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Mason Close residents’ plea to Colchester Council: Don’t take away our garages
SHRUB End residents are angry about a plan to replace council-owned garages near their homes with housing.
Colchester Council wants to demolish 34 garages in Mason Close and build three homes on the site.
The plan is part of a borough-wide project to replace more than 100 disused garages on public land with new homes for people on the social housing waiting list.
But neighbours in Shrub End are bitterly opposed to the Mason Close proposals, not least because many of them rent garages there from the council.
Malcolm French, 47, said: “A lot of people park there and there is nowhere else to go.
“You have to fight for parking in the early evening, before people put cars into garages.
“Suddenly, we have this letter saying the garages will be taken off us. Will the council find other garages for us?
“From the bedroom windows of the new houses, you would be able to see right into our kitchen windows and conservatory, and the same would be true for some of my neighbours.”
His neighbour, Paula Worrell, 40, does not have a council garage, but is also opposed to the scheme. She said: “A number of residents use the garages and you can’t expect them to park elsewhere and walk back.
“Where I used to live, I had a garage and my car insurance premium has gone up since I moved here and haven’t got one, so it will have a financial impact for people, too. We will also be overlooked by the new homes.”
Ann Freeman, 60, said she was concerned the new development would leave less room for emergency services to get through.
She added: “A lot of people around here use the garages. “Everyone will be parking around here and it’s such a small close.”
Neighbour Maud Walker said: “We have a garage and when my husband gets home from work there’s nowhere else he could park except there.
“We pay roughly £10 a week for our garage, but the council hasn’t maintained it at all.
“If the council would let us use our front gardens or the green area in the close to park our cars that would help, especially if it was made residents-only.”
Proposal is part of borough-wide scheme, involving seven sites
REPLACING garages with homes for rent will provide much-needed affordable housing, according to the council.
Estuary Housing Association has applied to develop seven council-owned sites in the borough, aiming to build 16 homes where 117 garages now stand.
The homelessness charity Shelter says there were 4,864 people on the council’s housing waiting list last year.
A decision on the plans is likely to be made in October.
A council spokesman said: “This is one of seven applications to provide much-needed affordable housing on either disused or under-used garage sites.
“The issues raised are material planning considerations, which would be analysed as part of the planning process before any decision is taken.
“The council also has adopted standards for considering problems, such as loss of light or privacy, amenity space provisions, parking requirements and so on. “Therefore any application needs to satisfy these policies to gain approval.”
Neighbours have been sent letters, explaining the proposals and seeking their views. The plans can be viewed and commented upon via the council’s website, colchester.gov.uk