Joint press release: halt sham “engagement” plans

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Campaign groups & parish councils call for halt to sham engagement plans on ‘garden communities’

1 September 2019 

North Essex Garden Communities Ltd’s announcement that it plans to engage with communities from October is yet another example of a sham consultation.  The ink will barely be dry on the current public consultation, which ends on 30 September and results will not have been analysed.

CAUSE’s spokesperson, Rosie Pearson, said, “North Essex residents are fed up with pointless consultations in which responses are ignored, and confused why NEGC Ltd is doing separate work at tax-payers’ expense.  People have been telling the authorities since 2015 that their new town proposals are unwanted, undeliverable and unsustainable.   Nothing has changed. The message that we are hearing as we deliver 25,000 flyers is very strong.  The new towns are not wanted.

£7.6m has been wasted by NEGC Ltd, an unelected and unaccountable quango, and our authorities will have to put in another £16-20 million over the next two years.  The authorities need to analyse and respond to the current consultation instead of allowing NEGC Ltd to waste more money. 

The troubled Local Plan has not been re-examined or found sound, and we do not believe that tax-payers’ money should be wasted on engagement by NEGC Ltd until the Plan is successfully adopted. CAUSE will hold a series of public events in September”

Diane Greenwood, Chairman of the Salings Parish council and spokesperson for the West of Braintree opposition, which includes SERCLE, Felsted Parish Council and Rayne Parish Council said, “People should be extremely wary of NEGC Ltd’s plan to ‘engage’.   It will not be an opportunity to change or to stop the unpopular new town proposals.  Indeed we are currently in the period where consultation responses go directly to the Planning Inspector and there has been zero meaningful engagement from the three councils or NEGC Ltd; it is suspicious that they want to engage at a time when responses will be kept ‘in house’ and so can be brushed under the carpet as previous Council-received consultation responses have been.

A very successful community engagement has been held with the support of The Saling PC at The Salings Village Hall and people are saying that given the level of new housing already planned, there is no need for the scale of development that WOB would force on a historically significant landscape and area of long-held rural character, while the lack of any transport infrastructure and the flawed rapid transport plans at the WOB site makes the location unsustainable and unviable.  The authorities must make take heed of what they hear from residents.

These events will continue during the consultation period and will also be visiting many other villages, at the request of their residents who feel that the Council has done nothing to explain the plans

Andrea Luxford-Vaughan, of Wivenhoe Town Council, said, “”We are astonished and angry to see that in the Housing Infrastructure Bid recently granted for a link road to ‘unlock’ 7,500 homes, the authorities state that the proposals have the support of local communities.   This could not be further from the truth.   The authorities and NEGC Ltd know full well that their East Colchester plans are deeply unpopular.  Engagement is always on their terms. When we ask specific questions they run away. It is a disgrace to consult again when, despite years of feedback from us, nothing changes and the authorities tell government the opposite of the truth.”

A spokesperson for the Braintree Green & Independent Group said, “Our electoral gains in May were as a direct result of the unpopular new towns, and we are already engaging with local people.    NEGC Ltd is attending our parish summit on 19 September and there is no need for them to waste public funds on a futile PR exercise and asking questions as to the design and suitability before its even been through the inspection process is presumptuous.”

Information about all three new towns can be found via