DRAFT proposals to change the face of Castle Point, providing thousands of new homes and jobs, have been unveiled.
After two years of deliberation, Castle Point Council has finally released its draft New Local Plan setting out where 4,000 homes will be built between 2015 and 2031.
It identifies 13 key sites for development, with around half of the homes to be built on green belt land.
Each development would be phased, with an average 200 homes built a year.
A masterplan would also be designed for each area to include space for woodland and parks.
Councillors hope the plan will pave the way for 2,100 jobs, by providing 11,000sq m of retail space in Canvey and Hadleigh town centres, and 10,000sqm of industrial space in West Canvey and Thundersley.
Major highway improvements to support the changes have also been put forward.
Pam Challis, leader of Castle Point Council, said: “Throughout this process we have tried to protect the green belt as much as we can and investigated all the brownfield sites to preserve as much of our precious green belt as possible.
“Considerable research has been undertaken to ensure the green open spaces between our towns are retained and, where possible, new landscaping will be required as part of the proposed development’’.
She added: “We have included at least 32 hectares of additional open space provision in the plan, along with a new indoor bowls facility and publicly-accessible sports hall, while retaining and protecting 2,533 hectares of green belt land.
“Only 4 per cent of our green belt is being released.
“It is important for us, as a responsible council, to build homes for young people looking to stay within the borough and create new jobs.”
A new primary school in south Benfleet, a new school building for Hadleigh Junior School and a care home on Canvey are also planned. Without the plan, councillors fear the Government inspector could intervene, meaning the borough could be faced with up to 7,000 new homes.
Norman Smith, Conservative councillor responsible for economic development, said: “Doing nothing is not an option.
“By taking charge of this issue now we can control where development occurs and benefit the community as a whole.”
Councillors will decide at a meeting next Wednesday whether or not to send the blueprint out to public consultation.
If they agree, the six-week consultation will take place between January 24 and March 21, before a final decision is made.
Jeffrey Stanley, deputy leader of the council said: “It is important to remember that in publishing this plan it is not a done deal and that everyone in the borough will have a chance to have their say.
“It has been a long process and we know people are frightened of new housebuilding, but this will remove the uncertainty of where it will go.’’ He added: “I think we should challenge the people who say this is controversial and think of this as a new home for the borough, away from uncertainty.”