Core Strategy Preferred Options (Revised October 2008)

Ended on the 17th December 2008
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(27) Introduction

The Role of the Core Strategy

The Core Strategy is the main, overarching document of the Rochford District Local Development Framework - a collection of documents that will determine how the District develops in the future. It will set out the overall strategy for the District until 2021 and, where appropriate, beyond.

The Core Strategy explains how we will deliver the spatial aspects of our vision and the Sustainable Community Strategy, as well as how regional and national policies, such as those contained within the East of England Plan, will be applied locally.

The Core Strategy is also intrinsically linked with our corporate plan and vision.

The Core Strategy does not include detailed development control policies, allocate land, or specify the boundaries of development sites. This information will be included within other Development Plan Documents that form part of the Local Development Framework. These Development Plan Documents must conform to the policies within the Core Strategy.

Our approach must be sound and as such it is necessary for the policies to be underpinned by a comprehensive evidence base and subject to an external sustainability appraisal - a process whereby the economic, environmental and social consequences of policies are assessed. It is also important that the Core Strategy reflects the views of local communities and we have carefully considered the results of previous consultation exercises in drawing up this document.

The Role of the Core Strategy Preferred Options

This document is not the final version of the Core Strategy; it is the Core Strategy Preferred Options. As such, it sets out what our current preferred options for tackling the challenges the District faces and for taking advantage of the District's opportunities in spatial terms. For each strategy and action we have stated our preferred option and, where appropriate, an alternative option, which will be subject to public participation and appraisal before a final version of the document is agreed.

The Core Strategy Preferred Options document comprises the following:

  1. Characteristics, Issues and Opportunities - A summary of the physical and social characteristics of the District of relevance to its future planning, alongside the main challenges and opportunities.
  2. Vision - Our vision for the development of the District over five years, and the periods to 2017 and 2021.
  3. Strategies, Activities and Actions - What we propose to do to address the identified problems, challenges and opportunities that will deliver our vision. Within this section we have listed our preferred options (green boxes) and alternative options (yellow boxes) for tackling the issues facing the District. This chapter is broken down into the following sub-sections:
    • Housing
    • Green Belt
    • Employment
    • Environmental Issues
    • Transport
    • Retail and Town Centres
    • Character of Place
    • Community Infrastructure, Leisure and Tourism
    • Upper Roach Valley and Wallasea Island


  4. Implementation, Delivery and Monitoring - How we will implement the strategies, activities and actions and measure success.
  5. Key Diagram - Visual representation of our Preferred Options. The Key Diagram is not a Proposals Map and does not allocate land.

Community Involvement

This is the second version of our Core Strategy Preferred Options. The first version was subject to public participation in June and July 2007. Having regard to the results of consultation, we determined to revisit the Preferred Options stage.

We now wish to hear the views of the local community and other stakeholders on this revised version of the preferred options.

In addition to consultation carried out on the initial version of the Core Strategy Preferred Options, we undertook a number of community involvement exercises in 2006 when looking at the issues and options for the District. These included public exhibitions / meetings, questionnaires, online consultation and workshops for young people held in two of the District's schools.

Community involvement has also been undertaken in relation to aspects of the evidence base, particularly in respect of the 'call for sites' and Rochford Futures report.

The Core Strategy will be subject to continued community involvement which will shape the document as it progresses towards adoption.

Listening To Your Views

The Core Strategy has evolved through its production to take on board the concerns, comments and suggestions that have been submitted by members of the public and other stakeholders at various stages.

As stated in the previous section, the need to revisit the Core Strategy Preferred Options has emanated from concerns expressed over the initial version of the Core Strategy. The following table summarises some of the main concerns expressed by the public, and explains how we have addressed these:

What you told us previously What we have done this time
There is too much residential development proposed for our village / town. We have reconsidered the issue of housing distribution having regard to the updated evidence base together with the implementation of other new strategies / developments since last year.
Why do we need to accommodate any more houses in the District? The East of England Plan requires Rochford District to ensure at least 4,600 additional dwellings are built in the District between 2001 and 2021. Rochford's allocation is based on meeting current and future need.

Current need encompasses the number of people in the District who are living within a household wanting to move to their own accommodation and form a separate household but unable to do so (e.g. adult children).

Projected need is derived from the supposition that the population is projected to increase from 81,300 in 2007 to 87,000 by 2021.

It is not clear where new development is proposed to go. The purpose of the Core Strategy is not to identify specific locations but indicate general areas for development. More precise locations, submitted as part of our 'call for sites' exercise, will be appraised within the Allocations Development Plan Document.
Green Belt land should not be developed. We strongly support the protection of the Green Belt. However, there are insufficient Brownfield sites within the District to meet projected housing needs, therefore some Green Belt land will need to be released.
Intensification of existing residential areas (e.g. replacing one house with many, within the same space) is unpopular. We recognise this concern and propose, as far as practicable, to limit the intensification of existing residential areas, preventing redevelopment which is not in keeping with the density or character of the area.
There is not enough infrastructure to support more housing. We recognise the need to provide additional infrastructure and improve existing infrastructure where necessary. The Core Strategy outlines in broad terms what infrastructure will be required and how this will be delivered.
Our roads are too congested. In determining areas of future development, the fact that accessibility to public transport and the reliance on the use of the car is unequally distributed across the District has been taken into consideration. Actions to promote alternatives to the car such as walking and cycling are proposed.
We like the District's green, open spaces. Green spaces within urban areas are part of the social fabric of the community and will be protected. The District itself is predominantly rural and we aim to minimise the development of Green Belt land. Where the release of Green Belt land is unavoidable, Green Belt land which contributes least towards the purposes of the Green Belt will be favoured for development over other Green Belt locations.
We are concerned about anti-social behaviour. Anti-social behaviour is a complex issue but we recognise that planning has an important role to play. From the design of new developments to ensure that natural surveillance deters anti-social behaviour, to the redevelopment of Rochford and Hockley town centres incorporating more community and youth facilities, to providing environments that all of the community can take pride in and ownership of, concerns regarding anti-social behaviour have been incorporated.
There needs to be more for young people to do. We propose additional youth facilities. Young people will be consulted on what facilities they require, and their views will be incorporated into the development of these facilities where a need has been identified.
Any new accommodation should be affordable. We propose that a proportion of housing provided within new residential development is affordable housing - housing that is available to buy or rent below the normal market value. It is, however, not feasible to require developers to provide 100% affordable housing on any one site.
We like the character of the District. The historic character, in particular, needs to be protected. We are committed to the preservation of the District's historic towns and villages. Provisions such as the extension of certain Conservation Areas and the reintroduction of a Local List of important buildings aim to prevent insensitive alterations to important areas.
We like our local shops / our village needs more shops. We will support the development and preservation of shops within villages which serve everyday needs. The main focus of retail enhancement will be within Rayleigh, Hockley and Rochford town centres.
There is a good community spirit in our town / village. 'Sustainability' is the key vision for the future. To achieve this, it is essential that settlements are developed as necessary to maintain a vibrant and prosperous environment for future generations. We recognise the importance of community and this has been considered in all aspects of the Core Strategy, from the proposed housing distribution, to retail and town centre policies, to the proposed community facilities and leisure policies.
New development should be environmentally friendly. We propose to require high environmental standards from new developments. Proposed polices within the Core Strategy address this, for example by requiring developments to meet certain standards of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Key Documents, the Evidence Base and their influence upon the Core Strategy

There are a number of documents that have a significant influence on Rochford District's Core Strategy: Rochford District Sustainable Community Strategy and the East of England Plan.

Sustainable Community Strategy

The Sustainable Community Strategy is the long-term vision for the District which sets out the priorities for improvement and how these will be achieved. It is developed by the Local Strategic Partnership - a partnership of local public, private and voluntary sector organisations who play a key part in the provision of services within the District. Our Core Strategy is required to have regard to the Sustainable Community Strategy.

The Sustainable Community Strategy and the Core Strategy are more closely linked than simply having regard to one another, in particular they share parts of the evidence base.

The emerging Sustainable Community Strategy sets out the following vision for Rochford District:

"a place that is vibrant, inclusive, safe, sustainable and modern whilst communities retain their distinctiveness, foster civic pride and where all have access to quality accessible services."

From this vision, the Local Strategic Partnership has developed four priority areas, three, of which, can realistically be addressed within the planning process:

  • Supporting the ageing population - It is important to ensure that as people get older, and life expectancies increase, they can live independently for longer, for example through good housing design and that high quality services are available to the target population should the need arise.
  • Fostering greater community cohesion - The sense of community is vital for eliminating social exclusion and encouraging cohesion. Planning can be utilised to design out crime and anti-social behaviour from communities, and encourage equal opportunities within new developments through providing a mix of housing.
  • Increasing accessibility to services - With a distinct east to west divide across the District in terms of accessibility to services, improvements are necessary, which can be implemented through the planning process, for example transport improvements.

It has been emphasised that planning has a role to play in achieving these three priorities, and as such, these are themes which run throughout the Core Strategy.

Vision to Reality

We have also adopted a document stating our key aspirations - Vision to Reality. This, along with our Corporate Plan, details our vision and key objectives over the next 5 years, by 2017 and 2021. The Local Development Framework aims to help deliver the spatial aspects of this vision and, as such, the Core Strategy has an important role to play in this respect.

Local Area Agreements (LAA2) The Essex Local Area Agreement 2008-2011

The Local Area Agreement forms a partnership between us, Essex County Council and other councils in the locality (excluding Southend and Thurrock). It identifies 10 key priorities for the District and surrounding areas which need addressing in order to achieve the Essex Strategy's vision, which is simply "To support Essex people to liberate their potential to enjoy the best quality of life in Britain".

The priorities identified in the LAA and how the Core Strategy will contribute towards their achievement is set out below. It must be stressed, however, that planning is not an individual entity and achievement of these objectives requires the combined operations of different departments and organisations.

The Core Strategy will have to be reviewed in the event of a new Local Area Agreement, post-2011, setting different priorities.

Priority Role of Core Strategy in achieving priority
Priority 1: Fewer children and young people missing education or not in education, employment or training. We will ensure that the educational needs of the District are met through the provision of educational facilities in accessible locations. Our approach to ensuring employment provision is identified in the Employment section of the Core Strategy.
Priority 2: More people supported to live independently in their own homes with better support for carers. We support the inclusion of the Lifetime Homes Standard on new developments, as outlined in the Core Strategy, to enable people to stay independent in their homes for longer. We also recognise the importance of ensuring the adequate provision of affordable homes within the District to meet the needs of the population.
Priority 3: Better public health and longer lives. We are working with the South East Essex Primary Care Trust and other partners, to ensure that adequate facilities are provided to meet the changing population and their needs.
Priority 4: Children and young people realise their potential in education. The Core Strategy has outlined our plans for providing adequate educational facilities within the District.
Priority 5: Essex roads are safer, less congested and everyone has access to essential services. The transport section of the Core Strategy acknowledges that whilst some infrastructure improvements are required to improve east to west connections, greater emphasis should be on reducing the populations' reliance on the private car. Sustainable alternatives such as walking and cycling are encouraged.
Priority 6: More participation in sports, culture and volunteering for the benefit of the whole community. We are committed to improving access to sporting facilities such as informal open space, playing pitches and leisure facilities where a need has been identified, as reinforced within the Core Strategy.
Priority 7: Essex is a safe place to live. New development will be implemented having regard to the need to design out crime.

Proposed Town Centre Area Actions Plans for Rochford and Hockley in the Core Strategy will tackle the issue of safety and crime, for example anti-social behaviour, to ensure a safer environment for residents.

Priority 8: Essex has a strong and competitive economy. Employment opportunities for the District are outlined within the Employment, as well as the Retail and Town Centre sections of the Core Strategy. Opportunities include London Southend Airport and its Environs, and regeneration of the town centres.
Priority 9: A smaller carbon footprint with less waste. The Core Strategy outlines how new dwellings will be made more energy efficient and sustainable through implementing the sustainable criteria. The Strategy also promotes the development of small and large scale renewable energy schemes.
Priority 10: A well managed environment. We support the preservation of the District's valuable natural and historic environment through the Core Strategy.


East of England Plan

The East of England Plan outlines planning policy for the whole region and our Local Development Framework is required to conform to it. The East of England Plan contains an array of policies which are applicable to the whole of the region and which the District must consider. In addition, the plan also contains detailed requirements for individual districts and boroughs. Those which are particularly relevant to Rochford are as follows:

  • Provision of 4,600 additional dwellings between 2001 and 2021.
  • Creation of no less than 3,000 additional jobs.
  • Provision of an additional 15 authorised pitches for Gypsy and Traveller caravans by 2011.
  • London Southend Airport as a driver for economic development.


Additional Relevant Strategies

We have a number of other strategies currently in place whose spatial elements are expressed within this Core Strategy. However, we recognise that we cannot deliver our objectives alone and must work in partnership with other organisations. Their strategies also influence this document (and, once finalised, in many cases vice versa).

The strategies at regional, sub-regional, county, district and sub-district levels include the following (* indicates an emerging strategy):

Regional Strategies


Sub-Regional Strategies


County Strategies


District Strategies


Sub-District Strategies


Government planning policy, in the form of Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPGs), Planning Policy Statements (PPSs) and circulars also guide the content of the Core Strategy.

Evidence Base

In terms of the evidence base we have drawn upon in drafting this document, in addition to the aforementioned strategies and plans, the following have played an important role in informing the Core Strategy:

  • Annual Monitoring Reports report on a range of indicators on an annual basis since 2004.
  • Call for Sites was carried out in early 2007 and resulted in the submission of a number of sites from developers, land-owners and agents for consideration by us. The results of these have contributed towards examining site deliverability.
  • Community Involvement carried out on the Issues and Options version of the Core Strategy in 2006 and the first version of the Core Strategy Preferred Options in 2007. As well as reports on the results of the consultation of the general public and specific stakeholders, this includes reports on the results of workshops at King Edmund School and Greensward College undertaken to ascertain the views of young people in the District.
  • Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans (2007) assess the characteristics of the District's Conservation Areas, as well as proposing action to ensure their value is retained or enhanced.
  • Employment Land Study (2008) examines the supply and demand for various forms of employment land and compares this to the current and projected future economic profile of the District in order to determine the spatial requirements for future employment.
  • Essex Landscape Character Assessment (2003) outlines the extent of the three broad landscape character types within the District, and includes an assessment of their sensitivity to different forms of development.
  • Housing Needs Survey (2004) ascertained the housing need for Rochford District residents. This will soon be superseded to a large degree by the Strategic Housing Market Needs Assessment.
  • Joint Strategies Needs Assessment (2008) details a wealth of data around health and well-being issues in Essex.
  • Local Wildlife Site Review (2007) is an assessment of existing and potential local wildlife sites to determine their importance as natural habitats.
  • Looking Back and Moving Forward - Assessing the Housing Needs of Gypsies and Travellers in Essex (2006) provides an assessment of the projected future accommodation needs for Gypsies and Travellers up until 2016.
  • Retail and Leisure Study (2008) examines the shopping and leisure use habits of the District's residents, and the spatial implications of these for the future development of the area.
  • Rochford District Historic Environment Characterisation Project (2006) provides a wealth of evidence on the importance of the historic environment within the District and facilitates the integration of management and conservation principles within the planning process.
  • Rochford Futures Report profiles the social, economic and environmental characteristics of Rochford District at a district and ward level.
  • Strategic Environmental Assessment Baseline Information Profile 2007-2008 presents a plethora of secondary data about the social, physical, environmental and demographic characteristics of the District.
  • Strategic Flood Risk Assessment determined the areas at risk of flooding across the sub-region, and calculated the probability of their flooding, enabling land across the sub-region to be categorised as Flood Zone 1, 2, 3 depending on the risk.
  • Strategic Housing Market Assessment provides data on housing supply and demand at the sub-regional level.
  • Sustainability Appraisals and Strategic Environmental Assessments were carried out on previous documents, assessing the social, economic and environmental impacts of proposed policies. The results of these have been incorporated into this document. Appraisals of this document have also been undertaken.
  • Urban Capacity Study (2007) examines the capacity to accommodate development within the District on existing appropriate sites. The study was published shortly before guidance was issued by the government on the production of Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments - the successor to Urban Capacity Studies. Notwithstanding this, or Urban Capacity Study conforms to the principals within the latest guidance and provides the necessary data, as explained in detail in the document entitled Urban Capacity Study and Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments Practical Guidance available at
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