R4U at UDC start next phase of Planning and Development reeningeering to make it ‘fighting fit’

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) has announced that its manifesto promise to fix Planning and Development at UDC has passed another major milestone with the publishing of the independent review that the R4U-led administration commissioned; and that it is intent on adopting the recommendations for improvement.

John Lodge (R4U) John Lodge (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr John Lodge, who is leader of Uttlesford District Council, said “It is imperative that Uttlesford has an outstanding planning and place-making capability to deliver the best for all residents, towns and villages. We were elected as a party of change, and that is what we are doing. After the previous UDC administration wasted £millions on several failed Local Plans that opened the door to the current developer-free-for-all, last year we brought in specialist advisers from the Local Government Association (LGA) to help us fix what we inherited.”

Cllr Lodge continued “The root-and-branch review is complete and it recommends significant improvements to planning leadership, operating procedures and practices. Major changes are also required in the management of planning applications, developer obligations, planning enforcement, and governance; and improvements in skills, capacity and training. Gaps that need filling were also identified in town planning, urban design and contract law. It is clear that the previous administration at UDC had starved the planning function of resources, driven it into the ground, and let developers run all over it. We thank the independent LGA expert team for their detailed work and accept their recommendations.”

R4U’s John Lodge concluded “UDC needs a planning function that is fighting fit to deal with the government’s continued pro-developer laws that force thousands of houses on districts like Uttlesford. The interim UDC chief executive has already started considering the implementation of the recommendations. When the new chief executive starts at the beginning of October, we look forward to fully supporting him and his entire officer team in making the changes required which residents deserve and our district needs.”

John Evans (R4U)John Evans (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr John Evans, who is the UDC portfolio holder for planning, added: “The council has had to deal with a large number of planning problems over a number of years and it has been difficult for the planning service in its current form to provide an efficient service. We all appreciate how important planning matters are to our communities so it is an absolute priority that we get this right. This is why the external review was commissioned, to identify where the gaps were and set out the improvements needed so that we can then provide the best possible service to our residents and other users of the planning service. I am pleased we now have the final report which will give the council a platform to drive forward long-lasting changes that will ultimately make for a better and more effective planning service.”

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 www.residents4u.org.