CONTROVERSIAL plans for three new towns across north Essex will be worth the hundreds of millions of pounds in investment to provide homes and services for generations to come, according to council bosses.
Plans to start delivering garden settlements on Colchester’s borders with Tendring and Braintree, and another on the western side of Braintree have been given the green light by council cabinets in Tendring and Braintree, with Colchester due to follow suit last night.
The authorities have set up a company, along with Essex County Council to deliver the towns which provide infrastructure before houses and leaders believe the innovative project is robust enough to work, despite how ambitious it seems.The new town close to Marks Tey, which has been dubbed West Tey, could be roughly the size of Bury St Edmunds. It will eventually have 16,8585-homes across an 800-hectare site could cost £1.425billion and create more than 3,190 jobs, with 11 primary and two secondary schools.
On the border of Colchester and Tendring, 6,608 homes are planned with new facilities including a link road between the A120 and the A133.
Colchester Council leader Paul Smith (Lib Dem) believes the authorities having control over what is built is key to the success of the scheme.
He said: “This will be development and housing controlled by the councils and not developers trying to outdo each other, building few enough to avoid funding a school or going bust in the middle of the development.
“There will also be a number of jobs and if companies are looking for apprentices there is no reason why we cannot say they need to come from Colchester, Tendring and Braintree.
“These garden communities will have their own facilities and if we were to build 200 on St John’s, 200 on Highwoods and 200 on Mile End there would be no provision for extra infrastructure.”
But critics of the scheme, including the Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex have said the new towns are unsustainable and would eat up green space across the county.
Mr Smith added: “I can understand the scepticism but I think it is far and away the best way forward.
“It is councils working together to provide infrastructure first. The bypasses and school will be there on day one, not just an artist’s impression.
“There will be a clear space between these new settlements and existing ones.”
Tendring Council voted through the plans at a full council meeting earlier this week and leader Neil Stock (Con) said he was excited about the plans.
“Just about every person you speak to is concerned about a large number of people having new housing built right on top of where they live currently live.
“It gets labelled as nimbyism but I think that is unfair, they are valid concerns.
“The biggest concern is about new housing impacting on infrastructure, clogging up the roads, and the doctors’ surgeries, people suddenly find they can no longer get their children into schools in an area they have lived all their lives because of the impact of new housing.
“Houses will probably still be being built in 2060.
“This is not just houses for our grandchildren but for the children of people who are not even born yet.
“It is a risk, there is always risk in doing anything big and bold and this is the biggest project of its kind in the country.
“We are going in with their eyes open, and there would be risks if we did not do it – where would people live?”