Blueprint for jobs, homes and prosperity in North Essex set for next milestone

Plans for jobs, homes and economic prosperity through three ‘Garden Communities’ in North Essex will be considered over the coming weeks.

North Essex is set to be an area of significant economic growth over the next 15 or more years, with the garden communities at the heart of the emerging Local Plans.

The vision is to make the communities amazing places to live, work and spend recreation time, with a diverse mix of homes leading to vibrant neighbourhoods benefiting from a range of community services including education, leisure, culture and shopping.

The communities – earmarked for Braintree, Colchester and Tendring - will be debated by the Cabinets of four councils.

Cllr Graham Butland, Leader of Braintree District Council, said: “New communities built with garden community principles can mean enhanced infrastructure for our district, such as health facilities, schools, green space, roads, better public transport, safe walking and cycling links – which, to me, are all just as important as the homes themselves. Garden Communities could offer us a holistic approach which can address our long term housing and community needs.”

Cllr Tim Young, Colchester Borough Council’s Deputy Leader, added: “Creating sustainable communities which deliver economic growth and employment for future generations will bring much to the borough. The investment in infrastructure and support services delivered via the Garden Communities model is the best way forward to achieving our future housing needs.”

Cllr Neil Stock, Leader of Tendring District Council, said: “This is an incredibly innovative project for Tendring which gives us the chance to build local homes for local people while also providing the jobs they need to thrive.

“It is a project which will also include roads, schools, health facilities and green open spaces up front, making our Garden Community a great place to live; it is our ideal opportunity to plan, think through and deliver a whole new community – not just a massive housing estate.”

Cllr John Spence, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to grow communities which will not only be wonderful places to live and play but will provide jobs and futures for residents and safeguard the north Essex economy for generations to come.

“Garden Communities are different because the leisure, healthcare, schools and transport which any thriving community needs alongside high quality homes are designed in at the beginning of the process, not as an afterthought.”

The communities would offer high quality homes alongside high quality infrastructure including green open spaces, employment opportunities and expanded road, transport, education and healthcare facilities, building communities which complement and are in keeping with the local existing villages, but do not swallow them up.

Creating generous green spaces is at the heart of the project, making places resilient to climate change and promoting healthy lifestyles. They would be planned around integrated, sustainable transport systems with walking and cycling as major components.

The aspiration is for communities to provide access to one job per household within the community or within a sustainable commuting distance. To progress the project, the Cabinets of Tendring District Council, Braintree District Council, Colchester Borough Council and Essex County Council will be asked to approve proposals to create a company which would lead the work to create the Garden Communities. This will happen at Cabinet meetings during November and December.

The company would be known as North Essex Garden Communities Limited, with each Council appointing a director to its board.

The creation of the new communities – one east of Colchester, on the boundary between Tendring and Colchester, one west of Colchester on the border of Braintree District at Marks Tey, and one west of Braintree on the border with Uttlesford District – would be overseen by three Local Delivery Vehicles (LDVs). These will be known respectively as Tendring Colchester Borders Ltd, Colchester Braintree Borders Ltd, and West of Braintree Ltd.

In principle, the four authorities will agree to provide an appropriate proportion of necessary funding to each of the Local Delivery Vehicles, subject to satisfactory business cases and funding options available at the time.

The Garden Communities sites are subject to allocation through the Local Plan process, which is determined by the borough or district councils following consultation and public examination.