Parishes form coalition against new garden community plans outside Chelmsford

People have four weeks to comment on plans for Chelmsford’s long-term housing growth – including a new 4,500-home garden community described as threatening to “irreparably damage” the environment.

Proposals for the new homes at Hammonds Farm between Danbury, Little Baddow and Chelmer Village are being developed alongside Chelmsford City Council’s review of its Local Plan, adopted in May 2020.

It comes after the council identified Hammonds Farm in March as a proposed site allocation in the preferred options local plan update, which is now subject to public consultation.

The Local Plan has an intended adoption date of 2026 and if adopted the site could see 3,000 homes being delivered by 2041 and a further 1,500 after that.

To meet the council’s assessed housing need, provision is made for a minimum of 19,000 additional new homes at an average annual rate of 1,000 per year.

It means to meet additional growth needs to 2041, Chelmsford is estimated to allocate new sites for around 3,862 new homes with provision made for a further 1,500 new homes beyond 2041.

The local plan process is being carried out as part of the government requirement that all councils need to review their Local Plan every five years to see if it needs updating.

However, the plans are being vehemently opposed by a “coalition of councillors from Little Baddow, Boreham, Sandon, and Danbury parish councils and concerned residents” who say the plans threaten the countryside “into an urban sprawl”.

A statement from No to Hammonds Farm said: “We believe that unchecked expansion at Hammonds Farm will place an intolerable burden on our infrastructure, exacerbate traffic congestion, and irreparably damage our environment.”

The council says the plan is needed to prosperity accommodate the needs of the population expected to grow by around 11 per cent between 2021 and 2041. Government forecasts predict that around 1,000 new homes are needed in Chelmsford every year.

Councillor Stephen Robinson, Leader of Chelmsford City Council said: “Chelmsford City Council must address the climate and ecological emergency, the housing crisis and the need to create a more connected community.

“This review will ensure genuinely affordable homes, places which are easily accessible (promoting walking, cycling and public transport), and ensuring jobs for residents.

“The preferred options document sets out how to do more for our economy and job creation by proposing significant new land for employment and supporting local people to access the new jobs.

“As Chelmsford continues to develop, it is vital that we also tackle the consequences of climate change and reduce our impact on the planet. The preferred options document focuses on integrating sustainable measures, including the requirement for zero carbon developments, new tree planting and expanding natural habitats and biodiversity.

“The proposed changes to the local plan will give opportunities for making better provision for our communities and building stronger, more connected neighbourhoods. Such measures will further develop a sense of pride and deliver local facilities and services to support our communities.”

“The council wants input from residents to help shape the city for current and future generations and to guide how to address these priorities. This is your opportunity to influence the future of your city, so it’s really important that you do have your say. There are many ways you can get involved, so do please take part in this consultation.”

A consultation into the plan closes Wednesday, June 19.

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter