Inspector rejects proposals for two new Garden Communities in North Essex

20 May 2020

Planning and Environment

In the latest twist in the saga surrounding the controversial proposals for new Garden Communities in north Essex promoted jointly by Braintree DC, Colchester BC and Tendring DC in a Joint Strategic (Section 1) Local Plan, the examining inspector, Mr Roger Clews, in a formal 58-page letter of 15 May 2020 has declared formally that the proposals for the Colchester/Braintree Borders and West of Braintree GCs are not justified or deliverable.

Consequently, he has declared the Plan’s spatial strategy, and thus the Plan itself as submitted, unsound. If the proposals for those two GCs are removed from the Plan, the Plan is capable of being made sound with further work and the Tendring/Colchester Borders GC might be able to proceed.

The inspector has presented the north Essex authorities with two options: either to propose and consult on main modifications to remove the Colchester/Braintree borders and West of Braintree GC proposals from the Plan or to withdraw the Plan from examination.

The main opposition to these proposals came from CAUSE (Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in North Essex) who participated in the examinations and produced a wealth of evidence against the proposals. Martin Edwards advised CAUSE throughout, provided a number of written legal opinions and participated in the examination hearings.

Rosie Pearson, on behalf of CAUSE commented: “What a pleasure it has been to have Martin Edwards on our side for the past few years as my campaign group has battled the undeliverable and unviable juggernaut of the North Essex Garden Communities. It was often daunted, as the plans morphed from one new settlement of 7,500 homes proposed by one land-owner, into three new towns of 43,000-homes proposed by four councils, backed by government and with a delivery vehicle. As lay-people, we had to navigate through the new Locally Led New Town Development Corporation legislation and were often in uncharted waters as these were the only modern day garden cities of this type being proposed. Needless to say we had many questions, needed several opinions and often needed advice: compulsory purchase, community engagement, delivery mechanisms, Local Plan legal precedents and more. At all times, Martin has offered excellent advice, supported us through two Local Plan examinations, and been an absolute pleasure to work with.”