Southend Central Area Action Plan
8. Development Management
8.1 To ensure that future development and investment in the plan area delivers the aspirations of the Community Plan, the Core Strategy DPD and the AAP there will need to be clear policy guidance against which to assess planning applications and public realm and transportation schemes. The Core Strategy DPD sets out a suite of Strategic objectives and Policies to which all development in the Borough should have regard.
8.2 A large share of the Borough’s new growth and development will be focussed in the town centre. The area covered by this Plan will therefore have a significant impact on the Council’s ambitions to move towards a reduced carbon society, address resource efficiency and adapt/mitigate any impacts of climate change including such issues as flood risk and protecting and enhancing biodiversity. There is an opportunity within this AAP to consider the possibility of ‘tailoring’ more detailed development management policies to address the specific opportunities and challenges in the Central Area if necessary.
8.3 The following planning considerations, in particular, are key factors and new developments should be designed to embrace the aims of sustainable development, without compromising the overall design quality.
Addressing resource minimisation and carbon emissions
8.4 Resource Minimisation: new developments can make a significant contribution in this area both during construction and in their operation. Resource minimisation involves reducing the amount of energy used (and waste generated) and the efficient use of natural resources such as water and energy. The starting position should be that ‘it is better to insulate than generate’.
- Redevelopment or Refurbishment?: as a general principle refurbishment and reuse of existing buildings usually requires significantly less energy than building new ones and therefore supports the aim of sustainable development, though not in all cases.
- Site Layout and Orientation: the site layout and orientation can play an important role in creating a more sustainable building. Other aspects of the site such as local microclimate, exposure, natural shading, atmospheric pollution, ground water levels and drainage need also to be assessed, ensuring that the site’s maximum potential is realised.
- Built form: the actual built form and detailing of a new building should also play a significant role in promoting sustainable development and there should be a move towards carbon neutral buildings. Buildings can incorporate sustainable technologies such as natural ventilation and locally sourced and recycled materials. Developments built from high quality materials not only look better, but generally last longer and require less maintenance. It is important to ensure that both the internal and external layouts make the best use of the space available and avoid the creation of unusable and negative spaces.
Mix of Uses: a mixed use scheme can be defined as a
layering of uses within one building or a mix of uses in
one development or neighbourhood. The benefits of mixed use
- Giving priority to employment generating uses such as retail, leisure accommodation and offices at lower levels.
- Adding vibrancy and vitality to the streetscene and variety and interest to the townscape.
- Reducing the need to travel to shops, workplaces and community facilities.
- Creating mixed and balanced communities.
- Greater community safety through increased natural surveillance throughout the day and night.
- Flexibility: it is essential that new buildings are able to adapt to the changing needs and trends of society otherwise they may become obsolete and impractical well within their lifespan. Flexible buildings allow the occupiers to personalise the buildings to suit their working and living requirements, and increase the variety of available uses.
- Water Recycling and Sustainable Urban Drainage systems: the Thames Gateway is a water stressed area where water is a scarce resource. In order to minimise the demand on water resources all new developments should be designed to be water efficient and to minimise water consumption and conversions and renovations should retrofit water efficient measures where possible. Current government policy requires developments to return as much storm water as possible to the ground or recycling system as close as possible to the source. Of particular importance locally is the need to consider off street run off into estuary
- Renewable Power Generation: Core Strategy Policy KP2 requires that 10% of the total energy needs of all new development must be provided from renewable sources on site (and/or decentralised renewable and recycled energy sources). But not necessarily by wind generation.
- Code for Sustainable Homes: the recently announced government target is that all homes should be zero carbon from 2016.
- Non-Residential Buildings: as with residential development all new commercial development will be expected to contribute to the sustainability of the Borough by achieving BREEAM excellent
- Maximising Travel Choice: all new developments should provide links to a range of transport networks and facilities so that the users have the widest possible travel options. This must include creating a safe and attractive environment for pedestrians and cyclists (including covered and secure cycle storage as part of any development) car parking and enhancing public transport links wherever possible
- Travel to work accounts for a significant amount of car journeys and therefore large commercial development proposals are required to produce a Travel Plan to demonstrate how the principles of sustainable development will be incorporated.
Addressing biodiversity, green space provision and the green grid
8.5 It is a key principle of the spatial strategy in the Core Strategy DPD and the approach to regeneration and growth in the Central area that biodiversity interests (particularly within those of international importance in the estuary) and green space should be protected and enhanced where possible. Access to recreational areas and the benefits of the town’s natural resources is of great importance to the quality of life of both the residents of the town centre and the borough as a whole. Growth and regeneration of the scale proposed in the central area could lead to undesirable levels of leisure activity on the seafront and the limited green areas to the detriment of the biodiversity interests.
8.6 Underpinning the Borough Council’s approach to mitigating the impact of population growth and regeneration is the provision of new and enhanced public spaces with linked access through the green grid concept to provide alternative recreational opportunities and eliminate pressure on ‘honey pot’ areas such as the seafront. It also seeks to provide access for the town centre residents to new and improved quality parks and open spaces and to the more open countryside within and around the borough. This green grid should be clearly way marked and provide a focus for environmental enhancement and public realm improvements and public art strategy and could include carefully planned interpretation centres to encourage a greater understanding of the town’s rich biodiversity/ New development should have regard to this strategy and make provision in its design to assist in its delivery.
Addressing Flood Risk
8.7 Planning Policy Statement 25 - Development and Flood Risk emphasises the need for flood risk to influence the location of development, and for development plans to follow a ‘sequential test’ in relation to the level of flood risk, directing development away from areas of risk of flooding. However, in assessing the weight to be attached to this consideration, the Borough Council, in preparing its Core Strategy DPD had regard to:
- Regeneration and growth imperatives within the existing built up the central seafront area,
- The first SFRA completed for the Thames Gateway Area indicated that flood defences are mainly in good overall condition. A refresh of the SFRA for the Borough is currently underway and will inform the preferred strategy in this AAP
- Southend has regularly and systematically improved existing flood defences to meet perceived levels of risk, which reduces the level of actual risk, indicated on current flood plain maps. This policy to maintain flood defences in line with the potential risk posed by climate change is set to continue and is supported by the Thames Estuary TE2100 plan and other Environment Agency flood management plans
8.8 The adopted Core Strategy DPD identifies the seafront as a key growth and regeneration area and in addressing flood risk the Core Strategy goes on to require that where the Environment Agency’s Flood Zone Maps or other considerations, including up to date Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, indicate that a risk of flooding remain, all development proposals shall be accompanied by a detailed flood risk assessment appropriate to the scale and nature of the development and the risk. As such development will only be permitted where the assessment clearly demonstrates that it is appropriate in terms of type, siting and mitigation measures proposed, using sustainable flood risk management options which safeguard biodiversity importance of the foreshore and / or effective sustainable drainage measures.
8.9 The Borough Council has commissioned a refresh of the Thames Gateway Strategic Flood Risk Assessment for the Borough and a Water Cycle Study. In addition the Council is preparing a Southend Shoreline Strategy. These will further inform its approach to flood risk across the borough In future Development Plan Documents.
8.10 It is considered therefore that the Core Strategy DPD and the suggested approach to sustainable development will provide sufficient policy guidance at this stage with regard to flood risk. Any findings of the above studies and emerging strategies will be incorporated if and where they are relevant to the Southend Central Area Action Plan
Addressing housing growth and need
8.11 The Central Area Master Plan identifies a capacity within its boundary of 3,160 net additional dwellings. The initial findings of the SHLAA identifies a capacity for approximately 4,000 net additional dwellings within the central areas (i.e. including approx the Neighbourhood Gateway Areas).
8.12 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 quality and size of dwelling provision in the town. Any policy move to increase the size of future dwellings and/or to provide family housing instead of flats would impact on density levels and therefore potential total capacity.
8.13 In addition to the identified ‘gateway neighbourhoods’ where a planned approach to regeneration and change is being promoted in this Plan, there are other significant areas of housing to the east and west of the High Street that may be in need of regeneration and their connectivity to the town centre improved. These areas include Whitegate Road, Quebec House, York Road etc to the east and Gordon Road /Napier Road area to the west.
Type of homes – quality and size
8.14 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. The AAP should therefore consider how it tailors its approach to housing delivery to meet housing needs highlighted in the TGSE Strategic Housing Market Assessment (update 2010) and reflect the Borough Council’s priorities as set out in its Housing Strategy.
8.15 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 or more. Smaller sites will be required to make a financial contribution to fund off-site provision of affordable housing.
8.16 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.
Securing additional services and facilities required as a result of housing growth
8.17 Housing growth will lead to a significant increase in population, resulting in greater demand for local services and community facilities. Where these are located is a key issue since it effects how and when they are secured and the final cost and who benefits most directly.
|Specialist housing – e.g. for the elderly|
|Primary and secondary schools|
|Pre-school and nursery facilities|
|Open space/public parks|
|Child and youth play facilities|
|Any other ideas|