SWTC: Proposal for 100 houses on Friends School site breaks local and national planning policies – Residents urged to respond to Public Consultation

The Friends School has roots going back to 1702, however it became central to Saffron Walden in 1870s when George Stacey Gibson gifted the land so that the school could move from Croydon to the town. Since then for 140 years it has been an important part of the community, not only educating local people but providing access to vital sports and arts facilities inside the town.

Chase New Homes purchased the site after the school closed in 2017. The developer has now submitted their planning proposals for 100 homes on part of the site to Uttlesford District Council. These are split into several planning applications. Full planning consent is being requested for the first 30 homes at the front of the site with a single playing field and refurbished swimming pool block. They are also seeking outline planning approval for a further 70 market-priced houses at the back of the site. Chase has indicated that at this point they are unable to convert the old school building into flats as the roof refurbishment will cost £2m. They have also not released any details about what they intend to do with the new primary school that was built on the Debden Rd side of the site a few years before the school closed. Their proposals (UTT/19/1744/OP) are open for public consultation and feedback by UDC until 4th September 2019 – see the link below.

Paul Gadd (R4U) Paul Gadd (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr Paul Gadd at Saffron Walden Town Council (SWTC) said “In November last year, in response to widespread public concerns, the Town Council made its position clear in writing in relation to Chase New Homes’ proposal to build on the former Friends School.  Development of new homes on the site of the former Friends School is against both national and local planning policy and therefore should be rejected. All of the playing fields and other open spaces, as well as the sports hall and swimming pool, are specifically protected unless replacement facilities are provided that are at least as good in terms of location, quality and quantity.  The Chase planning application does not comply with these requirements, so the Town Council’s position has not changed. Saffron Walden has a desperate shortage of both sports facilities and other public open space, and it is important therefore that these are protected.  It is disappointing that the public consultation for this planning application is during the summer holidays, when many people are away, but we urge residents to send in their comments to UDC by the end of August.”

Residents can view the planning application and make a comment on the UDC website on the UTT/19/1744/OP planning application page. They can also email UDC at planning@uttlesford.gov.uk with their comments.

It is proposed that the majority of the affordable homes would be in a new block of flats at the front of the site.

Chase New Homes are proposing 30 affordable homes at the front of the development near a sports pitch and refurbished swimming pool, and 70 market homes at the rear of the site all with a single access on to Mount Pleasant Road.