Future of Thurrock’s Green Belt discussed at meeting

THE initial consultation over the development of the Local Plan for Thurrock was discussed by councillors on Wednesday (20 January) evening.

The Planning, Transport and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee was considering a Thurrock Local Plan progress update and heard that proposals would be going to the full council in February.

Andy Millard, Head of Planning and Growth, explained how changes in planning rules and legislation, the revocation of the East of England Plan, and the need for the council to identify a deliverable five year housing land supply meant the current local plan was becoming outdated.

The first major consultation – Issues and Options, Stage 1 (Strategic Policies) – was scheduled for late February and March, but it would not look at specific sites, instead concentrating on wider issues such as what would you like Thurrock to be like in 2035 and what needs to happen in Thurrock to make it a more attractive and prosperous place to live?

Cllr Brian Little, chair of the committee, said afterwards: “I know the Local Plan is a very complex issue, but it is something people should get involved with.

“The Local Plan determines where development can go and what sort of development can go where. Complaining afterwards will almost always fail, so have your say now.”

He added: “Members suggested the consultation should also include something like: What is the biggest change that would improve your local community? and I thought that was a good way of making the whole strategic overarching scheme more relevant to local people.

“There is also the issue of the River Thames. How should we be improving our use of the 18 miles of river-front, more than any other authority in the country?

“We were also pleased to see the planning team is working on a whole range of different consultation events to reach as much of the Thurrock population as possible.”

Other questions planned for the Stage 1 consultation are: how can new development be better used to improve the health and wellbeing of local communities, what types of homes are needed and where should they be built, what types of jobs are needed and where should they be, what types of shops and leisure are needed, and where, what other infrastructure improvements are needed in Thurrock to support existing and new communities, what kind of things should we be doing to protect and enhance Thurrock’s heritage and buildings of local importance, and what kind of things should we be doing to protect and enhance natural assets and open spaces of local importance?

The committee was also concerned with whether Green Belt issues would be discussed at this stage, but were told that would come in Stage 2 later in the year.

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