There is a national shortage of housing with many struggling to either rent or buy a place to live. Government policy requires every local authority in the country to develop a plan that will identify the sites in the borough for both housing and business development over the next twenty years.
Brentwood Council has been progressing through this process over the last few years and at a Full Council meeting on Wednesday 27th January 2016, Conservatives voted to approve a formal consultation on the Draft Local Development Plan.
This decision has ensured that residents will have a proper say in where residential and business growth should be. Surprisingly, not a single member of the opposition supported the motion to give local people a chance to formally share their views and influence the final decision.
The LDP needs to be in place by March 2017. If this deadline is not met, the Secretary of State can impose a Plan WITHOUT consultation with either the local council or residents.
He may choose any sites deemed appropriate for development and the issue of density would be down to him too. In other words, if the deadline is not met, identifying sites in our borough would be totally out of our hands and instead would be driven by Westminster.
In the face of opposition from the Lib Dems and Labour, Brentwood Conservatives are working hard to ensure that does not happen. From February 10th, you will have the opportunity to comment on the sites that are in the draft plan and raise any issues related to the LDP that you feel will not only impact on your lives and neighbourhood, but on future generations too. By moving ahead with the consultation, you have been given the opportunity to put forward your views and shape the Town in which you live and we encourage you to respond and do just that. No decision has yet been made and there will be further rounds of consultation ahead of anything formally being submitted for approval.
As part of the process, the Council will also be in consultation with other key stakeholders including Highways, the NHS, Education services and Environment services. If a proposal is deemed to be "undeliverable" by one of these key stakeholders then it will not go ahead in the final plan.
It is important that the next steps of the process and implications of not moving ahead with the consultation are explained in full and roadshows will be taking place from the 18th February onwards (full details of times and locations to follow) to go through more detail of each site, along with the possible benefits that development can bring. Investment in areas such as highway infrastructure, tackling flooding problems, school expansion, the creation of new GP surgeries and upgrading NHS facilities will all need to be provided. New homes will not be built without the necessary infrastructure in place to make any development sustainable and deliverable.
Despite some claims to the contrary, every site that is in the current consultation also featured in previous versions, including the most recent public consultation, which was carried out under the former Lib Dem led Council in January last year. This is simply the next step in the process.
If you need clarification on any issues that are raised or which you have concerns about, please do get in touch. Your local Conservative councillors promise to give you all of the facts, without edit. There is a real opportunity here to shape Brentwood for the next twenty years and it is vital that we ensure the decisions are taken locally and not by Westminster. Nothing is a foregone conclusion but only by moving ahead with the next stage of the process and going to formal consultation, can your local councillors, represent your views as the Council delivers a plan that ensures local residents have their rightful say in shaping Brentwood.