Having an up-to-date Local Plan that is shaped through community engagement, provides an important tool to help manage future development proposals that would otherwise come forward without local policies guiding the type, scale and location of new development.
The Covid Pandemic has had a significant impact on the global and local economy. The New Local Plan can play a key role in helping to act as a catalyst to recover from this impact. It will be important that we continue to monitor the impacts of Covid and the post pandemic recovery as the New Local Plan is prepared.
This document represents the second stage of consultation in the preparation of the Southend New Local Plan. We are seeking views on refining the Plan before we develop specific policies and proposals.
Your views are vital if we are to build a future plan for the Borough that is comprehensive and inclusive.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is united in its desire to avoid building on the Borough's Green Belt. However, in order to produce a sound Local Plan we are required by Government to consult on all options so as to provide robust evidence for consideration by the Government's Inspector.
The document does not set out a preferred strategy or criteria-based policies, rather it sets out draft proposals, potential development sites and possible interventions to generate feedback as we progress the New Local Plan.
About this Consultation
Why are we consulting again?
In early 2019 we consulted on the Southend New Local Plan Issues and Options1 document. This represented the first stage in the preparation of a New Local Plan for Southend to guide future development decisions over the next 20 years.
The New Local Plan will address needs and opportunities in relation to housing, the local economy, community facilities and infrastructure. It will also seek to safeguard the environment, enable adaptation to climate change and help secure high-quality accessible design. Specific policies to manage development, such as those relating to Climate Change and housing design and tenure will be included and gain a prominent focus in the next iteration of the New Local Plan.
The New Local Plan provides a degree of certainty for communities, businesses and investors on future development proposals, and a framework for guiding decisions on individual planning applications.
The Issues and Options document identified several major planning issues facing the future development of the Borough and possible options for resolving these. Meeting the varied needs requires some tough choices to be made on how we use land, how we design buildings and communities, and where and how we develop.
You responded in your hundreds to this challenge and gave us considerable feedback for tackling these issues and identified a number of other important planning matters. The feedback, including a summary report of the main issues, is available on the New Local Plan website here.
Your feedback has proved invaluable in helping us prepare this next stage of the New Local Plan’s preparation, Refining the Plan Options.
We are now seeking your help again in refining the Plan options before we develop specific policies and proposals.
The Plan is divided into three Parts: 1. Aim and Objectives; 2. Spatial Strategy; 3. Southend Neighbourhoods. The primary focus of the consultation is seeking views on the Aim and Objectives and Spatial Strategy. The Neighbourhood sections set out the draft proposals in more detail for those wishing to focus on certain areas of the Borough or where they live.
- (Part 1) Aim and Objectives
- (Part 2) Spatial Strategy
- Economic Recovery and Meeting Employment Needs
- Providing Community Services and Infrastructure
- Providing New Homes
- Retail Provision and Centres Hierarchy
- Town Centre and Central Seafront
- Protecting and Enhancing Green Space and the Coastline
- Transport and Access
- London Southend Airport
- (Part 3) Southend Neighbourhoods
Other land use considerations and criteria-based policies that help to shape and manage the form and function of development, such as those that address housing tenure and climate change, have not been explicitly identified within this consultation document. They will be included in the next stage of the preparation of the New Local Plan.
There is a legal duty on local authorities to ensure climate change mitigation and adaptation are integrated across all local planning policy. The New Local Plan must also take into account the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency and be the spatial expression of the Council’s corporate policies and strategies.
Seeking to prevent and mitigating the impacts of Climate Change will be integral to the preparation of the New Local Plan. This is included within the draft Aim and Objectives set out in this consultation document. Specific policies relating to Climate Change will be included and gain a prominent focus in the next iteration of the New Local Plan.
How to Have Your Say
It is important to tell us what you think is the best approach to take in developing Southend and its different places. You do not need to respond to all the sections and suggested questions set out below, you can focus on what interests you.
If you have any questions about the consultation or would like to discuss some of the issues, please do contact us.
What Happens Next?
This is the second in a number of public consultations on the New Local Plan. As the Plan is progressed through its statutory stages of preparation there will be further opportunities to comment on its contents. A ‘live’ timetable of preparation is available
Following feedback on this ‘Refining the Options’ we will prepare a ‘Preferred Approach’ document. This will be subject to further public consultation before being amended based on the feedback we receive, and submitted to the Government who will appoint a Planning Inspector to undertake an independent examination in public of the Plan. Their role will be to examine all evidence, including comments made, and consider it against national planning policy to determine whether the New Local Plan is sound and legally compliant and may be adopted by the Council to become planning policy.
Figure 1: Southend New Local Plan Preparation Timetable
Where the New Local Plan Fits with Other Policy and Strategies
We understand that to plan effectively for Southend (Map 1) we must look beyond our local area and plan strategically with neighbouring authorities. To help achieve this and provide co-ordinated leadership on strategic matters across South Essex the local councils of Basildon, Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford, Southend and Thurrock together with Essex County Council committed to the establishment of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) (see Figure 3).
ASELA has also committed to the preparation of a South Essex Strategic Framework that will inform the preparation and review of detailed Local Plans by the six Local Authorities and provide an effective ‘joined up’ approach for strategic infrastructure planning and growth across South Essex.
Similarly, the Borough Council has prepared a Southend ‘2050 Vision’ (link here) in partnership with the local community which considers the future development of the Borough and how it affects the everyday lives of the people that live, work and visit here. Over 35,000 people were reached through the work with 4,000 people actively taking part through a wide variety of events, surveys, workshops and forums across the Borough. The Joint Strategic Framework and Southend New Local Plan together will be a key driver and steppingstone in delivering towards the Southend 2050 shared ambition and sub-regional initiatives.
The hierarchy of strategies and plans related to Southend is depicted in Figure 2 below.
National Planning Policy
The way we prepare our New Local Plan and what it contains is carefully regulated². Although there is some flexibility in how we go about it, we must prepare formal draft documents before the Plan is ‘submitted’ to be examined by an independent Inspector.
Local Plans must incorporate the principles of sustainable development³ which were first adopted by the United Nations in 1992 and lie at the heart of the National Planning Policy Framework⁴. This provides that there is a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking.
In January 2016 the United Nations refined its sustainability objectives to include new areas such as climate change, economic inequality and innovation. These have been adopted as 17 interconnected ‘Sustainable Development Goals’⁵. It will be important that the New Local Plan embraces these objectives.
Local Plans should be aspirational but realistic. To support the production of the New Local Plan, evidence based documents have and will continue to be prepared for various topics. These can be viewed on the Council’s web site (localplan.southend.gov.uk).
The New Local Plan will replace the Southend Core Strategy, the Development Management Document, the Southend Central Area Action Plan and potentially some of the strategic policies within the London Southend Airport and Environs Joint Area Action Plan (JAAP), with a single document. The Essex and Southend Waste Local Plan (prepared jointly with Essex County Council) will be subject to its own review.
Proposed Changes to the Planning System
The Government recently published a White Paper⁶, ‘Planning for the Future’. The consultation on this closed in October 2020.
The White paper contained a package of measures which seek to radically reform the planning system. The paper contained 24 individual proposals within three ‘pillars’ intended to ‘streamline and modernise the planning process, improve outcomes on design and sustainability, reform developer contributions and ensure more land is available for development where it is needed’.
The proposals also seek to change how Local Plans are prepared and presented. In meeting identified development needs it proposes that all land be apportioned to three new categories:
If approved, the White Paper proposals will have a major impact on how the Southend New Local Plan is prepared and taken forward. The preparation of this ‘Refining the Plan Options’ document is designed to provide a degree of flexibility so that the changes proposed in the White Paper can be satisfactorily accommodated as appropriate as the New Local Plan progresses.
Issues and Options Consultation
The Issues and Options document was published for public comment between February and April 2019. Over 34,000 people were reached on social media and 532 people were engaged at face-to-face events. In response 1,210 comments were received on the web site, by post or email by 92 individuals or organisations. Of these 630 representations were in support of the vision or question set out in the Issues and Options document; 79 objected to content of the document and 501 made specific comments.
The details of this consultation feedback were published in August 2019 in a Consultation Report7, available at localplan.southend.gov.uk
This consultation feedback has been instrumental in helping to shape this next stage of the New Local Plan preparation.