Local Plan – The Mess Continues

Update:- I have now received this from the Senior Democratic Service Officer at Tendring District Council, “the meeting of that [Local Plan] Committee due to have been held on Thursday 10 March 2016 has been cancelled as there is no business to be transacted. There is no other scheduled meeting of the Committee in this current municipal year”. Really! Having pressed ahead with a housing figure that is too high, they now plan to assemble the Local Plan with no democratic oversight at all. Flabbergasted, doesn’t get close.

Thank you to all those who attended the meeting of the Local Plan Committee on Thursday night.

Sadly, the Country Club that currently runs Tendring District Council (Conservatives and their not so independent friends) pressed ahead and approved a figure of 550 dwellings per annum (dpa). That is 550 new houses to be built in Tendring, every year until 2032, or 9,350 new houses over the 17 year period. This is an improvement over the 705dpa, or 11,985 new houses originally proposed by the Conservatives. UKIP can take enormous credit for dragging the Country Club even this far.

However, it is still the wrong number . I did propose an amendment that read as follows: “That recommendations b) & c) be replaced with the following: b) recognises that there remain substantial reasons to believe that a figure below 480 dpa is the appropriate Objectively Assessed Housing Needs figure for Tendring District Council; and c) approves for Development Management purposes that the Objectively Assessed Needs be set at 480 dpa whilst officers continue to identify the correct figure, including delivering against resolution 22.b) at the Local Plan Committee meeting held on 12th Nov 2015.” The public present were kind enough to support my contribution with a warm round of applause.

Councillors voting against this amendment, and in favour of the 550 figure, were: Cllr Tom Howard (Con, Beaumont and Thorpe), Cllr Carlo Guclielmi (Con, Manningtree, Mistley, Little Bentley and Tendring), Cllr Andy Baker (Con, Lawford), Cllr Mark Platt (Con, Hamford), Cllr Daniel Land (Con, Beaumont and Thorpe), Cllr Mick Skeels Senior (Coastal Independent, St Johns), Cllr Neil Stock (Con, Ardleigh and Little Bromley), Cllr Nick Turner (Con, Frinton). Cllr Gary Scott (Lib Dem, Alresford) abstained and Cllr Mike Talbot (Independent, St Osyth and Point Clear) arrived after this vote was taken. We are where we are because Tendring did vote for a Conservative lead administration. If we wish to avoid this kind of mistake in the future the residents of Tendring have it in their own hands – they simply have to stop voting for the Conservatives and their [not very] Independent friends.

One other point of interest at this meeting was the award of £640k from central government to Tendring, Colchester and Braintree district councils, along with Essex County Council, to evaluate the possibility of building and entirely new “Garden City” in this general area. I have not had a detailed briefing, but I understand there are four lead candidates. Possibly the front runner at this stage is a development on the borders of Colchester and Tendring, centred on Essex university. Clearly major investment in infrastructure would be needed. Without seeing any detail it is not possible to be for or against at this stage, but it is at least possible that such a development could be beneficial to Tendring.