Chelmsford housing plan passed by city council… but with infrastructure caveat

A major housing plan designating where thousands of houses should be built for the next 16 years has been passed by Chelmsford City Council.

But the new Chelmsford local plan will only remain sound if anticipated funding for major infrastructure projects – including a new bypass and railway station at Beaulieu – is signed off.

The new housing plan determining where 10,000 new homes should be built will give Chelmsford City Council powers to deliver on its affordable needs and climate change commitments, according to its leader, Councillor Stephen Robinson.

The strategic plan sets the vision for the future of the area and identifies a supply of housing over the plan period from a range of sources including completions, commitments, windfall and allocations, equating to 21,893 new homes. It more than provides for the identified housing requirement of 18,515 homes.

But it remains contingent on a new station in the Beaulieu Park estate, and a new bypass to connect the A12 at Boreham to the A131 at Great Leighs to support major housing plans for a garden community settlement in the north east of the city, as well as development at Great Leighs that together will provide more than 4,000 homes towards Chelmsford’s total housing needs.

Cllr Robinson said: “We need the commitment on the housing infrastructure bid but the government has told us the planning process must continue and it is continuing.

“The contract between the county council and Homes England for the delivery of the station and bypass and the money to pay for it is at an advanced stage and there is a meeting in two weeks’ time that will look at the garden village delivery and that infrastructure.

“And the local plan has only been found sound by the inspector because the bypass, station and other infrastructure is in it.

“If we did not get that extra funding we would have to review the local plan housing allocations. There will be a first review of the plan in a year anyway and  if necessary we would have to review those things then.”

The plan requires the provision of 35 per cent affordable housing in residential schemes of 11 or more units.

Its strategic housing market assessment includes a calculation of a need for an annual requirement for 179 affordable homes in Chelmsford – around 22 per cent of the overall housing need.

A working group on the city’s affordable housing needs is soon to recommend additional measures and will follow earlier commitments in the budget, including allowing the council to lend money to others, for example to housing associations to provide affordable housing.

Cllr Robinson added: “The new local plan is all about giving the council more power to address the climate emergency and housing crisis which we prioritised after the election last year and our administration is going to demand that developers provide for jobs, shops, open spaces and affordable housing with the supporting infrastructure, not just market housing – all to be met in a sustainable manner.”


Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter