The Local Plan must set out an overall strategy for the pattern, scale and quantity of development, and make sufficient provision for housing (including affordable housing), employment, retail, leisure and other commercial development, infrastructure and community facilities and conservation and enhancement of the natural, built and historic environment.
There is an important link between housing and economic performance. Getting the right housing offer, including affordable housing, is essential to attracting and retaining a skills base that will encourage inward investment and help address underlying economic causes of deprivation where this exists.
In relation to housing, Local Authorities must seek to meet its need in full where it is possible to do so when considering any legitimate and evidenced constraints to housing development in the area, such as environmental considerations and infrastructure capacity, which cannot be mitigated.
Housing in Southend, and South Essex as a whole, has become less and less affordable in recent years. When compared to the national average, we have higher rates of overcrowding, enforced house sharing, homelessness. We have seen rising houses price, rising private rent rises but continue to have low local wages. This in part is due to not building enough housing in the area and a major issue facing the new Local Plan is how we can work towards providing a step-change in housing delivery in the future without detrimentally impacting on the character of the town and its environment.
Development within the existing built up area of Southend
Development within the existing built up area should and must continue to play a key role in delivering new homes and jobs in Southend and thereby ensuring the vitality and vibrancy of communities, bringing back into use empty homes and underused land and to assist regeneration.
However, early surveys undertaken as part of the preparation of the Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) indicate that Southend will not be able to continue to meet all of its housing need within its existing urban area or on land at the edge of the existing built up area of Southend. This means looking at other possible ways this can be achieved.
To see the sites surveyed please refer to the HELAA on the Council’s webpage
To determine whether more housing can be sustainably accommodated within the existing built up area of Southend we will prepare an Urban Living Study, building on the findings of the HELAA.
Edge of Settlement Strategic scale development (Garden Communities)
The Government is placing great emphasis on the Garden Communities approach to meeting housing needs through delivering strategic scale sustainable communities providing for new homes, jobs and infrastructure.
An important aspect of delivering new homes is the provision of supporting infrastructure. A potential advantage of looking to accommodate strategic scale development in a comprehensively planned way, such as by a new Garden Settlement, is that there is a better chance of securing the necessary infrastructure as well as ensuring the critical mass of employment and services to ensure communities thrive.
Given Southend’s tightly drawn administrative boundary any strategic scale development will likely have cross border implications with neighbouring authorities, such as Castle Point and Rochford. The South Essex Joint Strategic Plan will consider where strategic scale development sites may be located, which itself will be subject to consultation.
We have prepared a South East Essex Strategic Growth Locations Assessment, jointly with Castle Point and Rochford Councils, to understand whether there are areas that could accommodate development of a strategic scale around the urban area of Southend. Strategic scale has been broadly defined as being large enough to sustain supporting infrastructure such as local schools, shops and other services, as well as employment generating development and would comprise a minimum of 6,000 to 8,000 dwellings.
The South East Essex Strategic Growth Locations Assessment has identified one area around Southend (north of Fossetts Farm, Garon Park and Bournes Green Chase, incorporating land within both Southend Borough and Rochford District) that has the potential to accommodate strategic scale development and therefore warrants further investigation. This initial exploratory growth locations assessment work will form an initial stepping stone in examining the potential of the area as part of the preparation of the South Essex Joint Strategic Plan being progressed by the Association of South Essex Local Authorities. This work will include an assessment of infrastructure and transport impacts and an assessment of Green Belt.
We have set out in Figure 9 below the potential advantages and disadvantages of each option.
* based on delivering all available housing sites in the urban area and continuing current levels of unexpected sites coming forward. (Housing Land Availability Assessment)
** based on delivering all available housing sites within the Borough and continuing current levels of unexpected sites coming forward (Housing Land Availability Assessment)