Project Description

  • Project:  North Essex Garden Communities
  • Location:  North Essex
  • Client:  Braintree, Colchester, Tendring, Essex & NEGC Ltd
  • Accommodation:  +40,000 new homes
  • Planning authority:  North Essex Authorities
  • Started:  2016
  • Completed:  Ongoing

Hyas Associates have been supporting Braintree District Council, Colchester Borough Council, Tendring District Council and Essex County Council  on strategic planning matters to help the Councils move forward with their planning strategies as set out in emerging Local Plans.

The Councils have been considering an ambitious strategic approach to future growth, with 3 identified sites having capacity for over 40,000 new homes together with employment, open space and all necessary supporting infrastructure. They have been considered based upon Garden City principles, including all place-making aspects together with strong local leadership, long term stewardship and land value capture. Individually they are some of the biggest schemes being considered for development since the post war New Towns.

Hyas have been part of the team working on the initiative and have provided ongoing ‘critical friend’ advice to the Councils across areas including:

  • General strategic planning support to the client side team;
  • Commissioning and management of evidence gathering. This has involved support in preparing initial briefs, assessment of bids and appointments, through into the delivery of effective outputs and deliverables. Key role in the preparation of a Garden Communities Concept Feasibility Study and Concept Frameworks for each site;
  • Input to policy development both for the Local Plans and looking ahead to the potential need for masterplans and site specific Development Plan Documents;
  • Planning liaison across related workstreams on viability, land assembly and delivery models including direct engagement with land promoters and developers;
  • Support in preparing funding bids leading to the successful awards of several £m capacity funding and infrastructure funding via the Housing Infrastructure Fund for strategic highways improvements and the provision of Rapid Transit & planning capacity.

Hyas have also deployed the Garden City & Large Sites Model to understand and test the deliverability of the sites from early stages in the consideration. This work was undertaken not only to assess scheme viability, but also to understand the implications for potential direct public sector funding through a potential new delivery structure potentially involving site specific Local Delivery Vehicles or a Locally Led Development Corporation.

For each site, all infrastructure implications including transport, utilities, education, and community facilities have been assessed and costed. In addition, local property markets have been reviewed to inform end values and rates of take up. The model includes a year by year analysis to understand overall cashflow, including the impact of large upfront infrastructure delivery, levels of scheme debt and timescales until schemes go positive.

The work formed the basis of the viability evidence that underpinned consideration of the Section 1 Local Plans. This was tested thoroughly through the Examination in Public process, with the Inspector taking a keen interest in understanding the position on deliverability for such important, long term projects.