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6 Economy

6.1 This chapter deals with the future development of the economy of the District, in accordance with the aim of achieving a prosperous local economy.


6.2 The Core Strategy objectives relating to the economy are as follows:


To provide and retain employment to support the District's economy in sustainable locations and to provide local employment opportunities, to seek to reduce travelling outside the District to work and to improve skills attainment.

Key Service Villages

To maintain and develop the function of the key service villages to support the adjoining rural areas, by encouraging the retention and provision of employment, shops and services and the regeneration of appropriate sites.

6.3 The Economic Development Strategy contains clear support from local businesses, partners and communities for pro-active, sustainable growth. They want the economy of the District to capitalise on its diversified business base and strategic location in relation to Stansted Airport, London, Cambridge and the Haven Ports to attract new businesses, infrastructure investment and to provide local well paid jobs.

6.4 Economic issues in the District include:-

  • A need to provide jobs to maintain a strong local economy, broaden business opportunities and reduce unemployment (4,200 persons 5.8% in 2008/9)
  • A move away from manufacturing (3,000 jobs lost in the last 6 years.)
  • A need for regeneration of redundant factory sites that are not fit for purpose, including those at Sible Hedingham and Silver End
  • A need to develop and maintain a strong rural economy
  • A need for regeneration of key sites in the three main town centres
  • A need to improve skills attainments and career aspirations of young people
  • A need to provide well paid, local jobs to reduce the high level of people commuting to London and Chelmsford
  • A need for key infrastructure improvements
  • Increasing numbers of people working from home
  • Support for expansion of visitor and business accommodation

6.5 Local jobs are more sustainable and allow more of the money generated to be put back into the District's services and facilities. The current high level of commuting to work out of the District is putting a strain on road and rail infrastructure and contributing to climate change.

6.6 The two Core Planning Policies in relation to this aim are:

  • Provision of Employment
  • Town Centre Regeneration and Retailing

6.7 The East of England Plan sets out the following main economic requirements:

  • An indicative target of 56,000 net growth in jobs (ie additional jobs minus jobs lost) for the period 2001-2021 to be delivered in the 'Rest of Essex' which is defined as Braintree, Brentwood, Chelmsford, Epping Forest, Harlow, Maldon and Uttlesford.
  • Local Development Documents should ensure an adequate range of sites and premises is allocated to achieve indicative job growth targets and needs of the local economy, revealed by employment land reviews. These should be at locations which minimise commuting and promote sustainable communities, achieve a closer relationship between jobs and homes, maximise the use of public transport and provide for skills training and education. Preference should often be given to the re-use of previously developed land and intensification of existing sites over the release of greenfield land.
  • Local Development Documents should identify a network of town centres, district centres, neighbourhood centres and village centres.

6.8 The Cambridge Econometrics Study suggests that the jobs target for the District should be up to 14,000 new jobs between 2001 and 2026, to provide for future employment needs of the District and aim to reduce the high numbers of people commuting to work outside the District. The Council is adopting this target for the Core Strategy.

6.9 The policy will ensure that there is sufficient land provided to secure the delivery of this higher job target. A recent Employment Land Review of the District recommended that:-

  • Provision should be made for an additional 3 to 5 hectares of employment land per year throughout the plan period.
  • There should be an allocation of specific sites sufficient for 7 years development (ie 21 to 35 hectares) at all times.
  • Consideration should be given to the designation of a new business park close to the A120, in the vicinity of Braintree, to provide for demand generated by the proximity to Stansted and by the recently dualled A120 between the M11 and Braintree.
  • Sites in current or recent employment use should be retained unless the site or location is unsuitable for modern standards of development, or that it would be a bad neighbour to adjacent sites.

Provision of Employment

6.10 In 2010 there were 32 hectares (including approvals in floorspace expressed as hectares, using a 0.4 conversion ratio *) of employment land (B1a, B1-8 Use Classes) in the District available for employment development in the following locations within development boundaries:

Table 1 Permitted and Vacant Allocated Employment Land in Braintree District 2010 (Use Classes B1a and B1-8)

Location Permitted
to hectares
(0.4 ratio*)
land ha
44454 16221 28233 7.06 4.69 11.75
Witham 52249 11623 40626 10.15 0.69 10.84
Halstead 11873 962 10911 2.73 0.00 2.73
Sturmer 9796 0 9796 2.45 0.00 2.45
13294 3462 9832 2.46 2.08 4.54
Total 131666 32268 99398 24.85 7.46 32.31

* Conversion ratio of 0.4 based upon Employment Land Review Guidance Annex D

6.11 Table 1 provides information on available sites for employment purposes, which is set out in the Non-Residential Land Availability Monitoring Schedule. The amount of available employment land is identified as floorspace where this is known from planning permissions, or planning applications. Other employment land, for which planning applications have not been submitted, is shown in hectares.

6.12 The provision of 3 hectares of employment land per year (the minimum recommended in the Employment Land Review), from 2009-2026 would require 51 hectares of employment land to be allocated. There was a net loss of 21,112 sq m of employment floorspace between 2009-10 in the District, which would be expressed as a loss of 5.28 hectares of employment land, giving a need for 56 hectares of employment land between 2010 and 2026. 32 hectares of available employment land was identified in 2010 (as shown in the previous table). This would leave a balance of 24 hectares of additional employment land to be identified.

6.13 In order to promote the economic viability of the key service villages, the Council will promote the regeneration of the following areas in two of the Key Service Villages. The design and scale of developments will need to conserve and enhance the character of these areas and the settings of historic buildings and provide improvements to the public realm.

  • Sible Hedingham- the former Premdor site and adjoining Rockways premises

Uses to include housing, employment, a doctors surgery, riverside nature reserve and open space and allotments.

  • Silver End - the former Crittall Works site and adjoining Carriers premises

Uses to include employment, housing and the re-use of historic factory buildings, including the powerhouse.

6.14 Master Plans will be required for these redevelopment sites, to be approved by the Council as Supplementary Planning Documents.

6.15 The Council and its partners are proposing two new strategic employment sites totalling 33.5 hectares of employment land, to provide flexibility in meeting the recommended need, in case some sites are slow in coming forward. Infrastructure requirements relating to the strategic sites are set out in the Infrastructure Chapter.

6.16 It is important that employment land is located as conveniently as possible to where people live and to transport networks, in order to promote a sustainable economy for the District. The Policy therefore identifies two strategic employment sites close to the main town of Braintree; a new business park at Great Notley and as part of a mixed use growth location in north-west Braintree . These will provide for the employment needs of the District to 2026, together with the regeneration sites set out in this Strategy and existing land allocated for employment within current development boundaries.

6.17 The first strategic employment site is an 18.5 hectare Innovation and Enterprise Business Park at Great Notley, close to the A120, as recommended in the Employment Land Review. This is a sustainable location for employment, accessible by footpaths and cycleways and public transport and close to a potential workforce at Great Notley and Braintree. Uses will be B1 and B2 Use Classes (light industrial, business and general industrial uses), B8 Storage and Distribution and hotel development. In order to ensure a mix of uses on the site, the overall quantum of B8 use on the site should be restricted to no more than 40% of the total floor area and the largest unit size to 7,500 sq m.

6.18 A Master Plan will be required for this strategic site, which will be approved as a material consideration. A significant area of structural landscaping will be required, to act as a wildlife corridor, particularly adjacent to the Country Park, which will be managed to create new habitats and maximise its biodiversity. The area identified as a strategic site is therefore larger than 18.5 hectares to take account of this structural landscaping requirement.

6.19 It is proposed that the remaining 15 hectare strategic employment site should be located in the main settlement of Braintree, as part of the 44 ha growth location north-west of Braintree. This will be an extension to Springwood employment area and will be accessible by footpaths and cycleways and public transport. This will be part of a mixed use growth location, with the aim of providing a balance between the workforce and jobs.

6.20 A new strategic employment site is not being proposed at Witham for two reasons. Firstly, because a large area of undeveloped employment land is already available at Maltings Lane Business Park. This is adjacent to the proposed strategic housing site south-west of Witham and will provide sustainable local employment opportunities for those residents. (The gross area of this business park is just over 9 hectares in size, although the table of vacant/allocated employment land gives a lower figure, as it is based on net floorspace approved.) Secondly, because Witham has a larger existing amount and proportion of employment land than Braintree compared to its population size. Employment floorspace in sq metres 2007 (Source Employment Land Review Table 5.2) Braintree (including Great Notley) 394,364 27% of District Total Witham 516,660 35 % of District Total District Total 1,454,690 Braintree Population 36,310 27% of District Total (Source 2001 Census) Witham Population 22,470 17% of District Total

6.21 A new strategic employment site is not being proposed at Halstead because of its smaller population, and lack of services and community facilities (compared to the other main towns), the high quality landscape constraining development around the town and the lack of good public transport links.

Policy CS 4

Provision of Employment

The Council and its partners will support the economy of the District and will aim to provide a minimum of 14,000 net additional jobs in the District between 2001 and 2026. Employment sites in current or recent use in sustainable locations will be retained for employment purposes. Land for employment purposes will be mainly located:-

  • On existing employment sites within the development boundaries of Braintree, Witham, Halstead and Great Notley, the six key service villages, Earls Colne Airfield and Sturmer (adjoining Haverhill).
  • On mixed use regeneration sites in Sible Hedingham and Silver End. Master Plans will be required for these strategic sites, to be approved by the Council as Supplementary Planning Documents.
  • On strategic sites, the boundaries of which are defined on Core Strategy Proposals Map Insets. These comprise an 18.5 ha innovation and enterprise business park at Great Notley and a 15 ha employment area north-west of Braintree, which is part of a larger mixed use strategic site. These are to be developed for uses set out in Table CS4 together with infrastructure requirements. Master Plans will be required for these strategic sites.

The Council and its partners will also protect and enhance key existing tourist and visitor facilities and will promote suitable new tourist development in appropriate locations, in order to increase the range, quality and type of facilities available.

Table CS4 Braintree District Strategic Employment Site Provision

Type of Use Employment
Braintree -
land to the
off Panfield
General employment B1-B8

Site for housing, football
stadium, educational provision,
health care provision, services
and community uses

Innovation and Enterprise
Business Park B1 B2 B8 and
C1 hotel use
Braintree -
land to the
west of the
A131 at
Great Notley
In order to ensure a mix of uses
on the site, the overall quantum
of B8 use on the site should be
restricted to no more than 40%
of the total floor area and the
largest unit size restricted to
7,500sq m.

Structural landscaping/wildlife
corridor 7ha
Total   33.5

6.22 Employment sites (apart from the strategic sites, which are set out in the Core Strategy on the Proposals Map Insets) will be defined on the Site Allocations DPD Proposals Map Insets.

Inset 1b Land to the west of the A131 at Great Notley

Inset 1b Land to the west of the A131 at Great Notley

'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

Rural Area

6.22 The Core Strategy objectives relating to the rural area (which covers all of the District apart from the three main towns) are:

Rural Area

To maintain and support services, community facilities and appropriate employment in the rural communities to meet their local needs.


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.

6.23 Braintree District covers a large rural area, which contains nearly 50% of its residents. The Council supports protecting the countryside and maintaining the viability of agriculture, small businesses, farm diversification and rural tourism and seeks to expand rural enterprise in line with the recommendations of the Essex Rural Commission Report in 2009.

6.24 The scope for economic development will be limited by the need for sustainable development and to protect the countryside and environment. However, there is a need to secure a sound sustainable future for the rural economy, which continues to contribute significantly to the economy of the District as a whole through tourism, agriculture and local small businesses. Policies relating to farm diversification, rural enterprise and rural tourism will be set out in the Development Management DPD as well as details of uses, which are appropriate in the countryside. Employment sites will be identified within development boundaries in the Site Allocations DPD.

Main Issues

  • Protecting the environment, landscape character and biodiversity of the countryside.

Policy CS 5

The Countryside

Development outside town development boundaries, village envelopes and industrial development limits will be strictly controlled to uses appropriate to the countryside, in order to protect and enhance the landscape character and biodiversity, geodiversity and amenity of the countryside.

Town Centre Regeneration and Retailing

6.25 The Core Strategy objective relating to town centres is:

Town Centres

To maintain and develop vibrant and prosperous main towns of Braintree, Witham and Halstead, by encouraging new development and regeneration schemes that support their function as major service centres, with a range of good quality employment, shops, services and cultural provision.

6.26 The regeneration of the market towns and key service village centres is a high priority. The District has three town centres - Braintree, Halstead and Witham. Braintree is the largest town centre with a wider range of shops and services than at Halstead and Witham. The town centres are supported by a network of district and local centres. Braintree Freeport and Braintree Retail Park together form the largest out of centre retail area in the District. The District falls within the sphere of influence of other larger sub-regional centres, particularly Chelmsford and Colchester.

6.27 It is a key priority to maintain and improve the vitality and viability of the District's town centres and regeneration initiatives are proposed for each of them. In planning for the future of our town centres and retailing we have had regard to the North Essex Retail Study2006 and its update in 2010, PPS4 published in December 2009 and the Braintree Town Centre Analysis dated April 2009.

6.28 For Braintree our studies have identified a need for additional comparison goods floorspace over the LDF period to 2026 and our main priority is to strengthen the comparison goods offer in the town centre. Two opportunities have been identified where additional retail floorspace could be provided - to the east of the Town Hall Centre and to the west of George Yard Shopping Centre. It is considered that these two locations should take priority for accommodating any additional floorspace in the town as part of mixed use developments. Only limited capacity has been identified for additional convenience retailing in Braintree. A discount foodstore has recently opened at Rayne Road. There are existing additional commitments for extensions to the stores at Great Notley and Kings Park Village. Any proposals for new and/or extended convenience and comparison goods floorspace will be assessed on their merits against the sequential test set out in PPS4 and impact assessment threshold set out in policy CS6, taking account of the likely cumulative effect of recent permissions, developments under construction and completed developments.

6.29 For Witham only limited capacity has been identified for additional convenience and comparison retailing. Here the priority will be improving the current offer. The focus for improvement will be the Newlands Shopping Centre where there is potential for improvement and redevelopment. There is also planning permission for a neighbourhood convenience store as part of the local centre within the Maltings Lane development

6.30 The main issue for Halstead is to strengthen the town centre through retail facilities, particularly food store provision to draw back trade currently lost to the town. Land to the east of the High Street presents the main opportunity for regeneration. This could include additional retailing and car parking with strong links being provided to the High Street.

6.31 Outside the town centres Braintree Freeport and Braintree Retail Park together form a specialist out-of-centre retail and leisure destination focusing on factory outlet shopping, bulky non-food goods and leisureuses. It is important that the specialist offer of this area is maintained so that it complements the town centres. Proposals for further development at Braintree Freeport and Braintree Retail Park will be carefully assessed against their impact on town centres.

6.32 It is considered that the Great Notley neighbourhood centre is the only location in the District that meets the definition of a District Centre as set out in PPS4. There is a current planning permission for the extension for the supermarket at Great Notley. When this has been implemented the centre will have reached its physical limit for growth.

6.33 Outside of town centres there are also major supermarkets at Kings Park Village (with planning permission to expand) and at Braintree Road, Witham.

6.34 In the rural areas, the key service villages of Coggeshall, Earls Colne, Hatfield Peverel, Kelvedon, Sible Hedingham and Silver End perform the role of local centres. Local centres are also planned as part of the new growth location at Panfield Lane and at the Maltings Lane new neighbourhood, Witham. Shops and services in the new growth locations should be on a scale compatible with the local catchment.

Policy CS6

Retailing and Town Centre Regeneration

The town centres of Braintree, Halstead and Witham will be the primary location for retail, office, leisure and cultural provision in the District.

The improvement and regeneration of the town centres will be promoted and the regeneration of the following locations is proposed to meet the identified need for additional retailing and other town centre uses:

Braintree Town Centre - Land to the east of the Town Hall Centre between Manor Street and Victoria Street and land to the west of George Yard Shopping Centre

Witham Town Centre - The Newlands Shopping Centre and adjoining land Economy 67

Halstead Town Centre - The areas around The Centre, Weavers Court and land to the east of the High Street

Any proposals for retailing and town centre uses will be based on the sequential approach in accordance with national planning policy guidance.

The scale of development will need to be consistent with the following hierarchy with larger scale development focussed on the town centres:

Town Centres - Braintree, Halstead and Witham

District Centres - Great Notley

Local Centres

Local centres are those which provide a range of small shops of a local nature, serving a small catchment, which typically might include a small supermarket, a newsagent, a sub-post office and a pharmacy. (Small parades of shops of purely neighbourhood significance are not regarded as local centres for the purposes of this policy.)

Local Centres will be protected and enhanced to provide smallscale shops, services and community facilities for local residents.

The provision of local shops and services throughout the District will be safeguarded to provide for the needs of local residents.

The appropriate circumstances in which impact assessments for retail proposals will be required will be established in a subsequent Development Plan Document.

Town Centre and District Centre Boundaries will be defined in the Site Allocations Development Plan Document


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