UDC Planning Head quits to join developer and UDC fails to act on Conflict of Interest – Press Release

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U), the local party of towns and villages, has stated that Uttlesford District Council has put itself at risk by continuing to employ their head of planning through his notice period as he prepares to join a national developer with major interests in the district.

Uttlesford District Council has seen a few high profile resignations since the high-profile rejection of their draft Local Plan by the government’s Inspector in 2014; first the chief executive, and now the head of planning.

John Lodge (R4U)
John Lodge (R4U)
R4U’s Leader at UDC, Cllr John Lodge said “The facts are pretty straightforward. UDC’s head of planning has resigned, and he will soon join a large national developer who has major interests in Uttlesford. This developer was granted Outline planning consent for 790 homes in Dunmow by UDC last October. They are currently moving through the Detailed Planning approval process for that site and another 40 home development in Elsenham. The head of planning role at UDC has management oversight and overall responsibility for all development approvals and contracts in Uttlesford. This includes the selection of sites that developers have put forward for the new draft Local Plan. It is clear for anyone to see that there is a very real Conflict of Interest for him to remain at work.”

Cllr Lodge continued “I have raised the matter a number of times with the UDC leader and interim chief executive, and I am frankly appalled that they have refused to act – this is not their finest hour. To be clear this is not about an individual; it is about the power and influence that the head of planning role has, which leads to both real and perceived Conflicts of Interest in this situation. By not acting swiftly to remove him from work, UDC is opening itself to law suits from other developers whose sites are not selected for the Local Plan. It also risks another £2 million refusal of their Local Plan. He should have been on gardening from the beginning of January, as he would be in any commercial organisation. So what are the real reasons that the UDC leadership is prepared to risk taxpayers’ money like this again?”

About Residents for Uttlesford

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties.

R4U is the fastest growing local political movement in its district. In 2015 it became the second party at Uttlesford District Council (UDC). In 2017 it achieved a further by-election gain with 60% of the vote. In the May 2019 Local Elections R4U gained majority control of UDC winning two-thirds of the seats. The result delivered the biggest loss of seats by any UK Conservative controlled council in the UK in those elections.

R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.

R4U is also the majority party at Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.

Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.