Harwich Valley

Harding Estates (East Anglia) Ltd is a company that owns this greenfield site on the edge of Harwich and Dovercourt in Tendring district in Essex.  The Williams Group is a property development company that has an interest in strategic land opportunities across the east of England. They have an ethos  based upon a desire, wherever possible, to pursue a long term and collaborative approach to mixed use fringe development.

The challenge

The challenge was to to secure planning permission for a major mixed use urban extension on a green field site on the edge of Harwich & Dovercourt in Essex.

The Local Plan for the area was adopted in 2007 and the site was allocated for employment development such as factories, warehousing and offices.  However, no application to respond to this allocation had ever been submitted.  The Council recognised that the costs of the significant new infrastructure necessary to bring the site forward would require other value generate uses to be permitted.  Therefore, the Council produced a draft allocation that allows for a mix of employment generating uses, including retail and leisure, alongside residential uses as well as some of the originally allocated employment uses.

The scheme submitted was for up to 297 new homes, alongside some 40,000 sqm of commercial floorspace.  The commercial floorspace included a foodstore, petrol filling station, non-food units, employment floorspace (including start up units), café/restaurant units, public house, drive thru restaurants, cinema and a hotel.  The development also included a new roundabout off the A120 to facilitate vehicular access into the site.

The key issues surrounding the application concerned the policy evidence justifying the proposed retail and leisure uses, the provision of employment and start up office space and the amount affordable housing.  The application also required the provision of an Environmental Statement assessing the environmental impacts of the development.

The solution

A planning stategy was formulated to ensure that the necessary technical planning and environmental requirements were addressed, with the key benefits to the community highlighted.  The main contentious issues surrounded the level of affordable housing, the possible impact of the retail floorspace on the town centre and whether the development would deliver sufficient employment floorspace to meet the Council’s policies for the site.

A comprehensive package of retail and employment evidence was submitted to demonstrate the limited impact on the town centre.  This evidence also sought to highlight the very significant public benefits in terms of new jobs, inward investment into the area and choice of retail facilities.  Viability evidence was also commissioned that idendified the significant infrastructure costs, such as the new roundabout and cut and fill exercises, associated with the development, along the likely rental levels of the retail, to demonstrrate that the development could only achieve 10% affordable housing.

The outcome

The application was submitted in September 2014, was agreed at committee in March 2015 with the Section 106 being signed and planning permission issued in June 2016. The client is considering mechanisms for the delivery of the development.

Our team commenced work on this project whilst at Peter Brett Associates LLP.

To find out more about Q+A Planning services contact Peter Keenan on 07702 854 551 or [email protected]