Date issued: 10 December 2020
A Planning Inspector has ruled that a blueprint for development in North Essex until 2033 can be found legally sound.
The Inspector had examined Section One of the Local Plan, shared by Tendring District, Braintree District and Colchester Borough councils (North Essex Authorities or NEAs), over the past three years.
Now, after scrutinising the plan, supporting evidence and hearing from stakeholders, he has said the document can be adopted – subject to including previously announced modifications – and be found legally compliant and sound.
The Planning Inspector’s modifications, which have been subject to a recent public consultation, included the confirmation of a new Garden Community on land near the University of Essex on the Tendring/Colchester border.
Within the modifications he also stated that planning consent and funding approval for the A120-133 link road and Rapid Transit System are to be secured before planning approval is granted for any development forming part of the garden community.
Each authority will now work on their individual Section Twos of their Local Plans.
Section One contains overall strategic direction for growth, while Section Two will cover more localised aspects. The Section One Plan includes proposals for a new garden community on the border of Colchester and Tendring, adopting an infrastructure-led approach including a Rapid Transit System.
As part of his letter confirming the decision, the Planning Inspector also agreed that the NEAs adopted housing numbers are sound, and that no adjustment is needed due to later population projections. This means that 920 houses are required each year up until 2033 in Colchester, 716 in Braintree and 550 in Tendring.
Cllr Graham Butland, Leader of Braintree District Council, said: “I am pleased that Section One has now been determined and we can look ahead to promptly getting on with Section Two. This will mean our local communities can now move forward with more confidence. We wish Colchester Borough Council and Tendring District Council all the best with the delivery of their garden community.”
Cllr Neil Stock OBE, Leader of Tendring District Council, said: “The collaboration and partnership working between the three district councils has been exemplary and ground-breaking; we have led the whole country in that regard. Our proposals and particularly our Garden Community aspirations on the border with Colchester have passed intense scrutiny, so I am extremely pleased with the progress we have made.”
Cllr Mark Cory, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “Local Plans are often a long and difficult process, and our joint plan has been no exception to that. The Inspector has supported the infrastructure-first approach and he has set out strict policy guidance to support it.
“I welcome this and am clear about two things: One that these clear principles and guidelines of infrastructure-first are met, otherwise development should not proceed. And secondly, that engagement with local people comes first too; acknowledging that we must improve on what we’ve seen in the past.”
Each NEA will now take the Section One Local Plan to its appropriate committee and/or full council.
The Planning Inspector’s letter will be available to read on the NEAs shared online portal here: www.braintree.gov.uk/localplans1