Stansted residents prepare for third battle as developer Bloor Homes looks to build 199 houses off 'quiet lane'
Tucked away behind Bentfield Green in a designated 'Quiet Lane' lies a 25-acre (10.3ha) agricultural site threatened by the bulldozer.
Bloor Homes has begun to test the water for building up to 199 houses, including affordable homes, public open space and a children's play area on land to the south-west of Pennington Lane by submitting a 'screening opinion' application.
Residents who have already blocked two schemes for the site – the previous proposal by Taylor Wimpey Homes was rejected on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate in 2013 – are mobilising for a repeat offensive that they hope will once and for all protect the "jewel in the crown" of Stansted. So far, around 70 letters of objection have been lodged with planning authority Uttlesford District Council.
Save Stansted Village (SSV) chairman James Hogg said the action group was being revived for the fight.
"It is somewhat surprising that here we have Bloor Homes presenting a proposal which is larger in housing numbers than the previous applications and equally, if not more, damaging to the environment, landscape and the conservation area around Bentfield Green," he said.
"At the previous inquiry, the inspector, who comprehensively rejected the planning application, cited various planning reasons but also drew attention to the near universal objection by residents across Stansted, as evidenced by close to 1,000 letters along with numerous emails. This amount of objection is unprecedented in any local planning application and it is certain there will be equal objection to the latest proposal.
"Stansted residents will, I am sure, demonstrate their determination once again to protect this beautiful and highly valued part of the environment."
Yesterday (Tuesday) a group of protestors gathered with placards at the Rainsford Road and Pennington Lane junction to highlight the "ludicrous" suggestion of access to the proposed new estate passing through the route. The development would mirror Walpole Meadows, effectively making Pennington Lane a road through the middle of two estates.
The land does not form part of Uttlesford's Local Plan, which has yet to be finalised, or Stansted's Neighbourhood Plan and it was these "large-scale, opportunistic planning applications outside the Local Plan" that should be stopped, warned Mr Hogg.
The proposed access was "wholly inadequate" and its proximity to Bentfield County Primary School posed a significant safety risk. The quiet nature of Pennington Lane was also under threat.
Mr Hogg added: "It is a quiet lane where people from across Stansted walk their dogs, jog, push prams and teach their children to ride bikes.
"It is clear from the current development under way at Walpole Meadow that much of the character of the lane is being destroyed by the damage to the hedgerows and associated loss of wildlife. Many complaints about this to the developers have fallen on deaf ears.
"Further development in this location must not be allowed, otherwise an historical part of Stansted, which provides a great amenity, will be lost forever. All these beautiful fields would be gone and you would be able to see the development from Manuden, so the more objections we have, the better. We're not going to roll over!"
Stansted Parish Council declared at its meeting last week that it was "vehemently opposed" to the scheme, agreeing to support SSV.
District and parish member Cllr Geoffrey Sell, who joined yesterday's protest, said: "This is a good turnout at very short notice and it just shows the strength of feeling in the area.
"I was highly involved in the last appeal and will give this as much support as I can. It is a speculative application and we are expecting to hear about the Local Plan imminently. If it is sound, this will strengthen the case here."
A spokesperson for Bloor Homes said: “The land north of Pennington Lane is being promoted for development as part of the emerging Uttlesford District Local Plan.
“This is not a planning application and no formal proposals to build on the site have been submitted.
"There continues to be requirement for additional housing in the locality, and in advance of any planning application the views of local residents will be sought and taken into consideration.”