A SIX week consultation allowing people to have a say on details for three new garden towns begins today.

The proposals by Colchester, Tendring, Braintree and Essex councils, are to build 43,000 homes over the next 50 years.

Last year an inspector approved the number of new homes required, but set out areas of work needed to help make the plans sound.

During the consultation residents can have their say on amendments, additional evidence and reports on the sustainability of the three new towns.

Once the public consultation is completed, the councils will submit the documents to the planning inspector before an examination of the proposals starts again.

The evidence includes details on the councils’ rapid transport plan, infrastructure such as schools and GP surgeries and how viable and sustainable the project is.

The rapid transit system is designed to reduce congestion and provide quick and easy access in and out of Braintree and Colchester from the new towns.

The system, which could cost between £230million and £325million, will start off as a bus service with bus lanes.

On Saturday Essex County Council was awarded £318million to fund transport improvements. 

Mark Cory, leader of Colchester Council, said: “The local plan process is complex, but it is vital we get local engagement on the future of development and public scrutiny of the new evidence.

“The planning inspector wanted more information on our ambitions to provide the homes, jobs and infrastructure needed for the north Essex residents of the future.

“It is absolutely vital we get Government support to deliver the infrastructure we need to turn the principals of the garden communities into reality otherwise they cannot work.

“Working together with the other councils we have developed detailed responses to the inspector’s questions and are urging residents across north Essex to have their say on them to help inform his decision.”

Graham Butland, leader of Braintree Council, added: “At least 716 homes have to be built every year in our district. That is a given.

“We have a choice – add them to our existing villages and towns or think more strategically.

“Garden communities mean we can plan for infrastructure in a joined-up way from the start with today’s modern requirements in mind.

“Every five years the local plan rolls forward, and more homes need to be provided.

“By choosing garden communities now, we are protecting our towns and villages in the long term. We have now published a huge amount of evidence to support our garden community plans – I would encourage all residents to take a look.”

The consultation will run until September 30.

Neil Stock, leader of Tendring Council, said: “As always, we are keen to hear residents’ views on the new evidence created in support of our draft local plan, and consultation responses will be passed to the planning inspector when he re-examines our vision.

“Our robust and innovative garden community plans form a relatively small part of this draft local plan but will evidently set us on a path for sustainable growth for the future.”

The findings of the revised evidence have been considered by the three councils over the last month.

The comments received through the consultation will be supplied to the inspector ahead of the re-opening of the Local Plan examination expected to be held this winter.

To comment on the evidence visit www.braintree.gov.uk/NEAtechS1.