Agenda item

To seek the Planning Policy and Local Plan Committee’s comments on, and approval for an updated version of the Local Plan’s overarching Vision and Objectives for the purpose of the Local Plan review and associated public consultation.


The Committee considered a report of the Director (Planning) (A.3) which sought its comments on, and approval for, an updated version of the Local Plan’s overarching Vision and Objectives for the purpose of the Local Plan review and associated public consultation.


Members were reminded that Chapter 2 of the Council’s adopted Local Plan (Section 2) set out an overarching vision and associated set of objectives to guide the planning of the District up to 2033. The vision and objectives underpinned many of the policies and proposals in the Local Plan that the Council, working with partners, were seeking to implement over the Plan’s time-frame.


Members were advised that, in reviewing the Local Plan and extending its timeframe to 2041, it would be appropriate to revisit the vision and objectives – albeit in line with the overarching principles agreed by the Committee at its last meeting on 20 December 2023 which had included: “The vision and objectives within Section 2 of the current Local Plan adopted in 2022 will be carried forward, broadly unchanged, into the adopted Local Plan to apply to the extended period to 2041. They will however be amended selectively and as necessary to reflect changes in national policy, updated evidence and the potential opportunities arising from Freeport status, particularly in relation to Harwich, Bathside Bay and the A120 corridor.”


It was felt that because the vision and objectives in the current Local Plan were already designed to cover the period to 2033 (some nine years away from now) and were only adopted by the Council as recently as 2022, it would be reasonable not to expect the update to bring about any fundamental change in the overall approach and direction – assuming that a positive vision for the District in 2033 could sensibly form the basis of a positive vision for the extended period to 2041. However, the Local Plan review naturally provided an opportunity to check that the vision and objectives were accurate and reflected the most up-to-date position – including, as suggested above, the opportunities arising from Freeport East; but also on the priorities in Council’s latest Corporate Plan (Our Vision) and progress on the Levelling-Up projects in the District and the Jaywick Sands Place Plan.


It was reported that another overarching principle agreed by the Committee in December 2023 was that: “The general format, chapter headings and policy subject order in the updated Local Plan will broadly follow that of the current Section 2 Local Plan – accepting that some policies may be added and others deleted, as necessary. This will ensure a sensible level of continuity and understanding and to minimise confusion for residents, Parish and Town Councils and other interested bodies - particularly given how recently the current Local Plan was put in place.” Officers therefore recommended that the way in which the vision and objectives were currently presented in the Local Plan be carried forward, broadly unchanged.


Local Plan Review Process


The Committee was informed that the process for reviewing the Local Plan would follow key stages that involved public consultation – the first of which would be the ‘Issues and Options’ stage whereby the Council would invite public comments on the broad direction of the Local Plan. Comments received at this Issues and Options stage would then be taken into account when producing the first detailed draft of the updated Plan. Officers suggested that given the high-level and strategic nature of the Local Plan’s overarching vision and objectives, it would be useful to consult the public on an updated version of those at the initial ‘Issues and Options’ stage – accepting that those might need to be amended further when it came to the later ‘Preferred Options’ and ‘Submission’ stages, once the Council had had the opportunity to consider the public’s comments, and as the detail of the Local Plan (including the longer-term need and associated strategy for growth) became clearer.     




Members noted that Appendix 1 of the Director (Planning)’s report contained an updated version of the Local Plan’s overarching vision presented in the form of ‘tracked changes’ to highlight, for ease of reference, changes from the current Local Plan – as suggested by Officers. Those suggested changes to the vision notably sought:-


    To give stronger and clearer commentary around Harwich and the A120 corridor – particularly in terms of economic and housing growth likely to be generated in response to Freeport status and progress of development at Bathside Bay; as well as the Levelling-Up scheme for Dovercourt Town Centre. Implied within this is the likelihood that when it comes to generating options for the long-term housing and employment growth over the extended period to 2041, Officers will be looking closely at land in and around Harwich and the A120 corridor, alongside other reasonable options.


    To comment more positively on the potential for economic growth in the Clacton area reflecting the significant private investment in seaside attractions, the Levelling Up schemes for the library and civic area of the town centre and greater reference to the role of the business sector and the modernisation of business premises. The vision for the Clacton area might be the subject of ongoing refinement to reflect work on a long-term strategic plan for the area, as required by government as part of the Levelling-Up Partnership. 


    To comment specifically on the Sunspot Workspace scheme and Jaywick Sands Place Plan, which have progressed significantly since the Local Plan was adopted in 2022.  


    To update the section on the Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community to reflect elements of the vision within Section 1 of the Local Plan which would otherwise be lost once Section 1 and Section 2 are both superseded by a single Local Plan; to emphasise the economic opportunities around the Garden Community; and to reflect the progress on the planning of the Garden Community – particularly the advancement of the Development Plan Document, the link road and rapid transit system and positive collaborative work with partner Councils and the Lead Developer.


    To reflect, where necessary, priorities in the Council’s new Corporate Plan 2024-2028 (Our Vision) and to give greater reference to health and energy efficiency as themes where the vision statement could better reflect the priority given to these within the Local Plan itself.


    To better reflect the new requirements around biodiversity net gain and habitat creation.


    To make grammatical and other consequential wording improvements as necessary.


As it stood, Officers were recommending only subtle amendments to the section of the vision that talked about Tendring’s rural heartland in the interest of accuracy – acknowledging that a significant amount of new housing development had taken place, or was still under-construction or had planning permission in and around Manningtree, Lawford and Mistley; and certain rural villages including (but not limited to) Alresford, Elmstead Market, Great Bentley and Thorpe le Soken – with many of those developments having been granted planning permission on appeal and against local residents’ wishes. The Council may or may not need to review the wording of this section again following consultation on Issues and Options if, having determined how much new housing was required to meet any residual requirement for long-term growth, there needed to be a particular focus for any further growth, of a strategic nature, in the District’s rural areas. This could only be determined once the growth requirements had been clarified and reasonable options had been assessed. 




It was reported that Appendix 2 to the Director (Planning)’s report contained a related tracked-changes version of the Local Plan’s objectives that related to the following topics:


    Objective 1: Housing Delivery;

    Objective 2: Employment/Commercial;

    Objective 3: Retail Development;

    Objective 4: Infrastructure Provision;

    Objective 5: Education and Health;

    Objective 6: Sustainability;

    Objective 7: The Historic Environment;

    Objective 8: Biodiversity;

    Objective 9: Water and Climate Change; and

    Objective 10: Tourism Promotion.


At this point in time, Officers considered that those ten objectives, as currently written in the adopted Local Plan, remained appropriate and could reasonably be carried forward into an updated Local Plan with an extended time-frame to 2041, with only limited necessary changes. An additional objective specifically around Climate Change was also proposed. Through public consultation at the Issues and Options stage and subsequent stages, the Council could invite suggestions for any changes that could be considered as the Plan emerged in more detail; but as it stood, Officers were not suggesting any significant revisions.  


At the invitation of the Chairman, the Housing & Planning Portfolio Holder (Councillor Baker) commented on the contents of the report A.3.


Having duly taken all of the above information into account and having discussed the matter:-


It was moved by Councillor Chapman BEM, seconded by Councillor M Cossens and unanimously:-


RESOLVED that the Planning Policy and Local Plan Committee –


a)  notes the content of the Director (Planning)’s report (A.3);


b)  endorses the Local Plan Vision and Objectives and Officers’ suggested updates shown, with tracked changes, in Appendices 1 and 2 to report A.3;


c)   authorises the Director (Planning) to circulate to the members of the Committee for their further comments the proposed additions/alterations to the Vision and Objectives;

d)  authorises the Director (Planning), in consultation with the Chairman of the Committee, to approve the proposed additions/alterations to the Vision and Objectives having considered any comments submitted in accordance with resolution c) above;


e)  agrees for the updated Vision and Objectives, including any additional amendments/alterations approved in accordance with resolution d) above, to be included for public consultation in due course as part of the ‘Issues and Options’ stage of the Local Plan review process; and


f)    invites the Cabinet to comment on and amend, as necessary, the Vision and  Objectives as agreed under resolution e) above before they are published as part of the aforementioned Issues and Options consultation in order to ensure and confirm their alignment with the Council’s corporate vision.


Supporting documents: