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72,800 new homes in south Essex by 2031 says report
4:30pm Saturday 5th October 2013 in News
AS many as 72,800 homes may have to be built across south Essex in the next 20 years, a report seen by the Echo suggests.
A draft document, called the Strategic Housing Market Assessment Review 2013, has been leaked setting out the potential demand for housing in Basildon, Castle Point, Southend, Rochford and Thurrock until 2031.
The report, compiled by the Thames Gateway South Essex partnership, provides four different scenarios for the number of additional housing that would be required of each borough based on population trends, employment and commuting patterns, existing land already allocated for housing, and previous Government housing targets.
Under the four scenarios, the number of new homes required in Basildon would be anything from 5,500 to 17,000, in Castle Point between 1,700 and 9,000 homes, in Rochford from 4,200 homes to 8,100 homes, in Southend between 5,400 and 20,700 homes and Thurrock between 16,500 homes and 22,000.
In total that could mean in the worst case scenario the south of the county would have to provide a whopping 72,800 new properties.
The Thames Gateway South Essex Partnership is formed of representatives from Basildon, Southend, Castle Point, Rochford, Thurrock and Essex County Councils.
Basildon council leader Tony Ball says the report is purely a “number crunching exercise”.
He said: “It is purely a mathematical exercise. What happens is it is up to local authorities to work out what homes we need in our core strategies.
“I said in our full council meeting in May that I am not going to play the game of number crunching. It is about the need for local people. These numbers are not deliverable and Government guidance says that that is the key and that local authorities need to say hang on a minute that is not going to be built in the next 20 years.
“We do need housing to cope with a growing population and people living longer. We have a duty to provide that and in our housing strategies we will set out the minimum number of homes we need.”
One of the key driving factors for the figures is the number of people flooding into south Essex from other boroughs such as Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Redbridge.
Between 2006 and 2010 approximately 18,200 extra people moved into south Essex representing an average of 3,600 people a year.
Nigel Holdcroft, leader of Southend Council, said: “These various figures represent an interesting academic exercise but the reality in Southend is that as one of the most densely developed local authority areas outside London we have very little available space to provide significant numbers of new housing.
“We fully appreciate that there remains an unmet demand which is likely to increase and we will continue to work with developers and housing associations to bring forward plans which increase our housing stock in a way which is appropriate and sympathetic to the town.”
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