CONSERVATIVE councillors have said a ‘Plan B’ must be found urgently in case plans to build thousands of homes are rejected.

Colchester councillor Lewis Barber has proposed a motion for a full council meeting due to be held next week.

The motion calls for a Plan B to be found in case the north Essex councils’ plans to provide a five-year housing supply are found to be unsound.

The motion said: “A lack of five-year supply would put the council and the borough at risk of speculative planning applications being permitted at appeal and highlights the importance of having a new, valid Local Plan.”

It says planning officers should be instructed to develop, with immediate effect, a contingency plan.

Mr Barber said: “The Conservative Party voted against submitting the garden communities plans for examination as we had concerns about the details in them.

“We were worried the plans would be found unsound and so we want to make sure a Plan B is in place.

“If we don’t have a Local Plan we would be at risk of speculative development.We want officers to start the work immediately on a Plan B.”

He said it was too early to say what a Plan B could be, but work should be started now on finding an alternative.

He added: “We don’t know what we would do yet as we would have to do a sustainability appraisal, we would have to debate it at a Local Plan Committee and Full Council.

“It will take a significant amount of time which is why we want work to start now.”

David King, Colchester councillor responsible for business and resources, welcomed the debate.

He said: “We hope to agree on a joint motion because we want a consensus on how best to proceed.

“The inspector hasn’t asked for a Plan B, but he did ask the four councils to deliver a Plan A and to present new evidence to support an agreed Local Plan and garden communities – which are both his and our priorities.

“He would expect us to be ready to respond to further requests for clarification and to act on his decisions, which is more important than working up a Plan B.

“Nonetheless, we will be as ready as we can be for the Inspector should he decide against the Local Plan. We will do everything to protect our communities from speculative development.”