The Saffron Walden Neighbourhood Plan (SWNP) has been completed, approved by a Government Examiner and is now being submitted to local residents for approval at the referendum to be held on Thursday 15 September. You should have received a polling card, and if you are a postal voter should have already received your postal vote. To be approved, the Neighbourhood Plan needs majority approval and clear support from Saffron Walden, so it it is important that as many residents as possible vote in favour. Please therefore support the Neighbourhood Plan by voting in favour of it on 15th September. There are information links about the SWNP and how to vote at the bottom of this article.
The Neighbourhood Plan is designed to set out a vision for the development of the Town. In practice, until the district-wide Uttlesford Local Plan is finalised, there is a limit to everything it is allowed to do. However, it includes important provisions to try to improve the extremely poor quality of development that we have seen in Saffron Walden in recent years.
The SWNP has been drafted by officers of Saffron Walden Town Council under the direction of the Neighbourhood Plan Working Group. That group consists of a majority of local residents together with a number of current and former councillors. It has cross party support and politicians from almost all the major parties have been involved in its preparation, and have unanimously supported it. The Working Group includes SWTC leader R4U’s Paul Gadd, Mike Hibbs (chair and former LibDem councillor), Keith Eden (former Conservative mayor) and Trilby Roberts (current Green councillor), and a number of residents. All have devoted many hours to its preparation and all recommend its adoption and that residents vote in favour of it.
What is and isn’t in the Neighbourhood Plan?
It’s worth saying from the start that the Neighbourhood Plan cannot set out where houses should or should not be built in Saffron Walden. The town will therefore remain under siege from speculative development until the Local Plan is in place, which defines this. The Government Examiner has also said that it cannot include the high climate/green adaptation standards that we would have liked to have seen included.
Having said that, however, for the first time if the SWNP is adopted, we will have a detailed and legally binding policies to try to improve the quality of developments that are approved. The full policies can be seen in the Plan at the link below, but to summarise some of the most important, policies in the Neighbourhood Plan include provisions:
- Better housing mix: To try to ensure that any new development provides the sort of 2 and 3 bedroom homes that local people want rather than the 4 and 5 bedroom houses favoured by developers;
- More affordable housing: To require greater affordable housing provision;
- More green space: To require much greater and much better green space and other infrastructure. At the moment for example, there are no standards for the green space to be provided in developments or to regulate where it should be, so that most recent developments have sited their green space right next to the main estate roads, rendering it effectively useless;
- Promoting of sustainable transport.
Those things are enough to make the SWNP significant enough to vote to approve, but it also contains many other important things. See the links at the bottom for more.
Please Support the Plan
Please support the Neighbourhood Plan by voting in favour of it on 15th September. There is no downside to its adoption, as it doesn’t propose further developments, but just tries to improve the quality of future development.
Follow these links for more information: