Wrong to suggest CAUSE supports urban sprawl

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Letter to Essex County Standard in response to one from Sir Bob Russell (link below):

Sir,

Its quite wrong to suggest that CAUSE supports urban sprawl but not in its own back yard (Sir Bob Russell, ECS 17 May 2019).  This is not what CAUSE is about.  It is a campaign and research group which brings together people from all over North Essex with concerns about the plans for large scale new towns in the area.

In particular we don’t support large scale development at East Colchester, Middlewick or anywhere else because we believe that such schemes are unviable and that without an unrealistic cheque from Government the necessary infrastructure will never be built.  Our research shows that viability reduces sharply above 2000 dwellings and this could explain why we have seen so few new towns since Milton Keynes.  No-one should believe the Councils’ infrastructure promises until they produce financial appraisals to support them.

Instead we have looked for opportunities to use existing infrastructure.  It is wasteful and environmentally damaging to build a new mass rapid transit system when some existing railway lines remain under-used. There are several branch lines which could provide a sensible focus for modest development, but the Colchester-Clacton line is the clearest opportunity.  The Great Eastern Mainline is struggling for capacity and new towns directly along its route should be avoided because they will encourage unsustainable long distance commuting.

CAUSE has developed its own 10 point plan for balanced growth as an alternative to the over-ambitious garden communities.  It is economically efficient because it looks for existing underused infrastructure (schools as well as railways) rather than building new and can be delivered more quickly. It focusses planning effort on smaller and brownfield sites, and collects money for infrastructure through a Community Infrastructure Levy, a stronger stance on s106 and a more realistic funding narrative to Government.   We support a pragmatic development by experienced local people rather than vanity schemes by Councils.

Yours faithfully, William Sunnucks

Click here to read Sir Bob’s letter:    Sir Bob’s letter