As you may be aware, work is ongoing to look at the potential of creating three new ‘garden communities’ across North Essex as a way of meeting long-term housing and job needs (www.ne-gc.co.uk for details).
Our new Local Plans (2017-2033) have recently been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and within this we have jointly set out how we want to take a holistic approach to long-term development through the creation of Garden Communities. This would see the land being controlled and development managed by the district/county councils, and there are a number of benefits to this approach in comparison with the traditional model of development that we see across the country at the moment.
Through intervening in the system in this way we also have the opportunity to enable an infrastructure-led approach, investing the increase in land value achieved through the development back into the communities themselves, ensuring health centres, schools, leisure facilities and the right facilities for businesses are delivered at the right point.
The project is essentially split into two, with the newly formed company NEGC Ltd overseeing delivery, and at this stage testing the viability of all three of the proposed sites.
The other aspect of the project is the planning element, and we recognise the importance of having robust and sound planning policies in place to ensure the communities are delivered to the Garden Community principles we have set out.
To this end, a consultation into ‘issues and options’ for each of the sites launched this week and will run for ten weeks. This will be followed by future periods of consultation next year.
RCCE and Community360, two leading independent charities, will be contacting Parish Councils/local groups to offer their support in enabling you to maximise your input into the planning process.
We want parish councils and existing communities to play a central role in designing what the new communities look like, as ultimately they must not only work in their own right but also support existing neighbouring communities.
The ‘Community Enablers’ are independent to North Essex Garden Communities Ltd and their role is to simply signpost and guide you through the planning elements, ensuring that you have the opportunities to be involved as well as the information and clarity you need to make an informed contribution to the project.
We appreciate there are many different views and opinions, and being able to capture these will be an important part of the process. They will also provide you with key contacts for any queries you may have.
One of the charities will be in touch with you soon and will confirm their contact details – you may well have worked with them in the past around the Local Plan / neighbourhood planning, and I would urge you to take advantage of this free resource that has been made available to you.
If you have any questions about the community enablers or other aspects of the programme in general, please contact NEGC at email@example.com who will be happy to help you.