Who is supporting Billericay
Recent developments regarding the Basildon Local Plan must be of grave concern to those who share BDRA’s desire to preserve the quality of life of Billericay and protect it from over-development.
At a meeting of the Council’s Infrastructure, Growth, and Development Committee in December very substantial changes were made, which increase the proposed number of new homes to be built in Billericay from 1,700 to 2,900 – an increase of 1,200 or 70% compared with the earlier version of the plan. Corresponding increases elsewhere in the borough amount to 4% in Basildon and 6% in Wickford. Six of the eight main Billericay sites are increased in size substantially.
The way that some of these decisions were reached is cause for concern. The additional 300 houses/relief road re-routing were proposed to the council meeting by a representative from the developer Taylor Wimpey, and were agreed on the nod. Large reductions in Wickford were proposed by the Mayor, and in West Basildon by the Committee Chairman, in both cases relating to the areas that they represent on the Council. These were also agreed on the nod with no meaningful discussion of the justification or impact. At one point the four Conservatives on the committee walked out of the meeting, citing a slight against one of their colleagues, so that for a time there was no Billericay representative present. This is characteristic of the instability of the Basildon Council and the constant political infighting and point scoring which appears to take precedence over the interests of residents.
As far as we know none of the nine councillors who represent Billericay and Burstead on the Council are opposed to this Plan nor concerned about the adverse impact on Billericay as most of their voters are.
It is unacceptable that the Local Plan as it affects Billericay can be revised so drastically upwards with no further opportunity for the public to comment on the specifics in a formal consultation. In the previous consultation close to half of the responses came from Billericay and over 80% of people were opposed to the Plan. This appears to have been totally disregarded by Basildon Council.
This revised Plan, involving 70% more new homes than the previous proposal, serves to exacerbate further the existing concerns :- failure to take any account of public opinion; erosion of the Green Belt without special or exceptional circumstances to justify it; grossly inadequate commitment to enhance infrastructure to cope with increased demand :- doctors and hospitals, schools, roads, trains, car parking etc; lack of concern about the impact on the environment and on heritage for example the proposed new road would take a chunk out of the Ancient Woodland of Frithwood (which a Burstead councillor voted in favour of).
The next stage in the progression of the Local Plan will be a ‘Section 19’ consultation on the soundness of the Plan. This will be reviewed by the Planning Inspectorate, who will then hold an examination in public to decide whether the Plan has been prepared according to the required rules and protocols.
Together with the Billericay Action Group and the Billericay Society, BDRA will be looking carefully at how they, and the general public, should respond to this, with advice to follow.
Meanwhile if BDRA members agree with us that the proposed Local Plan will be very damaging to Billericay, and that Billericay is not getting a fair deal, then we strongly urge them to make their views known to their Basildon Councillors (http://www.basildonmeetings.info/mgMemberIndex.aspx? or contact us if not sure how to go about it). We would like to see a united stance by Billericay Town Council, Great Burstead & South Green Village Council, and Little Burstead Parish Council defending Billericay’s interests.