Draft Local Plan
6. Managing Growth
Strategic and general development principles
SO1 Direct development growth to the Borough's transport corridors and urban areas 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
6.1 Development of all kinds needs to be managed and directed to the most sustainable locations in the Borough in line with the Spatial Strategy. This chapter sets out broad policies related to managing growth, such as achieving sustainable development, strategic allocations, site specific core policies and general development criteria.
6.2 The Council's approach to managing growth aims to keep and enhance Brentwood's distinctive qualities. This is built around a growth concept that reinforces the Borough's distinct physical and spatial characteristics.
6.3 The Council's development management approach has been led by embarking on a long term sustainable development which will help provide a strong sense of place for people to live, work, and visit within a healthy and well served community and a beautiful environment to enjoy for present and future generations.
6.4 The growth strategy directs new housing and employment development to larger settlements and sustainable transport corridors, well served by public transport with rail stations at Brentwood and Shenfield. Managing growth in this way will help make the Borough safer and more liveable, more sustainable, better connected, more prosperous and very distinctive.
6.5 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) describes the presumption in favour of sustainable development as "the golden thread" which runs throughout plan-making and decision taking. It is about positive growth, and making economic, environmental and social progress for this and future generations. This implies that local authorities should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits or where specific policies in the NPPF indicate development should be restricted. The NPPF recognises that sustainable development is about change for the better. To achieve sustainable development, economic, social and environmental gains should be sought jointly.
POLICY 6.1: Sustainable Development
When considering development proposals the Council will take a positive approach that reflects the presumption in favour of sustainable development contained in the National Planning Policy Framework. It will always work proactively with applicants jointly to find solutions which mean that proposals can be approved wherever possible, and to secure development that improves the economic, social and environmental conditions in the area.
Planning applications that accord with policies in this Local Plan (and, where relevant, with polices in neighbourhood plans) will be approved without delay, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
Where there are no policies relevant to the application or relevant policies are out of date at the time of making the decision then the Council will grant permission unless material considerations indicate otherwise - taking into account whether:
- Any adverse impacts of granting permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the National Planning Policy Framework taken as a whole; or
- Specific policies in that Framework indicate that development should be restricted.
6.6 This Plan includes the Planning Inspectorate's 'Model' policy highlighting the Council's commitment to taking take a positive, proactive approach to achieve sustainable development in the Borough. It should not be necessary to duplicate national policy as a matter of best practice, but in this case Policy 6.1 ensures that development proposals are assessed according to the presumption in favour of sustainable development where there is no relevant local policy for various reasons. This helps future-proof the Plan and ensure sustainability is at the heart of development in the Borough.
Managing Development Growth
6.7 Policy 5.2 sets out the amount and distribution of new housing development within the Borough. The housing supply that is needed to ensure that the Council meets its objectively assessed housing need over the plan period 2013 - 2033 amounts to 7,240 dwellings. This equates to an average delivery rate of 362 dwellings per annum.
6.8 Policy 5.3 and 5.4 set out the amount of jobs, employment land, retail and commercial leisure floorspace needed during the Plan period.
6.9 In order to ensure sustainable development, safeguard the Green Belt and other greenfield land, development shall first be directed to suitable and accessible locations within existing settlements, conversion and reuse of previously developed (brownfield) land and buildings. Some of these locations will be previously allocated sites. However, due to the limited availability of these types of sites in the Borough, and to help maintain a five year supply of housing, some Green Belt land is proposed to be allocated for development during the Plan period (See Figure 5.4 Sequential Selection of Sites).
POLICY 6.2: Managing Growth
Within the Borough, best use of land within existing settlements will be made to meet local needs through the development, conversion and/or re-use of previously developed land and buildings. New development allocations will make best use of land to meet loal needs in line with the Spatial Strategy. In allocating sites and granting planning permission the Council will have regard to:
- The settlement hierarchy and role of key settlements;
- The need to phase development to ensure employment, infrastructure and services are delivered prior to, or in conjunction with, new housing development;
- The need to achieve a better balance of jobs, services, facilities and homes;
- Essential infrastructure requirements (whether existing or new requirements);
- The importance of creating well designed places which are socially inclusive and respect local character;
- The need to ensure a flexible, responsive supply of land and to prioritise the re-use of previously developed land and buildings in order to support regeneration; and
- Other policies in this Plan.
This Policy contributes towards objectives SO1, SO2 and SO7
6.10 The emphasis on recycling and reusing previously developed land and buildings reflects national policy and guidance. The Council is committed to making the best use of scarce land resources within the Borough.
6.11 NPPF core principles state that plans should take account of the role and character of different areas, promote the vitality of the main urban areas, achieve high quality, inclusive design, protect Green Belt and the intrinsic value of the countryside and support thriving rural communities. The Council's preferred approach to managing housing development in the Borough reflects these principles and the overriding presumption in favour of sustainable development.
6.12 The level of development planned for the Borough aims to strike a balance between responding to the need for development and acknowledging constraints which determine how much development the Borough can sustainably accommodate. There are areas such as the Green Belt, land valuable for food production, land at risk to flooding, land of high landscape value, and nature conservation areas which are to be protected from development.
6.13 Phasing refers to the timing of delivery of development in relation to other activity, such as, land assembly or provision of infrastructure. Development may require phasing, both to ensure that new occupants have access to services they need and to minimise disruption caused by development to existing communities or the services they depend on. Phasing helps ensure the timely delivery of development over the plan period to ensure that there is adequate supply of housing to meet a five year supply. Therefore in this regard, an important role of this Plan is to indicate where and when sites are expected to come forward.
General Development Planning
6.14 The Council seeks to promote and secure sustainable development. This means directing development to locations which are supported, or capable of being supported, by effective transport provision, leisure, community and other essential services, while minimising harm to the environment and protecting the Green Belt.
POLICY 6.3: General Development Criteria
Proposals for development will be expected to meet all of the following criteria:
- have no unacceptable effect on visual amenity, the character appearance of the surrounding area;
- provide satisfactory means of access to the site for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians and parking and servicing arrangements;
- ensure the transport network can satisfactorily accommodate the travel demand generated and traffic generation would not give rise to adverse highway conditions or highway safety concerns or unacceptable loss of amenity by reason of number or size of vehicles;
- have no unacceptable effect on health, the environment or amenity due to the release of pollutants to land, water or air (light, noise pollution, vibration, odour, smoke, ash, dust and grit);
- cause no unacceptable effects on adjoining sites, property or their occupiers through excessive noise, activity or vehicle movements; overlooking or visual intrusion; harm to or loss of outlook, privacy or daylight/sunlight enjoyed by occupiers of nearby properties;
- take full account of opportunities to incorporate biodiversity in developments;
- when considering the impact of development on the significance of a designated heritage asset, greater weight should be given to the assets conservation and enhancement;
- result in no net loss of residential units; and
- new development would be required to mitigate its impact on local services and community infrastructure.
Proposals for uses within or near residential areas which may give rise to unacceptable levels of pollutants will need to be addressed through sensitive siting or pollution abatement technology for planning permission to be granted.
6.15 New development should make a positive contribution to the quality of the environment and Borough. This policy is intended to help achieve this.
6.16 Development should not harm the amenities of occupiers in nearby properties. Therefore, protecting the privacy and amenity space of nearby properties by avoiding excessive overlooking or loss of light resulting from new development are key considerations. New development should be sympathetic to the character and form of neighbouring properties and surroundings ensuring they are not overbearing and do not look out of place. New development is likely to result in some impact or change, but this should be limited wherever possible and not be unacceptable.
6.17 In light of the imperative to deliver sustainable development, the Council expects development to adopt environmental best practice and pollution prevention measures in relation to groundwater, drainage, lighting, noise, impacts on health, the environment and amenity to avoid, address or mitigate adverse impacts that might otherwise arise. It will be important that all development proposals take into account the environmental impact of proposed activities at an early stage in the planning process and incorporate measures needed to address this.
6.18 In order for a scheme to be acceptable, development will be required to make satisfactory arrangements for vehicular, cycle and pedestrian access into the site and for parking and servicing within the site. Any traffic generated by the development should be capable of being satisfactorily accommodated by the transport network and not give rise to unacceptable highway conditions, safety and amenity concerns as a result of the number or size of vehicles.
6.19 Changes of use from residential, especially within or adjoining commercial centres, can involve the loss of smaller accommodation, for example flats above shops and small terraced units, which make a valuable contribution to the housing stock offering housing choice and affordability and responding to demographic change, notably a fall in the average household size. Such locations are sustainable being near services, facilities within walking distance and public transport. A residential presence in commercial areas maintains activity after shops and offices close, enhances community safety and retains the mixed-use feel of shopping areas. Making the best use of existing housing helps resist pressure to release additional land from the Green Belt. The Council therefore aims to retain existing dwellings and resist their loss. Similarly, the Council will seek to retain community facilities and services where needed, or secure their replacement, to at least an equivalent standard and convenience.
POLICY 6.4: Effective Site Planning
Development proposals will be favourably considered where the planning and design of buildings and spaces:
- arrange access points, routes within the site, public and private spaces, building forms and ancillary functions in an efficient, safe, workable, spatially coherent and attractive manner;
- incorporate existing site features of value;
- design-out opportunities for crime and anti-social behaviour; and
- safeguard the amenities of occupiers or any nearby properties by ensuring that their character and appearance is sensitive to the context and surroundings.
6.20 Site planning is at the heart of good design and making successful places. A primary consideration when site planning is the nature and function of the spaces between buildings. However small, sites should be well connected, safe and properly landscaped. Public and private spaces should be clearly differentiated.
6.21 Site planning should incorporate existing site features such as trees and ponds and built-forms of value. Spaces that are safe and welcoming in the long-term depend on eliminating the opportunity for anti-social activity through the placing of building fronts and treatment of spaces. Site planning should ensure that buildings relate successfully to one another and have no adverse impact on the amenity of occupiers.
Gateways Into Brentwood
6.22 Whether travelling home, to work, or visiting, people will enter Brentwood Borough from different places. Most will enter from the strategic highway network and railway stations. Some will also arrive via bus stops, with many bus services accessing Brentwood High Street. Development proposals near to key gateways will need to enhance the positive impression of the Borough.
POLICY 6.5: Key Gateways
Development proposals in the vicinity of key gateways into Brentwood Borough, as displayed on the Proposals Map, will contribute to enhancing a positive impression of the Borough. Proposals will reflect an understanding of the Borough's character in line with the Spatial Strategy and enhance the local area. Development should help to create a distinctive and clear entry into Brentwood.
Locations around highway junctions should contribute to these aims by considering local surroundings. Development should recognise the importance of creating a positive impression for those passing by the site as well as those entering it. Depending on the character of the local area landscaping should be prioritised.
Locations around rail stations should contribute to these aims through the delivery of higher density development to meet local needs in central sustainable locations. Development should also consider its contribution towards the public realm.
6.23 Key gateways are set out in Figure 6.1, although it should be noted these are not exclusive as there will always be other entrances to the Borough and its towns and villages that will need to consider this policy. It is important that our gateways provide an impression consistent with the Borough's qualities.
6.24 Development proposals in the Town Centre should be mindful of how the location provides a gateway to the Borough in line with Policy 8.6 Brentwood Town Centre.
6.25 Gateways are also highly sought after business locations. For the types of employment uses we need to find some of these locations offer excellent opportunities for development. However, the standard of new buildings and sensitivity to surrounding environment will need to be high given these areas provide an impression of Brentwood.
6.26 Development can help create a distinctive entry into the Borough through a variety of means, such as innovative architecture, high quality design and materials, public art, sensitive landscaping and planting, enhancing the public realm, and clear signposting (See Design Policies 10.4, 10.5, and 10.6).
6.27 Strategic sites have been identified separately to other development allocations in order to deliver a significant amount of growth to meet local needs, specifically new homes, new jobs, and new retail. These are displayed on the Key Diagram.
6.28 In line with the strategic objectives and other policies in this Plan, strategic sites also provide a level of development that achieves the necessary critical mass to bring along supporting services, facilities and infrastructure. Much of the Borough's infrastructure and services are at capacity, and so in order to deliver growth and not over-burden already stretched services, strategic development sites allow us to deliver new communities with supporting facilities in line with the spatial strategy.
POLICY 6.6: Strategic Sites
In order to meet identified local development needs for a mix of uses and in accordance with the spatial strategy, the following strategic sites are allocated:
Dunton Hills Garden Village (Policy 7.1)
Brentwood Enterprise Park (Policy 8.2)
William Hunter Way Car Park
The Baytree Centre
6.29 Sites set out in Policy 6.6 are deemed strategic because they are critical to delivering the Plan's key development objectives, i.e. meeting needs for new homes and new jobs (including new employment land, enhanced retail, and other job creating industries).
6.30 All strategic sites have their own individual policy within the Plan (as referenced in Policy 6.6) to set out clearly what type of development is expected from each. These policies are set out within the relevant chapter (i.e. Sustainable Communities for housing-led development and Economic Prosperity for employment and retail-led development).
6.31 Other sites will be needed to deliver development needs although these are not considered strategic. All other site specific allocations are set out in Policies 7.4, 7.10, 8.4, and 8.8.
Changes since Preferred Options
6.32 West Horndon village has been removed as a strategic area for growth in order to protect its village character. Instead, redevelopment of the existing industrial estate (brownfield) alone will bring forward sustainable development near to the rail station with new homes and supporting facilities, creating a new village centre at the heart of the community while maintaining the village boundary. Redevelopment of the industrial estate sites is now covered in Policy 7.4, and is consistent with the spatial strategy.
6.33 The addition of a strategic site allocation at Dunton Hills Garden Village will bring forward a new self-sustaining village community. A high quality sustainable development, this will be housing-led but also deliver significant new jobs, community facilities, open space and green links to the rest of Brentwood Borough. This is covered in Policy 7.1 and is consistent with the spatial strategy.
6.34 Instead of individual Core Policies for William Hunter Way Car Park and the Baytree Centre these sites are now included within Policy 8.6 Brentwood Town Centre. This merge is driven by the Council's work to produce a design-led Town Centre Masterplan with these two sites at the heart of opportunities to deliver mixed-use growth and enhance the Town Centre for future generations. While the sites remain as two separate strategic allocations, they are linked through the Town Centre Masterplan and so a combined policy seems more appropriate.
6.35 Land at Mountnessing Roundabout has been removed as a strategic employment allocation because since 2013 planning permission has been granted for esidential development on the site.