Date issued: 19 August 2019
Residents across North Essex are being urged to have their say on the additional evidence being submitted to the Planning Inspector supporting the development of three new garden communities in Braintree, Colchester and Tendring.
Braintree District Council, Colchester Borough Council and Tendring District Council have produced the extra information requested by the Inspector last year on the joint part of the Local Plan developed by the three councils.
A six-week public consultation is being launched today (Monday 19 August) for residents to comment on this evidence, which centres on the purpose-built garden community developments.
Supported by Essex County Council, these new developments incorporate a long-term strategy – helping to provide homes, jobs and infrastructure provision ensuring North Essex grows in a more holistic way.
Built over 40-50 years, they will provide a large amount of the homes needed over that time, reducing the need to expand existing towns and villages. Through building at scale, the plans also ensure that new developments come with a mixture of the different affordable homes, schools, health facilities, green spaces and employment land needed for the new communities.
Following an examination of the joint plans last year the Planning Inspector raised several areas in which he wished to see further evidence – especially in terms of viability, rapid transit and sustainability.
The additional evidence compiled by the three councils to address the Inspector’s questions show the plans are viable, sustainable and can provide a significant boost to the local economy, providing at least one job per home in the local area – higher than traditional development. They offer a wide variety of homes, including a minimum of 30% set aside as affordable housing.
The issues addressed in the new evidence include:
- a new rapid transport network system which would grow alongside North Essex reducing congestion, improving air quality and providing quick and easy access into and out of Colchester and Braintree linking with other public transport hubs. This would include segregated lanes for public transport and ensure the infrastructure is in place so it can provide alternative forms of transport like a trackless tram scheme.
- information showing the councils’ infrastructure-led approach is viable, meaning the schools, health, and leisure facilities needed to support the stand-alone settlements would be developed at the same time as the homes – not afterwards as is the usual practice.
- an enhanced assessment of the environmental effects, and the social and economic issues associated with the proposals
Cllr Mark Cory, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “The Local Plan process is complex, but it is vital we get local engagement on the future of development and public scrutiny of the new evidence. The Planning Inspector wanted more information on our ambitions to provide the homes, jobs and infrastructure needed for the North Essex residents of the future.
“It is absolutely vital that we get Government support to deliver the infrastructure we need to turn the principals of the garden communities into reality; otherwise they cannot work. Working together with the other councils we have developed detailed responses to the Inspector’s questions and are urging residents across North Essex to have their say on them to help inform his decision.”
Cllr Graham Butland, Leader of Braintree District Council, said: “At least 716 homes have to be built every year in our district. That is a given. We have a choice – add them to our existing villages and towns or think more strategically. Garden communities mean we can plan for infrastructure in a joined-up way from the start with today’s modern requirements in mind.
“Every five years the Local Plan rolls forward, and more homes need to be provided. By choosing garden communities now, we are protecting our towns and villages in the long term. We have now published a huge amount of evidence to support our garden community plans – I would encourage all residents to take a look.”
Cllr Neil Stock, Leader of Tendring District Council, said: “As always, we are keen to hear residents’ views on the new evidence created in support of our draft Local Plan, and consultation responses will be passed to the Planning Inspector when he re-examines our vision.
“Our robust and innovative garden community plans form a relatively small part of this draft Local Plan but will evidently set us on a path for sustainable growth for the future.”
The findings of the revised and new Local Plan evidence have been considered by councillors of the three councils over the last month. The comments received through the consultation will be supplied to the Inspector ahead of the re-opening of the Local Plan examination expected to be held this winter.
The consultation will run from Monday 19 August until 5pm on Monday 30 September. Residents can make their views known by going to www.braintree.gov.uk/NEAtechS1