Plans to give local councils greater control over development have been announced this week, paving the way for the creation of a North Essex Development Corporation

Legislation has been laid before parliament which, if approved, will enable councils to apply to create ‘locally led Development Corporations’, bringing 43,000 much needed homes and 43,000 jobs, the vision of North Essex Garden Communities (NEGC), a step closer.

The legislation, a change to the New Towns Act 1981, will see the powers to oversee and lead the creation of new communities shift from the Secretary of State to local councils.

This could pave the way for the NEGC programme to become the first locally led Development Corporation in the country, with the ability to ensure key infrastructure and services are delivered to support new housing to be built over the coming decades.

John Spence CBE, Chairman of North Essex Garden Communities Ltd (NEGC), the council-owned company set up to oversee the creation of the three proposed new communities, welcomed the news saying:

“Government has recognised the unrivalled potential of North Essex as an opportunity for significant economic growth and the NEGC programme as the conduit to develop new communities for the future by unlocking transport and business opportunities and ensuring no development occurs without the roads, schools, health and leisure infrastructure to support it.”

Through the creation of a locally led Development Corporation, the partnership of councils (Braintree, Colchester, Tendring and Essex) would gain direct control over the delivery of future housing growth and the land acquisition process.

In addition, it would be able to borrow directly from Government and private funders to ensure key infrastructure is delivered early within each Garden Community – one of the key drivers of the public authorities looking to oversee these developments.

The partner councils in North Essex will now be working to develop a mandate seeking a Development Corporation for North Essex to present to the Government later in the year.