Date issued: 23 November 2018
The Planning Inspector overseeing the examination of Braintree, Colchester and Tendring’s shared Local Plan has backed the suggested approach for taking the plans forward.
Following a public examination earlier this year, the Inspector approved the number of new homes required, but set out areas of work the three North Essex authorities (NEAs), supported by Essex County Council, needed to undertake to help make their plans to take forward the principles of Garden Communities in the areas sound.
After reviewing the Inspector’s feedback and various options of ways forward the authorities set out their approach to help taking the plans forward. This was primarily focused around the viability of infrastructure needed to support the proposed garden communities, and also undertaking a revised ‘sustainability appraisal’ looking at the impact of the proposals over other potential sites.
While in his response he was unable to express a view if the proposals would enable the plan to be found sound, he welcomed the council’s ‘constructive proposals for taking the examination forward’.
In his response, the Inspector said: “You say that the revised Sustainability Appraisal and the updated evidence base will enable the NEAs to decide whether they wish to pursue or amend the Plan strategy. This indicates that the NEAs are approaching the necessary further work on the Sustainability Appraisal and the evidence base with an appropriately open mind and without preconceptions as to the outcome.”
A spokesperson for the three North Essex councils said: “Throughout the Local Plan examination process we have had a constructive dialogue with the Planning Inspector to ensure due process is followed and we can move towards the adoption of a sound plan.
“The proposals are complex and look beyond the normal timescale for a Local Plan. It’s important that we allow time to ensure what comes back to the inspector is thorough and fully answers the issues he raised, but we welcome his support for the approach set out.
“Any Garden Community would be developed over several decades. They will only come to fruition when we have the commitments for the necessary social and physical infrastructure to ensure they are delivered in a way benefitting local people.
“This is what people and businesses rightly demand. We will now assess the evidence to see if it supports the viability of garden communities, and whether the best sites for development have been put forward.”
The latest letter from the Inspector is available on the Braintree District Council website, which is the host authority for the joint Local Plan work, here https://www.braintree.gov.uk/lpexamination