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We were given false promises over fields
6:50pm Saturday 4th August 2012 in Local News
hundreds of homes could be built on farmland in Billericay , neighbours are warning.
Residents living near Great Cowbridge Grange Farm, off London Road, say Basildon Council has gone back on a promise not to let green belt land be used for the 6,500 homes the borough was told it had to accommodate over the next 20 years.
The council has now admitted many more homes than this will have to be built, with some greenfield sites among those being considered.
Cowbridge Grange Farm is one of several large green belt sites on the edge of urban areas in planners’ sights.
They have already declared it suitable to take as many as 650 homes, as well as industrial units.
Grahame Rudkins, 79, whose home in Courtlands overlooks the fields in question, said: “I attended the consultations and was assured the council was going for Option 1 – 6,500 homes and no green belt release. “I asked about the other two options and why this land was ringed for employment, I was assured, ‘Oh don’t worry about those. We are going for option 1’.”
Before the May council elections Mr Rudkins was assured by fellow Courtlands resident, Tory councillor Paul Arnold, the land was safe.
He also spoke to Basildon and Billericay MP John Baron , who said he would resist attempts to built there.
Mr Rudkins, a retired chartered civil engineer, said: “I feel we have been led up the garden path and given false promises before the election, which now can’t be kept. They should have been realistic with people about the number of homes needed.”
The Echo has discovered developer Redrow Homes has an option to buy the site, but has so far not responded to our requests for further information.
Malcolm Buckley , councillor responsible for regeneration, denied residents had been hoodwinked before the election. He explained: “We have seen other authorities put forward similar housing levels and have been rejected by the inspector, even before they got to a public inquiry. “”We also now have to take new census information into account.”
The council also claims the fact only 300 people across the borough responded to public consultations on the original document backing Option 1 would make it hard to argue that option had widespread public support.
However, Mr Buckley added: “It is too early to identify sites.”