RESIDENTS from Billericay are being encouraged to get together next week to fight new plans that will increase the number of houses built on green belt land.
Members of the three main resident groups, the Billericay District Residents Association, Billericay Action Group and the Billericay Society, are combining their resources to ensure residents’ voices are heard by Basildon Council.
Earlier this year the council consulted the public on nine sites and a total of 1,740 new homes. However, they have recently announced plans for seven more potential sites ranging from 44 houses to 430 homes.
The new plans would include building 1,300 more houses, bringing the total in excess of 3,000 new homes.
Mike Andrews, the Chairman of the Billericay Action Group, is concerned that the council are not being clear enough with these new plans.
“All we have is questions” Mike said. “There is confusion; it is not clear whether these seven new sites will be an alternate to the original plan.
“We really don’t know what we are consulting.”
Mike said that the three groups are working together to inform and advise as many residents as possible about the consultation the council are hosting on the new proposals.
“People are concerned” Mike said, “Basildon Council said that they accepted residents views that the infrastructure will be inadequate, 45 per cent of the 3,500 responses the council got originally were from residents of Billericay.
“However, now the worst case is an added seven sites to the existing nine.”
The seven new sites proposed are Outwood Common Road, East of Southend Road, Land West of Southend Road, land at Greenleas Farm, Outwood Farm, land East of Frithwood Lane, and Land South of Windmill Heights.
Mike added: “Green belt land should only be reclassified under specific considerations and this is not sufficient to do that.
“The number of houses Basildon wants to build is too high, and meeting numbers isn’t an excuse to go for green belt land.”
This will be the first time that the three residents groups have joined together and Mike said that this reflects the significance of the situation.
“The key thing is that three key resident groups across the town have joined together. The Residents Association is 90 years old this year and one in three households are a member, it is a respected long term group.
“This shows that there is concern amongst residents.”
Mike added that the concerns are not just for older residents. At a recent time capsule event for the Residents Association, Mike said that younger people also shared his concerns for the future of Billericay.
“Youngsters are concerned about preserving the character of the town, it would be a significant hit to the way the town sits in its landscape.”
Residents have until 15 December to give feedback on the new plans. The groups will be hosting an open event on Saturday, 26 November at Chantry Way Day Centre, to advise citizens on how to respond to the council consultation.
BY TOM BULL