Significant concerns UDC massaged pollution report for Saffron Walden ahead of key vote on additional 250 house estates east of town

Major concerns have been voiced by Residents for Uttlesford about a new air quality report that Uttlesford District Council has produced to support building at least a further 250 houses on the east of Saffron Walden. The planning applications will be determined at a public meeting on 19th December 2018.

Developers of 250 homes on the Kier and Shire Hill Farm sites on the east of Saffron Walden have prepared air quality reports for their applications. UDC commissioned an independent review of each of these reports which show that their proposed housing estates will significantly and adversely affect pollution through the town centre. UDC has also prepared its own report of the two applications combined which seems to say the exact opposite.

Paul Gadd (R4U) Paul Gadd (R4U)

R4U’s Paul Gadd, a councillor at Saffron Walden Town Council, said “Rather than the facts, this seems like another case of an air quality report being massaged so that it can support new building. The independent peer reviews of the individual air quality reports prepared for the Kier and the Shire Hill Farm developments paint a bleak picture. They indicated that their proposed housing estates, on top of predicted growth in traffic, would create an unprecedented 12 pollutions hotspots throughout Saffron Walden that were over the legally allowed safe limit of 40 µg/m3, with three being over 65. Now UDC has combined these independent reports into their own interpretation and somehow, magically, by allowing these 250 additional houses, UDC states that all pollution hotspots will be way under the legal limit of 40. It’s just not credible. When we met with UDC they’ve admitted that their report is flawed, however they’ve said they’re pressing ahead anyway and propose to recommend approving all the new houses at next week’s planning meeting.”

“As part of the applications for the new houses UDC has even reintroduced their much ridiculed ‘road-to-nowhere’ between Thaxted Rd and Radwinter Rd. Actually their link-road proposal doesn’t solve the underlying east-west traffic problems that cause delay and pollution. It is designed as a normal estate road that only goes from Radwinter Rd to Thaxted Rd. If built, it will force 1000s of cars and HGVs along a normal estate road and right past homes and the new primary school. It is the equivalent of sending HGVs and cars up Winstanley Rd and Ross Close past the Katherine Semar School.”

UDC proposals would see traffic entering Saffron Walden from the east be forced back through the town, even though Essex Highways say the eastern-link road should not be built as it will not work

Paul Gadd continued “Essex Highways say it should not be built because it is an estate road and not designed for lots of traffic [see ECC Traffic Study Page 9, 10]. Specifically say that the predicted traffic volumes ‘are unsuitable for residential roads of the type being proposed’; that it should be ‘routed appropriately around’ the housing estates and not right through them. In fact they go on to say that without a relief road outside of the town, they ‘would not recommend further development in the east of Saffron Walden as it would not be possible to improve the existing road network within the town to accommodate the additional traffic.’ UDC should follow the recommendation from those responsible for the roads. What Saffron Walden urgently actually needs is a proper new east-west relief road.”

Cllr Gadd concluded “To make matters worse, UDC seem to be using this air quality report to support their other intention to route all inbound HGVs right through the town centre. Keir’s application was defeated 4 years ago by residents and rejected by the Planning Inspector because it would worsen traffic congestion and so pollution. We are considering all options, including a judicial review. The Kier planning proposal is scheduled to be heard by the UDC Planning Committee on Wednesday 19th of December at 2pm at the London Rd council offices. We recommend that concerned residents register to speak and attend the meeting.”

Residents who wish to speak at the Planning Committee meeting must register. Details are available here on the UDC website.

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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