Project Description

  • Project:  Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community (North Essex)
  • Location:  North Essex
  • Client:  Braintree, Colchester, Tendring, Essex & NEGC Ltd
  • Accommodation:  9,000 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.

The Councils embarked on an ambitious strategic approach to future growth, with 3 sites being considered for new sustainable Garden Communities with capacity for over 40,000 new homes together with employment, open space and all necessary supporting infrastructure. They were being considered based upon Garden City principles, including all place-making aspects together with strong local leadership, long term stewardship and land value capture.

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.
  • 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 circa £4m capacity funding support from Government and £99m infrastructure funding via the Housing Infrastructure Fund for strategic highways improvements and the provision of Rapid Transit.

Hyas have also deployed the Garden City & Large Sites Model to understand and test the viability of the sites from early stages in the consideration. The Councils also worked up a potential delivery structure with the proactive consideration of 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 as part of the consideration of the Section 1 Local Plans alongside viability material produced by a wide range of other stakeholders. All of this material was debated at the Examination in Public process.

The Inspector issued his findings in May 2020. He has supported the 9,000 home Tendring Colchester Borders scheme which will now move forward with a site specific Development Plan Document together with implementation of upfront strategic infrastructure delivered through the HIF funding. The Inspector has suggested however that the other 2 sites be removed from the plans due primarily to long term uncertainties.

The experience raises many questions over how such long term schemes can navigate through the current planning system, and how best to accommodate those places and stakeholders that are trying to be more visionary about what they want achieve for future generations.