First phase of consultation for Essex ‘garden communities’ generates 1,000 responses

Proposed garden village sites in north Essex. Picture: ARCHANT

Proposed garden village sites in north Essex. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

More than 1,000 responses were submitted in a consultation for plans which could see as many as 43,000 homes built in ‘garden communities’ in parts of north Essex.

Run jointly by Braintree, Colchester, Tendring and Uttlesford councils, the consultation was the first chance for local residents to see specific plans for the proposed garden community sites – and is said to have built a “strong foundation for future plans”.

The communities are proposed for three sites: one west of Braintree, one east of Colchester and one west of Marks Tey, and have come under fire from local campaigners, some of whom feared the public consultation was premature.

When first proposed, the largest of the communities, a scheme of up to 20,000 homes built over 30 years, known as West Tey, sparked an 8,500 signature petition, which CAUSE (Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex) said was ignored by local leaders.

A further 13,000 homes could be built at Andrewsfield and Boxted Wood and up to 9,000 on land north of the University of Essex.

The councils behind the projects have said that the North Essex Garden Communities (NEGC) project would create much-needed new homes for the area and would include 13 new primary and four secondary schools. It would also involve rerouting rail and road networks.

A spokesperson for the councils said: “We received many constructive comments as part of the process. While some have concerns with any new development we had many positive comments about the need for a different approach to house building and support for an infrastructure-led model.

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“The garden communities have formed part of the recent planning inspectorate hearing on the joint section within the three local plans. Dependent of the inspector’s recommendations, all of the comments we have received from the issues and options consultation will help shape the next version of the plans.

“We fully recognise there is still a long way to go, but this consultation and the subsequent public engagement we will carry out will help create well thought through and successful detailed plans for each site. We are committed to ensuring our residents have their say on every aspect of these innovative and ambitious plans as we go through this process”.

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