THE APPROVAL of Basildon Council’s ’Local Plan’ could be delayed, its leader has announced.
Tory chief Phil Turner has suggested calling in independent analysts to go over the plan, which allocates land for development across the borough until 2034.
Cllr Turner said he hoped to ask experts to go over the plan’s policies on green belt and infrastructure.
He said he hoped the move would help him cut the number of planned houses in the borough, which currently sits at 15,260.
He said: “We can’t review the whole plan but those two points are areas where we think there may be opportunities about reducing our housing numbers.
“During the consultations, we’ve had a lot of feedback about how people don’t think we are working hard enough to to save the green belt. We don’t want to build on the green belt and we have avoided it as much as possible but I don’t think the public actually believes us.
“So what we are thinking is we should call in some independent people to scrutinise the plan and tell us where we can maybe use the evidence to put up an argument to challenge the housing numbers.”
Cllr Turner was due to present the proposal to all councillors in a secret meeting last night.
If approved, he said the process could cost a six-figure sum and take up to six months.
Cllr Turner conceded that reducing the number of homes could prove detrimental to the council’s budget in the future, as the New Homes Bonus – a Government scheme where councils receive extra funding for every house they approve – is key to the authority’s plan to become ’self-funding’.
He said: “That is the downside. We may run into a financial issue further down the line but I would like to at least give residents the assurance that I have done everything I can, turned over every stone, to see if we can keep the borough greener.”