South Essex Joint Strategic Plan
The first draft of a new Joint Strategic Plan for South Essex is expected in Spring 2019. It will cover the administrative areas of Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock Councils. The Joint Strategic Plan will distribute housing across South Essex via a new spatial strategy and guide more focused Local Plans to be prepared by the individual authorities. The emerging Local Plans currently at an advanced stage are likely to require early review.
A Statement of Common Ground prepared earlier this year identified five ‘Strategic Areas of Opportunity’ which may be a focus for growth through the Joint Strategic Plan and subsequent Local Plan updates. These are:
- The Thames Estuary;
- London Southend Airport and the surrounding area;
- The A127 corridor;
- Crossrail, the A12 and A129; and
- The Lower Thames Crossing, Thurrock Thameside and the A13 Corridor.
Now is a good time to be promoting development opportunities in South Essex.
Basildon Council is consulting on a Publication Draft (Regulation 19) Local Plan until 17 December. This Plan has been prepared by the new Conservative-led administration and proposes less development at Billericay than the draft Plan prepared by the Labour-led administration that controlled the Council until May this year. It is due to be submitted and examined in advance of the Joint Strategic Plan and require early review to ensure it remains consistent with higher-order strategic policies.
Consultation on a Publication Draft Local Plan is due to commence imminently, having been approved at an Extraordinary Council meeting on 8 November. This Plan is also likely to be subject to early review in due course to ensure consistency with the Joint Strategic Plan.
The second stage of an Issues and Options consultation is due to commence towards the end of this year, having been delayed in light of the publication of the revised NPPF during the summer. Planning Officers are due to report to Full Council on 28 November with a draft document for approval. This document will identify potential locations for growth. It is likely that in due course the timetable of Thurrock’s emerging Local Plan will allow it to take account of the requirements of the emerging Joint Strategic Plan.
With the threat of Government intervention still looming, the Council is moving forward with the preparation of an ‘interim’ Local Plan in advance of the Joint Strategic Plan. Consultation on a Publication Draft is due in early 2019.
Rochford and Southend
Rochford and Southend Councils are preparing plans that will follow on from the Joint Strategic Plan and take account of its strategic policies.
North Essex Authorities (Braintree, Colchester and Tendring)
Braintree, Colchester and Tendring Councils have confirmed their intention to prepare more evidence to demonstrate that proposals for three new Garden Communities in North Essex are sound.
Earlier this year the Inspector appointed to examine the North Essex Authorities’ submitted joint strategic policies raised fundamental concerns about the viability and deliverability of the Garden Communities proposed at West Tey, West of Braintree and East of Colchester. The three authorities have now written to the Inspector to confirm that additional evidence will be published by February 2019, prior to a likely consultation on suggested changes to the submitted Plans. They have suggested that the examination could re-commence at that point, with further hearings held from June onwards following local elections.
The delay and uncertainty presented by the Inspector’s concerns may present opportunities for new sites to be allocated in the emerging Plans, or promoted via five year land supply challenges.
Uttlesford is consulting on Focused Changes to its Pre-Submission Draft Plan until 27 November. The Focused Changes do not alter the strategy put forward in the Pre-Submission Draft Local Plan published during the summer, but they are required to address various matters of detail. These include the elevated risk that the West of Braintree Garden Community will not come forward as a result of the concerns raised by the Inspector in respect of the North Essex Authorities’ strategic policies. West of Braintree is anticipated to contribute to housing growth in Uttlesford as well as Braintree District and the Focused Changes clarify that Uttlesford’s Plan will be subject to an early review should West of Braintree be significantly delayed or found unsound.
The Council remains intent on submitting its emerging Local Plan for examination on or before 24 January 2019 to avoid having to address the Government’s standard methodology in its emerging planning policies.
The Council submitted its emerging Plan for Examination on 25 September following the dismissal of a legal challenge to earlier decisions by developer CK Properties. No dates for hearing sessions have yet been confirmed, but they are expected to commence in the New Year.
Submission of Harlow’s Plan to the Secretary of State is due imminently, following formal approval at a Council meeting on 20 September.
The hearing sessions associated with the Examination of Chelmsford’s submitted Local Plan commenced on 20 November and are due to run until mid-December. If the Plan is found sound it should be adopted in Spring 2019.