4.1 This Chapter sets out the policies and proposals that will be applied to encourage and direct sustainable development for employment uses within the District. The Plan seeks to balance the development of new employment opportunities in urban areas with the need for rural diversification.
This Chapter concentrates on the provision of land for business, industry and warehousing. However, it is recognised that a significant contribution to the District’s employment is made by the service sector, both public and private, in offices, schools, leisure, retail, health, community and other uses.
4.2 There is a strong employment base within the District. The three towns of Braintree, Witham and Halstead are the main employment bases, but there is also a diverse rural economy providing many local jobs in and around villages throughout the District. Commuting out of the District, including to Stansted Airport, for employment is also significant. It is a key part of the strategy for the plan period to achieve a better balance between housing and employment.
4.3 The 1991 Census of Population shows that around 38% of the workforce travel to work outside the District and that twice as many men as women are commuters. Furthermore, the 1991 Census Employment Statistics show that fewer people travel into the District than outside for work, making Braintree a net exporter of labour. Although out-commuters from Braintree are a smaller proportion of the workforce than the county-wide rate of almost 43%, it is hoped that out-commuting can be reduced by further strengthening the local economy.
|Residents aged 16 or over,
employees and self-employed
|Residents aged 16 or over, employees and self-employed working outside Braintree District||1378||
|Residents aged 16 or over, employees and self-employed working within Braintree District||1831||
|Total persons working in Braintree District||2450||
|Net workers commuting into Braintree District||619||
4.4 Travel to work in the District is predominantly by car. Almost 66% of work journeys are made this way, including both drivers and passengers and this reflects the rural character of the area. Walking is the next most popular means of getting to work - almost 12% of workers do so. 8.6% of the workers travelled to work by rail in 1991; these were predominantly employers, managers and junior non-manual workers.
4.5 The opportunities for travelling to work by rail have increased recently since the opening of the new station at Braintree Freeport. Employment opportunities have increased significantly in the East Braintree area following the success of the Single Regeneration Budget project. This has revitalised the whole area, modernising the infrastructure, building new roads, bridges and cycleways, achieving environmental improvements and creating over 1,000 new jobs including those at the Freeport Designer Outlet.
|Car (drivers and passengers)||2301||
|Works at home||126||125||251|
|Full time staff||702|
|Part time staff||353|
|Estimated Full time equivalents||714|
4.6 Unemployment within the District has fallen steadily in recent years. The current rate (April 2001) of unemployment is 2.1% of the workforce, in line with the overall rate for Essex of 2.2%. Men in the age group 30-44 are the most likely to be unemployed, but long-term unemployment is rare. Around 60 % of claimants on the unemployment register have been seeking work for 13 weeks or less, with only 5% of claimants being out of work for over 105 weeks.
Unemployment in Braintree District
4.7 Government guidance on employment issues is set out principally in PPG4 “Industrial and Commercial Development of Small Firms.” Guidance from the East of England Development Agency is contained in Moving Forward - A Strategy for the East of England (1999) and East of England 2010: Prosperity for All (2001). Strategic policy guidance is to be found in Structure Plan Policies CS1 and CS4 requiring that economic growth and urban regeneration be accommodated in a sustainable manner.
4.8 The policy context for the provision, availability and location of employment land comes from the following Structure Plan policies:
Policy BIW1 Employment Land Provision
Policy BIW2 Ensuring Land Availability
Policy BIW3 Business Development-The Sequential Approach
Policy BIW4 Safeguarding Employment Land
Policy BIW5 Business Location
Policy BIW6 Small Firms Location
4.9 The aim of the Local Plan is to support the local economy, to provide local jobs and thereby create a better, sustainable balance between jobs and homes in the District and so reduce the need to travel.
4.10 The objectives of this Plan in relation to employment are: - To provide a range of employment opportunities to meet the needs of the local population, whilst maintaining the environmental quality of the District;
- To seek to reduce out-commuting from the District to work;
- To build economic activity on local strengths - leading to the creation of employment opportunities for local area;
- To re-use derelict land;
- To create mixed-use areas where low-key employment uses and housing can coexist;
- To facilitate working from home;
- To facilitate rural diversification;
- To improve the environment within industrial and business areas;
- To require employers to make green transport plans;
- To require improved public transport, cycle and pedestrian links to industrial areas and other concentrations of employment;
- To encourage energy efficiency and sustainability in the location, development and operation of employment areas.
4.11 The Essex and Southend-on-Sea Adopted Replacement Structure Plan, April 2001 indicates that an employment land provision of 80 hectares is to be made in a range of suitable sites for industrial and commercial development within Braintree District, for the plan period 1996-2011. This figure refers only to sites within urban areas, including Sturmer due to its proximity to Haverhill. The District already has substantial areas of urban land allocated for employment amounting to 66.6 hectares (as at October 1996) as well as 7.12 hectares of rural industrial land. Appendix 2 sets out details of this provision. Surveys of local businesses have indicated a need for further employment land to meet general industrial needs in both Braintree and Halstead. Application of the sequential approach indicates that there are no appropriate sites within the existing urban areas and that peripheral expansion of existing industrial estates represents the most sustainable option. At Feering there is an opportunity to expand the Threshelfords Business Park, which will provide additional local employment. This is a modest extension of an existing use on the edge of a village reasonably well served by public transport. The following allocations are therefore being made in this Plan:
- 3.15 hectares at Halstead Bluebridge Industrial Estate
- 3.5 hectares at Braintree Springwood Industrial Estate
- 2.7 hectares at Feering Threshelfords Business Park (including existing employment uses)
- 0.5 hectare at Earls Colne Airfield
These are discussed further as follows.
4.12 The Council recognises that the availability of industrial land varies significantly in the three main urban areas. In September 2000, whilst there were 27.39 ha of industrial land available in Braintree and 16.8 ha in Witham, there was only 0.74 ha in Halstead. In order therefore to allow for some additional employment sites in Halstead, the Council is proposing to allocate 1.47 hectares of industrial land in addition to that already allocated in the adopted Local Plan. This is discussed in more detail later in this chapter. Since the start of the Structure Plan period, 18.34 hectares of land in East Braintree have been brought into employment use.
4.13 The Review of the Local Plan provides the opportunity to reconsider the suitability of existing allocations for future employment use, opportunities for meeting local employment and rural diversification needs. The Government’s Planning Policy Guidance Note 3: Housing also requires local authorities to review employment and other non-housing allocation to consider whether some of this land might be better used for housing or mixed use developments.
4.14 The Council considered the land allocated for employment in the Local Plan in this context and considers that the former Atlas Works Site at Earls Colne would be more appropriate as a mixed use development for several reasons. It is a village centre location, within a residential area, where future employment uses might have given rise to amenity problems for surrounding residents and there is a large local employment source at Earls Colne Airfield.
4.15 In Braintree District, existing employment allocations are well located, realistic and required for the economic development of the area within the plan period. In addition to the main industrial estates and business parks, smaller existing employment allocations including land at Sible Hedingham, Great Yeldham, Kelvedon, Steeple Bumpstead and Hatfield Peverel are to be retained for employment use. These are important sources of local employment within these villages and their re-use for other purposes will be resisted. Furthermore, the urban capacity study commissioned by the Council and the joint Essex County Council/Braintree District Council Residential Land Availability study each demonstrate that sufficient land exists on a range of sites for more than five years housing supply. It would therefore be inappropriate and unsustainable to reallocate this employment land which is designated as employment policy area for housing in the review of the local plan. Mixed use employment and housing development will be considered at the former Rayne Foundry site, the Carrs Joinery site at Silver End and on part of the Premdor site at Sible Hedingham.
4.16 The expansion of local firms in Braintree, Witham and Halstead will be accommodated wherever possible, subject to the other policies in this plan. Provision is made for limited additional employment in Halstead and at Earls Colne Airfield and this is discussed later in this chapter.
Development for employment uses shall be concentrated on suitable sites in towns and villages where housing, employment and other facilities can be provided close together. Development for business, commercial and industrial use shall be located to minimise the length and number of trips by motor vehicles. Development for employment uses will not be permitted where it would be likely to add unacceptably to traffic congestion. The Council may require applicants to enter into Section 106 Agreements to provide for the development of employment land, in accordance with agreed development briefs, and for the provision of off-site works.
4.17 On the Proposals Map, areas for Class B1 Business use only are allocated separately from areas where Class B2 (General Industrial) and Class B8 (Storage and Distribution) uses are also suitable. This is to facilitate allocations for B1 use only, where this is appropriate for amenity reasons.
Land is allocated for employment on the main industrial estates and business parks, as shown on the Proposals Map. On these sites, the following uses will be considered appropriate:
a) business (B1), general industrial (B2), storage and distribution (B8);
b) display repair and sale of vehicles, vehicle parts, boats and caravans;
c) indoor sports or recreational uses;
d) a limited element of retailing where this is ancillary to another main use permitted under (a) above;
e) services specifically provided for the benefit of businesses based on, or workers employed within, the Employment Zone.
Parks identified solely for Class B1 Business use on the Proposals Map, no other uses shall be permitted unless they are both essential and ancillary to the main use of any unit and do not occupy more than 5% of the floor-space of the main unit.
Planning permission for B1, B2 and B8 uses will only be permitted on sites of 1 hectare or more where a range of size and type of industrial and commercial premises is provided.
4.18 Mixed-use developments are to be complementary to the main areas of employment land and not a substitute for business parks and industrial estates.
4.19 Inappropriate parking on landscaped areas and grass verges at Springwood Industrial Estate has caused damage resulting in an overall loss of amenity. The Council will seek positive proposals to improve and restore these areas when opportunities arise and especially in conjunction with any applications for expansion, or change of use.
4.20 The Council will adopt a supplementary planning document setting out standards for the design and layout of business parks.
New employment development including business parks and employment policy areas will be required to conform to suitable design and layout standards with adequate car parking, and provision for public transport, cycling and walking, landscaping and servicing including either connection to mains sewers or the construction of sewers to standards adoptable by the statutory water company. In considering any planning application for new employment development the District Council will expect to see standards of design and layout, car parking, servicing and landscaping agreed as a basis for more detailed proposals. Planning obligations will be sought to secure the management of new landscape areas.
4.21 The availability of workplace nurseries providing good quality childcare is an important option for working parents, reducing distance between parent and child during the working day and travelling.
The provision of workplace nurseries will be sought as an integral part of new business parks and or other employment generating development, including health and education, to be achieved by means of planning obligations. This will include the provision of additional facilities for working parents by individual employers. The provision of workplace nurseries will need to be demonstrated within the design and layout requirements of Policy RLP31 above.
4.22 The Council supports the creation of mixed-use areas, where both work and residential uses take place in harmony. Longer-established employment areas occasionally become poor neighbours to nearby homes, but mostly exist together with few problems. The Council, in accordance with government guidance, supports the retention of existing employment areas, which contribute to the local economy, providing sustainable work opportunities and reduce travel to work providing residential amenities are safeguarded.
Employment Policy Areas are defined on the Proposals Map where proposals for uses other than those within Use Classes B1, B2 and B8 will be refused.
In considering proposals for new employment uses, the District Council will seek, where appropriate, the retention of buffer zones between employment uses and adjacent housing areas. In appropriate circumstances the provision of suitable landscaping will be required between large-scale industrial uses falling in use Class B1, B2 and B8 and adjacent housing areas.
Permission will be granted for the redevelopment of sites where industrial or commercial uses are the cause of disturbance to neighbouring residential areas, or which seriously detract from the character of their surroundings. Proposals for the intensification or extension of any such sites will not be permitted.
Planning permission will not be granted for new development, extensions and changes of use, which would have an unacceptable impact on the surrounding area, as a result of:
- grit or other pollution
- health and safety
- visual impact and
- traffic generation
- contamination to air, land or water.
- impact on nature conservation interests
- unacceptable light pollution
The Council will refuse proposals where access roads would not be adequate to cope with consequential traffic.
4.23 Additional policies concerning the protection and enhancement of the environment are contained in Chapter 6.
Proposals for the introduction of B1 business uses into residential and other non-industrial areas will be permitted where these can be carried on without detriment to the character, amenities and health and safety of the surrounding area.
4.24 The Council’s strategy is that new employment uses should primarily be in the towns of Braintree and Witham. Nevertheless local employment opportunities are also important in rural areas, where the availability of public transport is limited.
4.25 The importance of farm diversification to the rural economy has been recognised recently by the Government. In March 2001, it issued an amendment to its Planning Policy Guidance Note No. 7: “The Countryside - Environmental Quality and Economic and Social Development” fulfilling its commitment to farm diversification previously outlined in the Rural White Paper published on 30 November 2000. Farming continues to make a significant contribution to the economy of rural areas, but it is recognised that diversification into non-agricultural activities may be vital to the continuity of some farm businesses.
4.26 The Council will support farm diversification, which will normally be expected to re-use existing buildings in the first instance, providing it can be demonstrated there will be no adverse impact on the environment and that the proposals will not lead to pressures for inappropriate development or additional new buildings in the open countryside.
The conversion of rural buildings (including modern buildings) for business re-use will be permitted provided that: - they are of permanent and substantial construction and capable of conversion without major extension or complete reconstruction;
- their form, bulk and general design are in keeping with their surroundings;
- there would be no unacceptable impact on the landscape or protected species or historic environment;
- safe and satisfactory vehicular access and egress can be provided together with adequate space within the curtilage to accommodate car parking to the Council’s standards and lorry manoeuvring without detriment to the setting of the building residential amenity and the landscape within which it is located;
- the scale and frequency of traffic generated can be accommodated on the road system without adverse effects on the road system itself, residential amenity or the character of the countryside;
- there shall be no open storage of goods, containers, waste materials or finished products.
Conversion to residential use will only be acceptable where:
i) The applicant has made every reasonable effort to secure suitable employment or community re-use and the application is supported by a statement of the efforts that have been made; or
ii) Residential conversion is a subordinate part of a scheme for business re-use of the building; and
iii) In either case, the criteria set out above are met.
4.27 The conversion of Listed Buildings for business use may be acceptable subject to the policies in the Design and Heritage Chapter (see policy RLP 101).
4.28 Experience has shown that employment land allocations do not necessarily meet the needs of local companies, either because of their location, or because of the terms and conditions on which they are offered. The Council’s survey of local businesses indicated that over half of the companies in Braintree, Witham, Halstead and the rural areas, who replied to the survey, plan to expand. Many of these companies operate from fully developed sites, with no further room and have expressed a preference for freehold, rather than leasehold tenure. It is therefore proposed to permit local businesses to expand onto adjacent unallocated sites, that is; sites outside town development boundaries, village envelopes and industrial development limits, if certain criteria are satisfied.
Proposals for the expansion of established local businesses on to unallocated sites, which are outside development limits (that is town development boundaries, village envelopes and industrial development limits), will be considered against the following criteria:
- the site must be adjacent to a town development boundary, a village envelope, or an industrial development limit;
- there is no unacceptable impact on the landscape, the local road network, nearby residential areas, conservation areas, listed buildings, scheduled ancient monuments and other nationally important remains, historic parks and gardens or areas of nature conservation importance;
- the site is adjacent to the existing premises and the size and scale of any extension is in proportion to the existing development;
- there is a named user for the development, who shall be the first occupant. A planning condition will be attached to any permission to this effect;
- the proposals are accompanied by a travel plan;
- the proposals should secure existing jobs or will create new jobs.
In the countryside, the following categories of minor industrial or commercial development will normally be considered favourably, subject to their compliance with the criteria set out in the second part of this policy:
1. The extension of existing industrial and commercial development, providing it is on a small scale compatible with the surrounding area:
2. Small scale proposals, which would secure significant improvements to the local environment:
In order to be considered favourably, proposals should not be detrimental in terms of visual impact, noise, smell, or other pollution, or excessive traffic generation, health or safety or loss of nature conservation interests.
Proposals will also be subject to high standards of design, landscaping and other such requirements as may be necessary to reduce the impact of development. In considering proposals within special landscape areas, special attention will be paid to design, materials and degree of intrusion. Where permission is granted for the re-use of a rural building, further development by way of extensions, rebuilding or redevelopment will not be permitted.
4.29 The site of the site former Crittall Sports Club and sportsfield at Springwood Drive, Braintree has the benefit of a planning permission for a sports and social club, sportsfield and car parking area, granted in 1989.
4.30 A survey of local companies has indicated a strong demand for local sites for expansion. Whilst the site has the benefit of planning permission for leisure uses, employment uses would be an appropriate alternative. It is therefore proposed that the site be allocated for employment use and/or formal leisure uses comprising swimming facilities, sports courts and pitches and changing facilities.
3.5 hectares of land at the former Crittall Sports and Social Club site, Springwood Drive are allocated for B1, B2 and B8 employment use and/or for formal leisure use, comprising swimming facilities, sports courts and pitches and changing facilities. Planning permission will only be granted subject to a Section 106 agreement providing improvements to the pedestrian and cycle link from Springwood Drive to Panfield Lane. Vehicular access to the site shall be from Springwood Drive only.
4.31 Although there are no proposals for major development in Halstead, the public consultation on the Issues Report and an earlier employment land questionnaire survey both identified the need for a limited amount of land for the expansion of existing firms, within the town.
4.32 Additional land adjoining the Bluebridge Industrial Estate has been identified for this purpose, in accordance with policy RLP 39, but special consideration must to be given to minimising its impact on the landscape. The County Council Landscape Adviser accepts that the opportunities for industrial land allocation in Halstead are limited and that this area offers the best practical opportunity.
An area of land is allocated to the north of the Bluebridge Industrial Estate as an employment site for up to 3.6 hectares of B1, B2 and B8 uses and additional structural landscaping. Access shall be via the existing Bluebridge Industrial Estate. New development shall be carried out in accordance with a development brief provided by the developer, and approved by the Council, which shall include:- - a study of the existing flora and fauna on the site;
- a structural landscaping scheme to include native species;
- structural engineering information regarding practicalities and implications of removing soil to achieve slab levels no higher than those existing in Fifth Avenue;
- a statement concerning the lorry movement associated with the removal of soil;
- details of consultations with Essex County Council on highway and mineral matters;
- New development shall have ridge heights no higher than existing ridge heights in Fifth Avenue;
- New buildings shall be finished with dark, matt colours to minimise impact within the landscape;
- Illuminated signs will not be permitted;
A Section 106 agreement may be required for the long-term retention and maintenance of the structural landscaping.
4.33 The need for a large-scale employment use on this site no longer exists and is not realistic, or sustainable, in this location. Alternative employment opportunities have been provided on the nearby Earls Colne Business Park on the former airfield. A recent mixed-use application for housing, live-work units, commercial development and a health centre was withdrawn, but the principle of this type of development is acceptable, providing development is contained entirely within the former Atlas Works site.
(Site redeveloped; Policy expired 24 July 2008)
3.9 hectares of land at the former Atlas Works Site, Earls Colne are identified as a Comprehensive Development Area for a mixed development of housing, live-work units and commercial development. An overall development brief is to be agreed with the Council, prior to the commencement of any development.
4.34 Rayne Foundry is allocated as a Comprehensive Development Area on the Proposals Map. The redevelopment of the site for mixed use development would be acceptable, providing some sustainable local employment. A Development Brief shall be agreed with the Council, prior to any redevelopment of the site.
Foundry is identified as a Comprehensive Development Area for mixed housing and commercial development. A development brief is to be agreed with the Council, prior to the commencement of any development
The Riverside Business Park at the former Earls Colne Station is within the Special Landscape Area and no further development will be permitted beyond the development limits defined on the Proposals Map.
Within the development limits no new development shall exceed 6.15 metres in height above ground level.
4.35 In the Approved Braintree District Local Plan, the Council designated an industrial development limit at Earls Colne Airfield in order to allow employment uses to take place. This area is now almost fully developed and has been well landscaped and maintained by the owner. The land within the envelope is now recognised as an employment allocation appropriate for employment uses within use classes B1 and B8 and subject to the terms of the Section 106 agreement between the owner and the Council. Also the landscaped areas already identified within the Section 106 agreement are now recognised by the structural landscaping policy in this plan.
4.36 Immediately adjoining this area are two plots (the former control tower and the former greenkeepers’ store) where consents have permitted employment uses to take place.
4.37 An appeal relating to the control tower site was dismissed in 1997, for the conversion of the building to office use and extension for Class B1 industrial use. The issue was the proposed increased footprint of the building within the countryside, as the principle of office use had been allowed previously. The Inspector noted that the review of the local plan would be the proper time for considering the extent of the employment allocation here. Adjoining this site is the former greenkeepers’ store, a modern agricultural building erected in connection with the golf course. Permission was granted for change of use to Classes B1 and B8 use in 1997, after golf course maintenance equipment was stored elsewhere.
4.38 To the south of the former control tower and greenkeepers’ store, at the south-eastern corner of the Business Park, is an office building currently occupied by Gigga Wave. This has become an established and permanent element of the business park. It is now intended to include these three areas within the employment policy area and extend the Industrial Development limit to encompass them. These extensions are accompanied by additional structural landscaping.
At Earls Colne Airfield the spread of industrial and commercial uses beyond the Industrial Development limit, as defined on the Proposals Map, will be resisted. 1.07 hectares of land are allocated as an employment site for B1, B2 and B8 uses at the former control tower and former greenkeepers’ store and the adjoining Gigga Wave site as shown on the Proposals Map at the Earls Colne Airfield.
Substantial structural landscaping shall be provided and thereafter maintained to the Council’s satisfaction as part of any new proposals for this land. The Council shall require a legal agreement to this effect.
4.39 Threshelfords Business Park at Inworth Road, Feering consists of a linked group of barns and other buildings, occupied by office and studio uses and set in landscaped grounds. It adjoins the village envelope designated in the adopted Local Plan. It is essentially rural in character and surrounded by the Special Landscape Area on three sides. It has been successful in providing sustainable employment and it is recognised that there is demand for expansion on the site. It is proposed that the envelope should be extended to include this site and that it should be allocated for Use Class B1 business use only.
2.7 hectares of land at Threshelfords Business Park, Feering is allocated for Class B1 Business Use. A Development Brief shall be agreed with the Council, prior to any new development at Threshelfords setting out criteria for low density development with landscape screening.
4.40 There are employment policy areas in these three villages, covering the Hunnable Site and Toppesfield industrial area at Great Yeldham, part of the Premdor site and Rippers Court at Sible Hedingham and Arla Foods UK at Hatfield Peverel. The housing strategy and sustainability principles underpinning this plan do not justify additional housing in these locations. Rather the land could be used to provide local employment opportunities and reduce the out-commuting already identified. The Council intends to continue to protect these areas for employment purposes.
4.41 The employment site at Blois Meadows is allocated in the 1995 Braintree District Local Plan, partly as an employment site with planning permission and partly as an employment site without planning permission, as at 1.4.92.
4.42 These allocations are updated in the Review of the Local Plan, reflecting its current position as a partially completed employment site. It is now allocated partly as an employment policy area and partly as a site for B1 business use.
4.43 Railway Garage, Kelvedon comprises approximately 1 hectare of land in a mixture of uses including the sale and servicing of motor cars together with various workshops at the rear, a mobile communications mast and a significant area of commuter and residents’ car parking. The site includes the former station-master’s house, Crofton House. It is an important site in the village in a sensitive location, partially within the Conservation Area. The area is very busy at peak hours due to its proximity to the station. There is a long-standing need for improved set down and pick up parking to serve Kelvedon station. At present there is a conflict between private vehicles, the Coggeshall Community Bus and pedestrians in the morning peak. The redevelopment of Railway Garage could provide the opportunity to overcome these problems. The site is not considered suitable for shopping, as this would have adverse effect on exiting shops in the High Street.
Land at Railway Garage and adjoining the railway station at Kelvedon is allocated as a Comprehensive Development Area for mixed use where a combination of employment, car parking and housing uses will be allowed. A development brief will be required for the whole site prior to any redevelopment. The development brief is to address the following issues:
- retention of small scale employment uses;
- location of residential development in relation to employment land and potentially contaminated land;
- net gain in the provision of off street parking for residents, employees and commuters;
- access to the site;
- improved vehicular and pedestrian access to Kelvedon Station, including the possibility of a bus interchange.