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Boost for opponents of housing scheme

August 20, 2012 2:52 PM

Opponents to a major housing scheme of 1,600 dwellings in the Mile End area of Colchester have been given a huge boost with the news that Communities and Local Government Minister Mr Eric Pickles MP has told the Borough Council that it cannot grant permission without his "specific authorisation".

The news was revealed this afternoon by Town MP Sir Bob Russell who had personally urged Mr Pickles to refer the application - which he has described as a "planning and environmental disaster" - to a formal Public Inquiry.

Others opposed to the huge development, on the fields of west Mile End between Mile End Road/Nayland Road and Bergholt Road to the edge of the A12 Northern By-Pass, include Mile End Borough Councillors Anne Turrell, Martin Goss and Scott Greenhill, Myland Community Council and local residents and groups such as the Love Myland campaign.

The letter from Mr Pickles' office says that the Secretary of State is exercising his powers until the Town and Country Planning Order of 2010 and the Town and Country Planning Act of 1990.

The Council can still consider the application, made by Mersea Homes and Countryside Properties, and refuse it but it cannot grant permission.

Sir Bob has raised his objections during questions in the House of Commons, and this resulted in Mr Pickles making a personal visit to Mile End from where he viewed part of the controversial site.

Commenting on today's news that Mr Pickles' Department had written to the Council, Sir Bob said: "This is obviously a welcome step, and what we must now do is to impress upon the Council that it would be sheer folly to allow this development to proceed.

"There is so much new housing already approved in Colchester, specifically for the site of the nearby former Severalls Hospital, that Mile End should be spared from the additional loss of the fields of west Mile End."

Last week Sir Bob pointed out that the proposed new estate - stretching from near North Station to opposite Cants Rose Gardens in Nayland Road, would be "the longest cul-de-sac in Britain". He strongly criticised the proposed traffic and highway proposals.