There is an important consultation under way on the Braintree District Local Plan which lasts until Friday, October 9, and can be accessed via the Braintree District Council website homepage (see “Local Plan – have your say...”)

A series of main modifications is being proposed to the Section 1 Local Plan, which is about the three proposed “garden communities” for North Essex.

The Local Plan inspector twice rejected the garden communities (new towns) plan, and most recently said that only one new town could proceed, east of Colchester.

So the two largest new towns, west of Braintree and at West Tey, are set to be removed from the plan.

Local communities, campaign groups and opposition councillors consistently urged the council to drop the new towns plan.

The Conservative leadership at Braintree District Council had the chance to change tack over two years ago and again over a year ago.

Their decision to sail on despite the inspector’s clear concerns cost Braintree district taxpayers more than £1million and led to years of delay on securing a Local Plan – which speculative developers exploited.

There is now the opportunity to change the Section 1 Plan through the modification consultation process and we would urge residents who wish to see the two towns removed from the plan to take part online via the council website or to e-mail the council at, quoting Modifications MM7 and MM18 which specifically remove them.

If the modifications are agreed, then the plan process can move on to Section 2 – which is the actual Local Plan for the Braintree district containing the housing, jobs, planning policies, etc, needed to the year 2033.

If that can be agreed quickly, then perhaps the district might finally have its new Local Plan next year, ending what has been a long period where many local communities have been left feeling let down by the planning system and those making the big decisions.

The planning inspector is also currently asking participants to the Local Plan Examination for their views on housing numbers.

Until now the plan has been based on ONS figures from 2014, which projected a need for 75,000 households in the district by the year 2033.

But the latest ONS figures from 2018 project a need for 69,000 households – a very significant reduction.

We believe that does likely mean there is a “meaningful change” which could result in the Section 2 Local Plan needing to allocate fewer greenfield development sites. Ultimately it will be for the inspector to decide the correct number.

The Green & Independent Group at Braintree Council

Councillors James Abbott, Nick Unsworth, Jo Beavis, Steve Hicks, Jenny Sandum, Paul Thorogood, Tom Walsh, Michelle Weeks, Bob Wright