R4U opposes government moves to strip away local planning control that could see ‘tens-of-thousands of houses dumped on Uttlesford’

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is strongly opposed to the government’s proposals to strip control of planning from local councils.

R4U vice chair Dan Starr said “We must be clear; this is a full scale assault by the government on our nation’s towns, villages and countryside. Under their changes, many decisions over planning would be ripped away from local residents and their councils, and instead central government and property developers will decide what gets built and where. The government has shown once again that they are happy to hand over the reins to big business tycoons, such as the property owner of Bloor Homes who donated £1million to the Conservative Party. This is the most shocking and anti-democratic government move in decades. We believe that on local matters, residents should decide, not Westminster politicians and those that fund them.”

John Evans (R4U)John Evans (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr John Evans, who is UDC portfolio holder for Planning, said “The government tries to justify their proposals by saying the UK planning system is broken. There is a lot wrong with it, but that is largely because the government allows developers to maximise their profits rather than create communities for people to live and work in. We end up with lots of poor quality box-housing stuck in open countryside. There are more than a million approved new homes in the UK that yet have to be built. That is the fault of developers. The law needs to be changed to give councils more power – not less – to force developers to build in a more timely way on the land for which they already have planning approval. Since we were elected to lead UDC last year we’ve strengthened planning; better decisions are being made with and for the community, local residents through their elected representatives have a stronger say in what happens, more developers are being held to account, and the Local Plan is getting back on track.”

Cllr Evans continued “Most of Uttlesford is just outside the greenbelt and in easy commuting distance of London. As a result of the government’s catastrophic proposals, we could see tens-of-thousands of new London overspill houses dumped all over Uttlesford by developers with no say or control by residents. Let’s not forget that big-business developers work for their shareholders, not residents. The Local Government Association has started a campaign to stop these changes, which R4U councillors have joined; and we’re raising a cross-party motion at UDC to ask the Council to oppose any takeover of the planning system. Planning needs to be kept local – and as long as we are in control we will listen to communities to reflect this when setting planning policies.”

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 leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). It is the fastest growing local political movement in its district. In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In 2017 it solidified its position with 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.

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 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.