COUNCILS have rejected claims they have ignored public opinion over proposed garden communities.

Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex has been asking residents to fill out postcards expressing their opinions on proposed garden communities.

Wivenhoe Town Council representative Andrea Luxford-Vaughan, and Cause’s Rosie Pearson and Helen Hogan handed over the postcards to Colchester Council leader Mark Cory.

About 1,800 were against garden communities compared to only five in favour.

Ms Luxford-Vaughan said: “We think it is time the true sentiment of communities is acknowledged by the councils.

“The online feedback was torturous to complete, even for consultation veterans.

“It clearly shows these proposals are categorically unwanted and have massive flaws to them.”

The public consultation had been running for six weeks.

Braintree, Colchester and Tendring councils produced extra information requested by the planning inspector last year following an examination on the joint part of their local plans.

Ms Pearson said: “People have taken huge trouble to write lengthy emails to us and return postcards with comments.

“These come from all across the region. Many of these people first tried the council’s consultation portal but gave up in despair.

“It is clear from reading the comments where the weight of opinion lies. People do not trust the councils to listen, or to deliver on their infrastructure promises.”

The comments will be supplied to the inspector ahead of the re-opening of the Local Plan examination.

A spokesman on behalf of the three north Essex councils said: “We reject the claim we are uninterested in evidence or public opinion.

“We have consulted extensively and will continue to do so at every stage of the development.

“In stark contrast, current piecemeal developer-led housing offers little opportunity for involvement whereas garden communities will provide a life-long opportunity for communities to shape where they live.”

The councils said the online portal is one Braintree Council has used for many years.

They added: “Over the course of these and other consultations we have received thousands of comments, so, whatever the difficulties some may have had, this consultation portal works.

“We also always ensure other options are available for people to comment including letter and email.

“We have made it clear anyone was able to contact Braintree’s planning policy team who would be able to talk them through the portal.

“This consultation was much more technical than previous consultations which is why we also sent a leaflet to households to make all residents aware.”

Comments will soon be available to view online at