The full council meeting on Braintree’s Local Plan on Thursday, August 1 crystallised for me why I am proud to be an elected member of BDC representing the Conservative party.

Under Section 1 of the Local Plan, which promotes garden communities, a Conservative-led BDC is progressing with ambitious, innovative and, importantly, long-term strategic plans to ensure this district copes with the planning requirements being placed upon it long into the future.

To pause, delay or (no doubt as they would probably prefer) ditch Section 1 now in favour of progressing solely with Section 2, the Green-led opposition offer nothing more than “more of the same” in terms of housing provision in this District.

A Section 2-only Local Plan facilitates only the continued developing out of all three towns and most major (and no doubt some minor) settlements in our district with no alternative option.

It is this very development we are seeing right now within Braintree District that has vexed so many residents .

Section 1, while not being able to prevent the expansion of existing settlements, gives this district a significant alternative which has the ability to bear a substantial share of the planning burden, lessening this existing settlement expansion in the future.

This is the ambition to which I refer above.

The innovation comes from many elements, such as the Rapid Transit System (RTS) which seems to so vex the opposition.

At this stage the RTS proposal is in its infancy; much of the physical detail will come out of the Masterwork planning once Section 1 has been approved. Why so much negativity and scorn from the opposition? Better to try this innovative move than fall back on existing transport infrastructure.

This is a significant moment for our district. We have challenging house-building requirements placed upon us by central government that we are obliged to meet, not just now but for many years to come.

BDC’s officers and its contracted partners have produced an impressive and thorough suite of documentation supporting the garden communities initiative; their hard work can only be commended. I am proud our district, in working with other local authorities, is thinking for the long term on this issue to ensure we are not simply agreeing ever-increasing expansion of existing settlements.

It is also pleasing to note this initiative has been supported by both Labour and Halstead Residents Association councillors within the district – their voices, particularly the latter, speak volumes. What a shame, then, that this has not seen firmer support, or at least constructive input, from some other quarters.

Cllr Ian Pritchard (Conservative)

Bocking South Ward

Braintree District Council