A “REVOLUTIONARY” garden city four miles west of Braintree could become the first new town to be built in Essex since 1949.

The Times can reveal that Braintree Council is in talks with landowners about a 15,000-home scheme near Great Saling, which could solve the district’s housing shortage.

The council, in collaboration with authorities in Colchester and Tendring, Essex County Council and community interest company Garden City Developments, wrote to landowners in July asking them to promote their ideas foranew town.

The group has narrowed the proposals down to four sites – west of Braintree, north of Colchester at Langham, west of Colchester at Marks Tey and east of Colchester near the university.

The west of Braintree site includes 800 hectares – equivalent to more than 1,200 football pitches – owned by the Andrewsfield New Settlement Consortium (ANSC).

The group already has advanced plans to build up to 10,000 homes on Andrewsfield Airfield.

Galliard Homes has previously put forward plans to build a 10,000-home “eco town” on land adjoining the airfield at Boxted Wood.

Robert Bucknell, ANSC chairman, said: “If it comes off, it’s going to be quite a revolution. It isn’t a new town or the old style of garden city.

“It will build on the shoulders of all of those and will be something that’s an exemplar for the future.

“I think Braintree doing that, wherever they put it, will be quite something.”

Council leader Graham Butland told a cabinet meeting on Thursday he had met senior civil servants after the Government awarded the joint project £640,000 in funding.

He said: “I think it’s generally regarded as being a very innovative and – in their words–one of the most exciting schemes to come forward simply because it’s a group of authorities working together to see how this might be taken forward.”

Mr Butland said council officers had spoken with landowners and he expected some not to be keen on the plans because they might not realise the full value of the land. He said: “We are some significant way yet from being able to come back and say this is what we would like in our local plans.”