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A new joint growth area for Tendring and Colchester

Foreword

Britain is facing key economic, housing and environmental challenges; the planning system is under pressure to play its part by ensuring that we are best placed to meet them. Since the banking crisis and the consequent programme of necessary austerity measures our economy has continued to flat line amid threats of a third recessionary dip. At the same time the rapidly emerging global economy is challenging the ability of our traditional business sectors to remain competitive. There appears to be no quick fix or a return to boom time economics to lead us out of the economic doldrums. Improvement in our economic fortunes will increasingly only come from new business sectors which can successfully compete in world markets playing on our national strengths of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial skills. Recent figures show for every three new households being formed in the UK we are only building one new house. Despite the best efforts of successive governments our house building rate continues to lag behind demand causing mounting social pressure and hardship.This situation is exacerbated by our poor economic performance which is limiting our ability to deliver physical and social infrastructure. Colchester andTendring Councils each face different plan making challenges. Colchester will need to plan for its role as an area of strong growth by delivering the best outcomes for prosperity; however, growth should not be at the cost of reducing the quality of life.Tendring will need to address the challenges of an increasingly aging population, the regeneration of its coastal towns and the creation of a strong economy. Both Councils must ensure their rich and varied natural resources are supported by responsible growth. Proposals for a new Joint Growth Area address these issues by offering a broad location for growth shared between the two districts and based around Essex University but with improved links to the International Port at Harwich, the A120 corridor and Colchester as a centre for growth.The proposal is led by the establishment of new business sectors strengthened by university links. Essex University is already a major economic force in the area with an annual £200 million turnover.This economic driver is set to expand with more innovative and entrepreneurial focussed activity to create an economic ripple effect encompassing the wider area.

Foreword

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Contents

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The Vision

3

A way forward

5

Our economic challenges

9

Building new homes

11

Looking after the environment

13

A delivery strategy

15

Project history timeline

16

Conclusions

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Contents

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The Vision

iii Development of a new

The vision is the creation of a cross-boundary special policy area for Colchester andTendring taking advantage of Essex University’s role as an engine for economic growth, Tendring’s International Port at Harwich and Colchester’s role as a sub-regional centre for growth.The combined growth area will target three crucial outcomes: neighbourhoods to deliver both a University based Research Park (in addition to the existing Knowledge Gateway) and an A120 based Business Park as part of a strategy to develop an A120 economic corridor across the County linking the Haven GatewayTowns of Clacton and Harwich with theWest of Essex Sub-Region. ii Building a strategic link road between the A120 and the A133 opening up the University and i Developing new commercial

supporting neighbourhood containing social infrastructure such as schools, homes, shops,

communal facilities and community open space.

The commercial districts will support knowledge based creative industries capable of generating a wide range of job opportunities in new business sectors both on and off site.This will help north east Essex by attracting investment and creating local prosperity which, in turn, will fund key infrastructure and community benefits. A community supported by a vibrant business sector will be able to achieve much needed housing to meet increasing demand. It will enable more people to both afford the house that they need and also to realise their own life style and personal ambitions. The vision is to ensure nobody has to suffer from the trap of dependency and hand-outs by offering the prospect to each individual of earning their way to an independent future.

linking both the existing Knowledge Gateway and

proposed Research Park to the UK’s strategic highway network and International air & sea ports.

The Vision

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The Vision

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Location The Joint Growth Area falls within a policy led and well charted approach to plan making. Universities worldwide are becoming embedded within regional business and commercial research establishments. The Eastern Region already contains world class research parks in Cambridge and Norwich which have generated impressive numbers of very successful spin-off new businesses. More are needed which raises two common sense matters for local plan making. Firstly, the best location for a new growth area which seeks to promote new successful, innovative and environmentally friendly employment is self-evidently next to a major research university. To plan otherwise would be to start with a significant disadvantage. Secondly, as Essex University is located on the border between Tendring District and Colchester Borough, joint cross-boundary collaboration between the two authorities is a natural and essential step.The economic influence area of Essex University already goes far beyond its campus and will require this strategic level of planning. AWay forward

COLCHESTER

KNOWLEDGE GATEWAY

UNIVERSITY

WIVE

Way forward

5

KEY

Proposed Broad LocaƟon

Colchester / Tendring boundary

ELMSTEAD MARKET

A133

Proposed A133 / A120 link road (2.8km)

HOE

Way forward

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AWay forward

Government strategy

We now realise the recession will not be followed automatically by a redeeming boom.The serious Pan-European economic situation is set to continue and we can expect financial austerity as the ‘new normal’. A way forward is proclaimed in Mr Heseltine’s recent report entitled ‘No Stone Unturned’, which is now almost entirely endorsed by government and will inform future national policy. The thrust of the report is we should earn our way out of economic decline by decentralising economic power and depending on strong local leadership to transform our competitiveness. Economic growth focussed documents featuring the National Planning Policy Framework, Essex County Council’s Economic Growth Strategy and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s strategic visions all support the establishment of new creative and innovative business hubs. The welcome news is the government are determined to bring about the changes necessary to stimulate growth through local initiatives.The less welcome consequence is there will be no government bailouts for failing businesses as seen in the past. In future limited funding will only be directed towards high performing local initiatives that will bring the greatest economic benefit to the widest areas.

Way forward

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Mutual Benefit between Councils

Local consensus

The ambition and benefit which can potentially be delivered by the Joint Growth Area has been supported by representatives of the Haven Gateway, Essex County Council the South East Local Enterprise Partnership and Essex University during early rounds of consultation undertaken by Mersea Homes. We were encouraged by the recognition of the project’s potential to secure government and regional investment. However, the project will also require local co-operation to achieve a working consensus the first stage of which would be to establish a close working relationship between the two Councils involved in accordance with national planning policy and the Localism Act. A programme will need to be set out which takes account of preparing a jointly agreed project brief. Both Councils have forthcoming Local Plan reviews which will allow the Joint Growth Area to achieve adopted plan status.The extent of joint working and plan making will inevitably mean delivery will be in the latter part of each Council’s new Local Plan period, probably as a broad location to allow greatest flexibility.This longer term joint planning at a strategic level will stimulate business confidence and promote investment.

A growth location spanning the boundaries of two planning authority areas is, by its very nature, a strategic matter and must be the subject of joint agreement to ensure a mutually acceptable outcome. For practical reasons the growth area could be the subject of a single raft of planning policy devised specifically for the project, but subject to the same review procedures as other Local Plan policy to account for changing circumstances. Community Infrastructure Levies and S 106 Agreements would not only apply to the growth location, but may also address agreed shortfalls in each Council area caused by the development which would ensure fairness. As a failsafe position for each Council the project and its policies would be reviewed by public examination.The Inspector will need to be satisfied that the joint proposals are both workable and viable and therefore capable of implementation.

Way forward

8

Our economic challenges

development ofTendring’s wind farm industry.They enjoy sustained high profits and create a significant ratio of further spin-off jobs for each person employed. Whilst it is difficult for the UK to compete in a global manufacturing market based on cost, turning innovation into profitable business with a competitive edge has been very successful. It is only in recent years that Universities have become increasingly ‘open for business’ within local communities.The pressures to attract research funding to plug the financial gap between diminished revenue and increasing costs have caused the academic world to cast its eyes towards the private sector.Their research has delivered new inventions which in numerous cases are turned into multi million pound companies making and designing products which are in global demand. A good illustration of the possibilities created by research is the Nobel Prize awarded to scientists at Manchester University for ground breaking research into the material known as graphene (an incredibly strong material only one atom thick). In 2013 researchers from Sweden’s Chalmers University secured Increasing innovation

Economic growth is defined in the Essex Growth Strategy as “increasing productivity, innovation and jobs”. Taking these challenges in order we can see how the Joint Growth Area is uniquely able to deliver in each of these categories. Key towns and cities in the East of England have the reputation of being knowledge generating rather than just knowledge consuming locations. New ideas and technology are key drivers in achieving higher productivity within the region, but the problem has often been successfully turning new ideas into products and services. A closer collaboration between the universities and new entrepreneurial companies has provided a solution where in addition to research the university also provides key background resources such as skilled labour and the identification of research funding and grants. Entrepreneurs then translate this resource into successful businesses.The East of England has an established record of developing new business sectors in key areas such as electronics, life sciences, renewable energy and pharmaceuticals.These sectors are based on innovation and are subject to rapid growth such as the Increasing productivity

Our economic challenges

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a 1 billion euro grant from the EU for the development of graphene’s future potential.There are thousands of success stories like these in the knowledge based sector.

Jobs

In the same way as the car industry creates work outside the car plant for a network of companies that supply parts and services the new high technology manufacturing industries have the effect of generating significant off-site employment. Often the supporting industries’ work force is many times greater than the number employed within the research parks themselves. Jobs are created within component suppliers, logistics, services etc. The spin-off jobs need not necessarily be located close to the university therefore many businesses can be located in areas needing regeneration. Indeed a development brief for the Joint Growth Area would be targeted at maximising the ‘economic ripple effect’ across Colchester Borough and Tendring District.

Our economic challenges

10

Building new homes

A ‘housing first’ approach to growth locations has previously tended to place pressure on local facilities and create a large volume of outgoing commuters.The Joint Growth Area is primarily driven by its economic potential it is an ‘economic stimulus and employment first’ approach .The location has been selected because it will foster innovation and entrepreneurial skills to support economic success for the wider area. It is, therefore, uniquely able to generate the financial resources to deliver prosperous communities.

Great Britain is not building enough homes to match the inevitable rising

number of new households. Successive governments have

struggled to overcome the widely held perception that local housing schemes reduce the quality of life for existing residents. Hearts and minds have not

been dissuaded from this view because it is often correct.The

overriding objection to new housing development is the lack of supporting infrastructure and the overriding reason for this has been lack of funding which is now even scarcer. However, the right scale of economically successful development is capable of supporting the delivery of necessary services and infrastructure. In this way new development can be much more acceptable and in so doing break the logjam caused by sustained objections.

Building new homes

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Building new homes

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Our environment is ultimately harmed by the amount we consume whether it be fossil fuels or other non-renewable natural resources. Achieving resource efficiency by getting more for less is an essential step towards achieving both economic growth and higher living standards whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions and harm to the environment. The cost and availability of resources is becoming a key factor in business viability as fuel costs spiral upwards and commodities become expensive due to international demand outstripping supply. By reducing the use of energy and materials business will become more profitable, the economy more sustainable and consumer expectations of high environmental standards will be met. Looking after the environment

In its National Planning Policy Framework the government makes it clear that growth should be based on sustainable development. New knowledge based business sectors are inherently founded on low energy and resource efficiency but also play a key role in the advance of energy efficient technologies themselves. A university based growth area will not only bring resource efficient companies but provide low energy innovations for local business to turn into successful commercial ventures such as supporting the wind farm industry based in Harwich.

Looking after the environment

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Looking after the environment

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A delivery strategy

A strategy for delivery will need to address four key elements:

However, planning work on the project would need to start as soon as possible to give confidence to Local Plan Inspectors that the joint project is sound. In order to deliver the projected growth further work is needed to build on the necessary evidence base and brief writing which has already taken place. A draft bullet point schedule of actions required to achieve delivery is set out below and broken down into the three important stages of work. • Identifying necessary partnerships • Cross boundary co-operation to achieve sub-regional strategies • Consulting key stakeholders • Creation of a joint policy area • Gathering together a partnership team • Evidence gathering and research • Preparing an infrastructure trajectory • Establishing a local plan timetable • Adoption within local plans • Working with partners • Preparing a brief and new site specific policies • Plan for maximisation of ripple effect within surrounding communities • Community impact assessment • Preparing a timetable for delivery • Undertaking environmental impact assessments • Planning application Preparation • Consulting with the public • Evolution of a master plan Plan making

i

The need to establish and develop a broad consensus amongst those involved at all levels to ensure important interests are recognised and potential harm avoided. The proposed Growth Area is not an extra or unnecessary level of development, but the same extent of Greenfield expansion which would have to go elsewhere if not in the Colchester Fringe.Therefore the relevant questions should be; where is the most sustainable and beneficial location which would inflict the least harm?Where else would it be possible to generate well paid jobs and prosperous communities? Where else could entrepreneurial skills be fostered and new innovative business sectors be established for the future? The answers to these questions point overwhelmingly to the Colchester Fringe. Objectives will need to be agreed and briefs set out to enable ideas to be tested and reviewed. Early consensus over intended outcomes will enable investment to come forward secured by the long term plan for success. A programme will need to be agreed enabling progress to be monitored in order to ensure timely delivery. Also proposals will need to be sufficiently robust to meet Local Plan Examinations in front of an independent Inspector to avoid unnecessary delay. considered as a shared broad location within Colchester’s andTendring’s Local Plans then implementation would need to take place in the latter part of the plan periods, although employment related development could be brought forward.

ii

iii

iv If the Joint Growth Area is to be

Delivery

• Working with partners • Implementation of a sustainable transport strategy • Implementation of delivery plan • Start on site.

A delivery strategy

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Project History timetable In 2008 Mersea Homes first saw the enormous potential benefits that a Joint Growth Area could bring to bring to bothTendring and Colchester. A series of studies and preliminary investigations led to the following series of events:

Mersea Homes first identified the Colchester Fringe as a potential sustainable location for an economic growth area based on their experience of successfully promoting other major urban extension schemes in the region.

2008

Submissions on this basis were made to the Regional Assembly who acknowledged the proposal had merit.

2009

The Part 1 Employment Study commissioned byTendring District Council recognised the Colchester Fringe along with the development of the Harwich container port as a ‘Golden Scenario’ for growth.

2009

Mersea Homes secures 325 hectares of land to the East of Colchester spanning both Colchester andTendring to promote a growth area.

2010

2010

Mersea Homes carries out preliminary environmental audits.

ATendring District Council’s Core StrategyTechnical Paper acknowledges the Colchester Fringe as the best option for economic growth, subject to delivery within concurrent core strategies with Colchester.

2010

Mersea Homes undertakes a sustainability appraisal of the location and makes representations to theTendring District Council submission draft Core Strategy in support of this growth area.

2010

Transport consultants are instructed by Mersea Homes to carry out an analysis of the proposed A133 – A120 strategic link road to ensure the proposal is viable.

2010

Mersea Homes initiates a round of informal consultations with representatives from; the Haven Gateway,The South East Local Enterprise Partnership, Essex County Council,Tendring & Colchester Councils and Essex University.

2011

E ssex County Council launches its Integrated County Strategy which supports Colchester based growth .

2012

The National Planning Policy Framework and Localism Act initiate cross boundary ‘duty to co-operate’ to replace Regional Plans as the new level of strategic planning.

2012

Mersea Homes submits objections toTendring District Council’s second submission draft Local Plan on the grounds of its proposed short plan period and the consequential inability to effectively plan for the medium to long term.

2012

Essex County Council launches its Economic Growth Strategy which is strongly supportive economic growth in association with university based knowledge and innovation hubs.

2013

The Office for National Statistics latest household projections predict the annual need for 1000 new homes inTendring and 1200 in Colchester. The series of rapid changes to the structure of Local Planning now means both Colchester and Tendring Councils now have broad alignment in their plan making timetable.

2013

2013

Project History timetable

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Conclusions

Think global, act local: International markets are our greatest opportunity as well as our greatest threat. Our businesses need to be at the cutting edge of technological change with world class skills to compete in the world economy Promote environmentally sound growth: Environmentally sound economic growth is creating new opportunities for Essex businesses. New markets include the development of renewable energy sources and energy conservation, and enabling more energy efficient car and public transport. Infrastructure: We will continue to promote transport, communications and utility infrastructure improvements that are essential to Essex businesses. Be a voice for Essex: Make the case to government and other public agencies for the freedoms, powers and the investment and/or financial tools that we need to realise our economic potential. We will also celebrate Essex as a place to live, work and visit.

An ‘employment first’ successful Joint Growth Area is a sound and achievable objective. It is based on both government and sub-regional strategies. The scheme is centred on supporting the A120 corridor, linking the A120 to the A133, improving connections to Harwich and utilising the strengths of Essex University as a knowledge and innovation hub. The South East Local Enterprise Partnership and the Essex Growth Strategy both recognise this as successful growth location.

Essex County Council says:

“Our Essex Growth Strategy is unashamedly pro-growth and pro-business.” Their growth Strategy is guided by the following Principles:

Aim high: We will set high ambitions for all our work with businesses, colleges, and our residents.

Promote an economy driven by knowledge, skills and innovation

Our economic success will depend on businesses that

harness knowledge and expertise to transform brilliant ideas into commercial opportunities.

Conclusions

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Our conclusion is the Joint Growth Area is the right sustainable strategy in a unique location. It is capable of spreading prosperity within north Essex and building a sound platform for securing future economic growth.

Conclusions

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Stuart Cock | Mersea Homes Managing Director t | 01206 383159 e | stuart.cock@merseahomes.co.uk w | www.merseahomes.co.uk

Brian Morgan | ADP Ltd Planning Director t | 01206 242070 e | brian@adpltd.co.uk

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