NO INFORMATION can be given out about potential housing sites that might be used for hundreds of thousands of new homes, the Government has said.
It wants to build one million new homes between Oxford and Cambridge before 2050.
About 100,000 homes are currently included in Oxfordshire councils’ Local Plans until the mid-2030s – but many more housing sites would be needed in the county to meet the Government’s target.
The Ministry of Housing (MHCLG) said all information returned by councils about potential housing sites ‘relates to the formulation and development of policy’ and is currently secret.
It was replying to a freedom of information request that it returned two and a half months late.
CANVEY residents are being “left in the dark” over future plans for homes across the island and Castle Point, it has been claimed.
Almost 5,000 homes are due to be built across the borough in the next 20 years, with Castle Point Council initially threatened with Government intervention in December 2017.
A draft proposal was completed but voted down by councillors in December, when it was stated Government intervention would take place “imminently”.
And Canvey residents feel they are now being kept in the dark with no news on what’s happening next, with a Canvey Independent Party councillor admitting the party has no information to feed back either.
While Norman Smith, leader of the council, insisted it is chasing the Government for answers.
Joan Thomas, 55, of Long Road, Canvey, said: “We are told all these homes will be built, we are told all the green belt is at risk, we are told the Government would intervene and we would have no say, then it just goes quiet. We have heard nothing since that December vote, what have the council been doing? Working to get a suitable plan? Or sitting on their hands waiting for central Government to take control? Nothing at all seems to be happening.”
Locations for all the proposed sites were released, with 1,399 set for Canvey on nine sites, and 2,823 for the rest of Castle Point on 20 sites – with room needing to be found for at least 600 more. At least 4,800 homes are needed, as well as 90 residential care beds.
A number of green belt sites have been released under the plan, but the council has insisted it is attempting to keep the number of homes on green belt to a “bare minimum”.
Barry Campagna, of the Canvey independent party, said: “When we were voting on these plans, we were told “if it is not approved, Government intervention will begin tomorrow”, but that has not happened. The threat was made to sound very serious, but we have heard very little since.
“As a Canvey councillor, we are not being told anything by Castle Point council, and we have not heard anything from Government, so we have nothing to feed back to our residents, the public are in the dark and that is when vicious rumours start.“It has been three months since we voted against the draft plan, residents have been told nothing, there is no meetings booked and no discussion.”
Government ‘too busy with Brexit for Local Plan’
Castle Point council leader, Norman Smith, insisted the council feels just as ill-informed, insisting it is pressuring central Government for answers – and soon.
He has previously warned that Government intervention into the local plan would be imminent, following councillor’s rejection of a draft plan in December.
But weeks on, Mr Smith claims he is still to hear from central Government, adding that he does not expect an answer until Brexit negotiations are completed.
He said: “There is no update on the local plan and we feel equally left in the dark by the Government who are busy with Brexit.
“It is likely the Castle Point Local Plan is lower priority compared to the Brexit negotiations.
“I do not think we will hear until the Brexit is out of the way. We are talking to them on a weekly basis to find out if there’s any update. We are definitely not keeping anyone in the dark.
“We don’t know any more than the residents. It would be wrong to assume and tell residents what we think will happen.
“But as soon as we know more we will let the public know.”
Especially when if the site was (wrongly) considered suitable it screws up the SA for HEGC.
Its another Chalsgrove total waste of Homes England’s Time
Does anyone in HE have the weight and ability to tell the MOD when to take a running jump when it proposes silly none NPPF compliant sites?
PROPOSALS to build thousands of new homes on a former RAF airfield are to set to gather pace following the announcement of a new partnership between two government departments.
Homes England is set to work closely with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) on a national scheme which will aim to deliver 10,000 new houses across seven different sites belonging to the Ministry of Defence.
Wethersfield Airfield in Hedingham Road is one of the sites included in the deal, with previous estimations suggesting 4,850 homes could be built on the land.
The airfield will remain in the ownership of the MoD while Homes England prepares the site for development and works with experts on planning applications.
DIO, which is a branch of the MoD, will meanwhile be in charge of the “investment with governance” side of the scheme.
A memorandum of understanding has now been signed by both organisations to confirm the partnership and “speed up the process”.
DIO chief exec Graham Dalton, chief executive of DIO, says the deal will maximise the value of all seven sites.
He said: “We are pleased to be entering into this partnership with Homes England for the benefit of local communities.
“The combined expertise will ensure sites no longer needed for defence can be developed into much needed housing while delivering value for money.”
Homes England chief executive Nick Walkley added: “This partnership provides another great opportunity to intervene in the market – and the sites will contribute towards the 300,000 homes needed each year to meet the growing demand.
“We are pleased to be using our skills and resource to work closely with DIO on the delivery of these brownfield sites.”
It was originally understood the MoD would sell its airfield in Wethersfield before work started on developing the land.
The scheme forms part of the MoD’s defence estate optimisation programme, which will see its estate reduced by roughly 30 per cent.
Though it is expected the site will be turned into new housing, Braintree Council has previously suggested the airfield could be home to a new ‘mega prison’.
Council bosses argued the proposal, which was put forward in February 2017, could create more than 1,000 jobs and would help pump millions of pounds into the district’s economy.