GAG was originally formed in 2004 to oppose English Partnership’s plans to develop the “land north of Dry Street” known as Dry Street Pastures which runs between Dry Street and Lee Chapel South.
After petitions were raised locally and by the Echo newspaper, EP’s plans were shelved in 2006.
In May 2011 GAG reformed to fight the new proposals by EP’s successor, The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) which together with Essex County Council and South Essex College plan to develop the site, building houses, a Primary school and local services. This massive development on a LoWS, a local wildlife site is opposed by a large number of local residents.
In June 2013 Basildon Council approved outline planning permission to build 700 plus aspirational homes on a great swathe of land north of Dry St up to Nethermayne. Here are the reasons we are determined to stop this development.
- Dry Street Pastures which are of major ecological importance and a scheduled Local Wildlife Site will be built on. ‘In England, much of our biodiversity, including many of our birds, butterflies and plants, is declining. Our wildlife areas are too disjointed and fragmented, which makes it harder for wildlife to flourish and respond to climate change and other pressures, like pollution.’ This is a quote from Defra’s 2020 biodiversity policy paper. Yet this development plan will fragment the Langdon Ridge and cause damage to protected species, some unique to our area. Relocation of many species has not been proved to be successful.
- There is widespread concern by the local Clinical Commissioning Group, Basildon and Brentwood GCG, that respiratory disease is the most prevalent health problem in the area and a report by Public Health England this year showed that more 5 per cent of deaths in Basildon are attributable to toxic pollutants in the air. The Langdon Ridge acts as a green lung between Basildon and the major A13 route and runs from Vange Heights in the East through to Dunton in the west. The planned proposals will break the integrity of the ridge and result in further toxic pollutants.
- Longwood Equestrian centre is set to be demolished. A centre of excellence and unique in the area, this centre provides riding lessons, training for local young people, hosts events and provides livery services. It’s current situation provides access to safe bridle paths and the horses graze the meadows enhancing their biodiversity.
- South Essex College Nethermayne campus will be demolished as SEC have declared it unfit for purpose. Local people know this is simply not true. SEC want to relocate to the town centre and have been given the opportunity to sell their large swathe of land to fund this. They believe that by moving to the town centre they will raise their standards. Local people will have an opinion on this.
- The sports centre adjacent to the college will also be demolished. Another sporting provision lost.
- The air ambulance will have to find an alternative landing site.
- Traffic will increase. Cars from 700 plus homes will make a difference. Traffic problems will not be solved by minor road improvements. The widening of Dry Street to cope with construction traffic will damage Dry Street village.
- There will be extra pressure on our schools and medical services, particularly the hospital.
- Those living in adjacent roads such as Rantree Fold, Fletchers and Sporhams will subjected to noise, vibration, drainage problems and quiet Cul-de-sacs will become through-fares to the new estate.
In January 2014 we applied through the courts for permission for a judicial review but despite the strength of our arguments and appeals this was denied in November. We believe that the decision to grant outline the planning permission on 6th June 2013 was flawed and councillors on the Development Control and Traffic Management Committee were not in full possession of the facts and information was deliberately withheld. Local people are angry that the Basildon Council kept vital information hidden from the public and their elected councillors and ignored expert and local opinion. We are currently waiting for advice from our barrister on taking the matter to the European Court.
We also disputed in court the destruction of Longwood Equestrian Centre which is contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework. Sadly Longwood is set to close early next year with no news of new site and the HCA has refused to renew their lease for a further period..
We have set up a .gov petition to ask the Homes and Communities Agency to withdraw their plans for the land which they own. Previous petitions were to Basildon Council but we hope by petitioning a Government department this time we can show that local people have been ignored and that this site is very important to our community. Please sign our new petition.
Our legal case is funded by entirely by donations from supporters of the group and we have received an almost £20,000 in the last twelve months. This says a great deal about the strength of feeling by local residents.
Thank you for your continuing support.