Southend Central Area Action Plan (SCAAP) - Revised Proposed Submission 2016

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Part A: The Plan and its Context

1. Introduction

1.1 Strategic Planning Context

(24) 1 The Southend Central Area Action Plan (SCAAP), when adopted, will form part of the Southend-on-Sea (hereafter referred to as 'Southend') Local Planning Framework.

2 The location and context of Southend Central Area is depicted on Map 1: Strategic Context. A more detailed boundary of the Southend Central Area is set out on Map 2: SCAAP Boundary and Policy Areasand on the accompanying Policies Map.

3 The SCAAP reflects the vision, strategic objectives and spatial strategy of the Southend Core Strategy (2007). The Core Strategy is a strategic level document that provides the framework for subsequent DPDs, including the SCAAP. Appendix 1 provides a broad overview of the Core Strategy policies.

4 The Core Strategy establishes housing and job growth targets for the SCAAP area, over a plan period of 2001- 2021, as follows:

  • 2,474 additional dwellings[1]
  • 7,250 additional jobs[2]

5 Between 2001 and 2016, 1,087 dwellings have been built within the Southend Central Area. Employment data[3] for the entire Borough suggests that job numbers have declined over the plan period. However, more recently, since 2010, job numbers have increased and efforts to boost job creation is underway.

6 Building on this more recent resurgence and growth, the SCAAP is considered to be an important catalyst and driver for inward investment and for the delivery of the remaining proportion of planned regeneration and growth in the Southend Central Area to meet or exceed Core Strategy targets up to 2021.

Map 1 - Strategic Context

1.2 Local Plan preparation and other planning policy and guidance for Southend

(3) 7 It is also acknowledged that further work has been jointly undertaken to establish an objectively assessed need, in terms of jobs and housing, for Southend and surrounding housing market area. This will be a key evidence document in the preparation of the Southend Local Plan, which will set out new long term growth targets replacing those of the adopted Southend Core Strategy, including a review of unimplemented development sites within the SCAAP.

8 The Borough Council adopted the Development Management Document (DMD) in July 2015. The DMD sets out policies for positively managing development in Southend and will be used to assess and determine planning applications within the SCAAP area as well as throughout the Borough.

9 The Council's adopted Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charging schedule sets out where the levy may be payable, where exemptions apply, together with the CIL rates for development types and charging areas, including Southend Central Area. The proceeds can be spent on providing infrastructure to support the development within that authority's area.

10 The Borough Council has also adopted the following Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) which provide further guidance and advice:

  • Design and Townscape Guide SPD (adopted 2009). This document provides clear contextual development and design guidance and should be referenced within all development proposals;
  • Planning Obligations Guide SPD (revised 2015). This document provides guidance in relation to potential planning obligations or developer contributions in relation to development. The document also includes procedural information and contact details to assist in the negotiation of legal agreements.
  • Streetscape Manual SPD (revised 2015). This document provides guidance to ensure a coordinated, high quality streetscape is sustainably achieved within the Borough.

South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP)

11 Southend, together with the areas of Essex, Thurrock, Kent, Medway and East Sussex, form part of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP). The SELEP partnership has enabled the Council to secure a range of measures to support regeneration and growth within the Borough, including a City Deal which will link together a series of interventions including a newly formed business support facility and incubator space to aid business development, support for the regeneration of Victoria Avenue, and initial funding through the Growth Deal for the SCAAP area which will help to facilitate public realm enhancements.

12 The Council will continue to work with SELEP to generate public and private investment and support housing and jobs growth within Southend, with a particular focus on Southend Central Area.

13 South Essex Growth Partnership is driven by the private sector with support from the

public sector and is part of the SELEP. The partnership seeks to draw upon the areas key assets to help unlock the growth potential of South Essex. The South Essex authorities work collaboratively to ensure the area achieves regeneration, economic growth, new infrastructure and skills for the population.

Southend Business Improvement District (BID)

14 A Business Improvement District (BID) was established in Southend town centre and the seafront and began trading as the Southend BID Ltd in April 2013. This has helped to unlock £2.7m of investment for the town centre and seafront. The BID has introduced a number of measures to enhance the experience of visitors to the town, including the introduction of street wardens and planters to enliven the High Street experience. 

Sustainable Development

(2) 15 The Council's Low Carbon Energy and Sustainability Strategy 2015-2020 focuses on delivering low carbon growth, improving energy efficiency and providing a more sustainable future for residents, communities and businesses, with the aim of establishing Southend as Low Carbon City.

Southend Central Area Action Plan DPD

Context and Issues for the Southend Central Area

  1. Housing– the core town centre has relatively fewer residential dwellings when compared to the rest of the Borough, where residential development dominates. The result of this is a relatively small town centre population, and lower levels of activity, particularly footfall in the evening, once shops and businesses have closed.
  1. Offices– Southend Central Area is characterised by concentrations of large, out-dated and often redundant office development, which has been identified for mixed-use redevelopment in this Plan. Modern, fit-for-purpose, smaller-scale, flexible high-quality office accommodation, which better reflects demand, is therefore needed to support economic growth objectives.
  1. Retail – there has been limited investment in new retail development in recent years and there is a need for the town centre to diversify its offer, whilst maintaining its retail function, to ensure it remains attractive and competitive as high streets adapt to the market.
  1. Education – the higher and further educational offer of Southend has significantly improved in recent years, including a number of successful developments within Southend Central Area. There is also a need to ensure that any increase in the local population is accommodated in terms of school places.
  1. Tourism, Culture, Leisure and Recreation– Southend has a vibrant offer in terms of leisure, tourism and cultural facilities, enhanced in recent years by a number of successful new developments in the town centre and central seafront area. However, there is opportunity to further maximise Southend's potential as a visitor destination and resort, particularly in terms of the evening economy and through encouraging overnight and longer stays, and by creating a positive experience of the central area for visitors.
  1. Central Seafront Area– the central seafront is a valuable asset to the town, offering a destination resort for tourism, culture, leisure and recreation as well as plentiful natural resources. However, connections between it and parts of the town centre are disjointed and opportunities for 'linked trips' are not maximised. With European and international environmental designations, it offers a unique form of open space, the biodiversity interests of which need to be sensitively balanced with regeneration and growth. The provision, and enhancement, of open and green spaces in Southend Central Area will be of benefit in terms of relieving pressure on these designations.
  1. Transport, Access and Public Realm – the car continues to dominate parts of Southend Central Area and the highway severs links between gateway neighbourhoods and the town centre. With a low rate of car ownership in the Southend Central Area there is a need to build on the success of recent public realm and access improvement schemes to secure a more pleasant and accessible environment, encouraging more sustainable modes of transport including public transport, walking and cycling around the Central Area and beyond, whilst acknowledging the role the car plays in this balance.

The Central Area car parks play a vital role in sustaining the economic viability of the areas retail and tourism functions. It will be important to ensure that a level and quality of provision is provided that supports the vitality and viability of Southend Central Area.

The Parking Study for Southend Central Area identifies that the car parking network within Southend Central Area rarely exceeds 85% occupancy. It does identify however that there is a clear imbalance in the Southend Central Area parking network at periods of peak demand, with car parking to the south of the central area  experiencing overcapacity issues, while car parking to the north has available spare capacity.

  1. Heritage Southend Central Area boasts a wealth of heritage assets which will be celebrated as part of this Plan. However, there is a need to ensure that these assets and their setting are conserved and enhanced to ensure they continue to make a full contribution to the character of Southend Central Area.
  1. Climate Change, Flood Risk Management and Sustainable Drainage–Underpinning all these issues is the need for this plan, in association with the Core Strategy, to address the challenge of Climate Change and Flood Risk in the Central Area.Southend has been identified by the Environment Agency as susceptible to local surface water flooding under conditions of extreme rainfall. Additionally areas of the Borough are at risk from tidal flooding, as demonstrated by the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA). There is a need to manage development within areas of flood risk, particularly within the Central Seafront Area, and to incorporate properly designed Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) into development proposals to reduce the rate and quantity of surface water runoff. 

16 The SCAAP aims to address these issues by promoting land uses that support economic growth and housing delivery in order to create sustainable, vibrant communities. 

1.3 The Purpose of this Document

17 The purpose of the SCAAP is to give more detailed consideration to how and where regeneration and growth can sustainably be accommodated in the Southend Central Area, including the Town Centre, Central Seafront Area and gateway neighbourhoods.

18 It contains proposals for 'Policy Areas' and 'Opportunity Sites' aimed at strengthening and transforming Southend Town Centre's sub-regional role as a successful retail and commercial destination, cultural hub and educational centre of excellence, leisure and tourist attraction, and a place to reside.

19 The intention is also to seek to safeguard, conserve and enhance the significant biodiversity, green space and other environmental resources in the area and on the foreshore, as well as to bring about public realm and access improvements.

1.4 Relationship between Policies

20 All policies within this Area Action Plan should be read in conjunction with relevant national and local planning policies and guidance.

(1) 21 Please note that this Area Action Plan should be read as a whole, as the policies are cross-cutting and interrelate.

22 A policy linkage box is provided at the end of each section or policy, setting out links between policies within the SCAAP and other key documents within the Council's local planning framework.

1.5 Supporting Documents

23 The following documents together with other evidence base documents that have helped to  inform the preparation of the SCAAP are available to view on the Council's website at www.southend.gov.uk.

Sustainability Appraisal

24 A Sustainability Appraisal (SA) is an assessment of the potential significant social, environmental and economic impacts of development and forms an integral part of the plan making process. It ensures that all policies and proposals are prepared with a view to contributing to the achievement of sustainable development. The latest assessment of the sustainability and the potential significant effects of this plan can be found in the SA Report, which is available for comment.

Habitats Regulations Screening Report

(1) 25 Southend and the surrounding districts are home to a number of important designated sites for nature conservation. Habitats screening is an assessment of the potential significant effects of a policy on sites designated for their nature conservation importance. These include Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas, and international Ramsar sites.

26 The SCAAP was assessed for any significant impacts on European sites within or outside Southend. The screening report concluded that the proposed policies will have no significant impact on the European/ international designations, either alone or in combination with other plans and strategies.

Policies Map

27 The SCAAP is accompanied by a Policies Map, which illustrates the boundary of the SCAAP area, its Policy Areas and Opportunity Sites, proposals and the extent of land use designations related to policy.


2 Vision and Objectives for Southend Central Area

(1) 28 The Vision for Southend Central Area is:

Proposed Vision

  • Our vision for Southend Central Area, which includes the Town Centre and Central Seafront Area, is a destination 'City by the Sea'. As a prosperous and thriving regional centre and resort, it will be an area that is vibrant, safe and hospitable, rich in heritage, commerce, learning and culture and an attractive, diverse place where people want to live, work and visit for both day trips, overnight and longer stays.
  • Our aim is to transform the perception and image of Southend through sustainable economic growth, high quality development and social provision, and for it to be independently recognised as a popular location for businesses, residents, students and visitors.

(9) 29 Our objectives for achieving this are:

Strategic Objectives

  1. To improve and transform the economic vitality, viability and diversity of Southend Central Area by encouraging the establishment of a wider range of homes, businesses and shops whilst providing new opportunities for learning, recreation, leisure and tourism.
  1. To promote design excellence and good quality development proposals and public realm improvements to reinforce a distinctive sense of place, complement new and existing development, and contribute towards the Council's aspirations to establish Southend as a Low Carbon City.
  1. To increase the number and diversity of people living within Southend Central Area and its Gateway Neighbourhoods by building more homes, and ensure that living in the area becomes appealing to more families with children, supported by social and community infrastructure that contribute to reducing inequalities in health and wellbeing and support all ages to lead independent lives and live healthy lifestyles.
  1. To encourage the establishment and expansion of businesses in Southend Central Area by identifying, promoting or actively bringing forward suitable sites for development to meet modern user and investor requirements.
  1. To promote and enhance the tourism, cultural and leisure offer within the Central Area, including visitor accommodation, having regard to the assets offered by the area, in order to attract greater visitor numbers and promote more overnight and longer stays.
  1. To promote the Central Area as a thriving learning quarter that provides state of the art facilities and well-designed student accommodation.
  1. To improve accessibility to the area, ensuring streets, public and green spaces are well-connected, well-designed and safe, utilising a coordinated palette of materials and furniture that enhance the quality of the streetscape and improve opportunities for walking and cycling, and access to more sustainable modes of transport, such as rail and bus.
  1. To promote a positive approach to public car parking provision that provides public car parking levels that support the vitality of the town centre and central seafront area, managing the balance of parking provision to address peak demand and capacity, and provide good access to the seafront by encouraging improvements to the quality of access to and from parking areas that are convenient, well-signposted, safe and secure.
  1. To address climate change matters and appropriately manage and mitigate flood risk and to encourage the provision of Sustainable Drainage Systems and urban greening measures in order to reduce surface water run-off.
  1. To enhance the quality of, and access to, Southend Central Area's natural environment and open spaces, connecting to the green grid, and to improve connectivity between the Town Centre and Central Seafront Area in order to relieve pressure on the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Ramsar site, Special Protection Areas (SPA) and other environmental designations, to protect and enhance local biodiversity and nature conservation, and to encourage opportunity for linked trips.
  1. To celebrate and enhance the setting of Southend's unique heritage assets, such as the Grade II listed Pier, to ensure these assets are appropriately conserved and enhanced and continue to form an integral part of how Southend Central Area is experienced by those who live, work and visit the area.



[1] Core Strategy CP8: Town Centre (2,000), plus Seafront (550), minus SHLAA sites identified in the rest of the seafront outside the SCAAP area (76) = 2,474

[2] Core Strategy Cp1: Town Centre (6,500), plus Seafront (750) = 7,250

[3] Southend Annual Monitoring Reports

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