First, the Objectively Assessed Housing Need (OAN) has gone up from 15k to 20k, double what local people require.
Secondly the Council is developing a “SW Billericay High Level Development Framework” with very large areas of further land (shaded in grey in the image) being considered to meet this new larger number.
We’re not saying that all of this land will be built on if we meet OAN, but around 1000 homes were planned there when the Council sought to build 15,000 so if they decide to meet the new OAN, we can expect the majority to go.
We believe that the Framework will look at how a large number of homes would fund the ‘Relief Road’ – a project which we fear will actually worsen traffic while diverting developer contributions away from socially useful alternatives such as Affordable Housing. The Framework may also consider school provision, such as the expansion of Buttsbury School, which has been suggested.
Won’t this mean they need to consult again?
Basildon Council consider that they’ve consulted on all these either during either the 2016 Draft Local Plan consultation or the ‘New and Alternative Sites’ consultation later in the year. This is unreasonable as many sites, for instance the golf course, were only mentioned as rejected alternatives in the earlier consultation and so attracted very little attention.
- H20 - Tye Common Road: Area large enough for 360 homes (the rejected alternative number of homes in the 2016 Local Plan) is under consideration, larger than the 160 in the Draft Local Plan. The site could easily accommodate 750, so the 360 figure above is not the maximum that could be built on the site.
- H21 - Football Club area: Area large enough for 360 homes (the rejected alternative number of homes in the 2016 Local Plan) is under consideration, larger than the 185 in the Draft Local Plan.
- H22 - Mountnessing Road Site (Redrow Homes): An area enough for 400 homes (the rejected option in 2016 Local Plan) is under consideration, larger than the 280 in the Draft Local Plan.
- H23- Frithwood Lane area (Marden Homes): This area, currently a ‘Green Wedge’, is large enough for around 900 homes (the rejected option in the 2016 Local Plan) larger than the 330 preferred in the Draft Local Plan. The larger rejected area was also consulted on as Alternative Site 9 in the second consultation.
- Salmon’s and Richdan Farm – enough land for around 900 houses. A rejected alternative to H20 in the 2016 Draft Plan.
- Burstead Golf Course – enough land for around 1400 houses. A rejected alternative to H23 in the 2016 Draft Plan.
All sites which were once alternative are potentially now ‘as well as’.
Glimmer of hope
Councils can produce a Plan with a Housing Target lower than their OAN, for instance if they’re lucky enough to have Green Belt and wish to preserve it. The regulations are clear, but theory and practice are somewhat different and it probably wouldn’t be plain sailing.
The cross-party Committee which has been overseeing the development of the Local Plan for the past few months has been seriously considering a lower than OAN Housing Target for the Plan, while Castle Point, Rochford, Southend and others are taking a similar approach. Such a move could see many of these sites saved, and the arguably counter-productive ‘Relief Road’ dropped.
We do think Councillors are serious, but we’re not sure how determined they are. We fear, perhaps unreasonably, that they’ll be easily discouraged and revert to meeting OAN while claiming that they tried their best.
The consequences of that for Billericay and the Borough would be extremely severe.