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Ian Roberts looking at potential development site

Responsible development for SWF

Development is coming to South Woodham but is it the best it can be both for current and future residents?

Development is on its way to South Woodham Ferrers. Our town is nearly certain to get it’s biggest expansion since the 1980s in the next few years. Plans put forward and approved in 2023 will make our town about 15% bigger with 1200 homes planned to be added to our existing 6,600.

This is a huge change for our town. Most people, including us, agree that with the population increasing, rising prices and our children and grandchildren struggling to get on the housing ladder, we need more homes and must play our part in meeting housing demand.

But what is the point of new, affordable homes if the people in them cannot get to work easily, get a doctor’s appointment, go for beautiful walks in the countryside or bring up their children in clean air like we have done all these years.

There is a danger that poorly planned development will lead to a worse quality of life for existing residents, with us having to spend more time in traffic jams, or struggling to get to the town's rail station or cross the road safely. 

That’s why the South Woodham Residents Party, alongside many others, has been keeping track of the new developments which the giant housebuilding companies, Countrywide and Bellway, have brought forward. We have been scrutinising their traffic plans, their promises to deal with potential flooding running off the upper ground where they plan to build homes, their blueprints for green spaces, community facilities and much more.

Unlike those in the main parties sometimes we are able to take a look at what really matters and take the parties in power to task, for example, we tried to stop the Lib-Dems approving outline planning permission without sight and chance to review and consult on the Essex Highways report on the development which was submitted just 4 days before a crucial meeting.

The Conservatives (in power at Chelmsford until 2019 and in power at County Hall) have presided over a weak planning system for over a decade and could have done much more locally to promote responsible development when the plans for the land north of Burnham Road were in their infancy, possibly looking at a relief road which would have taken traffic around our town instead of through it as one example.  And nationally they have done little to improve the availability or standard of new housing.  Many people who live in new developments like the one proposed for South Woodham end up paying an extra ‘standing charge’ for the maintenance of their estate roads for example.

We want good development for South Woodham and in the coming years and we will continue to make sure that we are asking what’s best for our existing and new residents.

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