Agenda item


The Public Speaking Scheme for the Joint Committee gave the opportunity for members of the public and other interested parties/stakeholders to speak to the Joint Committee on any specific agenda item to be considered at this meeting.


The Chairman invited the following public speakers to come to the table in turn to speak. Their comments are in precis.


Russ Edwards (Project Director for TCBGC – Latimer by Clarion Housing Group)


·      congratulated the Officers on the submission of the DPD to the Secretary of State which was a major milestone;

·      Latimer was supportive of the DPD overall but had submitted constructive representations in order to achieve flexibility and increase the DPD’s robustness in the interests of all parties and to ensure that Latimer was invited to take part in the Examination-in-Public process;

·      Objective was that the DPD would be found sound and deliverable and Latimer would be asking the Planning Inspector to put forward modifications to the DPD that would make it so;

·      Latimer remained committed to delivering an ambitious and progressive Garden Community consistent with the principles and vision outlined in the DPD;

·      Latimer was progressing the planning applications through the pre-application process with Officers;

·      Latimer had held their own public consultation events on their emerging proposals which had generated a very positive public response tempered by a number of concerns which Latimer intended to address through its application;

·      In response to concerns raised, clarified and confirmed that no development was proposed for the slopes of Salary Brook Country Park;

·      Latimer’s proposals were in line with the agreed policies and Latimer would undertake visual impact assessments of its proposals as part of its planning applications;

·      Latimer would now consider all of the feedback received from its public consultations and would work with its consultants to ensure that its proposals responded appropriately; and

·      In regards to stewardship and estates management of the Garden Community and in response to requests made by Councillors, Latimer had accelerated the process of producing its stewardship strategy and expected to put forward more information on this to Officers and Councillors by the end of the year.


Rik Andrew


·      Spoke not as a Town Councillor for Wivenhoe but in his personal capacity as Chair of the Wivenhoe Travel and Transport Working Group;

·      Felt it was premature to be issuing road building tenders and contracts for the link road before the DPD had undergone its Examination-in-Public (EiP) and it had been found to be sound or not;

·      DPD was full of caveats warning that the highly aspirational modal shift targets  for active travel and the use of the RTS might well not be met;

·      Planning Inspector was likely to determine that the aspects of the movement strategy would require further thought for example in regards to locating all of the sports pitches south of the A133 which was not likely to encourage active travel and should instead be in the middle of the ‘new town’;

·      Essex County Council had belatedly admitted that the link road would not relieve A133 congestion as north-south traffic on the link road would be very similar and that the ‘new town’ would generate 4,000 vehicle movements an hour on local roads;

·      As the A120 was not currently congested, questioned why Phase 1 was not in the north which would then only require a short aces road to the A120;

·      Did not consider that a housing build of 250 dwellings per year was enough to justify a dual carriageway for the link road for at least a decade especially one with three major roundabouts;

·      The Garden Community would eventually be the same size as Harwich which was satisfactorily served by a single carriageway road (A120 East);

·      Harwich also has a railway station and so should the ‘new town’;

·      Ploughing ahead with a £100million link road was not a good use of public money and it would be very wrong to do so before the outcome of the EiP was known.


Sir Bob Russell


·      Reminded the Joint Committee of the comments that he had made regarding the Salary Brook slopes at its last meeting and the response that he had received from the Officer;

·      Had been annoyed to see at a Latimer run exhibition that were indicative proposals for a bandstand and a children’s play area on the southern slopes within the Salary Brook Country Park which he felt was inappropriate. Plus there was a school to be built at the brow of the hill which was a new development also and would be clearly visible from Greenstead and Longridge

·      Stated his continuing grave concerns over the University of Essex’s intentions regarding its use of the Salary Brook slopes for employment land to link the Knowledge Gateway whereby such development would be built on the slopes, adjacent to the slopes or be visible from Greenstead and Longridge;

·      Urged the Joint Committee to make it clear to Latimer and all other interested parties that this would never be allowed to happen.


Parish Councillor Adam Gladwin


·      Spoke on behalf of Elmstead Parish Council;

·      Disappointed at how the Parish Council’s representations had been portrayed in the Officer report and urged Members to read their responses in full online;

·      Felt that the public consultation had not been well-conducted, online response forms had been over-complicated and too restrictive as to character limits for responses;

·      Stated that the vast majority of responses from Elmstead Market residents had been negative;

·      Stated that Elmstead Market residents were losing their faith and trust in the process as they felt that they were not being listened to, core issues raised in previous consultations had not been addressed;

·      Wanted further changes made to the DPD to make it a better plan and more evidence gathered and a better consultation carried out before this project can be progressed any further in a positive manner;

·      Shocked to see statutory consultees raising concerns such as the North Essex NHS Foundation Trust and the East of England Ambulance Service regarding healthcare provision and phasing;

·      The NHS, Natural England and Highways had all pointed out the lack of an evidence base on air pollution;

·      Elmstead Parish Council had raised such concerns on the link road planning implication which had indicated a high to severe impact on Elmstead and yet there had been no assessment of the additional effects of the Garden Community;

·      Concerned about the financial viability of the Garden Community;

·      Provision of the link road in its entirety prior to any development commencing remained a ‘red line’ for the support of Elmstead Parish Council and many local residents.


The Chairman of the Joint Committee (Councillor King) responded to Parish Councillor Gladwin’s statement as follows:-


·      understood the passions and concerns of the respondents whether general or specific;

·      acknowledged that consultations were not a waste of time. Previous representations had changed the Councils’ approach to several issues and had helped reinforce the DPD in its draft form;

·      The representations now received would influence the conversations that Members and Officers would have in the run up to the Examination-in-Public;

·      The message was please still continue to engage; Members do pay attention to all views put forward.


Councillor Mark Cory, Essex County Council and Colchester City Council


·      pleased there was an agreement about genuinely Garden Community principles; must avoid any further flexibility or watering down of the DPD as this would lead to a watering down of the garden community principles;

·      Strategic green gaps were supported in the representations. All needed equal protection;

·      reiterated that development south of the A133 was not acceptable, though its use as open space and for sports facilities might be acceptable, its use for University accommodation would not be;

·      the A133 was a clear boundary for the settlement of the Garden Community as far as the residents and elected representatives of Wivenhoe were concerned;

·      wondered where any contrary views to that could have come from other than from Latimer or the University of Essex;

·      referred to the cynicism within the representations as to the transport plans and especially the RTS;

·      public concern about the link road no longer being a link road (i.e. with the purpose of taking traffic away from Clingoe Hill);

·      advocated maintaining the deadline in the HIF bid whereby no more than 1,000 houses could be built before the link road was provided in its entirety.


The Chairman of the Joint Committee (Councillor King) responded to Councillor Cory’s statement as follows:-


·      worth remembering that the position of the Joint Committee was consistent with a number of Councillor Cory’s remarks;

·      acknowledged that others could take a contrary view about the land south of the A133 and/or Salary Brook and that was a part of the process that lay ahead;

·      stressed that all of the representations received would be submitted to the Planning Inspector in their entirety so if there were any weaknesses in the way representations had been summarised in the Officer report he asked for forbearance.


Councillor Gary Scott, Tendring District Council


·      endorsed Parish Councillor Gladwin’s comments about Elmstead Parish Council not being listened to;

·      welcomed the recent all day consultation event held in Elmstead by Latimer though he was concerned that the graphics had been too complex and unclear; they needed to be made clearer going forward;

·      residents had concerns about the link road and the RTS – will it be built in full? Who is paying for it?

·      had his concerns too about the build up of traffic through Elmstead Market on the A133 and especially construction traffic whilst the link road was built;

·      agreed that there had been a lot of consultation and that ‘fatigue’ could be becoming an issue but was firmly of the belief that consultation was healthy and necessary and should occur whenever possible;

·      wondered if the consultation online could remain continuous.


The Chairman of the Joint Committee (Councillor King) responded to Councillor Scott’s statement as follows:-


·      formal consultation had, of course, now closed but it had raised the point of how the Councils were going to keep residents and other interested parties informed of developments going forward and this would be looked into.


Amy Lester, the Garden Community Planning Manager (Tendring District Council) responded to the points made by all of the speakers along the following lines:-


·      the importance of the Country Park Salary Brook slopes and its concern to residents is noted and recognised. The Policies Map for the Country Park and the provision of the employment land north of the A133 has not changed and the slopes are to be protected from development though in the Country Park there will likely be some interventions and facilities provided such as a visitor centre and a playground as at Highwoods Country Park;

·      in relation to protecting the views of the residents of Greenstead and Longridge Park any development would be expected to use design techniques and the existing natural landscape bolstered by additional screening as necessary to screen the development and minimise any visual impact;

·      in relation to the consultation process the Councils had been bound by the requirements of Regulation 19 that mandated that certain questions had to be asked to allow consultees the opportunity to make representations specifically on the ‘soundness’ and legal compliance of the DPD and therefore it had not been as broad as previous consultations such as for Regulation 18;

·      the consultation Portal had been designed to ask those questions in as simple a way as possible whilst remaining acceptable to the Planning Inspectorate;

·      Officers had been required by the Planning Inspectorate to summarise the representations not submitted through the Portal in a maximum of 100 words but all representations had been submitted in full, to the Planning Inspectorate;

·      Confirmed that with respect to the land south of the A133 the views of community representatives and residents had been consistent though the University of Essex and Latimer had differing viewpoints and aspirations;

·      It was normal that statutory consultees had raised matters on the DPD as this secured their role as a participant in the Examination-in-Public. Officers were beginning work with the statutory consultees, especially the NHS and national Highways to resolve some of those matters and to then produce statements of common ground to go forward to the public examination.


Ashley Heller, the Head of Transport for Future Communities (Essex County Council) also responded to the points made by all of the speakers along the following lines:-


·      restated the commitment of the Councils to deliver the entire link road as soon as possible;

·      had got off to a really good start in terms of securing a significant amount of funding for the link road through the HIF;

·      remained committed to the provision of the link road in total but it would now be in phases;

·      link road policy was very well set out in the DPD;

·      HIF creates a programme requirement to deliver the Councils’ part of the link road by 2026 which was in progress and tenders for the construction of the link road were due back on 10 October 2023;

·      the link road already had planning permission and would be dualled from the start to provide future resilience for the whole of the Garden Community development;

·      to start this project from the north side would not be right in sustainable transport terms as the development would be isolated from Colchester and would only permit car journeys out into the wider strategic road network (e.g. A120/A12);

·      reference to 1,000 houses was a business case figure as justification for the Homes England funding bid purposes and was not a figure for planning purposes so the developer would need to demonstrate through their transport assessment the right level of housing which can be sustained through the partial link road;

·      accepted there was a need to overcome cynicism and to communicate better with the public on the quality of service merits of the RTS (rather than just a focus on infrastructure) and that a step change was needed to get the public to see the RTS as a viable alternative to the car.