R4U’s improvement programme at Uttlesford District Council recognised by award from Royal Town Planning Institute

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is delighted that after embarking on an ambitious re-engineering programme at Uttlesford District Council (UDC), the local authority has received a prestigious award for strategic planning.

The Best Planning Excellence 2021 award was presented by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) at their East of England award ceremony. UDC won the award for the way it engages with residents for the district’s new Local Plan.

John Evans (R4U)John Evans (R4U)

R4U’s Cllr John Evans, who is portfolio holder for Planning at UDC, said “In our manifesto we promised that if we were elected to lead UDC, we’d significantly improve how planning was done. This award provides an independent recognition of the progress that has been made on the district’s strategic development plan, called a Local Plan. The previous administration had wasted more than £6 million of taxpayer money and lost time on two failed Local Plans. That happens when you don’t base planning on proper public engagement and solid evidence. We have fixed that.”

Cllr John Evans added “For the new Local Plan we have put the needs of residents at the centre, not politicians. That is why we appointed an independent person to chair UDC’s Local Plan Community Stakeholder Forums, which have been recognised by the Royal Town Planning Institute through their prestigious Best Planning Excellence award. These Forums are the mechanism that allows residents, town and parish councils, and other interested parties to be listened to early in the Local Plan process and get a real seat at the table.”

Cllr Evans concluded “We are proud of the huge improvements R4U has been able to make at UDC. These are now bearing fruit, but of course there is still more to do. We have previously been recognised with multiple awards for the work we’ve done as a party leading Saffron Walden Town Council. This is the first award during our administration at UDC, and it is for an important area of the council’s activities. This result recognises all of the hard work done by council staff who have embraced change, and that of Angela Dixon, the chair of the Forum, and of course the Forum members themselves.”

At the award ceremony, David Potter, the Head of RTPI panel for the awards, said “The Forum demonstrated a novel approach to stakeholder engagement in the local plan process, producing high quality debate and public involvement during unprecedented times. Congratulations to all involved at Uttlesford District

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 took majority control of UDC by gaining two-thirds of the seats. Since then it has set about re-engineering the now award-winning council operates, rebuilding the finances and fixing how planning is done. 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.