Could trams be the future of travel for growing region?
- Credit: ZHUZHOU INSTITUTE CO LTD
Rapid trams using their own road lanes could be the future of public transport from Colchester to Stansted Airport.
As part of a joint local plan, Tendring District, Colchester Borough, Braintree District and Essex County councils are sharing details of a proposal for a new rapid transit system - with trams every 10 minutes - for the future garden communities across north Essex.
This network, which would grow alongside north Essex, is designed to reduce congestion, improving air quality and provide direct travel from Tendring district as far as Stansted Airport.
Built over 40 to 50 years and costing between £230million and £325m, the transport is designed to service those new towns and villages, with their own affordable homes, schools and doctors' surgeries.
Councillor Mark Cory, leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: "The principles of the garden communities are a good long-term ambition, but for the principle to work we need infrastructure first and suitable sites to be considered on the evidence being provided.
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"It would be a failure if we simply add thousands of new cars to our already stretched roads.
"This is why the rapid transit system is so important and why we are setting out a strong case for how it could operate from the first few homes."
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Councils say that by 2070, the network will develop into an east-west public transport corridor.
It would run across North Essex, from the Tendring-Colchester border garden community close to the University of Essex, through Colchester and connecting the Garden Community settlements westwards through to Stansted Airport.
Between July 1 and 5, the councils are set to publish evidence they have compiled to answer questions raised by the planning inspector on issues including land for employment, viability, and the environment.
Councillor Neil Stock, leader of Tendring District Council, added: "The garden community concept goes far beyond the provision of housing. It is about how we create connected communities ensuring that homes, jobs, and infrastructure and social infrastructure are all delivered."
The local plan containing the proposals for the Rapid Transit system is expected to open again later in 2019.