UDC’s Local Plan based on 3 new garden-villages requires proper infrastructure and residents’ concerns must be acted on

Uttlesford District Council’s proposed Local Plan strategy based around 3 new garden-villages requires crucial infrastructure investment and residents’ concerns must be acted on to make the plan sustainable and deliverable, says Residents for Uttlesford, the local party of towns and villages.

The government requires local authorities to produce Local Plans, which are long-range roadmaps for where new housing will be built. Uttlesford District Council has released their latest draft and they have changed their housing strategy from last October when the previous draft Plan was pulled from local newspapers at the last minute.

The latest draft Local Plan proposes that the majority of additional homes are built in three new garden-villages located north-east of Great Chesterford, west of Great Dunmow and west of Braintree in Stebbing and Felsted, with the remainder dropped into existing towns and villages. UDC expects the Plan to be available for public consultation on July 12th.

New homes will go in 3 new settlements and in existing towns and villages (source: UDC)

R4U’s John Lodge, the Opposition Leader at UDC said “The evidence has always been clear that new settlement strategy was the most sustainable, so R4U has always supported that approach. Unfortunately it has taken UDC so long to produce a viable plan that they are now expected to allow 14,000 new homes – more than twice the number from when they started in 2011. That means that UDC are now recommending 3 new settlements to take the majority of the additional homes that they require.

John Lodge (R4U)John Lodge (R4U)

“After UDC’s Local Plan was rejected in 2014, Residents for Uttlesford demanded a cross-party governance group to oversee the process. That group, where R4U has 2 members, doesn’t decide the Local Plan itself but keep check that things are done properly; and in this latest draft it seems that UDC has done a reasonable job. Whilst many communities will be impacted by UDC’s proposals, on balance it seems that their new strategy can provide a workable solution to deliver the required homes, however key evidence is still missing to prove it. A successful plan will also need leadership from UDC to make sure that critical infrastructure, such as roads, schools and surgeries are actually delivered, especially for new settlements; that new settlements have marked separations from existing communities; and the lives of as few people as possible are impacted. We will continue to provide the voice of logic and reason for local residents across the district on these issues, even where we don’t currently have councillors.”

Last October (2016), as with the 2014 draft Local Plan that was rejected by the Planning Inspector, UDC proposed the majority of new homes for existing towns and villages, and their leadership was publicly discussing the idea of a ‘Greater Walden’ to take many more homes. However a recent new transport study says that many Saffron Walden roads are at capacity and the town can’t take more large housing estates.

John Lodge continued “This draft of the Local Plan recognises the traffic problems in Saffron Walden. UDC was considering a further 860 homes for the town last October but is now reduced to 240, but they are in addition to the 1,000 already approved. However the inclusion of the Kier site again is particularly troubling for residents. The resultant illegal air pollution from increased traffic will cause additional deaths. It was one of the reasons the Planning Inspector found the 2014 Local Plan unsound and Kier’s appeal was also rejected. Importantly for the town, a new primary school is needed. So it seems odd that UDC favour the Kier site over another location that could deliver the 2-form entry school that is required. R4U’s councillors in Saffron Walden will continue to push for the best deal for residents of the town.”

In the draft Local Plan, Great Dunmow would grow from 3,800 homes to 7,000 and would have 2 new settlements on either side that could grow to 10,000 homes each.

More than 2,000 new homes have already been built across Uttlesford since 2011. Under UDC’s draft Local Plan the towns and larger villages will see the following new homes built over and above what they have today:

  • Saffron Walden 788 new homes built, of which 548 have already been approved
  • Great Dunmow 3,001, of which 2,258 have been approved
  • Elsenham 582 of which 542 are already approved
  • Great Chesterford 83 of which 52 are already approved
  • Newport 274, all of which have already been approved
  • Stansted Mountfitchet 277 of which 215 are already approved
  • Takeley 140 of which 98 are already approved
  • Thaxted 101 of which 47 are already approved

Click on the image below to see more detail.

John Lodge concluded “Elsewhere we are happy that UDC has finally ruled out a new settlement joining Elsenham and Henham as local people, Residents for Uttlesford, the Planning Inspector and indeed Secretary of State all thought it was a poor location.”

“But UDC’s proposals will see an almost doubling of Great Dunmow, as well as a new settlement immediately to the west and another one 4 miles to the east. Combined that is bigger than Bishop’s Stortford. UDC needs to conclusively prove that these proposals won’t overwhelm local roads and the historic Domesday settlementSimilarly for their proposed new settlement immediately to the north-east of Great Chesterford, there are concerns about flood run-off into the village, damage to the Romano-British landscape and archaeology, and the knock-on effect to traffic in other settlements. R4U expects UDC to fully respond to and act on all the concerns that are raised by parish councils and residents during the public consultation.”

Residents will have a chance to have their say when UDC starts the public consultation in a few weeks. In the meantime the documents can be downloaded from their website at this link.

About Residents for Uttlesford