Part 2: Spatial Strategy (including key topics)

The New Local Plan must set out a positive overall strategy for the pattern, scale and quantity of development. It will be important that the strategy seeks to satisfactorily accommodate future development needs, including new homes, jobs and supporting infrastructure and services. At the same time, we must safeguard the unique character and amenities of different areas within the Borough, enhance the natural and the historic environment and address the challenges of climate change.

In relation to housing, Local Authorities must seek to meet their identified need in full. The Government has recently introduced a new standard methodology for calculating housing need. This represents a significant uplift on the number of homes that have been built in Southend in recent years. The latest calculation of need is set out in Table 1.

Table 1: Housing and Economic Identified Needs
District/ Borough Homes per annum Jobs per annum
Southend 1,181* 550**

 * Government Standard Methodology **South Essex Economic Development Needs Assessment (2017)

The Issues and Options document (2019) set out three possible options for meeting future development needs, namely:

Option 1: all development provided within the existing built up area

Option 2: most development provided within the existing built up area with some development on the urban edges on green field and Green Belt land in Southend

Option 3: Option 2 + working with neighbouring authorities to develop a comprehensive new settlement on Green Belt land (strategic scale development).

The advantages and disadvantages of each option were detailed in the Issues and Options document* (pages 24 to 26). Only Option 3 had the potential to deliver all development needs.

Spatial Strategy Option 3 as presented in the New Local Plan Issues and Options Document (2019)

Diagram showing the process of the plan from Issues and Options Stage, Refining the Plan, Preferred Approach, Publication Consultation and Submission

What You Said

Of the three options, Option 3 attracted the most support as it provided the best opportunity for accommodating the necessary growth.

Those respondents favouring Option 1 focussed on the need to redevelop brownfield sites. Those opposing this Option were concerned that further development in the existing built-up areas would worsen perceived over-crowding and high-density development, increasing traffic problems and placing infrastructure under strain.

Respondents favouring Option 2 considered this to be the best compromise of the 3 options available, promoting use of brownfield sites whilst also allowing some expansion of the urban area, ensuring that new residents could easily access facilities in the existing urban area. Opposition came from those wishing to see the Green Belt protected and others who considered that this approach would not be sufficient to meet the Borough’s needs.

Option 3 attracted the most support, although it was highlighted that building on a certain amount of Green Belt land and countryside is regrettable it would allow for the building of new neighbourhoods and provide homes to suit all people and provide the space to deliver successful communities with the required infrastructure to support them.

Views were also expressed that the delivery of a comprehensive new settlement (Option 3) will take a long time, with most of the new housing delivered towards the end of the plan period and beyond. As such, it was also suggested that all options could be implemented plus all suitable and deliverable sites beyond Southend’s boundaries, including land south of Great Wakering, to meet its unmet needs.

A number of comments noted that other areas assessed and dismissed in the Growth Locations Study** might have potential to accommodate development, but at a smaller scale than that tested in the Study.

Our Response

Having regard to your feedback and recognising that Option 3 attracted the most support we have carried out further assessments and refined the options to include potential development sites for this consultation.

It is clear from your feedback that we need to identify the full development potential from within the existing urban area of the Borough that can be achieved without detrimentally affecting the character and fabric of the urban environment. This is critical to determining what level of need may be required to be accommodated outside the existing urban area and to provide an evenly phased development programme across the whole of the plan period. 

Before we can develop a detailed strategy we therefore wish to establish where new housing development can satisfactorily be accommodated and what supporting employment, parks and green space facilities and transport improvements are needed to meet our future needs. 

We would now like your views on the detailed housing, employment, parks and green space and transportation aspects of the strategy in order that we may develop a comprehensive strategy which will be consulted on as part of the next stage of the New Local Plan preparation.

To help us develop the strategy we have commissioned a variety of technical evidence base studies to quantify and qualify the scale of need for different types of land uses, including housing (including houses of different types, tenures and sizes), employment, retail and leisure. A number of these studies have been commissioned with our South Essex Local Authority partners. 

Please note draft policies on how we manage new development (development management policies), such as those that will guide design, heritage, carbon reduction and amount and type of affordable housing and the necessary infrastructure improvements will be included in the next stage of the Southend New Local Plans' preparation.