Independent Inspector Slams Local Plan proposals

Published: 15th June 2018 - 3:49 pm Category: Local News

Witham MP Priti Patel has expressed her concerns and disappointment after an independent Planning Inspector slammed the proposals led by Colchester Borough Council and Braintree District Council for a garden settlement on the Colchester Borough and Braintree District border. The Inspector considering the development proposals has raised serious questions over the viability and sustainability of the plans that the Councils have produced, the assessments on transport infrastructure and shortcomings in housing viability. The Inspector also issued a damning indictment on the objectivity of the sustainability assessment criticising the assessment for taking an over-optimistic approach to the garden communities proposals put forward and making negative assumptions about alternatives without sufficient evidence. The Inspector referred to the assessment as lacking “the necessary degree of objectivity and are therefore unreliable.”

The councils have been receiving grants from central Government to support viability and assessment work, and Priti, who has also called for accountability on how this money is being spent, said:

“I have been pressing Colchester Borough Council who have been leading on this work to explain how the viability stacks up. Throughout this process whenever they have been questioned they have been fobbing off residents and ignoring concerns and questions. Now an independent assessment from an Inspector has cast huge doubt over what they have been doing. Vast sums of taxpayers’ money has been funnelled into this project and now we can see it has been wasted. The Councils have now been told to go back to the drawing board causing more uncertainty across the area.”

“The Inspector has hit the Council hard with a damming indictment on the objectivity of the approach taken to assessing these proposals and alternatives put forward. This is very concerning as the Council has undermined the entire Local Plan process.”

“This is the latest in a long line of errors from the Council after they tried to block people from responding to the consultation on the Local Plan and failed to consult properly with the NHS on local health needs. We need new housing and while garden settlements can offer a good model for integrated and sustainable communities it is clear from the Inspector that the Council is not capable of doing this. There needs to be full accountability and changes at the Council to sort this mess out.”

PDF: Letter from Planning Inspector

PDF: Priti’s letter to the Secretary of State

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