The developer seriously underestimated strength of local opposition when he submitted his plans to build a huge housing estate that would desecrate the Flitch Way and entire surrounding countryside between Braintree and Rayne. He arrogantly refused to engage with locals who would be affected refusing invitations to public meetings where he was invited to speak to locals and demonstrate the benefits of his plans to them. He perhaps believed that by exploiting a gap in time between local plans he would be set to make vast amounts of profit from a development that is totally wrong for the local area. He didn’t, however, bank on the passion with which the local community would fight his plans to prevent the destruction of their most valuable community assets and to prevent gridlock on the roads around the development.
An unprecedented number of individuals, around 366, have written to the council objecting to the planning application. None have written in support. Over 700 signatures were placed on a petition opposing the development.
The developer, perhaps recognising that his plans are about to be rightly refused permission, has now launched a desperate last ditch attempt to engender some tiny amount of support for his plans by setting up an online petition to enable people to register to support it. Only 20 signatures are currently on it.
Of course we recognise the need for new housing. But this must be of net benefit to the local community. It must be in the right locations, with the right infrastructure. It must solve more problems than it creates. Brook Green is demonstrably none of those things and that is why it was roundly and swiftly rejected for inclusion into the draft Local Plan, which is now in its advanced stages and only awaits final approval.
Specifically the developer claims in a widely distributed leaflet that he can provide the answer to the housing crisis fast, despite his application stating the building will in fact last 10 years. He refers to 400 affordable homes – but all new developments are required to have a certain percentage of affordable housing and so this is not unique to his development.
He states that there will be a benefit to the community by the building of a primary school but in reality this will only serve the needs of the new residents of the housing estate, not the wider community, and will do nothing to provide secondary education to those same residents when it is in critically short supply.
He states that his housing estate will be environmentally friendly and sustainable. These generic terms are in fact requirements of any new development and are not unique to this development and so any development, granted in line with the Local Plan, will also be.
But moreover, how can one seriously state that building a housing estate on beautiful open land flanking a much loved and well used Country Park, providing beautiful vistas to those using it and homes to much wildlife, is environmentally friendly?
He states that there would be an improved road network, speeding up traffic at 5 points and giving better and quicker access to the town centre. However, these bold assertions are not agreed by any independent authority. In fact Highways England have been unable to respond because of repeated failures by the developer to provide traffic data which is verified, properly sourced or based on correct figures.
Any local can tell you that his proposals will not solve any of the traffic crisis even before you add on an extra 3200 cars (if each property has only 2). The developer himself accepted (letter from Journey dated 5 December 2016) there was very “limited potential to provide improvements given the on site constraints of the town centre junctions”. What he meant was that it is impossible to improve the local roads in a way which means they would truly cope with his developments extra traffic.
That’s why he proposed the A120 slip road improvements. These are now being funded by the Government and so his development is unnecessary to achieve those improvements. But in any event the traffic there is unrelated to his development.
Contrary to the claims in the developers leaflet No Brook Green asserts the following:
- An environmentally disastrous development desecrating a local gem, the Flitch Way, between Braintree and Rayne by replacing rolling countryside with a vast, high density, predominantly 3 or 4 storey housing estate out of character with its surroundings
- Merger of Braintree with local villages such as Rayne and Great Notley
- Gridlock on local roads
- No net benefit to the community, with a school and doctors surgery that only provides for the new residents not the current community
- Huge net loss to the local community
- A prime example of a predatory developer taking advantage of the local plan not having been approved in order to develop land which is unsuitable and not in the local community’s interests
We are confident that local residents and the Council members deciding the application will continue to see the paucity of his application and whole heartedly reject it.