Major concerns have been expressed about a new planning application by Kier to build 150 homes on the east of Saffron Walden, and also that Uttlesford District Council has shown a pattern of bias towards development on the site.
Developer Kier has recently submitted a planning application to build 150 homes on farmland on the opposite side of Thaxted Rd from the Saffron Walden Leisure Centre. Previous development of this controversial site was opposed by residents and the Town Council, rejected by UDC’s Planning Committee, found ‘unsound’ by the Local Plan Inspector in 2014, and finally refused by a Planning Inspector at appeal in 2015. The main reasons for the refusals were the impact to already congested roads, associated increases to already illegal pollution levels from traffic, and loss of high-quality agricultural land.
Cllr Paul Gadd continued “As concerning is UDC’s lack of impartiality and active promotion of this particular developer’s site. A Freedom of Information request, published in 2016, showed that as part of trying to push the previous Kier application through, the UDC leadership hid and misrepresented legal advice. This was so that they could undermine the refusal made by their own Planning Committee, leaving residents and the town council to fund and fight the appeal – which they won. Shockingly papers obtained from UDC at the appeal hearing also showed that UDC had tried to conspire with Kier to actively circumvent that appeal process, again to try and allow building on the site. It is shocking.”
Cllr Gadd concluded “There still appears to be active bias at UDC. They continue to refuse to consider other better alternative sites for new homes in Saffron Walden, and are repeatedly advocating for Kier. They are refusing to publish an update to their outdated 2013 Air Quality Assessment which would show how poor pollution is still predicted to be. And earlier this year, they tried to force through bizarre road proposals, which would create a huge one-way system that would feed HGVs through the town centre – all so that they could green-light Kier. But there is more; recent press revelations exposed what appeared to be a planning officer’s bias towards another developer. And residents may have also read that UDC received money from Stansted Airport to consider their expansion plans. So one of our R4U councillors has written to UDC to ask them if Kier has also paid them any money for ‘consideration’ of their various planning applications. We await their response. When there are better options for new homes, residents should be told why UDC is still hiding information and favouring this thrice rejected site; after all, the council is supposed to work for them, not developers.”
UDC is currently undertaking a public consultation on Keir’s planning application. Comments need to be submitted to UDC by 16th May 2018. Residents can do this via email to firstname.lastname@example.org quoting application number UTT/18/0824/OP or online at this link on the UDC website Kier planning application page.
Supporting Documents and Information:
- Essex Highways study of Saffron Walden Traffic (Nov 2016) ** see page 9 and 10 for summary ** – PDF
- Objection submitted to voice residents’ concerns about new Saffron Walden traffic light and one-way scheme
- Legal advice sought by UDC gained by FOI – see page 19, section 57 – PDF
- Response to application for costs on behalf of Uttlesford District Council – see page 5, section 21 – PDF
- Email from Kier to UDC Head of Planning about second appeal – PDF
- Planning Application for 250 houses – UTT/18/0824/OP (Kier) on UDC website
- Planning Application for 100 houses – UTT/17/2832/OP (Shire Hill Farm) on UDC website