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Colchester Residents Urged to Help Shape Plans for Garden Communities

Colchester residents will have their chance to help shape the borough's two Garden Communities with the launch of a ten-week consultation next week.

The three local councils involved in the North Essex Garden Communities (NEGC) project - Colchester, Braintree and Tendring - will each run public consultations on the initial concepts for the communities in their areas.

All the consultations will start on Monday 13 November, with residents in Colchester having until Monday 22 January to respond.

The launch of the consultation was backed last night (Monday) by the council's Local Plan Committee.

There are three NEGC sites - one west of Braintree, another on the Braintree/Colchester border and a third on the Colchester/Tendring border. The ambitious project, which also involves Essex County Council, is designed to help tackle the housing challenge faced in the area while ensuring that infrastructure like roads, schools and health services are developed before the homes are built.

Together the three sites could deliver up to 43,000 new homes, along with employment opportunities and new and enhanced infrastructure, over the next 30 years.

Colchester residents will be able to have their say on how the communities on the Colchester/Braintree and Colchester/Tendring borders could be taken forward. They will be asked their views on the initial thoughts for the sites, which include the potential for:

• 13 new primary and four new secondary schools across the two communities
• Rerouting rail and road networks to support both communities
• Expanding the University of Essex's campus and Knowledge Gateway
• Developing new country parks and 'green buffers' to create attractive surroundings
• Enhanced cycle ways and footpaths across both communities and their surrounding areas
• New link roads and a new Park and Ride site near the A12
• Employment zones for businesses to set up, grow and develop, creating more jobs and boosting the local economy

People will be able to take part in an online consultation and public events and exhibitions will also be held across the borough during the 10 weeks, providing the opportunity to comment in person.

The feedback received will help to create a more defined plan for each of the sites, which will then be subject to further public consultation next year.

Cllr Paul Smith, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: "We all know there is an increasing demand for more homes, but it is vital that, unlike past developments, we deliver the necessary infrastructure before the homes.

"This is why, together with the other councils involved, we are committed to the ambitious principles of the Garden Communities. It will deliver the whole package of everything that people will need, including health facilities, roads, schools and jobs as well as homes.

"We want everyone to be part of developing these communities, not just those who shout the loudest, for the benefit of our future generations. This is why I would urge as many people as possible to get involved during the ten-week consultation."