Rochford Town Centre Area Action Plan - Issues and Options
WHAT IS AN AREA ACTION PLAN, AND WHAT IS AN ISSUES AND OPTIONS REPORT?
1.1 An Area Action Plan (AAP) 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.
1.2 This document is an Issues and Options report and represents a very early stage in the production of the Area Action Plan. No decisions have been made, but the document sets out some of the thoughts and ideas about matters that have been identified. You may have many other ideas or proposals that would enhance the town centre and we welcome suggestions - this document is a consultation document designed to generate discussion and interest in the issues.
1.3 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), AAPs should be used to provide the planning framework for areas where significant change or conservation is needed. PPS12 states that AAPs 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
WHAT DOES THIS AREA ACTION PLAN COVER?
1.4 This AAP covers the area that is defined as Rochford Town Centre through the Rochford District Replacement Local Plan Proposals Map (adopted June 2006) and beyond 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 AAP as set out in PPS12, there are a number of reasons that an AAP is appropriate for Rochford Town Centre.
1.5 In general terms National Planning Policy Statement 6 (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.
1.6 Secondly, in terms of Rochford 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.
1.7 Thirdly, Rochford Town Centre is a designated Conservation Area (Policy BC1 of the Rochford District Replacement Local Plan) and has a strong character and a number of listed buildings that are important to preserve. Thus any development that takes place will need to be extremely carefully managed.
1.8 This AAP will set out a vision for how the need for growth and change can be managed within a Conservation Area. It will help to identify how much potential exists within Rochford Town Centre and what level of new development is appropriate in these locations. It is hoped that through the evolution and delivery of this AAP a contribution can be made towards the Council's vision: 'To make Rochford District a place which provides opportunities for the best possible quality of life for all who live, work and visit here'
OVERVIEW OF THE AREA AND PLANNING POLICY CONTEXT
1.9 The focus for the AAP is the defined town centre boundary as illustrated on the current Local Plan Proposals Map. The heart of Rochford Town Centre is the Market Square. It is here, and along the streets leading to this, where the majority of town centre uses are located. The town follows a traditional cruciform street pattern, providing links to the railway station to the west and to residential areas elsewhere. Immediately bounding the town centre to the north is the Rochford Primary School and Rochford Hospital. Recent development has seen the expansion of the retail area to the north of the Market Square which includes a new Somerfield food store as part of a residential-led mixed-use development of town houses and flats. The town centre also includes a number of civic buildings and uses, which are mainly located along South Street.
1.10 To the south and west, Bradley Way acts as a 'by-pass', providing links to Hockley (to the north west) and Southend (to the south). The town centre includes a high number of historic buildings and it has a high intrinsic value. This is reinforced by local topography, which affords interesting views of the roofscape and of local landmarks.
1.11 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.
1.12 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.
1.13 The Rochford District Replacement Local Plan (adopted 2006) seeks to promote sustainable development patterns that minimise land take and reduce the need to travel. The Plan also designates Rochford Town Centre as a primary retail area in the district. The Council is in the process of producing its Core Strategy, which will eventually replace the Local Plan. The Core Strategy is currently at the pre-submission consultation stage. The draft Submission Document sets out the Council's aims for Rochford Town Centre (Policy RTC5) as delivering:
A safe and high quality environment for residents
A market square that encourage visitors
Enhanced retail offer for Rochford
A range of evening leisure activities
Improved accessibility to and within the town centre
Other emerging policies in the Core Strategy of particular relevance to the Rochford Area Action Plan include those in relation to public open space (Policy CLT5), community facilities (Policy CLT6) and youth facilities (Policy CLT8).
1.14 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; Retail and Leisure Study) that explore the issues that Rochford is facing. These documents have fed into this Area Action Plan and are also summarised in Appendix A.
GETTING YOUR VIEWS
1.15 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.
1.16 In order to encourage discussion and consideration of the matters in this report we have presented questions throughout the document. 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.
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