Plans for West of Braintree new town declared ‘unsound’

Current plans for 10,000 new homes under the Garden Community (GC) principle, located to the north of Felsted, have been declared ‘unsound’ by the Government’s Inspector of Local Plans.

Felsted Parish Council has argued against the plans, primarily on the grounds of lack of facilities and infrastructure, and the impact on Felsted from traffic heading south from the new town and into the wider local road network.

In his letter, link here, the inspector lays out his reasons for the rejection:

‘It will be evident from the foregoing discussion that I consider that the Garden Community proposals contained in the Plan are not adequately justified and have not been shown to have a reasonable prospect of being viably developed.  As submitted, they are therefore unsound…’

‘… on the basis of the evidence I have considered so far I would advise that simultaneously bringing forward three GCs on the scale proposed in the submitted Plan is likely to be difficult to justify.’

‘Option 1 would be for the NEAs to agree to remove the GC proposals from the Section 1 Plan at this stage, and commit to submitting a partial revision of Section 1 for examination by a defined time, for example within two or three years.’

‘I expect that this letter will come as a disappointment to the NEAs after all the hard work and resources they have committed to bringing the Section 1 Plan forward for examination.  Nonetheless, I hope it will be appreciated that my findings do not necessarily represent a rejection of their commendable ambitions for high-quality, strategic-scale development in North Essex.  Equally, however, the scale of those ambitions, and the long timescale over which any GC proposals would come forward, require that adequate time and care are taken now to ensure that any proposals are realistic and robust.’

This rejection of the Plan submitted by the North Essex Garden Community (NEGC) group, on behalf of the District Councils,  will also impact the  ‘West of Braintree’ new town element of Uttlesford’s Local Plan, currently in the final stages of development.

It is unclear at this stage how the District Councils will respond to the Inspector’s report and whether or not they intend to follow his guidance to remove the new town proposals from their Plans.

We will continue to follow progress, as the plans could still come forward, and will object where we believe there are inappropriate and poorly planned new town developments.