‘Land grab’ list by developers in Braintree district is published

Cllr James Abbott.

Cllr James Abbott. - Credit: Archant

New garden villages have been included in a wishlist of more than 300 sites put forward by developers in north Essex has been published.

Braintree District Council (BDC) has made public the areas put forward by landowners as part of the authority’s call for sites.

This is the first stage in redeveloping the district’s local plan, where land is put forward by anyone who thinks it could be a good location for new homes or businesses.

None of the sites have been assessed by the council or have planning permission, and this will be done ahead of an issues and scoping consultation in the new year.

Work on BDC’s local plan was stopped earlier this year and some aspects are now being redone following changes in legislation.

The local plan will provide a strategic overview of the growth in the district up to 2033.

Sites put forward range from single new homes, to whole new garden village settlements at Andrewsfield and Great Saling.

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Green party district and county councillor James Abbott has raised concerns about the scale of some of the proposals amid fears some places could lose their identity and merge with towns.

He said: “Green councillors will fight this wholly unacceptable and unsustainable land grab by developers deep into the countryside.

“We simply do not accept the proposed rate of development is deliverable or that it will benefit local communities or even meet the demand for local affordable housing – which should be the top priority.

“We accept that not all of the sites will be developed. But even while consultations will be underway on site allocations developers may submit planning applications to try to exploit the fact that BDC does not have an adopted plan, which is why BDC has rightly put aside resources to recruit more planning officers and to fight potential future planning appeals.

“Localism has been turned on its head and the blame lies full square with the Government which has moved the planning goalposts. As Greens we completely accept the need for sustainable development to provide appropriate levels of housing, employment and other allocations on suitable sites, but this needs to be through working with local communities and making sure that change can be successfully accommodated.”