Draft Settlement Investment and Development (ID) Plans-Esher

Employment land

1.24 In line with Core Strategy policy CS23 Employment Land Provision, the designation of Strategic Employment Land will seek to ensure an adequate, yet flexible, supply of employment land. In considering the designation of sites, paragraph 22 of the National Planning Policy Framework needs to be taken into account;

“Planning policies should avoid the long-term protection of sites allocated for employment use where there is no reasonable prospect of a site being used for that purpose. Land allocations should be regularly reviewed. When there is no reasonable prospect of a site being used for the allocated employment use, applications for alternative uses of land or buildings should be treated on their merits having regard to market signals and the relative need for different land uses to support sustainable communities”

1.25 The Council regularly monitors the demand for employment floorspace as well as employment land projections for the Borough. The need for certain types of employment land is changing. Currently, there is a high level of vacant office floorspace and the need for industrial land is declining. However, we need to take a long-term view of what we may need in the future and balance this against the need for other uses, specifically the continual demand for housing and in particular affordable housing.

1.26 Careful consideration will need to be given to designating areas as Strategic Employment Land. The balance needs to be struck between maintaining a sufficient supply that addresses employment growth projections, whilst ensuring that there is a degree of flexibility when considering the future use of other employment sites. Core Strategy policy CS23 Employment Land Provision will ensure that sites will continue to be protected and redevelopment only supported where it can be shown that its employment use is redundant and that its change of use will benefit the community.

1.27 Given the above, it is proposed that the number of sites currently designated as Strategic Employment Land is reduced. Those that are proposed to retain a designation are considered to be significant to the delivery of economic growth, not only within the Borough, but also across the wider M3 Local Economic Partnership (LEP) area. Factors such as the current use, future demand, levels of employment, size and sub regional impact have been assessed in the consideration of strategic designation.