Essex Local Plan Watch - Autumn 2022
Essex is a county of contrasts when it comes to Plan making progress.
Leading the way, the proactive, pro-growth Chelmsford City Council is kicking off another Local Plan review just 16 months on from adopting its current Plan – and looking to allocate sites for 8,000 more homes in the process. An Issues and Options consultation is taking place until 20th October and a draft Plan is due to be published next year.
Maldon was the first authority in the county to adopt an NPPF compliant Local Plan in 2017 but an over-reliance on strategic scale allocations as part of the spatial strategy has exposed a shortfall in delivery, meaning that a review is now being undertaken again.
Brentwood has also grasped the nettle, adopting a new Local Plan earlier this year and allocating a raft of new land allocations on former Green Belt sites in so doing. The Plan contains a policy that requires an immediate partial review (including Green Belt review) within 28 months. Further Green Belt opportunities therefore exist for those seeking to bring sites to the table.
Elsewhere, the North Essex Authorities (Braintree, Colchester and Tendring) now have up-to-date Local Plans in place for the first time in many years, following adoption of Section 2 Plans by each authority that allocate sites to deliver the shared spatial strategy of the Section 1 Plan adopted in February last year.
By contrast, the Local Plan examinations of Basildon and Castle Point both ended in failure to adopt, in spite of their Inspectors recommending Main Modifications and adoption respectively. The politics of Green Belt loss was simply too problematic an issue for these authorities to tackle; and both are now going back to the drawing board of their own accord.
Five Year Land Supply
Five-year housing land supply shortages persist in Maldon and Uttlesford and there are immediate opportunities to promote sites in these districts. Braintree is also teetering on the edge once again, despite adopting the second part of its new Local Plan earlier this year. Most of the south-Essex authorities are without a five-year land supply but have the added protection of Green Belt. We are nevertheless likely to see an increasing number of challenges at appeal in these areas due to frustrations with the Plan-making process in some districts.
For detail on emerging Local Plan position in Essex please click on the map below.