MORE than 9,000 new homes must be built on Basildon’s green belt over the next 20 years because of a lack of alternative development sites, planners have warned.

The stark figure, more than half the estimated 16,000 homes needed in the borough by 2037, was revealed to councillors during a briefing on its draft local plan.

Ina report for a scrutiny committee meeting next Tuesday, council commissioning director Kieran Carrigan said about 2,400 acres of “suitable and available” green belt land had already been identified.

The report summarises the outcome of a series of briefings between councillors and planning consultations over the last two months.

Mr Carrigan said: “Members were advised the supply of land in the urban areas which was suitable and available for development could provide about 6,700 homes, about half of which already have planning permission, or were under construction.

This included brownfield and greenfield sites, including within the borough’s five town centres.

“Taking into account what had already been built since 2014, a land shortfall of about 9,000 homes would need to be considered beyond the borough’s urban areas.”

Green belt land mooted for development includes a potential 900-home development near Wick Country Park, Wickford, which would be a southern extension of the Wick estate.

A housing market assessment for south Essex has estimated between 763 and 837 homes need to be built in Basildon borough every year until 2037 to meet demand.

Mr Carrigan added: “Like elsewhere in the country, the borough is expected to face significant challenges in the future as a result of a sizeable growth in its older population, some of whom will require more specialist accommodation to live in.

“Despite this, the borough’s population is also more likely to continue to include a youthful population, who can be expected to continue to form new households and place additional demands on housing stock requirements.”

Next Tuesday’s scrutiny meeting will consider whether the working groups set up to develop the draft local plan have been “robust” enough.

A full council meeting next Thursday is then expected to approve a public consultation on the plan.