Council’s 18,000-home community plan rejected

Inspectors have said that a “virtual rewriting of the plan” by the council could take up to two years.

Blueprints for housing

Plans for 18,000 homes in three new developments have been criticised as “unsound” by planning inspectors.

According to reports, Uttlesford district council’s local plan with the new garden communities in north-west Essex needs “almost complete redrafting”.

The inspectors, who held hearings in July, said a new plan to address housebuilding needs should be drawn.

As reported by 24housing, Housing Minister Esther McVey recently unveiled a fund of £6m to be allocated to help new locally led garden towns and villages.

Schemes across England were offered part of the sum, including north Essex but excluding the North-West.

Although the two inspectors have not reached their final decision on the matter, they have said that in order to move forward, a “virtual rewriting of the plan” by the council is required, which they say will take up to two years.

It also comes as a second round of inspectors’ hearings have recently got under way for the neighbouring North Essex Garden Communities plan, which involves 43,000 new homes over 50 years.

Inspectors wrote on 14th of January to the council saying they “should delete the North Uttlesford garden community” plan as it “performs the least well against the Garden Community Principles”, and criticised the “highly-sensitive” location because of its “significant buried archaeology” of Roman and Anglo-Saxon interest.

They added: “We are not persuaded that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the garden communities have been justified. We therefore cannot conclude that these fundamental aspects of the plan are sound.”

The council’s portfolio holder for planning, John Evans, said he was “disappointed” by the criticism, adding that he would need time to consider the “ramifications and prepare a set of actions”.

The North Essex Garden Communities project has received a £550,000 share of the government funding to develop plans for the three proposed Garden Communities across the Colchester, Tendring, and Braintree districts.

John Spence, Essex county council cabinet member for adults, said: “We welcome the confirmation of extra funding…which is a vote of confidence in our ability to deliver garden communities in north Essex through our partnership work.”

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