satisfactorily discharge its Duty to Cooperate, this cannot be rectified through modifications and an Inspector must recommend non-adoption of the Plan.
4.1.2 Whilst Gladman recognise that the Duty to Cooperate is a process of ongoing engagement and collaboration1 as set out in the PPG, it is clear that it is intended to produce effective policies on cross-boundary strategic matters. In this regard, Colchester must be able to demonstrate that it has engaged and worked with neighbouring authorities, alongside their existing joint working arrangements, to satisfactorily address cross boundary strategic issues and the requirement to meet
any unmet housing needs. This is not simply an issue of consultation but a question of effective cooperation.
4.1.3 Colchester is working alongside the other North Essex Authorities (Tendring and Braintree) to prepare a strategic plan which sets the overall strategic framework for planning in the area upon which, the local plans can be based. This approach is to be welcomed as it allows the authorities to address cross-boundary strategic issues such as the delivery of new settlements in a coordinated
manner. It is considered that Maldon is also part of the same Housing Market Area as Colchester, Tendring and Braintree but it is recognised that their Local Plan preparation is ahead of the other authorities and for practical purposes it may not be possible to align key evidence. However, it is important to recognise that the North Essex authorities have a number of key links with other LPAs outside of North Essex including Maldon, Chelmsford and Uttlesford and they need to work
cooperatively with these authorities, through the Duty to Cooperate to address cross boundary issues.
4.1.4 Further, the PPG reflects on the public bodies which are subject to the duty to cooperate. It contains a list of the prescribed bodies. The PPG then goes on to state that: "These bodies play a key role in delivering local aspirations, and cooperation
between them and local planning authorities is vital to make Local Plans as
effective as possible on strategic cross boundary matters."
1 PPG Reference ID. 9-011-2014036
4.2 Sustainability Appraisal
4.2.1 In accordance with Section 19 of the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act, policies set out in Local Plans must be subject to Sustainability Appraisal (SA). Incorporating the requirements of the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004, SA is a systematic process that should be undertaken at each stage of the Plan's preparation, assessing the effects of
the Local Plan's proposals on sustainable development when judged against reasonable alternatives.
4.2.2 The CBLP should ensure that the results of the SA process clearly justify its policy choices. In meeting the development needs of the area, it should be clear from the results of the assessment why some policy options have been progressed and others have been rejected. Undertaking a comparative and equal assessment of each reasonable alternative, the CBLP's decision making and scoring should be robust, justified and transparent.
5 OBJECTIVELY ASSESSED HOUSING NEED
5.1.1 The process of undertaking an OAN is clearly set out in the Framework principally in §14, §47, §152 and §159 and should be undertaken in a systematic and transparent way to ensure that the plan is based on a robust evidence base.
5.1.2 The starting point for this assessment requires local planning authorities to have a clear understanding of housing needs in their area. This involves the preparation of a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) working with neighbouring authorities where housing market areas cross administrative areas as detailed in §159 of the Framework. The Framework goes on to set out the factors that should be included in a SHMA including identifying "the scale and mix of housing and the range of tenures that the local population is likely to need over the plan period which:
Meets household and population projections taking account of migration
and demographic change;
Addresses the need for all types of housing including affordable housing
and the needs of different groups in the community (such as, but not limited
to, families with children, older people, people with disabilities, service
families and people wishing to build their own homes); and
Caters for housing demand and the scale of housing supply necessary to
meet this demand."
5.1.3 Key points that are worth noting from the above is that the objective assessment should identify the full need for housing before the Council consider undertaking any process of assessing the ability to deliver this figure. In addition, §159 specifically relates to catering for both housing need and housing demand within the authority area. It is worth pointing out that any assessment of
housing need and demand within a SHMA must also consider the following factors; falling household formation rates, net inward migration, the need to address the under provision of housing from the previous local plan period, the results of the Census 2011, housing vacancy rates including the need to factor in a housing vacancy rate for churn in the housing market, economic factors to ensure that the economic forecasts for an area are supported by sufficient housing to deliver economic growth, off-setting a falling working age population by providing enough
housing to ensure retiring workers can be replaced by incoming residents, addressing affordability and delivering the full need for affordable housing in an area.
5.1.4 Of particular importance is the need to consider market signals. The consideration of market signals is one of the core planning principles considered in §17 of the Framework, which states:
'..Plans should take account of market signals, such as land prices and housing
affordability, and set out a clear strategy for allocating sufficient land which is
suitable for development in their area, taking account of the needs of the residential
and business communities.'
5.1.5 Of critical importance is what the Framework goes onto say in §158 in the section discussing Plan
Making. It states here:
'Local planning authorities should ensure that their assessment of and strategies
for housing, employment and other uses are integrated, and that they take full
account of relevant market and economic signals.'
5.1.6 Market signals are therefore at the very core of what the Framework is trying to achieve in promoting sustainable development and boosting the supply of housing land.
5.1.7 The formal publication of the Planning Practice Guidance in March 2014 gives further explanation to what the Framework means with regard to market signals, and sets out, in a range of paragraphs, the way in which local planning authorities should go about factoring in relevant market signals in arriving at their OAN. §19 and §20 of the PPG gives guidance on what market signals should be taken into account and how plan makers should respond to these market signals. The below
extracts identify some particularly pertinent points.
'The housing need number suggested by household projections (the starting point)
should be adjusted to reflect appropriate market signals, as well as other market
indicators of the balance between the demand for and supply of dwellings. Prices of
rents rising faster than the national/local average may well indicate particular
market undersupply relative to demand.'
5.1.8 The paragraph goes on to indicate that these factors would include, but should not be limited to, land prices, house prices, rents, affordability, rates of development and overcrowding. However, given what the Framework says at §17, quoted above, it seems clear that particular consideration should be given to affordability.
5.1.9 In order to consider how market signals should be taken forward §20 identifies some key concepts:
'Appropriate comparisons of indicators should be made. This includes comparison
with longer term trends (both in absolute levels and rates of change) in the: housing
market area; similar demographic and economic areas; and nationally. A
worsening trend in any of these indicators will require upward adjustment to
planned housing numbers compared to ones based solely on household
5.1.10 It is therefore clear that where market signals are apparent (in any of the indicators assessed) there is an absolute and clear direction that an upward adjustment to housing numbers is required. It is also clear that both the absolute level of change and the rates of change are considerations, and that local planning authorities need to carefully bench mark themselves against other areas. This
should not simply be a case of considering neighbouring authorities but should look at, as well as these, local authorities on a national basis, if the demographic and economic indicators are relevant. Gladman are firmly of the view that considering comparisons purely against neighbouring authorities is not sufficiently robust and does not address the underlying issues which both the Framework and PPG are trying to tackle with regard to housing.
5.1.11 What is of further importance when considering these issues is the period of time analysed when considering both relative and absolute change. It has become apparent, in our consideration of a number of plans that many local authorities choose to look at periods of time which are not fully representative of the depth of the housing crisis which we are currently within.
5.1.12 The problems are noted in Fixing the Foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation published by HM Treasury in July 2015. In paragraph 9.7 the report states:
'There remains more to do. As the London School of Economics (LSE) Growth
Commission found, 'under supply of housing, especially in high-growth areas of the
country has pushed up house prices. The UK has been incapable of building enough
homes to keep up with growing demand.'
5.1.13 Gladman are therefore of the view that local planning authorities must take a long term view when considering affordability and consider the relative and absolute change over a long term 15-20 year period, which coincides with the normal time span of a Local Plan. Authorities should assess, as a constituent part of their OAN, how they can improve affordability over the life time of a plan to a
point where affordability is more in line with average earnings and affordable mortgage lending rates. They should assess a level of housing over the 15-20 year plan period which would enable this step change and consider its deliverability in the plan. Only through planning for significant housing growth can local authorities realistically tackle market signals in the way advocated by the PPG and tackle the affordability and housing crisis.
5.1.14 The need to identify the full OAN before considering any issues with the ability of a Local Planning Authority to accommodate that level of development has been confirmed in the High Court. Most notably in Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council v (1) Gallagher Homes Limited (2) Lioncourt Homes Limited where it was considered that arriving at a housing requirement was a two stage process and
that first the unconstrained OAN must be arrived at. In the judgement it was stated:
"The NPPF indeed effected a radical change. It consisted in the two-step approach
which paragraph 47 enjoined. The previous policy's methodology was essentially
the striking of a balance. By contrast paragraph 47 required the OAN [objectively
assessed need] to be made first, and to be given effect in the Local Plan save only to
the extent that that would be inconsistent with other NPPF policies. [...] The twostep
approach is by no means barren or technical. It means that housing need is
clearly and cleanly ascertained. And as the judge said at paragraph 94, "[h]ere,
numbers matter; because the larger the need, the more pressure will or might be
applied to [impinge] on other inconsistent policies".
5.1.15 Therefore, following the exercise to identify the full, OAN for housing in an area, "Local planning authorities should seek opportunities to achieve each of the
economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development,
and net gains across all three. Significant adverse impacts on any of these
dimensions should be avoided and, wherever possible, alternative options
which reduce or eliminate such impacts should be pursued. Where adverse
impacts are unavoidable, measures to mitigate the impact should be considered.
Where adequate mitigation measures are not possible, compensatory measures
may be appropriate." (NPPF §152)
5.1.16 This statement clearly sets out that local planning authorities should seek to deliver the full OAN and that this should be tested through the evidence base. Only where the evidence shows that this is not achievable should they then test other options to see if any significant adverse impacts could be reduced or eliminated by pursuing these options. If this is not possible then they should test if the significant adverse impacts could be mitigated and where this is not possible, where
compensatory measures may be appropriate.
5.1.17 The final stage of the process is outlined in §14 and involves a planning judgement as to whether, following all of the stages of the process outlined above,
"Local Plans should meet OAN, with sufficient flexibility to adapt to rapid
any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably
outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this
framework taken as a whole; or
specific policies in this Framework indicate development should be
5.1.18 It is also worth noting that the final part of this sentence refers to footnote 9 of the Framework which sets out the types of policies that the Government consider to be restrictive. These include:
"sites protected under the Birds and Habitat Directive (see paragraph 119)
and/or designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; land designated as Green
Belt, Local Green Space, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Heritage Coast
or within a National Park (or the Broads Authority); designated heritage assets;
and locations at risk of flooding or coastal erosion".
5.1.19 Although this list is not exhaustive it is clear that local landscape designations, intrinsic value of the countryside, the character of areas, green gaps etc. are not specifically mentioned as constraints by the Framework.
5.1.20 The National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) contains guidance to support local authorities in objectively assessing and evidencing development needs for housing (both market and affordable) and economic development. This document supports and provides further guidance on the process of undertaking such assessments, in addition to what is set out in the Framework.
5.2 Meeting Housing Needs - Colchester District (Policy SP2)
5.2.1 Gladman welcome the recognition set out in the North Essex Authorities Part 1 Plan that they are committed to plan positively for new homes and to significantly boost the supply of housing in line with the Government's agenda.
5.2.2 To establish the needs within the HMA, the combined authorities (Colchester, Tendring and Braintree) commissioned PBA to undertake an update to the SHMA in January 2016. This established a need for housing within Colchester of between 903and 920 units per annum with a suggestion that 920 units per annum be taken forward with the caveat that this should be kept under review.
5.2.3 Since the update was published, the Government has released it 2014 Subnational Population Projections (SNPPs) and the 2014 Household Projections. The Framework states that Local Plans should be based on up-to-date evidence and therefore the Council will need to update the SHMA again to take account of this new data, before the production of the Pre-Submission Plan.
5.2.4 It will be important for the Council to consider this new evidence and refresh its OAN work through the SHMA, in order to ensure that the evidence base which underpins the housing requirement is as up to date as possible. Even if the starting point for Colchester is not fundamentally different in the 2014 data than the 2012 data it is important to consider the components of change which sit behind it, and for example, what may have changed with regard to such issues as unattributable
population chance (UPC) or affordability, household formation rates etc.
5.2.5 The PPG sets out that in assessing demographic-led housing needs, CLG Household Projections form the overall starting point for the estimate of housing needs, but caveats that these may require adjustments to reflect future change and local demographic factors which are not captured in the projections (ID 2a-015). However, such adjustments should be sufficiently evidenced and robustly
justified (ID 2a-017). In addition, the PPG states that account should also be taken of the latest ONS population estimates (ID 2a-017).
5.2.6 In addition, the current 2016 SHMA, an update which does not seem to be available on the Colchester website but is on Tendring and Braintree websites, maintains the base demographic start point uplift of OAN by 6%, for Colchester, to account for future economic growth but suggests that this will also cover any market signals adjustment as well as making an allowance for any
additional London related migration.
5.2.7 However, applying an increase in household formation to account for employment growth and making an upward adjustment for market signals are two distinct elements of the OAN calculation. The PPG is clear that to make adjustments to account for employment growth is a demand side response whilst market signals should be a supply-side adjustment to help improve affordability (ID 2a-020). To consider both adjustments as part of a single step would be clear conflation of the two factors. Gladman therefore object to the way in which economic factors and market signals have been undertaken.
5.2.8 For all of the reasons set out above, it is therefore considered that the current 2016 SHMA update is not robust and should not be used as the basis for the North Essex Authorities Local Plans going forward. The SHMA should be updated to take account of the 2014 SNPP and 2014 Household Projections to provide the evidence required for the next iteration of the constituent Local Plans.
6 NORTH ESSEX AUTHORITIES - PART 1
6.1 Vision for the Strategic Area
6.1.1 Gladman support the Vision for the Strategic Area and in particular, the
statement that North Essex Authorities will embrace positively the need to build new homes and create jobs to meet the needs of their communities.
6.1.2 The creation of new garden communities is also supported although it must be recognised that there can be long lead in times associated with this type of development as they are often complex and require significant levels of upfront investment in infrastructure to deliver. The Councils must be realistic when considering the delivery trajectories that are associated with the garden
communities and should allocate a range of smaller and medium sized sites and potentially smaller new settlements that will deliver early in the plan periods to ensure that a rolling 5-year housing land supply can be maintained.
6.1.3 In allocating sites, the Councils should therefore be mindful that to maximize housing supply the widest possible range of sites, by size and market location are required so that house builders of all types and sizes have access to suitable land in order to offer the widest possible range of products. The key to increased housing supply is the number of sales outlets. For any given time period, all else being equal, overall sales and build out rates are faster from 20 sites of 50 units than 10 sites of 100 units or 1 site of 1,000 units. The maximum delivery is achieved not just because there are more sales outlets but because the widest possible range of products and locations are available to meet the widest possible range of demand. In summary, a wider variety of sites in the widest possible range of locations ensures all types of house builder have access to suitable land which in turn
increases housing delivery.
6.2 Policy SP3 - Providing for Employment
6.2.1 Colchester has a strong and diverse economy, the plan recognises that it is the dominant town within the Essex Haven Gateway and will be required to accommodate significant growth. Both Harwich International Port and London Stanstead Airport are located within close proximity to Colchester, both are likely to be the subject of substantial growth over the plan period and are key pieces of infrastructure not just for the south east, but nationally. There will be an undoubted impact from their growth for Colchester, in terms of housing some of their employees.
6.2.2 The Local Plan therefore needs to provide sufficient housing to ensure that the available labour force does not act as a constraint to the areas economic growth potential. Often, a lack of suitable and available housing is a critical factor influencing businesses decisions to invest in an area. Colchester need to consider this issue through the preparation of its OAN and its overall Local Plan.
6.2.3 In addition, Gladman object to criterion (b) of Policy SP3 as it is contrary to the guidance contained in the Framework. Paragraphs 17 and 111 of the Framework state that development on brownfield land should be encouraged. To prioritise the reuse of brownfield land is not supported by national policy and can lead to a reliance being placed on land for new development which is unviable to
6.3 Policy SP4 - Infrastructure and Connectivity
6.3.1 Gladman recognise that there is a need for new development to provide the new infrastructure and facilities necessary to serve the needs of the area. However, any policy including specific requirements for infrastructure should be tested, alongside other policies in the Plan, through the whole plan viability assessment to ensure that the cumulative impacts of all proposed local standards and policy requirements do not put the implementation of the Plan as a whole at risk
(paragraph 174 of the Framework) To date, it does not appear that this assessment has been undertaken.
6.4 Policy SP6 - Spatial Strategy for North Essex
6.4.1 Policy SP6 sets out the proposed spatial strategy for North Essex and states that existing settlements will be the principal focus for additional growth. This is supported. However, whilst it is recognised that there is a need to concentrate a majority of development in areas that are considered to be the most sustainable with the greatest access to services and facilities, it must be acknowledged that rural settlements are not inherently unsustainable. In fact, they can be extremely sustainable as people are able to access everyday services and facilities within a short walk, whereas within a larger urban area this may not be possible due to the scale of the settlement.
6.4.2 Para 55 of the Framework seeks to promote sustainable development in rural areas to maintain and enhance rural vitality and viability. It is essential therefore, that the needs of the sustainable rural settlements across the district are assessed and a meaningful level of growth apportioned to them to ensure their ongoing vitality and viability. This will help to preserve and enhance rural services
and facilities and allow local rural communities to meet their own needs for housing whilst providing much needed affordable housing in the parts of the district that suffer with the greatest affordable housing need.
6.4.3 The Colchester Settlement Hierarchy Assessment therefore needs to carefully consider the guidance set out in para 55 of the Framework and be detailed enough to fully understand the needs of the smaller settlements so that growth can be apportioned to them to ensure their on-going vitality and viability. This is especially important given that the policy acknowledges that there is a diminishing supply of brownfield sites within Colchester itself. It is likely therefore significant growth will need to be apportioned not only to new communities (both new villages and new
garden communities) and the Rural Service Centres, but also to the tier of sustainable settlements below this.
6.4.4 It is also supported that Policy SP6 specifically refers to development being accommodated both within or adjoining settlements. Policies that represent a blanket approach to development outside of the defined settlement policy boundaries do not accord with the presumption in favour of sustainable development set out in the Framework. The policy therefore needs to be flexible
enough to be able to accommodate new development, outside of existing development boundaries, to allow the Councils to quickly address any issues in a shortfall in housing land supply against the plan requirement through the development plan.
6.4.5 Gladman support the development of 3 new garden communities within North Essex. However, it must be recognised that there will be long lead in times associated with this type of development as they are often complex and require significant levels of upfront investment in infrastructure to deliver. The Councils must be realistic when considering the delivery trajectories that are associated
with the garden communities and should allocate a range of smaller and medium sized sites that will deliver early in the plan periods to ensure that a rolling 5-year housing land supply can be maintained.
6.4.6 An alternative option to consider in meeting housing needs and balancing the need for housing to be delivered in the early years of the plan, but also in contributing significant numbers of units over the plan period as a whole, is the concept of new villages. Such proposals of circa 1,000-1,500 units
to be developed adjacent to existing public transport nodes and infrastructure can strike a balance between the need to deliver significant new homes and the problems which come from infrastructure needs on higher capacity new settlements.
6.5 Policy SP7 - Development and delivery of new garden communities
in North Essex
6.5.1 As stated previously, Gladman support the inclusion of the three new garden communities (providing a strategic location for 7,500 additional homes over the Plan period) within Part 1 of the North Essex Authorities Plan. The town generates a significant amount of housing need within the surrounding authority areas and provision of significant levels of new housing on the edge of Colchester will ensure that the town can meet its economic growth potential and commuting levels
can be kept to a minimum.
6.5.2 However, it must be recognised that there will be long lead in times associated with this type of development as they are often complex and require significant levels of upfront investment in infrastructure to deliver. The Councils must be realistic when considering the delivery trajectories that are associated with the garden communities and allocated a range of smaller and medium sized sites that will deliver early in the plan periods to ensure that a rolling 5-year housing land
supply can be maintained.
6.5.3 In allocating sites, the Councils should therefore be mindful that to maximize housing supply the widest possible range of sites, by size and market location are required so that house builders of all types and sizes have access to suitable land in order to offer the widest possible range of products. The key to increased housing supply is the number of sales outlets. For any given time period, all else being equal, overall sales and build out rates are faster from 20 sites of 50 units than 10 sites of 100 units or 1 site of 1,000 units. The maximum delivery is achieved not just because there are more sales outlets but because the widest possible range of products and locations are available to meet the widest possible range of demand. In summary, a wider variety of sites in the widest possible range of locations ensures all types of house builder have access to suitable land which in turn
increases housing delivery.
6.5.4 Gladman consider however, that Policy SP7 is fundamentally flawed and is entirely in conflict with the guidance set out in the Framework in relation to its approach to unallocated proposals. Whilst it is understandable that the Councils wish to ensure the delivery of the new garden communities, this must not be at the expense of providing much needed housing across the entirety of the North
6.5.5 The Policy states that proposals on unallocated sites will not be permitted if it will prejudice the development of the garden communities, regardless of the status of the 5-year housing land supply position. This is diametrically opposed to the fundamental premise of the Framework to boost significantly the supply of housing and to identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years' worth of housing against their housing requirements.
6.5.6 It is widely recognised that the delivery of large scale development proposals such as Sustainable Urban Extensions or large scale new communities is complex and takes a considerable amount of time. Gladman commissioned consultants Hourigan Connolly to undertake a report looking into the factors associated with bringing forward major urban extensions (sites greater than 500 dwellings), the timescales for their delivery and the rates of delivery once development gets
underway. The study emphasises that the delivery of urban extensions can be problematic and the timescales associated with the delivery of houses on such sites are significant. Using a number of schemes as case studies it finds that an eight-year period should be allowed for from the preparation of an outline/in principle planning application to the delivery of homes.
6.5.7 In the meantime, whilst the delivery on the large scale sites is being established, the Councils need to ensure that the housing needs of their communities do not go unmet. It is therefore essential, that the respective Local Plans allocate a wide range of sites, of varying sizes, in a variety of locations
that can be delivered in the short to medium term to ensure that they can all maintain a rolling 5-year housing land supply in line with Government guidance.
6.5.8 The policy, as it is currently written, would circumvent Government Policy on this issue and would raise the status of the Local Plans above level of legislation set out in Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Order Act 2004.
6.5.9 This element of Policy SP7 therefore needs to be deleted otherwise the entire Local Plan would be unsound.
7 COLCHESTER DISTRICT LOCAL PLAN 2013-2033 - PART
7.1.1 Gladman have already commented upon such strategic issues as the Duty to Cooperate, the Sustainability Appraisal, the housing and employment requirement and the overall spatial strategy in section 6 above. It is not considered necessary to repeat these comments here although they all apply equally to this part of the Local Plan. This section will therefore concentrate on the detailed policies within the Colchester Local Plan.
7.2 Sustainable Growth Policies
Policy SG1 - Colchester's Spatial Strategy
7.2.1 Gladman are broadly supportive of the spatial strategy proposed by the Council, particularly in regard to the identification of key sustainable settlements and district centres. It is supported that the main urban areas should continue to play a key role in the accommodation of future development within the district, however we would stress that this should not be at the expense of ensuring that the housing and employment needs of other settlements are met. Para 55 of the
Framework seeks to promote sustainable development in rural areas to maintain and enhance rural vitality and viability. It is essential therefore, that the needs of the Colchester suburbs and sustainable settlements across the district, such as Braiswick, Eight Ash Green and Rowhedge are assessed and meaningful growth apportioned to them to ensure their ongoing vitality and viability.
7.2.2 It is important to consider existing services and facilities in a settlement when assessing their suitability for accommodating new growth. Daily needs are particularly important with a primary school, shop and access to public transport being the key considerations. It must be recognised that they may be an ability, through new development, to improve some of these services and facilities,
particularly access to public transport, that should be considered in any settlement hierarchy exercise as well as the role that new development can play in ensuring these facilities are maintained and are not lost because of a lack of support.
7.2.3 In distributing the growth, the Council should be mindful that to maximize housing supply the widest possible range of sites, by size and market location, are required so that house builders of all types and sizes have access to suitable land in order to offer the widest possible range of products. The key to increased housing supply is the number of sales outlets. A wider variety of sites in the widest possible range of locations ensures all types of house builder have access to suitable land
which in turn increases housing delivery.
SG2 - Housing Delivery
7.2.4 Gladman have outlined earlier in this representation that we consider the OAN for Colchester requires further work to be considered up to date and that we have concerns regarding the overall OAN figure of 920 dwellings per annum, it is not proposed to repeat those arguments further here.
7.2.5 Table SG2 which accompanies the policy sets out the proposed distribution of housing throughout the district, and outlines an overall supply of 14,960 units, against a minimum requirement in the policy of 14,720 units, therefore even if all allocated sites delivered 100% of their indicated capacity in the timelines outlined, and the OAN was considered to be robust, there would only be a surplus
of 240 units over the plan period, or less than 2% above the requirement. Such a policy gives little flexibility, and leaves the plan in a fragile position should just one medium or large site fail to come forward. Gladman would note in this regard the findings in the Inspectors report into the Stratford-upon-Avon Core Strategy, published in June 20162 . In that report, at paragraph 71, the Inspector finds
that to ensure the plan is positively prepared in line with the NPPF the 10% reserve for housing sites should be increased to 20%. Similarly the emerging plan for Redcar and Cleveland, published in May 2016, at policy H1 also considers a buffer of an additional 20% of housing land on top of requirement to be needed in order to:
"promote a continuous supply of housing land in line with national policy, and
to reduce the risk of under-delivery..."
7.2.6 It is therefore important for the Council to identify additional residential capacity to ensure the plan can be delivered as a whole. Considering the allocations in Table SG2 Gladman believe that there is the potential to identify additional sites and capacity in a number of locations. The urban edge of Colchester could be used to identify additional capacity, as could some of the sustainable settlements like Rowhedge and the possibility of sustainable new villages could be explored.
7.2.7 As Gladman have outlined we are supportive of the provision of new settlements as a means of addressing long term housing needs, however we have also outlined the time and difficulty in getting such schemes from the planning to the delivery phase, we are supportive of the Council in its acknowledgement that such sites will deliver only a proportion of their housing within this plan period. There are however, alternative forms of new settlements which can make a much quicker contribution to the delivery of housing. A settlement, or new village, with circa 1,500 new dwellings and the associated required services such as shops, school etc, located on existing suitable infrastructure in a sustainable location could be delivered in a shorter timescale than a larger new settlement and provide a wider choice and competition for housing development.
7.2.8 The Council have also stated that they intend to include a windfall allowance in the Local Plan. The Framework states that local planning authorities may make an allowance for windfall sites if they have compelling evidence that such sites have consistently become available in the local area and will continue to provide a reliable source of supply going forward. Any allowance should be realistic having full regard to the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA). Therefore, in
[2 https://www.stratford.gov.uk/files/seealsodocs/171974/Inspectors%20Final%20Report%20-%20June%202016.pdf Retrieved 08/09/16]
order to include a windfall allowance in the Plan, Colchester will have to provide robust and credible evidence on this source of supply.
7.2.9 Gladman are promoting a number of sites within Colchester which are contained in sections 7 and 8 of this representation.
Policy SS14 - Land to the south of Battleswick Farm, Rowhedge Road
7.3.1 Gladman are promoting the above site, allocated within the plan for residential development of 60 units, and confirm that the site is available and deliverable within the short term. However, as we have outlined above we consider that there is a deficiency in the level of housing allocated within the plan, and as such a need to identify additional capacity. Following the completion of a number
of technical exercises and assessments Gladman have concluded that the best and most practical way to develop the allocated site is through a small expansion of the current allocation to the north, as outlined on the red edged plan contained as Appendix 1 to this submission. It is understood that the Council have concerns about the potential for development in this location to cause coalescence issues with the southern fringes of Colchester, however Gladman do not believe this
to a substantive argument.
7.3.2 The settlement of Rowhedge is one that is constrained in a number of locations, notably by dense woodland to the south, the River Colne to the east and to the north by the existing boundary of Rowhedge Road. The proposed allocation site is therefore, presently, the best and most sustainable option for housing growth in the settlement. Furthermore it is considered that expanding the proposed allocation to take in the small additional triangle of land to the north will allow not only the needed additional growth, but also a more sensible and defensible rounding off of that part of the settlement.
7.3.3 Policy SS14 states that vehicular and pedestrian access should be provided from Rowhedge Road utilising the existing approach to Battleswick Farm. Whilst a pedestrian access to the site can be achieved using the existing farm track, discussions between Gladman and Essex County Council have identified a preferred access location to the north of the existing farm track. The vehicular access would therefore enable a priority-controlled junction to be delivered with the required visibility splays for residential development.
7.3.4 Appendix 1 shows that the red line plan includes some additional land to the north of the preferred option, which as stated above, allows for a preferred site access. It is proposed to retain all the farm buildings and include up to an additional 20 dwellings adjacent to the site access and the spine road linking to the south of the site. Even though part of the development would be to the north of the existing farm track, this would not result in an adverse landscape impact. Residential dwellings could be sympathetically designed and any built development would be seen in context of the existing agricultural buildings.
7.3.5 The introduction of additional units to the north of the preferred option would not have a significant impact on the area of open countryside between Rowhedge and Colchester. Open countryside would be retained between the two settlements and would not cause coalescence between the north of Rowhedge and the south of Colchester. There is an area of woodland and open countryside between the two settlements, which maintains a distinctive gap. Gladman therefore request that to ensure a suitable access to the site can be achieved and to help the plan meet its housing needs, the proposed allocation should be expanded from the current 60 units to up to 80 units.
OV1 - Development in Other Villages and Countryside
7.3.6 Gladman are supportive of elements of the policy but consider that it should be reworded in certain aspects. The Framework is clear that development which is sustainable should go ahead without delay. The use of settlement limits to arbitrarily restrict suitable development from coming forward on the edge of settlements would not accord with the positive approach to growth required by the Framework. In addition, loss of the countryside should be a matter that should be weighed in the planning balance against the need to significantly boost the supply of housing and the other benefits of a particular scheme.
7.3.7 At present the policy states that such proposals on the edge of villages 'may' be supported, primarily where it meets identified affordable housing needs. Whilst the concept of this is understood, it does not allow for any general considerations of the sustainability of a site, a key requirement of the Framework, it should not be considered that purely because a site is on the edge of a village it is by default not sustainable development.
7.3.8 The second part of the policy considers development in the Countryside outside of settlement boundaries. Whilst it is not explicitly stated, it is presumed this policy applies across the borough on any land not within a designated settlement boundary. If this is the case the policy is restrictive in relation to the delivery of housing which is not 'small scale', this undefined term is problematic in interpreting how the policy will operate in practice. For example the concept of small scale housing will vary depending on whether or not a proposed development is on the edge of Colchester or on the edge of a settlement boundary limit in a small rural hamlet. Gladman consider that this policy, as written, could be restrictive in delivering housing not allocated through the Local Plan, given that concern has already been expressed as to the level of housing within the plan the inflexibility within the policy gives further cause for concern about the deliverability of the plan strategy as a whole.
7.3.9 Gladman would therefore request that the meaning of the policy is clarified and its terms defined. Should the intention of the policy be to act as it currently reads i.e. significant restriction outside of any settlement boundary, we believe it would be unsound.
7.4 Development Management Policies
DM3 - New Education Provision
7.4.1 The requirement to provide educational facilities is a key part of the Framework. Paragraph 72 states that local planning authorities should take a proactive, positive and collaborative approach to meeting this requirement. This should involve working closely with developers over schemes to assess the best possible solution to educational provision taking account of the capacity of all schools in the area that serve the development, the distance pupils travel to access schools and the most efficient and sustainable use of existing educational resources before requiring the provision of new facilities. Viability should also be a key consideration to ensure schemes are not prevented from being brought forward because of the need for significant infrastructure contributions.
Gladman support the Council in its recognition of the need to work positively with the development industry to identify suitable and deliverable solutions to education issues.
DM10 - Housing Diversity
7.4.2 Gladman support the provision of distinct housing types to meet the needs of all areas of the community, in particular the provision of care homes and extra care facilities both within and potentially outside Settlement Development Boundaries. England is experiencing an ageing population and it is important that this sector of the community is properly catered for in terms of their housing needs.
7.4.3 It will, however, be important for the Council to make distinctions between house types and to ensure that they do not conflict the provision of specialist housing with that of general market housing for the purposes of meeting its housing requirement and establishing a 5 year land supply position.
DM 12 - Housing Standards
7.4.4 Any policy including specific requirements for design should be tested, alongside other policies in the Plan, through the whole plan viability assessment to ensure that the cumulative impacts of all proposed local standards and policy requirements do not put the implementation of the Plan as a whole at risk (paragraph 174 of the Framework).
7.4.5 The Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) dated 25th March 2015 confirms that "the optional new national technical standards should only be required through any new Local Plan policies if they address a clearly evidenced need, and where their impact on viability has been considered, in accordance with the NPPG". Furthermore, with particular reference to the nationally described space standard, the NPPG (ID: 56-020-20150327) confirms "where a need for internal space standards is identified, local planning authorities should provide justification for requiring internal space policies". If the Council wishes to adopt this standard it should be justified by meeting the criteria set out in the NPPG including need, viability and impact on affordability. The Council therefore needs to provide sufficient evidence to justify adoption of either of these standards.
DM16 - Historic Environment
7.4.6 Paragraphs 132 to 134 of the Framework relate specifically to designated heritage assets and highlight that the more important the asset the greater the weight that should be attached to it.
The policies in the CBLP therefore need to make such a distinction so as to ensure they are consistent with the Framework.
7.4.7 The Framework states that if the harm to a heritage asset is deemed to be substantial then the proposal needs to achieve substantial public benefits to outweigh that harm. If the harm is less than substantial, then the harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal including securing its optimum viable use. The policies in the CBLP should therefore make a distinction between the two tests included in the Framework for designated heritage assets to ensure they are sound, at present the policy is one of blanket restriction if there is an adverse impact to a listed building, this is not what the Framework states when assessing the impact on heritage assets.
7.4.8 Paragraph 135 of the Framework relates specifically to non-designated heritage assets and the policy test that should be applied in these cases is that a balanced judgment should be reached having regard to the scale of any harm and the significance of the heritage asset. Once again, policies in the CBLP need to reflect this guidance.
7.4.9 In addition, in light of the judgement in FODC v. SSCLG and Gladman Developments Ltd.  EWHC 421 Admin, Gladman consider it is necessary for the CBLP to carry out an assessment of the potential impact of proposed development on heritage assets, as set out in paragraph 129 of the Framework. The Judgement concerns the interaction between paragraph 14 and paragraph 134 of the Framework, and the issues of the balancing exercise to be undertaken to assess the harm of any proposals against the benefits of the identified proposed development in accordance with paragraphs 133, 134 and 135 of the Framework. Gladman consider that the implications of the Judgement apply equally to both the decision making process and the plan making process. Paragraph 134 is clear in talking about 'development proposals', a phrase which can apply equally to planning applications and proposed allocations. Furthermore, footnote 29 of the Framework clearly states that "The principles and policies set out in this section apply to the heritage-related consent regimes for which local planning authorities are responsible under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, as well as to plan-making and decision-taking". It is therefore essential that the implications of the above Judgment are fully considered in the context of both decision-taking and plan-making.
8 SITE SUBMISSIONS
8.1 Hill View Close, Rowhedge
8.1.1 As discussed in our response to policy SS14 Gladman consider that the site should be allocated for 80 units, a small increase from the currently proposed 60 units. Discussions have taken place to this end with the Council, a red edged plan showing the expanded allocation is included as Appendix
8.2 Bakers Lane, Braiswick
8.2.1 Gladman are working with the landowners of land off Bakers Lane, Braiswick, to promote the site for residential development.
8.2.2 The direction of growth for Colchester in the preferred options consultation version of the emerging Local Plan, is centred around Braiswick to the west. The land off Bakers Lane fits with this emerging pattern of growth.
8.2.3 As shown on the location plan at Appendix 2, the site comprises two parcels of land off Bakers Lane, Braiswick. The larger parcel of land extends to c.7.53 ha, is located to the east of Bakers Lane and is broadly rectangular in shape. It is bound by the railway line to the south, Bakers Lane to the west, existing residential dwellings to the north and a tree belt to the east beyond which is a recently completed residential development and primary school.
8.2.4 The second parcel of land extends to c. 1.29 ha, is located to the west of Bakers Lane and is triangular in shape. The site is bound by Bakers Lane and an existing residential dwelling to the east, woodland to the north and an agricultural field to the west.
8.2.5 The sits is not location in the Greenbelt and is not subject to any formal landscape designation. The EA's website confirms that the sites lie within Flood Zone 1 and therefore at the lowest risk of flooding. There are no Listed Buildings on the site or within close proximity, a Scheduled Ancient Monument runs along the eastern boundary of the larger parcel of land but this is not expected to constrain development. Initial due diligence work has been carried out for the site which does not identify any technical reasons why the site could not be developed for housing.
8.2.6 Only part (2.25ha) of the larger site has previously being considered by the Council as part of their 2016 SHLAA (ref: COL91). The assessment confirmed that the Council consider the site to be rated 'amber' with regards to suitability for development and 'green' for achievability. The site was scored as 'red' with regards to availability. Overall the site scored 'amber'. Given that Gladman are now actively promoting the site for development on behalf of the landowner, it is considered that the site assessment should be amended to change the availability rating to 'green'. It is considered that this would have an impact on the overall rating of the site.
8.2.7 The site is considered available, deliverable and suitable for residential development. Initial capacity work indicates that around 180 dwellings could be delivered on site, with a significant proportion Colchester Borough Local Plan 2017-32 Preferred Options Consultation delivered in the next five years subject to the granting of planning permission. Gladman would therefore request that the site is allocated within the Local Plan for residential development, and would be pleased to further discuss the merits of the site with the Council in due course.
9.1.1 Having considered the CBLP, Gladman are concerned about a range of matters including the housing needs, overall provision of housing and historic environment.
9.1.2 The plan must be positively prepared, effective, justified and consistent with national policy to be found sound at examination. In the first instance, the Council must start with clearly defining an NPPF and PPG compliant OAN by developing an unconstrained requirement which properly follows the guidelines set out at the national level. The Council should then develop a robust housing requirement using this OAN as a starting point.
9.1.3 To establish the needs within the HMA, the combined authorities (Colchester, Tendring and Braintree) commissioned PBA to undertake an update to the SHMA in January 2016. Since the update was published, the Government has released the 2014 Subnational Population Projections (SNPPs) and the 2014 Household Projections. The Framework states that Local Plans should be based on up-to-date evidence and therefore the Council will need to update the SHMA again to take account of this new data before the production of the Pre-Submission Plan.
9.1.4 Careful consideration needs to be given to the spatial strategy that forms the basis of the spatial distribution of growth across the district. All sustainable settlements should be allowed to play their part in meeting their own housing and employment needs as well as contributing to the wider district's requirements. A flexible approach to delivering the development needs of the district will ensure the plan's ultimate deliverability and success. There is a need to identify additional housing land to meet the OAN put forward by the Council, in order to do this the Council will need to identify a range of expanded and new sites, of various sizes and typologies.
9.1.5 Whilst it is supported that the main urban areas continue to play a key role in the accommodation of future development within the district, this should not be at the expense of ensuring that the housing and employment needs of other settlements are met. Para 55 of the Framework seeks to promote sustainable development in rural areas to maintain and enhance rural vitality and viability.
It is essential, therefore, that the needs of the sustainable rural settlements across the district, are assessed and meaningful growth apportioned to them to ensure their ongoing vitality and viability.