TORY-run Basildon Council could kibosh Brentwood Borough Council’s local plan over concerns about a lack of foresight over infrastructure planning.
Basildon’s strategic planning and infrastructure committee has agreed to formally object to a number of key issues arising from the Brentwood Borough Council publication local plan – that sets out where 7,752 new homes should be built between 2016 and 2033.
Whilst it was agreed that the Brentwood local plan, that was approved for pre-submission consultation in November 2018, is legally compliant, concerns were raised about how many new gypsy and traveller pitches would be provided and the lack of clarity as to how transit site needs could be met in the future.
Additionally, the committee expressed concerns about whether Brentwood has adequately assessed infrastructure needs and questioned how the plan has taken account of the Lower Thames Crossing, schools, transport and business needs along the A127 corridor.
Centre to Brentwood’s local plan is provision for up to 4,000 homes on land on the border of Basildon.
The Dunton Hills Garden Village project, which will also deliver an all-through school, other primary schools, green pathways, employment opportunities and healthcare facilities, is believed to be of concern to Basildon due to the level of infrastructure required.
However Brentwood Labour leader Gareth Barrett said a lack of consensus with neighbouring Basildon Council, which has also passed its plan for pre-submission, threatens large areas of greenbelt being earmarked for development by the government itself.
He said: “This could be a major issue for Brentwood and a threat not only to our community who desperately need genuinely affordable homes but also a major risk to our greenbelt.
“The Conservatives refused to make decisions, have the debates that mattered or develop policies that could command support of the entire council – they were left forcing through a last minute plan in a late night meeting. This is why we are now in this ridiculous position.
“If the Brentwood Conservatives’ plan is rejected thanks to infighting with the Basildons Conservatives, then that leaves us in a difficult legal position.
“The Conservative government will force us to develop an alternative rapidly or pretty much any green space will be up for grabs for developers. I have no faith the current administration could achieve this.”
Cllr Richard Moore, chairman of the strategic planning and infrastructure committee at Basildon Council, said: “It’s important that any strategic, cross boundary matters between Basildon and Brentwood are raised as part of this process.
“Whilst we accept that Brentwood Council has taken steps to address some of our initial concerns, we believe there are still areas where reasonable alternatives could have been taken into account.
“We’re committed to working together with our neighbouring authorities to boost housing, provide improved infrastructure and drive economic growth.
“As a key partner in the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA) and a duty to cooperate public body, it’s our responsibility to ensure that all potential implications are considered by Brentwood Council and the plan is as effective as it can be.”
A formal response to the consultation will be submitted to Brentwood Borough Council by the deadline of Tuesday, March 19 .
Brentwood Borough Council has been asked for comment.