Maldon District Issues and Options Consultation


2.1 The District covers an area of 36,000 hectares and has over 70 miles of unique coastline. Compared to other locations in Essex, the District has a relatively low crime rate, good quality housing stock, a unique retail offer with quality high streets in both Maldon and Burnham-on-Crouch. The District's natural landscape is dominated by the two estuaries and the extensive flat and gently undulating alluvial plain along the Rivers Blackwater and Crouch and their relationship with the North Sea. The area has strong associations with fishing and marine trades, and more recently sailing.

2.2 The District has strong spatial connections with a number of important regional growth areas including, the Haven Gateway, the Thames Gateway, London, Chelmsford, the M11 corridor, M25; as well as Stanstead and Southend Airports.

2.3 The settlements of Maldon, Heybridge and Burnham-on-Crouch are important drivers for the local economy. The District is home to approximately 27,500 jobs. The villages and rural areas also make a considerable contribution to the District's economy with a high performance in agricultural and farming related activities, including viticulture. Historically, the economy was based on agricultural production, coastal trade and manufacturing. However, in recent decades there has been a shift towards a mixed economy with an increased service sector, tourism and advanced engineering and manufacturing businesses.

2.4 Tourism is an important sector in the wider Essex economy contributing £3.4bn of value. Maldon District is an important contributor of this diverse appeal with its offering of heritage, unique landscapes, recreation areas and marine culture all within close proximity to London and the wider region. These qualities have made the District increasingly attractive to the TV and film industry as a production location, which itself is attracting more people to the area as they search for the places they see on their screens. To the Maldon District, tourism contributes around 17% of all employment and brings over £178m in visitor spend to the local economy.

2.5 The District has a unique heritage including a maritime heritage with more than 1,000 entries on the statutory list of buildings of architectural or historic interest, 21 Scheduled Monuments, one Registered Park and Garden, and one Registered Battlefield. There are also 14 designated Conservation Areas which incorporate the historic cores of towns and villages, eight miles of waterway incorporating the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation and the 24 buildings and open space of a nationally important World War One Aerodrome in Stow Maries.

The District is 211th (out of 317 English local authority areas) in terms of its overall ranking in the Index of Multiple Deprivation. However, its score with regard to barriers to housing is lower with 149 out of the 317 English Local Authorities, which is most likely an indicator of the high cost of housing and the lack of rental housing supply especially in the south of the District.

2.6 In 2021, the District of Maldon had a population of approximately 65,800. By 2038, this is estimated to have increased to approximately 72,000. Whilst the District's population has doubled over the last 40 years, it still has one of the lowest population densities in Essex at approximately 182 residents per square kilometre. As with other locations in Essex, the population of the District is ageing and it is projected that between 2021 and 2038, the population aged between 65 and 84 years is expected to increase by approximately 45%; whilst those aged over 85 years is expected to double. There is also projected to be a decline in the ratio of working age people, which could have a future impact on employment vacancy rates.

2.7 The District's natural landscape is dominated by the two estuaries and the extensive flat and gently undulating alluvial plain along the Rivers Blackwater and Crouch, these areas have fragile habitats and biodiversity with many of the areas being of international, national and local importance and subsequently have been designated as Ramsar Sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Protection Areas (SPA), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and National Nature Reserves (NNR).There are significant areas of semi-natural habitat that make an important contribution to the area's diverse landscape character and offers key landscape views across the estuaries. The presence and distribution of these habitats is strongly influenced by geology and landform and include woodland, grassland, estuary, salt marsh, mudflats, and freshwater and open water habitats.

2.8 The District is geographically split into three distinctive areas which are the Central Area (Maldon and Heybridge), the North and West Area and the South and East Area. The areas are described in more detail below.

2.9The Central Area (Maldon and Heybridge)

Maldon and Heybridge are interdependent in terms of how residents use their services and facilities, though the River Blackwater runs between the two, connecting them by Fullbridge and the A414. These two settlements have a combined population of approximately 23,000 and account for over a third of the District's population. They have an important commercial, retail, leisure and service centre function that serves the whole District, assisting the growing tourism sector with museums, places of architectural interest and parks, including the renowned Promenade Park.

2.10 Maldon is a medieval market town that was first mentioned in AD 913 in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle. As one of the oldest towns in Essex, its rich history is reflected in the quality of its architectural heritage. There are 185 Listed Buildings in the Maldon Conservation Area alone. Maldon is also known internationally for its sea salt production and as a centre for Thames Sailing Barges. Unfortunately, its two railway stations were closed in the 1960s and some parts of the old railway line have since been built over.

Maldon is also home to the South Maldon Garden Suburb which was allocated for strategic growth in 2017 and is currently being built in phases, which will include new community facilities, including an NHS health hub, a new primary school and relief road.

Heybridge has two distinctive parts, a large urban area and the riverside area of Heybridge Basin. The urban area is characterised by its manufacturing heritage, which has had an important impact upon the urban grain and architecture of the area. The Basin area is quite different and is characterised by its relationship to the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation that was opened in 1797. Many of its buildings can trace their links back to a maritime heritage and date from the development of the commercial waterway in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, with some twentieth century replacement buildings.

2.11 The North and West Area

2.12 In this area lies the settlements of Great Totham, Great Braxted, Purleigh, Tollesbury, Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Wickham Bishops, Woodham Mortimer and Woodham Walter, Little Totham, the Broad Street Green area and the area of Beacon Hill, Tollesbury, North Fambridge, Cold Norton, Stow Maries, and Cock Clarks.

2.13 This area is characterised by its distinctive settlements, ponds, reservoirs and wooded areas. North Fambridge is located in the south of the area and has its own railway station on the Southminster branch line that terminates at Wickford with onwards services into London Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria. There are golf courses, wooded walks, a linear country park along the route of the former Maldon to Witham railway line and the settlement of Stow Maries includes an important World War One Aerodrome.

Tollesbury is an historic settlement with a strong relationship with the River Blackwater and its economy was traditionally based on oyster dredging and agriculture. The hinterland is mainly comprised of marshland and saltings.

2.14 The Broad Street Green area, because of its close connection with the main settlement of Maldon and Heybridge was one of the areas the LDP allocated for strategic growth in 2017 and will in the future be the location of the North Heybridge Garden Suburb with its associated new community facilities, including a GP practice and primary school.

2.15 The South and East Area

2.16 In this area lies the following settlements; Burnham-on-Crouch, Southminster, Dengie, Bradwell-on-Sea, Asheldham, Bradwell Waterside, Mayland, Maylandsea, St Lawrence, Althorne, Tillingham and Steeple.

2.17 This area incorporates the Dengie Peninsula with its rural character, open big skies, tranquillity, marshland and mudflats. This area also incorporates Burnham-on-Crouch which is the second largest town in the District, after Maldon and Heybridge, connected to other places with a railway station. Burnham-on-Crouch is predominantly known for its coastal trading history and sailing activities. It is associated with its maritime connections including oyster trading and yachting, with a number of clubs which include the Crouch Yacht Club, the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club and the Royal Burnham Yacht Club.

2.18 The settlement of Southminster also lies in this area and contains several historic buildings including St Leonard's Church. The settlement also has its own railway station, which is the terminus of the Crouch Valley branch line.

2.19 A third railway station is located at Althorne, though the station is physically separated from the main settlement, which lies instead on a rise in the land and this gives it wide open views to the River Crouch and its landscape.

2.20 Bradwell-on-Sea on the Dengie Peninsula is a settlement with a history of national significance. It contains the remote Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall, which is one of the oldest chapels in England being constructed in AD 654 from Roman ruins when St Cedd was sent from Lindisfarne to spread the Gospel in East Anglia.

Issues and Options Consultation Questionnaire