Analysis shows UDC failed to collect more than £3m in community infrastructure funding from developers in Saffron Walden

UDC recently issued a press release to defend their record of collecting monies from developers to pay for required infrastructure. Analysis of their press release hows that UDC has only really collected money for Essex County Council. In Saffron Walden alone they have failed to collect more than £3m in developer contributions for community infrastructure that they should have. The UDC press release and R4U analysis of it may be downloaded here.

New housing puts a burden on existing infrastructure. Because of this, planning law allows local authorities, such as Uttlesford District Council, to require developers to make contributions toward necessary infrastructure. The government provides guidelines on what should be collected. To collect the funds UDC forms legal ‘Section 106 agreements’ with each developer as part of giving approval for planning. Under these agreements UDC collects money for community infrastructure. They also collect money on behalf of Essex County Council for roads, buses, education and social care.

Paul Gadd (R4U) Paul Gadd (R4U)

Paul Gadd, R4U leader at Saffron Walden Town Council, said “Our analysis of the developer contributions made since 2013, which UDC has just published, show that UDC has failed to collect the money they should have for community infrastructure. Community infrastructure includes open spaces, play areas, sports and other community facilities. In 2014 UDC commissioned an analysis of 14 other councils which told them that developers should be paying more that £4,500 per house to fund these. Instead, for the 800 new homes approved in Saffron Walden since 2013, UDC has requested only £220,000, or £275 per home. Why?”

Cllr Gadd continued “So far UDC has failed to collect £3.4m in community facilities for the more than 800 houses they have already given planning permission for in Saffron Walden. To put that into perspective, they have given away the equivalent of £700 on every council tax bill in Saffron. Or to look at it another way, UDC’s 2014 study said that for 800 new homes they should have required developers to provide the community with an area the size of The Common filled with sports pitches, play areas, natural open space and community facilities. They clearly haven’t.”

R4U’s Paul Gadd concluded “By UDC’s own figures they are giving away 90% of what they should be collecting for community infrastructure. The result is that developers are making more profit and residents are losing out. No wonder Uttlesford is the 4th fastest growing district in the UK – developers all want to build here because the district council administration is deliberately allowing them to build without providing proper benefits. UDC could easily require proper contributions, but developers have repeatedly said that UDC doesn’t even ask for community benefits. UDC’s failure is appalling. It is time for a change in the district council administration.”

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 is the fastest growing local political movement in its district. In 2015 it became the second party at Uttlesford District Council (UDC). In 2017 it achieved 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 in those elections.

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 is also the majority party at Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.

Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.