Chelmsford needs jobs & local facilities not just houses

January 31, 2012 9:13 PM

Building siteChelmsford Council was taken to task this evening for failing to give a high enough priority to new community facilities, public open space and new jobs for residents. The Liberal Democrat group told the Council's Development Policy Committee that these issues should have been addressed in the Site Allocations Document, which was under debate.

Open Spaces Cllr. Andrew Sosin stated that the Council's Open Spaces strategy was out of date, there is no plan for meeting a shortfall in Public Open Space, and the Open Space Strategy and the Allotments Strategy should have been prepared before continuing with the Local Plan.

Jobs and travel Cllr. Stephen Robinson called on the council to allocate land for businesses so that the number of jobs created locally exceeds the numbers of houses being built. That would make the Council's plan truly sustainable, by reducing the need to travel. He also said that the suggested Park & Ride site at Widford needed to be prioritised (to cut traffic trying to get into town) and should go ahead before the council considers building on the Coval Lane car park.

Community needs Cllr. John Hunnable said that the council should have carried out a survey on needs for community facilities before allocating so much land for houses only, in particular the depot site in Waterhouse Lane and the Government Offices site in Beeches Road.

Affordable housing

In a separate item, it was noted that the Council has failed to meet its target for building affordable housing in six of the last eight years. Cllr Robinson attacked this failing and said that sites like Kings Road ex allotment site should have been designated 100% affordable in the Council Plan, to try to meet the target.

Cllr Sosin noted that the report on council performance was the best part of two years out of date and called on the council to produce next year's report more quickly.

Concerns ignored

The Conservative majority on the committee dismissed the concerns raised and referred the report to full Council, to be adopted without amendment.