What the Local Plan is proposing?
The Revised Publication Local Plan plans for at least 17,791 new homes, consisting of 9,179 new homes within the existing urban areas in Basildon (including Laindon and Pitsea), Billericay and Wickford and around 8,612 new homes on new land allocations taken from the Green Belt. In addition, it plans for a minimum of 47 pitches/plots for Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople.
The Revised Publication Local Plan sets an ambitious growth agenda to further boost the Borough’s economic position in South Essex. It plans to deliver around 20,000 new jobs and up to 92,000sqm of additional employment land; equivalent to about 11 premiership football pitches.
It seeks to maximise the use of previously developed land in the urban areas for housing and employment, also known as brownfield sites, to minimise how much Green Belt land must be lost. At the end of 2034, 59% of the Borough will still be protected as Green Belt, compared to 63% in 2018.
Basildon, including Laindon and Pitsea, is the largest town within the Borough. As a result, Basildon can deliver the greatest number of new homes and employment land within its existing urban boundaries compared to the other main settlements. In addition to development in the existing urban area, the plan proposes six main sites to the town, which will provide further homes and employment land, as well as a new school, expansions to healthcare facilities, a local centre, public open spaces, enhanced leisure facilities and significant improvements to the road network.
Billericay has a vibrant town centre within a historic core with good transport links. By 2034, it will deliver 300sqm of new employment space, town centre enhancements and 3,034 new homes, a small proportion of which will be from within the existing urban area. However, the town will need to expand and this will be in the form of 5 main sites. Alongside new homes, these extensions will deliver a new primary school, improvements to healthcare services, a large extension to Mill Meadows Nature Reserve, other public open spaces, a new relief road between the A176 and A129 and improvements to the existing road network.
Wickford is the third main settlement within the Borough. It has good transport links and has received recent investment in its town centre to be able to offer a better range of services that meets the needs of its communities. Within the existing urban area, there will be around 1,280 new homes, 700sqm of additional employment land and new retail floorspace. There will also be 4 new housing sites to the town that will deliver new homes, a primary school, public open space, expanded healthcare facilities and improvements to the road network.
The plan also sets housing targets for two of the Borough’s specially designated “Neighbourhood Areas” which will be delivered through their own Neighbourhood Plans.
- Bowers Gifford and North Benfleet Neighbourhood Area has been given a minimum target of 1,350 homes
- Ramsden Bellhouse Neighbourhood Area has been given a minimum target of 39 homes
Other Rural Areas
The plan will make some minor amendments to the settlement boundary of Crays Hill as well to allow for around 65 new homes. These additional homes will support existing services and promote a greater choice in housing provision.
The Borough also has a number of established plotland settlements within the Green Belt. Whilst they do not all provide services in situ, many are near to villages or the edges of towns, which do offer some access to shops, schools and other local amenities. The plan has identified that these plotland areas along with other suitable small plots around the Borough could deliver 135 new homes.
Three sites around Billericay will give individuals or families the opportunity to build their own homes on specific sites through self-build. These will deliver a total of 32 new homes.
The Council has also identified two broad locations, one to the south of Crays Hill and another to the south of Wickford, which may have potential for future housing growthif existing constraints including sustainable access to local services, highways access and the deliverability of proposals to improve the A127, can be addressed and overcome. This plan does not change their Green Belt designation, but instead identifies them as broad locations, committing the Council to consider these locations for future housing growth in the first Local Plan review within 5 years, once further evidence gathering and testing has been undertaken.
Why is the Local Plan important?
The Local Plan sets out the vision and framework for guiding the future development of all parts of the Borough up to 2034. It affects Billericay, Wickford, Basildon, Laindon and Pitsea, as well as the villages, settlements and Plotlands of Bowers Gifford and North Benfleet, Great Burstead and South Green, Little Burstead, Ramsden Bellhouse, Crays Hill, Shotgate and Dunton.
It identifies how many new homes, jobs and businesses are being planned for, where they should be located and what infrastructure is needed to support them. This includes new and improved roads, schools, healthcare facilities, open spaces and leisure facilities.
It also includes special planning policies that cover various topics such as design, landscaping, housing types, flooding and historic buildings which will also be used to determine all future planning applications.
Where are we now?
In 2014, the Council began preparing a new Local Plan. This built on the previous work it had done on how the Borough should develop in the future in a different document called the Core Strategy.
Consultation took place at the beginning of 2016 on the Draft Local Plan where more than 21,500 comments were received. The Council listened and in response, agreed 52 key actions to address the concerns raised, and to inform its next version of the Local Plan. The key actions included a further consultation on new and alternative site options, which was held at the end of 2016. In addition, the Council agreed to review some of its existing evidence base, carry out further work to assess sites and the infrastructure requirements needed to support new housing and employment.
As a result of this additional work and the comments received, changes were made to the Draft Local Plan and the Council produced a Publication Local Plan in March 2018. However, in June 2018 the Council withdrew that version and approved a focused review on a number of aspects of the Local Plan. During the summer of 2018 it completed this review and further changes were made. The latest version contains all these updates and is called the Revised Publication Local Plan and has been approved for public consultation.
Why should you comment?
The Local Plan is an important document which will help shape development within the Borough up to 2034. Everyone living, working or visiting the Borough will be affected by it in some way.
The consultation is open to all and it will be final consultation before the Revised Publication Local Plan is reviewed by the Planning Inspectorate.
You can view the Revised Publication Local Plan and provide your comments online at www.basildon.gov.uk/localplan.
How is this consultation different?
This final stage of consultation is more technical than previous Local Plan consultations, but we encourage you to take part and have your say. After the consultation has finished on 17 December, your comments, along with the Revised Publication Local Plan and all supporting documents, will be submitted to the Government and sent to the Planning Inspector for consideration as part of the Examination in Public.
This consultation is all about whether you think the Revised Publication Local Plan is legally compliant and consistent with national policy, which is known as the test of ‘Soundness’. To help you relate your comments to legal compliance and the test of ‘Soundness’, and to ensure that comments are submitted in a format required by the Planning Inspector, please refer to our guidance note on making representations.
What are the supporting documents?
To ensure that the Local Plan delivers the right type of development in the right places, whilst also protecting the environment, it has been tested against a range of economic, social and environmental information in the form of a Sustainability Appraisal. It has also been subject to a Habitat Regulations Assessment which assesses whether the Local Plan may have any impact on international and European designated sites that are important to nature conservation such as Ramsar Sites, Special Protection Areas and Special Areas of Conservation. You can comment on these two documents as well, if you wish.
What else are we consulting on?
To help bring forward the roads, schools, healthcare facilities, green spaces etc. needed to support the new homes and businesses, the Council intends to introduce a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). The first stage is to produce a Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule, which the Council is consulting on alongside the Revised Publication Local Plan. To find out more information on the CIL and to provide comments on this consultation please visit: www.basildon.gov.uk/CIL.