4 ways to put Uttlesford residents in the driving seat of new settlements

As Uttlesford District Council moves towards the final stages of its Local Plan, R4U has announced four key principles that are the party’s commitment to local control over planning and development the district. The principles, which R4U is seeking to have incorporated into UDC’s draft Local Plan, relate to the evidence that supports the plan, infrastructure, local control, and housing affordability. They are particularly important for locations where UDC is proposing new settlements, such as near Great Chesterford and Great Dunmow, and to the west of Braintree near Stebbing and Felsted.

R4U's 4 Key Local Plan Principles
  1. Proper Evidence: Empirical evidence, including that for housing need, sustainability, air quality, water, green-spaces, roads, schools and other infrastructure, should be produced, used and published to determine how many new houses Uttlesford needs to provide and the best locations.
  2. Infrastructure First: Building of new homes must follow the delivery of key primary supporting infrastructure, such as roads and schools; and alongside secondary items such as retail facilities, employment land, medical centres, sports/green spaces, high-speed broadband and utilities.
  3. Local Control Over Future: New settlement creation will be steered by local Development Corporations that will hold developers in check, ensure infrastructure delivery, protect existing communities, and get the best deal for local people. They should be majority owned by UDC, and include board members from adjacent town and parish councils.
  4. True Affordability: A portion of the Affordable Housing provided in each new settlement must be retained for existing local people, and with schemes for local key service-workers that are index-linked to wages, making them truly affordable.

John Lodge (R4U)John Lodge (R4U)

R4U chair John Lodge, who sits on UDC’s Local Plan working group, said “For the time being we are the second party at UDC. That means we don’t decide where they want to build, but we do have influence over the Local Plan. So far we’ve achieved good success in making sure that this time a more inclusive process has been followed. Soon UDC will prepare the final version of their Plan, and as a residents’ party we need to make sure that they focus on four key principles, which are Proper Evidence, Infrastructure First, Local Control, and True Affordability; these are vital to put local people in the driving-seat, not developers.”

Seat at the table for existing residents

John Lodge continued “In detail, firstly UDC must publish the rest of the evidence to prove to residents that the best locations for new homes have been chosen. Secondly, housing must follow infrastructure, not the other way around. We need roads, schools and surgeries. Thirdly we expect the creation of new settlements to be steered by local Development Corporations to oversee developers, protect existing communities, and get the best deal for locals. They should be set up and majority owned by UDC, and include board members from the community, and adjacent town and parish councils.”

Making Affordability Work

Petrina Lees (R4U) Petrina Lees (R4U)

R4U’s Elsenham and Henham district councillor Petrina Lees, who also sits on UDC’s Local Plan working group, added “I have first-hand experience of when it is not done properly. Elsenham and Henham was the target of a new settlement until the government agreed with residents that the location was unsuitable and the infrastructure plan wasn’t fit for purpose. Due to the continuing lack of a coherent long-term plan, our communities are being overrun with piecemeal development in any available field. It has left residents without a say in what goes on and locals priced out of the market. R4U’s fourth principle is revolutionary and ensures that key workers and our children can afford homes in the future. We expect that a portion of the affordable housing provided in each new settlement should be kept for local people, with schemes for local key service-workers that are index-linked to wages, making them truly affordable.”

Leading the Way

Cllr John Lodge concluded “Our local principles show leadership and are the only honest way that residents can be actively involved in the future of where we all live. I have already raised our key principles with the UDC administration and look forward to working with them to make them an important part of the district’s new Local Plan. As a party we will support UDC’s new Local Plan when these resident-focused principles are adopted.”

Minimise Risk

UDC is proposing that the majority of new housing be provided in 3 new settlements. These are very ambitious goals as the simultaneous building of 3 new settlements by a single planning authority is almost unprecedented. UDC has no previous experience of this, and so as the local residents’ party, R4U wishes to see its 4 key principles adopted by UDC for the final version of their Local Plan so as to minimise the delivery risk and increase the local control associated with their Plan.

About Residents for Uttlesford