Plans for 36,000 homes in Essex ‘garden communities’ found to be unsound by inspector – but link road set for green light

Rosie Pearson, of Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex (CAUSE). Picture: ROSIE PEARSON

Rosie Pearson, of Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex (CAUSE). Picture: ROSIE PEARSON - Credit: ROSIE PEARSON

Plans to build 36,000 homes in north Essex have been found to be ‘unsound’ by the planning inspector – but a planned A120 to A133 link road is set to get the go ahead.

A map of the three proposed garden communities in north Essex Picture: NECG

A map of the three proposed garden communities in north Essex Picture: NECG - Credit: Archant

The joint Local Plan by Colchester, Braintree and Tendring councils included the construction of three “garden communities” (GCs) in the county as part of their commitment to build hundreds of homes every year.

But government appointed planning Inspector Roger Clews has said the councils should remove plans for developments on the Colchester/Braintree border (West Tey) and land west of Baintree to proceed.

In his letter to the councils, Mr Clews listed land value fears and concerns over whether the deliverance of two rapid transport system routes were deliverable on financial terms.

The letter continued: “For the foregoing reasons, therefore, I find that the proposed Colchester/Braintree Borders and West of Braintree GCs are not justified or deliverable. Consequently, the Plan’s spatial strategy, and thus the Plan itself as submitted, are unsound.”

Mr Clews did add, however, that financial viability of the proposed Tendring/Colchester Borders Garden Community was strong.

Rosie Pearson, secretary of opposition group CAUSE, said in a statement the decision is “truly fantastic news for all residents” who have “lived under the shadow of the car-dependent urban sprawl for so long”.

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The statement continued: “Quite rightly, the planning inspector has found the new towns vanity project unsound. “More than £8million of tax-payer funds have been poured down the drain, and never-ending delays have caused uncontrolled speculative development.

“Whatever happens next, it is imperative that our councils start to listen to their communities and work with them.”

In total, 716 homes need to be built each year in the Braintree District, 920 in Colchester Borough and 550 in Tendring.

Elsewhere, the £69.8million link road included in the plan is set to be approved by Essex County Council.

Mark Cory, leader of Colchester Borough Council, said the inspector had been “thorough” in his research.

Mr Cory added: “This decision is obviously a mixed bag for Colchester and north Essex as a whole and one that we will need to consider carefully both individually and collectively.

“There are clear positives to take from the work carried out jointly by the councils.

“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.”

A Department for Housing spokesperson added: “The Government is working hand-in-hand with local communities to deliver much-needed new homes across the country.

“We remain committed to supporting new garden communities and helping these schemes to get off the ground.”

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