Dan Starr: After wasting £millions UDC must own up to its titanic Local Plan failure

In an unusual move, last week the Planning Inspector cancelled the draft Uttlesford Local Plan hearings part way through and rejected the Plan. This is a titanic failure because Uttlesford District Council have wasted 8 years and been fiscally irresponsible with £millions of taxpayers’ money.


All the way through the creation of the plan the UDC leadership had been stating that they were proud of the plan. This was in spite of two consultation rejections by 99% and 1,000s of pages of external deposition that said the opposite. They thought their Local Plan was unsinkable.

Holed below the water line

The Inspector could have decided the Plan was a bit broken and temporarily suspended it while it was patched up. But he didn’t, he said he rejected it completely because of the scale of work that was required.

This makes Uttlesford District Council one of the worst performing councils in the country – only 15 have had their Local Plans withdrawn.

“I [still] see no icebergs”

Since then UDC have been claiming on their website that “much of the plan is sound.”

I’ve also been forwarded an email from a concerned resident in which the UDC Director of Public Services, Roger Harborough, stated that the Inspector “has not found the Plan unsound.”


I’ve read the Inspectors’ summary and it says nothing of the sort. In fact in just one part he says “I have severe concerns about the justification for this proposal and thus the soundness of the plan as a whole.” And the rest of his summary is in a similar vein. In his conclusion he states “I cannot recommend adoption of the plan as submitted.” It’s clear he’s found it unsound and rejected it. You can read his summary for yourself.

Fiscal Irresponsibility

It is OUTRAGEOUS that a Council that has spent 8 years and £millions of OUR council taxes on this failure still has its head stuck firmly in the sand.

In fact a Tory councillor has even started blaming residents groups for derailing the plan now that UDC may have to find places for 10% more houses. In his report the Inspector made it perfectly clear that UDC itself had failed to correctly calculate how many were needed in the first place. You can find out more by reading our FAQs.

Own the failure and apologise

UDC needs to own up to its failure, apologise to the people of Uttlesford and give residents real power in creating a new plan. But they are unlikely to do that because past experience shows that their hubris gets in the way.

Nothing short of a new Council is required

What is clear is that fundamental change is required in the way UDC operates. I believe it isn’t in the DNA of the current Tory led administration to take responsibility for its own failures and make the structural changes required. They can’t even own up to the fact they have a problem and they are responsible for it.

In May 2015 we get the chance to elect a new District Council. We ask that you strongly consider voting for your Residents for Uttlesford candidates so that we can change the Council for the better for the residents of Uttlesford.