Essex Local Plan Watch - Autumn 2023
There is positive news from North Essex, with all four authorities across the top of the county gearing up to review their Local Plans and allocate new sites.
Uttlesford is consulting on draft proposals until 15 December that include new allocations for just over 6,000 new homes. The Council has made good progress since the beginning of the year, when it suggested that staff shortages and a lack of resources may prevent the plan moving forward at all this year. This is the first time that the Uttlesford has consulted on a draft Plan since the Residents for Uttlesford group took control in 2019.
Braintree, Colchester and Tendring are also preparing to get the ball rolling again following the conclusion of their joint plan making process in 2021. The removal of the majority of the garden communities proposed in their shared Section 1 Plan when it was independently examined has increased the urgency to review it already. This is especially the case for Braintree and Colchester, which are both struggling for five-year housing land supply. Colchester is first out of the blocks, with a call for sites being held until 5th January 2024.
Elsewhere, proactive, pro-growth Chelmsford City Council is continuing to progress another new Local Plan review just three years on from the adoption of its current one – and looking to allocate sites for 8,000 more homes in the process. A draft Plan is expected in 2024.
Brentwood has also grasped the nettle, adopting a new Local Plan in March last year and releasing a raft of Green Belt sites in the process. The Plan contains a policy that requires another Green Belt review within 28 months, which will fall in mid-2024. There should therefore be further opportunities for Green Belt release in Brentwood in the not-too-distant future, unless there is a change in Government policy on Green Belt in the meantime.
Epping is in a similar boat, with a new Plan having been adopted in March following a five-year independent examination process. Another review will be required by 2028, or if housing supply falls behind expectations in the meantime.
By contrast, many of the Local Plans in South Essex date from the late 1990s and the politics of Green Belt release across this area continues to hamper progress. There have been various successful appeals on Green Belt sites in Basildon and Castle Point since their emerging replacement Local Plans were withdrawn at advanced stages of the preparation process last year.
Five Year Land Supply
There are fewer five-year housing land supply deficits in Essex than there were. Uttlesford and Maldon are now claiming over five years supply after a period in deficit following the grant of various planning permissions and appeals. Braintree acknowledges a modest deficit and Colchester is beginning to struggle. Most of the south-Essex authorities are without a five-year land supply, but they have the added protection of Green Belt which may only be strengthened by forthcoming pre-election changes to national planning policy.
For detail on emerging Local Plan position in Essex please click on the map below.