Core Strategy - Adopted December 2007

Section 10: Dwelling Provision

Housing and Sustainable Development

10.1 Decent homes and pleasant, safe and healthy local residential environments are vitally important to the development of flourishing, thriving and prosperous towns and localities. A good and well integrated blend of different housing types and tenures will support and assist the establishment and continuance of vibrant and cohesive communities, which are socially and economically successful and have a 'sense of place' or identity. Diverse, well designed and high quality residential environments provide urban form and add value to public places and will contribute towards the delivery of sustainable development and the creation of 'sustainable communities' for present and future generations.

National Strategy and Policy

10.2 'Sustainable communities: building for the future' (2003) states that a 'step-change' in housing supply will be needed to tackle serious shortages that exist, particularly in the London and the South East. Too many people do not have access to decent, affordable housing and many are living in housing of poor quality. It considers that more affordable housing should be delivered, especially for key workers, young families and those in priority need; and that new sustainable communities should be created in regions of high demand like the Thames Gateway. The document encourages the better use of existing valuable residential stock, especially empty properties, and higher densities, as well as expressing a preference for the use of previously developed land over greenfield land for new developments. Sustainable development practices such as sustainable construction and energy efficiency also are promoted.

10.3 This approach is continued in 'Creating sustainable communities: making it happen: Thames Gateway and the Growth Areas' (2003), which outlines proposals for sustainable growth and a need to increase housing supply in the wider South East by 120,000 additional dwellings up to 2016. The document asserts that increasing housing supply is a national priority and that it is essential to reduce housing market volatility. Alongside the additional housing supply, however, there will be a need for new schools, healthcare provision, public transport, and good quality public spaces. In addition, employment growth must accompany housing growth to ensure regeneration and growth areas are attractive and sustainable places for living and working. Regeneration and growth areas should contribute to social objectives, integrate economic progress with protection of the environment, and promote improved liveability and cultural and social inclusion.

10.4 'PPS 1: Delivering sustainable development' (2005) identifies that development plans should promote development that creates socially inclusive communities, with suitable mixes and types of housing, including affordable housing, which are also well designed, create a 'sense of place', minimise resource use and are well supported by infrastructure, facilities and services. Likewise, 'PPS 3: Housing' affirms, inter alia, that decent, well-designed housing of different types, sizes and mixes should be available to all sections of the community, including affordable housing, with a priority for provision in existing urban areas, close to transport nodes to help create mixed and accessible communities.

10.5 PPS 3 asserts that the principles of sustainable development, as described in PPS 1, should be firmly based in housing policy. It reconfirms the objective that everyone should have access to a decent home, which they can afford, in a community where they want to live. The Government wish to ensure that there is a wide choice of housing types, both market and affordable, which are well-designed, safe and attractive and with access to jobs, key services and infrastructure to help create sustainable and inclusive communities. The guidance also specifies a desire for the use of brownfield sites and design codes. It also considers that thresholds for affordable housing should be determined by local planning authorities. While there is an indicative national minimum threshold of 15 dwellings, local planning authorities can set lower thresholds where this can be justified. In addition, PPS3 presumes that affordable housing should be provided on the application site in order to contribute to mixed communities. However local development documents can set out the circumstances in which provision would not be required on a site or where a financial contribution would be acceptable.

Regional Strategy and Policy

10.6 'Growth and Regeneration in the Thames Gateway' (2004) illustrates how the region can deliver at least 120,000 net additional dwellings by 2016, if the necessary infrastructure is put into place. It suggest several factors which will be required for delivery, including (i) higher densities especially in areas with good transport links, (ii) improved transport infrastructure and (iii) the re-designation of former industrial land. The document also states that major improvements in the quality of existing and new housing will be needed, whereby appropriate increases in density must be accompanied by sustainable construction principles and high standards of design. It considers that affordable housing will be very important to address social needs and ensure that a workforce with a range of skills can be accommodated across the area.

10.7 The East of England Plan sets out regional housing policy and targets as well as district level housing figures, including 6,500 net additional dwellings in Southend between 2001 and 2021 (Policy H1). Policy H3 provides that within the overall housing requirements, LDD's should set appropriate targets for affordable houosng with the exception that some 35% of housing coming forward is affordable.

10.8 The strategic direction of the delivery of housing is contained in the Regional Housing Strategy (RHS) for the East of England (2005). The vision for the Region is that 'everyone can live in a decent home which meets their needs, at a price they can afford and in locations that are sustainable'. The document provides clear guidance of the type of housing which should be provided in the region and an approach to the improvement and maintenance of existing housing stock. In essence, it presents a strategy for more, and more sustainable, housing provision, high quality homes and environments, and inclusive communities, as well as recommendations for public investment.

Local Strategy and Policy

10.9 Of the seven 'ambitions' outlined in the Community Plan for Southend, housing may aid several, both direct and indirectly. In particular, it will contribute towards the ambition of a 'Supportive Community' by helping to meet the 'national Decent Homes Standard' and improving 'the management and quality of housing stock in the town'.

10.10 The published Census population of Southend at 2001 was 160,257. This figure is expected to rise by approximately 3% by 2021. The projected growth in households in the town during the period to 2021 is broadly in line with the proposed growth in housing provision for the same period (i.e. 325 dwellings per annum).

10.11 However, compared with other parts of the region, Southend's economic performance has been weak, and population and housing growth has outstripped economic growth. In addition, there are marked differences in prosperity across the town, with five wards being eligible for Objective 2 funding. For this and other reasons, the town has been included in the Thames Gateway.

10.12 The Government's 'sustainable communities' agenda also requires that there should be an appropriate and sustainable balance between jobs, infrastructure and housing. Mechanisms are needed, therefore, to ensure that job provision and infrastructure are in place in Southend before further major expansion in housing development occurs, and that from then on a balance is maintained. Regard must be had to the actual delivery of the job targets before additional housing growth is permitted. In the same way, social and transport infrastructure to support employment-led regeneration needs to be in place before additional growth is permitted.

10.13 Sustainable communities must also be attractive and provide realistic housing opportunities to the full range of income groups. There will, therefore, be a need to deliver a wide range of housing types and affordability across the town.

10.14 Average dwelling prices in Southend are generally lower than those in adjoining local authority areas (with the exception of Thurrock). There are, however, significant spatial variations across Southend and for some types of housing, average prices are generally higher than those in neighbouring areas. It is clear that, in Southend as elsewhere in the region and Greater South East, open market dwelling prices are significantly above average earnings, and that accessibility to suitable housing is severely restricted for many local residents.

10.15 The results of the updates to the Southend Housing Needs survey (April 2004 & 2005) confirm a continuing very high level of housing need in the town, with a requirement for the provision of 1,363 units of affordable housing per annum over the next five years, if all the affordable needs are to be met. Whilst this is an indication of the scale of the problem, it has to be tempered against the assumptions made in the study, the practicality of delivery and the availability of 'qualifying' sites. Nevertheless, the Housing Needs Survey and its Updates clearly indicate that a significant policy target for the provision of affordable housing is justified.

10.16 Using information from the Residential Land Availability Study 2004 and Urban Capacity Study 2003, work to assess the potential yield from identified possible sites over the whole period 2001 to 2021, has indicated that applying a target of 30%, 35% and 50% to sites of 15 plus units would provide approximately 799, 932 and 1,332 affordable units respectively. Applying the East of England Plan target of 35% of the regional provision to Southend's planned provision would provide a yield in the region of 2,275 affordable units by 2021. However, at least a third of Southend's total provision is likely to be from small windfall sites, and it is unlikely, therefore, that more than 1,516 affordable units could be achieved. Clearly this is significantly lower than the Housing Needs Survey assessment of need.

10.17 Within Southend, the nature and scale of development sites that are likely to contribute to housing provision during the period 2001-2021 (i.e. high density development on small sites comprising previously developed land) suggests that a balanced approach is needed to the setting of targets and thresholds for affordable housing provision. This balanced approach should take on board, amongst other things, the scale of need and issues of financial viability. Whilst the Council would wish to send a clear message about what will be required of development schemes, so that these considerations can be taken into account early in the planning and development process (See KP3 'Implementation and Resources'), there is clearly a responsibility to adopt a reasonable stance with regard to affordable housing provision. There is also a need to recognise that a range of tenures and types of affordable housing should be considered.

10.18 In terms of the type of affordable housing able to meet identified need, analysis suggests the existence of a significant shortage of one and two bedroom homes in the owner occupied sector.

10.19 A Key Worker Study for Southend was also carried out in 2004 to establish whether problems surrounding recruitment and retention of key workers locally, both now and in the future, are linked to a lack of suitable and affordable housing. Analysis of the 2004 Housing Needs Study Update dataset, as part of this study, identified the following issues:

  1. that recruitment problems within public sector organisations stretch beyond employment categories covered by the ODPM definition of key worker but the categories are essentially professional, managerial and technical within the public sector and the NHS;
  2. that local housing affordability is thought to be one factor contributing to recruitment problems locally;
  3. that there is likely to be some requirement for targeted housing for key worker households; and
  4. there are critical shortages of key workers in the social work and teaching categories and assistance with housing would be a main factor in easing these problems.

10.20 Regional policy guidance makes it clear that there is a need to deliver job-led regeneration and growth, and in particular to provide for 6,500 net additional dwellings in the period 2001 to 2021 within Southend on Sea. The delivery of housing growth will be phased over three periods, outlined in Policy CP8 below. The evidence and data used to inform this phased growth is based on an examination of existing sites with planning permission, as well as future and potential supply sites. This information was assessed using annual residential land availability monitoring data, the Southend Urban Capacity Study (2003) and by researching the yield from potential development sites within Southend Town Centre.

10.21 This phasing has been derived in order to meet needs and ensure that a balance remains, and can be suitably monitored, between housing, employment and infrastructure provision, thereby contributing to the government aim of delivering sustainable development and creating sustainable communities. The completed and projected dwelling provision up to 2021 is illustrated in the 2006 housing trajectory below (Figure 1). The chart demonstrates that Southend has had a continuous 15 year supply of deliverable housing since 2001, which will be supplemented by a supply of further specific, developable sites through the site allocations and polices in, inter alia, Area Action Plans scheduled for preparation early in the LDF process, to ensure that regeneration and growth is delivered in the areas of change identified in the Spatial Strategy. Further details about past completions and future provision may be found in the 'Southend Annual Monitoring Report'.

Figure 1 (Source: Southend Annual Monitoring Report 2005)

10.22 The limited land resources in the town and the significant, identified housing needs clearly require a focussed approach to housing provision. This should be based on securing and upgrading the existing housing stock and development opportunities, and ensuring that the supply of new dwellings is targeted to meet the needs of local people.

10.23 In order to deliver the strategic objectives in relation to housing the following approach is therefore considered to be required:

  1. provide for Strategic housing requirements as much as possible within the existing urban area, by making best use of existing land and buildings with a particular focus on:
    1. a major expansion of town centre and seafront* housing;
    2. realisation of the future potential of land at Shoeburyness in association with improved sustainable transport links and other infrastructure requirements;
    3. promotion of mixed use developments and higher densities within the Town Centre and District Centres and large development sites, in particular those highly accessible locations with good transport links and amenity services; and
    4. improving the quality and making the best use of existing housing (i.e. the Council's own stock and private sector housing) through meeting the Decent Homes Standard, improving voids turnaround, bringing long term empty properties back into use, and awarding housing assistance grants to owner – occupiers, tenants and landlords to improve, repair and adapt private sector dwellings.

    * 'Seafront': subject to the safeguarding of the biodiversity importance of the foreshore

  2. ensure that housing provision is targeted to meet the needs of local people, in particular:
    1. promoting the provision of affordable housing in line with the requirements indicated in local needs assessments;
    2. working with major employers and housing associations to make effective and co-ordinated provision for key workers; and
    3. tackling the housing needs of those sections of the community who have particular requirements including the homeless and people with disabilities.

10.24 With the exception mentioned in paragraph 10.26 below and based on all the evidence outlined above, Policy CP8 below provides a core strategic policy to give local application to Government objectives, regional and sub-regional strategy, and identified local needs and priorities. It reflects the spatial considerations set out in the East of England Plan and in the spatial strategy of Policy KP1 above. It replaces the following development plan policies in the adopted Southend-on-Sea Borough Local Plan:

Policy H1 – Housing Provision

Policy H2 – Future Housing Needs

Policy H11 – North Shoebury

Policy H13 – Queens Road Area

Borough Local Plan Policies H3, H4, H5, H6, H7, H8, H9, H10 and H12 will remain part of the Development Plan for the Borough, pending their review as part of the preparation of a 'Criteria Based Policies and Site Allocations' Development Plan Document, as programmed in the Borough Council's Local Development Scheme. Detailed guidance in relation to urban design principles, which are expected of all developments, is provided in the Southend "Design and Townscape Guide SPD".

10.25 The Borough Council recognises that gypsies and travellers often need a permanent base from which to travel or bring up children. No such need has been manifest in Southend in recent years although significant need exists elsewhere in Essex. Pending the outcome of the single issue review of the East of England Plan on gypsies and travellers, any such proposals will be assessed against the Development Principles set out in Key Policy KP2. More detailed proposals will be included in the Criteria-Based Policies and Site Allocations DPD.

Policy CP 8: Dwelling Provision

Provision is made for 3,350 net additional dwellings between 2001 and 2011 and for 3,150 net additional dwellings between 2011 and 2021, distributed as follows:

2001-2011 2011-2016 2016-2021 2001-2021

Town Centre and Central Area 1,000 750 250 2,000

Shoeburyness* 650 300 450 1,400

Seafront** 450 50 50 550

Intensification*** 1,250 500 800 2,550

TOTAL 3,350 1,600 1,550 6,500

Per annum (335) (320) (310) (325)

Further detailed guidance into development in part of Shoeburyness will be provided in the "Shoeburyness SPD".

** 'Seafront': subject to the safeguarding of the biodiversity importance of the foreshore.

*** In broad terms, intensification is making more effective use of land in a given area, where such sites may be poorly used, and even unsightly. Areas for intensification generally have potential for increased residential accommodation by building or redeveloping at an increased density and by incorporating a mix of uses where appropriate. With good design, layout and construction, intensification may improve the appearance of places as well as their sustainability.

Residential development proposals will be expected to contribute to local housing needs, including affordable and special needs provision, and the sustainable use of land and resources. To achieve this, the Borough Council will:

  1. require the provision of not less than 80% of residential development on previously developed land (brownfield sites);
  2. resist development proposals that involve the loss of existing valuable residential resources, having regard to the limited land resources in the Borough, the need to safeguard an adequate stock of single family dwellinghouse, and to protect the character of residential areas;
  3. enter into negotiations with developers to ensure that[1.]:
    1. all residential proposals of 10-49* dwellings or 0.3 hectares up to 1.99 hectares make an affordable housing or key worker provision of not less than 20% of the total number of units on site; and
    2. all residential proposals of 50* dwellings or 2 hectares or more make an affordable housing or key worker provision of not less than 30% of the total number of units on the site;

*The rational which will be used by the Council to determine whether more than the specified floor target for affordable housing will be sought will be set out and justified in 'Part 6 Affordable Housing' of the 'Planning Obligations and Vehicle Parking Standards DPD'.

For sites providing less than 10 dwellings (or below 0.3 ha) or larger sites where, exceptionally, the Borough Council is satisfied that on-site provision is not practical, they will negotiate with developers to obtain a financial contribution to fund off-site provision. The Council will ensure that any such sums are used to help address any shortfall which in affordable housing. Preferred arrangements for this will also be set out in the above DPD.

The Council will work with partner agencies to ensure that any such sums collected are programmed for the provision of affordable housing, in order to help address any shortfall which may occur in the level of affordable housing obtained through on-site provision arising from the urban nature of the Borough and a need to maintain viability of development scheme (see footnote 1).

  1. promote the provision of housing for key workers in partnership with major employers and registered social landlords
  2. require residential development schemes within the Borough's town, district and local centres to include replacement and/or new retail and commercial uses, in order to safeguard, maintain and enhance the vitality and viability of these shopping and commercial areas
  3. support and require a vibrant mix of employment, residential and community uses on larger sites, to support greater economic and social diversity and sustainable transport principles

The Council will monitor and assess the delivery of both the transport infrastructure priorities set out in the RTS (Regional Transport Strategy) and Southend LTP (Local Transport Plan) and the employment targets required by Policy CP1: Employment Generating Development of this Plan. Failure to achieve targets set for 2011 and thereafter may trigger a review of the phasing and further release of the housing provisions set out within this policy, in order to ensure that an appropriate balance between employment, infrastructure and dwelling provision is secured and maintained. In order to remain in general conformity with the East of England Plan, (Policy H1) and to ensure that there is sufficient housing provision in Southend on Sea to meet the East of England Plan's housing allocation (2001-2021), the 6,500 net additional dwellings will not be phased beyond 2021 end date of this plan.

Core Policy CP8: Dwelling Provision - Monitoring and Implementation Framework

Core Indicator

Policy Indicator


Strategic Objective

SA/SEA Objective

Delivery Body(ies)

Total number of dwellings built and total amount of supply allocated to meet Regional Spatial Strategy requirements

Southend on Sea Housing Trajectory

(i) 6,500 net additional dwellings by 2021 and/or 325 net additional dwellings per annum

SO3, SO4, S06, SO14, SO15

  • Social progress which recognises the needs of everyone

SBC, RSLtd, TGSE Partnership, Development industry

(ii) Rolling provision for 5 year housing supply1

Provide and maintain a range of dwelling sizes to meet assessed local needs

(i) Total number of dwellings built, by size, within the plan period (temporally) and within the specified areas (spatially) as described in the table in Policy CP8

(i) 3,350 net additional dwellings between 2001 & 2011 and 3,150 between 2011 and 2021 distributed spatially as described in the table in Policy CP8

SO3, S04, SO6, S07, SO10, SO14

  • Social progress which recognises the needs of everyone
  • Effective protection of the environment

SBC, RSLtd, TGSE Partnership, Development industry

(ii) Total number of dwelling units, by size, lost to non- residential uses

(ii) Maintain loss of residential units at current or lower levels during plan period

Percentage of new and converted dwellings on previously developed land

Total number of dwellings built on previously developed land and greenfield land per annum

Not less than 80% of residential development on previously developed land (brownfield sites) by 2021

S04, S06, S010, SO16, S017

  • Effective protection of the environment
  • Prudent use of natural resources

SBC, RSLtd, TGSE Partnership, Development industry

Affordable housing completions

Total number of affordable houses built in accordance with the specified targets and thresholds, described in policy CP8

Affordable housing to achieve minimum targets for sites in Policy CP8 housing supply by 2021

S07, S013

  • Social progress which recognises the needs of everyone

SBC, RSLtd, TGSE Housing Group, Development industry, RSLs

[1.] Further more detailed policy, guidance and definitions will be provided in the Councils 'Planning Obligations & Vehicle Parking Standards DPD'.

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