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The full text here is the Executive summary as submitted in the Representation. A summary for each representation has been entered. The full representation plus the supporting appendicies have been uploaded as attachments. The representations referenced in this submission are logged against each element of the Plan.
1.0 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
1.1 Andrew Martin-Planning is instructed to make representations to the emerging Local Plan for Colchester on behalf of R F West Ltd, in respect of land at Stanway. Previous representantions submitted to Colchester Borough Council in respect of this site are attached at Appendix 1. These include a site location plan.
1.2 The site comprises some 46 hectares of land to the west of Stanway, which forms a district suburb of Colchester. It is bordered by the A12 dual carriageway to the north, Wyvern Farm site (the subject of residential development, under construction by Persimmon Homes Essex and Bellway Homes) to the east, the B1408 London Road and properties fronting onto it to the south, and the unclassified Turkey Cock Lane and properties fronting onto it to the west.
1.3 The predominant existing use is agriculture but there are also a number of existing structures within the site including a garden centre, a public house/carvery, restaurants, a children's nursery and the first Strokes swimming pool.
1.4 This land was promoted via the call for sites process. The proposals include up to 630 dwellings, employment, a primary school and substantial public open space and structural planting. Further representations were submitted to CBC in respect of this land in response to the Issues and Options Plan and SAR in February 2015 (see appendix 2).
1.5 The adopted development plan for Colchester identified Stanway as a Growth Area to deliver some 1800 dwellings (including 800 on greenfield land) plus employment. This Growth Area has now largely been built or is under construction. Part of this site, now being promoted at Stanway, lies within the designated Growth Area. The remainder represents a logical extension that is required to meet a significantly increased housing target for the Borough.
1.6 The site is highly sustainable in the context of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). It has excellent access to a range of services and facilities via different modes of transport and is within easy walking distance to most of these. It also lies adjacent to existing bus stops.
1.7 The emerging draft Local Plan Preferred Options was taken to the Local Plan Committee on 5 July 2016 with a recommendation that it be approved for public consultation. This confirmed Colchester's Spatial Strategy for growth (Policy SG1) that provides for a settlement hierarchy ranking areas of the Borough in order of their sustainability merits and the size, function and services provided in each area. This spatial hierarchy focuses growth on the urban area of Colchester, with the Town Centre at its heart, reflecting its position as the main location for jobs, housing, services, and transport. The town centre sits above other parts of
urban Colchester, which includes Stanway. Thereafter the next tier of preferred growth includes new Garden Communities to the east and west of the Borough and below that proportionate growth in 3 District Centres and 15 large villages.
1.8 The site subject of these representations was included as an allocation in the draft plan presented to members on 5 July and highlighted on the West Colchester Proposals Map (see extract at Appendix 3), as a proposed site for housing. Paragraph 6.75 of the draft plan clarified the following:
"Land between London Road and A12 Stanway 6.75 The site is situated to the west of the Colchester and runs south of the A12 and north of London Road. It is in a sustainable location, well placed for public transport connections and job opportunities at the nearby economic area. Planning permission was granted for 358 units in 2015 on land to the east at Wyvern Farm. This allocation extends development further west and will provide for approximately 500 additional dwellings together with open space and community facilities as required including primary school provision. Development of the site will need to have regard to specific site constraints including archaeology, mineral safeguarding and drainage and water treatment 119 management. It will also be important to retain a significant break between the site and Turkey Cock Lane/Copford."
1.9 On the night of the Committee meeting a schedule of changes was referred to. These were described as "corrections/omissions identified since the publication of the Local Plan for the Committee Agenda" and "further minor amendments which relate to grammatical corrections and cross referencing." Significant change was however made in relation to table SG2 Housing Provision. The table continued to make an allowance for 678 dwellings at Stanway, but subject to a note confirming that the site for 500 dwellings to the west of Stanway would not be determined until the boundaries of the West Colchester Garden Community has been defined. Associated text at paragraph 6.75 was deleted, as was reference to the site allocation (Policy WC2) on the West Colchester Proposals Map. Similar
changes were made in respect of land to accommodate 930 dwellings to the east of
Colchester, adjoining the proposed new settlement area of search. Additional text was proposed to paragraph 4.29 of the plan to explain/justify these changes. This reads:
"The housing provision table SG2 makes an allowance for an additional 930 dwellings to be located to the east of Colchester, and 500 to the west of Stanway, the sites for which will be determined once the boundaries for the Garden Communities to the east and west of Colchester have been defined. This will allow for opportunities to deliver appropriate linkages between the new Garden Communities and the existing urban areas to the east and west of Colchester and ensure that sufficient green buffers are maintained between the new and existing communities."
1.10 These representations submit that the above changes are not minor adjustments to the consultation plan. Furthermore it is not accepted that there are similarities between land at Stanway (500 dwellings) and North Colchester (930 dwellings) that would justify the same treatment in the context of the Local Plan and the need to determine these sites following identification of the new Garden Community boundaries. Land to the north of Colchester adjoins the area of search for the East Colchester Garden Community whilst to the west of
Stanway is separated from the West Colchester Garden Community by up to 1.5 miles. Policy has already been established to ensure significant green buffers between new and existing communities on the edge of Stanway and Copford Village.
1.11 All aspects of a local plan must be realistic and deliverable but the NPPF makes specific requirements in relation to planned housing land supply. Paragraph 47 bullet points 2 and 3 and footnotes 11 and 12 confirm this point. These require authorities in their local plans to identify and update annually a supply of specific, deliverable sites sufficient to provide 5 years worth of housing against their housing requirements, with an additional 5% (moved forward from later in the plan period), or 20% where there has been a record of persistent under delivery of housing. Thereafter plans should identify a supply of specific developable sites or broad locations for growth for years 6 - 10 and wherever possible years 11 - 15.
1.12 The housing chapter of the consultation plan, as supported by the Sustainability Appraisal, leaves no doubt that to provide 678 dwellings at Stanway (as confirmed in Policy SG2:
Colchester's Housing Provision) will require the development of the land at London Road, subject of these representations. This is further clarified in paragraph 4.29 that refers to 500 dwellings to the "west of Stanway". In the context of the NPPF it makes no proper sense in planning terms, not to identify the site on the accompanying Proposals Map. This is also contrary to the requirements of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012.
1.13 The failure properly to identify this land is also contrary to the background evidence to the Plan in the form of the Sustainability Appraisal. This states in Paragraph 1.1.3 that the Colchester Borough Council Local Plan Part 2 provides the specific policies and allocations for Colchester Borough. This part of the Local Plan is said to include allocations and policies organised by area, so that residents will be able to easily find planning information specific to their local community. This place-based approach is said to align with the latest best practice put forward by the Local Plans Experts Group in their March 2016 Report to Government, Discussion Paper No. 5, which states:
"The policies and site allocations within the Plan should, where possible, be placestructured, enabling a user to quickly identify what the Plan proposes for their
geographical area of interest, and should also include a succinct vision and strategy for the main places."
1.14 The draft Local Plan at paragraph 1.23 states that it will set out the overarching spatial vision for development of Colchester to 2033, including broad allocations for strategic growth as well as other detailed allocations. Part one of the Plan does not appear to meet the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012. This matter will be advanced in separate representations to the local plan on behalf of R F West Limited, in relation to
proposals for land at Marks Tey. Part two as drafted does set out a number of land use allocations that are site specific and these are shown on the Proposals Maps. Indeed the Council's website clarifies the purpose of Proposals Maps to support policies found in the Local Plan as follows:
"The Proposals Maps are to be read together with the documents that make up
Colchester Borough Council's Local Plan. Allocations are shown on the Proposals
Maps and these reflect policies within the Development Plan Documents (DPD) that the Council has produced to date. The maps cover the entire Borough and will be a key tool in the determination of planning applications and growth of the Borough over the plan period."
1.15 It is submitted that proposals in the emerging plan for 500 dwellings west of Stanway should be identified on the Proposals Map, in order to meet the requirements of Part 3 (5) and Part 4 (3) of the 2012 Regulations as referred to above. These require site allocation policies and allocations of sites to be shown on an OS map that illustrates geographically the application of the policies in the plan, sufficient to guide the determination of planning applications.
1.16 Until the recent amendments to the emerging Plan, land to the west of Stanway had been viewed by the Council as unconstrained land that is available to meet the demand for new homes in the Borough. In preparing the Plan it was recognised that "the Borough has a limited and diminishing supply of brownfield sites that can contribute to accommodating new growth. Accordingly, development sites for the 2017-33 period include new greenfield sites which have been selected on the basis of their sustainable location and deliverability."
(extract from Policy SG2).
1.17 Paragraph 4.27 refers to a Housing Trajectory. No trajectory is appended to the plan. The most up to date trajectory appears to be that set out in the Authority Monitoring Report 2015. This only deals with existing commitments. It is at odds with paragraph 47 of the NPPF that requires a housing trajectory for the plan period that demonstrates the housing implementation strategy and how the delivery of a five year housing land supply will be maintained to meet the housing the housing target.
1.18 Furthermore, Planning Policy Guidance accompanying the NPPF confirms in Paragraph: 002 Reference ID: 12-002-20140306 what a Local Plan should contain. It states:
"The Local Plan should make clear what is intended to happen in the area over the life of the plan, where and when this will occur and how it will be delivered. This can be done by setting out broad locations and specific allocations of land for different
purposes; through designations showing areas where particular opportunities or
considerations apply (such as protected habitats); and through criteria-based policies to be taken into account when considering development. A policies map must illustrate geographically the application of policies in a development plan. The policies map may be supported by such other information as the Local Planning Authority sees fit to best explain the spatial application of development plan policies." (our underlining).
1.19 National Planning Policy sets clear expectations as to how a Local Plan must be developed in order to be justified, effective, consistent with national policy and positively prepared to deliver sustainable development that meets local needs and national priorities. To accord with this guidance it is submitted that paragraph 6.75 of the draft Plan taken to Committee on 5 July, should be reinstated, together with identification of the land to the west of Stanway on the Proposals Map as a housing allocation. (see Appendix 3).