London Southend Airport & Environs Joint Area Access Plan (JAAP)

1. Introduction

1.1 What is a Joint Area Action Plan (JAAP)?

The Joint Area Action Plan (JAAP) has been prepared by Rochford District Council and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council in response to the challenges and opportunities offered by London Southend Airport together with an airport related employment cluster. The Plan is intended to integrate land use, transport, environmental and regeneration proposals with clear mechanisms for delivery.

The JAAP provides the basis for coordinating the actions of a range of partners with an interest in the airport and the surrounding environs, and establishes planning policies up to 2031 and beyond. It will:

  • Manage the level of growth and change in the area by establishing an approach to development and associated planning principles;
  • Safeguard areas and places sensitive to change;
  • Direct investment and provide key planning policies for regeneration in the area; and
  • Be effective and deliverable.

Advice on the detailed development principles and design of the new employment areas will be contained in a masterplan/design framework published separately.

The JAAP is one of a number of plans being prepared by both local authorities, and must be read in conjunction with those other plans, and the National Planning Policy Framework. Policies within the adopted Southend-on-Sea Core Strategy and adopted Rochford Core Strategy provide the strategic context in which the JAAP proposals have been prepared, and it is important, in formulating development schemes and proposals, that account is taken of these documents, together with the policies in this plan and, national planning policy.

1.2 The Evidence Base

The policies and proposals in the JAAP have been prepared following consultation on Issues and Options (June 2008) and Preferred Options (February 2009) documents, together with a detailed examination of a collective evidence base. The evidence base consists of national planning and local planning policies, best practice guidance, background studies, socio-economic statistics and other published data. The key documents are as follows:

  • Evidence base prepared for the East of England Plan 2008
  • Evidence base for the Regional Economic Strategy 2008-2031
  • JAAP Evidence Report 2008 (transport, environment and economic assessments)
  • Hepworth Acoustic Report 2008
  • Rochford Employment Land Study 2008
  • Southend Employment Land Review 2010
  • Rochford and Southend Employment Land Review Update 2009
  • JAAP Sustainability Appraisal
  • Habitats Regulations Assessment 2009
  • Ecological Study 2009
  • NPPF Flooding Sequential Test
  • Flood Risk/Surface Water Assessment 2009
  • London Southend Airport Transport Assessment (Jacobs) 2009
  • The Future Development of Air Transport in the United Kingdom: South East 2002
  • The Future of Air Transport White Paper 2003
  • Rochford Core Strategy 2011
  • Southend Core Strategy 2007
  • London Southend Airport Environmental Controls 2009
  • Atkins London Southend Airport network model 2012
  • Essex Local Transport Plan (2011)
  • Southend-on-Sea Local Transport Plan (2011)
  • South East Local Economic Partnership (SELEP) Airport Study (2012)

1.3 Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment

The JAAP has been informed and modified by the process of independent Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SA/SEA), which is intended to test out the Plan's effect on agreed sustainability objectives. The first stage in the SA/SEA process was the preparation of a Scoping Report, which considered other plans or programmes and sustainability objectives, collected baseline information, identified sustainability issues and developed a framework for assessing the sustainability of the Plan. The Scoping Report was completed in January 2008 and was subject to statutory consultation. The scoping report was followed by a Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Issues and Options Report, and this was used to inform the preparation of the Preferred Options. An updated SA/SEA accompanies this pre-submission version of the Plan.

1.4 What will the JAAP include?

The JAAP provides the framework for the regeneration and expansion of London Southend Airport and its environs through economic growth, by providing opportunities for a range of economic, social, environmental and transport benefits. It builds on policies in the Rochford District Council and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council Core Strategies, which provide the overarching strategic policy frameworks for the development of London Southend Airport and Environs.

The JAAP includes site specific allocations and general policies for the area, and:

  • Considers land use options;
  • Considers the broad scale and form and type of development; and
  • Sets out specific standards which will be applied to the area.

In preparing the Plan, the following matters have been taken into account:

  • Existing and surrounding uses and context;
  • The impact of the proposals on other parts of Rochford District Council and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council areas;
  • The broad social, environmental and economic impacts;
  • Impact on the surrounding highway network;
  • Existing and future transport links and the need for improved infrastructure and managing demand;
  • Impact on the landscape, amenity and the existing built environment, including listed buildings; and
  • The importance of delivering sustainable development.

1.5 Preparation of the JAAP

A key step in the process of establishing the JAAP was the preparation of an 'Issues and Options' Report that provided an opportunity for the general public and all interested parties to comment on the future development of London Southend Airport and its Environs. It set out the initial analysis and potential spatial scenarios for the development of London Southend Airport and its Environs in the period to 2031 derived from the evidence base and analysis. It also set out the vision and objectives of the area, and key issues and options for future development.

The feedback received from the Issues and Options Report was carefully considered and used to prepare a Preferred Options Report for future development in the area. In turn, the feedback received to the informal consultation on the preferred options, together with further development of the evidence base contributed to the pre-submission consultation document, which was then submitted for Examination in Public and subsequently found to be sound.

The adopted JAAP will be kept under regular review and will be revised, as appropriate, to reflect any changing or new circumstances or objectives for the area. Any future revisions of the final plan will, of course, be subject to public consultation.

1.6 Policy Context for the JAAP

There exists a comprehensive framework of planning policy and economic guidance for policy makers to follow in relation to London Southend Airport and its surrounding area. The key feature of these policies is the adherence to similar principles, i.e. the need for development to be sustainable and balanced across the social, economic and environmental dimensions.

The growth of London Southend Airport is strategically aligned to the Future of Air Transport White Paper (2003) which recognises the wider economic benefits of the expansion in air travel. The growing pressures on airports in the South East are highlighted, as well as the important role smaller airports have to play in the future provision of airport capacity in the region. However the White Paper does recognise that growth must be tempered against potential environmental effects, and that there is a need to find a sustainable way forward in respect of air travel.

National Aviation Policy Framework

The Government published the Aviation Policy Framework in March 2013, replacing the aforementioned 2003 Air Transport White Paper. The Framework sets out overall objectives for aviation and the policies that will be used to achieve these objectives.

The key objectives set out in the Framework are:

  • To ensure that the UK's air links continue to make it one of the best connected countries in the world. This includes increasing our links to emerging markets so that the UK can compete successfully for economic growth opportunities.
  • To ensure the aviation sector makes a significant and cost effective contribution towards reducing global emissions.
  • To limit, and where possible, reduce the number of people in the UK significantly affected by aircraft noise.
  • To encourage the aviation industry and local stakeholders to strengthen and streamline the way in which they work together.

Whilst the main focus of the Framework is the largest airports located in the South East, there is nevertheless, strong recognition of the important role that smaller airports play in providing domestic and international connections and the contribution made to regional economies.

Specifically, the Government wants to see the best use of existing airports capacity, and as a general principle, support the growth of regional airports in England, including London Southend Airport. Nevertheless, proposals for expansion of regional airports should be judged on their individual merits, taking careful account of all relevant considerations, particularly economic and environmental impacts.

The Framework recognises that some regional airports are already responding to local demands and notes that:

"Southend Airport has completed a programme of investment that has transformed the airport. A new terminal has been constructed, a runway extension that allows the operation of newer generation, high efficiency, medium capacity aircraft has been completed and an airport railway station that offers direct rail links to London opened in September 2011. As a result, Southend Airport expected to handle one million passengers in 2012 and create 500 new jobs."

Airports play an important role through delivering wider economic benefits and significant job opportunities, and it is expected that London Southend Airport will contribute to meeting the needs of local and niche markets. In addition the airport is recognised as a key economic site and will act as a key driver for growth and expansion. It will play an important and significant role in improving the competitive strength and attractiveness of the area as a business location and tourism destination.

Local Policy Framework

The local policy framework prepared by both authorities supports national policy and recognises that the development of the airport and the adjacent employment area will deliver significant economic and social benefits, with the airport, in particular, acting as a key driver for economic development, inward investment and regeneration.

There is a developing debate about the future of aviation in the UK and particularly in the South East. The SELEP has employed consultants to advise on the options and opportunities for the LEP area and the government's consultation recognises the need for significant investment to enable the UK to remain competitive. However, it is considered that a small sub-regional airport like London Southend Airport will continue to be important and make a valuable contribution to the aviation needs of South Essex.

The Southend Core Strategy (adopted in December 2007) identifies the strategic and local importance of the London Southend Airport for employment generation, and for the supply chains in the surrounding area, which employ a significant number of local people.

Policy KP3 acknowledges the need to prepare a Joint Area Action Plan in partnership with Rochford District Council, and Policy CP1 seeks to promote economic regeneration recognising the contribution of London Southend Airport.

The Rochford Core Strategy (adopted in December 2011) includes Policies ED2 and ED4, which support the development of the airport and allocation of land for employment to be delivered through an Area Action Plan prepared jointly with Southend Borough Council.

Improvements to transport infrastructure and services are supported in the Local Transport Plans (LTP) prepared separately by Essex County Council (ECC) and Southend Borough Council (SBC).

ECC LTP (June 2011) states that – London Southend Airport is an important asset and is set to increase in importance as it expands over the next few years. This will create many new jobs and attract new businesses to the area. However, it will result in a growth in traffic, which must carefully managed to ensure that access to the airport and surrounding transport network remain reliable.

Rochford's Local Development Framework recognises the need for a combination of infrastructure and sustainable transport improvements and policy T1 states that Developments will be required to be located and designed in such a way as to reduce reliance on the private car. However, some impact on the highway network is inevitable and the Council will work with developers and the Highway Authority to ensure that appropriate improvements are carried out. Policy T2 identifies surface access to the airport as a priority.

Southend-on-Sea's Third Local Transport Plan (LTP3) (2012-2026) builds on the success of LTP2, taking forward and refining the existing long term strategy and encompassing key local and national developments and changes in policy, together with the findings of relevant transportation and evidence based studies. LTP3 further tackles the agendas of carbon reduction and sustainable means of travel to protect and enhance quality of life for all, as well as the pressing need for economic recovery and growth. One of the policies within LTP3 is to ensure appropriate improvements in sustainable transport, accessibility and facilities to London Southend Airport. In particular, LTP3 continues to focus upon transport policies and schemes which are vital in securing the provision of a transport system to support the Borough's aims to:

  • Have a thriving and sustainable local economy;
  • Minimise environmental impact and promote sustainability for a greener Borough;
  • Create a safer Borough; and
  • Reduce inequalities in health and wellbeing and for a more accessible Borough.

Southend Borough Council's successful bid for £4.82m from the Department for Transport (DfT) funding for the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) was announced in June 2012.

The main Government objectives of this project are to create economic growth and revitalise the economy and reduce carbon emissions to help tackle climate change. This funding will provide SBC the opportunity to continue working in partnership with their local businesses, including London Southend Airport, and communities to identify the right solutions to meet the economic and environmental challenges we are all facing.

The project comprises a package of sustainable travel measures boosting access to the growing employment areas of London Southend Airport/Business Park and Town Centre, designed to reduce the current and future demand for short distance car journeys and CO2 emissions. This package contains a series of interdependent measures building on quality cycling and walking routes, marketing and communications, partnerships, travel planning, and complimentary Integrated Transport Management Systems. Developed with widespread support from the community and local businesses, it will take forward the significant results achieved by the second Local Transport Plan, the MoveEasy Network and Cycle Southend.

In consultation with the local bus operators, Southend's Better Bus Area Fund (BBAF) bid to DfT for a grant of £1.577m was successful. This finance is to be used for the development of a smart card system, improving key bus interchanges in Southend and tackling local congestion at key hot spots. The bus operators will also undertake training to enhance the customer travel experience. These improvements will all contribute to enhanced bus travel reliability to London Southend Airport by reducing journey times and congestion.

Detailed transport modeling work has been carried out to analyse the impacts of the additional journeys resulting from the housing and employment opportunities and identify solutions to ensure future capacity and reduce congestion.

The key messages being a desire to secure a 'step change' in provision of infrastructure, to achieve a modern integrated transport system necessary to unlock key development sites and to secure sustainable jobs led regeneration.

London Southend Airport, whilst modest in size compared to Stansted, is planned to grow into a successful regional airport for London and the wider south-east, taking advantage of limited capacity at London's other airports. Indeed a new railway station for the airport is now operational.

The Southend Airport Surface Access Strategy (ASAS), including an Airport Travel Plan (ATP), has been developed as a condition of the Planning Approval granted in 2010 for the extension of the runway at London Southend Airport.

The ASAS has been developed in detailed consultation with ECC, RDC and SBC and the Airport Transport Forum to provide a strategy which focuses on improving public transport and finding ways to encourage passengers, new and existing staff to use sustainable modes for their journeys to and from the airport.

The document provides details regarding the key targets, commitment and actions required to help achieve appropriate levels of passengers and staff travelling sustainably as the airport develops and expands. The ASAS provides the strategy whilst the ATP provides the measures and actions to achieve the strategy.

The key targets are to seek to ensure that the public transport mode share of air passengers should be at least 20% by 1.5million passengers per annum (mppa) and 25% by 2mppa. In addition, staff transport mode share should not exceed 65% by using the car alone. The key actions are to monitor travel patterns of both staff and passengers working at, or using the airport, to ensure the appropriate provision of bus and train services, car and cycle parking, travel information, accessibility to the airport to achieve the public transport mode share targets. The overall aim is to seek to achieve growth of the airport as sustainably as possible.

The Integrated County Strategy (ICS) provides a shared vision for Essex, Southend, and Thurrock, to identify the priorities needed to achieve increased economic growth. The ICS will ensure that available funding is invested towards priorities which are most likely to generate long-term economic growth.

By producing the ICS and prioritising aspirations for growth, the area is taking a clear lead in responding to the current economic climate. The ICS will be used by decision makers to guide the use of funding towards priorities that can achieve the greatest possible benefit for the area.

In South Essex, the ICS recognises the need to, in particular, promote and maximise potential benefits at key sites for employment and further economic development. This includes the opportunities presented by development in the London Southend Airport and Environs JAAP.

Overall, the growth and vitality of London Southend Airport is seen as important to the economic development and prosperity of Southend and Rochford. Local policies support the growth of the airport; prioritise the safeguarding of the important Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) sector; and require the provision of adequate employment land (in terms of quantity and quality) to accommodate future employment needs of the area.

The future growth and well-being of the Airport is only one strand of the ambitions for the JAAP. The creation of two new business parks is intended to open-up new, significant opportunities for investment in the area and to act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the existing Aviation Way Industrial Estate.

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