Basildon Draft Local Plan 2016

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9,000 new homes on Basildon's green belt

Basildon Borough Council have published a detailed Draft Local Plan to determine the next two decades of development around Basildon, Billericay and Wickford. The document of 373 pages supported by hundreds more pages of supplementary reports has been put together by the council's planning officers according to the policies of the Conservative group of Basildon councillors directed by the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning, Councillor Dr Richard Moore and the Leader of the Conservative group Councillor Phil Turner. On January the 7th 2016 the plan was debated by the council and was coted to be sent out for public consultations. A video of the debate is available here.

Don't miss your chance to have your say through the council's public consultation which will run for eight weeks from 28th January to 24th March 2016. During this period it is possible to submit comments online, by e-mail or by letter. See the council's planning page for details of the consultation and further documents.

Basildon Council claims that 15,200 new homes will be needed in the borough which means that 9,000 will have to be built on our green belt in areas of Basildon Billericay and Wickford marked as orange on the maps shown here. They say that infrastructure upgrades such as widening roads will be funded from sources including a levy on developers. If the houses are not built there will be economic and social consequences. They tell us that central government is behind the housing numbers and nothing can be done to avoid the expansion. They say that if the Local Plan is submitted to the planning inspectorate without meeting their projected need for housing then it will be found unsound leading to delays that will allow developers to take advantage of the lack of plan to build where they wish unchecked. Even worse, the government will take over preparation of the plan if it is not approved by 2017 and will implement their own plan with even greater loss of the green belt.

We, an alliance of campaign groups from South Essex, disagree. The government have pledged to protect the green belt where local councils wish to do so. Basildon Council wants to remove 481 hectares (1180 acres) of land from our green belt that is 7% of the total and an area equivalent to the urban area of Billericay. If we allow this loss of green belt, then more will follow until the purposes of the green belt is lost. The cost of improving infrastructure such as widening roads is much more than can be covered from infrastructure levys, Council spending is being drastically reduced through austerity measures. There is no reasonable prospect of any infrastructure improvements beyond a few incremental junction fixes. The levys can cover new local health centres and primary schools but nothing more.

The department for communities and local government has made it absolutely clear that once councils have allocated any unprotected land for housing then they can use green belt as a constraint to set lower housing targets. Another way to ensure that house building is kept within sustainable limits is to use the lack of infrastructure as an additional constraint. There is no good in building many new houses if it is just going to lead to traffic jams, overcrowded commuter trains, over-run hospitals, pollution and flooding. If these things are not dealt with properly the plan could be found unsound due to unsustainability.

STOP PRESS On the eve of the consultation for the Basildon Local Plan, Castle Point councillors voted to reject their local plan and rewrite it to protect their green belt. If Castle Point council can do this so can Basildon.

Basildon Draft Local Plan Development Map (hover over markers for details)

Schedule for the Local Plan

Following four years of evidence gathering and public consultations Basildon Council finally published its Draft Local Plan in December 2015. On 7th January 2016 this was put before councillors at a public meeting. After a debate the council voted in favour of a further public consultation on the Local Plan lasting eight weeks to gather comments and objections. We want to get as many people as possible to contribute to the consultation.

At the end of 2016 the planning officers in cooperation with councillors will form a final draft of the Local Plan and hold a final public consultation. few changes will be made at that stage so it is important that we have our say before then.

See more details on the Local Plan schedule

Actions we can take

Here are the amin things you can do to influence the council's local plan:

  • Regsiter on the Basildon Consultation Portal.
  • Make the most well thought-out evidence-based comments you have time to prepare. We need to stick together to fight this.
  • Tell friends, nieghbours and relatives about what is happening and what they can do.
  • Contact and follow any local action groups near you (see the SEEAGA website for contacts)
  • Ask you local councillor and any election candidates if they oppose development, especially prior to the May elections.
  • Vote accordingly.

See more details of Actions to take.

Why do we want to reverse plans to build so many houses in Basildon?

We all recognise the housing crisis and the need to build new homes, especially affordable housing for first time buyers, so how can we justify opposing the construction of as many houses as possible? Contrary to the propaganda put about by representatives of the construction industries we are not NIMBYs protesting about building in our neighbourhood to protect our house prices, and we have not misunderstood what the green belt is. We are fighting a cause to save the green belt because we can see that the consequences of losing it will be far more damaging than anything that can be outweighed by building new houses on it. Dense populations need efficient infrastructure. Have a look at Los Angeles and you will see continuous housing for block after block, but you will also see a well-planned system of roads feeding 10 lane freeways to take the residents to their place of work each day.

At Ebbsfleet just a few miles away on the other side of the Thames, the government hopes to build a new town in the old clay pits of Kent. This is the perfect place for new housing. It is closer to London than Basildon and linked by the fast Eurostar line. It is a brownfield site so there will be no damage to th green belt. Houses should be going up there now in their hundreds but in fact only a hand full of houses have been built. The reason is clear. Property developers are too busy drooling over the great green belt giveaway that is about to take place over our side of the Thames. Building on cheap green belt land which does not need to be decontaminated or landscaped is much more profitable for them. We say, "don't let them!" There is plenty of brownfield land available and developers must be made to build there instead.

Green Belt
Road and Rail