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An ongoing battle to prevent the council from building houses on amenity space close to a housing estate has been given a boost from MP Sir David Amess who has thrown his support behind residents.
The Southend West MP met with residents of Lundy Close on Saturday to hear concerns about the plans to build up to 31 ‘affordable’ properties on land near to their homes.
The residents have spent months campaigning against the potential development but a motion calling for the plan to be abandoned was rejected last month and council leader Ian Gilbert said he would be asking the council’s planning team to begin moving plans forward.
Sir David said: “I was very pleased to meet residents of Lundy Close on Saturday and learn at first hand their total opposition to any development on the little green space which is now available.
“Having looked closely at the site, which is against an industrial area, I think a development is totally unsuitable for the following reasons.
“The residents of Lundy Close are a tight knit community who enjoy the environment in which they live; at the heart of it is the green area which is the home of badger sets and other much-loved wildlife.
“As well as a beautiful Oak Tree, there is a very attractive Cherry Orchard which is also enjoyed by the residents. Any further development would mean a loss of this amenity, would exacerbate the already restricted area available for residents parking and would have an adverse impact on the lives of the disabled living in Lundy Close.”
The St Laurence ward’s two Conservative Councillors Mark Flewitt and David McGlone have also strongly condemned the council for pressing on with the housing plans, with Mr Flewitt labelling it “insensitive” to the concerns of residents.
Meanwhile, the ward’s single Labour councillor Daniel Cowan has said he “completely supports objections” to 31 homes but reassured that the plans may see as few as seven.
Councillor Ian Gilbert, Labour leader of the council, said: “With 1,400 people on our housing waiting list, delivering more genuinely affordable housing is vital, and is rightly a key priority for this council.
“However, there is very limited space in the borough on which we can build so we do therefore need to utilise the small amounts of land we do have, whilst also considering the needs of existing residents.”
He went on to explain that all feedback given by residents during a January public consultation would feed into the overall plans.
“This proposed development is still in the early stages of the process with no architect or employer’s agent appointed yet,” he added.
“Once these parties have been selected, we will have a better understanding of the number of units and design of the scheme, at which point we will give local residents the opportunity to have their say again before a planning application is submitted.”