Summer Local plan update
LOCAL PLAN – SUMMER UPDATE
With summer well and truly upon us, and the school holidays underway, most people’s thoughts are understandably on more pleasant things. Nevertheless it is as well not to lose sight of what is happening regarding Basildon Council’s plans to ruin Billericay as we know it, so here is an update of where things stand.
BBC has issued a revised timetable :- Approval of the Draft Plan by the full council is to take place in October, so the Regulation 19 public consultation will probably broadly run through November. Submission to the Secretary of State is scheduled for January 2019, with the Examination in Public following during Quarter 1. Adoption of the Local Plan is down for Quarter 3 2019, probably in September.
Given that full Council approval is scheduled to happen more than six months after the approval of the previous version in March 2018, there is scope for a radical re-think without breaking the Council’s constitutional rules. However councillors have inexplicably declared that “the train has left the station”, and as far as we can see intend just a few welcome but limited changes in Billericay’s favour. The first of these is the removal of 300 houses (already approved) which were added to help pay for the so-called relief road in the SW of the town. The second is the reversion to a hub model for the travellers’ sites (still to be debated), which could see the 15 pitches currently allocated to Billericay being removed.
We await with interest the new Conservative administration’s explanation of why a much more radical revision has not been forthcoming. This was undoubtedly the expectation of many of those who voted them back into office in May. On election they made a number of comments about shortcomings in the draft Local Plan, and the revised timetable and workplan suggested they were prepared to take time to make changes to the plan. The ‘project fear’ from the previous administration of central government intervention seems to have abated, or was it ever a reality and simply used to force through a bad plan in March?
We are dismayed, but not surprised, to learn that the developer Taylor Wimpey is challenging the decision not to route the so-called relief road through the ancient woodland of Frith Wood, on the grounds that it is not in fact ancient woodland. Basildon Council has apparently commissioned Essex CC’s Place Services outfit to investigate this. But while this trundles on, Frith Wood is still not safe. Going to all this effort for just 300 houses seems surprising, so we wonder what other perceived benefits there might be for Taylor Wimpey from having this road built.
As things stand we can reasonably expect a Draft Plan for Billericay to be passed by BBC in October for at least 2,700 new homes, all on the current Green Belt, and with next to no infrastructure enhancement. Billericay will not cope with this level of development.
We are convinced the Draft Plan is fundamentally unsound on a number of counts. We will continue to work with our various professional consultants in order to develop the case for unsoundness. When further information on the Regulation 19 Consultation becomes available we will provide you with all you need to help you make your own responses. We are still committed to leafleting every house in Billericay and more drop-in event/s will be held.
We still have a Local Plan for housing not communities.