Priti comments on future of garden communities in north Essex

Published: 20th May 2020 - 10:56 am Category: Local News

The Witham MP, Priti Patel, has responded to the report issued by planning inspector Roger Clews (19.05.20) on the examination of the local plan proposals for garden communities in north Essex.  Mr Clews’ report found that the proposed Braintree/Colchester Borders Garden Community in the Witham constituency was not deliverable or viable and that the plan proposed was therefore ‘unsound’. The inspector also criticised the proposed West of Braintree GC but did find the proposed Tendring/Colchester Borders GC viable. This report follows criticism of the plans by the inspector in June 2018.

Priti, who has been a long-term critic of the proposals and has been questioning the councils over their actions, said: “These plans have been controversial and heavily criticised. Many opportunities to reflect and make changes have been missed and public confidence has been undermined. Two years ago, the same inspector warned that the plans were not good enough and the lessons have not been learned. We all want to see new housing built in a responsible and sustainable way in this part of Essex but the way these plans have been put together and promoted has been misguided.”

Priti also criticised Colchester Borough Council over their proposals and the delays caused to the A12 Widening Scheme. Priti said: “The actions of Colchester Borough Council in pushing through these poorly thought through plans have caused the much-needed A12 Widening Scheme to be delayed, for over three years. We would have been seeing diggers going into the ground now to widen the road, but local communities and businesses have faced years of uncertainty as a direct consequence of this Council’s incompetence. For years I have been challenging and questioning them over this.”

“They ignored the warning signs two years ago and pressed ahead regardless. Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money have been lost, a major road project has been delayed and their housing plans are in crisis. This latest letter from the inspector is a damning indictment of the gross incompetence at Colchester Borough Council and its leadership must be held to account. They can no longer bury their heads in the sand and now face a day of reckoning.”

Notes to editors:

Priti’s comments in response to the June 2018 report and letter from Mr Clews:

Extracts from Mr Clews’ report published 19 May 2020:

257. Viability appraisal shows that, with an appropriate 40% contingency allowance on transport and utilities infrastructure, the proposed Colchester / Braintree Borders GC would not achieve a viable land price, and that the proposed West of Braintree GC is below, or at best is at the very margin of, financial viability, contrary to advice in the PPG.  On this basis, neither GC is deliverable.

261. For the foregoing reasons, therefore, I find that the proposed Colchester / Braintree Borders and West of Braintree GCs are not justified or deliverable.  Consequently, the Plan’s spatial strategy, and thus the Plan itself as submitted, are unsound.

266. I therefore conclude that development of the Tendring / Colchester Borders GC would enable the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the NPPF’s policies.  If the unsound Colchester / Braintree Borders and West of Braintree GC proposals are removed from the Plan, the Plan is capable of being made sound.

267. In the light of this conclusion it appears to me that the NEAs have two main options:

  • To propose and consult on main modifications to remove the Colchester / Braintree Borders and West of Braintree GC proposals from the Plan; or
  • To withdraw the Plan from examination.

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