BRENTWOOD – THE PLACE
Location and Transport Links
1.1 The Borough of Brentwood is situated in the south west of the county of Essex, immediately to the east of the Greater London Metropolitan area, and is located entirely within the Metropolitan Green Belt. This proximity to London means that the Borough is well located in relation to the national and regional road and rail networks. The town of Brentwood is separated from Greater London by a narrow gap of open land through which passes the M25 Motorway. The other main route corridors tend to focus on London, with the A12 running through the centre of the Borough between Central London and East Anglia, and the A127 linking Central London to Southend and South Essex. Similarly rail connections link Central London to Ipswich and Norwich (with local stations at Brentwood, Shenfield and Ingatestone) and Southend (with a local station at West Horndon).
1.2 This road and rail network also provides easy access to Stansted Airport (via the M11), City airport and Southend Airport, as well as both Gatwick and Heathrow airports via the M25. Connections can also be made with port facilities at Tilbury to the south and the East Coast ports of Harwich and Felixstowe. The Thurrock/Dartford Crossing also provides access to the south coast ports and the continent via the Channel Tunnel
1.3 Such locational advantages has meant that Brentwood has been, and will continue to be, an attractive choice for both businesses and housing, and the Borough is subject to considerable pressure for development. The Green Belt, however, acts as a significant constraint.
1.4 The Borough is a relatively affluent area with some 80% of Brentwood's housing being owner-occupied (predominantly 3 bedrooms and over) with the majority having been built since 1945. Much of the older housing has been renovated and there are very few areas of poor quality housing within the Borough. House prices are also relatively high and many cannot afford to buy or rent property within the Borough, as there is a shortage of low-cost housing.
1.5 Employment is also influenced by the Borough’s proximity to London and the good transport network. Local jobs are very much concentrated in the service sector, with the town providing an attractive alternative office location to London, particularly in the Town Centre, Brentwood Station Area and Warley Business Park. There are seven employment estates, and numerous other smaller enterprises scattered throughout the Borough. However, over 50% of the resident work force commutes out of the Borough to work, particularly into London, and some 40% of jobs in the Borough are filled by residents from outside the Borough.
1.6 The main shopping area is Brentwood Town Centre, with many multiples including Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury, Boots and Somerfield represented. It is also the hub of the Borough’s cultural and community activities. Shenfield and Ingatestone are smaller, but nevertheless important, shopping centres, which together with a number of smaller shopping parades and village centres provide for the local shopping needs throughout the Borough.
Sport and Leisure
1.7 The main venue for sport and leisure is provided at the multi-functional Brentwood Centre at Pilgrims Hatch, which hosts major concerts, conferences and sports attractions. Additionally, there are other significant sports facilities, such as the Clearview Tennis Centre and the Warley Leisure Park, and many local golf courses, all catering for the increasing leisure needs of the area. There are 2 extensive country parks, which have an attraction that extends well beyond the Borough, as does the other main open space area at King George’s Playing Field.
1.8 Brentwood’s attractive location is enhanced by the quality of the local environment. Less than 20% of the Borough is built-up. Brentwood Town itself has a well-landscaped character, which softens the impact of the built environment and enhances the visual quality of the town. There are a number of important green wedges reaching into the built-up area, two of which extend right to the centre of the town - Hartswood/Shenfield Common, and the Brentwood School/former Anglia Polytechnic University Playing Fields. Thriftwood is also an extensive area of woodland set within the town. The remainder of the Borough is predominantly in agricultural use, but much of the rural area is characterised by an attractive rolling landscape incorporating small woodlands, hedgerows and trees.
1.9 The location and character of the Borough of Brentwood, summarised above, plays a large part in determining the scope and detailed content of the policies set out in the Local Plan.
THE BRENTWOOD LOCAL PLAN
What is a Local Plan?
1.10 The government requires a local planning authority to prepare and adopt a Local Plan that covers the whole of the authority’s area and that sets out detailed policies to guide development [Part II of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended by the Planning and Compensation Act 1991) and the Town and Country Planning (Development Plan) Regulations 1999]. It forms part of a hierarchy of Development Plans and policies and is set within the context of national, regional and structure plan policy guidance. Once adopted the Local Plan is also required to be monitored and reviewed.
1.11 The Brentwood Local Plan provides a comprehensive statement of land use policies and proposals for the whole of Brentwood Borough and develops the policies and general proposals of the Essex and Southend on Sea Replacement Structure Plan (RSP) adopted in April 2001. It covers, therefore, the period up to 2011.
The Plan Format
1.12 The Plan consists of a Written Statement and Proposals Map. The Proposals Map incorporates a number of insets for Brentwood Town Centre, Shenfield Shopping Area, Brentwood Station Area and the other main settlements excluded from the Green Belt. These insets are identified on the Main Borough-Wide Proposals Map, the Brentwood Urban Area Inset Map No. 1 or the Ingatestone Inset Map No. 3. The insets form part of the Proposals Map.
1.13 The Written Statement sets out the Policies and Proposals of the Council by reference to a number of chapters dealing with a set of “core policies” together with specific subjects. Each chapter is prefaced by a summary of the relevant national planning policy guidance, Replacement Structure Plan policies and Brentwood Community Plan objectives, which set the context for the detailed policies and proposals. The subsequent policies/proposals are accompanied by a written justification and supporting background information. The policies and proposals are distinguished from the rest of the text by the use of upper case (capital) lettering and bold type. The policies in the Plan only apply in cases where planning permission is required. In the event of any inconsistency between the written justification and the policy, the policy takes precedence.
1.14 The Written Statement includes a number of appendices generally relating to guidance that has previously been formally adopted by the Council as Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG). However, there is no provision in the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, or the associated guidance and regulations for existing SPG to be formally saved, and new SPG can no longer be adopted. It still remains a material consideration in the determination of planning applications, and is retained as ‘Informal Planning Guidance’ until adopted as ‘Supplementary Planning Documents’ under the new Act.
1.15 The Proposals Map illustrates the policies and proposals in the Written Statement on an Ordnance Survey base. The Map identifies sites allocated for development and defines areas where policies will apply. In the event of any inconsistency between the written statement and the proposals Map, the Written Statement takes precedence.
POLICY CONTEXT OF THE PLAN
1.16 The Local Plan forms part of a hierarchy of Development Plans and planning policy guidance to which it must have regard and conform to unless local circumstances justify otherwise. Summaries of the relevant policy context are set out in each chapter of the Plan.
National Planning Policy Guidance
1.17 Central government produces a wide range of policy guidance in the form of primary legislation, planning regulations, circulars, Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPGs), Planning Policy Statements (PPSs), and other statements. These sources of national policy are the subject of review, amendment and replacement and the most recent statements need to be reflected in the Local Plan.
Regional Planning Guidance
1.18 The government produces Regional Planning Guidance which provides a framework for the preparation of development plans at the County and Local level. Regional Planning Guidance for the South East (RPG9), published in 1994 set the basis for the Replacement Structure Plan covering the period up to 2011, including the allocation for new housing to be accommodated within the County.
1.19 A revised version of RPG9 was published in March 2001, which seeks to achieve amore sustainable pattern of development by way of four key development principles:
- Urban Renaissance and Concentrating Development
- Economy in the Use of land
- Integrating Land Use and Transport
- Rural Development
1.20 Following a review of regional boundaries, as from 1 April 2001, Essex is included within the East of England Region, and work is currently progressing on new regional guidance for the East of England area (RPG14). With the enactment of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 in September 2004, RPG is to be replaced with Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS). RPG14, therefore, is now referred to as RSS14 or the ‘East of England Plan’ and was published for public consultation between November 2004 and March 2005. An examination in public is proposed to commence in November 2005, with final adoption towards the end of 2006/early 2007.
The County Structure Plan
1.21 The Brentwood Replacement Local Plan must conform generally to the Replacement Structure Plan (RSP), which provides the broad strategic framework for land use planning decisions within the Borough. The RSP, covering the period 1996 to 2011, was adopted by both Essex County Council and Southend on Sea Borough Council, the Joint Structure Plan Authorities (JSPAs), on 9 April 2001
1.22 The core policies of the RSP set out to address issues such as achieving urban regeneration, promoting economic development and protecting key environmental areas and features. In developing its core policies the RSP sets out specific levels of new housing and employment land to be provided within each of the Districts/Boroughs over the period 1 April 1996 to 31 March 2011. The figures for Brentwood Borough are:
- Housing: 1450 dwellings (net) - (RSP Policy H1)
- Business/Industry/Warehousing Land: 1 hectare of additional land (net) - (RSP Policy BIW1)
1.23 The RSP identifies Brentwood Town Centre as a “Principal Town Centre” in the Strategic Hierarchy of Urban Centres (relating to the consideration of proposals and the provision of retailing and other town centre uses – RSP Policy TCR1).
1.24 The RSP identifies priorities for transport investment in support of the regeneration of Priority Areas for Economic Regeneration and other economic policy objectives. The third priority is relevant to the Borough in that it includes:
- Multi-Modal Improvements to the inter-urban transport network between London and Ipswich to improve access to the Haven Ports and East Anglia and between the main urban centres in this part of the Region
Local Transport Plan
1.25 The Local Plan must also conform to the Essex Local Transport Plan, which sets out the transport strategy for the county, and incorporates local strategies for each of the Districts/Boroughs. Government advice seeks a much closer relationship between land use planning and transport planning. In order to achieve this, the Local Transport Plan and the Local Plan should take account of and complement one another.
The Brentwood Community Plan
1.26 It is clear that government is seeking a closer and clearer relationship between the various plans and strategies produces by local authorities. This was made apparent in the Green Paper ‘Planning: Delivering a Fundamental Change’ (DTLR December 2001) and subsequently incorporated into the guidance published with the 2004 Act which introduced the new ‘Local Development Frameworks’; replacing the existing land use Development Plan system (consisting of Structure Plans, Local Plans and Unitary Development Plans).
1.27 Brentwood has produced a “Community Plan” for the period 2000 to 2005, “Facing the Future”. This is a clear statement of the Council’s key ambitions and priorities over the 5-year period. It endeavours to link the Council’s Mission and Core Values with service area and work priorities through the new Best value Performance Plan and individual Service Plans.
1.28 The Community Plan sets out the key strategic objectives under a number of thematic headings. In order to clearly identify how the Replacement Local Plan relates to these Council-wide corporate objectives, the policy context to each chapter of the Local Plan sets out the relevant strategic objectives. (There are differences between the way in which the Community Plan is divided in to thematic headings and the subject headings in the Local Plan. However, positive user feedback on the format of the current Local Plan suggests that the Local Plan headings are better understood by those making development applications and those using the Local Plan and, therefore, have been retained.)
1.29 The Council’s Mission Statement and core values are:
“The Council’s Mission is to serve the needs of local people and work in partnership with the whole community in order to ensure that the Brentwood Borough remains a pleasant and healthy place in which to live, work and relax for the benefit of current and future generations
In this context, the Council will aim to ensure that quality services are delivered fairly to all sections of the community, having regard to the core values of:
- Putting the needs of the public first
- Ensuring equality of opportunity
- Countering poverty and inequality
- Providing open, responsible and accountable government
- Respecting and protecting the environment and ensuring local sustainable development
- Working in partnership with other organisations
- Ensuring a safe community in which to live, work and relax
- Ensuring a sound economic base for the Borough
- Achieving best value in the delivery and procurement of services
- Observing good employment practices
1.30 One of the key objectives running through all levels of policy advice is the need to achieve sustainable development. Sustainable development is now at the very heart of the planning system. Government planning guidance makes clear the government’s commitment to the principles of sustainable development as set out in “Sustainable Development: The UK strategy” (1994).
1.31 There are many definitions of “sustainable development” but the most widely used is “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present population without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The government’s approach to sustainable development is set out in its strategy and is based on four broad objectives:
- Maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment;
- Social progress which recognises the needs of everyone;
- Effective protection of the environment; and
- Prudent use of natural resources
1.32 The government believes that the planning system, and development plans in particular, can make a major contribution to the achievement of the government’s objectives for sustainable development (as described further in PPS12). The Council is equally committed to ensuring that the Replacement Local Plan provides for development in a sustainable manner and, thus, linking with and reflecting its other corporate strategies as set out in the Community Plan and the LA21 Strategy “A Better Quality of Life for Brentwood” (February 2001).
The Overarching Aim of the Plan
1.33 The Council has adopted an overarching aim for the Replacement Local Plan that integrates the Planning Service’s adopted “Mission Statement” with the Council’s corporate objectives and the need for sustainable development as follows:
To protect, conserve and enhance the character and appearance of the Borough’s natural and built environment whilst promoting the economic, social and cultural well-being of the Borough and seeking to make provision for the development and other needs of the Borough within the context of strategic planning guidelines and the principles of sustainable development.
1.34 Local Planning authorities are expected to carry out a full environmental appraisal of their development plan at every stage of the development plan process. However, sustainable development is not limited to environmental concerns, and the same methodologies used for environmental appraisal can be applied to social and economic issues. The process enables the environmental, social and economic consequences of plan objectives and policies to be weighed and taken into account in formulating the final plan and thus ensures that development is sustainable.
1.35 In order to undertake such an appraisal the Council adopted a set of “Sustainability Principles” by which the Draft Plan policies have been assessed. These are set out in regard to environmental, social and economic issues, as follows:
- To Conserve and Protect Natural Resources
- To Conserve and Protect the Built Heritage
- To Make Best Use of Existing Urban Land and Buildings
- To Minimise the Impact of Pollution on the Environment and upon Public Health & Safety
- To Enhance the Quality of the Urban and Rural Environment
- To Minimise the Need to Travel and the use of Private Vehicles
- To Promote Waste Minimisation and Maximise the Reuse and Recovery of Waste
- To Minimise the Consumption of Energy
- To Maximise Biodiversity
- To Encourage Choice of Transport Mode, particularly Non-Car Modes
- To Maximise the Choice of Housing
- To Increase Accessibility to Employment, Services, Facilities etc.
- To Increase Accessibility to Open Space
- To Secure a More Accessible Environment for those with Disabilities
- To Provide for Local Economic Development
- To Provide Local Employment Opportunities
- To Locate Development in Areas Accessible by a Choice of Transport Modes, particularly Public Transport, Cycling and Walking
- To Improve Infrastructure Provision
- To Enhance the Vitality and Viability of Existing Town Centres
1.36 The content and conclusions of the appraisal are set out and published in a separate document “The Sustainability Appraisal of the Draft Replacement Local Plan”
THE REPLACEMENT LOCAL PLAN STRATEGY
1.37 The Community Plan set out a number of Core Values of which those relating to Equality of Opportunity, Countering Poverty and Inequality, The Environment and Sustainable Development, Community Safety and Economic Development are directly relevant to and have been reflected in the Replacement Local Plan.
1.38 Furthermore, as previously stated, the Community Plan also sets out strategic objectives for the Council in relation to specific areas of the Council’s work and the interrelationship of these with the Replacement Local Plan is identified under each Local Plan Chapter Heading.
1.39 The Replacement Local Plan will seek to implement an overall strategy for future development of the Borough based on planning for sustainable development and taking into account these Community Plan Core Values and Strategic Objectives
1.40 The strategic aims of the Plan are to:
- Direct development towards locations that provide the greatest opportunities for the use of transport modes other than the private motorcar
- Make best use of previously developed land within urban areas
- Seek to improve the quality of public transport and facilities for pedestrians and cyclists
- Improve the relationship between where people live and their place of work or their proximity to community facilities and shopping.
- Enhance the economic prosperity of the area
- Direct shopping development towards the town centre and other shopping areas
- Extend equality of opportunity and social integration
- Protect the character and openness of the Borough’s countryside, together with existing urban open spaces
- Enhance the character and quality of the built environment
- Help to create sustainable rural communities
- Protect the environment and the amenities of those living, working and visiting the area from the potential negative impacts of development
- Enhance the quality of life, increase community safety and reduce the fear of crime
1.41 Achievement of this strategy is not within the sole control of the Council. It will require the Council to work in partnership with other authorities, agencies and bodies as well as the private sector and/or influencing their programmes and investment decisions.
THE LOCAL PLAN PROCESS
1.42 This Plan follows from a comprehensive review of the existing Brentwood Local Plan, which was adopted in March 1995 (and subsequently the subject of a First Alteration, which was adopted in 1997).
1.43 The first stage of that review was the publication of a Key Issues Consultation Report in July 2000. Whilst the response to the consultation was limited, it provided a wide range of responses, with comments from a broad spectrum of groups and individuals, representing individual local residents, government departments and agencies, parish councils, local interest groups, and planning consultants and agents. Many of the key issues gave rise to varied and, in some cases, conflicting comments with no clear view necessarily taking prominence.
1.44 Whilst the numbers of comments were limited, the clearest view put forward was the support for the Council’s commitment to protecting the Borough’s green belt boundary and maximising the use of existing urban land. There was, however, less support for achieving the latter by reducing car parking provision compared to reducing garden sizes or increasing the numbers of small units. The issue of car parking standards gave rise to differing comments, with no clear view as to whether the government’s proposals for maximum rather than minimum levels of provision enjoy general support. On the theme of car parking, there was more support for the continuing use of the William Hunter Way car park for car parking purposes (possibly with some development for other uses) than its redevelopment. Other comments were received with regard to how local employment opportunities could be maximised, how the town centre and existing shopping areas could be further protected and enhanced, and how the town centre shopping environment could be improved.
1.45 The comments received during the 6-week consultation period were considered by the Council, and it was resolved that the Initial Deposit Consultation Draft of the Replacement Local Plan should be prepared taking account of, inter alia, the views received.
The Initial Deposit Draft Plan
1.46 The Initial Deposit Draft Plan was published for public consultation in September 2002. Just over 700 representations were duly made during the statutory 6-week consultation period. Following consideration of all of the representations received, the Council agreed to make a number of amendments to the Draft Plan, to meet, in full or in part, the objections set out in some of those representations (objections that were not resolved by the proposed amendments were carried forward to the Local Plan Inquiry). Further changes were made in order to update the plan or correct typographical errors. These amendments were incorporated into the Revised Deposit Draft Plan.
The Revised Deposit Draft Plan
1.47 The Revised Deposit Draft Plan was the second statutory stage in the preparation of the Replacement Local Plan. Amendments made to the Initial Deposit Draft Plan were clearly shown with proposed additional wordings highlighted with a grey background and proposed deletions shown crossed through with a horizontal line. Black and white plans were also included to show amendments to notations on the Proposal Map. The consultation document was published in November 2003 and some 125 representations were received. As a result of the Council’s consideration of these representations, a ‘Proposed Changes’ document was published in March 2004.
The Local Plan Inquiry
1.48 A Local Plan Inquiry to consider all outstanding objections was held between 2 and 17 June 2004, and the Inspector’s report and recommendations were received in January 2005. Following consideration of the Inspector’s recommendations, proposed modifications to the Revised Deposit Draft Plan were approved and published for public consultation in May 2005.
Adoption of the Plan
1.49 Representations on the ‘Proposed Modifications’ were considered by the Council at its meeting on 13 July 2005. As no further material modifications requiring public consultation were made to the draft plan, the Council resolved its intention to adopt the Replacement Local Plan at that meeting, and the Plan was formally adopted by notice dated 31 August 2005. The various stages of the plan process are set out in Figure 1.1 below
The Previous Adopted Local Plan
1.50 With adoption of the Replacement Local Plan, the former adopted Local Plan, consisting of the following documents, is superseded as the statutory development plan for the Borough and no longer has effect:
The Adopted Brentwood Local Plan (March 1995)
The Adopted Brentwood Local Plan First Alteration (July 1997)