COUNCIL bosses say they will not fight bids to overturn decisions against plans for hundreds of new homes in the district.

Braintree Council turned down an application for up to 200 homes on Bournebridge Hill, on the outskirts of Halstead.


Braintree and Witham Times:

The council also rejected plans for 230 homes on land north-east of Rectory Lane, Rivenhall.

Braintree and Witham Times:

In both cases the planning committee raised a number of concerns, including that both sites were not earmarked for development in the district's Local Plan.

Both developers have appealed against the decisions to the Planning Inspectorate.

The council now says it will not fight the appeals because it can no longer show it has a five-year housing land supply required by Government.

That means an inspector is more likely to grant the appeals.

Bosses fear the council could face £150,000 legal costs if the inspector rules against the authority.

The council says it will still oppose developments where there are strong grounds for doing so.

Planning boss Gabrielle Spray said: “These have not been easy decisions, considering the extensive work already carried out behind the scenes to defend both appeals, but it is the right decision to make when we consider the current condition of Braintree’s housing land supply.

“It’s important to note that the council reviews each appeal on its merits and in these cases, it was sensible to not defend due to additional financial costs this could create for the council.

"This once again highlights the need for the Government to pursue plans to reform the national planning system, and to give more power and certainty to local communities so that the right homes will be built in the right places across the Braintree district.

Councillors Joanne Beavis and Andy Munday proposed and seconded refusal for the Bournebridge Hill application.

In a statement, they said: “We worked extremely hard alongside Braintree Council planning officers readying a defence that unfortunately couldn't progress once the housing supply figure was updated.

"Councillors will continue to work hard to try and ensure housing developments are only granted when necessary."

James Abbott and Justin Wrench proposed and seconded refusal for the Rectory Lane application.

They said: "The complex housing land supply issue hangs over local decision making, creating uncertainty and frustrating the council and local communities.

"Clearly reform is needed at the national level. Whilst Braintree Council will not now defend this appeal, members of the local community will be engaging in the appeal process."

The Bournebridge Hill appeal is being heard at an inquiry starting today, Tuesday, October 11, and the Rectory Lane appeal starts on December 6.

Details about both inquiries can be found at