Development Management - Proposed Submission

Ended on the 29th April 2011
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Section 5 - Economic Development

5.1 As part of the Thames Gateway South Essex Growth Area and as a key regional centre, the regeneration and growth of Southend-on-Sea will be focussed on the following key drivers:

  • The renaissance of the town centre;
  • The development of the airport and associated business park;
  • The development of Southend-on-Sea’s role as a cultural and intellectual hub and centre of excellence; and
  • The development of the leisure and visitor economy.

Policy DM10 – Employment Sectors

5.2 Sustainable economic prosperity will depend on building on existing strengths and seizing new opportunities and helping businesses to grow locally. As such the Borough Council considers it important to promote economic diversity within the local and sub-regional economy and ensure that there is sufficient flexibility to enable emerging growth sectors to prosper. The Southend-on-Sea Local Economic Assessment 2011 and the Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review 2010 both identify a number of key sectoral groups that are important to the Borough’s economy and future economic growth. The Council will seek to promote these sectors and ensure that their locational requirements are supported in a sustainable manner.

Aviation Industries

5.3 The aviation industry is set to grow rapidly following a series of proposals for the extension of London Southend Airport and delivery of supporting infrastructure including a new railway station, control tower and terminal building. A planning application for the extension of London Southend Airport was approved by the Council in January 2010 and was subsequently approved by the Secretary of State. The extension is scheduled to be fully functional by 2012 and will increase access to variety of destinations across Europe. This growth will support a number of complementary sectors including high-tech manufacturing and engineering. The Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) activities related to the airport are also a critical element to the Southend-on-Sea economy.

Health and Medical Industries

(1) 5.4 Health and medical industries are an important element to Southend-on-Sea’s economy. Southend University Hospital is the Borough’s largest employer, whilst KeyMed, which manufactures medical equipment, is also a significant employer. A number of smaller companies dealing in medical instruments have emerged in the surrounding area, either directly or indirectly linked to KeyMed. Both the Southend-on-Sea Local Economic Assessment 2011 and the Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review 2010 have forecast these industries to grow which will provide an opportunity for a cluster of health and medical industries that are well related to KeyMed, the Hospital and University.

Business and Financial Services

5.5 The business and financial services is well represented in Southend-on-Sea and currently accounts for 23% of the Borough’s workforce. Both the Southend-on-Sea Local Economic Assessment 2011 and the Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review 2011 indicate that it there is limited scope for large scale relocations to Southend-on-Sea but there maybe scope for medium sized operations. It is also indicated within these documents that this sector has important indirect influence over other sectors in the Borough such as restaurants, bars and shops and will continue to be a key economic driver within the economy.

Culture and Intellectual Hub

5.6 The Department for Culture, Media and Sport defines the creative industries sector as those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent which have the potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property. Significant investment has already taken place in the form of the new University of Essex campus in the town centre and further development works are scheduled. The creative and educational sectors represent a good opportunity for Southend-on-Sea to expand its economic diversity. The Southend-on-Sea Local Economic Assessment 2011 identifies Southend Central, Westcliff and Leigh-on-Sea as the main cultural centres within the South Essex sub-region and the best locations in which to develop this industry.

Tourism

5.7 The tourism sector accounts for 18.3% of the Borough’s economy and has a wider positive impact upon retailing, catering, entertainment and transport industries. There are a number tourism and cultural developments in the pipeline which could stimulate economic growth in the Borough. In addition there is potential to launch Southend-on-Sea as a conference destination. Like education and cultural employment growth, tourism and leisure growth will build the reputation of Southend-on-Sea as a vibrant cosmopolitan urban centre.

Civic and Government Administration

5.8 Approximately a quarter of all jobs in Southend-on-Sea are in the public sector. An important pubic sector hub is centred along Victoria Avenue and contains the Borough Council offices and HMRC.

(6) Policy DM10 – Employment Sectors
1. Development will be encouraged that contributes to the promotion of sustainable economic growth by increasing the capacity and quality of employment land, floorspace, and jobs.
2. Development proposals within the employment sectors identified within Policy Table 6 will be directed to the Locational Priority Areas.
Employment Sectors Key Activities and features Priority Location Areas
Aviation Industries Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) London Southend Airport;
Existing Industrial and Employment Areas.
Health and medical industries Medical instruments; research and development; training and enterprise; Existing health facilities; Existing Industrial and Employment Areas.
Business and financial services Small and medium enterprises; managed accommodation; incubator/seedbed centres. Southend Central Area; Employment Areas; London Southend Airport; and close proximity to rail stations.
Cultural and intellectual hub and Higher Education centre of excellence Individual creativity; skill and talent; arts; digital media; design, music etc; combination units comprising e.g. office and workshop; and Flexible space. Southend Central Area; Leigh-on-Sea District Centre; Employment Areas; Existing facilities.
Tourism and leisure Hotels; restaurants; catering; Visitor Conference; other tourism related activities. Southend Central Area; the Seafront.
Manufacturing, Construction and Warehousing Low density industrial; flexible; small and medium sized units; storage yards. Existing Industrial and Employment Areas.
Civic and Government administration Borough Council and HMRC Southend Central Area.
Core Strategy Linkage:  
Objectives Policies
Strategic Objective 1 Policy KP1: Spatial Strategy
Strategic Objective 2 Policy CP1: Employment Generating Development
Strategic Objective 3 Policy CP2: Town Centre and Retail Development
Strategic Objective 4  
Strategic Objective 5  

Policy DM11 – Industrial Estates and Employment Areas

5.9 Due to the urbanised nature of Southend-on-Sea and tightly defined administrative boundary, land is a scarce resource which needs to be utilised to deliver the growth vision for the Borough and sub-region. The main issue with economic development is the relatively lower land values compared to other land uses such as residential. This means that land in employment uses or desirable locations for employment development in market and sustainable terms, needs to be safeguarded or allocated to facilitate economic growth.

5.10 Improving the quality of the existing stock of industrial estates and employment areas is essential if Southend-on-Sea is to meet the objectives of the Core Strategy DPD and continue and further develop as an attractive location for a diverse range of successful businesses. This is necessary to stimulate regeneration and investment and raise the profile of Southend-on-Sea. The industrial estates and employment areas are identified in the Core Strategy DPD as Priority Urban Areas, which form a network of areas where new development and investment will be focused with the aim of contributing to the creation of 2,750 of the 13,000 jobs to be delivered in Southend-on-Sea by 2021.

Small and Medium Enterprises

5.11 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) make an important contribution to the Southend-on-Sea economy. Approximately 4,375 businesses in the Borough employ between 1 and 10 employees. This comprises 81.3% of all the VAT and PAYE registered companies (Source: Interdepartmental Business Register (IDBR) 2009). SMEs account for 12,880 employees, which is equivalent to 13% of the Borough’s workforce. SMEs are diverse and have varying accommodation requirements.

5.12 The Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review 2010 highlights a need within Southend-on-Sea for more managed accommodation for new companies, particularly grow-on space from incubator units. It’s important the future provision provides a choice in terms of location and premises size for business services. If Southend-on-Sea is to facilitate growth, incubator, grow-on and medium sized premises are required in a variety of locations.

Employment Growth Areas

5.13 The Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review 2010 also identified several sites as potentially suitable for future employment provision. These sites are discussed below.

(1) 5.14 Progress Road and Prittle Brook Industrial Estate offer significant regeneration opportunities over the long term. Progress Road, has several vacant units many in a poor state of repair. It is clear that redevelopment for modern employment uses over the long term is required and the Borough Council is already working in partnership to redevelop the site on a plot-by-plot basis in line with the adopted Progress Road Estate Framework: Design Brief (2009). Prittle Brook Industrial Estate is available for comprehensive redevelopment with a significant proportion having already been cleared.

5.15 Terminal Close is currently in poor condition. This site provides an opportunity for a mixed use scheme, to provide modern good quality provision in the centre of Old Shoebury. It is considered that the site should be primarily retained for employment uses providing a minimum of 4,000m2 of hybrid office/workshop units to support business service and potential creative industries and start ups businesses.

(2) 5.16 Shoebury Garrison is the last remaining area of ‘greenfield’ employment opportunity within the Borough.  The existing Phase 1 has several new good quality units available for rent and should be safeguarded. Phase 2 is currently allocated employment land. The Borough Council’s Employment Land Review found a future employment land demand gap across the Borough in the long term.  As such, all land allocated in Phase 2 may well be required for employment.  It would not be unreasonable, therefore, to safeguard the whole site for employment use for the post 2021 period. This approach has been used by other authorities to safeguard valuable employment land of strategic importance for the long term.  To support the Core Strategy DPD objective of 1,500 jobs in Shoeburyness, 4.3 ha of the Garrison site would be required (in addition to future supply from existing industrial estates in the area) and this would support, 25,800 sq m of floorspace to meet future requirement. However, whilst all employment land in Southend is a valuable commodity, the ELR suggests that in the medium term to 2021 there is a lower demand for employment land in this location and the Garrison Phase 2 land could contribute to an oversupply.  Oversupply in this location could potentially compete with other priorities within the Town Centre and at the Airport in the medium term. As a result, the ELR recommends that to meet forecast demand in this area, a minimum of 3.2 ha is required to support 19,000 sq m by 2021.  The use of remaining land should be determined through the production of the Shoeburyness AAP, which can consider this site alongside other employment sites in Shoeburyness, such as Campfield Road and Vanguard Way.

5.17 Grainger Road and Sutton Road are located outside the town centre area. Grainger Road consists of older industrial units with some vacant units, whilst Sutton Road has mixed quality post war units with higher vacancy. The Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review 2010 recommends protecting Grainger Road for employment uses with potential to redevelop as an employment-led mixed-use scheme to provide a better relationship with surrounding residential uses. It is also recommended that Sutton Road is also redeveloped but with a residential-led scheme that provides active commercial and retail uses on the ground floor.

Industrial Estates

5.18 The Southend-on-Sea Employment Land Review 2010 sets out the existing employment sites that are considered to have continued value in employment use and therefore should continue to be protected from loss in the first instance.

5.19 There is a need to manage existing employment land and buildings within Southend-on-Sea. Upgrading employment land will provide an opportunity to improve the stock of industrial and employment premises in the Borough. Improving the quality of the existing stock of the industrial estates and employment areas is essential if Southend-on-Sea is to be an attractive location for a diverse range of successful businesses and employers.

(5) Policy DM11 – Industrial Estates and Employment Areas
  1. Major redevelopment proposals will be required to make provision of a range of flexible unit sizes including accommodation that supports small and medium sized enterprises. Where appropriate, incubator / seedbed centres and/or affordable workspaces will be sought.
  1. The Employment Growth Areas identified within Policy Table 7 will be maintained and promoted as locations for increased modern employment floorspace. The Southend Central Area will form the primary location for major economic growth particularly for Class B1 office uses.
 
  1. A managed approach will be sought at the Employment Growth Areas through planning briefs that will set out the quantum of development and appropriate uses.
  1. The Industrial Estates identified within Policy Table 7 will be retained and protected for Class B uses and those sui-generis uses of an employment nature. Complementary and supporting uses will be considered acceptable at the Industrial Estates where they serve the day-time needs of estate’s working population and will not result in a material change to the Class B character and function of the area.
  1. Proposals for employment generating uses outside the industrial estates and employment areas will be allowed where they do not impact upon the amenity of the surrounding uses and do not conflict with other development plan policies.
  1. Outside the industrial estates and employment areas, proposals for alternative uses on sites used (or last used) for employment purposes, including sites for sui-generis uses of an employment nature, will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that:
  1. Continued use of site for employment purposes is no longer viable taking into account the site’s existing and potential long-term market demand; or
  2. Use of the site for B1, B2 or B8 purposes gives rise to unacceptable environmental problems.
It will need to be demonstrated that an alternative use or mix of uses will give greater potential benefits to the community and environment than continued employment use.
  1. The Council will plan, monitor and manage the function of the industrial estates and employment areas so that these areas can continue to contribute to strategic and local economic objectives.

Policy Table 7: Industrial and Employment Areas

1. Employment Growth Areas 2. Industrial Estates
Southend Central Area
Shoebury Garrison
Progress Road
Prittle Brook Industrial Estate
Terminal Close
Grainger Road
Short Street
Thanet Grange
Comet Way
Airborne Close
Airborne Industrial Estate
Laurence Industrial Estate
Temple Farm
Stock Road
Priory Works
Prince Close
Vanguard Way
Towerfield Road
Campfield Road
Tickfield Avenue
Core Strategy Linkage:  
Objectives Policies
Strategic Objective 1 Policy KP1: Spatial Strategy
Strategic Objective 2 Policy CP1: Employment Generating Development
Strategic Objective 3 Policy CP2: Town Centre and Retail Development
Strategic Objective 4  
Strategic Objective 5  

Policy DM12 – Visitor Accommodation

5.20 Tourism, culture and the creative industries as key sectors within Southend-on-Sea and are important for sustained economic growth in the Borough. Visitor accommodation is an important part of the tourism sector, which is emphasised in the Southend-on-Sea Local Economic Assessment 2010. This document notes that whilst only 5% of visitors to Southend-on-Sea stay overnight, 28% of tourism jobs are sustained by overnight stays. There are opportunities in Southend-on-Sea to develop this sector by promoting the following market segments:

  • Higher income group day visitors – drawn by developing cultural attractions;
  • Short break activity weekends – based on watersports, kitesurfing, golf, riding, indoor tennis, arts festivals;
  • Business conference tourism – in the medium term once a quality hotel with conferencing is in place;
  • Foreign language students – using out of term student accommodation; and
  • London 2012 staying visits – using the direct rail link to Stratford.

5.21 The Southend-on-Sea Hotel Futures Report 2010 made an assessment of potential hotel market demand and indicated potential for future growth in this sector over the next 20-years. It is necessary therefore that the Borough Council manages this growth in a sustainable manner that positively contributes to Borough’s regeneration and economic objectives.

Hotel Locations

5.22 The Southend-on-Sea Hotel Futures Report 2010 considered existing and planned (new and refurbished) hotel capacity as at 2010, against prospects for growth in provision. The planned hotels considered as part of the town’s existing capacity include two hotels the subject of extant planning permissions, one at London Southend Airport and one as part of the development of a new stadium for Southend United at Fossetts Farm, and the hotel at Garon Park promoted in the adopted Garon Park Development Brief in response to Core Strategy Policy CP6 3.a.  The study went on to identified potential for hotel development over the next 10 to 20 years as the town’s economy and leisure tourism offer develops and stated that there are many sites in Southend-on-Sea that can accommodate future hotel sites but there is a need to prioritise locations and sites to ensure that hotels are directed to where they can deliver the greatest benefit. Hotel development will therefore be prioritised within the Southend Central Area, in and at London Southend Airport and close to the Seafront. The Seafront is not a defined area but relates to any area that has a material relationship with the Seafront. This relationship will be considered on a site-by-site basis and will take account of a number of factors that includes an area’s function and connectivity with the Seafront and specifically whether there are clear, convenient and direct walking routes to the Seafront. New hotels in the town centre and close to the Seafront will contribute to developing the visitor and evening economy of these locations. The expansion of the airport and associated business parks will help support hotel development that is directly associated with the airport’s operations.   

5.23 Outside of these areas, further hotel uses will be discouraged in order to facilitate new hotels in the town centre, close to the Seafront and at the airport. Hotels outside of these locations would compete for a share of the wider Southend-on-Sea market and would undermine potential growth in the key locations and detrimentally impact upon sustainable tourism and economic growth in the Borough.

Viability Assessment

5.24 All planning applications that involve the loss of visitor accommodation must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Council that the use is no longer viable. The level of information required should be agreed with the Council prior to submitting a planning application.

(1) Policy DM12 – Visitor Accommodation
  1. Proposals for new visitor accommodation will be focused within the Southend Central Area, London Southend Airport area and at locations close and with good access to the Seafront (the key areas). Proposals for new visitor accommodation will only be acceptable where it can be demonstrated that they are well related to the primary road network and have good public transport accessibility and meet the requirements of all other relevant development management policies.
  1. Within the key areas in (1) visitor accommodation will be retained. Proposals for alternative uses on sites used (or last used) for visitor accommodation will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that the existing site is no longer viable or feasible for visitor accommodation and that the proposals meet all other relevant development management policies. Where an alternative use is considered acceptable by the Council, applications that would contribute positively to the leisure, recreation and tourism offer in the Borough will be considered favourably.
  1. Proposals for alternative uses on sites used (or last used) for visitor accommodation outside the key areas in (1) will generally be permitted provided that the proposal meets all other relevant development management policies.
Core Strategy Linkage:  
Objectives Policies
Strategic Objective 1 Policy KP1: Spatial Strategy
Strategic Objective 2 Policy CP1: Employment Generating Development
Strategic Objective 14  

Policy DM13 – Southend-on-Sea Town Centre

5.25 Policy CP2 of the Southend Core Strategy DPD sets out the hierarchy and network of centres within the Borough. Southend Town Centre’s role is as a regional centre and will remain the first preference for all forms of retail development and for other town centre uses attracting large numbers of people. Development within the Town Centre should be in accordance with the spatial strategy set out in Policy KP1 of the Core Strategy DPD. The centres of Westcliff (Hamlet Court Road) and Leigh will support Southend Town Centre as District Centres providing a range of local comparison shopping, convenience shopping and services to the neighbouring communities. Existing centres elsewhere will be supported as local centres and will meet the day to day convenience needs of their local communities. Town centre and retail development should be located within these centres, should contribute to their vitality and viability, and must be appropriate to the function, size and character of the centre concerned, in accordance with the above hierarchy and priorities. Appendix 4 sets out the appropriate uses for each centre.

5.26 The Retail and Town Centre Study 2011 highlights that Southend Town Centre is performing successfully as a comparison shopping destination, drawing a good level of trade from the surrounding zones. The Retail and Town Centre Study 2011 also considers that there is scope for additional comparison floorspace in Southend Town Centre, based upon forecast growth in population and expenditure over the Core Strategy period. It is indicated that there is capacity for a further 36,841m2 of retail space by 2015, rising to 50,873m2 by 2020 and rising to 70,172m2 at 2025.

5.27 There are clear opportunities to improve the performance of Southend Town Centre as a major retail centre. The focus for retail activity should continue to be the established town centre, however there is an opportunity to achieve critical mass by delivering a strong retail circuit and new units to the south-east of the High Street. In order to reinforce the primacy of the High Street, it is important that The Victoria and The Royals continue to improve as anchors. The Clifftown area and other secondary retail locations have a significant potential to play a part in the provision of a wider breadth of retailing uses in the central area.

5.28 There are no changes to the town centre boundary from the Borough Local Plan (1994). This boundary will be reviewed as part of the Southend Central Area Action Plan process and if necessary the Proposals Map will be updated accordingly.

(4) Policy DM13 – Southend-on-Sea Town Centre
  1. The defined Town Centre will remain the first preference for all forms of retail development. 
  1. New retail development should enhance the performance of Southend Town Centre as a comparison shopping destination.  The Borough Council will seek to maintain and enhance the existing level of comparison shopping floorspace and encourage the provision of additional comparison floorspace within the Town Centre. In particular, support will be given to proposals:
 
  1. that provide additional retail floorspace for comparison goods and reinforce the primacy of the High Street retail circuit;
  2. for new retail development proposals that contribute to the delivery of new retail circuits focussed on the following areas:
    • South east of the High Street where larger retail units would be encouraged; and
    • South west of the High Street where smaller retail units would sit comfortably within the existing character of the area
     
    Proposals that seek to establish the new retail circuits will need to take account of the associated improvements required to road alignments, public transport access and car parking.
     
    These new areas, once developed for retail proposes would become part of the Primary Shopping Area.
  1. Within the Town Centre the Borough Council will seek to maintain the existing level of convenience goods retailing.  Additional major foodstore provision will be supported where it can be demonstrated that it will contribute towards the role, function and vitality of the town centre.  
Core Strategy Linkage:  
Objectives Policies
Strategic Objective 1 Policy KP1: Spatial Strategy
Strategic Objective 8 Policy CP1: Employment Generating Development
  Policy CP2: Town Centre and Retail Development

Policy DM14 – Shopping Frontage Management

5.29 The primary frontages in Southend-on-Sea perform a vital retail function for the areas that they serve. It is important that the retail character and function of these frontages is not eroded as they are important for local economic vitality. The primary frontages are considered to be appropriate locations for a range of non-retail uses including banking, insurance, food and drink. These uses are complementary to the retail function of the frontage adding to their attraction, and encouraging multi purpose journeys. However, an over-concentration of non-retail uses within the frontage can detract from its shopping function and may prejudice its vitality and viability and create extensive lengths of "dead" frontage and a lack of a proper shop window display. This can reduce the attractiveness of the street to shoppers or isolate particular shops or areas from the main pedestrian flows. It is therefore necessary to protect the shopping function of centres by controlling the balance of retail and non-retail uses.

5.30 Whilst primary frontages may need to be restricted to a high proportion of retail uses, there is scope for more flexibility of use in secondary frontages. The Secondary Frontages contain mainly retail uses but also a greater diversity of other business uses that offer important services for the areas that they serve. It is important that the character and function of these frontages are maintained and enhanced as they a vital service, meeting the day-to-day needs of local communities.

5.31 The Council will monitor the role and function of the primary and secondary frontages through regular surveys to ascertain the range of goods and services available to shoppers and visitors, and to identify any significant and long term trends.

(5) Policy DM14 – Shopping Frontage Management
  1. Primary and secondary frontages within Southend-on-Sea will be managed to reinforce their attractiveness, vitality and viability within the daytime and night-time economies. The character and function of both these frontages will be protected and enhanced.
  1. The loss of Class A1 retail uses at the ground floor in the identified primary shopping frontages will be resisted. A loss of Class A1 retail use uses at the ground floor will only be considered if:
  1. The proposed use will not result in Non-Class A1 retail uses exceeding 30% of the primary shopping area’s ground floor frontage. Where Non-Class A1 uses already exceed 30% of a primary shopping area’s ground floor primary frontage, no further Class A1 losses will be allowed; and
  2. An active shop front is retained or provided.
  1. All developments in the secondary shopping frontage must maintain or provide an active shop front.
  1. All new shop frontages will be of a high standard of design that is compatible with the architectural style and character of the building. The design of new shop fronts will incorporate the following design principles:
  1. The fascia signs are integrated into the overall design and are in proportion to the shop front and the building. Fascia signs will respect and where appropriate improve the character of the general street scene;
  2. Roller shutter boxes and guides will be incorporated behind the fascia and the shutters will be open grills or punched;
  3. Blank frontages will be avoided on principal elevations;
  4. Active street frontages will be maintained and enhanced in non-residential frontages throughout Southend-on-Sea;
  5. Opportunities for exposing upper floor windows will be maximised; and
  6. The loss of traditional features and shop fronts which contribute to the appearance and visual amenity of a building or surrounding area will not be allowed.
  1. Where there are a number of empty units within a centre and little prospect of these units being occupied in the short term, the Council will work with the landowner/landlord to encourage the display of local art within the windows of the empty units.
Core Strategy Linkage:  
Objectives Policies
Strategic Objective 1 Policy KP1: Spatial Strategy
Strategic Objective 8 Policy CP1: Employment Generating Development
  Policy CP2: Town Centre and Retail Development
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