Warning over ‘eye-watering’ housing growth

Essex housebuilding targets could increase under government plans. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Essex housebuilding targets could increase under government plans. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Archant © 2004

A council has said it will resist an “over inflation” of house building could see an extra 1,100 new homes being built in Essex per year.

Proposed government changes in its planning white paper have been described as “eye watering”, prompting ECC to be asked for its assurance that the council will lobby the government to resist such “an over inflation of house building in Essex”.

Under the plans, the entire county would expect to see 13,242 homes being built a year up from 10,683 under the current model.

In the ECC area, house building could increase from 8,355 to 10,435 per annum.

Among those most acutely affected by the changes are Uttlesford, would see its target increase from 706 homes to 1,231 per year – an increase of 74%.

Chelmsford would see its target go up from 946 homes per year to 1,557 – an increase of 65%.

Chelmsford leader Stephen Robinson said: “It’s a power grab by central government to remove local councillors’ input into the plan.

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“We have made our views very clear and have briefed MPs around Chelmsford about our concerns.

“We want the message to get across that Chelmsford is not anti-growth – it is the infrastructure that needs to go with it and also local control.

“The crucial thing is quality and not just quantity and relaxing the rules in permitted development rights.”

At a full council meeting, Councillor Julie Young said the proposed changes the government have consulted upon are “eye watering for some of our districts”.

In response, Councillor Kevin Bentley said the plans will lead to “difficult decisions” and hoped “you will be pleased to find that we agree”.

He added: “Furthermore, as the green belt remains protected, it is difficult to envisage how the housing numbers from the new standard method for assessing local housing need will be implemented, particularly prior to any local plan policies being in place and sites identified to deliver the housing uplift.

“Meeting housing existing levels of growth are already challenging and these potentially significant increases will further increase pressure on existing towns and villages, the natural and historic environment, community infrastructure (including schools) and transportation networks.

“We feel that there needs to be further consideration in conjunction with proposals being put forward as part of the government’s planning white paper.”

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