New homes plans could be brought forward in Braintree district

Monday, June 23, 2014
9:46 AM

Housing developments across the Braintree district could be brought forward to meet demand.

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Braintree District Council (BDC) is being asked to approve plans to re-work its core strategy and site allocation plan in light of a much greater housing need than originally thought.

It means new policy may not be in place until early 2017 and leaves the council open to the risk of falling behind providing a five-year supply of housing.

In the interim, approved projects such as those at Lodge Farm, Witham, Panfield in Braintree and a plan for 300 homes in Rivenhall, which were not phased to come in until 2017, may now happen much sooner.

The recommendation to continue working on the planning policies and increase housing plans rather than go to the public comes after a change in national planning guidance.

Between 761 and 883 new dwellings are needed each year until 2026, a total three times that than orginally thought.

Graham Butland, leader of BDC, said: “Unfortunately as we reached that final hurdle the goalposts were changed, and we have seen similar local authorities’ plans rejected.

“We could try our luck but there is a huge cost, of £60-80,000 to get the plan approved by an inspector, and quite frankly the chance of success is minimal. We don’t think it is a good bet.”

If council backs re-drafting the policy a call will be made to developers for potential sites for housing. This could include sites previously ruled out by the council, and completely new ones.

Lady Patricia Newton, councillor for planning and property at BDC, said: “Getting rid of the phasing gives us some breathing space.

“The focus needs to be on housing, but economic development is going to be a key driver.

“Our core strategy had a target of 14,000 jobs before we even got to this stage, so that will have to go up. So we need to look at where there will be commercial and industrial sites as well.”

Speaking about the importance of adding infrastructure to cope with homes Mr Butland added: “Any development needs to be sustainable, there needs to be jobs for the people living there and they need to be able to get to and from work, we need schools, health facilities and the rest of it.

“Personally I don’t think there will be government money to fund all of the A120 work and if you want to do something there it will have to come with both housing and jobs.

“There are some really interesting questions which will have to be decided.

“I don’t want in 20 years time to be saying to my grandchildren ‘I voted against that, and that’s why you can’t get a house’.

Full council meets on June 30.

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