Over the border: Brentwood Council spend over £400,000 on housing development near Thurrock

By Local Democracy Reporter
Piers Meyler

Dunton

BRENTWOOD Borough Council has revealed it has spent as much as £400,000 in delivering a large garden village in the borough.

The council is now hoping for more long term funding to help deliver the Dunton Hills Garden Village development that could grow to up to 4,000 homes.

Currently the council says uncertainty around how much funding is available year on year is hampering the work it can do.

Philip Drane, director of strategic planning, told the policy committee last week that of the £630,000 the council has received from Homes England, between £350,000 and £400,000 has been spent on delivering the development, which is a key plank of the council’s local plan.

He said: “Therefore what is remaining is being looked at in terms of the next financial year ahead.

“Indeed, we are in discussions with Homes England over potential future funding bids and the way we can secure some degree of funding for the longer term.

“At the moment the bid process has been year to year which has always meant when we get to the end of the year we are waiting on the next bid process to see how much you can do for the next year.”

He said Homes England has indicated there will be a two-year funding bid coming up, which he said will be “much more helpful”.

“We have spent a fair amount of the money on the team and the project,” he added.

“We are mindful we need to make sure we have enough money for the year ahead and then make another funding bid.”

Dunton Hills Garden Village is one of four strategic allocations in the council’s pre-submission Local Development Plan.

The site is proposed to deliver a minimum of 2,700 homes within the plan period up to 2033, and around a total of 4,000 homes over the life of the site.

In addition, the development will deliver a new self-contained community with accompanying employment and local services, along with community infrastructure such as schools.

The council has also revealed that while there is one dominant site owner who owns most of the land, there are up to eight different land parcels that are required to be sold for the development to go ahead.

“This will require careful coordination and site-wide planning to ensure masterplan integration, so that the Garden Village feels coherent and cohesive, as well as the appropriate apportionment of infrastructure delivery costs”, a council statement adds.

The requirement for significant levels of infrastructure has also raised concerns with neighbouring Basildon Council that has objected to the Brentwood plans.

Basildon’s strategic planning and infrastructure committee has agreed to formally object to a number of key issues arising from the Brentwoood Council local plan – that sets out where 7,752 new homes should be built between 2016 and 2033.

While 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 whether Brentwood has adequately assessed infrastructure needs.

Councillor Louise McKinlay, leader of Brentwood Council, said: “The duty to cooperate at meetings are not just a technical tick in the box. It’s about how they are used and the engagement process through those meetings.”

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