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Herts and Essex Observer - 'East Herts District Council set to boost bid to build 10,000 homes at Gilston'

East Herts District Council is set to ask for Government help to develop plans for 10,000 new homes at Gilston. In a hammer blow to the hopes of campaign group Stop Harlow North, the authority's leader, Linda Haysey, will present the proposals to EHDC's planning executive panel on Tuesday. It is responsible for shaping the draft District Plan, detailing where almost 15,000 new homes should be built before 2031.

The move follows publication in March of a Government prospectus, ‘Locally Led Garden Villages, Town and Cities’, which invites local authorities to submit bids for technical and financial support to help deliver strategic-sized developments – either garden cities and towns of more than 10,000 homes or garden villages between 1,500 and 10,000 homes.

Cllr Haysey’s report to the panel says: “The Gilston area was identified within the Preferred Options version of the District Plan in 2014 as a ‘Broad Location for Growth’ for the delivery of 5,000 to 10,000 new homes along with supporting infrastructure such as schools, roads and healthcare facilities.”

She said that since then key studies had established development in the area was financially viable and deliverable within the plan period.

The report says: “Officers consider that the Gilston area should be identified as a location for 10,000 new homes, to be delivered in this plan period and beyond, within the forthcoming ‘Publication’ stage of the District Plan.

“The prospectus on garden villages, towns and cities provides an opportunity for the council to secure support from the Government in order to help facilitate the delivery of new development in this location.”

She said it was therefore proposed that an expression of interest be submitted to the Government in the near future.

The council could apply for support for a garden village development.

Alternatively, East Herts could team up with Harlow and Epping Forest district councils to submit a joint expression of interest for a garden town.

The panel report says: “Whichever option is pursued, development at Gilston will provide a range of new homes, schools, facilities and services for the benefit of East Herts residents, as well as supporting the regeneration of Harlow.”

Members are told such an expression would also “encourage” the Government to provide improvements like a new junction 7a on the M11.

Stop Harlow North’s Spike Hughes said that rural life would be destroyed to solve London’s housing crisis.

“What is proposed is equivalent to about three Sawbridgeworths,” he said.

“In short, it will be by far and away the largest development to take place in the region since the creation of Harlow.”

He accused the council of trying to dupe residents: “A little honesty might be in order here rather than continuing to dress it up with deceitful justifications such as ‘benefiting the local population’.”

The article was first published on 21/05/16 and can be read here.