Friday, July 19, 2024

Basildon housing plan delayed over Conservative donations

COUNCILLORS have delayed a decision over 269 homes after suggestions that local Conservatives benefitted from the developer’s donations to the party.

The planning committee at Tory-run Basildon Council in Essex was due to approve the Dunton Road development.

Companies run by the builder John Bloor have made several donations, totalling more than £2m, to the Conservative and Unionist Party.

Conservative members at the meeting said they did not benefit.

A Bloor Homes spokesperson said the company was “disappointed” by the deferral. 

The application proposes building the homes on 9.5 hectares of agricultural land on designated green belt south of Dunton Road near Laindon.

The developer Bloor Homes said 36% of the homes would be affordable and that £4m would be paid in Section 106 fees for local community projects.

The spokesperson added that it was “a development that was significantly above and beyond local policy in housing and sustainability terms”.

Records from the Electoral Commission indicate that J.S. Bloor (Services) Ltd, Bloor Homes Limited and Bloor Holdings Ltd have donated £2.73m to the Conservative and Unionist Party since 2015.

Labour committee member Alex Harrison said at the meeting on 22 March: “I request that this application be deferred to the next planning meeting so that it can be determined whether either Basildon and Billericay, South Basildon and East Thurrock, or Rayleigh and Wickford Conservative Associations have benefited directly from this applicant’s donations.”

The committee voted to defer the item, pending an investigation, following advice from council officers.

Conservative councillor Andrew Schrader said the claims were not true and fellow Conservative Carole Morris said she did not find the reasons for the deferral acceptable.

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