CREATING an alternative to the garden community proposals for north Essex will require an entirely new Local Plan to be drawn up, planning officers have warned.

Experts believe this process could delay the adoption of the plan by as far as summer 2023.

The revelations were made in a report prepared for Colchester Council’s Local Plan committee, which meets on Thursday to discuss the details.

It says: “An alternative to Section One would in the view of officers require the preparation of a new plan in its entirety.

“It is likely to require a thorough review of evidence, a new sustainability appraisal and new allocations.”

Late last year councillors voted to explore creating a Plan B to the controversial garden community proposals, which are being developed in conjunction with Tendring, Braintree and Essex councils.

In total the schemes would see up to 43,000 homes built at garden towns at West Tey, on the Colchester Tendring border and west of Braintree.

But officers say “it will not be possible to develop a Plan B in relation to Section One in isolation” as it contains housing and employment targets which are needed to inform the next stage.

The authorities’ sustainability appraisal was also compiled with the garden communities included.

The report adds: “An alternative strategy without garden communities, or with a reduced number, would require changes to the vision and spatial strategy.”

Planning Inspector Roger Clews is set to give his findings following further examination of the garden communities plans in the coming weeks.

He could say Section One of the plan is sound, meaning the Local Plan could be adopted as soon as June next year.

But the proposals could be found unsound, and the councils would be invited to withdraw them. The final option is he could rule the plans can be made sound with modifications including axing one or more garden community.