Priti Patel says council faces ‘day of reckoning’ after garden communities decision

Home secretary and Witham MP Priti Patel has hit out at Colchester Borough Council over garden commu

Home secretary and Witham MP Priti Patel has hit out at Colchester Borough Council over garden communities plans Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Priti Patel MP has hit out at Colchester Borough Council after controversial plans to build two garden communities in her constituency were deemed unsound.

The plans for two garden communities – on land at the Colchester/Braintree border and land west of Braintree – formed part of the joint Local Plan for Braintree, Colchester and Tendring councils and would have seen 36,000 homes built in the area.

In a letter on Tuesday, May 19, planning inspector Roger Clews found the proposed developments were not “deliverable or viable” and were therefore unsound.

Mrs Patel, a long-term critic of the proposals, said the council should be held accountable for the plans’ dismissal on the basis of “millions of pounds” of taxpayers’ money being lost.

Mrs Patel said: “These plans have been controversial and heavily criticised. Many opportunities to reflect and make changes have been missed and public confidence has been undermined. Two years ago, the same inspector warned that the plans were not good enough and the lessons have not been learned.

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“We all want to see new housing built in a responsible and sustainable way in this part of Essex but the way these plans have been put together and promoted has been misguided.”

Plans for a separate garden community on the Tendring/Colchester border was however found to be viable, and plans for a link road between the A133 and A120 look set to be approved by Essex County Council.

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Concerns have also been raised over the delay to the A12 widening scheme and its impact on local businesses and communities.

She added: “They ignored the warning signs two years ago and pressed ahead regardless. Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money have been lost, a major road project has been delayed and their housing plans are in crisis.

She said Colchester Borough Council must “now face a day of reckoning.”

Colchester council leader Mark Cory described the decision as a “mixed bag” for Essex on Tuesday, adding: “This administration believes it is better to plan new developments to deliver infrastructure first, as the four councils have been trying to do. Leaving it to developers to provide the necessary physical and social infrastructure is not good enough.”

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