BASILDON  Council has to radically increase the number of new homes built in the area over the next 20 years.

Council bosses had set a target of just 6,500 homes, with no green belt being released for development, but they have now admitted this was unrealistic, and the figure will have to go up.

Council leader Tony Ball said it was not yet possible to say what the new target would be, but in the spring two other options of 10,100 or 21,600 were revealed.

Both involved large areas of green belt being developed.

Mr Ball said: “The amount of homes will have to increase, but I can’t yet go into numbers because this is still being determined.”

However, he maintained 21,600 was simply not deliverable.

Large sites for potential housing development identified under the two higher options included: l 127 acres at Little Chalvedon Hall, Bowers Gifford, where Nottinghamshire County Council wants to build 1,300 homes l 68 acres at Outwood Common Road, Billericay , suitable for 650 homes.

l 291 acres east of Pound Lane, Bowers Gifford, enough for up to 2,275 homes l 71 acres at Great Crowbridge Farm, Billericay, enough for 650 houses l There were also details of a major expansion of the Wick estate at Wickford into the Fairmead plotlands area Mr Ball said a consultation over the plans had shown residents supported new homes being built on land between existing properties in the borough’s plotlands areas. Known as infill development, this could help increase numbers.

Residents and businesses were consulted over a development blueprint for the area in February, but only about 300 people responded.

The council’s preferred option was drastically short of Government targets of more than 21,000 being built, but the council hoped if it got the support of residents it could convince White- hall 6,500 was enough.

Mr Ball said: “Following the consultation there will be some changes to the options and these will be reported back to the cabinet in September.”

Basildon Lib Dem leader Geoff Williams said: “They will have to look at green belt now, and that means Bowers Gifford, because they won’t go into Billericay. We believe they should be looking at undeveloped sites like Gardiners Lane first.”