Last night (22nd July) I listened to the Councils Local Plan Committee Meeting held at the town hall in Colchester.
The main motion proposed by Liberal Democrat led Council member (and seconded by Labour) was to proceed with the emerging local plan with ‘Garden Communities’, however alternative recommendations raised by Colchester Conservatives member Cllr. Andrew Ellis who proposed the Council obtain more evidence before consultation, was sadly lost.
Members from Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex (CAUSE) said the Chair of the committee Cllr. Barlow (Lib), had “ignored requests to send the debate to Full Council allowing for more time to understand all the evidence.”
“The LibDem/Labour coalition was dismissive of the public, disinterested in issues and determined to ram through the Plan at all cost.” said CAUSE.
Following a named vote from committee members, Councillors voted 4-4 on the proposal, with a casting vote by the Chair passing the motion 5-4 in favour.
Cllr. Lewis Barber (Con) said the outcome was a disappointing decision. “The council’s own evidence base concludes that other alternatives to the new town plans can deliver benefits to communities, including on infrastructure.”
“However the council continues to pursue the new town plans and failed to produce any argument, let alone a convincing one, on why we should continue with these proposals” added Lewis.
More than 30,000 homes are planned to be built on the outskirts of Colchester, over two thirds less than three miles from Stanway.
In a recent prior submission of the emerging local plan, the Government Inspector confirmed the plan as ‘unsound’ and asked for more evidence to support the proposals, including a ‘Rapid Transport System’ – which was confirmed last night as an untested bus system.
The emerging local plan will immediately go to the public for a period of consultation returning directly to the Government Inspector where it is considered it will be again thrown out, leaving Colchester without a Local Plan and open to speculative planning applications.