FIELDS could make way for up to 1,000 new homes across Castle Point after a planning inspector hit out at local plans.
Paul Crysell, a Government appointed inspector, made the recommendations after labelling Castle Point Council’s house building plans “inconsistent” and “inappropriate”.
He wants the council to release green belt land for 500 new homes to be built within five years.
He also wants the council to find new sites for a further 500 homes to be built over the next 20 years, which could require building on even more green belt.
The inspector is currently reviewing the Core Strategy, which outlines where 5,000 new homes will be built in the borough up until 2026, of which nearly 2,000 have already been built or have been granted planning permission.
However, he believes the future sites identified by the council are too small and not deliverable and has urged the council to look at bigger green belt plots.
Tory councillor Bill Sharp, said the report was an indictment of the way the council had gone about selecting sites for new development, a process that has taken more than three years.
He said: “This report is damning, there is no other word for it. Every word in that letter made me more and more steamy because it’s what I have been saying from the word go.
“It casts doubt on the whole cabinet system where eight people make the decisions and the 80,000 people in the borough have to accept their consequences.”
The planning inspector was particularly critical of the council for ignoring potential green belt sites on the mainland and instead choosing to build 400 homes on Canvey green belt.
He writes: “I consider it would be very difficult to endorse a strategy which commits to green belt release in an area of high flood risk at Canvey Island, yet fails to identify more than a token amount of land on the mainland where flooding is a serious issue.”
He asks the council to go back and consider sites that have already been identified by house builders – particularly green fields north of Daws Heath Road where Barratt Homes wants to build 239 homes.
He also asked the council to make sure “local factors” are not given “too much weight”.
At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday night, the council accepted the inspector’s concerns and has launched a review to find new sites for the extra 1,000 homes.
Pam Challis, council leader, said: “Unfortunately, the council is now faced with extremely difficult choices, otherwise the borough runs the risk of development taking place where we and the local community does not want it.”
The inspector wants the council to reply by July 29, although the authority’s chief executive David Marchant said the council would set its own deadlines.