Basildon councillors to debate new homes off Dry Street at public meeting

BASILDON councillors will decide tomorrow whether dozens of homes can be built on green land off of Dry Street.

Stonebond Properties Ltd has applied for permission to build 42 new homes on the site known as ‘Land West of Basildon Hospital’. A new road would be constructed, joining the estate to Dry Street.

The council’s planning committee will consider the proposal in a public meeting at the Bas Centre tomorrow (Tuesday, September 10) at 7pm.

The YA exclusively revealed in May that Stonebond had entered into a legal agreement with landowner Anglian Water, under which it would buy the land if planning permission was granted.

The YA first reported Anglian Water’s plan to sell the land in 2016, at which time it was valued at £4.5million.

The plot Anglian Water is selling includes a large washland, previously retained for flood prevention. But planning papers say the washland will be ‘enhanced’ and its bank raised, to prevent flooding.

Stonebond is seeking permission to build 13 four-bedroom properties, 17 three-bedroom, 10 two-bedroom and two one-bedroom.

Of the 42 properties, nine would be ‘affordable’, meaning they would be sold for 60 per cent of the cost of the other privately sold properties on the same development.

The ‘affordable’ units would be one three-bedroom home, six two-bedrooms and both of the one-bedrooms.

Four three-bedroom properties would be available under a shared ownership scheme.

Dry Street is a narrow country lane previously surrounded by undeveloped green land.

In 2013, Conservative councillors approved plans for more than 700 homes, wiping out a designated Local Wildlife Site the size of 12 football pitches.

The majority of the houses approved in 2013 had four or more bedrooms and some of those already built have been marketed at just under half-a-million pounds.

Councillors claimed the development would facilitate the creation of a large, high-tech college campus in the town centre, creating new opportunities for local youngsters and a large customer base for businesses in the town.

But last year, after the first phase of the luxury housing development was under construction, the planned college campus shrunk to less than 40 per cent of the original size, which South Essex College blamed on falling demand for some of the courses it would offer.

Three objections have been registered with Basildon Council over the planned 42 new homes – two of which have come from people living in the new houses approved in 2013.

The objections include overcrowding, loss of views, impact on wildlife, increased traffic and the damage that these changes will cause to local property prices.

Council officers have instructed councillors that loss of views and damage to house prices are not material planning considerations and must not be given any weight when considering the application tomorrow.

Wildlife on the planned development site includes badgers, bats, nesting birds, grass snakes, adders, slow worms and common lizards. Planning officers claim any damage to wildlife can be mitigated.

In May, Stonebond told the YA that the company had been through a ‘pre-application’ process with Basildon Council, which had ‘supported’ its plan.
Council officers have recommended that councillors approve the proposal on condition that the developer makes a number of financial contributions.

Officers want Stonebond to give £198,169.08 towards local education services, £16,100 towards healthcare, £5,136.60 towards maintaining local habitats and £2,000 towards legal costs regarding these contributions.

They also want the company to pay the council’s ‘professional and legal fees’ and to promise to use local workers on the development.

Charles Thomson

Chief Reporter Email: basildon@yellowad.co.uk