Autumn 2019: NEGC Ltd’s and Highways England A12 ‘engagement’ programme
Scroll down for what YOU can do.
Two consultations and BEWARE!
NEGC Ltd and Highways England are both holding non-statutory consultations this autumn. The aim is to try to prove support for the three unpopular, unsustainable and undeliverable new towns going by the name of North Essex Garden Communities. For our views on the A12 consultation click here: CAUSE initial views A12 re-alignment.
The first is an ‘engagement programme’ being run by NEGC Limited. This is a tax-payer funded delivery company owned by Braintree, Colchester, Tendring and Essex tasked with building three new towns on 5,631 acres of countryside. Libraries close, bus services are cut, austerity is claimed, yet somehow money has been found to spend £7.6m on this unaccountable quango by the end of this year.
The second consultation is also to do with the ‘garden communities’. Four new routes of the A12 to accommodate a bigger ‘West Tey’ new town have been put forward. They cut through swathes of countryside near Copford, Easthorpe and Messing. The existing A12 will stay in place, ‘de-trunked’, with the result that within only a few kilometres of each other there will be two busy roads. Why? A consultation into the A12 widening has already been held, in 2017, with far less damaging and costly ‘online’ routes put forward. The new consultation delays the A12 upgrade.
In both these consultations you are being asked to “choose the concrete”. You will not be allowed to say NO to the new towns or to suggest an alternative.
These are not statutory consultations. That was held over the summer. The Local Plan for these three new towns has not been found sound yet! It will be examined again by a planning inspector in January (he has already thrown the proposals out once). CAUSE’s assessment of the evidence that the authorities have put forward for examination shows many areas for concern. Promises of infrastructure first are not being kept and the north Essex new towns are financially risky for our councils.
We recommend that you start any engagement (online or at an event) by copying & pasting, or printing out to take with you, the following text:
I object to “North Essex Garden Communities”
Name & Address:
I do not wish to be photographed
Section 2 should proceed
Click here for their press release: NEGC press release
CAUSE and other groups had asked for this engagement to be postponed until after the Inspector’s report: CAUSE press release ‘halt sham engagement’.
This was ignored.
CAUSE has now written to the chief executives of each council setting out a number of concerns about NEGC Ltd’s plans – click here: Letter to council chief executives Oct 18
What is NEGC doing to engage?
Saturday 9th November – 10am – 4pm, Marks Tey Parish Hall, Old London Road, Colchester
Saturday 23rd November – 10am – 4pm, Great Saling Parish Hall, Piccotts Lane, Great Saling, Braintree, CM7 5DW
Supposedly there will be three workshops. We do not know who the ‘stakeholders’ are. The first event, at Wivenhoe on 24 October, was arranged with a only a week’s notice, at a time of day which is difficult for those who work. Some groups are excluded (Wivenhoe Town Council, CAUSE, Great Tey Parish Council, Bradwell Parish Council). Some groups from nowhere near ‘East Colchester’, have been invited: Coggeshall Parish Council, Marks Tey, a couple of parish councils from West of Braintree area. This response to the invitation by Kelvedon Parish Councils is excellent: Kelvedon Parish Council Stakeholder response
Interviews with ‘Thinking Place’
CAUSE has been invited to talk with a consultancy called Thinking Place about what it is like to live and work with north Essex. For now CAUSE has sent a holding email. Why on earth is NEGC Ltd asking these sorts of questions five years after the start of plan-making and when the Plan has not only been submitted but examined once?
NEGC engagement: What can YOU do to say NO?
Be wary! This is not about whether you like the new towns or not. It’s about designing them, before the Inspector has even found them sound. Evidence will be presented to government to demonstrate support exists locally. If you attend an event, we suggest you do one or all of these three things:
- Take a statement with you saying that you object.:
- Take this ‘FAQ-PACK’ and ask questions. It gives you CAUSE’s answers to the NEGC Ltd questions on their website. Ours answers are rather different…Click here: CAUSE NEGC FAQ PACK
- Wear a Say No t-shirt or bring a poster. Use one of the two posters here – download for a t-shirt or poster. For a t-shirt you can EITHER buy print-out iron-on sheets: Buy T-shirt iron-on logo sheets OR buy and customise a t-shirt here for £9 (add your own slogan if you don’t want to use the below!): Buy & customise t-shirt
Summer 2019 Local Plan Consultation (now closed)
The Inspector has announced that the hearings will start on 14 January. CAUSE submission here:
Official consultation portal with comments here: Councils’ garden communities consultation portal
1500 comments sent to CAUSE by email and postcard, from all across the region and hand delivered to Colchester’s Leader, Mark Cory, with Wivenhoe Town Council’s 300 postcard responses:
Consultation guidance notes
You can email email@example.com
In your email, you can set out all your concerns about the garden community proposals. Give your name and address, saying that you authorise CAUSE to represent you at the Examination.
CAUSE will make sure that the Inspector and the authorities see your email. This approach also makes the Planning Inspector’s life easier, and is how we represented over 1,100 residents at the previous examination. We will try to respond to everyone but we are likely to be inundated, so please remember that we are all volunteers.
QUICK CHECKLIST – ten problems with the North Essex GC proposals:
1. Not needed and not the only way of doing things
2. Not popular
3. Not affordable
4. Too costly to the tax-payer, too risky & not financially viable. Promises can’t be paid for.
5. Not enough jobs
6. 99,000 people: no new hospital
7. No improvements to train services, but over 7.5k commuters and no new station
8. No proven routes for the ‘bus rapid transit’ and journey times much longer than by car.
9. No traffic modelling; no air quality modelling; water supply not properly addressed
10. Too much countryside and farmland lost. Low density sprawl eats up 5,631 acres
CAUSE will submit an in-depth response. We are being supported by a barrister, planning consultant, transport consultant, sustainability appraisal consultant and air quality expert. Here are our initial concerns about the evidence (there is much more to say and much more to do, scroll down the page for technical info and updates: Summary of concerns about consultation evidence, click here: Summary of concerns with consultation evidence
Click here for our leaflet, which includes a response form if you prefer to post it: Consultation leaflet 2019
WHAT EXACTLY IS BEING CONSULTED ON?
Three new towns; up to 43,000 homes
- West Tey
- West of Braintree
- East Colchester
There is a raft of new evidence, but none of it gives CAUSE confidence that the Inspector’s concerns have been addressed, nor that these new towns will ever be supported by the infrastructure required. There are still funding issues; timing issues; feasibility issues and delivery issues.
The new towns are still hugely unpopular (remember the 8,500-signature petition against West Tey?). Now we have an even bigger team of leafleters, across north Essex, and a motion on shelving the garden communities debated on 1 August at Braintree had support from 25 residents’ groups and parish councils.
The consultation is not about whether you like the proposals or not. The public and stakeholders, including CAUSE, will have to decide if the Plan is ‘sound’, based on four tests in the National Planning Policy Framework. Confusingly, because the Plan is suspended, the old NPPF tests will be used, not 2019 NPPF.
Here is the NPPF: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-planning-policy-framework
The section on plan-making is key: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-planning-policy-framework/3-plan-making
And these are the soundness tests:
(a) Positively prepared – providing a strategy which, as a minimum, seeks to meet the area’s objectively assessed needs10; and is informed by agreements with other authorities, so that unmet need from neighbouring areas is accommodated where it is practical to do so and is consistent with achieving sustainable development;
(b) Justified – an appropriate strategy, taking into account the reasonable alternatives, and based on proportionate evidence;
(c) Effective – deliverable over the plan period, and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic matters that have been dealt with rather than deferred, as evidenced by the statement of common ground; and
(d) Consistent with national policy – enabling the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in this Framework.
Background to the current consultation
The authorities asked Land Use Consultants to carry out a review of around twenty-five garden community alternatives. Here are two blogs which give you some background on the approach taken:
The authorities’ original proposals were found unsound in 2018 and this consultation will be about their new proposals. The Inspector’s letter can be read here: Inspector’s Letter 8 June
Council leaflet delivered to all households: