I WOULD like to pick up on one aspect of the letter by Richard Bayley, manaing director of North Essex Garden Communities Ltd, in the Gazette (March 15).

He claims: “In Essex and particularly North Essex, there is a real shortage of homes in that middle range."

Presumably he is also trying to claim the garden communities are the answer to this problem.

A similar claim, that north Essex is in some kind of “special needs” situation, is at the introduction to the Interim Business Plan for North Essex Garden Communities Ltd, about to be scrutinised by Colchester Council.

Apparently, Essex, especially north Essex, is underperforming economically.

To make this dubious claim they use data, published by the Office of National Statistics, called Gross Value Added.

The ONS itself states that “while GVA per head can be a useful way of comparing regions of different size, comparisons can be affected by commuting flows into or out of the region. They should therefore be used with caution”.

Exactly the situation we have in North Essex, compounded by recent significant housing growth, and increasing numbers of commuters.

In my opinion, the special needs problem in North Essex, especially Colchester, where I’ve lived most of my life, is that too many homes have been built on the back of public sector land sell off and government help to buy, with insufficient infrastructure investment to support the additional population.

If there is an economic underperformance it’s that and it also affects the health and wellbeing of Colchester residents.

So rather than cherry-picking information, including invalid data, to try and justify an end goal of massive new towns and claiming that he knows the answer to what is actually a national housing problem, why not have a look at one prime site in Colchester which has now become available for a development of mixed tenure housing, the Cultural Quarter.

But maybe that’s too small to be interesting.

I would be very interested to see any validated economic argument from NEGC Ltd which substantiates the need for such large-scale developments as proposed in local plan section 1 and the opportunity to analyse and debate it.

The Planning Inspector wasn’t satisfied; do we now have that evidence?

Neil Gilbranch