A FUTURE planning document which suggested the site for a proposed new 16,858-home town is unsuitable for development is out of date, according to council bosses.

Authorities in Essex, Colchester and Braintree want to build a garden settlement, which could eventually be roughly the size of Bury St Edmunds, on land close to Marks Tey.

The project, which has been dubbed West Tey, would see infrastructure including medical facilities, roads, schools and a business park built before the houses.

But the Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex (Cause) a pressure group against the development, have uncovered a document produced in 2008 which suggest development on the site should not go ahead because of concerns regarding air quality, public transport, and the lack of economic opportunities.

Spokesman Rosie Pearson said she cannot see any differences in the situation.

She said: "In 2008 Colchester Council told a Planning Inspector development at Marks Tey was unsustainable.

"Now they are saying it is, what has changed between then and now?"

But a spokesman for the council said the document, which was part of the local development framework core strategy at the time, was irrelevant to the latest discussions.

He said: "The document refers to the situation nine years ago, at which time suitable alternatives for development were available.

"Since then the completion of development and regeneration programmes, and the increased growth of the borough, has meant there is a need to look again at our strategy for the future.

“The Planning Inspector recognised this possibility at the time, highlighting Marks Tey could come forward at a future date, and saying: ‘It would be more appropriately considered in the next phase of plan-making’.

“We are now in that next phase, and potential development at Marks Tey is accordingly being considered."

The spokesman added the document referred to building exclusively homes in the area, rather than full-scale infrastructure which is now in the pipeline.

He added: "The issues in the 2008 report highlighted the risk of simply building houses.

"We agree this would not be acceptable, which is why we are looking at the creation of a garden community built to specific principles around self-sustainability, green spaces and high-quality design, and with all of the necessary infrastructure put in place first.

"The concerns raised are exactly those we would be looking to mitigate, through the approach we are proposing.”

A second new town on the border of Colchester and Tendring is also likely to be built and could eventually include 6,608 homes, while a third to the west of Braintree could contain 9,729 homes.