Consultation on Essex garden village proposals would be ‘premature’
Calls are being made to delay a consultation over plans for new garden villages in north Essex until more details are known.
Colchester borough and Braintree district councils’ Local Plan committees are meeting tomorrow night when they are being asked to approve plans to consult on the projects.
The authorities, along with Tendring district and Essex county councils – together as North Essex Garden Communities – are behind plans for new settlements on the borders of Colchester and Tendring close to the University of Essex, at ‘West Tey’, and west of Braintree.
Tendring’s Local Plan Committee unanimously approved a consultation on its scheme at a meeting on Thursday.
But campaigners opposed to the West Tey scheme say a consultation on the project is premature.
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Sharon Brayley, from the Say No to B & C – Protect Your Rural Environment group, said residents have significant concerns about the scale of housing development in the area.
“We are local residents who are passionate about our rural community.
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“Colchester Borough Council says West Tey will protect our villages from ‘a deluge of building’. However a consultation map shows very limited green buffers between West Tey and surrounding villages.
“It appears the proposed A120 road options B and C are being used as a physical barrier between the proposed 24,000 new garden town and Feering.
“They say West Tey will protect our villages from development, but there are housing developments proposed with more than 1,000 homes in both Silver End and Feering, which will see the latter double in size.”
The group also says the consultation map is premised on just two of the five route options, B and C, for a new dualled A120, to tie in with West Tey. It is also concerned that the councils have campaigned for those two options because it unlocks land for housing.
Ms Brayley added: “We want a fair, transparent and properly-costed process where councils are held to account for promoting the most expensive routes through the countryside. We wish to understand their true motivations for route options.”
The West Tey development team, a consortium which includes the owners of land West Tey could be built on, have previously said no route is a barrier to the project.
A preferred route on the A120 is due to be published by Essex County Council this autumn.
Rosie Pearson, secretary of campaign group CAUSE (Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex), added: “This latest consultation is being used by councils as a ‘mandate for the development of West Tey’.
“The consultation is premature and should be postponed. It is based on thin air – it is simply not possible to attempt to masterplan a new town in the vicinity of Marks Tey, given the many and significant unknowns.”
CAUSE is calling for a planning inspector to agree the principle of a new town, and for more detailed plans for the A12, A120, and a new railway station to prepared, before a consultation is held.
If Braintree and Colchester councils go-ahead with the consultation, it is envisaged the eight-week consultation will begin next Monday, November 13.
The garden community concept is based around creating holistically planned sustainable settlements in which people can live, work and spend time, and which include transport links to other centres.
North Essex Garden Communities is also working to control the land, allowing the authorities to benefit from the increase in land value and invest it back into the area.
Following the latest consultation, a more defined plan will be drawn up for each of the sites, which will then go out to a further consultation.
Neil Stock, leader of Tendring District Council and chairman of its Local Plan Committee, said: “It was very clear to members we need this scheme to be successful because otherwise we are going to see thousands of houses built in places that are unacceptable.
“We will see our existing towns get even more crowded and over-developed, and that’s why we need to start with a blank sheet of paper.”
For more information visit the council websites or www.ne-gc.co.uk