THE leader of Braintree Council says there is a "long way" to go before the district's housing plan will become clearer.

Graham Butland was speaking after Inspector Roger Clews ruled plans to build new towns to the west of Braintree and at Marks Tey 'unsound'.

Mr Clews has suggested the local plan can proceed if both garden communities are removed - leaving just the 9,000 home settlement to the east of Colchester.

Braintree, Colchester and Tendring councils will now have to decide whether to accept modifications made by the inspector or write to the secretary of state to challenge the ruling.

A third option - withdrawing the plan and starting from scratch - is also available but it is understood this is the least likely as it would cause a four to five years delay in securing a housing plan.

Mr Butland said: "It's important that people realise there is a very long way to go with this.

"We will now await

The garden communities was overwhelmingly supported by this council.

We did also have an election last year where we clearly stated we were in favour of garden communities and would look to deliver them.

We were given a democratic mandate to proceed so it's hard to claim no one supported the plans.

"The Tories list Chelmsford and Uttlesford councils but only lost a few seats on Braintree so we had support.