Why a Garden Community?

Why is the Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community needed?

North Essex is a vibrant and attractive place to live and work. The area has experienced significant population, housing and employment growth in recent years, and this is forecast to continue.

Colchester, Tendring and all Councils have a legal duty to meet projected housing needs and plan for future growth and must follow central Government policy to boost the supply of housing to meet ambitious housing delivery targets.

The projected need for housing in the future in Colchester and Tendring is expected to be very high and simply continuing to expand existing towns and villages is not considered the most suitable way to plan for growth in the long term – particularly when it comes to the providing infrastructure. We are therefore taking the Garden Community approach to think strategically about housing needs in the future and to meet the demand for new homes which involves the creation of a new settlement to the east of Colchester, crossing over the border with Tendring, containing high quality development and new infrastructure.

The Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community, which would involve the provision of 7,500 – 9,000 homes (to be built over many years), is part of a long-term vision of Colchester Borough Council and Tendring District Council in partnership with Essex County Council to help meet the future growth of the area in a more strategic way.

Section 1 of Colchester and Tendring’s Local Plan and its accompanying evidence, which includes this Garden Community, has been thoroughly scrutinised by an independent Planning Inspector. The Planning Inspector has found the Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community to be sound, including the evidence supporting the strategy behind this specific location and both Councils have now formally adopted the Local Plan. The Councils can now proceed to work up the proposal in more detail.

North Essex is a vibrant and attractive place to live and work. The area has experienced significant population, housing and employment growth in recent years, and this is forecast to continue.

Colchester, Tendring and all Councils have a legal duty to meet projected housing needs and plan for future growth and must follow central Government policy to boost the supply of housing to meet ambitious housing delivery targets.

The projected need for housing in the future in Colchester and Tendring is expected to be very high and simply continuing to expand existing towns and villages is not considered the most suitable way to plan for growth in the long term – particularly when it comes to the providing infrastructure. We are therefore taking the Garden Community approach to think strategically about housing needs in the future and to meet the demand for new homes which involves the creation of a new settlement to the east of Colchester, crossing over the border with Tendring, containing high quality development and new infrastructure.


We have looked at a variety of alternative options for delivering the additional homes in the long term, including continuing to expand existing towns and villages – as has happened historically.

However, this approach has historically seen new homes built sometimes without the necessary expansion of local services to support the needs of the new residents. Sometimes developments on the edge of towns are villages are too big for the existing infrastructure to be expanded sufficiently to serve the increasing population but often too small to deliver brand new infrastructure that might help to relieve future issues. This also negatively impacts on the quality of life for existing residents, as well as new ones. Expanding current villages and towns also pushes new residents further and further away from existing centres, encouraging them to drive to access shops, leisure facilities and places of work.

A new Garden Community gives us the chance to change this in the future by developing a community of sufficient scale to deliver and be served by new schools, health facilities, and job opportunities with good public transport links to existing town centres and employment areas.

The new development could also help with issues we are currently facing – including congestion. As part of the plans for the Garden Community we are looking to develop a Rapid Transit System, potentially a trackless tram in the future, which will improve connectivity and relieve congestion on local road networks.

Other examples include the creation of job opportunities, new areas of publicly accessible open space for everyone to enjoy, and specially managed areas of natural space to support wildlife.

If the proposals for the Garden Community are not taken forward, then the homes needed for North Essex would still need to be built to meet the projected needs and lots of additional sites around existing towns and villages would need to be found in future years.

The Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community, which would involve the provision of 7,500 - 9,000 homes (to be built over many years), is part of a long-term vision of Colchester Borough Council and Tendring District Council in partnership with Essex County Council to help meet the future growth of the area in a more strategic way.

Section 1 of Colchester and Tendring’s Local Plan and its accompanying evidence, which includes this Garden Community, has been thoroughly scrutinised by an independent Planning Inspector. The Planning Inspector has found the Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community to be sound, including the evidence supporting the strategy behind this specific location and both Councils have now formally adopted the Local Plan. The Councils can now proceed to work up the proposal in more detail.

Isn’t there enough brownfield land for new housing?

Given the scale of the housing challenge, not just locally but nationally, we need to develop both suitable brownfield and greenfield sites. Both Councils have an exceptional record of prioritising brownfield land which is suitable for residential developments, but this has led to most of this previously developed land running out. Therefore, to meet future development needs, large areas of greenfield land will be required.


The Garden Community and the Environment

What will be the impact on the environment of the Garden Community?

It is set out in the Local Plan to ensure new development does not have an adverse effect on any European Protected or nationally important sites and complies with environmental legislation. Over the next couple of years further detailed analysis of wildlife habitats will take place.

We have policies set out to ensure that design and infrastructure for the Garden Community will incorporate the highest standards of innovation in energy efficiency and technology to reduce the impact of climate change, ensure water efficiency, and implement sustainable waste / recycling management facilities.

There is a challenge in providing new homes, while also protecting our precious wildlife and beautiful countryside. However, recent developments in the UK and abroad have shown new developments can improve the environment, reduce carbon emissions and improve local biodiversity. There are significant opportunities to learn from these developments including embracing the latest innovations in housing designs as well as exploring how renewable energy can be captured and reused in the Garden Community.

It is now a national requirement to ensure all new development results in a ‘net gain’ of biodiversity. However, the Garden Community presents an opportunity for us to go far beyond the bare minimum, for example by transforming large areas of agricultural land into ‘rewilded’ woodland and other natural habitats.

It is set out in the Local Plan to ensure new development does not have an adverse effect on any European Protected or nationally important sites and complies with environmental legislation. Over the next couple of years further detailed analysis of wildlife habitats will take place.

We have policies set out to ensure that design and infrastructure for the Garden Community will incorporate the highest standards of innovation in energy efficiency and technology to reduce the impact of climate change, ensure water efficiency, and implement sustainable waste / recycling management facilities.

Is there enough water to sustain this Garden Community and how will waste water be dealt with?

Anglian Water confirmed that it could meet its statutory requirements to deliver water and sewage infrastructure in the Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community.

The Planning Inspector concluded that the evidence that has been provided in this respect is reasonable at this stage.

The most recent Anglian Water document on drainage and water management provides an initial framework that will be built upon to include more detailed information. This will be published in its final form in 2022 as the next phase in long-term planning, covering the period 2025-2050.

Further information is available at Drainage and Wastewater Management Plan (DWMP) (anglianwater.co.uk)


The Garden Community Concept

Isn’t this Garden Community just another name for a new housing development?

The principles outlined in Colchester and Tendring’s Local Plan make clear reference to Garden Community standards for this new community. The Planning Inspector found that this Garden Community was viable and deliverable.  Evidence supporting the plan showed that developers could provide the range of reasonable infrastructure required to support a Garden Community in this location.

The Garden Community approach allows us to have more of a say in the design and developing the services and facilities needed to support the new homes. This new approach would see us working with other public and private sector bodies to create sustainable development, backed by robust plans, ensuring high quality.

We are committed to delivering a quality new community, embracing the Garden City approach and principles, as a way of meeting the Government’s housing targets in a sustainable way.

The principles outlined in Colchester and Tendring’s Local Plan make clear reference to Garden Community standards for this new community. The Planning Inspector found that this Garden Community was viable and deliverable.  Evidence supporting the plan showed that developers could provide the range of reasonable infrastructure required to support a Garden Community in this location.

The Garden Community approach allows us to have more of a say in the design and developing the services and facilities needed to support the new homes. This new approach would see us working with other public and private sector bodies to create sustainable development, backed by robust plans, ensuring high quality.

As specified in Section 1 of the Local Plan, we will produce a Development Plan Document (DPD) for the Garden Community. This will contain policies setting out how the new community will be designed, developed and delivered in phases, in accordance with our key principles.  No planning consent for development forming any part of the Garden Community will be granted until the Development Plan Document has been finally scrutinised and agreed – otherwise known as ‘adopted’.

These key principles will include things such as community and stakeholder engagement; ensuring the timely delivery of both on-site and off-site infrastructure; the highest quality of planning and design; balanced and inclusive housing needs (including a mix of dwelling sizes, tenures and types); provision for Gypsies and Travellers; 30% affordable housing; opportunities for employment;  sustainable transport systems; climate resilience; net gains in local biodiversity, highest standards of energy efficiency and innovation in technology; innovative water efficiency/reuse measures; and establishing a long term governance and stewardship arrangement for community assets, including green space.

What Makes a Garden Community Different?

A Garden Community is a planned new community which will be a sustainable and attractive place to live, work and visit for all. The principles behind a Garden Community is that it is infrastructure-led, and this is something we are committed to.

This means that all the essential facilities and services – like schools, health services, roads and transport systems, and jobs – would all be available as the new community grows. This is instead of the normal method of continually adding housing developments to our urban areas without the necessary infrastructure or only limited expansion of existing services and facilities. This approach detrimentally impacts our residents.

A Garden Community is a planned new community which will be a sustainable and attractive place to live, work and visit for all. The principles behind a Garden Community is that it is infrastructure-led, and this is something we are committed to.

This means that all the essential facilities and services – like schools, health services, roads and transport systems, and jobs – would all be available as the new community grows. This is instead of the normal method of continually adding housing developments to our urban areas without the necessary infrastructure or only limited expansion of existing services and facilities. This approach detrimentally impacts our residents.

Importantly, the Garden Community will not result in any additional new homes. The homes need to be built either way.

To further develop the community feel, residents of the new Garden Community will have the chance to have a say on the management and maintenance of open spaces and other community facilities within it.

Community engagement is key to any Garden Community, which is why residents from existing settlements will also have the opportunity to have a say on key issues as the development takes place.

What will be the big differences living in a Garden Community to living on a new housing estate now?

As stated in Section 1 of the Local Plan, the Garden Community will be built to the highest design standards, with plenty of green space and the necessary infrastructure. Our Development Plan Document will outline our expected standards and principles and future planning applications will be determined based on this.

As stated in Section 1 of the Local Plan, the Garden Community will be built to the highest design standards, with plenty of green space and the necessary infrastructure.  Our Development Plan Document will outline our expected standards and principles and future planning applications will be determined based on this.

People will have the choice as to how they want to travel around the area. While obviously they could have their own cars, they will also have access to safe and attractive walking and cycling routes, quality public transport and the latest green technology supporting electric vehicles close to their homes.

The key aim of the Garden Community is to create high quality environments where communities thrive. The Garden Community will be designed with jobs close by which are easily accessible, and also promote the move towards increasing home working with superfast broadband. Ultimately therefore, Garden Communities are all about raising the quality of life for residents.

Housing in the Garden Community

Will there be more council and affordable housing within the Garden Community?

We have set out in policy that a minimum of 30% of new housing in the Garden Community to be classed as affordable (including the potential for more social housing) by the Government’s definition. The affordable housing will be phased through the development. You can read about this in the Local Plan.

We have set out in policy that a minimum of 30% of new housing in the Garden Community to be classed as affordable (including the potential for more social housing) by the Government’s definition. The affordable housing will be phased through the development. Additionally, there is an opportunity to build new housing for specific groups such as older people and people with disabilities. This Garden Community will provide a truly balanced and inclusive community. We will make sure it meets the housing needs of local people including a mix of dwelling sizes, tenures and types, provision for self and custom-built homes and provision for the aging population.  You can read about this in the Local Plan.

How will the housing be split between Colchester and Tendring?

As stated in the Local Plan (for the Plan period up to 2033) housing delivery from the Garden Community (irrespective of its actual location in the Garden Community) will be distributed equally between Colchester Borough Council and Tendring District Council.

You can read about this in the Local Plan.

Further conversations on housing splits and eligibility after 2033 will take place in the future.


Will there be provision for Gypsies and Travellers?

There will also be provision for Gypsies and Travellers. The Government’s planning policies and requirements for Gypsy and Traveller sites are set out in the Planning Policy for Traveller sites, which must be taken into consideration in preparing Local Plans and taking planning decisions.  

You can read about this in the Local Plan.


Transport in the Garden Community

What public transport comes with the Garden Community?

The Garden Community will be served by innovative public transport including a Rapid Transit System (RTS) connecting the new development with Colchester and onward destinations. The Rapid Transit System has been made possible thanks to a successful Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bid, submitted by Essex County Council.

Additional transport facilities will include the provision of a network of footpaths, cycleways and bridleways to enhance sustainable transport options and link in with the wider strategic and local road network.


Will the new A120/A133 link road be in place before the house building starts?

Absolutely. We are committed to the ‘infrastructure first’ approach. The condition of the road funding we successfully secured requires that it is built on a tight timetable. So, it will be delivered during 2024 – well in time for people to move into the first homes.

The government’s financial contribution for the link road was factored into the evidence provided for the proposal of this Garden Community and it was heavily scrutinised by the Planning Inspector, who concluded the viability for the community was very strong.


Won’t the new A120/A133 ‘split’ the Garden Community?

The new link road is a vital part of our commitment to ‘infrastructure first’. Such an important transport provision is crucial for the Garden Community and wider area.

Masterplanning for the Garden Community has not taken place yet. We will be carrying out more work to look at potential employment sites to the east of the Link Road. At the moment, and subject to further consultation with the community and stakeholders, we do not envisage any residential development to the east of the Link Road.


When will the proposed Rapid Transit System be available?

In August 2019 the Government awarded £30million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) towards the first phase of the Rapid Transit System (RTS).  This will be used to develop a route through Colchester from the Park and Ride in North Colchester, through the Town Centre and onward to the Garden Community.  The route through the Garden Community will be agreed through the planning process and will allow for accessibility to the scheme from the very start of the delivery of new housing. We are ambitious as to the use of new technology for the Rapid Transit System and a modern tram-style system is our aspiration as soon as it can be delivered.


Clingo Hill is already struggling with the current amount of traffic – how is it expected to cope with additional traffic from additional homes?

There are significant amounts of traffic in several areas across the borough of Colchester and there are a number of ways of helping to ease this.

Firstly, the new link road will help motorists to get directly onto the A120 and A12 via the new link road, avoiding coming into Colchester.

Then, there is the Rapid Transit System – which alongside the increasing use of other alternatives to the private car, will provide an alternative attractive means of travelling into Colchester and beyond.

Finally, the new Garden Community would encourage the majority of journeys to be made within the community itself, reducing the need to travel further.


Will the trees along the Rapid Transit System route in Colchester have to be removed to ensure they can cope with any additional traffic?

While we still need to develop the specific details of the route for the Rapid Transit System, it is important that the route is segregated.

However, we fully recognise the importance of trees along the route and this will be considered as part of the process for the necessary planning application.


Facilities and Jobs in the Garden Community

Will there be more open space in the Garden Community?

A significant amount of the new Garden Community is to be publicly accessible open space, which is far greater than traditional developments. This new open space will take a number of forms including recreational areas, sports facilities, play areas and new nature reserves.


Where will shops, schools and medical facilities be sited and when will they be available?

Essential services such as supermarkets, retail, schools and medical facilities will be located within neighbourhood centres throughout the Garden Community and will be available to serve the community in line with its growth.

Essential services such as supermarkets, retail, schools and medical facilities will be located within neighbourhood centres throughout the Garden Community and will be available to serve the community in line with its growth. Importantly, these facilities will be delivered on a phase by phase basis, ensuring that new homes are built with the infrastructure to support them. This means as the community grows, so will the infrastructure provided to support it.

The details of the kinds of facilities in the Garden Community is something we will
explore via the Development Plan Document as we engage with the community and stakeholders.

Won’t pressure be put on existing schools and medical facilities until new ones are built?

Planning policies require that supporting infrastructure for the Garden Community is phased alongside development to ensure capacity keeps up with demand.

Planning policies require that supporting infrastructure for the Garden Community is phased alongside development to ensure capacity keeps up with demand.

Some larger facilities such as secondary schools require larger catchment areas to warrant opening. In these instances, we will work with infrastructure providers such as Essex County Council to ensure expansion of nearby existing facilities, as required, prior to demand for a new facility reaching critical mass. Education and health providers have a statutory requirement to meet needs and are continually exploring new delivery methods to address this demand - such as increased use of digital communication and shared multi-purpose community facilities.

Where will the new jobs be?

Employment opportunities will be located in the Garden Community in specially designed areas, as well as mixed in with residential areas. As and when we agree deals with businesses, this will be communicated.

The ‘one job per household’ refers to both jobs within the Garden Community itself and within a sustainable commuting distance, so the area is wider than just the Garden Community.

Employment opportunities will be located in the Garden Community in specially designed areas, as well as mixed in with residential areas. As and when we agree deals with businesses, this will be communicated.

The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced fundamental shifts to working patterns that can be expected to result in lasting increases to home working and the need for supporting services in nearby centres. The Garden Community model is well-suited to support these new ways of working and we will provide high speed and reliable broadband to enable this.

The Garden Community is also well located, with the University of Essex nearby as well as international gateways with Stansted Airport and the ports at Harwich and Felixstowe along the A120 corridor. We will allocate 25 hectares of employment land within the Garden Community and economic assessments have shown the equivalent of one job per new home built in the Garden Community is achievable.

The ‘one job per household’ refers to both jobs within the Garden Community itself and within a sustainable commuting distance, so the area is wider than just the Garden Community.

The Garden Community and Existing Communities

What will be the impact on other established communities?

We are keen to protect the identity of established communities which is why we are promoting a Garden Community and not scattered uncoordinated development. We will ensure those residents are consulted and informed throughout the development of the new community.

We are keen to protect the identity of established communities which is why we are promoting a Garden Community and not scattered uncoordinated development.  We will ensure those residents are consulted and informed throughout the development of the new community.

The Garden Community will be surrounded with green areas while new roads, footpaths, cycleways and a Rapid Transit System will connect surrounding areas to the new settlements, to enable everyone to benefit from the new Garden Community.

Existing communities will be able to benefit from the enhanced community facilities and open spaces provided by the Garden Community. Those types of facilities will be developed through gathering ideas from existing communities as part of the process of producing the Development Plan Document.

How the Garden Community is Funded

Where will the money come from to pay for the infrastructure and facilities?

Major pieces of infrastructure needed to support the Garden Community will be funded through central Government.

Any surplus made through land sales and housing developments would also be used to support the provision of facilities and services supporting the new Garden Community.

Major pieces of infrastructure needed to support the Garden Community will be funded through central Government. For example, through the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund almost £100million has been given to us to build the A120/A133 link road for the Garden Community and to develop the Rapid Transit System in that part of the town.

Any surplus made through land sales and housing developments would also be used to support the provision of facilities and services supporting the new Garden Community. The certainty of new housing receipts in the future will ensure that this infrastructure can be funded up front.

A carefully thought-out Development Plan Document, prepared with the community and developer buy-in, will provide a firm policy basis for ensuring development delivers on the principles, as set out in Section 1 of the Local Plan.

Timeline and Useful Information

What is the timeline for the Garden Community?

The timeline below is indicative and may be subject to change.

2021:

  • Engagement begins, exploring themes and layouts
  • A120/A133 Link Road planning application submitted
  • Scoping and evidence gathering

2022:

  • Engagement continues with layout options explored, options refined and a preferred option for the layout identified
  • A120/A133 Link Road and Rapid Transit System target construction start
  • Development Plan Document submitted to the Secretary of State (late 2022 or early 2023)

2023:

  • The Development Plan Document is consulted on and examined in public by the Planning Inspectorate, with a view to it being adopted
  • A120/A133 Link Road and Rapid Transit System construction continues
  • Planning applications for other development on the Garden Community evolved and considered

2024:

  • A120/A133 Link Road construction complete
  • New phase of engagement
  • Housing and other infrastructure starts

2025 – approx 2051

  • Garden Community continues to be developed


What happens next?

The Planning Inspector has concluded that the Section 1 Local Plan is sound. Both Colchester and Tendring have now adopted Section 1 of their Local Plans.

A project team from all three authorities has been assembled. The priority now is to start the preparation work in order to produce the Development Plan Document (DPD) over the next two years or so (until late 2022 or early 2023). This document will be produced with input from stakeholders and the community. A published Engagement and Consultation strategy outlines how we will do this.

The setting up of a delivery mechanism for the Garden Community is also an important and ongoing discussion among the partner authorities.