Green and Independent Councillors Try to Block Garden Communities Plan in Essex

Braintree and Witham Times

OPPOSITION councillors will seek to halt proposals to build three new towns in north Essex during a crunch meeting tonight.

The Green and Independent coalition on Braintree Council will put forward a motion to “shelve” the garden communities scheme and instead seek a scaled down Local Plan in an effort to stop speculative developments being added on the towns and villages in the district.

The motion, which was deferred at the last full council meeting in July, calls for the garden communities plan put together by Braintree, Colchester and Tendring Council, to be halted for the time being while a more immediate arrangement can be found.

Green leader James Abbott said: “It is essential that the three North Essex Authorities now shelve the so-called Garden Communities Plan and get on with their Local Plans which for Braintree District detail almost all the housing in the plan period to 2033.

“There is also a need to work up realistic plans to improve transport including rail, other public transport and walking and cycling.

“This would end the on-going planning shambles.”

The North Essex Authorities have continued to pursue their garden communities vision despite being told the proposal was unsound by a housing inspector last year. The scheme would see new settlements built to the west and east of Braintree, and a further one to the east of Colchester in an effort to meet housing targets.

All three councils now say they have the necessary evidence to address the inspector’s concerns and Braintree councillors are likely to vote on whether the think the evidence is sufficient during tonight’s meeting.

The vote will only go ahead if the Green’s motion is rejected by the Conservative led authority, something which senior Tory and council leader Graham Butland believes will happen.

He said: “We as the Conservatives will be opposing the motion put forward by the Greens and Independents because we believe it is just a tactic to frustrate the Local Plan process. They are not in favour of tackling the housing criss.

“They say the garden communities will cause a delay in getting a Local Plan in place but this motion will only make that worse. It won’t help young people desperately looking for new homes.”

He added: “We remain committed to producing a Local Plan and develop sustainable communities.

“It’s vitally important that we get this plan in place. We want a district that will meet its housing needs, one that is properly planned and is not left to the whim of speculative developers.”

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