A new joint committee made up of councillors from three local authorities will be set up to oversee planning decisions for a new garden community agreed for North Essex.
The Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community (TCBGC) is part of the shared adopted Section One Local Plan of both Colchester Borough Council (CBC) and Tendring District Council (TDC), and is supported by Essex County Council (ECC).
Sitting across the border of CBC and TDC, under current arrangements, planning decisions would need to be considered by either (or both) councils’ separate planning committees.
Having one joint committee, however, will help to ensure a consistent and comprehensive approach to decisions made regarding the TCBGC.
Made up of representatives from CBC, TDC and ECC – which has planning responsibility for infrastructure such as libraries, schools, and waste matters – the committee will be able to focus on delivering their shared ambition for an exemplary new settlement at TCBGC. It will also streamline the planning process, so decisions do not need to go to three separate committees, thereby avoiding unnecessary delays.
The new committee will have a revolving chair across the three authorities.
Cllr Paul Dundas, Leader of Colchester Borough Council and a representative on the TCBGC Member Group, said: “Regardless of the long and complicated history and differing views, including my own, of this project having been backed by an independent Planning Inspector and adopted by both Tendring and the previous Colchester administration councils, it is important that we work together and do it in an efficient, positive and transparent manner, which this joint committee will achieve.”
Cllr Carlo Guglielmi, TDC’s Deputy Leader and a representative on the TCBGC Member Group, said: “This approach not only demonstrates our continued partnership working for the benefit of our area, and a natural evolution of the time, effort and resources the three authorities have put in thus far, but is also the best practical solution for getting things done.”
Cllr Tom Cunningham, ECC Deputy Cabinet Member for Economic Renewal, Infrastructure and Planning and current chair of the TCBGC Member Group, said: “This joint planning committee is a first for Essex, and will allow decisions to be made in a unified way, while ensuring local communities are still represented.”
As a joint committee of local authorities, the panel will be subject to all of the usual governance rules including around publishing documents and being open to the public. The committee will only deal with work directly relating to the Garden Community area, with other matters retained by individual councils.
The initial work of the committee will be to approve publication of a draft Development Plan Document (DPD), which sets out key policies and a vision for the Garden Community – and acts as a framework for the future masterplan. The draft is due to go out for consultation this coming winter.
The Joint Committee has been backed by full councils of all three authorities, with ECC the last to approve the move at its meeting yesterday (Tuesday, 7 December).