Braintree must build 716 new homes per year for the next 15 years to cope with the district’s growth, a planning inspector has found.

The district council, along with Colchester and Tendring councils, submitted a joint blueprint for growth as one section of each area’s Local Plan submission.

Government Planning Inspector Roger Clews has now returned his verdict on the councils’ proposals, giving his backing to the detail provided in the plan.

Graham Butland, Leader of Braintree District Council, said: “I am pleased that the Planning Inspectorate agrees with the housing need figures which underpin our Local Plan.

"We know building new homes is a key priority for the Government.

"Having a Local Plan allows us to shape where these new homes go, and make sure they are built in sustainable places, rather than where best suits developers.”

Up until 2033, the inspector agreed 920 homes will be needed across Colchester, along with 550 in Tendring and 716 in Braintree.

The approximate figures are based on national guidelines and the authorities’ conclusions have now been found sound by the inspector.

Neil Stock, leader of Tendring District Council, said it was important to have accurate numbers before moving further forward with the plan process.

“This will provide greater certainty for housebuilders and councils which can only be a good thing,” he said.

“I am glad the inspector has recognised the amount of work which has gone into this calculation, and that this can provide reassurance to the public that we have not simply plucked a figure out of the air.”

Mr Clews’ response on the figures had been delayed after a late submission from a developer relating to Tendring’s number.

The three councils’ garden community plans were labelled “ambitious” but “lacking” by Mr Clews in a letter last month.