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A call to stop any plans to build houses on a road close to Southend Airport has been rejected by council leaders who instead said they would progress plans for “genuinely affordable housing”.
The motion calling for housing on Lundy Close in Eastwood to be abandoned was discussed by Southend’s cabinet on Tuesday afternoon
The threat of up to 31 new homes has left residents fearing they will lose a valuable piece of empty land which they say is regularly used by children and families.
But rather than agree to the motion, council leader Councillor Ian Gilbert told the cabinet that he would be asking for the council’s planning team to begin moving the plans forward, despite previous claims that development would not happen until sometime between 2022 and 2027.
He said: “The intention to use this site was progressed under the previous administration, we all talk the talk in respect of genuinely affordable housing but here is a chance for us to deliver some on land we own.”
He went on to say he would be instructing council officers to appoint an architect and design team to begin drawing up more detailed plans.
Councillor Martin Terry pointed out to the council leader that residents have been concerned about the scale of development and asked if there could be “some compromise” due to the level of concern. Cllr Gilbert said there will be a consultation with residents and the council’s planning team would assess what is viable for the site.
Conservative councillor Mark Flewitt, who represents the ward, said it was “inflammatory” and “insensitive” to residents for the council leader to not only reject the plan but also announce he would appoint officers to begin moving forward with the plans.
“The land in question is too small to play host to that many homes without there being a detrimental effect in the standard of living experienced by residents,” he said.
“Not only will these homes result in the destruction of many old trees on the land there is also no room in the street for parking of the additional cars that will inevitably join the area.”
Labour councillor Daniel Cowan, who also represents the ward, defended Mr Gilbert’s announcement claiming the process has not been accelerated and they were sticking to a schedule that was originally proposed by the Tories.
He added that he could not say how many homes would be built on the site, despite previously saying there would be a maximum of seven.
Lundy Close resident Laura Newman, 32, said: “I feel utterly let down by the council. Many residents have raised their concerns about this potential development to the council and we have been dismissed out of hand.”
She added: “Now children have a place to have fun outside but this development will force them inside or even force them to have to play on a busy street.”