Inspector finds former Conservative Administration’s second Uttlesford Local Plan unsound; new administration commits to re-engineering the council

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) has announced that its new administration has committed to re-engineering Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to deliver a proper Local Plan after the Planning Inspectors found the second Plan submitted by the previous Conservative-led administration to be unsound.

Early in 2019 the Conservative-led Uttlesford District Council administration submitted their draft Local Plan to the government’s Planning Inspectors for examination. The Inspectors have now written back to UDC to say that the Plan has failed its first examination and been found ‘unsound’ in a number of significant areas. In between the Plan being submitted and the examination, the Conservative Uttlesford council administration was swept away and replaced by local party Residents for Uttlesford (R4U). The previous Conservative administration also had their first attempt at a new Local Plan rejected in 2014.

John Lodge (R4U)John Lodge (R4U)

Commenting on the Inspectors’ letter, John Lodge, chair of R4U and leader of the new administration at Uttlesford District Council, said “At R4U we have consistently said that the previous administration’s Local Plan was flawed for many of the same reasons it has shown to be so. That is why we refused to countersign it when they submitted it, even though they assured residents that it was ready for inspection. However it needed to go to independent examination to verify its soundness and identify any shortcomings. Importantly if it had passed it also would have provided the quickest way to protect our communities from speculative development.”

Cllr Lodge added “The Inspectors found fault with the evidence base, infrastructure provision, financial viability, control over delivery, and their proposals to build 3 new towns all at the same time. This result is a damning indictment of the previous Conservative administration. They consistently failed to properly plan for our future and have now produced 2 faulty Local Plans. It has cost local council taxpayers £6 million and perpetuated the near decade long developer free-for-all across our towns and villages. Unfortunately this will now continue for several years while we prepare a proper plan. They have badly let us all down again.”

R4U’s John Lodge concluded “Residents elected R4U to lead UDC to sort out the mess the previous administration left behind. Now that we have clear direction from the Planning Inspector, we will. Uttlesford District Council needs to be re-engineered so that it is able to be a strategic ‘place-maker’ for our district. The senior officer team have embraced this and we have already started a number of projects. Under our Residents Administration the new Local Plan will be evidence led, deliver infrastructure first, have effective local control by residents, and tackle housing affordability. It is critical that there is proper planning for our district’s future.”

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