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Next stage of public consultation on Chelmsford’s Local Plan set to start in May

Local Plan 2024 infographic

The city council is reviewing its Local Plan to guide sustainable growth to 2041.

Having a clear and up-to-date plan for managing growth makes sure Chelmsford remains a vibrant and attractive place to live, work, socialise and study.

The plan must meet local development needs as well as listen to the views of local people on how they wish Chelmsford to develop. This is the second stage of a consultation on the draft Local Plan, or ‘Preferred Options’. There will be a third round of consultation in early 2025 which will be informed by responses to this consultation.

Once the final plan is adopted in 2026, it will allocate land for development in Chelmsford until 2041. This is why it’s important for residents, businesses, communities and all interested parties to have their say, engage with the proposed plan and share ideas for shaping Chelmsford’s future.

A council policy board meeting on 14 March 2024 considered the Preferred Options document and supporting Integrated Impact Assessment and voted for a public consultation to take place on this second stage in May and June 2024.

Aerial View Image Of Chelmsford
Aerial view image of Chelmsford

Understanding why a Local Plan is needed

The city council adopted its current Local Plan in May 2020. It guides growth and development across the Chelmsford district until 2036. The law requires councils to review their Local Plans at least every five years to see if it needs updating. This is what is happening now.

When the updated Local Plan is agreed, it will be in place until 2041. The council needs to consider new national policy and changing local circumstances, and make sure the needs of current and future residents are being met.

It also has to make sure there are enough homes for young people, families and older residents. With everyone living longer lives, the population is expected to grow by around 11% between 2021 and 2041 and Government forecasts predict that around 1,000 new homes are needed in Chelmsford every year.

Having no growth is not an option, so the council creates the Local Plan to make sure development is properly planned. The aim is to get the right type of development in the right places to meet the growing needs of local people and businesses, whilst protecting the environment. But the Plan is also about creating jobs, open spaces and community facilities.

Local Plan Consultation Display Board

Cllr Stephen Robinson, Leader of Chelmsford City Council says the Local Plan is designed to tackle the challenges that face our economy, society and environment in the future.

“This is a review of the existing Local Plan, not a whole new Plan. We are using this review to tackle the housing and climate crises; create a more connected community in Chelmsford and support new jobs.

“We need to build genuinely affordable homes, create great places which are easily accessible (promoting walking, cycling and public transport), and ensure jobs for residents. The Preferred Options document sets out how to do more for our economy and job creation by proposing significant new land for employment and supporting local people to access the new jobs.

“As Chelmsford continues to develop, it is vital that we also take this time to tackle the consequences of climate change and reduce our impact on the planet. The Preferred Options document focuses on integrating sustainable measures, including the requirement for zero carbon developments, new tree planting and expanding natural habitats and biodiversity.

“The consultation is due to begin in early May. We want the Local Plan to be a shared vision, combining insights from all who care about the city, so when the consultation opens, we want to hear from you.”

Cllr Stephen Robinson, Leader of Chelmsford City Council

Launching the second stage of Local Plan consultation

As the last Local Plan was adopted in 2020, the review is now underway to allow enough time to consult and involve the public properly before the five-year period ends in 2025.

This is the second of three phases of engagement in the Local Plan review process. In August 2022, the first stage of consultation was launched, and stakeholders were invited to provide feedback on the Issues and Options for the Local Plan.

The consultation responses received, alongside collected evidence and national policy, have helped the planning team to prepare the draft Local Plan – the Preferred Options document.  The exact dates for the consultation period on this will be announced in due course, anticipated to be in early May.  

Local Plan Timetable 2024
A timetable of the stages of the Local Plan before it is adopted in 2026. This is the second stage for the public to get involved.

Cllr Ian Fuller, Cabinet Member for a Growing Chelmsford, considers how the proposed Plan will build strong connections between neighbourhoods.

“The plan period extends to 2041 to ensure we are planning for our community’s needs into the future. We are not proposing to fundamentally change the general approach in the adopted Local Plan, rather, we want to improve it to address some of our major challenges and take on board updated information.

“The proposed changes to the Local Plan will give opportunities for making better provision for our communities and building stronger, more connected neighbourhoods. Such measures will further develop a sense of pride and deliver local facilities and services to support our communities.”

Cllr Ian Fuller, Cabinet Member for a Growing Chelmsford

Next steps for getting involved

Following the Chelmsford Policy Board meeting on 14 March 2024, the Preferred Options document and supporting Integrated Impact Assessment will now be finalised. They will then be published for six weeks of public consultation which is expected to start in early May (the exact date will be confirmed nearer to the time). Input from interested individuals and groups in the consultation process helps to provide invaluable insight, and all will be highly encouraged to help shape Chelmsford’s future.

It is important to note that the documents published for Chelmsford Policy Board are not the final consultation documents and therefore the council cannot accept representations ahead of the consultation opening. If you would like to be notified when the consultation launches, make sure to register online at www.chelmsford.gov.uk/planningpolicyconsult. If you made comments on the previous consultation, you will already be registered.

Please get involved in providing thoughts and feedback only via the official channels that will be open from early May. Comments on social media cannot be considered as part of the consultation. The responses to the formal consultation will be used to inform the next stage of the plan preparation.

Help guide Chelmsford’s growth to be a greener, fairer, more connected community.

Local Plan Infographics For City Life
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Charlotte Maltby
Charlotte Maltby

Charlotte writes about the environment, parks, recycling, business, planning, public realm and democratic services.