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Green belt 'village' plan facing refusal
CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans to build what amounts to a whole newvillage on green belt land, have given a “cautious welcome” to news Basildon councillorsmay soon throw out the scheme.
Planners are recommending refusal when the application – for 750 homes, shops and a primary school on farmland near Little Chalvedon Hall, off Pound Lane, Bowers Gifford – comes before the council’s planning committee next week.
More than 4,500 people have so far signed a petition opposing the proposal.
Objectors claim the development would cause traffic congestion and destroy wildlife habitat in the semi-rural buffer between Basildon and Benfleet.
Council planning officers appear to share their view. Their report to Tuesday’s committee meeting recommends refusal on several grounds, including:
*The site is in the green belt and the proposal would result in the “permanent loss of openness” and lead to “sprawl, merging of towns and encroachment”
*Developer Meridian has failed to show it has made adequate provision to meet demand for extra school places to serve 750 homes.
*It has also failed to give enough information about the promised doctor’s surgery.
*Meridian has not included details of ways it would improve bus services to improve poor local public transport in the area.
*A single sports pitch proposed by Meridian in the grounds of the new school for community use would be insufficient to meet local demand.
Robert Smillie, chairman of Bowers Gifford Parish Council, said he was “over the moon” the planners were recommending refusal, but he feared the developer would appeal if it were turned down.
He explained: “With such a big development and so much money involved, it won’t stop here. It will go to an appeal. So we are happy, but we are not celebrating.
“It is just so ridiculous to put it there. The only way it will work is if you allowurban sprawl and connect Bowers Gifford to Chalvedon and the junction with the old A13.
“It already doesn’t take much to turn the Sadlers Farm junction into a car park.”
Rose Griffin, chairman of Bowers Gifford and North Benfleet Residents’ Association, said her members would be out in force at Tuesday’s meeting to make sure councillors understood how they felt.
Meridian Strategic Land has applied to develop the site on behalf of its client, Nottinghamshire County Council, which bought the land for £4.2million as an investment, two years ago.
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