IT is a well known fact housing is urgently needed in the Braintree district and the council has a responsibility to provide new homes in sustainable communities for current residents and future generations.

It is therefore fundamental the council carefully plans for the short, medium and long term future.

New infrastructure and services will need to be planned and delivered in a staged approach.

It is equally important that developments are sustainable, providing affordable housing and employment opportunities close to the community, all of the evidence proves that the proposed garden communities will deliver this.

The evidence base open for consultation, which was scrutinised and supported by the majority of district councillors, demonstrates the proposed garden communities will provide much-needed affordable housing while delivering new schools, GP surgeries and leisure facilities within walking distance or a short bike ride away from brand new business centres, which will provide high-skilled, well paid employment opportunities.

I have spoken to and discussed the varying solutions with residents within Braintree, Halstead and Witham and they clearly don’t support the alternative to garden communities that could see 5,000 additional homes in Braintree, 5,000 in Witham and 8,000 in Halstead.

These bolt-on developments would not bring the services and opportunities which the garden communities offer.

Rather bizarrely, the Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex’s alternative “Metro” plan simply relocates the issue largely within the district of Tendring and therefore fails to find a solution for Braintree, denying residents of new, high quality affordable homes, schools and high paid employment opportunities.

It is concerning the Green and Independent group of distcit councillors, along with Cause, are only offering meetings within villages.

These one-sided presentations have received relatively small turn outs, particularly when you consider the lack of engagement with the vast amount of residents within the three towns.

Cause continues to neglect the views of approximately 70,000 residents on the electoral role in Braintree, Halstead and Witham.

Many residents in Braintree oppose more development in the town.

There is already significant development planned on the “Towerlands” site which will join with land near Panfield Lane, providing in excess of 1,000 new homes.

An additional 5,000 homes is ridiculous. It is also clear residents in Halstead are strongly against 8,000 homes being added to the already over-developed town.

Although I understand and appreciate the concerns of residents living nearby to the proposed garden communities, we must all be proactive in finding sustainable solutions to this problem. Bolt-on developments to our towns is frankly no longer the answer.

Unfortunately, if we do not embrace the many opportunities the garden communities will bring, there will be a concerning future for our already overdeveloped towns.

Justin Wrench

Conservative district councillor for Beckers Green