I must take issue with Councillor Gabrielle Spray’s letter headlined “Being a politician is about making tough decisions” in last week’s Times.

“Making difficult decisions” is usually politician speak for ignoring the concerns of residents and communities.

The majority Conservative group on Braintree Council is hell-bent on pushing through its vision of 40,000-plus homes in three garden communities in north Essex.

But in May’s local elections, the voters in the council wards closest to the proposed 24,000 homes at the West Tey new town rejected this vision and the wards went from the Tories to the Greens and Independents.

Villagers in Coggeshall, Feering, Kelvedon, Rayne, the Bardfields, Stebbing and surrounds fear their communities will be overwhelmed and lost inside a giant conurbation.

A tough decision, and a correct decision, would have been for Braintree Council’s majority Tory group to recognise the problems the planning inspector has identified with the garden communities and recognised residents' deep concerns.

Mrs Spray says the “wants” of existing homeowners must be balanced with the “needs” of those who “don’t have access to a place called home” or, in short, homeless people.

The average household size is 2.4 people, so where are these 100,000 homeless people in north Essex?

Yes, local grown up children, expanding families and the retired looking to downsize need local affordable housing - but not to the tune of 40,000 new homes in north Essex.

And will these new homes be affordable? The short answer is “no”. The reason West Tey is proposed at Marks Tey is because of the main railway line into London.

People living and working in London will be competing with local residents for these garden community houses thereby pushing up prices.

Prices for three-bed homes will be in excess of £400,000 - making them out of reach for local people in north Essex where the average wage is about £23,000.

There is already 95 per cent of the housing required in the planning pipeline for the new Local Plan period up to 2033.

These huge garden communities aren’t needed. So much has changed since they were first envisaged ten years ago; national politics and the climate change crisis mean a rethink is required.

While the Local Plan (the policy that dictates where housing should go) is paused, speculative developers will carry on securing permission to build large-scale housing estates on the edge of existing communities - such as Kelvedon, Feering and Coggeshall - the very thing the Local Plan was meant to stop.

So Braintree, Colchester and Tendring councils should focus on existing housing plans without the new towns and revisit future housing policy for the next Local Plan once we know where the country and north Essex are heading in regards to national level politics and the climate.

Paul Thorogood

Green Party district councillor for Kelvedon and Feering