Essex County Council slams housing 'madness'
GOVERNMENT housing and jobs projections for the county have been branded as madness by Essex County Council (ECC). The evidence used to calculate projections which ask the county to accommodate up to 151,000 homes in the next two decades has been condem
GOVERNMENT housing and jobs projections for the county have been branded as "madness" by Essex County Council (ECC).
The evidence used to calculate projections which ask the county to accommodate up to 151,000 homes in the next two decades has been condemned by the authority as "seriously flawed".
The council's cabinet today censured the East of England Plan which calls for up to 31,000 extra homes for Essex every year for the next twenty years.
In its report on the East of England Plan, now submitted to the East of England Regional Assembly, ECC questioned whether the consultation is "fit for purpose" and whether the plans, which could see 151,000 homes built in Essex by 2032, are sustainable or realistic.
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ECC found that the plans were "vague and non-specific" in terms of the location of new settlements and that "no clear estimates" had been made on the future economic growth of London or the ability of the capital to absorb new housing or migration, which could have a crucial impact on projections for Essex.
Further it found that issues such as climate change, employment, and tighter restrictions for first-time buyers, water supply, a growing elderly population and many other issues had not been considered.
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The council has held workshops with local organisations and economic partnerships to discuss different aspects of the plan. It found that stakeholders felt all four scenarios in the plan were driven by housing numbers and did not provide for carbon reduction, transport, existing communities, natural resources or the environment.
The council also found the projected economic growth of London, on which the housing projections seem to be based, is "not clear" and that analysis of the capacity of Essex's town centres, transport network and other infrastructure elements to handle such unprecedented growth in housing is absent.
Cabinet member for localism and planning, Cllr John Jowers, said: "These proposals for up to 31,000 homes a year in Essex were crazy when they were first announced by the government but on analysis of the data they just seem like madness now.
"We are not against growth and we are doing work which is second to none across Essex, none more so than in Essex's already identified growth areas such as the Thames and Haven Gateways, but we simply have to make a stand against unsustainable growth which the government seem determined to press on us, which would destroy communities and put intolerable burdens on the lives of our residents.