The leader of Brentwood Borough Council has pledged to accelerate his growth plans for the town warning: “The administration under me is in the business of making omelettes – we will break eggs”.
Cllr Chris Hossack’s promise comes after the council passed plans to press ahead with its £7million revamp of the King George’s playing fields site – including a new pavilion building, splash pad and a new outdoor adventure play area – despite opposition from neighbours and Hartswood Golf Club members.
The legal hurdle with the golf club, which still has 13 years left on its club house lease, remains to be resolved before the council can proceed with the rebuild of the pavilion.
But Cllr Hossack said he was no longer willing to accept the kind of council decision making that he admits in the past has left Brentwood “stagnating for years”.
He said: “The truth is we have got some legacy leases that are painful. They are too long.
“They have poor conditions on them and they were for absolute peanuts. If we don’t modernise the way we are doing things we can’t take the town forward.
“There is a golf club with 70 members in a town of 70,000 that could grow to 90,000 in the next 15 years.
“The lease is a legal matter. I can’t comment on that bit.
“But what I do know is to leave it like that and walk away for 13 years because of a small number of golf club members is not acceptable to the thousands of families living in Brentwood.
“Let’s keep in perspective that what we are offering them is a brand new facility with new changing rooms and new toilets in an efficient building with disabled access.”
He promised that the kind of rowdy public opposition seen at the planning meeting on Thursday, January 30, is likely to be repeated as he drives forward plans to improve leisure, transport and the town centre – as well as large housing items such as the local plan and the development of Dunton Hills garden village near West Horndon.
He said: “The whole picture is about progression.
“You cannot progress anything in the town whether it be Dunton Hills garden village, King George’s or the Brentwood Centre without having a fly in the ointment such as complex leases to unpick.
“What happened at the planning meeting will happen again.
“We accept that. You can’t take everyone with you and there will be opposition to proposals that come forward, that is natural and part of democracy.
“But this administration under me is in the business of making omelettes. We will break eggs.”
Cllr Hossack, who took over as leader in May last year, added he was also focusing on cross border cooperation to develop economic growth.
But he admitted frustration with other councils which he said were hampering Brentwood’s ambitions to develop a plan to enable 8,000 homes to be built over the next 15 years.
He said: “Brentwood has been stagnating for years. And we need to reinvigorate.
“We have got to respond to community needs.
“If we have got to build 8,000 homes the population is going to go up 20 or 30 per cent. The question is how to accommodate that growth.
“You can’t just turn Brentwood into a dormitory town.
“I am aware we need to shape the town for the future and that means infrastructure, leisure, education, homes, transport, green initiatives. There’s so much to do.”
But he added that agreement on inward investment and facilitating growth – particularly along the A127 corridor – was not being backed up with cooperation over housing plans between other neighbouring councils.
He said: “If you are going to talk about a regional approach to doing business, some of this parochial approach, the Brentwood, Basildon and Thurrock boundaries have to melt down if we want to work together.
“You can’t say ‘we want to work with Brentwood to develop the economic agenda’ and then oppose everything when it comes to housing growth that the government is putting us under pressure to deliver.”