Southend Central Area Action Plan & Proposals Map - Proposed Submission
Part B - Policies
5. Development Strategy for Key Uses
104. The Core Strategy DPD spatial strategy (plan period: 2001-2021) makes provision for a large share of the Borough’s new growth and regeneration to be focussed in the central area of the Borough.
105. The purpose of this Plan, therefore, is to give more detailed consideration to how and where employment-led regeneration and growth, as identified by the Core Strategy to 2021, can sustainably be accommodated in the Town Centre, Central Seafront area and surrounding gateway neighbourhoods. It is recognised that this Area Action Plan is planning for a longer term (2025) within the central area and provision is made, where appropriate, to roll forward growth requirements based on the aims and objectives of the Core Strategy and up to date evidence. Clearly any substantive additional growth beyond that is set out in the adopted Core Strategy will need to be determined through its review.
SCAAP Objectives 1, 6, 7 and 8
- To improve and transform the economic vitality, viability and diversity of Southend Town Centre by encouraging the establishment of a wider range of homes, businesses and shops whilst providing new opportunities for recreation and leisure;
- To expand the presence of the University of Essex and the South Essex College and establish Southend as an important regional centre for learning;
- To encourage the establishment and expansion of all businesses in Southend Town Centre by identifying, promoting or by actively bringing forward suitable sites for development to meet modern user and investor requirements;
- To increase the number and diversity of people living within the town centre and adjoining residential areas by bringing into use empty or underused floorspace and by building more homes and making efforts to ensure that living in the Town Centre becomes appealing to more families with children
106. It is vital that Southend’s strategic role as a location for business, shopping, services, culture, leisure and community facilities, and higher and further education is maintained and its range of attractions enhanced so that it retains its diversity and vitality in line with its status as a sub-regional centre. Fundamental to this is the need to capitalise on the proximity of the seafront to the Town Centre which establishes a unique combination of shopping, leisure, living and working experiences.
107. Objectives for the spatial development in the central
A large share of the Borough’s new growth and development will be focussed in the Town Centre and its gateway neighbourhoods in line with the spatial strategy for the Southend central area set out in the adopted Core Strategy DPD (Core Strategy Policies KP1, CP1, CP2, CP3 and CP8). The Core Strategy sets out the following approach to the scale and distribution of investment and development in the central area until 2021:
A Town Centre renewal package to regenerate the existing Town Centre, as a fully competitive regional centre, led by the development of the University Campus, and securing a full range of quality sub-regional services to provide for 6,500 new jobs and providing for at least 2,000 additional homes in conjunction with the upgrading of strategic and local passenger transport accessibility, including development of Southend Central and Southend Victoria Railway Stations as strategic transport interchanges and related travel centres.
In addition, appropriate regeneration and growth will be focussed:
to enhance the Seafront’s role as a successful leisure and tourist attraction and place to live, and make the best use of the River Thames, subject to the safeguarding of the biodiversity importance of the foreshore.
fostering and reinforcing the role of key Priority Urban Areas which have the potential to make a significant contribution to regeneration and housing growth objectives. Within the Central area this includes, along with the Town Centre itself, the industrial / employment areas at Grainger Road, Short Street and Tickfield Estate. These areas have the potential to contribute fully to local employment objectives and to provide for quality environments.
108. The scale of development proposed and mix of uses takes account of Southend’s role and catchment area, improvements to transport and other infrastructure, and the need to protect and enhance the character of the centre, its historic, built and natural environment.
109. Appendix 3 – ‘Schedule of housing capacity within SCAAP’ – demonstrates how the provisions of this plan will provide the capacity to deliver the housing Objectives for spatial development in the central area.
110. The Core Strategy states that Southend Town Centre will remain the first preference for all forms of retail development and for other town centre uses. The Retail Study (2011) concluded that the retail hierarchy and classification of centres as set out by the Core Strategy is appropriate and that the existing Town Centre Shopping Area as defined by the Borough Local Plan Proposal Map is appropriate and therefore does not require alteration. This area is to be referred to as the Town Centre Primary Shopping Area (PSA) as part of this Area Action Plan (see Proposal Map).
111. The retail sector is crucial to the health of the local economy in terms of its attraction to visitors, business and investment. The Primary Shopping Area is focused around a long linear High Street anchored by The Victoria shopping centre to the north and The Royals shopping centre to the south. The elongated length of the High Street results in a dilution of shoppers with the centre lacking any natural retail circuits. Creating better circuits around The Victoria and The Royals shopping centres would be expected to strengthen the centre.
112. Objectives for retail development
- The ‘offer’ within the Town Centre will be broadened to secure a full range of quality sub-regional services to improve the centres attractiveness and viability and encourage the evening economy,
- The defined Town Centre will remain the first preference
for all forms of retail development (Core Strategy CP2).
Existing levels of comparison shopping floorspace and the
provision of additional retail floorspace will contribute to
the delivery of new and reinforced retail circuits as
- reinforced northern circuit with The Victoria and the High Street at its heart supported by secondary shopping and café/restaurant areas along Southchurch road and London Road;
- expanded south eastern circuit with The Royals and High Street at its heart supported by the provision of new larger retail development east of Chichester road;
- south western circuit where smaller retail units would sit comfortably within the existing character of the area
- Clifftown will be the specialist quarter offering smaller niche retail, café and restaurant attractions with attractive linkages to western esplanade and the Conservation Area,
- Additional major foodstore provision will be supported where it can be demonstrated that it will contribute towards the role, function and vitality of the Town Centre.
Policy DS1: New and enhanced shopping facilities
- The Council will require retail development proposals to be focussed within the Town Centre Primary Shopping Area to maintain and enhance Southend’s role and status as a sub-regional shopping centre.
- In addition the Council through its role in determining
planning decisions and other initiatives will:
- work with private sector partners and land and
property owners to provide 50,000m2
additional retail floorspace for comparison goods by
2020, subject to the provision of transportation and
access improvements, through, inter alia, the promotion
- new larger format retail development on Proposal Site PS7a (Tylers Avenue) to enhance and extend the south eastern retail circuit with The Royals and High Street at its heart;
- maintain and enhance the existing levels of retail provision within a northern retail circuit with The Victoria and the High Street at its heart supported by secondary areas along Southchurch Road and London Road;
- smaller niche retail development within the Clifftown Quarter prioritising Proposal Sites PS6a (Clarence Road Car Park) and PS6b (Alexandra Street Car Park) to support a south western circuit where smaller retail units would sit comfortably within the existing character of the area,
- landmark new retail facilities, as part of mixed use development on Proposal Site PS7a (Tylers Avenue);
- new mixed development at Proposal Site PS6a (Clarence Road Car Park) and PS6b (Alexandra Street Car Park), provided that they deliver new niche retail, café and restaurant attractions which contributes to attractive linkages to western esplanade;
- improvements and extensions to existing shops and shopping centres,
- work with the private sector and land property
owners to provide additional retail floorspace for
convenience goods, through inter alia, the promotion of
a new large format foodstore development on Proposal
Site PS10a (Former B&Q Site) subject to an
- scale in terms of gross floorspace;
- transport and access;
- the impact of the proposal on the Town Centre’s vitality and viability, including impacts from the range and quality of the comparison and convenience offer;
- integration and cohesion with the surrounding area, including how an active frontage at ground floor level can be achieved,
- maintain and enhance the character of shopping streets,
- retain a mix of shop sizes within the Town Centre Primary Shopping Area and require a mix of shop sizes within significant new retail development,
- require all new retail development, including that which is part of mixed use development, to provide active frontages to pedestrian retail circuits, achieve a high standard of design, complement existing facilities and be fully integrated and well connected to them,
- keep under review the need and capacity for additional retail facilities.
- work with private sector partners and land and property owners to provide 50,000m2 additional retail floorspace for comparison goods by 2020, subject to the provision of transportation and access improvements, through, inter alia, the promotion of:
113. The Retail Study (2011), which underpins this AAP, recommended that Southend Town Centre needs to enhance its retail offer, improve the environment and streetscape of secondary retail streets, create retail circuits, broaden Town Centre uses in places and provide new facilities to meet the needs of catchment area shoppers.
114. The Retail Study examines the capacity for additional comparison and convenience floorspace in Southend based on a quantitative assessment of the need for further retail floorspace. The assessment is based upon Southend maintaining its existing market share, using growth in population and available expenditure to support the development of additional floorspace in conjunction with the renewal of existing space. The current state of the economy was considered and reflected in the assumptions made throughout the study.
115. Policy DS1 estimates floorspace capacity needs to 2020, rather than to the end of the Plan period in 2025. This is because the reliability of the expenditure and population data sets, which the forecast growth is based upon, reduces over time. Therefore, the Council will keep the need and capacity for additional retail facilities under review.
116. The Town Centre is performing successfully as a comparison shopping destination, drawing a good level of trade from the surrounding area. The Retail Study (2011) identifies significant expenditure growth for comparison goods within Southend, based upon forecast growth in population and expenditure. There is considerable capacity for comparison goods floorspace; 36,841m2 (2015) rising further to 50,873m2 (2020) and 70,172m2 (2025) identified for the Town Centre.
117. The Retail Study (2011) identified that within the Town Centre the range of foodstores and convenience offer is fairly low, with only one major foodstore. The study identifies 193m2 (2015), 3825m2 (2020) and 10,698m2 (2025) of growth for convenience goods floorspace within the Borough, which should be focused towards Town Centre development sites in accordance with the Southend Core Strategy and National Policy.
118. The study recommended that there is scope to increase convenience expenditure which is currently leaking from the Town Centre to freestanding foodstores elsewhere in the Borough. To achieve this reversal additional bulk foodstore provision will be required to help anchor the Town Centre’s convenience provision particularly if existing convenience floorspace is lost. Increasing foodstore provision would serve to diversify the Town Centre and foster linked shopping trips.
119. With retail capacity identified for the Town Centre to 2020 and beyond consideration to where this could potentially be accommodated in the centre is required. Firstly, it is recognised that existing vacant units, approximately 18,000 sqm of non specified retail floorspace (Experian Goad, 2009), would be expected to soak up some of this capacity.
120. The Town Centre contains a large proportion of vacant retail floorspace, although the High Street has a very low vacancy rate. Whilst the majority of vacant units are small, secondary in nature and may well not meet modern occupier requirements, larger refurbished units which would be attractive to retailers do exists, particularly within the recently refurbished Victoria Shopping Centre and smaller units in the immediate surrounding area, namely Southchurch Road and Chichester Road.
121. The Retail Study (2011) concluded that the existing poor quality environment on Southchurch Road and surrounding area may in part explain the high levels of vacancies. This AAP seeks to enhance this area based on the newly refurbished Victoria Shopping Centre by encouraging public realm improvements including those associated with Development Site PS4a, and by shop front improvements. Such a programme could in turn support independent traders, and perhaps attract new traders to enhanced areas within a northern retail circuit for shoppers.
122. Over the plan period opportunities would also be expected to arise for some incremental increase in existing floorspace through extending shop units or creating larger trading areas through internal unit reconfiguration.
123. Even allowing for the consideration of vacant floorspace and intensification of existing facilities, other sites will be required to absorb the identified capacity. Opportunities exist for new retail facilities within sites that would offer a good prospect of integrating well with the Town Centre’s Primary Shopping Area, and therefore should ideally be prioritised for delivery and retail use.
124. Proposal Site PS7a (Tylers Avenue Car Park) and Proposal Site PS6b (Alexander Street Car Park) are within the Town Centre Primary Shopping Area and offer a good opportunity for retail development with the Council being a significant landowner and therefore in a good position to promote their delivery. The Central Area Transport and Access Strategy outlines the Council’s approach to the management of Town Centre parking including relocating parking provision.
125. The development of Proposal Site PS7a and PS6b will contribute to the creation of new retail led circuits anchored by The Royals Shopping Centre, thus mitigating the apparent lack of an existing strong retail circuit within the centre. If the Travel Centre at Heygate Avenue was to become available for redevelopment this site could further connect a new retail circuit.
126. Proposal Site PS7a has capacity to provide larger format stores geared toward multiple comparison retailers. There may also be scope to include more moderate sized retail units, and perhaps smaller units flanking the northern side of York Road. The retail mix here might also be able to accommodate a moderate sized foodstore, geared toward meeting food shopping needs in the Town Centre.
127. Edge of centre Proposal Site PS6a (Clarence Road Car Park) offers a good opportunity for development incorporating retail floorspace and should be regarded as a sequentially preferable edge of centre site. Development at Proposal Site PS6a and PS6b would be expected to foster the character area proposal for the Clifftown Quarter; providing and reinforcing growth of small niche retail units, restaurants and bars in keeping with the fine grain of the existing buildings.
128. Other edge of centre sites may also contribute to meeting retail need. Consideration will need to be given to the design of the proposal, its relationship with the Town Centre and potential impact and other relevant National Policy criteria. In particular, Proposal Site PS10a (Former B&Q Site) offers a good opportunity for large format convenience retail development in the short term given its current availability, particularly if the Sainsbury’s store, London Road, was to relocate. Severance caused by Queensway road between the site and The Victoria would need to be considered carefully to ensure that development here is integrated as best as possible with the Town Centre’s Primary Shopping Area and neighbouring area.
129. There could be the opportunity to redevelop Proposal Site PS2a (Sainsburys and adjacent buildings, London Road) in the event of Sainsburys relocating, which may provide a small amount of retail floorspace as part of a wider mixed development scheme.
130. The provision of new shopping facilities advocated by Policy DS1 would address issues raised in the Retail Study (2011) and provide larger shops to meet retailer requirements, allow the relocation of existing retailers requiring more space, provide space for new retailers, and enhance shopping facilities overall.
131. The provision of a range of shop sizes is important to meet shopper and retailer needs and to maintain diversity and interest, from small independent traders to High Street multiples and department stores. In some areas, including the Clifftown Quarter, small shops form an important part of the character of the area. They offer variety and individuality, and provide premises for local independent and specialist traders.
132. Core Strategy Policy CP2: Town Centre and Retail Development, outlines that the Town Centre will be supported and developed as a regional centre providing a full range of Town Centre uses. The character and attractiveness of Southend’s shopping streets are attributes which the Council seeks to maintain and enhance. Shop front management is important to ensure that the retail character and function of frontages are not eroded as they are important for local economic vitality. Policy DS2 sets out an approach that seeks to broaden the overall Town Centre offer with regards to shop frontage whilst securing the integrity of retail circuits and their character.
Policy DS2: Shopping frontages and use of floors above shops
1. The Council will control the use of premises in shopping streets within the Town Centre through the exercise of its planning powers to safeguard and enhance the vitality and viability of the town centre as follows:
- Primary Shopping Frontages: proposals for a change of
use, including through redevelopment, from retail (Class
A1) to other uses at ground floor level will only be
- the proposed use will not result in Non-Class A1 retail uses exceeding 30% of the Town Centre Primary Shopping Area’s ground floor primary shopping frontage (measured in terms of length of frontage). Where Non-Class A1 uses already exceed 30% of the Town Centre Primary Shopping Area’s ground floor primary shopping frontage, no further Class A1 losses will be allowed; and
- an active shop front is retained or provided.
- Secondary Shopping Frontages: proposals for a change of
use, including through redevelopment, from retail (Class
A1) to financial and professional services (Class A2);
restaurants, cafes (Class A3) or drinking establishments
(Class A4) at ground floor level will be considered:
- on their merits to broaden the offer of the Town Centre; and
- if an active shop front is retained or provided
incorporate active frontages to all existing and proposed primary and secondary shopping frontages to enhance and maintain viable and interesting pedestrian circuits;
- improve the design of shop fronts to enhance the quality of the street scene with reference to guidance provided by the Southend Design and Townscape Guide Supplementary Planning Document;
- designate new active frontages established within Proposal Site PS7a as Primary Shopping Frontages once redevelopment is complete;
- designate new active frontages created within Proposal sites PS6a and PS6b as Secondary Shopping Frontages once new development is completed;
- encourage visually active frontages on those streets useful in enhancing and supporting attractive retail and leisure circuits including Chichester Road.
4. Planning permission will be granted for the change of use of upper floors above shops to residential, offices or other appropriate service or community uses, which maintain or enhance the character and vitality of the centre and broaden the range of services.
133. Primary and Secondary Shopping Frontages as shown on the Proposal Map contribute to the objectives for retail development in the central area by creating improved retails circuits around The Victoria and Royals shopping centres. New ground floor active frontages as part of Proposal Sites PS6a, PS6b, PS7a and PS10a will further enhance circuits in the Town Centre.
134. The control of changes of use from A1 retail is necessary to protect the long term vitality and viability of the Primary Shopping Area. Primary frontages are focused around the northern end of the High Street anchored by The Victoria Shopping Centre, the High Street, and the southern area of the High Street based around the Royal Shopping Centre. Focusing additional Primary Shopping Frontages at proposal Site PS7a and Secondary Shopping Frontages at Proposal Site PS6a and PS6b will enhance retail circuits in these locations.
135. Secondary frontages complement the main retail core and are appropriate locations for a range of services ancillary to retail uses, such as banks and building societies (A2 uses), restaurants and cafes (A3 uses), drinking establishment (A4) which meet customer needs, add to the centre’s diversity and vitality and provide activity outside shopping hours. However, the cumulative impact of non-retail uses in a shopping street can adversely affect customer footfall and overall attraction by creating inactive frontages and a change in character. Therefore, a range of uses within secondary areas which retain active frontages will be encouraged and proposals for change of use will be considered on their merits.
136. Space above shops, if not required for storage, is often underused or vacant and can provide useful office accommodation, consulting rooms for small businesses and employment, or residential accommodation particularly suitable for students.
137. The contributions markets make to the vitality and viability of a town centre is recognised in National Policy. An attractive market could help to diversify the Town Centre’s retail offer. It would encourage more visitors and trade and bring additional street activity and add to the general shopping experience the Town Centre has to offer.
Policy DS3: Retail Markets
1. The Council will seek to maintain and enhance market provision within the Town Centre Primary Shopping Area.
2. The Council will work with the private sector to promote the establishment of a new well designed Market within the pedestrianised London Road Broadway.
3. Proposals for such development elsewhere in the Town Centre Primary Shopping Area will be considered on their merits.
4. Arrangements for servicing, refuse collection, litter control and storage and the design of market stalls will need to be considered as part of any proposal.
138. There is currently a temporary new market on the site of the older York Road market. Other provision includes a Farmers Market on a bi monthly basis and the seasonal food market in the lead up to Christmas. Both are situated in the High Street.
139. Beyond the Town Centre there is also a weekly market at Roots Hall Football Stadium. This caters for predominantly comparison goods and has been in existence for over 40 years. Its future in light of aspirations to relocate the football stadium to Fossetts Park is now questionable.
140. The Market Viability Assessment as reported by the Retail Study (2011) points toward Southend Town Centre having the right characteristics to sustain a market. It has an adequate sized population, limited geographical competition as well as demand from market operators. These factors alone however will not guarantee a successful and viable market. Very careful consideration will need to be given to where the market is located, how it will be managed and what type of market might be appropriate.
141. Street stalls can also add diversity, though they need to be well designed and well sited, so that there is no adverse impact on retail frontages, pedestrian movement or the streetscene.
142. The adopted Core Strategy seeks to provide 6,500 new jobs within the central area during the plan period 2001 – 2021 and recognises the importance of strong and diverse economic growth especially with regards to enhancing the Town’s role as a cultural and intellectual hub, a high education centre of excellence, visitor destination and cultural centre and providing for the development and growth of appropriate technology and knowledge based industries.
143. Maintaining a diverse and balanced economy which is healthy and sustainable will contribute to a strong Town Centre. The Council wishes to encourage the establishment and expansion of all businesses in the central area by identifying, promoting or by actively bringing forward suitable sites for development to meet modern user and investor requirements. Recognising the Town Centre’s strategic role as a centre for employment and economic development and revitalising it as a business location as well as a retail centre is vital in order to achieve a balanced approach to sustainable economic growth.
144. Objectives for Employment Development in the Central Area
- The Town Centre will be the primary location for major economic growth particularly for Class B1 office provision releasing the traditional Victoria Office quarter for a new role as a sustainable residential led mixed use neighbourhood
- Victoria and Sutton Gateway Neighbourhoods will reinforce the business function of the Town Centre and provide local employment opportunities
- The employment growth areas at Grainger Road and Short Street will be maintained and promoted as locations for increased modern employment floorspace. Tickfield Estate will also be protected for employment uses
145. These objectives are supported by the findings of the Employment Land Review (ELR) and Local Economic Assessment. The ELR recommends locations for new employment provision, its distribution across Southend and the need to manage the existing stock to reflect structural changes occurring in the economy on a site by site basis. The detailed development management policies for economic development across the Borough are contained within the Development Management DPD.
Policy DS4: Employment development within the central area
1. Provision is made for a minimum of 6,500 net additional jobs to be built in the Town Centre and central area over the period 2001 – 2021.2. The Council, through its role in determining planning applications, will promote the ‘core’ Town Centre as an office and business centre and improve the quality and range of office and business accommodation by encouraging and supporting:
- development proposals that incorporate high
specification B1 office space, in a range of unit sizes,
focussed within the following quarters:
- Queensway and London Road and Broadway (PS2a);
- Warrior Square (PS5a);
- Queensway and Southchurch Road (PS4a),
- the redevelopment and improvement of the existing office stock within the Town Centre;
- the provision of workshop, studio, exhibition space and offices suited to the needs of the ‘creative industries’ sector particularly in the Clifftown Quarter
- office floorspace is re-provided as part of mixed-use development of the site, or
- the loss of the office floorspace is outweighed by the achievement of other AAP objectives through the proposed development,
- secure a new role within the Victoria Office Site (proposal Site PS9a) as a sustainable residential led mixed use neighbourhood through the production of supplementary planning guidance for the area and Development Briefs where appropriate;
- maintain and promote the employment growth areas at Grainger Road and Short Street as locations for modern employment floorspace;
- protect Tickfield Estate for employment uses.
146. The employment base of Southend as a whole has become increasingly diverse, while back-office financial service jobs and public sector employment have replaced jobs lost in manufacturing and traditional tourism sectors. The creative and cultural sectors, aviation and medical technologies are all growing and offer further potential for the future. The Town Centre is a sustainable location for approximately half of the significant employment growth forecast for Southend. This growth is concentrated in service sectors that require quality offices such as finance and business services and knowledge based creative industries and tourism.
147. Providing good quality offices and improving the skills base of residents are particularly important as they will help to meet business needs and make the Town Centre more attractive to businesses. Analysis of the office sector within Southend as part of the Retail and Town Centre Study (2011) indicates that the market for office space within Southend Central is oversupplied with outdated office stock, particularly within The Victoria Quarter. Much of this stock is too large and unlikely to meet the requirements of small to medium sized occupiers; the focus of demand for Southend office space.
148. Available large scale office space does not match with typically smaller sized requirements. The existing office stock around Clarence Street, Western Road and Clarence Road is popular with local and professional firms. This area offers smaller scale stock close to the centre and rail services, and a fairly good quality environment. Allied to the above, a mixed use approach to new office developments will help to create viable proposals and a better balance of space currently on offer. Providing attractive new business space could strengthen the diversity of uses in the Town Centre and generally bolster its health.
149. The University of Essex’s Southend Campus and South Essex College have a strong presence in the Town Centre allowing the Borough to assume the role of an education centre in the sub-region. With the assistance of the university campus, Southend has significant potential to become a knowledge-based employment centre. The town already boasts a high level of business start-up in comparison to the rest of the country. To date, business survival and growth has struggled. Retaining high quality students, and providing the support and infrastructure required to sustain and grow local businesses will be a crucial component in addressing this.
150. Southend is establishing itself as a cultural hub at the centre of the Thames Gateway South Essex sub-region. Southend’s Cultural Strategy, Regeneration Framework and other key strategic documents highlight the aspiration to be the Cultural Capital of the East of England by 2017. Specifically Southend’s Local Area Agreement places culture as one of its nine key priorities. The town has a significant concentration of creative and cultural businesses located across the Borough, particularly in the Town Centre. The Southend Local Economic Assessment (2010) outlines that whilst the creative and cultural industries have significant employment and wealth generating capacity, they also have the ability to create a step change in the economy, attracting new, ambitious people to Southend and helping the town retain some of the spending power of residents that work in London.
5.4 Community Facilities
151. Community facilities are an essential element of sustainable communities providing for education, health, culture, recreation and religion. To achieve sustainable urban living, increased housing will need to be matched with facilities to support living for everyone from young to the elderly, from families and couples to singles. This will cover health and education needs to social meeting places and facilities providing access to essential needs.
152. The Council’s adopted ‘Planning obligations: A guide to section 106 and developer contributions’ Supplementary Planning Document (2010), provides developers, landowners, the community and the Council with guidance in relation to potential planning obligations or developer contributions in relation to development. The guidance outlines the Council’s Priorities for Planning Obligations including:
- Transport, Highways and Accessibility
- Education Training and Skills
- Community Facilities (including Open Space, Sport and Recreation, Health, and Social Care and Physical Community Needs)
- Public Art and the Public Realm (including Historical Environment)
- Natural Environment and Conservation
- Affordable Housing
- Flood Risk, Waste and Resources
- Administration and Monitoring of Planning Obligations
5.4.1 Education and higher and further education
153. Higher education is a key driver in providing economic and social benefits to society. Expanded higher educational facilities through the continued development of the college and university facilities will support the creation of an intellectual hub and will lead to higher levels of skills in the local workforce.
154. Objectives for Education Development in the Central Area
- The Elmer Square area will be the hub for expansion to the South Essex College and University of Essex Campus
- Provision will be made for the education needs of residents within the Central Area.
The Council will: Policy DS5: Education and higher and further education
1. support in principle improvements to existing, and the provision of new, facilities to support the needs of education strategies. Proposals should be of a high standard of design, relate well to their surroundings and safeguard visual and residential amenity,
2. consider favourably the provision of a new primary school serving the central part of the town within the Victoria Avenue Proposal Site (Proposal Site PS9a),3. encourage the maintenance and expansion of further and higher education in Southend. In particular by working with the University of Essex and South Essex College to provide:
- additional teaching facilities within Elmer Square (Proposal Site PS3a);
- monitor the need for further teaching facilities and explore the potential to meet that need when appropriate development opportunities arise;
- a planned and phased approach to the provision of student accommodation based on need.
155. Education is a great asset within Southend. At Primary and Secondary level education, Southend as a whole has a wide choice of education institutions and attracts students from outside of the Borough. However, there is a shortage of primary school paces in the central part of the town. In the short to medium term this is being managed by the increase in admission numbers for a number of schools combined with a programme of expansion at those schools.
156. The increase in population within the central area will increase the school age population and further increase the demand for more school places. A new primary school site serving the central part of the town will be required to cater for residential growth in the central area. For the foreseeable future there are sufficient secondary school places, though these need be maintained.
157. The University of Essex’s Southend Campus and South Essex College have a strong presence in the Town Centre allowing Southend to assume the role of an education centre in the sub-region. The university campus in Southend has addressed the lack of higher education provision in the area and has significantly improved access to higher education for the town. The campus will be instrumental in improving the graduate retention rate for the town ultimately raising the skills levels of the labour pool and providing productivity boost to the local business base.
5.4.2 Culture, leisure, tourism and entertainment
158. Culture, leisure and recreation facilities are essential to a rounded quality of life in the central area and in attracting prospective investors, tourists and residents. Further enhancement and diversification of the range of arts, cultural, entertainment, leisure and recreation attractions in the Town Centre would contribute to a stronger more vibrant centre characterised by a broad economic base.
159. The Town Centre is well placed to promote tourism and attract more visitors to support its facilities, as well as heritage and shopping attractions. In line with the Council’s Strategy – Making Culture Count. The following objectives for cultural, leisure and tourism development in the central area have been established.
160. Objectives for Culture, Leisure and Tourism Development in the Central Area
- Linkages with the seafront will be improved to capitalise on the uniqueness of the experience the Town Centre can offer residents and visitors
- A new museum as part of a cultural centre will enhance the seafront and exhibit the Saxon King finds
- Seaway car park will be developed as a node between the south eastern retail circuit and central seafront providing attractive linkages between the two areas and acting as a catalyst for regeneration of the leisure and tourism facilities along the ‘Golden Mile’
- Within the Clifftown Quarter create an area with strong cultural identity capitalising on the fine grain form, attractive historic character and linkages to Royal Terrace, the Cliff Gardens/Seafront and the High Street.
1. The Council will, through its role in determining planning applications: Policy DS6: Provision of facilities for culture, leisure, tourism and entertainment
- support proposals which enhance or diversify the range of arts, culture, entertainment, leisure and recreational facilities, in line with the spatial strategy and subject to an assessment of the scale, character, location and impact of the proposal on existing facilities and residential uses; and
- resist proposals involving the loss of such uses, unless replacement facilities are provided.
- secure the long term future of the Grade II listed Southend Pier as a landmark and destination (Proposal Site Policy CS6a);
- promote the beach, foreshore and Estuary for appropriate cultural, leisure and tourism activities provided that environmental designations are respected and not compromised;
- promote the provision of further high quality fully serviced hotels, within the Central Seafront;
- promote leisure, cultural and tourism facilities as part of a mixed development within the Seaway Car Park and Marine Parade area (Proposal Site Policy CS6b);
- investigate all reasonable options for cliff stabilisation at Western Esplanade, including development of a cultural centre with exhibition space and Museum (Proposal Site Policy CS7a);
- promote and regenerate uses that create a strong cultural identity within the Clifftown Quarter;
- maintain and enhance cultural uses and creative industries on the Former Essex and Suffolk Water Board Site in the Victoria Gateway Neighbourhood(Proposal Site Policy PS9b).
161. The range of commercial leisure and recreational uses on offer in the Town Centre is moderate and enhancing this could serve to diversify the centres offer overall. The Central Seafront Strategy within this plan seeks to create a seamless connection between the Seafront and the Town Centre. Clearly the Seafront offers a considerable commercial leisure offer, and potentially providing better connectivity between these areas may well be a positive way of maximising the benefits available within the central area.
162. Tourism remains an important driver to the Borough as a whole and the Town Centre. The tourism industry survives on low levels of overnight stay, and the short supply of high quality hotels and restaurants in the central area may not attract those with money to spend. The Southend Local Economic Assessment (2010) concludes that potential remains to improve and diversify the tourism offer to increase overnight stays and add value, whilst at the same time, harness the spending power of visitors and out commuting residents alike.
163. The Southend Hotel Futures Report (2010) made an assessment of potential hotel market demand and indicated potential for future growth in this sector over the next 20-years as the towns economy and leisure tourism offer develops. The report outlined a need to prioritise locations and sites to ensure that hotels are directed to where they can deliver the greatest benefit, including the central area. New hotels in the central area will contribute to developing the visitor and evening economy of these locations.
164. The Development Management DPD outlines the Council’s approach to visitor accommodation across the Borough focusing new visitor accommodation within the Southend Central Area, London Southend Airport and at locations close and with good access to the seafront. The Central Seafront area offers good location for the development of visitor accommodation given their close proximity to both the Town Centre and Seafront.
165. Enhanced evening attractions have the potential to address concerns about the evening and night-time economy through improved management and maintenance of the Town Centre and providing more pedestrian activity after shopping hours to help tackle the perception of safety and crime after dark.
5.4.3 Social and community infrastructure
166. One of the four overriding ambitions of the Southend Community Plan is to reduce inequalities in health and wellbeing across Southend and support all ages to lead independent lives and choose a healthy lifestyle. Increase in the central area resident and working population will develop the demand for community infrastructure, such as doctors’ surgeries, dentists and health centres. 167. Objectives for Social and Community Infrastructure in the Central Area
- Victoria and Sutton Gateway Neighbourhoods will provide opportunities for new and improved education, social care, recreational and community uses.
1. The Council, through its role in determining planning applications and other initiatives, will: Policy DS7: Social and community infrastructure
- support well designed primary care centre proposals within the Central Area that meets the needs of local residents;
- support other key health and social care proposals where these demonstrate clear net benefits to the local community;
- work in partnership with faith, community and voluntary sector organisations to maintain and enhance their facilities.
168. The National Health Service (NHS) in Southend is led by NHS South East Essex, which receives the health funding for the population of South East Essex. NHS South East Essex, working with General Practitioners and others partners, commission healthcare that responds to local needs. NHS South East Essex aim to provide more specified care closer to home, providing services to support an ageing population to ensure there is increased choice and services available.
169. NHS South East Essex remains committed to commissioning high quality services, delivering modern fit-for-purpose buildings for the Southend area, and will continue to review their estate strategy to meet the needs of local residents in the central area.
170. Faith and community facilities provide accommodation for a wide range of activities and services, including worship, meetings, advice and events which play an important role in the social infrastructure of the town centre and add to its diversity and interest. Southend Association of Voluntary Services (SAVS) is a voluntary organisation which is set up, owned and run by local groups to support, promote and develop local community action in Southend. The vibrant and developing community and voluntary sector has over 130 groups working in partnerships with the Council and other statutory organisations to provide advice and services. The Victoria and Sutton gateway neighbourhoods within the central area will provide opportunities for new and improved education, social care, recreational and community uses in particular.
171. The Core Strategy requires at least 2,000 net additional new homes to be provided within the Central Area during the period from 2001 to 2021, to meet a range of housing needs. This plan seeks to provide more detail to how and where this growth can sustainably be accommodated in the central area whilst meeting other Town Centre objectives. Any substantive additional growth beyond that is set out in the adopted Core Strategy will need to be determined through its review. 172. Objectives for Housing in the Central Area
- A wide range of quality new homes will be provided adding to the vitality, viability and diversity of the Town Centre
- Victoria and Sutton Gateway Neighbourhoods will be enhanced residential environments where development opportunities will be used to reinforce sustainable communities with new housing.
Policy DS8: Housing
1. Provision is made for a minimum of 2,000 new homes to be built in the Town Centre and central area over the period 2001 – 2021 to meet a range of housing needs, including private and affordable accommodation.2. The Council, through its role in determining planning applications and other initiatives, will:
- work with private sector partners and land and property
owners to deliver
- a residential led mixed use sustainable neighbourhood at Proposal Site (Victoria Avenue) PS9a and (Sutton Road) PS10b;
- an appropriate level and type of housing development on other Proposal Sites, as part of well designed Mixed Use Schemes in line with associated policy requirements for that site
- substantially regenerate the residential areas and associated public realm at Proposal Sites (Queensway House and adjacent buildings) PS4a, (Woodgrange Drive Estate) CS8a and (Coleman Street) PS10c.
3. Affordable housing is required in accordance with Core Strategy Policy CP8 ‘Dwelling Provision’.4. Proposals for new housing will also need to accord with:
- Development Management Policies, including DM7, 8 and 9 with regard to dwelling mix, residential standards and specialist residential accommodation respectively; and
- Core Strategy KP2 ‘Development Principles’ and Development Management Policies DM1 ‘Design Quality’ and DM2 ‘Low carbon development and efficient use of Resources’
173. The Central Area Master Plan identifies a capacity within its boundary of 3,160 net additional dwellings. The findings of the SHLAA identifies a capacity for approximately 4,000 net additional dwellings within the central area, including the Neighbourhood Gateway areas. Appendix 3 – ‘Schedule of Housing Capacity within the SCAAP’ demonstrates how the provisions of this plan will provide the capacity to deliver the housing objectives in Policy DS8. This capacity is based on the SHLAA findings updated by the Council’s Residential Land Availability Monitoring. Regard has also been had to the Council’s investigations into the development potential of its own landholdings within the Central Area. Further details can be found in ‘Southend Town Centre Strategic Opportunities/Development Sites’.
174. Both these figures are based on high-density flatted development, which has been the trend in the town to date. Whilst there is still a role for this sort of development in regeneration there is increasing concern about the type, quality and size of dwelling provision in the town.
175. Whilst the Borough has performed well in terms over overall housing delivery, the average split over the last few years between houses and flats has been 25% / 75% respectively. In terms of size of dwellings - completions to date are split as follows 26% one bedroom; 52% two bedroom; 14% 3 bedrooms; and 8% four bedroom or more. Despite a large proportion of the units having 2 bedrooms plus, it is apparent that living space (including circulation space and storage facilities) may not be sufficient to meet family needs.
176. Policies in the Council’s Development Management DPD articulate the Council’s response to this concern by promoting a dwelling mix that meets identified need, particularly for affordable dwellings (Policy DM7 Dwelling Mix), the highest quality internal environments for all new dwellings (Policy DM8 Residential Standards) and the provision of specialist residential accommodation to meet identified need (Policy DM9 Specialist residential accommodation) and the Borough Council’s priorities as set out in its Housing Strategy.
177. This plan seeks to ensure that there is wide choice of housing types, both market and affordable, which are well designed, safe and attractive with access to jobs, key services and infrastructure to help create a sustainable and inclusive Town Centre and central area. As Southend seeks to become the Cultural Capital of the East of England, meshing together growth within higher and further education and creative and cultural industries there will be a need to make provision for a range of housing from affordable to higher-end more expensive market housing provision.
178. The Core Strategy Policy CP8 ‘Dwelling Provision’ sets the strategic policy with regard to affordable housing provision in the Borough. It requires 30% of all development to be affordable housing on sites of 50 units or more or 2 hectares or more and 20% on sites of 10 – 49 units or 0.3 hectares up to 1.99 hectares. Smaller sites will be required to make a financial contribution to fund off-site provision of affordable housing.
179. Since 2001 the provision of affordable dwellings in the Borough has been consistently low both in terms of meeting housing needs and the regional targets. The Central Area has a key role to play in delivering the residual growth set out in the Core Strategy and therefore will be critical to the provision of future affordable housing.