COUNCIL bosses believe the district’s house-building target is only likely to drop by 100 homes a year, despite hopes it would halve.

Braintree Council has responded to planning inspector Roger Clews after he asked for evidence about a possible change to housing targets.

It was hoped the current target of building 716 homes per year would be halved after the Office for National Statistics recalculated the district’s population numbers.

But after seeking expert advice, Braintree Council, as well as neighbouring Colchester and Tendring, says the target is more likely to be 634 per year.

Councillors on all sides of the chamber are said to support the revised figure.

Planning boss Gabrielle Spray said: “We recognise that the decision on this is the planning inspector’s, not ours.

“We’ve no desire for more homes to be built than is needed. But equally we know that housing projection figures are only a starting point not the whole picture.

“We have discussed this issue in detail over the past few weeks and I am pleased that as a council, across all political lines, we are agreed that the way forward should be the one that enables us to have a sound Local Plan in place as soon as possible.”

Braintree Council’s hopes of securing a housing plan were dealt a blow earlier this year when two of three proposed garden communities – which would have delivered 34,000 homes – were ruled to be “undeliverable” by the inspector.

Bosses have agreed to pursue a different approach in an attempt to deliver a Local Plan.

Opposition parties on the council have all agreed with the ruling Conservatives’ plans to find a different way to meet housing targets following the ruling on garden communities.

Council leader Graham Butland said: “I am delighted that together with all group leaders we can move forward collaboratively facing the challenges in our district.”