DETAILED planning permission has been granted for the second phase of the controversial Dry Street housing development – despite only two councillors voting for it.
Developer Redrow Homes was granted approval to build the next 192 homes on the 325-property estate after the majority of the planning committee abstained from the vote.
Only Labour chairwoman Adele Brown and Tory committee member Stuart Allen backed the plan.
Tory councillors granted planning permission in 2013 for the ‘aspirational’ properties to be built over an area the size of 12 football pitches, despite claims by environmental experts that it would wipe out precious habitats and cause the local extinction of important plants and animals.
In addition to the 192 properties, Phase Two includes over 600 square metres of new retail space.
Former planning chairwoman Carole Morris was ousted from the role in 2015 after signing off detailed plans for Phase One – the first 181 homes – behind closed doors.
After Cllr Morris got the boot, the council voted by majority to ban decisions on any future developments of ten or more homes from being signed off under ‘delegated powers’. Hence, phase two was called before the planning committee on Tuesday evening, July 11.
Dr Rod Cole of the Basildon Natural History Society, Miriam Heppell from the Green Action Group and former Laindon Tory councillor Danny Lovey were among several residents who addressed the planning committee on Tuesday.
Mr Lovey asked for a restriction on how many hours of ‘noisy work’ could be carried out per day, given how close Phase Two is to Basildon Hospital and St Luke’s Hospice.
Dr Cole claimed he and other wildlife experts had never been consulted over Phase Two, yet planning officers wrote in their report that the experts had failed to respond to a consultation.
Local residents asked councillors for traffic calming measures to ensure Dry Street remained a ‘peaceful country lane’, saying traffic had worsened since Phase One began.
But Mrs Heppell said afterwards that the meeting had been a ‘waste of time’.
She said: “We spoke on matters pertaining to the plan and improvements we thought would make it better for local residents… What a pity we couldn’t even make small changes to conditions to minimise the noise and traffic, or to the layout.”
Ward councillor Kerry Smith addressed the committee to raise residents’ concerns over the proposals. He too was left ‘frustrated’ by the outcome.
He said: “They all sat on their hands. After all the hue and cry about bringing these applications before a committee, they have missed the chance to act. There were a number of road safety issues, in my opinion, which will now be pushed onto taxpayers down the line.
“My main concern was the lack of detail about parking regulations for the new roads, which will be right up by Basildon Hospital. Once people find out they’re there, they’ll all be trying to park there instead of paying for the hospital car park. That will cause obstructions and delays.
“The residents and I also had concerns over the supposed consultation. The council officers reckon letters were sent to about 200 residents, but we can’t find anyone who received one. They also claim letters were sent to all borough and county councillors, but I’m both of those and I haven’t had anything.
“In my view, this was not yet a safe application to approve. There were serious questions that needed to be answered.”