Brentwood housing decision will leave council with ‘blood on its hands’

Brentwood Borough Council will have “blood on its hands” after plans for dozens of homes on the gateway to Brentwood were passed despite questions over highway safety.

Crest Nicholson’s plans envisage 125 homes being built on land between Nags Head Lane and Mascalls Gardens from where households’ views of London are expected to be ruined by the development.

But residents have repeated their concerns over the impacts on traffic safety on Nags Head Lane and further along the network on Brook Street given its close proximity to the Brentwood Gateway development.

The planning application for the development of the site – following a decision to defer the issue from planning committee meetings in July and December was dominated by concerns on traffic safety on Nags Head Lane onto which the development traffic will exit into.

Kate Caruso, who lives in Mascalls Gardens, repeated her claims made at a planning meeting on February 20.

She said: “They will have blood on their hands because there will be accidents there. It’s guaranteed. One day there will be a lady pushing her buggy down the path and a car will come banging to her. Even at 30mph, I’m sure the baby won’t find it very safe. It’s bonkers.”

She said substantially reducing the density of the development could mitigate residents’ concerns – especially given the Brentwood gateway development now has approval for 50 homes.

She said: “I don’t think that for any speed it is safe. You could put it down to 20mph. There are still too many cars going onto a narrow lane with lots of blind bends and bridges a slope, and a narrow path. It’s not the right place.”

Their concerns come after Brentwood Council was told at the last meeting that discussed plans for the development in November last year that it will “almost certainly” lose a legal battle at appeal after using “weak” arguments for refusing plans for homes with views of London.

The council has been told defending any refusal would be difficult given 125 homes were allocated for the site when the local plan was adopted in March 2022.

Ms Caruso added: “It was a pantomime. We went through all the motions but they knew exactly what the outcome would be.”

“Why can’t they review the local plan and admit this site is not adequate for this amount of traffic.”

The planned development is close to the site already agreed upon for the Brentwood Gateway development consisting of a 12,000 square metre car showroom, 20,250 square metre flexible employment space and 50 residential dwellings.

Brentwood Borough Council could not explain why plans to reduce speed on Nags Head Lane from 40 to 30mph were later removed – the officer who wrote that early report no longer works at the council.

Planning committee member Councillor Keith Barber said: “Why would we have removed that as a proposal from the original application?

“How is it possible from the first [application] to today that the proposal that might actually improve the safety on that road has dropped off when so many councillors cross party have expressed concerns about road safety on that road [sic].”

He added: “I am amazed that having expressed it in two previous meetings I’m at a third meeting where there is no improvement. And in fact, it is worse than when it started because a proposal to reduce the speed has been taken out.”

Essex County Council, responsible for the highways around the new development said speed surveys indicate the development will be safe for road users and pedestrians.

It added there will be strict oversight to ensure any changes needed to the road will be carried out before development starts

Brendan Johnston, strategic development engineer at Essex Highways said: “The fact of the matter is on this planning application the site access can be provided fully according to the roads and bridges standard in terms of visibility splays.

“It has also been road safety audited with no issues arising that can’t be addressed. On that basis, we have to consider other safety aspects, speeding has been raised. The evidence suggests there is not a speeding issue in this location.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter