Revised proposals to build three garden communities in North Essex will be examined in the autumn not the summer, it has been revealed.
Proposals to create 43,000 homes were formed as part of a partnership between Colchester, Braintree and Tendring Council, but the plans were knocked back earlier this year by the Government’s planning inspector Roger Clews, who asked for additional evidence to support them.
Initially, the authorities planned to send the additional evidence for re-examination in the summer, however a delay has been announced to ensure any revisions are up-to-scratch and agreed by each council.
The inspector is now likely to see the revised proposals in October 2019, with the councils sending a monthly timetable update to Mr Clews to keep him in the loop.
A spokesman for the North Essex councils said: “One of the key pieces of work being undertaken is a sustainability appraisal, which is effectively a piece of work looking at the environmental impacts of the proposals in comparison to other potential sites and varying sizes of development.
“This is something which we will be consulting on with the public in the New Year.
“This has meant we are working to a very tight timescale and, as the inspector has rightly identified, while we are under pressure to ensure a sound Local Plan is in place, it is critical that the evidence base that is being produced is the most comprehensive and thorough possible and there is sufficient time built into the programme to allow for constructive local engagement and then for councillors to consider the findings through our various committees.
“Moving the inspection to the autumn will allow us to do this.”
In September, the three councils, working in partnership with Essex County Council, renewed their support for the garden community approach for housing.
Last month, Mr Clews agreed to the authorities’ approach to gathering the required evidence, effectively giving them the green light to move forward.Rosie Pearson, secretary of campaigners the Campaign Against Urban Sprawl (Cause), welcomed the delay but said the group did not expect October to be the final date.
“I’ll eat my hat if the timetable doesn’t slip again,” she said.
“Even this next stage will see legal wranglings before the methodology is even agreed.
“Meanwhile, we’re at the mercy of speculative developers and the undeliverable garden communities do the opposite of what they are supposed to do.”
Correspondence between the inspector and the councils can be found online at https://bit.ly/2E0rPEc.