Local Plan 2015-2030 Preferred Options for Consultation

Ended on the 3 October 2013
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Chapter 1: Introduction and Context

1.1 Welcome to Brentwood Borough Local Plan. This plan sets out a long term vision for how the Borough should develop by 2030 and the Council's strategy and policies for achieving that vision.The plan proposes land allocations for development and planning policies to guide decisions on the location, scale and type of development and changes in the way land and buildings are used.

1.2 The Council would like your views on our preferred approach and alternatives. Following consultation we will consider all comments received and, depending on issues raised, may amend the plan in light of these. There will then be a further opportunity to comment prior to the Council submitting the plan to the Secretary of State for examination by an independent inspector.

1.3 Once adopted, the plan will be a statutory document and a material consideration in determining planning applications. Some background to the document preparation is given in the paragraphs that follow.

Legislation and national policy

1.4 This plan covers the whole of the Borough of Brentwood and has been prepared in light of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, the Localism Act 2011 and the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) Regulations 2012. It takes account of the National Planning Policy Framework (March 2012), Planning Policy for Traveller Sites and National Policy Statements.

The Localism Act 2011

1.5 This Act introduces some major changes to the planning system, abolishing regional plans and introducing a new tier of neighbourhood planning. The East of England Plan was revoked in January 2012. The system remains 'Plan led', which means the Local Plan provides the starting point for taking decisions on new development.

(2) 1.6 In future the development plan will comprise the Local Plan together with any neighbourhood plans that are produced.

National Planning Policy Framework

(1) 1.7 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (2012) states that each local authority should produce a Local Plan for its area which can be reviewed in whole or in part. Additional planning documents should only be used where justified. This differs from the previous Local Development Framework system with its suite of documents with an overarching Core Strategy.

Developing the local plan

1.8 The plan has been drawn up following extensive consultation and is supported by evidence from a variety of sources.

(29) Consultation

1.9 During November and December 2009, Brentwood Borough Council and Local Strategic Partnership consulted on issues and options facing the Borough up to 2031.Copies of the Pathway to a Sustainable Brentwood consultation leaflet were sent to all Borough residents and other stakeholders.Views were sought on a vision, objectives, spatial options to guide future development in the Borough and broad themes, such as sustainable use of resources, environmental protection, and meeting people’s needs. Focus groups reflecting on key issues raised by the consultation were held in January 2010.

1.10 Between 2007 and 2010 there were separate consultations on a Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan Document. However, the document did not proceed to adoption.

1.11 Following the 2009 Consultation, for pragmatic reasons and in light of changing national policy and legislation the Council decided to bring the Core Strategy together with site allocations and development management policies and produce a Local Plan rather than a suite of separate documents as part of a Local Development Framework. This approach seemed consistent with the new approach to planning that was emerging and is reflected in subsequent legislation and national policy guidance.

1.12 Reflecting a new emphasis on localism and to give local people an opportunity to participate in planning, in May and June 2011 the Council undertook a comprehensive neighbourhood consultation. The consultation sought views on priorities for the Local Plan, neighbourhoods, housing numbers and potential sites and took the form of a questionnaire delivered to every household, 16 street consultation events and four stakeholder workshops. Consultation on potential housing sites (SHLAA areas) formed part of the process. More than 3,000 people responded to the consultation with around 1,000 people taking part in the consultation events.

(12) Sustainability Appraisal

1.13 Sustainability Appraisal (SA) is an exercise carried out at key stages in preparing the local plan and a statutory requirement. The SA considers potential impacts of the plan on economic, social and environmental considerations, and incorporates the requirements of the European Directive on Strategic Environmental Assessment.

1.14 An SA has been carried out at Issues and Options stage for the Core Strategy, for development plan work on Gypsy and Traveller sites and at the present preferred options Local Plan stage. SA recommendations at each stage have informed the production of this plan.

Habitats Regulation Assessment

1.15 In accordance with Regulation 61 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 a Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA) screening has been carried out to determine whether this draft Local Plan is likely, either alone or in combination with other plans and projects, to have a significant effect upon the international sites identified. The results of the HRA have yet to be confirmed, however no significant effect is anticipated.

Borough Context

1.16 This plan has been prepared in the context of the Council's Corporate Plan 2013-16. This identifies the following overarching priorities:

Corporate Plan 2013-2016

1 – Street Scene and Environment
2 – Localism
3 – A Prosperous Borough
4 – Housing, Health and Wellbeing
5 – A Safe Borough
6 – A modern council

A new Local Development Plan, to be adopted by 2014, will shape the way our borough will change over the next fifteen years. We will work hard to get the best outcome and achieve a good balance for residents, business and the economy in a way that celebrates Brentwood’s unique history and quality of life; both within the borough and influencing the outcome of regional developments that will affect Brentwood residents

Priority 3 – A Prosperous Borough

Brentwood is a clean, green and pleasant borough. Maintaining and improving this involves not just the council but also our communities and many partners. We will find new ways of working with our partners and communities, and improve the way we play our part, to enhance the environment and attractiveness of the borough

Priority 1 – Street Scene and Environment

1.17 Corporate Priorities most relevant to the Local Plan are as follows:

  • Set planning policy that supports discerning economic growth and sustainable development
  • Implement a planning framework to guide and enable infrastructure delivery
  • Promote a mixed economic base across the Borough, maximising opportunities in the town centres for retail and a balanced night time economy
  • Broaden the range of housing in the Borough to meet the needs of our population now and in the future, with new planning policies that help to ensure we will have the right mix of homes in our towns and villages

Brentwood – Key Characteristics

1.18 The Borough of Brentwood is in the south-west of the county of Essex to the east of the Greater London Metropolitan area. All of the Borough’s countryside lies within Metropolitan Green Belt and the Borough has a total area of approximately 15,300 hectares. The population in 2011 was 73,601 (Census) of which approximately 70% live in Brentwood town. The Borough contains attractive countryside with a variety of landscapes and settlements ranging from the town of Brentwood, the historic village of Ingatestone, to small villages and hamlets.

Economy and Employment

1.19 Brentwood Borough has a successful and buoyant local economy, providing for over 30,000 jobs.

1.20 Banking and finance is the main business sector followed by distribution/hotels/restaurants and public services. The local business structure is dominated by micro (1-10 employees) and small businesses (11-49 employees), while entrepreneurial activity is high. Office employment areas are mainly in Brentwood town centre, Brentwood station area and Warley Business Park. Major employers include BT, BNY Mellon, Countryside Properties Ford, and Océ. Despite the Borough’s rural character employment in agriculture is below the national average, as is manufacturing.

1.21 Three quarters of the Borough population is of working age. This proportion has fallen over time as the population ages. There continues to be a rise in the number of people of working age in the Borough, but a disproportionate rise in the number of older people. Average weekly wages for those who live here but work elsewhere are higher than for those who work in the Borough. A high proportion of people are employed as managers, senior officials, and in associated professional and technical occupations, reflecting the number of people commuting to places like Central London.

1.22 New employment land in the Borough is constrained by its Green Belt location. The current availability of undeveloped allocated employment land is limited.

Shopping, Leisure, Arts and Community

1.23 Brentwood Borough offers a wide range of retail, leisure and community facilities. The main shopping area, Brentwood Town Centre, is centred on the High Street. District centres at Shenfield Hutton Road, Ingatestone High Street, and many smaller local parades and individual shops serve residential areas and villages. Each centre plays an important role providing a range of essential local services.

1.24 The Borough benefits from extensive open areas for informal recreation. South Weald and Thorndon Country Parks, provide 324 hectares of open space along with numerous publicly accessible playing fields, parks, woodlands and amenity greens. Brentwood Leisure Centre and Shenfield Sports Centre, along with privately run sports and leisure facilities, are the focus for indoor sport and recreation.

1.25 Local facilities, such as parish, village and neighbourhood halls provide for a range of community and cultural activities, such as play groups, clubs, social activities and public meeting space. The Borough has a thriving community arts sector, including over 70 organisations and societies who deliver high quality events throughout the year.

Transport and Travel

1.26 Brentwood is well connected to road and rail networks. Major roads such as the M25, A12 and A127 run through the Borough and the M11 and Stansted Airport are within easy reach. Despite good accessibility and location, traffic congestion is one of the main issues affecting quality of life and local economic performance. Brentwood has a very high level of car ownership compared to the national average. Without alternative means of transport the use of cars will continue to be an essential factor in access to services, employment and leisure. Therefore the delivery and encouragement of sustainable transport alternatives is essential.

1.27 There are four rail stations in the Borough: Ingatestone, Shenfield and Brentwood stations on the Great Eastern Main Line and West Horndon station on the Fenchurch Street to Southend line. Fast train services stop at Shenfield and Ingatestone; metro services stop at Brentwood and Shenfield. In future Crossrail will replace the existing metro service, stopping at Brentwood and terminating at Shenfield. Crossrail will provide the Borough with an improved train service, increased capacity, station improvements and a direct link to London Heathrow airport.

1.28 Bus services are centred on Brentwood town with links to other parts of the Borough and centres outside. Bus services in more rural areas are limited, particularly at off-peak times.

1.29 The percentage of those who cycle to work is below the national average, but more people walk to work than average. Encouraging sustainable travel patterns is of key importance.

Environment and Resources

(3) 1.30 The Borough has significant built and natural heritage: 500+ Listed Buildings, 13 Conservation Areas, 12 Scheduled Ancient Monuments, 100s of sites of archaeological interest, accessible countryside and parks, varied landscapes and numerous Local Wildlife Sites. Together, these features provide an attractive, sought after environment for residents, visitors and business.

1.31 Development, whether existing or new, invariably places demands on the environment. Among these are unsustainable use of resources (materials, water, energy), waste disposal issues, pollution (of air, water or soil) and loss of or harm to wildlife habitats, historic buildings and landscapes.

1.32 The Borough, in common with other places, depends on fossil fuel energy for homes, business and transport, and other finite resources, such as water and land. Fossil fuel energy gives rise to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change and in future may not be readily available in the way it has been in the past. We therefore need alternatives, including renewable energy and local supplies. Agricultural land grades 1, 2 and 3a is the best and most versatile land, a national resource that needs protecting. Brentwood contains grades 2 and 3a land.

1.33 This plan places a high priority on the prudent use and good management of resources and effective protection for the environment. Both the form and location of future development and how buildings and land are used are fundamental to safeguarding those qualities which make Brentwood special and ensure these continue to be available for future generations to enjoy.

(7) Vision

1.34 The Borough Council has the following vision to describe the type of place we want the Borough to be in the period up to 2030 and beyond:

The Borough of Brentwood will continue to be a thriving, attractive and unique destination for people to live, work and visit by protecting and nurturing its existing high quality environment, growing its prosperous local economy and fostering development which is responsive to local community needs.

Outstanding leisure opportunities and high quality greenspaces such as Thorndon and Weald Country Parks will continue to be a significant attraction. Brentwood Town Centre will expand its focus for niche shopping, quality employment, exciting cultural opportunities and super connectivity into London via Crossrail. This combined with surrounding attractive countryside and villages will continue to make the Borough of Brentwood a destination of choice.

Brentwood will grow sustainably with new development directed to locations well served by local services and facilities to help further improve existing and new residents’ quality of life. This will be achieved by realising opportunities to enhance the quality and character of places and provision of facilities, and minimising the negative impacts of development on people, the environment and resources.

(16) Strategic Objectives

1.35 The following strategic objectives set out how the Borough Council intends to achieve the vision described above:

SO1 Direct development growth to the existing urban areas of Brentwood, Shenfield and West Horndon in locations well served by existing and proposed local services and facilities.

SO2 Manage development growth to that capable of being accommodated by existing or proposed infrastructure, services and facilities.

SO3 Foster a prosperous, vibrant and diverse local economy by attracting new commercial investment in order to maintain high and stable levels of economic and employment growth.

SO4 Expand and enhance Brentwood Town Centre’s retail offer in particular opportunities for high quality niche shopping.

SO5 Promote and encourage the continued regeneration of Brentwood Town and Local Centres to provide high quality public realm and mixed use developments.

SO6 Optimise the social and economic benefits that arise from Crossrail for the benefit of residents and visitors to the Borough.

SO7 Safeguard the Green Belt and protect and enhance valuable landscapes and the natural and historic environment.

SO8 Plan for housing that meets the needs of the Borough’s population and contributes to creating inclusive, balanced, sustainable communities.

SO9 Protect and nurture existing leisure, cultural and recreational assets such as the Borough’s Country Parks for residents and visitors to the Borough and promote and enhance social inclusion, health and well being.

SO10 Improve public transport, cycling and walking facilities and encourage sustainable transport choices.

SO11 Secure the delivery of essential infrastructure, including transportation schemes and community facilities in order to support new development growth throughout its delivery.

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