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Council and house builder criticise MP for Commons "slur"
6:00am Tuesday 29th October 2013 in News
COLCHESTER’S MP has been accused of an outrageous slur after using parliamentary privilege to question how a developer secured farmland earmarked for thousands of homes.
Colchester Council last month granted outline planning permission for 1,600 homes.
He added the same developer had also secured 800 acres of land east of Greenstead, across the border in Tendring, which is being put forward for a 3,000-home development.
He told MPs: “Having been lucky twice with farmland that had never been zoned for housing, Mersea Homes must know how to go about securing it. I will leave that hanging there.”
Tim Young, councillor responsible for planning at Colchester Council, said there was no substance to the allegation.
He said: “It’s an outrageous slur.
If he’s not prepared to repeat these claims outside of Parliament, he’s a coward.
“If he does, we will take legal action against him.”
Stuart Cock, managing director of Mersea Homes, said everything had taken place in full public view.
He said: “It is unfortunate Sir Bob Russell is not aware of the facts or it seems how local plans are brought forward by a council in a democratic way with the backing of Government inspectors.
“The growth area in North Colchester has been through a policy- led process, with all decisions about adopting plans and permitting the application taken at a local level by councillors representing their town.
“There is no secrecy involved in any of these processes.
“They are all democratically taken decisions each of which was taken informed by all statutory consultees and, of course, the public.
“I am disappointed our MP does not accept this, but we will continue to act professionally, as would be expected of us.”
A consultation is under way on Tendring Council’s local plan, which states the land on Colchester’s border is one broad location that will be considered for development, but not until at least 2024.
Colchester Council opposed the plans when they were unveiled, but has pledged to work with Tendring Council on finding sites for future growth.
No one from Tendring Council was available for comment.
THIS is an extract from Sir Bob’s speech: “Members remember an advert
from a few years ago about a beer that reached the parts that other beers did not reach?
“Well, we have a local developer, called Mersea Homes, that is able to reach land that has never been lined up for development before.
"For example, the fields of west Mile End have always been land without notation — white land.
“It was never going to be built on, and no developer had a chance there.
“All of a sudden, under the radar, the land was lined up for development.”
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