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The government-appointed Planning Inspector examining the joint part of Braintree, Colchester and Tendring councils’ Local Plan has said the plan can be made sound and the proposed Garden Community on the Tendring/Colchester Border can proceed, but two others should be removed.
The Planning Inspector, Roger Clews, said in a letter to the North Essex Authorities (NEAs) that he agreed the garden communities could be supported and the policies in the plan rightly set high standards for delivery and infrastructure. However, he said the Colchester/Braintree Borders and West of Braintree Garden Community proposals are not, in his view, deliverable.
Mr Clews, appointed on behalf of the Secretary of State, described the authorities’ Shared Strategic Section 1 Plan as consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which sets out government's planning policies for England. He also said sustainable development can be achieved through the development of garden communities and recognised the NEAs have “appropriately high aspirations for the quality of development at the proposed garden communities”.
He said the financial viability of the proposed Tendring/Colchester Borders Garden Community is very strong. However, in his opinion the proposed Colchester/Braintree Borders Garden Community would not achieve a viable land price and the proposed West of Braintree Garden Community at best at the very margin of financial viability and sustainable access, cannot be achieved. He said on this basis neither garden community is deliverable.
The Planning Inspector said there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate the Rapid Transit System is feasible, but he did not think that Route 3 (linking Braintree and the proposed West of Braintree Garden Community) and Route 4 (linking Braintree to Colchester) were deliverable in financial terms.
He reiterated the Local Plan has met the legal requirements including the Duty to Co-operate and that the housing targets for each district are sound. This means that 716 homes need to be built each year in the Braintree District, 920 homes need to be built in the Colchester borough and 550 homes each year need to be built in Tendring.
He concluded that the NEAs have two options: