Villages could be expanded and transport infrastructure improved under landmark Thurrock housing plan

Residents, business leaders and neighbouring councils have weighed in on Thurrock Council’s major new housing plan, telling councillors they want to see better transport infrastructure, villages expanded and growth around Lakeside.

The housing plan, known as the local plan, will shape the future development of the borough and see at least 22,000 new homes built by 2037, along with the infrastructure to support economic and business growth.

Following a public consultation into the plan, the council has published a detailed outline of the views received from people across the borough. Many expressed strong support for more affordable homes but said it should only come after improvements to transport infrastructure.

However, there are conflicting responses from residents and developers about where the new homes should go.

Developers and landowners told the council they want to see villages expanded with a significant portion of the new homes built around them. But residents say they are concerned that this will have an impact on the character of the villages and fear there will not be enough transport infrastructure to support the growth.

The council report states: “Although numbers responding were small, strong community concern over the need to ensure infrastructure improvements come forward in advance of new development.”

One alternative to expanding existing villages is a major new development on green belt land in West Horndon on the border of Brentwood. But this idea has been rejected by both Brentwood Council and the West Horndon Parish Council.

Other local authorities also dismissed that possibility of Thurrock meeting its housing quota through a ‘duty to cooperate’ arrangement where some of the homes are built in neighbouring boroughs. The authorities say this is becasue they are facing their own difficulties in finding space for housing.

Other responses said the one-way system in Grays should be overhauled, a park and ride scheme should be implemented to serve Basildon Hospital, and more affordable parking should be added close to railway stations.

The report adds: “In total 17 events were held across the borough between February and April 2018. Across all of the events, there were a number of issues consistently raised by local communities.

These included poor and failing infrastructure, lack of affordable homes and homes for older people, anti-social behaviour, drugs and crime, and neglected open spaces.”

The results are due to be discussed in greater detail during a council meeting on Wednesday night.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter