2: POLICY CONTEXT

Introduction

2.1 This chapter summarises some of the key plans and strategies that have informed the Local Development Framework and this Core Strategy document in particular.  A list of all relevant strategies and policy guidance is provided in Appendix 1.

NATIONAL STRATEGIES, POLICIES AND GUIDANCE

Central Government’s Sustainable Communities Plan ‘Building for the Future’

2.2 Thurrock is within the Thames Gateway, the biggest of four growth areas outlined in the Government’s Communities Plan ‘Building for the Future’, launched in February 2003.  The Thames Gateway is a national priority area for social and economic regeneration.  The Government defines sustainable communities as being “places where people want to live and work, now and in the future”.  To ensure that sustainable communities are appropriately delivered throughout England, the Government has identified eight sustainable community components; 

  • Active, inclusive and safe
  • Well run
  • Environmentally sensitive
  • Well designed and built
  • Well connected
  • Thriving
  • Well served, and
  • Fair for everyone

2.3 Thurrock Council wants to ensure that the strategic vision, objectives and accompanying policies embrace these sustainable community components and address Thurrock’s particular challenges and needs.

National Planning Policy Guidance and Statements

2.4 National Government is currently revising and replacing Planning Policy Guidance notes (PPGs) with Planning Policy Statements (PPS).  PPGs and PPSs explain the statutory requirements of policy and provide guidance to local authorities on planning policy and the planning system.  They deal with specific topics including housing, employment, waste, transportation and the natural and built environment.  

White Paper: ‘Planning for a Sustainable Future’ 

2.5 National Government has also formulated a range of White Papers.  Key to the planning process is ‘Planning for a Sustainable Future’ White Paper (DCLG, May 2007).  This recognises the important role that planning plays and highlights some of the key challenges that planning is increasingly facing.  It suggests the possible role that the planning system can have in addressing challenges including:

  • Climate change
  • Sustainable economic development
  • Increasing housing supply
  • Protecting and enhancing the environment and natural resources
  • Improving our local and national infrastructure, and
  • Maintaining energy supply.

REGIONAL STRATEGIES, POLICIES AND GUIDANCE

East of England Plan – The Revision to the Regional Spatial Strategy for the East of England (May 2008)

2.6 The Government Office for the East of England published the adopted East of England Plan in May 2008. It forms the top tier of the statutory development plan.  The East of England Plan also contains the Regional Transport Strategy. It provides a consistent framework to inform the preparation of Local Development Documents (including the Core Strategy), local transport plans, regional and sub-regional plans and programmes that impact on the development and land use activities.  The key implications for Thurrock that are set out in the East of England Plan include the following –

  • The Thurrock Urban Area (stretching from Purfleet in the west to Tilbury and Chadwell St Mary in the East) has been identified as a key centre for development and change;
  • Thurrock Urban Area is also allocated as a strategic employment site;
  • Essex Thames Gateway (which includes a substantial part of Thurrock) has been deemed a priority area for regeneration;
  • The indicative job growth target for Thurrock between 2001-2021 is 26,000 new jobs;
  • The Plan promotes inter-regional and intra-regional and business clusters such as environmental technologies stretching from Essex to Cambridgeshire and supports the delivery of locally important clusters;
  • The Plan highlights that Thurrock Council should plan for the delivery of housing for at least 15 years from the date of adoption of the relevant Development Plan Document (e.g. Core Strategy) and that Thurrock should plan for a minimum of 18,500 new residential dwellings between 2001-2021;
  • Essex Thames Gateway including the London to Southend on Sea corridor has been identified as a transport investment priority;
  • The Thames Chase Community Forest should be targeted for woodland creation.

Two Single Issue Reviews of the East of England Plan were subsequently undertaken. The policy implication of the Single Issue Review of Gypsies and Travellers (Adopted July 2009) and the Single Issue Review of the Thurrock Key Centre of Development and Change (Lakeside Basin Review) has been incorporated directly into Thurrock’s Core Strategy.

SUB REGIONAL STRATEGIES, POLICIES AND GUIDANCE

Thames Gateway – Delivery Plan

2.7 This is the first Delivery Plan for the Thames Gateway.  The Thames Gateway Interim Plan, in November 2006, set out the vision for the Gateway, recognising its unique identity as an area with a proud past and a vibrant economic future.  The Delivery Plan seeks to confirm the commitment to support the Thames Gateway vision, by outlining clear priorities and funding.  The key aims for the Thames Gateway sub-region, which are also of importance for Thurrock, include:

  • Building a vibrant economy – with at least 225,000 new jobs throughout Thames Gateway.  It is important to create conditions so local people can access these jobs and the success is monitored. 
  • Improve the quality of life for residents of the Gateway – by providing 160,000 good quality homes at all levels of affordability for existing and new communities, reviving town centres, improving public services and providing a better environment through the Thames Gateway Parklands programme; and
  • Establishing the Gateway as an eco-region – leading the way for the rest of the country in low-carbon and sustainable regeneration. 

CROSS- BOUNDARY ISSUES

2.8 The Core Strategy complies with parts 4.16 and 4.45 of PPS12 that relate to spatial planning not being constrained to Local Planning Authority boundaries and to be coherent with the Core Strategies prepared by neighbouring authorities in the following ways:

  • Regional policy context: The Core Strategy has been prepared within the regional policy framework set out in the RSS East of England Plan as have the Core Strategies of all adjoining local authorities. This has ensured that the cross-boundary dimension relating to all the high-level strategic planning issues have been effectively co-ordinated with adjoining local authorities through the RSS processes.
  • Regional and sub-regional partnerships, agencies and delivery bodies: The Core Strategy policies and their supporting texts, where appropriate, refer to the relevant regional, county and sub-regional partnerships, agencies and delivery bodies; their Strategies, Technical Studies and Delivery Plans that underpin the policies. The relevant policies therefore take full account of cross-boundary issues.
  • Sub-regional and Thurrock Council Technical Studies: As appropriate, policies are informed by and set within the relevant sub-regional strategies and their under-pinning studies e.g. South Essex Greengrid, Essex Biodiversity Action Plans, South Essex Strategic Housing Market Assessment, South West Essex NHS Vision, South Essex Rapid Transit, Thames Gateway South Essex Partnership Delivering the Future, Thames Estuary 2100 Plan, South Essex Catchment Flood Management Plan, etc. This ensures that cross-boundary issues are woven into the fabric of the technical evidence base that informs the policies from the outset.
  • Thurrock Council Technical Studies: The Core Strategy Policies are informed by and founded on an extensive body of Thurrock Council Technical Studies and Strategies. All Studies and Strategies take account of cross-boundary issues, where relevant, as part of their brief.
  • Monitoring and Implementation Framework: Chapter 7 sets out the Monitoring and Implementation Framework for the Core Strategy that clearly demonstrates the role of regional and sub-regional partner organisations, agencies and bodies and relevant Indicators.

LOCAL STRATEGIES

Thurrock Sustainable Community Strategy

2.9 A revised Thurrock Sustainable Community Strategy (SCS) was approved in November 2009, prepared by the Local Strategic Partnership, ‘Shaping Thurrock’.  It envisaged that by 2020, Thurrock will be at the dynamic heart of the Thames Gateway, a place of ambition, enterprise and opportunity, where communities and businesses flourish and the quality of life for local people is continually improving. To achieve this vision, five priorities are identified:

  1. To improve the education and skills of local people.
  2. To encourage and promote job creation and economic prosperity.
  3. To ensure a safe, clean and green environment.
  4. To provide high quality and accessible public services.
  5. To build pride, respect and responsibility in Thurrock’s communities and its residents.

Local Area Agreement (LAA)

2.10 The LAA is a partnership document and successful delivery against the ambitious targets agreed with Government is dependent on the co-operation and contributions of a range of lead and contributing partners.  The seven crosscutting themes of the LAA were designed to address the objectives of Thurrock’s Sustainable Community Strategy.  The themes outlined in the LAA include:

  1. Sustainable Growth;
  2. Positive Image of Thurrock;
  3. Reaching Your Potential;
  4. Embracing Change and Difference;
  5. Supporting the Vulnerable;
  6. Reducing Inequality; and
  7. Leisure and Healthy Living.

Thurrock Sustainable Development Strategy and Framework

2.11 Thurrock Council has developed a Sustainable Development Strategy and Framework to embed the principles of sustainable development into the local context. The Council’s overarching objective is to “Ensure the principles of Sustainable Development underpin Physical and Social Regeneration in Thurrock”. The Council will achieve this by:

  • Mainstreaming the Government’s guiding principles for sustainable development into local strategy and policy making through the Sustainable Development Framework.
  • Appraising the Thurrock Sustainable Community Strategy against local sustainability objectives.
  • Identifying local priorities and actions to help achieve UK shared priorities through the Sustainable Development Strategy.

2.12 The Council’s Local Development Framework will be the key Statutory Development Plan, setting out how the spatial and land-use dimensions of the Thurrock Sustainable Development Strategy will be delivered.

Thurrock Transport Strategy

2.13 Thurrock Council published its Transport Strategy in November 2008.  The Transport Strategy sets out how improvements will be delivered between 2008 and 2021, establishing ways in which congestion, road safety, air quality and better access to services can be tackled.  The Transport Strategy will also provide the main strategic focus for the third and fourth Local Transport Plans and will influence the on-going delivery of the second Local Transport Plan to 2010.  The Transport Strategy has guided the Core Strategy Transport and Access Policies.

Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation

2.14 In February 2003 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (now Communities and Local Government (CLG)) announced that, as part of the Government’s Sustainable Communities Plan, an Urban Development Corporation would be established in Thurrock to drive forward the regeneration of the area.  The Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation (TTGDC) became a legal entity in October 2003 and became operational from January 2004.

2.15 The TTGDC has a remit to facilitate the growth, development and regeneration of Thurrock.  The expectation is that this will drive a significant increase in housing provision as well as improvements in employment and education. The TTGDC formally received development control powers from 12th October 2005 and has responsibility for dealing with significant planning applications and Master Planning.

2.16 The TTGDC prepares a range of Masterplans, Strategies and Frameworks that help shape Thurrock’s Local Development Framework and specifically the Core Strategy.  The relevant plans, policies and programmes produced by the TTGDC that are of particular relevant to the Core Strategy include:

  • Thurrock Spatial Plan – August 2007;
  • Regeneration Framework – Autumn 2005;
  • Building a New Thurrock – Sharing the Vision;
  • Purfleet Centre Development Framework – June 2009;
  • Aveley and South Ockendon Masterplan – November 2007;
  • South Grays Design Brief – July 2008;
  • East Thurrock Masterplan - Nov 2009;
  • South Stifford Framework - Oct 2008;
  • Lakeside Basin and West Thurrock Masterplan - Nov 2008;
  • North Grays Design Brief – Jan 2009;
  • South East Thurrock Masterplan.

The TTGDC is also developing Masterplans for other parts of the borough including:

  • Grays Town Centre Masterplan;
  • North Grays Masterplan

Sustainability Appraisal and Appropriate Assessment

2.17 Sustainability Appraisal is a mandatory process under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 for the production of Local Development Frameworks.  The Thurrock Council Core Strategy requires a Strategic Appraisal that incorporates the dual statutory requirement of both Sustainability Appraisal (SA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). The purpose of SA/SEA is to promote environmental protection and contribute to the integration of environmental, social and economic considerations into the preparation and adoption of plans, with a view to promoting sustainable development.

2.18 The SA/SEA is an important component of the evidence base and has been prepared and consulted on in parallel with the Core Strategy.  At various stages in the production of the Core Strategy, parts of SA/SEA were published.  These stages of SA/SEA publication are outlined in table 2.

Table 2 – Highlighting the Stages and Content of the SA/SEA Production for Thurrock’s Core Strategy

Stage of SA/SEA

Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment – Adopted Scoping Report (November 2005)

Information

The first stage of the Sustainability Appraisal included the production of the Scoping Report.  The Scoping Report for Thurrock covers the Core Strategy and Site Specific Allocations and Policies Development Plan Documents.  The framework and methodology will be utilised to assess the Development Plan Documents.  The Scoping Report was subject to consultation.

Stage of SEA/SA

Sustainability Appraisal of the Core Strategy and Policies for Control of Development and Site Specific Allocations and Policies Development Plan Documents (July 2006)

Information

The Interim Sustainability Appraisal relates to the Issues and options Consultation for the two Development Plan Documents.  It assesses whether the objectives and proposals set out in the Issues and Options Development Plan Documents contribute to the principles of sustainable development.

Stage of SEA/SA

Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment for the Preferred options Core Strategy and Control of Development and Site Specific Allocations and Policies Development Plan Documents – December 2007

Information

Similarly to previous Sustainability Appraisals this assessment relates to both Preferred Options Development Plan Documents.  It identified the impacts of the emerging Development Plan Documents on the economy, the community and the environment.  It also suggests approaches that may be adopted to avoid and reduce any adverse impacts arising from the Development Plan Documents.  The assessment also highlights methods that may be implemented to maximise positive impacts.  The appraisal included a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) and Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA).  A separate Appropriate Assessment was also undertaken and consulted on at this stage.

2.19 A further assessment of the Submissions Core Strategy has also been undertaken and published alongside the Submissions Core Strategy.  This Sustainability Appraisal Report and Appropriate Assessment (under the Habitat Regulations) include an assessment of policies where appropriate.  This report also demonstrates how the Submissions Core Strategy has been informed by the Preferred Options Core Strategy Sustainability Appraisal (2007).  

The Evidence Base

2.20 Thurrock Council has been compiling information to support the preparation of the Local Development Framework.  This information is known as the ‘evidence base’. The evidence includes information on the social, economic and environmental characteristics of Thurrock.  Thurrock’s Spatial Strategy, policies and approaches outlined in the Core Strategy are based on an understanding of our needs within the Borough, identified through the evidence base. The evidence base also assists in determining and assessing the constraints and what is feasibly deliverable throughout the plan period.  A comprehensive list of Thurrock’s evidence base for the Submissions Core Strategy is outlined in Appendix 1.

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