Why aren’t politicians fighting developments?

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Letter to Essex County Standard, 22 April 2016.

Dear Sir
 
Thin gruel on housing in local election manifestos
Housing, and associated infrastructure, should feature as the biggest long-term issue facing Colchester Borough in local election manifestos.  Instead, our prospective councillors in the main parties devote no more than a couple of sentences, buried in the text, to the topic.

We welcome the talk from all three parties about infrastructure first, and the Conservatives’ pledge to ‘revise the Local Plan to ensure that new housing will no longer outstrip the essential community services available’.  Both Labour and the LibDems support garden settlements but say nothing about location or delivery.  These stand-alone settlements will be complex and expensive infrastructure projects and the manifestos do not say how they will be financed.   (Garden city projects elsewhere such as the 15,000 home new town at Ebbsfleet have been be-set by difficulties.)

Our Council is about to publish its preferred options for a Local Plan for over 900 homes per annum until 2032.  Now is the time for our incoming councillors to create a vision for the future that is attractive to us all and to take a real interest in long term planning.  Their role is of strategic importance now that regional planning has been abandoned.
Local housing needs can be met through developing attractive small settlements connected by sustainable transport to local jobs.  We should be looking at the skilled employment opportunities afforded by the University of Essex, and the sustainable transport opportunities afforded by the Colchester-Clacton railway, a £1billion piece of underutilised local infrastructure.  Yet local planners appear hell bent on creating large-scale garden settlements for long-distance commuters and London overspill.

Is it too much to ask for more focus from our councillors on producing a visionary and popular Local Plan?
Yours faithfully,
R Pearson
Secretary, CAUSEECS letter 22 April 2016