Colchester City Council is proposing a fresh approach to engagement for the upcoming Local Plan Review. The council wants to hear from as many people as possible about their views on the future of the city and will use a variety of methods to gather feedback.
The Local Plan Review is a comprehensive review of the development plan for Colchester, which sets out the council's vision for the city's future, including its housing needs, employment opportunities, and infrastructure requirements.
The Local Plan Committee agreed the new engagement approach to the next Local Plan Review when they met on 7 August 2023.
One of the key changes agreed is to the way the council conducts its Issues and Options consultation. In the past, this consultation has taken the form of a single document that is published for a six-week period. However, the council now believes that this approach is too rigid and that it does not allow for enough feedback from the public.
Instead, the council will take a more iterative approach to engagement. This means that the consultation will be broken down. Smaller consultations will be held over a longer period. This will allow the council to get feedback from the public on a more regular basis to help them shape the Local Plan Review.
The council will also use online surveys, public meetings, and workshops, and is particularly keen to hear from young people, people from minority groups, and people who live in rural areas.
The Local Plan Review is a long and complex process,” said Leader of the Council, Cllr David King, “and the council is committed to ensuring that it is done well, that it is as inclusive and transparent as possible, and that the plan that is eventually produced reflects the widest possible consultation.
“I am grateful when so many residents and community partners do take the time and trouble to comment and contribute – such as with the many people who attended and responded to recent consultations on the city centre. We need to build on this engagement, to make it as easy and constructive as possible to contribute and to have feed-back as we go.”
The new engagement process will begin with publication of the Green Network and Waterways Audit to enable local communities, including Town and Parish Councils, to submit their views and together to identify opportunities to further improve our green spaces, trails and waterways, through the new Local Plan Review.
This will be followed by a call for sites. This will be open to all landowners and developers to promote land for housing, employment, offsite biodiversity net gain and green spaces. The council also wants to ensure that the most suitable land for development is in the mix, regardless of whether it has been proposed by a landowner. The council will then conduct a Strategic Land Availability Assessment (SLAA), to assess the suitability of the sites that have been submitted.
The council will also undertake other studies, including a housing needs assessment and a transport modelling study. The findings of these studies will be used to develop a draft Local Plan. The draft Local Plan will then be subject to further rounds of engagement, including two public consultations. The council will then finalise the Local Plan and submit it to the government for examination.
All consultation materials will be available in a variety of formats, and there will be opportunities for people to participate in the process online, in person, or by phone.
The Local Plan is in two sections, with Section 1 providing a shared strategic policy context and addressing cross-boundary matters for North Essex, together with Braintree and Tendring Councils. This was Adopted by Colchester City Council on 2 February 2021.
Section 2 of the Colchester Local Plan 2017-2033 provides the policy framework, site allocations and development management policies for the City up to 2033. This was Adopted by Colchester City Council on 4 July 2022.
The council is required to review its Local Plan every five years to ensure it remains up to date and can be afforded full weight in decision making. The intention is that to complete this process by early 2026 – five years after adoption of Section 1. The current adopted Local Plan will remain extant and have full effect until that time.
Page last reviewed: 8 August 2023