Plans for 20,000 homes revealed

PLANS to build 20,000 new houses in Colchester by 2023 have raised fears that the town will expand too fast and lack the facilities for new families when they move in.

PLANS to build 20,000 new houses in Colchester by 2023 have raised fears that the town will expand too fast and lack the facilities for new families when they move in.

Colchester Borough Council has revealed its new vision for developing the town and plans to carry out the mass construction in north Colchester and Stanway over the next 15 years.

But some councillors and a regional regeneration group feel the current financial climate could restrict the amount of investment available for schools, roads and facilities.

Many of the new houses are already under construction or are part of existing projects, but John Jowers, a Colchester borough councillor and Essex County Council's head of localism and planning, said the Government needed to provide more investment to support the work.


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Most housing projects are supported by investment in infrastructure from the developers under the section 106 arrangement, but Mr Jowers said this could become less likely due to a shortage of cash available.

He said: “Whether we need them or not, it is what the Government thinks we will need. The real problem is they are telling us to do this but they're not giving us the money for the infrastructure.

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“We don't get the funding until the developer pays when the houses are built. In the current climate we're not going to get the developers paying.

“It's an awful lot of houses at an awfully quick rate for a town to take.”

It has taken two years to develop the plan and it outlines how the council aims to meet ambitious housing growth targets it has been set.

Lyn Barton, the council's head of planning and regeneration, said: “We acknowledge that there are pressures on Colchester to develop and we want to ensure this is done in a sustainable way, giving everyone good infrastructure links and access to community facilities, shopping, employment and open space.”

A spokesman for the Government Department for Communities and Local Government said the borough council's commitment to building more homes had been rewarded with the granting of “Growth Point” status.

He said: “Under this scheme Colchester receives Government funding to help meet the costs of providing new infrastructure to support these homes, such as schools, health facilities and parks.

“Last year Colchester received almost £4m, this year it will get a share of more than £6m.

“As part of its Growth Point status Colchester council is also eligible to apply for funding from the national £200m Community Infrastructure Fund, which provides funding for major transport improvements to support new homes.”

The plan is due to be adopted by the council at its next meeting on 11 December.

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