Core Strategy - Adopted December 2007

Section 1: The Core Strategy – Aim and Strategic Objectives

1.1 The Draft East of England Plan (Regional Spatial Strategy) sets out specific guidance for the Essex Thames Gateway sub-region with the central aim of delivering employment led regeneration, whilst maintaining a sustainable balance between jobs and housing in the future. Within Southend this translates into a strategic policy requirement to deliver 13,000 net additional jobs and 6,500 net additional dwellings in the period 2001 to 2021.

1.2 Phasing mechanisms within these policies provide for an assessment of whether this balance between jobs and housing is being achieved and the required improvements to infrastructure are being provided. In particular, improvements to transport infrastructure are essential to unlock key regeneration sites, improve accessibility and provide for more sustainable travel patterns. As such a 'step change' in the provision of transport infrastructure and accessibility is recognised as an essential concomitant for achieving regeneration and additional development, and a phased programme for priority investment is referred to in Policy ETG6: Transport Infrastructure in the draft East of England Plan. It is also essential that improvements to social infrastructure are put in place before and in parallel with new development. This includes promoting development which contributes to the delivery of health care strategies and social and education plans (including School Organisation Plans) and in line with Core Policy CP6: 'Community Infrastructure' in this Core Strategy.

1.3 In parallel, the Southend Local Strategic Partnership, 'Southend Together' has prepared Southend's Community Plan. Based on three over-riding principles – sustainable development, equality of opportunity and social inclusion – the Community Plan seeks to pursue seven ambitions for the town:

  1. a prosperous local economy
  2. improved transport and infrastructure, and a quality environment
  3. a cultural capital of the East of England
  4. opportunities for learning for all and a highly skilled workforce
  5. improved health and well-being
  6. reduction in crime, disorder and offending, and
  7. better life chances for vulnerable people.

1.4 There is significant synergy between these ambitions and the requirements of, and approach to, regeneration in Essex Thames Gateway outlined above.

1.5 To meet the opportunities and challenges presented by the regeneration of Thames Gateway and the priorities identified by Southend's Community Plan, the Council has, in association with its partner organisations and agencies, in particular the Thames Gateway South Essex Partnership, adopted the following Aim and set of Strategic Objectives. These provide a firm basis for the core strategy, policies and proposals that follow, and which seek to be a key means of implementing these objectives and priorities.

The Aim

To secure a major refocus of function and the long term sustainability of Southend as a significant urban area which serves local people and the Thames Gateway.

To do this there is a need to release the potential of Southend's land and buildings to achieve measurable improvements in the town's economic prosperity, transportation networks, infrastructure and facilities; and the quality of life of all its citizens. This will include safeguarding and improving the standards of the town's amenities and improving the quality of the natural and built environment.

Strategic Objectives

SO1 Deliver employment led regeneration, wealth creation and growth across Essex Thames Gateway sub-region.

SO2 Secure the regeneration of Southend as a cultural and intellectual hub and a centre of education excellence.

SO3 Create and maintain a balance between employment and housing growth in the future.

SO4 Secure sustainable regeneration and growth focused on the urban area.

SO5 Provide for not less than 13,000 net additional jobs in the period 2001 to 2021 within Southend.

SO6 Provide for 6,500 net additional dwellings in the period 2001 to 2021 within Southend.

SO7 Target future dwelling provision to meet the needs of local people including the provision of affordable housing.

SO8 Secure a thriving, vibrant and attractive town centre and network of district and local centres.

SO9 Secure a 'step change' in the provision of transport infrastructure as an essential concomitant to new development.

SO10 Maximise the effectiveness and integration of key transport corridors and interchanges as a principal focus for development in the urban area.

SO11 Secure the regeneration of London Southend Airport to enable it to reach its potential to function as a local regional airport providing for significant new employment opportunities and improved surface access subject to environmental safeguards.

SO12 Secure the sustainable use of the River Thames and its Estuary as an asset for transport, leisure and business.

SO13 Secure the social and physical infrastructure related to improving the health, education, lifelong learning and well-being of all sectors of the community.

SO14 Deliver high quality, well designed and attractive urban and natural environments which are safe, people friendly and distinctive, and which respect and enhance existing character and local amenity.

SO15 Secure effective and efficient sustainable development which prevents or minimises local contributions to, and the impact of, climate change, flood risk and the depletion of non-renewable resources, including the application of sustainable construction and operation in all development through the prudent use of natural resources, energy efficency and low carbon emissions, and the maximum use of renewable and recycled resources.

SO17 Regenerate and bring back into productive and beneficial long-term use, including where appropriate use for biodiversity or other natural resource value, land which is contaminated or otherwise degraded.

SO18 Contribute to the creation of a 'Green Grid' of high quality, linked and publicly accessible open spaces and landscapes across the sub-region.

SO19 Secure delivery of strategic objectives through all relevant delivery bodies and their strategies.

1.6 The role of this Core Strategy is to provide clarity about what the Council will require of new development, and to ensure that the right development comes forward in the right place and at the right time to deliver the Aim and Strategic Objectives. As such it will be used as a basis for making decisions on all planning matters and for guiding the investment decisions of the public and private sectors over the next decade and beyond.

1.7 The mechanisms for delivering the plan's policies and proposals will therefore be many and varied, involving a wide range of private, public, voluntary and other agencies, companies and individuals, together or separately. To remove all doubt as to what is required of new development, it is considered that the Aim and Strategic Objectives need to be translated into clear criteria based policies.

1.8 The approach in this Core Strategy is to translate the Aim and Strategic Objectives into three over-arching Key Policies (see Section 2) dealing with the broad spatial, development and implementation principles with which all new development must accord. These Key Policies are supported by nine Core Policies (see Sections 3 - 11)based on more specific spatial and development principles to promote and facilitate what the Council is seeking to achieve from development and investment activity in the town.

1.9 The Core Policies must provide a clear, robust strategic land use planning framework for Southend in the context provided by national, regional and strategic policy and objectives. Some may have clear spatial implications, whilst others need to be expressed in terms of the overall approach the Council will take to new initiatives, investment decisions and development opportunities, and the criteria it will use in making decisions on such matters.

1.10 In implementing its Core Strategy, there will be a need for the Council to be bold, visionary, take the lead on contentious issues, and find imaginative ways of funding projects and initiatives as well as playing an active role in challenging national policy through lobbying where appropriate. The national, regional and sub-regional context with which the Core Strategy must conform has changed significantly. Southend is now part of the Thames Gateway, a national priority for both regeneration and growth, and the contributions to investment and development required from the Borough are now much greater.

1.11 The Borough Council has worked hard to help establish an Urban Regeneration Company for Southend and will work in partnership with "Renaissance Southend Limited" (RSL) to deliver real change in the Borough. The RSL has produced a Regeneration Framework to guide its work throughout the Borough and initially will concentrate on developing a Central Area Masterplan. The Core Strategy and subsequent Development Plan Documents will provide the planning policies to deliver the Regeneration Framework and Masterplan (see Diagram 1).

1.12 In addition, local priorities, as expressed through the Community Plan, are much clearer and more demanding. Taken together, these considerations require the new Local Development Framework for Southend, replacing the Southend-on-Sea Borough Local Plan, not only to deliver higher levels of infrastructure, investment and development, but also to achieve this in ways that are clearly more sustainable and of a higher quality. Above all, a balance must be achieved between employment provision, transport and other community infrastructure investment, additional dwellings and environmental quality, both urban and natural.

1.13 In the short-term, for development control purposes, and where necessary and appropriate, the policies in this Core Strategy will be supported by saved policies from the adopted Southend-on-Sea Borough Local Plan until such time as they are replaced by new development plan policies in subsequent Local Development Documents.

1.14 The relationship between the overall Aim of the Core Strategy and the supporting policies is illustrated in Figure 1.

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