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IN JUNE 2018, THE PLANNING INSPECTOR FOUND THE NORTH ESSEX GARDEN COMMUNITIES PLAN UNSOUND AND SENT THE COUNCILS BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD. The north Essex authorities are now in the process of reviewing alternatives (22 sites), and working on transport, employment and viability evidence to support their proposals..They hope to have a new Plan ready for Examination late 2019. For all the most recent updates, see our Facebook and Twitter feeds via this website’s home page. Things move too fast for updates here to keep up!
The Inspector’s letter can be read here: https://www.braintree.gov.uk/downloads/file/7906/ied011_-_inspectors_section_1_post-hearing_letter_to_neas_-_8_june_2018
It highlights shortcomings including:
- Failings in the sustainability appraisal which may breach legal requirements;
- Major flaws in the viability appraisal of the proposals, including failure to deal adequately with transport infrastructure costs, land purchase and interest or contingency allowance;
- Failure to include details of employment land or floor-space;
- Conclusions over deliverability of affordable housing which cannot be relied upon;
- Uncertainties about trunk road improvements, such that no firm view of feasibility of West Tey or West of Braintree can yet be made;
- Over-ambitious targets for modal-shift and no feasibility study or costing of mass rapid transit options;
What are North Essex Garden Communities?
Three new settlements are proposed by a grouping of Colchester, Braintree, Tendring & Essex Councils, with backing from Government for feasibility studies. They wish to borrow from Government and lend to three ‘delivery vehicles’ to deliver the schemes (although the Examination in Public reinforced publicly many concerns that CAUSE has been raising for some time about). NEGC website: http://www.ne-gc.co.uk/about/
- CAUSE opposes West Tey, the largest of the three, at 24,000 homes and has recently become equally concerned about council proposals for the other two, West of Braintree (13,000 homes) and East Colchester (9,000 homes). It is clear from the Examination in Public that there are serious problems with deliverability, viabiliity and sustainability. Here is our newsletter about the Examination: Examination in Public update
- Recently a fourth settlement, known as Monks Wood, has come back into play and the promoter is challenging the decision to exclude it from the Plan. This is at Pattiswick, adjacent to Coggeshall, and CAUSE believes that it is equally unsuitable. See our response to Braintree when it first appeared:Monks Wood BDC letter 21 Oct 2016 FINAL
What is the current status of West Tey?
February 2018 – A ‘broad area of search’ for 24,000 homes has been included in the Local Plan and the Plan has been submitted to an Inspector and the Examination in Public was held in January. It is one of three settlements in the North Essex Garden Communities project, and it is known as ‘Part 1’ of the Plan. An ‘Issues & Options’ consultation about each of the sites closed on 2 February. Here is our summary of the Examination: Examination in Public update We await next steps.
What is the current status of Monks Wood?
February 2018 – The obsession of the councils with large, stand-alone ‘garden communities’ has given rise to this fourth proposal, which otherwise would not be given the time of day due to its location and unsustainability. The land promoter behind 7,000-15,000-home Monks Wood, Lightwood, asserts that its proposal has not been given full consideration by the councils. In addition, the councils neglected to send Lightwood’s representations to the Inspector with the result that they were unaware of the Examination in Public and missed the first week. This may have serious repercussions but in the meantime, we await a re-arranged Day 1 of the Examination. Here is our press release on the subject: Press release 29 January 2017 Council error jeopardises whole Plan
What is CAUSE?
CAUSE is a group opposing West Tey. We have the support of 8500 people who signed our petition and 1,100 who asked us to represent them in the most recent consultation. We are run by volunteers and have a committee of around fifteen, and a team of transport, planning and urban design consultants. We have analysed the council's evidence base and do not believe that West Tey is viable, deliverable or sustainable. The infrastructure promises made by the councils do not match the sums allocated in the viability appraisal. Read more here: CAUSE consultation response 2017
The map below shows the two halves of West Tey – purple is in Braintree District, Green stripes are Colchester Borough:
Monks Wood 2017 Map
See why you should worry about West Tey:
The Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex (CAUSE) was founded in 2010 and incorporated as a Company Limited by Guarantee in 2015.