A POLITICAL power struggle could derail plans for 12,500 new homes in Basildon – leading to fears there will be a free-for-all as developers target the borough.

Basildon Council’s local plan, which sets out where thousands of homes will be built over the next 17 years, cost the Tory administration £404,631 to put together.

But at May’s election, the Conservatives lost control of the council, meaning they would have to strike a deal with rival parties in order to get the plan passed.

Ukip councillors want to protect Wickford and Labour members want to prevent building in Basildon, putting the whole plan in jeopardy.

Without a plan, the borough could be vulnerable to developers who could argue for manymore homes to be built on land the council wants to save.

Council leader Phil Turner, who heads up Basildon Conservatives, has called for compromise.

He said: “The real damage could come if we are unable to come to an agreement on this – there could be huge ramifications and we need to stop being so macho and have calm and sensible thoughts on the policy.

“Ukip is talking about not having the 2,800 homes in Wickford but without a local plan that amount will become 5,000 homes if there is no plan in place that offers protection.

“It is an obscene amount of money that has been spent on the local plan, but it’s tied up in red tape and bureaucracy.

“It will be a waste if the plan does not go forward.”

A first draft was published in December, and was given full council approval a few weeks later.

Land in Billericay, Wickford, Basildon, Pitsea, and Laindon was earmarked for thousands of homes to be built by 2031. In total, the plan incorporates 16,000 homes, but 3,500 of these are either already built or have planning permission.

But now Wickford’s Ukip councillors are demanding a review.

David Harrison, Ukip councillor for Wickford Park, said: “We need a local plan – but there must be infrastructure to go with it.

“We’re also querying where the council got its figure of 16,000 from.”

Labour says it wants to protect Basildon town and build homes in Billericay and Wickford instead.

Byron Taylor, group leader, said: “The idea we are not going to have a plan, which is the Ukip line, is ridiculous.

“There is space in Billericay and Wickford and we will support additional homes to be built there.

“There is no space in Basildon new town – that is why the council has had to build on parks.”

‘There could be huge ramifications.

We need to stop being macho and have calm thoughts on the policy By IAN BURBIDGE ian.burbidge@nqe.com WHAT DO YOU THINK E-mail echo.letters@nqe