Members of the Joint Committee last night approved a Development Plan for the Tendring/Colchester Border Garden Community (TCBGC) and have recommended it for public consultation later this year.
The Development Plan contains comprehensive policies, a vision, and a preferred masterplan layout for the development that will guide the way the Garden Community evolves over the coming decades. Its key policies come under several themes including future land use; community and social infrastructure; buildings, places and character; economic activity and employment; movement and connections; sustainable infrastructure; nature; and infrastructure delivery and impact mitigation.
Several key policies in the Draft Development Plan have been modified in response to views expressed during consultation last year, not least in relation to the provision of additional protection for open spaces and the natural environment.
Strategic Green Gaps have been incorporated between the Garden Community and Elmstead Market and Wivenhoe. Land and woodland around and including the Salary Brook Local Nature Reserve is designated as a new Country Park, which will be promoted and managed for that purpose.
The ‘Salary Brook Country Park’ will be protected and enhanced as an important corridor for wildlife conservation and informal recreation.
The Plan also addresses concerns about the visual impact of the proposed employment land and how it impacts the environment north of the A133, near Salary Brook, recommending any such development be moved further east.
And at Crockleford Heath, the Development Plan now recognises the need for the neighbourhood to develop as an individual community, with its own character, which will see the lowest density and later-phasing of development linked to its own neighbourhood centre.
Addressing public concerns about development south of the A133, the Development Plan also provides protection to the open countryside to the south of the Garden Community, in order to maintain the physical and visual separation to Wivenhoe, whilst allowing for some sports-focused uses closest to the University of Essex.
All the responses from residents and stakeholders submitted during the next round of consultation, scheduled for May and June, will be collated and sent directly to the Planning Inspectorate, who will appoint an Inspector to assess the compliance and soundness of the Development Plan.
Joint Committee Chairman Cllr Nick Turner (Tendring District Council) said: “I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this Development Plan. We have been mindful of local concerns throughout and done as much as we can to acknowledge them, recognising the special qualities of the area and its wider surroundings.
“Following further scrutiny by members of Tendring and Colchester councils on 2 March and 23 March respectively, it will then fall to residents and stakeholders to contribute their views on the final shape of the development during further public consultation in May and June – after which we shall look expectantly to the Planning Inspectorate to endorse the Plan.”
Committee Vice-Chairman Cllr David King (Colchester City Council) added:
“Recent months have seen intense effort focused on getting our plans right for the Garden Community.
“This document is the culmination of exceptionally careful work, listening and reflecting on what local people want to see in the new Garden Community. It is vital that we get the best balance achievable, to secure a step-change in design, quality and infrastructure that benefits our residents, the local area and the generations who will follow. The process ahead of us will continue to be a listening one, working with residents to deliver a place of quality to Garden Community principles.”
Further proposals in the Development Plan for the A120-A133 link road and Rapid Transit System now include extending the timeline for delivery of the projects and a phased approach, enabling the work to be partially funded by government and partially by financial contributions from the developer, without compromising the delivery of other infrastructure and facilities elsewhere. Such an approach will allow for the successful completion of the project, without sacrificing the infrastructure-led approach and overall quality of the development.