Hockley Area Action Plan - Issues and Options
1.1 WHAT IS AN AREA ACTION PLAN (AAP)?
1.1.1 An Area Action Plan creates the framework for development sites and planning policies in a specific area. It acts as the focal point for the coordination of other public policies and programmes and guides public and private investment in the area.
1.1.2 Planning Policy Statement 12 (PPS12) is Government guidance which explains what local spatial planning is and how it benefits communities. It also sets out what the key ingredients of local spatial plans are and the key government policies on how they should be prepared. It should be taken into account by local planning authorities in preparing development plan documents and other local development documents. As set out in PPS12 (published June 2008), Area Action Plans should be used to provide the planning framework for areas where significant change or conservation is needed. PPS12 states that Area Action Plans should:
Deliver planned growth areas;
Protect areas particularly sensitive to change;
Resolve conflicting objectives in areas subject to development pressures; or
Focus the delivery of area based regeneration initiatives
1.2 WHAT DOES THIS AREA ACTION PLAN COVER?
1.2.1 This Area Action Plan covers the area that is defined as Hockley Town Centre through the Local Plan Proposals map (adopted 2006) and adjoining areas where appropriate. Town centres play a key role in providing for local people's everyday needs in terms of shopping, healthcare and leisure. An AAP can provide a framework to ensure that these needs are met. In addition, having regard to the objectives of an Area Action Plan as set out in PPS12, there are a number of reasons that an Area Action Plan is appropriate for the Hockley Town Centre.
1.2.2 First, National Planning Policy Guidance (PPS6) stresses the importance of town centres in terms of promoting sustainable development and seeks to promote the vitality and viability of town centres by planning for growth in existing town centres. Therefore Town Centres are often areas in which significant change is planned.
1.2.3 Secondly, in terms of Rochford district specifically there is pressure on land because of the need to provide additional housing in the area. By March 2021 the district is required (by the East of England Plan) to accommodate 4,600 new homes.
1.2.4 Thirdly, it has been identified through our analysis and public consultation that there are a number of aspects of Hockley that would benefit from regeneration, for example the shopping area, retail offer and employment area. As set out in PPS12, AAPs can play a role in stimulating this regeneration and in addition, an AAP would have the power to redesignate the employment area for other uses should it be decided that this was desirable.
1.2.5 This AAP will set out a vision for how growth and change can be managed within Hockley and how regeneration of the area might be stimulated through this development. It is hoped that through the evolution and delivery of this AAP a contribution can be made to the Council's vision of making the district 'the place of choice in the county to live, work and visit'.
1.3 WHAT IS THE ISSUES AND OPTIONS REPORT?
1.3.1 This document forms the Issues and Options report for the Hockley Area Action Plan. The process of preparing an Area Action Plan can be divided into a number of stages. The first stage involves gathering an evidence base to identify the issues that need to be addressed by the AAP. This baseline work has been carried out through town centre studies for Rochford and Hockley, which have formed the basis of this AAP. The second stage is the preparation of the Issues and Options report that sets out the initial issues and options for the area in question and seeks the views of the public on them. Once the views on this Issues and Options report have been taken into consideration the Council will progress towards submission of the AAP in line with the guidance contained within PPS12.
1.4 OVERVIEW OF THE AREA AND PLANNING POLICY CONTEXT
1.4.1 The focus for the Area Action Plan is the defined town centre boundary as illustrated on the current Local Plan proposals map.
1.4.2 Hockley has a relatively linear town centre, which gently climbs up the hill from the railway station to the junction of Spa Road and Southend / Main Roads where some town centre uses turn either corner to form an inverted 'T' shape. The retail offer in the town centre is relatively limited and there are few high-street multiples located here. To the south of the study area is a collection of community uses, comprising a library, surgery and the old Fire Station.
1.4.3 The town centre is quite compact and rapidly merges into surrounding residential areas. There is little in the way of gateway features to define the central area. Between the main town centre area and railway station there is a relatively recent development of apartments and town houses. To the rear of this and the town centre is the Eldon Way employment area. This has seen some recent approvals for conversion of employment units to leisure use.
1.4.4 The opportunities presented in this report sit within the framework of regional and local policy documentation which guides future change and development in the area. A detailed policy context section can be found in appendix A, however the key points are outlined below.
1.4.5 At a regional level the East of England Plan (RSS14) highlights the potential of Town Centres in helping to achieve the development objective of making more use of previously developed land. In addition, The Plan aims to foster mixed use economies throughout the region, with town centre development playing a key role in improving economic opportunities and quality of life for local people.
1.4.6 The Rochford District Local Plan (adopted 2006) seeks to promote sustainable development patterns that minimise land take and reduce the need to travel. The Councils Core Strategy (which will eventually replace the Local Plan) is currently at Preferred Options stage and sets out its preferred option for Hockley Town Centre (policy RTC5) as delivering:
A safe and high quality environment for residents;
Enhanced retail offer for Hockley;
Additional opportunities for town centre living through the provision of residential development;
A public space within a defined centre;
Improved connectivity between retail focus and train station;
Redevelopment of industrial uses for retail, leisure and residential development; and
Green landscaping along Main Road, Spa Road and Southend Road to enhance the visual amenity.
1.4.7 Alongside the regional and local planning policy documents, there are a number of other documents (Rochford Futures Study; Annual Monitoring Report; Urban Capacity Study; Employment Land Study; Conservation Area Appraisal) that explore the issues that Hockley is facing. These documents have fed into this Area Action Plan and are also summarised in Appendix A.
1.5 GETTING YOUR VIEWS
1.5.1 Your views are needed to help us to assess whether we have fully considered all the issues and opportunities facing the study area and have adequately assessed the potential future options for development of the area.
1.5.2 In order to encourage discussion and consideration of the matters in this report we have presented questions throughout this report. These questions are meant to be thought provoking and there is no need to answer all the questions. Your responses to these questions and any other submissions will be taken forward to the preparation of the document.
Figure 1: The AAP area
Image source: Google