Thursday 4th December 2014, Saffron Walden: Residents-for-Uttlesford (R4U), the local advocacy group for towns and villages, has demanded that the residents of the district have key decision making roles for the formulation of a brand new Local Plan after the Planning Inspectorate recently found the current draft Plan unsound on a number of serious matters.
Such was his level of concern, on 3rd December Planning Inspector Roy Foster took the extraordinary step of stopping the examination part way through to throw out the plan and instruct UDC to start again. In his summary conclusions Inspector Roy Foster made it clear that he believes that UDC’s approach to mass home-building in existing towns and villages was flawed and that UDC had failed to do the work required to work out how many houses the district needed.
Inspector Foster had the option to send the Plan to be fixed; however he mandated a restart and said that:
“The scale of work would be greater than could be completed within the normal maximum 6-month period of a suspended examination.”
He heavily criticised the Plan and cited the following reasons for his decision:
- UDC had not calculated the housing numbers properly and so 10% more may be needed;
- He doubted that the existing towns and villages, including Saffron Walden and Dunmow, could take many more houses;
- UDC’s should revert to their previous new settlement approach, which would cater for the majority of new homes well into the future;
- Elsenham was an unsuitable location for a new settlement;
- The selection process for new settlement locations should be restarted and be more transparent.
R4U party chair and Essex County Councillor, John Lodge said:
“The residents of Uttlesford need a public apology because UDC has wasted over £2 million of tax-payers’ money and 8 long years creating a plan that was patently unfit. This is now a lame duck administration, and it’s time for a new team to move the district forward. Residents have consistently highlighted the flaws in the plan and been ignored. We now demand that residents have a seat at the table to create a new, transparent and evidence-based plan.”
John Lodge added:
“It is important to know that an increase in the number of new homes needed is as a result of UDC not being able to do the maths right in the first instance. It is not an additional penalty imposed by the Inspector – they were always there. Whilst residents are concerned about any increase we believe that UDC still has its required 5-year housing supply which should allow them to prevent predatory development.”
The rejection of the draft Local Plan raises a number of important questions. Read answers to our Frequently Asked Questions.