Basildon Draft Local Plan 2016
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What we can do about the Basildon Council Draft Local Plan?
There are going to be three main opportunities to fight the Basildon Local Plan, stopping the destruction of our green belt and over-development with inadequate infrastructure
In addition to these there will be a second consultation on the plan at the end of 2016, but it will not offer much opportunity for further changes. There is also a right to demand a judicial review within six weeks of the plan being approved and adopted but this is only likely to generate a £100,000 legal bill
So, if you are concerned about the scale of housing development that Basildon council plans for the borough, now is the time to find out what can be done to change it. The first thing will be to respond to the public consultation on the Draft Local Plan that will be held shortly. Register now with the Basildon Consultation Portal so that you will receive a notification when the consultation begins. It will also be possible to submit commesnts to the consultation via e-mail or by ordinary mail.
The council will hold drop in meetings so that you can ask planning officers from the council about the plans. You will understand more if you can get along, but it is not a necessity to comment. You can get further information from the local newspapers and from websites such as this one.
The consultation is not a simple voting process. Planners care more about what is said than how many people say it. For the best impact you need to research the issues and comment accordingly with quantitative information about costs and impact backed up by rewferences. However, if you are pressed for time it is still worthwhile making a short comment to express your opinion. While planning officers dont pay mcuh attention to the number of respondents, the councillors do.
The consultation might be presented in the form of a series of options for you to select. These will be biased and loaded so dont be misled. If you think the possibilities dont present the right thing for you to make the points you want to say, dont let that stop you. Just make your point in response to the most suitable sections. You dont have to answer all questions. The consultation may be a long questionaire. If you have time to analyse it fully that is better but otherwsie just do what you can to get your opinion heard.
Once you have submitted a comment to a question you will not be able to delete or edit it, but you can still add more comments if you want to say something else so dont hesitate to submit. It is also worth noting that anyone can respond. There are no age limits and you do not have to be a resident of Basildon Borough. People from further afield will also be impacted, e.g. by increased traffic and pollution or knock on effects that cause flooding elsewhere.
Try to make general arguments against development in the whole borough. It is also good to give specifc reasons why developments near you are wrong but do not suggest that other places in the borough are more suited. That will just make campaigners look like NIMBYs and will be used by our opposition to distract from our goals.
Another mistake to avoid is mentioning the affect of development on your house price. Reducing house prices for first time buyers is one of the governments goals, so planners will have no sympathy with your personal finacial loss as a home owner.
Please do also tell your friends, neighbours and relatives about the consultation. Not everyone follows council news and many people miss the consultation because they dont get told about it until it is too late. The council will not send out letters to all residents even though the local plan is the most important policy document that will affect all residents.
After the consultation the next major opportunity to take action will be the council elections in May 2016. Your Councillors and candidates to replace them will want your vote. If they come round canvasing do ask your councillor and the opposition about the local plan and what they support. You can also ask them the same questions by e-mail at any time. Find their details from the council website. If the elected councillors are ignoring what local residents are daying the only way to fix it is a regime change.
Of course many councillors will tell you that they oppose development nearby, but how can you believe them? The Conservatives control the Basildon cabinet and their leader Phil Turner has said that he believes we must build on green belt, so dont trust them. This is inline with central government policy to build as many houses as possible. Labour are even more strongly in favour of ending green belt protection and made it clear in their manifesto that they wanted to enact "rught to grow" policies for towns that would involve ignoring green belt constraints, so don't trust them either. The rest we leave for you to decide.