Press Release: Residents’ victory as 300-home planning appeal dismissed due to unsustainable traffic impacts to Saffron Walden

2 June 2015, Uttlesford: Residents for Uttlesford (R4U), the local advocacy group for towns and villages, has hailed the Planning Inspector’s decision to refuse the building of 300 new houses on the east of Saffron Walden by developer Kier as a ‘victory for common sense’.

Mike Moore Planning Inspector Mike Moore
In his Appeal Decision, Inspector Mike Moore said “The effect of the proposals on the efficient operation of the local highway network is a significant negative factor with adverse economic effects through congestion and delays. The loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land has not been justified.”

Inspector Moore continued “The harm that I have identified in these respects in combination would be significant. On the basis of the detailed evidence before me, overall the proposals would not amount to sustainable development. I conclude that the appeal should be dismissed.”

The Kier site was promoted by the UDC Cabinet in their 2014 failed Local Plan. When rejecting the draft Local Plan, the Planning Inspectorate was critical of the impacts to traffic from building on the east of Saffron Walden. This second decision reaffirms those concerns.

Dan Starr (R4U) Dan Starr (Chair WeAreResidents.org)
Kier’s application was originally refused by the UDC Planning Committee. The UDC Cabinet decided not to defend the refusal because they were unhappy with the Planning Committee going against their draft Local Plan. This left Saffron Walden Town Council and residents’ lobby group WeAreResidents.org to jointly fight the appeal and foot the £50,000 costs on their own. WeAreResidents.org is one of the founding organisations of Residents for Uttlesford. R4U won 9 UDC seats in the May elections and is now the largest party on Saffron Walden Town Council.

Dan Starr, chair of WeAreResidents.org and spokesman for R4U said “We are delighted with the Planning Inspector’s decision. New homes are needed, but it has been plain for all to see that the east of Saffron Walden is an appalling place to build. The Kier site has been rejected by residents, the Local Plan Inspector, and now the appeal Inspector. This is a victory for common sense.”

Heather Asker(R4U) Heather Asker (Saffron Walden Mayor – R4U)
Mayor and R4U Town Councillor Heather Asker said “This is a fantastic outcome for Saffron Walden. With this decision the Planning Inspectorate has sent a clear signal – ‘no unsustainable development in Saffron Walden’. We expect UDC to abide by that. As Mayor, I will be formally writing to UDC Leader Howard Rolfe to make it clear that we expect his UDC administration to now protect to the east of Saffron Walden from development, defend the Planning Committee’s decisions in the future, and make sure that the call for new sites across the District is conducted properly this time.”

Mayor Asker concluded “I’d like to thank the team that worked hard for this result, including former town Councillors Ben Ballinger, Richard Harrington, Beryl Wardley, and David Watson, current Councillor Paul Gadd and local planning expert Alan Storah. Also it couldn’t have been done without the broader support of the residents of Saffron Walden who directly donated half of the costs of the appeal – thank you.”

The Planning Inspectors Appeal Decision is available for download from: http://www.weareresidents.org/docs/Decision-Letter-Kier-Appeal.pdf.

More information is available on the WeAreResidents.org website.

About Residents for Uttlesford

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local party of towns and villages. The party was formed by a number of residents’ groups in north Essex to provide a strong, independent voice for the views of the residents of the area. The party believes that on local issues locals should decide, not the Westminster party whip.

Uttlesford residents achieved substantial election gains in May 2015. Election successes were based on the group’s localism advocacy platform and the desire to create and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.

Residents for Uttlesford has 11 Uttlesford District Councillors and many Town and Parish Councillors. It is the Second Party at Uttlesford District Council and the first party at Saffron Walden Town Council.

Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org. Also available on the website are latest News,  councillor bios and blogs.

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