GAG – the Green Action Group – was formed in 2004 by concerned residents to oppose plans by English Partnerships – now the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) – to develop the land between Lee Chapel South and Dry Street for housing. Backed by the Echo newspaper, the campaign of opposition raised petitions of over 14,000 signatures and the support of local MPs. Faced with this amount of opposition, English Partnerships were forced to shelve their plans.
A NEW THREAT
Once again the ‘Land North of Dry Street‘ is threatened with development, this time backed by Basildon Borough Council, which has gone back on its commitment to try and include the land in the Green Belt. Some, but not all, residents in Lee Chapel South have received a letter from the HCA, Basildon council and South Essex College, who own the land, outlining their proposals.
We have reproduced the letter because we think it affects everybody who lives in Lee Chapel South and beyond. Please read it carefully.
Why do they want to develop the land ?
Well, don’t be fooled into thinking that the main reason is to build houses.
The HCA, Basildon Council and the college want it sold off to finance a new college in Basildon Town Centre.
The new college appears to be the only reason that Basildon council is backing the idea.
So what’s so special about this land ?
It’s just about the only area of undeveloped land in this part of Basildon Borough.
It’s never been built on and contains environmentally important ancient pasture land.
Even our wonderful local Essex Wildlife Trust reserves next door to the HCA land were mostly plotlands with small thriving communities.
This land is untouched. Many different bodies, including Basildon Council’s planners, have recognised the site’s ecological importance and have given it special status as a local wildlife site (LoWS).
Why a college in the Town Centre ?
Basildon Council argues that a town centre location would be “more accessible” to young people, despite the fact that the existing college is only 15 minutes walk from the bus and railway stations.
We understand from people who work there that the existing college is perfectly sound. It’s not falling down.
There’s plenty of room to expand. Except the college wants to sell its land…. Basildon Council also seems to believe that a town centre college will revitalise the Town Centre, with lots of students spending lots of money. Has the council really thought this through ? It doesn’t make sense to us.
And where ?
The Council hasn’t said yet. But they’re looking at car-parks near the station and perhaps other sites too.