Maldon District Issues and Options Consultation


6.1 The previous LDP issues as set above may be still relevant, however there is the need to take into account that whilst the District has been building more housing in recent years, there is still a shortfall between the amount needed and the pace of delivery. There is also still a shortage of affordable housing and the out- commuting levels are still very high. The previous issues did not reflect the climate change emergency that the Council declared in February 2021, though they were considered in the LDP`s accompanying Sustainability Appraisal but not emphasised as strongly in policy development.

6.2 A revision of the key issues are considered to be the following;

1) Reducing emissions and adapting to climate change

  • New development is not doing enough to reduce emissions and adapt to the climate change increasing the amount of development that contributes to unsustainable travel patterns, resource usage and increased emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases.
  • Human interaction has the potential to increase flood risk, air, water and soil pollution which could have damaging consequences for the residents of the District.
  • Lack of funding could compromise the ability of the Council and other Risk Management Authorities to bring forward viable flood risk mitigation schemes that could support existing and new communities.
  • Whilst strategically, new partnership arrangements with other Essex authorities are building funding opportunities for mitigating development pressures on the most protected coastal habitats including those in the Maldon District, new developments are failing to bring forward genuine local mitigation measures to help improve the natural environment.
  • Maldon District is in one of the driest areas of the country, water resources are scarce and require greater consideration in the planning process to reduce water wastage and capture and improve water efficiency in new development.

6.3 2) Resident-centred places to live

  • The District possess' very attractive qualities for people living locally and as the District grows, it needs to ensure that by both design and delivery, the new places to live are resident focused.
  • Median housing prices to earnings ratio is 11.87 (2019) which is the highest in Essex, this is considerable up from 4.2 in 1997 when the ONS started collecting this data and 10.82 in 2017. This is continuing to put a strain on affordability across the District.
  • Because of the extensive rural nature of the District, there is a limited supply of brownfield land for development, which will inevitably mean that whilst the priority should continue to see land that has previously been developed brought forward for new places to live to be built, development will have to take place on more greenfield sites in the future.
  • There are some settlements in the District which are much more isolated in terms of their distance from bigger settlements and their services and facilities. This places pressure on those settlements which are nearer in terms of location and public transport connectivity to take more growth.
  • There remains an over-reliance on larger-scale developments to bring forward housing, which with hindsight may have contributed to some of the supply issues the District now sees, where those developers that have multiple sales outlets in the area are managing their construction resources differently than first intended, or where enabling works to larger sites are taking time to come to fruition. This will mean that going forward the council will need to consider allocating more smaller sites that could be built out by small-medium size builders that are not always constrained by the same issues.
  • There is a continued need to support different types and sizes of housing, including perpetual First Homes, self-build/custom build homes and Gypsy & Traveller pitches.

6.4 3) A stronger, more resilient and inclusive local economy

  • Population change in the District is driven by net-inward migration with some net international migration. The population is ageing with an expected decrease in the working-age population aged between 16 - 64, which could lead to an increasing labour shortage to local businesses by 2040. If nothing changes, this could see some sectors currently based in Maldon District relocate, or see a further increase of in-commuting into the District for work, which could increase congestion and pollution.
  • There is growing competition for employment growth from larger employment centres around Maldon District such as Basildon and Chelmsford, whilst this could reduce land pressures, it could increase commuting and pollution.
  • The District has a proliferation of smaller niche businesses but the LDP Review needs to be flexible enough to encourage and support them to grow-on when they want to, as they provide valuable jobs many of which have higher wage offerings.
  • Though 78% of settlements are connected by either a shoppers or commuters bus service, there is a perceived lack of a robust, interconnected multi-modal public transport system which leads to an increase in car usage, and a disconnect between where residents can live, work and access services. This could be affecting quality of life, business investment and the environment. It also means the District's lucrative and growing tourism industry is overly reliant on private vehicles as the means of travel.
  • Whilst agriculture and tourism remain dominant employment sectors, both of these can be influenced by seasonal variations and this can undermine the number of full-time jobs available in the District. It is predicted that there will be a fall in agricultural jobs during the plan period, in line with national trends, but with 4 million visitors a year, tourism is a growing sector of the District's economy. Nevertheless, a lack of accommodation, restaurants and activities that maximise the District's coastal and estuarine location could hold it back from sustained growth as this lack of facilities does not encourage people to stay longer than a day.
  • The current LDP allocated land equivalent to 11 football pitches for new employment development, however, the land that has been allocated employment land is not being built out as quickly as it could have been, which means it could become at risk of being lost to employment land uses if demand for other land use increases. This would mean the District would be at risk of not being able to react as well to the demand fluctuations expected in economic cycles, nor attract inward investment when opportunities arise.
  • Our residents' qualifications profile is lower than the rest of Essex and the national average. The lack of skilled workers available locally can therefore deter inward investment and does not help to encourage aspiration in careers and jobs in our younger residents. This in turn limits their ability to rent or purchase homes and exacerbates out migration.
  • The present LDP does not do enough to support small and medium sized construction firms who are more likely to be local and support local employment, economy and the local supply chain. It is estimated that for every dwelling built 3.1 local jobs are generated and through policy choices the LDP Review could look to diversify the share in the future.

6.5 4) Thriving, Distinctive Rural Communities for all ages

  • There is a conflict between respecting the distinct character of the District's rural communities, whilst supporting improvements to rural housing, services and the economy
  • The affordability of housing in rural communities leads to a lack of housing for younger people and families meaning they may have little choice but to move out to where they can afford. This has the effect of ageing the rural population, increasing isolation and leading to a decline in rural services and facilities if it is not more proactively managed.
  • The perceived lack of a robust multi-modal public transport for both shoppers and commuters leads to more rural isolation and disconnectivity to settlements which support greater levels of employment and service provision.
  • Many of the niche businesses in the District lie within our rural area and there is a forecast loss of manufacturing jobs during the plan period, this means there could be an impact on the rural economy.

6.65) Protecting and Enhancing our Diverse Natural Environment

  • There are 211 kilometres of shoreline in Maldon District. The area of coastal designated sites is 7,815 hectares, representing 18 % of the total land area of the District. There are two National Nature Reserves (NNRs); with the Blackwater Estuary composed of the Tollesbury Flats and Old Hall Marshes. The Flats are an important feeding area for waterfowl and are an important habitat for a number of invertebrates. The Old Hall Marshes are also known to be a breeding ground and over-wintering site for waterfowl and are home to a number of important plant and invertebrate species. Sea level rise is having a serious impact on our coastal habitats due to coastal squeeze and the erosion of salt marsh.
  • The unique biodiversity of the District is under pressure from climate change, land use and coastal squeeze - we move forward by ensuring development has the least impact as possible and invests in habitat improvement and biodiversity net-gain where it can be a success.
  • The District has a reasonable level of ancient woodland concentrated in the west of the District; which plays host to numerous flora and fauna and is an important source of biodiversity which is under threat nationally.
  • There are large numbers of prominent landscape areas and features within the District, with distinct contrasts between the well-wooded, higher land to the west and the flat marsh and pasture landscape of the valleys to the east. The natural rural environment is generally tranquil and undisturbed in character with a sense of remoteness, tranquillity and big dark skies which can be eroded by development.

6.76) Making the Built Environment Beautiful

  • Much of Maldon District's archaeology, particularly that located along the coast, is susceptible to erosion due to sea level rise and climate change. This places these remains at significant risk.
  • A Historic Environment Characterisation Project was undertaken in 2008 which identified 59 Historic Landscape Character Zones. We can already see the majority of zones have the potential for deposits, as well as being susceptibility and sensitive to change. This means we need to take extra caution when looking at development locations and also consider where development could bring opportunities to understand and record our heritage for future generations...
  • The unique heritage assets of the District can become at risk where they fall into disrepair or from nature forces; there are at present 7 sites on the Historic England at Risk Register.
  • Whilst growth is an inevitability to ensure that future residents have good quality housing in sustainable rural communities and a robust economy, it is even more important that the design and setting of that growth enhances the rural and urban environments, otherwise the District is at risk of looking and feeling the same as everywhere else.

6.87) Ensuring that infrastructure meets residents, visitors and business


  • There is a shortfall on infrastructure funding from what was forecast to be available in the previous LDP, which has led to delays to key infrastructure in Maldon, Heybridge and Burnham-on-Crouch. We need to be realistic when developing the LDP Review that we choose a growth option that can better support infrastructure delivery.
  • Maldon District has a higher than average ageing population and this brings with it issues around accessibility and access to health services. With the District being largely rural in nature the needs of the private vehicle will always be important. Parts of the District are more isolated from access to public transport infrastructure, leading to rural isolation. This can place pressure on wider services which have to service more residents remotely or over a broader area.
  • With a continuing increase in population comes an increased pressure on existing infrastructure and public service delivery leading to a conflict between infrastructure delivery and growth. We need to work with infrastructure commissioners and providers to ensure that the District's growth options have affordable and viable solutions for upgrades where they are needed to continue to serve peoples' needs.

Issues and Options Consultation Questionnaire