Article by Guy Bell: Hundreds of homeowners in Billericay expressed opinions, voiced concerns and learnt about the possible impact of Basildon Borough Council's new Local Plan.
Billericay Action Group's (BAG) meeting at Billericay School was packed out, with 250 people eager to find out how they could be affected by the proposed development.
The Local Plan sets out the areas that should be developed in the borough by 2034.
Of the 14,582 homes that need to be built in the Basildon borough, more than 1,700 are proposed in Billericay. Potential sites have been identified in Potash Road, Frithwood Lane and Mountnessing Road.
The meeting, held last Wednesday, was hosted by chairman Mike Andrews and fellow BAG members Alasdair Daw, Stuart Dickson and Norman Lamb.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Mr Daw"]The meeting gave residents an opportunity to ask questions on the plan and their only opportunity to air their views in a public forum. Speakers presented information and views on the plan and its consequences. Residents heard details of the various sites identified for developments, as well as the contentious road proposals that have been put forward. At least 37 per cent of the 15,260 housing target would be to accommodate accelerated migration from London. An additional aim was to aid local business by increasing the size of the workforce available to them.[/quote]
Those who attended were told how the housing target is a council rather than a government responsibility.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Mr Daw"]The way the plan is structured means the target is likely to be exceeded by a considerable margin. The unemployed, commuters and other groups were excluded from workforce calculations, meaning the draft plan would lead to a socially harmful surplus of labour. There was evidence that insurmountable limitations to the commuter transport infrastructure meant that such high growth would be economically damaging to the borough. Attendees were urged, irrespective of their views, to contribute to the council's consultation. The meeting closed with BAG requesting support for its formal consultation response to be made on the basis of what attendees had heard, and this was given unanimously.[/quote]
Billericay's MP, John Baron, is also urging readers to take part in the consultation.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by John Baron"]It is important for residents to have their say. The council needs to hear your views.[/quote]
Borough council leader, Councillor Phil Turner added:
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Phil Turner"]We aren't trying to destroy wherever you live, we are trying to make it the best place for you. As much as it has been a hot topic seemingly forever, every resident needs to know about it. It is about getting the right plan for Basildon and it is going to be in place for 20 years.[/quote]
The draft Local Plan consultation runs until March 24.
Visit www.basildon.gov.uk/planningpolicy to have your say.
Article by Guy Bell, Ongar Gazette