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Braintree District Council has set out the next steps for its Local Plan process

Braintree District Council has set out the next steps for its Local Plan process

Leader of the Council, Cllr Graham Butland updated Full Council on the Local Plan

Braintree District Council has asked the Planning Inspector for the full list of modifications which would be needed to make its joint section one local plan sound.

At a meeting of Full Council last night (June 1) the Leader of the Council Cllr Graham Butland confirmed the next steps following the letter from the Planning Inspector on the Shared Strategic (Section 1) Plan received last month.

In the letter to the North Essex Authorities the Planning Inspector said that much of the plan could be found sound such as many of the policies, the duty to cooperate and the housing figures (in Braintree District’s case this is 716 homes should be built every year).

He said that issues such as water quality, the effect on the historic environment, air pollution and the impact of overflying aircraft had been considered and assessed appropriately.

However the Planning Inspector expressed concerns about part of the proposed Rapid Transit System and the viability of the garden communities. He said that the joint section one local plan could only be found sound if the authorities removed two of three proposals for garden communities i.e. Colchester Braintree Borders Garden Community and the West of Braintree Garden Community. The Planning Inspector backed the Tendring/Colchester Border Garden Communities.

At Full Council last night Cllr Butland said: “While accepting the methodology of the viability assessment and the inputs into it, The Planning Inspector did not believe that the Garden Communities should be planned on anything other than an average of 250 homes per year across their development. This meant he disregarded all other viability scenarios that proposed more than 250 per year.” Cllr Butland said this was despite other large sites having a build out rate of more than 250 homes per year.

In his letter, the Planning Inspector suggested two ways forward:

1.    accept his main modifications which will include the removal of the Colchester Braintree borders and West of Braintree Garden Community; or

2.    withdraw the Plan.

Cllr Butland last night said: “As a council we cannot decide until the Planning Inspector sends us his report which will include the full list of all the modifications. Once we have the modifications, as a Full Council we will be able to consider his proposed changes and what it will mean for our district.”

The council will then have three options:

(i)            accept the modifications and send them out to public consultation;

(ii)           withdraw the plan; or

(iii)      consider a challenge or an alternative approach

A future meeting of Full Council will be arranged to discuss the options. It is hoped this will take place in late June or July dependent on when the Council receives the Planning Inspector’s modifications.

Read Cllr Graham Butland's full statement following the letter from the Planning Inspector.