Basildon cuts housing numbers in revised local plan

One of the 15 councils threatened with intervention by central government has approved a revised version of its local plan, including a cut to previously proposed housing numbers.

Basildon District Council offices. Pic: Ron Galliers,
Basildon District Council offices. Pic: Ron Galliers,

Basildon District Council in Essex was one of 15 warned by former housing secretary Sajid Javid last November that he was considering whether to "write their plan for them".

In March, Javid warned Basildon’s then Labour leader Gavin Callaghan that if there were "any further significant delays in meeting your timetable", he would "not hesitate to consider how to use the full range of powers Parliament has given me to ensure that a plan is in place". But Basildon was not one of the three councils that Javid decided to subject to further central government scrutiny at that point.

Basildon's previous UKIP/Labour coalition administration had approved a final draft version of its local plan. However, after the Conservaties took control of the authority in the May 2018 elections, the plan was sent back to the drawing board. 

Speaking at the time, council leader Andrew Baggott said: "We will do what we can to correct the disastrous local plan passed by the previous Labour-led administration". 

Following the delay, a full meeting of Basildon Borough Council last week approved a revised plan. 

The new plan has removed 650 homes at two sites – one south west of Billericay and one at Noak Bridge.

The plan identifies sites for 17,791 new homes, down from 18,180 new homes in the originally approved plan, with at least 15,465 expected to be delivered within the plan period 2014 to 2034.

Other changes to the original plan include the allocation of a number of sites for travellers.

Speaking before the meeting, Richard Moore, chairman of the council’s strategic planning and infrastructure committee, said: "The committee is recommending a revised version of the local plan to council, which it believe balances what the borough needs with some of the concerns of residents."

But the removal of the housing sites was criticised by Labour group leader Gavin Callaghan, who said that it would lead to a reduction of £22 million in community infrastructure levy receipts.

Callaghan said the revised plan "means that roads and schools now won’t be built in places like Wickford, Laindon and Pitsea that should have been built. It means their plan will cause chaos on our roads and in our classrooms."

The plans will now be submitted to the communities secretary for examination.

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