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4 Spatial Strategy

4.1 This Chapter sets out the strategy for the provision of new development in the District between now and 2026. It is based upon the objectives of sustainability, accessibility and housing:

Sustainability

To ensure that all development is sustainable and minimises the use of scarce natural resources and addresses the causes and potential impacts of climate change, encourages renewable energy, and promotes the development of previously developed land and urban regeneration to limit the extent of greenfield land required and concentrates new growth at the most sustainable locations. To ensure that development avoids flood risk areas and reduces future flood risk where possible. To prevent a deterioration in water quality and where possible to take measures to improve it.

Accessibility

To reduce the need to travel by locating development in sustainable locations where it will enable people to easily access employment, housing, retail provision, public transport and key services; such as education, healthcare, recreational facilities and open space.

Housing

To meet the housing needs of all sections of the community, by providing an adequate amount and range of high quality accommodation, in particular "affordable housing" and that required for special needs

4.2 The East of England Plan set out a housing provision for Braintree District of 7,700 dwellings over the period 2001-2021, expressed as a minimum requirement. The requirement for 2021 to 2026 is a minimum of 385 dwellings per year, giving a total requirement from 2001 to 2026 of 9625 dwellings.

4.3 4988 net additional dwellings were provided between 2001 to 2009, resulting in a residual housing provision to fulfil the East of England Plan requirement to 2026 of 4637 dwellings, which would be an annual average of 272 dwellings.

4.4 The Urban Capacity Study identified potential land for approximately 4,813 dwellings. However, this has been updated by the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, which removed some potential sites and reduced the likely housing densities on other sites. As a result, the 15 year site specific housing trajectory based upon the SHLAA (in Appendix 2 Table 6) identifies sites for 3,372 dwellings over the period 2010 to 2026, which are mainly on sites within Local Plan development boundaries at the main towns and key service villages, including some provision at mixed use regeneration sites at Sible Hedingham and Silver End.

4.5 This estimated provision of 3,372 dwellings would leave a shortfall of 1,265 dwellings in order to meet the East of England Plan residual requirement. The Council is therefore proposing to allocate strategic housing sites at sustainable growth locations to provide a minimum of 1,400 dwellings.

4.6 The problem of large-scale out-commuting from the District was recognised in the preparation of the East of England Plan. It was felt that a further large housing allocation for Braintree District would add to this problem. The proposed additional housing provision at growth locations is therefore sufficient to meet the regional requirement but not considerably larger than that required. The East of England Plan aimed to ensure that development maximises the potential for people to form more sustainable relationships between their homes, workplaces and other concentrations of regularly used services and facilities. The housing allocation (which is lower than previous rates of housing development in the District) was intended to provide the opportunity to achieve a better balance between housing and employment development in the District.

4.7 The Strategy objective is to promote the development of previously developed land and urban regeneration to limit the development of greenfield land. It is therefore proposed to phase in the development of housing areas at growth locations later in the plan period, following the development of previously developed land identified in the housing trajectory based on the SHLAA, as set out in policy CS1 and in the 15 year trajectory in Table 6, which will also ensure a continuous five year land supply. This would also provide the necessary time for provision of infrastructure where needed to support the growth locations. (For example, upgrades to sewerage network, or to waste-water treatment works.)

The 'Hierarchy of Place' in the Braintree District

4.8 This settlement hierarchy defines the places in the District in order of size, function and importance.

Main Towns

The main towns in the District, in order of importance, reflecting their size, location and opportunities for future development are:-

  • Braintree, Bocking and Great Notley,
  • Witham
  • Halstead

Key Service Villages

The Key Service Villages are large villages with a good level of services, including primary schools, primary health care facilities, convenience shopping facilities, local employment , frequent public transport to higher order settlements and easy access by public transport to secondary schools.

(In no order of importance)

  • Coggeshall
  • Earls Colne
  • Hatfield Peverel
  • Kelvedon
  • Sible Hedingham
  • Silver End

Other Villages

These are the villages in the District, excluding key service villages, that currently have a development boundary, known as a 'village envelope'. A list of these villages is set out in the Settlement Hierarchy in Appendix 3.

The Countryside

The countryside is the area outside town development boundaries and village envelopes.

Development at Growth Locations

4.9 The selection of growth locations at the Main Towns to accommodate the additional 1500 dwellings was based upon the following factors:

The scale of growth proposed in the Braintree District will mainly be met on brownfield sites within the Main Towns and Key Service Villages. The overall scale of development required is not large enough to justify the development of a new settlement.

Braintree has a central location in the District, good transport links, key role as the largest Main Town and service centre for the District with a surrounding landscape that would allow for some potential for sustainable development and growth.

Witham is a thriving town with good transport links and a higher amount and proportion of local employment than Braintree. The surrounding landscape has the potential to accommodate some sustainable growth.

Although Halstead has many of the day to day services and facilities and access to local jobs that residents need, its growth potential is severely limited by sensitive landscape, lack of public transport and relative isolation in the north of the District. The main constraints to greenfield growth in Halstead are its relatively isolated location and its high quality landscape setting. Also the current levels of services are not as high as in Braintree and Witham.

The Strategy therefore proposed that the Growth Locations should be at the Main Towns of Braintree and Witham only.

4.10 The Council is proposing growth in both Braintree and Witham. Although the amount of new development needed across the District is not large, focusing it all at one place could place undue strain on local services and other infrastructure and in particular highway infrastructure which has constraints as demonstrated in the Mouchel Highways assessments of potential growth in the two towns. Also both towns would benefit from injections of new development, including employment, town centre regeneration, and services that can serve the whole District to make it more sustainable.

4.11 Apart from the identified Growth Locations, the open countryside between the Main Towns, Key Service Villages and Other Villages should be kept undeveloped.

4.12 More limited development to serve the local area, or deal with specific local issues such as the regeneration of important sites, can be located in the Key Service Villages

4.13 Limited development, which can be justified by local need, or to support local services, should be located in the Other Villages

4.14 Development will only be acceptable in hamlets and the countryside where it would have clear local economic benefits, support needed services and promote local environmental quality.

4.15 Our preferred overall Spatial Policy Statement for the Braintree District for the period up to 2026 is therefore set out as follows:

THE PREFERRED 'SPATIAL POLICY STATEMENT' FOR THE BRAINTREE DISTRICT

• 'To preserve and enhance the character of the rural heartland of the Braintree District, its countryside and villages, by supporting development that is needed to make settlements and the rural economy more sustainable and protect and enhance the natural environment.

• To concentrate the majority of new development and services in the Main Towns of Braintree, Witham and Halstead, at new Growth Locations at Braintree and Witham and in the Key Service Villages'.

Development and Growth in the District in more detail

4.16 This part sets out the proposed key objectives for the future of each of the three Main Towns, the Key Service Villages and Other Villages.

Braintree

4.17 Braintree will reinforce its role as the main town of the District by accommodating significant development and regeneration within the town and new housing, employment and services at growth locations around the periphery of the town. In particular:

The potential for about another 1300 dwellings in the urban area will be realised, subject to resolving flooding issues on some sites

The town centre will be upgraded by the regeneration of key sites to include shopping, public transport improvements and other services and environmental improvements

Growth Locations will be developed for a mix of housing, employment and services and facilities with due regard for its landscape impact, local access for traffic and to services, and waste water disposal

A new Business/Innovation Park will be developed to complement the Skyline development near to the A120

The existing employment areas will mostly be retained, upgraded and/or expanded

A limited number of employment premises and sites which do not meet modern day business needs will be redeveloped for alternative uses

Opportunities should be taken to deal with local traffic problems, especially in relation to the A120, in the shorter term

Witham

4.18 Witham will accommodate significant development and regeneration within the town and new housing and services at Growth Locations around the periphery of the town. In particular:

  • The urban capacity for up to 800 new dwellings in its existing boundaries will be developed
  • Appropriate urban extension growth will be located to the north and south-west of the town
  • The Newlands Shopping Centre area will be upgraded
  • The Maltings Lane development to the south west of the town centre will be completed including the provision of a business park
  • Health facilities are limited and will be improved
  • Schools will benefit from redevelopment with their Academy status and there is a new primary school included in the Maltings Lane development.
  • The swimming pool will be replaced

Halstead

4.19 Halstead will remain as the major service centre for the north of the District but will contain growth of about 300 dwellings within its existing urban area. The expansion of existing employment locations and community services will be supported. Town centre regeneration on land to the east of the High Street will be promoted and supported.

The Key Service Villages

4.20 The Key Service Villages will be allowed to develop with growth already identified within existing development boundaries of around 600 dwellings including over 300 on regeneration sites in Sible Hedingham and Silver End and will continue to perform a useful role as local service centres for the surrounding rural areas and small villages, especially in the remoter parts of the District. In particular:

  • Appropriate development in these villages will be supported and promoted, including the regeneration of specific and other partnership initiatives, to help secure their continued sustainability, make sure that jobs and services are kept and if possible improved and their historic character enhanced
  • Appropriate market housing to help support these services will be developed on suitable sites in the villages
  • Affordable housing to serve local needs will be supported,

The Other Villages

4.21 Development within the Other Villages will be of a scale and type to cater for purely local needs of around 300 dwellings within development boundaries over the plan period to 2026.

4.22 Developments which deliver affordable housing, appropriate local employment and improvements to local services may be appropriate subject to their local impacts.

The Countryside

4.23 Biodiversity and the special character and attractiveness of the countryside will be protected, preserved and enhanced.

4.24 Development will be severely restricted, unless it is necessary to support traditional land based activities such as agriculture or forestry, or leisure and recreation based uses, which require a countryside location and which contribute to rural economies and/or promote recreation in or enjoyment of the countryside. Development should be well related to existing patterns of development and of a scale, siting and design sympathetic to the rural landscape character.

4.25 Environmental enhancement initiatives, including broadening public access and protecting / improving biodiversity will be supported and encouraged.

Selection of Strategic Growth Location Sites in Braintree and Witham

4.26 The Strategy proposed that the Growth Locations will be at Braintree and Witham. The purpose of this part of the document is to set out where these locations should be. The Council assessed a number of possible broad locations around the towns which could be suitable for new growth and considered the following factors:

Landscape capacity - The level to which landscape around the towns can absorb new development

Flood Risk - Whether sites are in Flood Zones and at risk of flooding

Transport and access - future traffic impacts, public transport provision, and the ease of access to services and the town centres by footpaths and cycleways

Conservation - the possible impacts on nature conservation, conservation areas and listed buildings

Community and social needs - how needs such as health, education etc can be met

Coalescence with nearby villages - Whether the development would result in Braintree or Witham merging with nearby villages resulting in the loss of the individual identities of the villages concerned.le in terms of access to service and facilities for new residents. This is particularly true for the land outside the Braintree by-pass and land to the north-west of Witham and to the south of the A12 at Witham.

  • There are large areas of sensitive landscape to the north and north-east of Braintree
  • Access to the Braintree by-pass to the north, south and north-east of Braintree would be unacceptable to Essex County Council and the Highways Agency.

The Proposed Growth Locations

  • Land to the north-west of Braintree - off Panfield Lane
  • Land to the west of the A131 at Great Notley
  • Land to the south-west of Witham - off Hatfield Road
  • Land to the north-east of Witham (in Rivenhall Parish) - off Forest Road

4.28 The growth locations are shown on the LDF Proposals Map Inset Plans within the Core Strategy. The Proposals Map is enclosed at the end of the Core Strategy. This supersedes the Local Plan Review Proposals Map. The LDF Proposals Map defines Inset Areas. The Inset Plans are set out in the Braintree District Local Plan Review plus Insets 1a, Ib, 2a and 2b which are set out in the LDF Core Strategy. The Core Strategy Inset Plans replace those areas of Inset 1 and 2 in the Local Plan Review which they cover.

Key Diagram

Key for Insets 1a, 1b, 2a and 2b

Inset 1a Land to the north-west of Braintree - off Panfield Lane


Inset 1a Land to the north-west of Braintree - off Panfield Lane

‘Reproduced from the Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of the Controller of her Majesty’s Stationery Office ©Crown Copyright
Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown Copyright and may lead to prosecutions or civil proceedings’
Braintree District Council O/S Licence No. LA 100018490 2011

Inset 2a Land to the north-east of Witham (In Rivenhall Parish) - off Forest Road


Inset 2a Land to the north-east of Witham (In Rivenhall Parish) - off Forest Road

‘Reproduced from the Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of the Controller of her Majesty’s Stationery Office ©Crown Copyright
Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown Copyright and may lead to prosecutions or civil proceedings’
Braintree District Council O/S Licence No. LA 100018490 2011

Inset 2b Land to the south-west of Witham - off Hatfield Road


Inset 2b Land to the south-west of Witham - off Hatfield Road

'Reproduced from the Ordnance Survey mapping with the permission of the Controller of her Majesty's Stationery Office ©Crown Copyright
Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown Copyright and may lead to prosecutions or civil proceedings'
Braintree District Council O/S Licence No. LA 100018490 2011

The amount and type of growth proposed in the Growth Locations

4.29 Development in the Growth Locations will either be 'mixed use' or 'single-use'.

'Mixed-use' means that, because of the nature of the area, it should be used for a variety of purposes including housing, employment, community facilities and other development which may be needed to support the infrastructure

'Single-use' means that, because of the nature of the area, it should only be used for one purpose (i.e. employment)

Mixed-use locations

4.30 We are proposing that development in the following Growth Locations should be mixed-use:

  • Braintree - land to the north-west - off Panfield Lane
  • Witham - land to the south-west - off Hatfield Road
  • Witham - land to the north-east - off Forest Road in the Parish of Rivenhall

4.31 These locations are best related to the existing town areas so they lend themselves to the delivery of a sustainable mix of uses. However, each area will be different as they will cater for differing local needs and have different factors which will affect how they can be developed.

Single-use location for employment

The location to the west of the A131 at Great Notley (18.5 hectares) is proposed as a single-use location for employment. Great Notley was designed as a garden village, comprising a residential and community area to the east of the A131 Great Notley bypass, with the Skyline employment area on the western side of the A131 , adjacent to the A120 trunk road. The Country Park is situated to the south of the Skyline employment area. The additional employment area is proposed to be situated south of the Country Park, separated from it by a large area of structural landscaping. It is well-located for employment uses as it is adjacent to the A131 and close to the A120. It is not considered to be suitable for residential development, as it is separated from Great Notley school and community facilities by the A131 dual carriageway bypass.

AIM - ENABLING EVERYONE IN THE BRAINTREE DISTRICT TO ENJOY A SAFE AND HEALTHY LIFESTYLE

4.33 One of the key parts of securing a sustainable, safe and healthy future for the District is making sure that the housing, services and facilities are provided in the right place and time to serve existing residents and future growth.

Housing

To meet the housing needs of all sections of the community, by providing an adequate amount and range of high quality accommodation, in particular "affordable housing" and that required for special needs.

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