Over the border: Plans for 7,000 homes passed by Brentwood Council

By Local Democracy Reporter
Piers Meyler

Dunton 2

BRENTWOOD”S major housing plan determining where more than 7,000 homes should be built in the next 15 years has been passed – paving the the way for thousands of new homes to be built on green belt land.

Brentwood Borough Council met on Thursday, November 8, at the Brentwood Centre to discuss the next stage of the borough’s local plan – principally how and where to cater for the 7,752 new homes the borough needs to find between 2016 and 2033.

Among the most controversial amendments – and one which was picked up by opposition members time and time again wanting a similar approach to other parts of Brentwood – was the decision to take out 200 homes planned for Honeypot Lane – adding those to Dunton Hills garden village.

That means the borough’s major housing plank – the creation of a large development south of the A127 on green belt land – has now been earmarked for 2,700 homes rather than the 2,500 initially planned for.

Efforts from Lib Dem and Labour councillors to reduce housing allocations in Priests Lane, Shenfield, where 95 homes had been allocated and in Doddinghurst Road, which has had 200 homes allocated, failed despite arguments that if Honeypot Lane’s allocation is removed then so should those two sites.

The Conservatives did however agree to reduce the Honepot Lane allocation to 75.

The Tories also said that Dunton can only take another 200 homes and that any additional homes on that site would be rejected by the planning inspectorate.

They added that Honeypot Lane faced a different set of challenges around pressures from traffic that were not faced by other areas.

A motion to reduce a housing allocation of 300 homes at William Hunter Way to 179 that appears in the town centre design plan was rejected – sparking accusations of intellectual inconsistency.

In her address, leader Cllr Louise McKinlay said: “It is vital we have a plan that is going to take this borough forwards and which we believe under examination will stand the best chance of being passed by the inspector.

“That means we have got to meet our objectively assessed needs and the amendment we have put through tonight will do that.

“It is important we look at the whole notion of deliverability and that means a whole load of different facets including commerciality.

“That means we have had to limit what goes into Dunton.

“It’s not just about meeting the objectively assessed needs.

“It is about having a range of sites but it is also about looking at what our borough needs.

“That means ensuring we have different types of houses in the right places and that includes the town centre.”

Some houses in the plan have already been completed or committed to in Brentwood, with the remaining 6,618 homes allocated to land split across the borough – including 825 in amongst a cluster of sites north of Shenfield.

It also proposed 120 homes for the former garden centre at Ingatestone, 200 for land off Doddinghurst Road, and 473 for land at the Brentwood Council depot and nearby Ford HQ – which is set to move to Dunton by next year.

The plan will be sent to the Planning Inspectorate in January to be decided whether it can be formally adopted.

Cllr McKinlay added: “We know there is an issue with traffic – that wont’ go away and it is making sure where possible we mitigate against that.

“The fact is that as a borough which is 89 per cent green belt, we cannot meet our need unless we go into that green belt.

“We have approached that in a way which respects what I think makes Brentwood so special – which is a borough of villages with Brentwood, Shenfield and Ingatestone at the heart.

“We are mindful of the reality we expand in an appropriate way.

“It’s why you see the incremental grown around the village areas and why we see the growth in the town centre and why ultimately we have Dunton as our new garden village. It is not just including growth but adding to the concept of the village as a borough.”

Brentwood Lib Dem group leader Barry Aspinell said after the meeting: “I am disappointed. I think it is an ill-conceived plan. It’s ill prepared. There’s no green energies in there, no employment specifics.

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