Last chance this summer to have your say!

Public consultation on the “North Essex Garden Communities” 19 August – 30 September.

Click here for the official consultation portal:  Councils’ garden communities consultation portal

There is an easier way to respond than the council portal.   You can email cause@cause4livingessex.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



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:

An impossible task (note on the stakeholder workshop)

Can’t see the wood for the garden communities

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: