Stebbing says ‘no’ to garden village plans

Stebbing Parish Council, alongside Sercle, are campaigning against a new development to the West of

Stebbing Parish Council, alongside Sercle, are campaigning against a new development to the West of Braintree. - Credit: Archant

A hard stance has been taken by Stebbing Parish Council this week, which has intensified its backing of a campaign to oppose development just outside the village.

It is fighting a garden development in Andrewsfield and Boxted Wood, which is being considered by Uttlesford District Council and the North Essex Garden Communities – made up of Colchester borough, Essex county and Braintree and Tendring district councils.

The parish council says the land just to the west of Braintree being considered for up to 14,000 homes is the “wrong choice” and the number of new builds would be “unacceptable”.

Banners proclaiming the stance have been put up around the village.

In a statement the council said: “This is a rural, farming area with high-grade agricultural land, an important historical airfield, ancient woodland and protected wildlife.

“It is clear from the representations made to Stebbing Parish Council and the existence of Sercle, the community protest group, that the development of Andrewsfield and Boxted Wood is regarded as a retrograde step and will be resisted at every stage.”

Sercle, (Stop the Erosion of Rural Communities in Local Essex), was originally created to prevent this development. It set up an online petition last year which now has 600 signatures.

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An Uttlesford District Council spokesman said: “We are actively assessing the potential for this site and the other reasonable alternatives to inform the recommendations we will be making on the locations of new development in the district.

“The council has made it clear it positively wants to look at the contribution new developments based on garden community principles could make in delivering growth and infrastructure for local people.

“Whilst working at pace, we are taking care to ensure all the necessary evidence is available so the public can be reassured development is going in the right place.

“All decisions will be taken in light of a full evidence base and following full engagement with residents.

“A further round of consultation on the preferred options will take place in the summer – this will be an opportunity for residents to have their say.”

A Braintree District Council spokesman said: “This is not simply about building new homes, it’s about creating new communities, and while there is a critical need for new homes, these have to be the right homes in the right locations, with the right infrastructure and the jobs and services that people expect.

“This is why all four councils involved in the North Essex Garden Communities project are working on business cases to look at whether these new communities based on garden community principles are feasible.

“We would urge the parish council to work with us. Engagement is and will play a key role in what is a long-term project, but we cannot simply ignore the fact we need new homes both now and for our future generations.”

Sercle’s petition can be signed online.