Chelmsford Council faces threat of legal challenge after affordable housing green light

Residents have hit back at a decision from Chelmsford City Council to build on green space, keeping open the threat of a legal challenge.

Chelmsford Council unanimously granted planning permission for the plans for 12 affordable homes on a park off Woodhall Road – the site was previously a now-demolished church hall and open space.

But residents say the development will exacerbate the “dire parking and traffic situation” and “deprive the community of our green space”.

The city council, which brought the project in partnership with Chelmer Housing Partnership (CHP), says the new homes will will help address Chelmsford’s housing crisis, where the city has 250 households living in temporary accommodation, with numbers set to rise, and many more in overcrowded, unsuitable homes.

Following discussions locally, the planning permission will also mean upgrades to nearby green spaces and playgrounds at Andrews Park, Berwick Avenue and Rutland Road.

Resident Alex Scully, who has been leading the opposition, said: “Unfortunately on Tuesday night, Chelmsford City Council’s Planning Committee voted to approve the application.

“They were not interested at all to hear from the local residents, our various arguments, be they environmental, ecological or social, were ignored, sneered at and derided – with the exception of a couple of councillors who at least acknowledged our arguments.

“They seem to think that they can rip out our park and dump 12 houses and flats in the middle of Woodhall Road and Cumberland Crescent without any consideration of the residents. Perhaps it is because they don’t live on working class estates like ours.

“The only possible avenue of exploration for us now is through a legal challenge. This is currently being looked at.

“On a more positive note, thank you to everybody who submitted comments in the consultation and the meeting, we did our best.”

Leader of Chelmsford City Council, Councillor Stephen Robinson, said: “This development is a small step towards addressing the housing crisis that we have in Chelmsford, but there is much more we must do.

“The homes will offer young families and local residents an opportunity to live in new, permanent, affordable homes rather than temporary accommodation.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter