A COUNCIL leader has given his “wholehearted support” for plans to create three garden communities in north Essex.

Neil Stock, Tendring Council’s leader, has written to the planning inspector overseeing the examination of the council’s local plan to welcome him back to north Essex as the local plan examination resumes in the new year.

Tendring Council has submitted a joint part one to its local plan alongside Colchester Council and Braintree Council setting out the overall vision for housing growth up until 2033 and beyond for 11,000 homes.

This includes plans for three new garden communities which would see new towns built either side of Braintree and to the east of Colchester on the border with the Tendring district.

After a request from the planning inspector following the first round of examination hearings, local authority officers have been compiling further evidence to support the proposals.

This additional evidence has been put out to consultation, and will now be examined from January by the planning inspector in further public hearings.

In his letter, Mr Stock sets out his support for the local plan and the “close partnership working” between the councils.

He said: “It is with a huge amount of positivity and optimism that I welcome your return to north Essex in the new year.

“I am writing to you ahead of the examination hearings to lend my wholehearted support to the vision for future long-term growth set out in the emerging plan and the proposals for three new comprehensively-planned garden communities.

“I am confident that you will find the additional evidence prepared by officers and specialist consultants helpful in addressing your previous concerns and help the north Essex authorities work towards the formal adoption of the new plan.”

Addressing that work has been underway since 2007.

Mr Stock added: “Through all the trials and tribulations, we have a plan that gets the balance right, and which provides certainty for residents and businesses, whilst also considering the potential environmental effects, not only up to 2033 but beyond through the garden community proposals.

“It sets out a positive and ambitious programme of growth for north Essex which is fully in line with Government thinking.”

However, opponents to the scheme have branded it as “overly ambitious”.

Harwich and North Essex’s MP Sir Bernard Jenkin has said public support has not been secured.

Earlier this month Colchester councillors voted against allocating £350,000 more to North Essex Garden Communities Limited.