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.”

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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 leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). It is the fastest growing local political movement in its district. In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In 2017 it solidified its position with 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.

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

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