Committee ignores warning to reject 1,000 new homes on Thurrock green belt land

Thurrock Council has rejected plans for up to 1,000 new homes on green belt land, despite a warning the new Labour Government could overturn it’s decision.

The borough’s planning committee met on Tuesday to debate an application for outline planning permission for a development on land off Muckingford Road in Linford, East Tilbury.

The scheme would see up to 830 homes built if the Lower Thames Crossing is constructed or 1,000 homes if it does not go ahead.

Developers Mulberry Strategic Land have lodged an appeal to the planning inspectorate for non-determination after the council failed to decide on the application since it was lodged in 2016.

The committee’s decision will form part of council’s case at the appeal.

Speaking at meeting, Ian Anderson, representing the developer, warned members there was little point in opposing them following the Government’s stated intention of building 1.5 million new homes and reviewing green belt policy.

He said: “We have a new Government elected with a clear mandate for change, for growth, for investment in house building and green belt review,

“Saying no means an adversarial appeal, that there are no circumstances where it would will allow residential development before the adoption of a local plan, not just on this site but across the borough, an eight day public inquiry at huge expense to both parties, where the factually inaccuracies made in the officers’ report will be scrutinised, where the complete disregard of the need to align homes to jobs will be played out in a public arena, where the continued reliance on green belt to justify a lack of any plan-making or decision-making will be laid bare, where all eyes will be on Thurrock.”

However, Fraser Massey, Independent councillor for East Tilbury, said: “The East Tilbury Ward has, in the last decade, seen hundreds of new homes built on the green belt and the surrounding area. Hundreds more are already approved but not yet built. The infrastructure recommended to support the new homes is not fully in place, so predicting what the area would require with another 830 homes is guess work.

“Our green belt and agricultural land has already been taken away. This application is such a vast development and will change the character of the semi-rural location forever, bringing significant harm to the green belt with little in the way of very special circumstance.”

Resident, Andrew Halcrow, added: “If the proposal did go ahead it’s going to have a negative effect on nature and the surrounding area. It’s also going to be high impact on highway safety.

“The Muckingford Road running from Cross keys down to the George pub is a narrow lane and an extra 1,000 houses and the cars associated with it would cause major problems. It’s a bottle neck anyway at the other end at the George pub where you’ve got the mini roundabout that leads to the level crossing. In rush hour it’s nightmare at this moment in time to get in an out.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter