New eco-town plans spark anger
GOVERNMENT plans for a new “eco-town” in east Essex have been criticised by an MP and a district council as “a disaster”.
Funding for a study to identify suitable locations for the eco-community along the A120 corridor was announced by Planning Minister John Healey on Thursday.
He revealed �200,000 would be given to the Haven Gateway Partnership to work with Essex County Council on finding suitable sites for the new town which could create 8,000 new jobs and a similar number of new homes.
But the plans were met with fury by North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin who vowed to fight the proposals which he said had “nil support” in the county.
He added that the Government was ignoring its own inspector who had ruled against a new town on the A120 at a public inquiry into the Tendring Plan three years ago. Mr Jenkin said, “When I first saw the Government’s statement dated April 1, I thought it must be an April Fool. There is nil support for this. Neither the Essex County Council or Tendring District is backing an eco-town and I will fight this every inch of the way.
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“Eco-town is just Labour-speak for dumping new housing in the countryside of Conservative constituencies. The minister is ignoring local opinion.”
Mr Jenkin added: “We do need jobs in the Haven Gateway, but jobs for Harwich and Clacton must be near where people without jobs are living.
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“I have told the Haven Gateway Partnership, this requires land for commercial development, not more dormitory housing.
“They should be promoting the Essex coast for tourism and regeneration, not just for more housing.”
Sarah Candy, Tending District Council’s cabinet member for planning, said: “This whole announcement and the way that it has come about is of great concern to Tendring.
“There is absolutely no need whatsoever for a new eco-town in our district and we have the evidence to back that up.
“All our energies, effort and focus for development are being concentrated on our priority areas for regeneration which are the coastal towns of Clacton, Walton and Harwich – and to take our focus off that could spell disaster for them.”
She added: “We will be holding further talks with the Haven Gateway Partnership over this whole initiative and the strings attached to this Government grant as it has set alarm bells ringing in Tendring.
The council’s head of planning Roger Stewart said: “As far as the council is concerned it certainly does not support any new housing growth in a free-standing settlement along the A120 corridor or adjacent to Colchester.”
Mr Healey, said: “I welcome the proposals from the Haven Gateway Partnership and Essex County Council who are now in the eco-town second wave shortlist.
“Councils in this Essex partnership recognise we need to plan, design and build our homes differently in the future.
“Britain is leading the world with these new eco-town standards, which combine affordable housing with new green infrastructure and an exceptional quality of life.”