Secretary of State’s refusal of extensions to Uttlesford’s existing towns and villages leave New Settlement as only viable option to meet housing need – Press Release

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) believes that the Secretary of State’s refusal of planning for 1,500 home extensions to existing towns and villages makes the case for new settlements the only viable and sustainable option.

This week the Secretary of State refused Planning Permission in appeals for 800 homes in Elsenham and 700 in Dunmow. The 2 sites were extensions to existing communities that UDC is considering as part of its new Local Plan. The decisions follow similar refusals for an extension to the east of Saffron Walden and the 2014 rejection of the previous draft UDC Local Plan.

Residents are demanding that UDC now needs to redouble its efforts to deliver brand-new settlements instead.

Cllr Alex Armstrong, R4U Dunmow
Cllr Alex Armstrong, R4U Dunmow
R4U’s Alex Armstrong, Councillor for Dunmow Town said “After 4 Planning Inspector refusals and now 2 from the Secretary of State, it is clear that UDC’s strategy to significantly extend the existing settlements is dead. UDC refused to fight recent appeals for their Local Plan sites, leaving residents and their town and parish councils to mount and fund their own legal challenges. Congratulations to them for their successes.”

“With the rejection of the major sites that are extensions to Dunmow, Saffron Walden and Elsenham, the only viable solution is 2 brand-new settlements to meet housing need. Unlike in existing towns, building new settlements ensures that all key infrastructure is provided by developers, such as new schools, roads, medical centres and jobs.”

Cllr Alex Armstrong continued “Residents are concerned that UDC didn’t learn from its £2m Local Plan rejection in 2014. Since then the Chief Executive, Head of Planning and Head of Legal have all left, but it is clear that once again the UDC Cabinet are still not using evidence to determine which sites they are selecting for new homes. At the end of July, they said they wanted to build more than 600 homes in both Saffron Walden and Dunmow, even though they didn’t have the highways, transportation, air quality, education or sustainability assessments to support this.”

“Given the major rulings by both the government and Inspectors against them, it would be a risky and costly strategy for UDC to try the same again for a seventh time. The new Chief Executive is tasked with finally producing a workable plan, and this Spring UDC approved a strategy based on new settlements. Residents now expect UDC to stop any major new development in existing towns and villages and move forward with proposals to build new garden-settlements instead.”


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-west Essex to provide a strong, independent voice for local people. The party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not politicians from Westminster parties.

R4U is the fastest growing local political movement in the district. In 2015 it became the second party at Uttlesford District Council. In 2017 R4U achieved further gains with a 60% share of the vote in a local district council by-election. Success has been based on the group’s desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.
Residents for Uttlesford also has numerous Town and Parish Councillors. It is the largest party at Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt its finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards.

R4U can be found on the web at

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