Bishop's Stortford councillor Chris Wilson fears impact on town of 17,000 new Uttlesford homes
A Bishop's Stortford councillor has urged East Herts Council's planning supremo to safeguard the interests of residents as neighbouring Uttlesford prepares for 17,000 new homes.
At the latest meeting of the full district council, Cllr Chris Wilson, who represents the All Saints ward, pressed Cllr Jan Goodeve, EHC's Conservative executive member for planning and growth, to liaise with her Uttlesford District Council counterpart.
The Liberal Democrat asked her: "Uttlesford District Council is in the process of producing a new Local Plan. Given their proximity to Bishop's Stortford, any developments on the edge of the town, but over the border in Uttlesford, have the potential to place an even greater burden on the already overstretched infrastructure.
"Can the executive member for planning and growth advise what meetings she is planning to have with Uttlesford and what she is doing to safeguard the interests of the residents of East Herts in this regard?"
After two failed attempts to formulate an approved Local Plan, UDC has identified 299 potential sites for development, including around 800 acres (324ha) of farmland at Bollington Hall in Ugley, which could take 4,800 homes, 447 acres (181ha) at Tye Green, Elsenham, with space for 500 dwellings, and a 1,433-acre (580 ha) plot in the middle of Little Hallingbury, Hatfield Heath and Hatfield Broad Oak for 6,500 houses.
In all, Uttlesford needs to accommodate up to 17,000 new homes by 2040, the amount deemed necessary by the Government. Plans are already in place for more than 4,000, leaving the council to find space for 13,000.
It will now spend the next six months testing the suggestions from landowners and developers for their sustainability before any proposals can become part of the Local Plan.
East Herts' Local Plan for 18,458 homes by 2033, including at least 4,426 in Bishop's Stortford, passed at its first attempt in 2018.
Cllr Goodeve told Cllr Wilson that under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) local authorities have a duty to co-operate on planning issues that cross administrative boundaries.
She said a Co-operation for Sustainable Development Board, including Uttlesford and East Herts, was set up in 2013 to collaborate on issues, including housing, transport infrastructure, employment and environmental impact.
"It is through this forum that key issues such as infrastructure have been and will continue to be discussed," she said. "Furthermore, Uttlesford council has also established a Strategic Infrastructure Delivery Group to identify strategically significant development proposals, infrastructure requirements and other matters where cross-boundary collaboration is required."
She said EHC leader Cllr Linda Haysey attended a meeting earlier in the summer specifically to discuss transport infrastructure proposals to support sustainable growth.
Cllr Goodeve added: "As you would expect, officers will continue to engage constructively with colleagues at Uttlesford council during the formative stages of their plan-making process, with a view to arranging a member-level 'duty to co-operate' meeting once their spatial strategy is clear.
"At this meeting, the council will be seeking to ensure that any growth proposals put forward have been properly assessed by Uttlesford council, particularly those in the vicinity of Bishop's Stortford, and that future infrastructure needs are identified."