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Anger at road plans to end playtime fun

By Braintree Chronicle  |  Posted: April 19, 2012

  • Meeting: The Witham LDF panel

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FURIOUS residents have been told that a road will be built through the peaceful area of land in front of their homes where their children play.

Last Wednesday at Witham's Public Hall, district councillors met to discuss where houses should be built in the future, as part of the Local Development Framework.

More than 70 residents attended the meeting to offer their views on the proposed developments.

Over the course of the three-hour meeting, councillors agreed that there is a need for more affordable housing in the town and the panel voted to recommend the building of 50 affordable homes in the Blunts Hall Road area, by which time many residents had walked out in protest.

Speaking as a member of the public, Witham town councillor Neil Coughlan, expressed his dislike for the plan, but said: "Any sensible development has got to allow for the people in the town to remain in the town if that's what they so choose."

However, the residents of Teign Drive, whose road could become the new access route to the housing, feel as though it would literally tear their long-standing community in two.

Janet Shepherd, 61, bought her house in the quiet cul-de-sac 39 years ago.

She said: "We live here because we love it here. We have no intention, and never have had any intention, of moving. Why should they destroy our lives?"

Janet's daughter, Carly Dobson, bought the house next door to her mother because she has always loved the area so much.

She and her husband Rob have an eight-year-old son, Jack, who was jumping around the green on his spacehopper.

The 36-year-old said: "Where are they going to put a children's play area? At the moment I can just go to my window every couple of minutes and check the children are OK outside playing on the green – everybody looks out for everyone – but with a road here instead, where can I keep an eye on my children?"

And when Jackie Doran bought her house in Teign Drive 26 years ago, she paid £1,500 extra for the views.

She said: "Fair enough if they are going to put the houses there but not the road, not here."

Steve Mason, 56, is leading the campaign against the proposals.

He said: "I consider this a violation of our rights. Where would all of the children play? Our lifestyles would be devastated.

"I have no hesitation to take this to the European Court of Human Rights."

The LDF panel were expected to allocate space for at least 95 new homes but a decision to put forward a proposal for 100 houses in Conrad Road has been delayed while other sites are considered.

Braintree district council must allocate 1,700 new houses in Witham by 2026 as part of the government's Core Strategy for housing provision.

Once draft site allocations have been put forward, there will be a public consultation on the sites, which is expected to be in the autumn.

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