“ Middlewick Ranges is a really important part of Colchester, not only as an area which is enjoyed by many residents for walks but also the land has a deep history in Colchester with many residents. It’s also an area with a lot of wildlife.
The MOD has chosen to sell the land, which is unfortunate and has now created the situation faced with the future of the land.
It has rightly sparked much emotion and concern amongst residents. The only way to stop any building on this land is for the Government and the MOD to withdraw the sale of the land.
The MOD as you may recall originally wanted to build 2000 houses on the land. Colchester Council didn’t agree with this and placed a maximum figure of 1000 houses on the land. Had this not happened the house build- ing figure would’ve been much higher. Obviously, the MOD want the highest capital receipt for the land – so the more houses built in their eyes, the higher the money received for the land for Government.
If the MOD and Government don’t withdraw the sale of the site, then the collective responsibility is to a minimum the impact on the land by driving numbers as low as possible, ensuring some form of Country Park is delivered by the developer as part of the developer and also a wildlife corridor. Adequate infrastructure to an already stressed area also must be provided.
Housing numbers in Colchester have been set a minimum of 920 houses a year by the Government Planning Inspector over the next 15 year period. Colchester has on average built 830 houses per year for the last 40 years.
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Where house numbers ago above 920 per annum there is nothing that can be done legally to stop this. The land is set aside for development in the Local Plan and then detailed planning applications are submitted for those areas. It is illegal under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and National Planning Policy Framework – both set by Government – to reject any application based on housing numbers and what has been built in that year.
You also cannot dictate to a developer when they will also start to finish building houses – planning applications come with a 3-year expiry date and need to be renewed.
Ultimately the 920 figure is a minimum guide and it is house sales and the market that ultimately dictate how many houses are built and sold in a year.
It’s important that people understand these facts and the way planning law works. “
– a reply to us by Martin Goss