Clive Aldous stands on affected land

In an article by the Echo, neighbouring boroughs may need to take on hundreds of new homes proposed for Billericay if its road network cannot cope.

A report obtained by the Echo has revealed Essex County Council has significant concerns over plans to extend west Billericay by 1,400 homes as part of Basildon Council’s local plan, claiming roads will not cope.

County Hall said major improvements were needed before newhomes could be built.

About 2,500 homes are planned for Billericay with 2,300 on three green belt sites off Queen’s Park and Outwood Common Road.

Investigations are being carried out into how the town’s already stretched road network can be improved.

However, in a 58-page report, County Hall said if those improvements were not viable, Basildon Council could have to find alternative sites for the 1,400 homes earmarked for the west extension.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Andrew Cook, director of planning at EssexCounty Council"]There are problems with the capacity of the Billericay highway network. Essex County Council, in consultation with Basildon Council, is in the process of identifying and assessing appropriate mitigation work to the Billericay highway network. If it is not possible to deliver the required number of dwellings in west Billericay, Basildon Council may need to redistribute the housing elsewhere in the borough or may need to approach neighbouring authorities to see if they can take this element of the borough’s objectively assessed needs.[/quote]

The local plan will act as planning policy up until 2031, setting out sites for 16,000 homes across Basildon, Wickford, Billericay, Laindon and Pitsea. About 3,500 are already built or have planning permission.

The report also states Basildon Council has “significantly overestimated” the number of new schools that would be needed in Basildon and Wickford to cope with the growth. However it recommends the council requests financial contributions towards expanding existing secondary schools in Billericay.

Tony Ball, leader of Basildon Council, said: “We always knew expanding west Billericay would be difficult, but we took the view we wanted to share the housing growth across the five towns in the borough. Wewill take into account what the county council has said and come back with a revised plan after all the consultation responses have been considered. I don’t know what the improvements will be, but we will work with highways to see what can be done."

He continues, “We have a duty to co-operate so we will approach Brentwood, Castle Point, Rochford and Thurrock over whether they could take on homes, but all local authorities are struggling to find land for housing growth. We must provide enough homes and unfortunately we have to turn to green belt, which we are not enthusiastic about.”

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