R4U Administration report in airport appeal provides pointers for the future

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) welcomes the findings of its administration’s report into the Stansted Airport expansion appeal as it will help focus the next phase of R4U’s programme of improvements at Uttlesford District Council.

R4U’s Cllr John Evans, who is the UDC portfolio holder for Planning, said “Our administration at UDC commissioned an independent report into the Stansted airport expansion appeal and we welcome its findings. As residents may remember, the expansion was initially approved by the previous Conservative-led UDC. Once the council changed leadership, there was cross-party support to revisit it. Councillors expected that, in light of the government’s climate change pledges, the significant impacts of the huge expansion would be recognised by the Planning Inspectors, who would then support refusal on appeal. Due to a failure of the government to follow through on its pledges, this unfortunately proved not to be the case. As a result, we commissioned a review to understand this and find out how UDC could improve outcomes in the future, and we’ve just published the report.”

Cllr Evans added “While the law prevents councillors from directing how planning appeals are conducted, they should be fully briefed so that they can understand the pros, cons and risks of any proposed course of action. Our report found several instances where this was not fully the case, and the situation was not helped by the Covid lockdowns that limited people working together. The report provides pointers to help UDC plan the next round of process improvements to be made to the authority as part of our big change programme.”

R4U’s Cllr Evans concluded “We and residents have been rightly frustrated by the multiple planning failures of the previous UDC administration that directly led to overbuilding in our district. We were elected with a clear mandate to make changes. We’ve already made significant improvements to how planning works, and many since the airport appeal decision was made. These include process changes, a refreshed leadership team with a new Chief Executive, and this month we welcomed a new Director of Planning. Our broad programme of changes is starting to bear fruit, as evidenced by a recent award won by the council for public engagement during planning. However, the job is not completely done and we remain fully committed to many further improvements for residents.”

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