The Conservative Group has never agreed nor voted for the creation of North Essex Garden Communities Ltd (NEGC), a Council-owned company designated to deliver two large new towns in the Colchester Borough.

Throughout the Local Plan process, residents will be aware that Conservatives have never agreed with the scale of what NEGC has been created to do. In the emerging Local Plan, we were told that the Garden Communities were to deliver the residual housing requirement for Colchester, Braintree and Tendring, which could not otherwise have been provided. That figure, we were told, was 7,500 homes up to the year 2033.

My colleagues will no doubt talk about financial numbers with regard NEGC and I could too. But instead, in my article I’d just like to talk about housing numbers, because they’re fundamental to the debate about whether we need a Garden Community Company, or Garden Communities at all.

The number of homes the North Essex Authorities (Colchester, Braintree & Tendring) are required to build in the plan period up to the year 2033, is 43,720. In evidence the Authorities have submitted to the Government Planning Inspector this week, they have demonstrated that WITHOUT the Garden Communities they’ll be delivering 44,097 dwellings, WITH the Garden Communities they’ll be delivering around 50,500 dwellings, or in the Authorities own words, 16% over and above their Objectively Assessed Need (housing delivery target).

That this is a surplus allocation has never been discussed, debated nor agreed by the Council or its Local Plan Committee. Add the number of homes built in Colchester annually as unplanned ‘Windfall’ developments, which averages around 260 a year or 3,900 over the plan period and you’ve effectively accepted that Colchester will build over 6,000 more homes than we are required to do, a staggering 33% uplift on Colchester’s housing target. In simple terms, through its continued support of NEGC this Council is now actively planning to overdevelop Colchester.

I don’t know what reaction other Councillors have had on the doorsteps regarding development, but in my experience, telling our residents that the Council is planning to deliver considerably more houses than we need, will not go down well!

In the recent debate in the Council Chamber on Climate Emergency in Colchester, The Liberal Democrat & Labour Coalition which controls the Council said that it now would have to take some very difficult decisions; I’d suggest that this is one of those. Indeed in February of this year in their briefing paper ‘Planning for less car use’ a response to the Climate Emergency, Friends of the Earth recommended to Government that plans and funding for new towns and car-dependent garden communities should be cancelled.

The numbers I’ve quoted in my article are so important, I’ll stress what they mean. Colchester has effectively met its planned housing target with already permitted development and our Local Plan Section-2 allocations.

Be under no illusions, voting to allocate a further £350,000 of Council taxpayers money on top of the £638,000 of money the Council has already given NEGC is now a vote for a vanity project. It is a vote to overdevelop our Borough and those voting to provide more cash to this un-needed Company will be complicit in that decision.

Colchester will not forgive you if you do so.

Cllr Andrew Ellis

Tel: 01206 735166
Mob: 07768 986611