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 Chair & Leader UDC

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

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.

7 Replies to “4 ways to put Uttlesford residents in the driving seat of new settlements”

  1. Richard Ansell

    Ref Ashdon Road development.Further to Bloom homes development there is now an application for 60 more plus more houses .This is ridiculous as the Ashdon Rd cannot take anymore traffic it is congested as it is there is no way this is viable .Mainly roads schools doctors and dentists . So are residents 4 UK going to construct a school plus put in a bypass before this is allowed .Having lived in Saffron Walden nearly all my life I feel that the town is dying and these houseservices are not going to be affordable for local people .Example my son and wife couldn’t afford a house in town they bought a house in Haverhill . When are you going to look at the situation of first time buyers going to be able to buy houses in the town they grew up in ,or do you want the town to full of older people .There seems to be no problem for retirement homes /glass to be built .But no affordable or social housing being built .Come look at you public before you give the go ahead for any future developments .

    • R4U

      R4U agrees with you. Saffron Walden needs more infrastructure (roads, schools, etc.) before more homes are allowed and there needs to be a specific allocation of the ‘so called’ affordable home just for local people. Those are 2 of the things we’d like to see UDC adopt … BUT we don’t control UDC. It is a Tory run administration. They decide where the new homes get built and what to ask developers to cough up for. We think the Tory administration is doing a poor job of looking out for residents and their needs.

    • Richard Ansell

      Turnstone estates Ltd they have submitted planning application to uttlesford district council for 55 more houses

      • R4U

        Thank you Richard, we just had someone email us the letter 10 minutes ago. Scope creep was our concern with UDC granting Ridgeons development permission for the whole site. It is clearly worrying as there is so much development going in on the east of Saffron Walden without UDC having any plan for infrastructure. We’ll put a team on it to look into it.

    • R4U

      R4U is the second biggest party at UDC. The Conservatives are the biggest party and so control all the committees and decisions. However we have 3 seats (which is 30%) on the Planning Committee. That allows us to make sure that issues are aired with respect to planning matters, but we can be outvoted when the Conservatives are whipped. We also have 2 seats on the Local Plan working group, where we can again try to make sure the right things are done. If we were elected to run the Council in 2019 we could change things about and make decisions with and for residents. But today as the second party, our role is to hold to account, expose where things are not being done right, support things that are being done right, and try to nudge policy decisions so that they align with our residents focused agenda. The key difference between us and Westminster parties, is that ultimately Westminster politicians work for their parties, not those that elected them. R4U was formed because people were tired of being ignored by local politicians of Westminster parties. We only have one boss, residents. They way to get a proper residents’’ agenda is to elect us to run UDC in 2019.

    • R4U

      BTW we can’t find any record of an additional 60 homes by Bloor on Ashdon Rd (we assume you mean on the Ridgeons’ site). There doesn’t seem to be anything in the UDC planning system. Do you have any more details or a planning application number?

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