Local plan update - October


 

The Basildon Local Plan was approved by the Full Council on October 18, by 23 votes to 15.  It has 2 more stages to go before final adoption, which the Council hopes will be in Q3 2019. For Billericay the Plan involves 

  • Around 2,800 new homes on 12 sites
  • Almost all on Green Belt land
  • Very limited enhancement of transport and social infrastructure
  • No meaningful commitment to substantial numbers of new homes that will be genuinely affordable for the younger generation.  

In addition it is now proposed that the cricket club will relocate to a site on the north of London Road.

We believe this plan will be disastrous for the quality of life in Billericay, for existing and new residents -- overdeveloping it, overcrowding it, and stretching its services and amenities to breaking point, maybe beyond breaking point.

Basildon Council has an obligation to plan to build houses but not so many, and it could have mitigated the effect on Billericay by claiming the Green Belt as a constraint, likewise the lack of infrastructure enhancement. National planning rules allow this. But instead the Council has allocated housing to Billericay without regard to the sustainability of this development in an already crowded town, with a largely antiquated road system, and more commuters than the trains can comfortably cope with.

NO JOBS, OVERCROWDED RAILWAYS AND A POORLY THOUGHT THROUGH "RELIEF" ROAD

No new jobs are planned for Billericay, so a large proportion of new residents will be commuters – we are being used to accommodate London overspill. We fear for the impact on train travel, especially with so much other building happening all down the line to Southend. The only significant road ‘improvement’ is the so called relief road in the south west, which will dump traffic onto the London Road with no analysis of what happens to it next. We can foresee traffic gridlock in the rush hours at various pressure points around the town, an analysis which does appear to be supported by the evidence, and not just in the areas directly affected by the new building.


FRITHWOOD STILL THREATENED!

Ancient Frith Wood is still under threat, with one developer trying hard to drive a road through it. Basildon Council has not given it any special protection. In contrast it has recently formally protected part of Langdon Hills from development (which we fully support). Residents of Frithwood Lane will be blighted by a road widening scheme, the details of which are unknown.

 

NO CONVINCING ARGUMENTS

We have yet to hear any convincing arguments as to how this Plan is beneficial to Billericay. It has been claimed that if this Plan were not submitted the government would impose a worse one. But not everyone agrees that government intervention would be a bad thing. At least a government plan would be sound, which, we believe, this one is not. It appears to us that this Plan is very much council officer and developer led with little meaningful scrutiny by our elected Councillors. The Department of Housing’s Chief Planner recently visited Basildon – we can only guess at the impact of that, but it does not appear to have emboldened councillors to act or think independently.

PUBLIC FEEDBACK IGNORED

Overwhelming rejection of the Plan in previous public consultations (80%+ against) has been completely disregarded by Basildon Council. When the housing number was increased by 60% there was no further consultation at all, shortage of time being the reason given. There was however time to allow the developer Taylor Wimpey to walk into a council meeting, present a proposal for substantial changes, and get it agreed more or less on the nod. It is unfortunate that the new Conservative administration has not felt able to introduce wider changes to address the concerns of Billericay residents.

WHO DRIVES THE PLAN? CERTAINLY NOT THE PEOPLE

Developers, council officers, and the government all appear to have had considerable influence over this Plan. The people of Billericay have had none. 

THE MOST IMPORTANT BIT

One of the 2 remaining stages before formal, and irrevocable, agreement is the ‘Regulation 19’ Public Consultation, which the Council says will be launched in November. This time we really do have an opportunity for our views to be heard as they will go directly to the independent Planning Inspector who is charged with being impartial and objective. For the first time Basildon Council cannot smother our views, concerns, wants, and needs. A mass public response will send a very important message to the Planning Inspector about the depth and strength of feeling in Billericay. We firmly believe this Plan is fundamentally unsound and we need to convince the Planning Inspector of that. Residents of Billericay who agree with us are strongly urged and advised to send in their own individual responses. Instructions and guidance as to how to go about this will be on the Billericay District Resident’s Association and BAG websites

There will also be a leaflet distributed to ALL households. 

Don’t miss this opportunity, because it will be the last as far as this Local Plan is concerned. Your town needs you!!

 

 

Local plan update - October