Every council has a statutory duty to produce and maintain an up-to-date plan to guide development. This is known as a Local Plan.
Colchester Borough Council’s draft Local Plan has been through rigorous scrutiny. The two Garden Community developments proposed by Essex, Braintree, Tendring & Colchester councils were reduced to one, after a government Planning Inspector found the Braintree/Colchester Border plan unsound. The council re-submitted the draft Local Plan with only the Colchester Tendring Borders Garden Community reference last year; the same government Planning Inspector accepted this re-submitted Local Plan with some modifications.
Colchester’s Local Plan is more than designating space for the Colchester Tendring Borders Garden Community, although we are glad that these councils will have more control of the design, plus a rapid transport system and that it includes £99 million for the A133 link road welcomed last year by councillors from across the political spectrum.
Labour believes that the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic means that creating homes fit for the future is vital for our residents’ wellbeing. With more residents working from home, the positives of adopting Garden Community Principles of high quality planning, design and long-term management of shared spaces are the only way to build a balanced and mixed community to the east of Colchester. An integral part of which will be delivering 30% affordable housing that benefits everyone. Not least because inequality hurts us all.
Tonight is an Extraordinary Full Council meeting, where it is recommended that Council endorses the recommendation from the Local Plan Committee who agreed that the Inspector’s final Main Modifications are incorporated into the Section 1 of the Draft Local Plan.
The Local Plan provides a blueprint for development. Land areas are designated for specific use such as retail, commercial, housing, light industrial etc. A Council without an adopted Local Plan leaves itself open to challenge by developers because land use and housing numbers remain undesignated. Colchester has a minimum annual housing target set by the government, currently 920 protected for 5 years. The recently withdrawn government target was 1612, and if the Council does not adopt the Local Plan tonight, the whole process of Section 1 will need to start again, with the risks this entails for developer challenge. An unadopted plan means that Colchester’s new minimum annual housing target will fall immediately to the new government planning figure of 1186.
This Local Plan is the only Local Plan on the table, we need to work together to create homes, spaces, businesses fit for the future. We do not need to start the process again as this will be two years of risk and uncertainty.