UDC again fails to make developers pay as Saffron Walden misses out on £1millon in sports & leisure facilities

Uttlesford District Council has failed to ask a developer for any contribution towards community sports or other leisure facilities, and that as a direct result Saffron Walden residents have seen a ‘community loss’ of more than £1million in the last year alone says R4U.

Last week developer Kier asked to make a presentation to a Saffron Walden Town Council committee about their proposed development of 150 houses on Thaxted Rd in the town. Kier was asked why they were making no developer’s contribution to sports provision, amenity green space or other community and recreational facilities. In response Kier said that UDC hadn’t asked for a contribution.  They added that they would have been happy to have made one if asked by UDC, and that it was standard practice elsewhere.

Paul Gadd (R4U) Paul Gadd (R4U)

R4U Saffron Walden Town Cllr Paul Gadd said “UDC’s Open Spaces report found a significant deficit of sports and community facilities in the district, particularly in Saffron Walden, Stansted and Dunmow. The report calculated that developers should pay £4,600 per new house just to stop the deficit growing – but Kier told the Town Council that UDC had not asked them for any contribution. We are appalled. And this isn’t a single instance. Last year UDC also refused to ask Gladman for a similar contribution, and the same is true of almost every recent development in the town. Just these 2 recent developments equate to over £1millon of missed contribution to sports and leisure facilities in Saffron Walden.”

Cllr Paul Gadd continued “But this is the tip of the iceberg. In 2014 the Conservative UDC leadership approved a policy that removed the obligation for developers to contribute towards sports and leisure facilities at all, and they’ve now enshrined it in their draft Local Plan. These important sports and leisure contributions are nationally recommended and are standard practice in other planning authorities, so why not in our district? Last week the Royal Mail reported that Uttlesford is the third fastest growing ‘housing hotspot’ in the country. If less land is donated for sports, leisure and wildlife purposes, developers can cram in more homes to make more profit at the expense of residents. No wonder developers want to come here and build.”

Cllr Gadd concluded “Residents want to know why the UDC leadership would push through a policy that short-changes residents to increase developer profits. R4U will continue to fight for what is right. We oppose this policy and will continue to oppose the Local Plan until its many failings, including this, are resolved.”

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’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 leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In the May 2019 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. In 2021 the party won half the Essex County Council seats in Uttlesford district.

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.