Colchester Borough Council has formally adopted Section 2 of its Local Plan.
The Local Plan, which was found legally sound by an independent Inspector in May, was finally approved last night (4 July) during a special meeting of the council, following consideration by the Local Plan Committee last month.
Yesterday’s formal adoption of the plan followed a lengthy consultation process, culminating in a formal Examination in Public and further consultation on modifications to the plan last year. The Inspectors considered around 1,192 comments in the latest consultation, as well as those made in earlier consultations, before coming to their conclusions.
Section 2 includes policies and site allocations that can be used to decide planning applications within the borough up to 2033 and beyond. As well as finding sites for new housing, the policies will ensure sufficient land is available for employment and economic growth and that supporting infrastructure is provided.
Whilst the Local Plan includes new homes and supporting infrastructure at Middlewick Ranges, it transcends any single site by supplying a far-reaching development framework for growth across the whole borough – protecting land, discouraging speculative development and even higher housing allocations, ensuring certain planning obligations are met, and securing much-needed affordable housing.
Cllr David King, Leader of the Council, said: “We are obliged to have a Local Plan. The alternative would not save any one site. It would mean starting again, with more cost and uncertainty for many, including the Wick, and higher housing targets.
“The protections the Local Plan will bring instead enable us to insist on better developments, to constrain what the MOD might do on the ranges, to enable us to look now for a country park, and to know we can stop speculative developments across the borough, protecting green spaces and our towns and villages.
“Our adopted plan enables more sustainable development of homes, businesses, and infrastructure for decades to come, whilst also protecting the wider environment and rich history and heritage of the borough.
“But we know there are aspects of any Local Plan that will divide opinion. That is why we remain committed to ongoing community engagement to make the best of what we now have, for future generations.
“We can all agree on wanting better development and controlling what development is delivered over the coming years, with least harm and most benefit environmentally. This adopted Local Plan provides a robust framework to enable us to achieve it.”
Cllr Martin Goss, Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhood Services & Waste and Chair of the Local Plan Committee, added: “Our new Local Plan will provide the homes and job opportunities our soon-to-be city needs, while also enshrining protection to its special character from unpredictable, and ultimately unsustainable, piecemeal development.
“We faced two choices: either adopt the plan or agree not to adopt the plan, which would have led to it being withdrawn and reset the clock. Its adoption means decision-making stays in our hands, not with the government or developers. Not only will it give the council greater opportunities to influence and control development, but it will also it be much easier to refuse applications that do not comply with local policies, and we are more likely to be successful at appeal.
“It also means we can progress supplementary planning documents on matters such as affordable housing, climate change and sustainability, and planning obligations, thereby ensuring future development meets the needs of local people and the environment rather than serving the interests of distant speculators with an eye on lucrative short-term profits.”
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Page last reviewed: 5 July 2022