A HALSTEAD councillor defiantly claimed the town “cannot take any more new homes” as Braintree Council was slammed for failing to deliver a Local Pplan.

Jackie Pell, councillor for Halstead Trinity, spoke out at a heated council meeting to discuss proposals for so-called garden communities in north Essex.

If successful, the initiative would see three new towns, made up of 43,000 homes, in Essex, potentially meaning fewer new homes being built in existing communities.

In support of the scheme, Halstead Residents’ Association councillor Mrs Pell cited the impact even more new dwellings and residents would have on Halstead’s already struggling infrastructure and roads.

She said: “I do support the garden villages and I hope they go through.

“Otherwise Halstead can expect another 8,000 dumped on us.

“Our town cannot cope now, with the infrastructure and roads that we have.

“We have had to accept a lot of development and I think we had reached the stage where we cannot take anymore.

“I have to support my town because I think there are a lot of people that don’t realise that if these garden villages do not happen, we will be affected more than anybody else.”

Braintree Council’s failure to produce a Local Plan setting out its future housing proposals means that even if the garden communities are given the go-ahead, developers can still build in towns that aren’t likely to hit their housing target.

Critics at the meeting used that as leverage to slam the council for its lack of a Local Plan and suggested discussions about the garden communities be put on hold until a plan was in place.

That was voted down by the Tories, Labour and Halstead Residents’ Association, who all approved of the latest evidence provided in support of the garden communities scheme.

Council leader Graham Butland said: “Clearly feelings run high but I don’t believe there is the amount of opposition that some are trying to tell us.

“Someone talked about keyboard warriors earlier and I think it is a lot like that. I think we do have to resolve it.

“Come to Great Notley where there is social housing and walk around and tell me what is what. That is the kind of thing we want to develop, with open spaces, with cycle tracks, open areas and play areas.

“That’s what we’re trying to build.”