Does a withdrawn Local Plan make Wickford vulnerable to the developers?

Hundreds of new houses could be built in Wickford

It is feared that the lack of an up-to-date Local Plan is making a south Essex town open to speculative housing development.
Basildon Council withdrew its Local Plan in 2022 and, although it is working on a new one, residents are anxious that developers will take advantage and apply to build houses across the borough.
Wickford is particularly vulnerable, according to councillor George Jeffery, who has told the Echo newspaper that the town is “under siege” from potential housing schemes, with almost 850 new homes proposed for Green Belt land.
Developer Pigeon is consulting on a scheme for 302 homes, primary school and pre-school near Tresco Way, while there are also plans from Crest for 117 new homes in London Road and another 270 homes in Shotgate. A 49-home development in London Road has already been approved.
Cllr Jeffery told the Echo: “Wickford has a massive potential, and it must be worked on with residents, not forced upon them, that is an attack on us by developers.
“I was given no warning these plans would be coming; I was informed by a resident which is poor and shady on the part of the developer.
“This shouldn’t have gone behind the back of the council, and it does undermine us, developers will chance it with the council and residents must provide feedback on these plans to make sure they are heard.
“While the plans do include a school a stone’s throw from the homes, the congestion at peak times would be horrendous and infrastructure provision must be stepped up.
“We withdrew the Local Plan to protect the Green Belt. We are very concerned about the number of proposals on the Green Belt and the Green Belt is only vulnerable if we don’t have a five-year land supply for developers.
“We have won planning appeals before on Green Belt with this argument and must make sure developers know they must exhaust our brownfield sites before they start on our Green Belt.
“We need to prevent a case where Wickford is merging with Basildon.”