Southend Central Area Action Plan
Key Regeneration and Planning Policies for Southend
2.1 Strategic policy for Southend and the town centre is set out in the Regional Economic Strategy and the Regional Spatial Strategy.
2.2 Inventing our Future: Collective Action for a Sustainable Economyis the title of the Regional and Economic Strategy for the East of England 2008–2031 [RES]. This analysed the town’s assets and opportunities as follows:
- Southend-on-Sea is the largest urban area in the region and an important service and growing cultural centre. Major opportunities exist to strengthen Southend as a centre for knowledge-based employment, building on the creation of the university campus and leading companies such as Olympus Keymed and RBS
- Southend-on-Sea receives approximately six million visitors per annum, and is home to London Southend Airport, which has potential for passenger growth and enhancement of its engineering and maintenance activities.
2.3 The RES sets out the following ambition for the area which is still regarded as relevant to:
- reinvent and revitalise the town centre in Southend-on-Sea
- become a niche centre in the creative industries, including a focused offer in Southend-on-Sea built around the University, METAL and thriving arts and new media businesses
2.4 Currently the strategic planning context for the Borough Council’s Core Strategy Development Plan Document, as well as this Area Action Plan for the Central Area, is set out in the East of England Plan (Regional Spatial Strategy [RSS]). Whilst reform of this strategic tier of the planning system is currently underway many aspects of the RSS are still considered relevant
2.5 RSS policy SS3 designates Southend as one of a number of key centres for development and change. Policy is to concentrate new development in such locations in order to make the most of existing infrastructure and the potential for improvements or extensions to it. Southend is also listed as a town of strategic importance for retail and other town centre purposes where RSS policy E5 designates Southend as a Regional Centre and seeks to locate major new retail development and complementary town centre uses in a manner that would be consistent in scale and character with the centre and its role in the regional structure. In addition the town is also a Regional Transport Node where the objective of RSS policy T5 is to enable more inter-urban movements by public transport and to provide links between modes and with local services.
2.6 In order to give effect to the strategic aims set out in the above policies RSS policy ETG4 requires Local Development Documents for Southend to:
- Facilitate physical, economic and social regeneration of the urban area including maximising the re-use of previously developed land;
- Achieve an urban renaissance of the town centre by establishing it as a focus for cultural and intellectual activities led by the development of a university campus, securing a full range of high quality sub-regional services and facilities, and providing for mixed use development to secure new jobs and homes;
- Upgrade strategic and local passenger transport accessibility, including the development of strategic transport interchanges around existing transport nodes.
2.7 One of the key outcomes sought in Southend Together’s Community Plan, Sustainable Community Strategy 2007 – 2017: Building our Future,is the creation of a competitive regional town centre that would contribute to the creation of a thriving and sustainable local economy, which extends opportunity for local residents and promotes prosperity throughout the borough. In addition this strategy seeks to improve accessibility in the borough, particularly to the town centre and to also establish a coherent car parking and payment strategy.
2.8 To meet the ambitions and priorities identified by the Community Plan the Council has adopted a set of strategic objectives. These provide a firm basis for the Core Strategy and the policies and proposals that it contains. The Core Strategy is part of the adopted development plan and is one of the key means of implementing these ambitions and priorities. Core Strategy strategic objective SO8 is to secure a thriving, vibrant and attractive town centre.
2.9 The Core Strategy is a spatial strategy that seeks to deliver a distribution of investment and development based on the following approach:
- A town centre renewal package with an emphasis on refocusing of retail opportunities, a major expansion of town centre housing, expansion of education/lifelong learning, culture and leisure provision, including the strengthening of Southend’s position as a ‘University Town’ and renaissance of the seafront, and better integration with public transport interchanges.
- Reducing and preventing flood risk through the management of development and through providing for appropriate and sustainable flood risk management measures as part of a comprehensive shoreline management strategy. In those areas that are identified as being at risk, development will only be permitted where it is appropriate to its location in terms of its type, siting and sustainable mitigation measures proposed.
2.10 Core Strategy policy KP1 sets out the Council’s Spatial Strategy. As a principal basis for sustainable development in the town, development and investment will be expected to build on and contribute to the effectiveness and integration of the key transport corridors and interchanges. The primary focus of regeneration and growth within Southend will be in the town centre and the central area (including the central seafront area). The spatial strategy is to regenerate and transform the existing town centre, as a fully competitive sub-regional centre, led by the development of the University Campus, and securing a full range of quality sub-regional services to provide for 6500 new jobs and providing for at least 2000 additional homes in conjunction with the upgrading of the strategic and local passenger transport accessibility, including the development of Southend Central and Victoria Stations as strategic transport interchanges and related travel centres. In addition, appropriate regeneration and growth will be focussed on the Seafront to enhance its role as a successful leisure and tourist attraction and place to live, and make the best use of the River Thames, subject to safeguarding the biodiversity importance of the foreshore.
2.11 Southend Town Centre will remain the first preference for all forms of retail development and for other town centre uses attracting large numbers of people, as set out in relevant national planning policy, the East of England Plan and local strategies and plans. Core Strategy Policy CP2 promotes the development of the Town Centre:
- As a regional centre providing the full range of high quality sub-regional services and facilities required to meet the needs of south east Essex Thames Gateway for higher order retail, leisure, cultural and higher education services, for office-based employment, and for higher quality mixed use development to secure new jobs and homes;
- As the key focus and driver for the regeneration of Southend, and
- As a priority location for urban renaissance.
2.12 In order to meet the forecast quantitative shopping needs and currently identified qualitative deficiencies, Policy CP2 also makes provision for additional comparison and convenience goods floorspace to be located in accordance with the sequential preference:
- Within Southend Town Centre;
- On the edge of Southend Town Centre, where the development will contribute to and not prejudice achievement of the regeneration and urban renaissance objectives for the Town Centre.
2.13 Core Strategy Policy CP3 seeks improvements to transport infrastructure and services by widening travel choice and providing for the development of high quality transport interchanges at Southend Victoria Railway Station, Southend Central Railway Station, and Southend Travel Centre.
2.14 Good quality urban design is a vital component and a key catalyst in regeneration and urban renaissance. Core Strategy Policy CP4 specifies the measures and considerations that would lead to the creation of a high quality, sustainable urban environment which enhances and complements the natural and built assets of Southend.
Sustainable Development and Design
2.15 National planning policy is set out in PPS1 – Delivering Sustainable Development. Good design ensures attractive, usable, durable and adaptable places and is a key element in achieving sustainable development. Government policy requires local authorities to promote energy efficient buildings; community heating schemes, the use of combined heat and power, small scale renewable and low carbon energy schemes in developments; the sustainable use of water resources; and the use of sustainable drainage systems in the management of run-off.
2.16 The aims of the Council in delivering true sustainability are broader than ecology and the reduction of energy consumption. Sustainable development should provide a better quality of life for everyone, now and in the future.