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Make sure you have your say on garden community evidence

Make sure you have your say on garden community evidence

Consultation on further evidence for garden communities

North Essex residents are being reminded they have until 5pm on Monday 30 September to make their views known on additional evidence being submitted to the Planning Inspector supporting three new garden communities.

Braintree District Council, Colchester Borough Council and Tendring District Council have produced the extra information requested by the Inspector last year following an examination on the joint part of their Local Plans.

The Planning Inspector raised several areas he wanted to see further evidence on surrounding viability of the garden community schemes, the proposed rapid transit system and the sustainability of alternative development options.

A six-week public consultation was launched last month for residents to comment on this additional evidence.

Supported by Essex County Council, the garden community developments in Braintree, Colchester and Tendring incorporate a long-term strategy – helping to provide homes, jobs and infrastructure provision ensuring North Essex grows in a holistic way.

Built over 40-50 years, the communities will reduce the need to increase the size of existing towns and villages. Through building at scale, the plans also ensure that new developments come with a mixture of the different affordable homes, schools, health facilities, green spaces and jobs.

The additional evidence compiled by the three councils to address the Inspector’s questions show the plans are viable, sustainable and can provide a significant boost to the local economy, providing at least one job per new home in the local area – far higher than traditional development. They offer a wide variety of homes, including a minimum of 30% set aside as affordable housing.

The issues addressed in the new evidence include:

  • a new public transport system which would serve North Essex reducing congestion, improving air quality and providing quick and easy access in and out of Colchester and Braintree and linked with other public transport hubs. This would include segregated lanes for public transport and lay the foundations for innovative new technologies such as trackless trams.
  • evidence demonstrating the councils’ infrastructure-led approach is viable, meaning the schools, health, and leisure facilities needed to support the stand-alone settlements would be developed at the same time as the homes – not afterwards as is the usual practice.
  • an enhanced assessment of the environmental effects, and the social and economic issues associated with the proposals and alternative development options.

Cllr Mark Cory, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “It is vital we get local views and public scrutiny of the new evidence. The Planning Inspector wanted more information on our ambitions to provide the homes, jobs and infrastructure needed for the North Essex residents of the future.

“It is absolutely vital that we continue getting Government support to deliver the infrastructure needed to turn the principals of the garden communities into reality. I would call on all residents across North Essex to have their say on the new evidence in order to help inform the inspector’s decision.”

Cllr Graham Butland, Leader of Braintree District Council, said: “We believe garden communities are our long-term answer to building the homes we need in our district. The Planning Inspector asked us to undertake further work on a series of topics and it is that work we are now consulting on. I would encourage parish councils, residents and other partners to take a look and our planning policy team are more than happy to help if residents have any questions or concerns.”

Cllr Neil Stock, Leader of Tendring District Council, said: “As always, we are keen to hear residents’ views on the new evidence created in support of our draft Local Plan, and consultation responses will be passed to the Planning Inspector when he re-examines our vision. Our robust and innovative garden community plans form a relatively small part of this draft Local Plan but will evidently set us on a path for sustainable growth for the future, and I would urge people to have their say.”

The comments received through the consultation will be supplied to the Inspector ahead of the re-opening of the Local Plan examination expected to be held this winter.

Residents can make their views known by going to www.braintree.gov.uk/NEAtechS1 (A Q&A has been produced to help here: www.braintree.gov.uk/respondingtotech1)