Effective delivery of strategic sites: Association of South Essex Local Authorities

The Strategic Growth Locations Study (SGLS) was prepared to establish a level of understanding of the potential for growth change and investment across a South Essex, a diverse geography facing considerable challenges in meeting growth needs.


Fact file

Type – strategic growth study incorporating co-ordinated analysis and evidence gathering at a strategic scale, precursor to a joint plan for South Essex. 

Local Planning Authority – Association of South Essex Local Authorities 

Landowner – n/a 

Promoter / Developer – n/a 

Scale – meeting development needs to 2050 (potentially up to 150,000 homes) 

Status – no statutory status but published as part of the evidence base to inform subsequent stages of planning policy formulation.  

View the South Essex 2050 Plan


Inception and strategy 

The Strategic Growth Locations Study (SGLS) was prepared to establish a level of understanding of the potential for growth change and investment across a South Essex, a diverse geography facing considerable challenges in meeting growth needs. This was preparatory work to inform a potential joint plan which would in turn inform the local plans for each authority. 

This work followed a commitment to joint working established through the signing of a memorandum of understanding between authorities in January 2018 and work on a joint Vision for South Essex.   

One of the agreed strategic priorities was developing a spatial strategy for South Essex. The SGLS provides a robust and entirely objective assessment of the potential scale and location of development that could theoretically be accommodated across South Essex. 

The SGLS included a development capacity study assembling and mapping constraints to inform an assessment of broad development potential as a precursor to identifying development scenarios.  Through GIS mapping of commitments, constraints and infrastructure provision (existing and planned) the study provided a consistent baseline against which to test development scenarios with flexibility to ‘sieve’ through different mapped layers and input policy options. 

The assessment was valuable in levelling and depoliticising the baseline position necessary to secure meaningful cooperation between neighbouring authorities and beginning to flush out whether there is sufficient common ground to commit to a statutory joint plan making process.