Uttlesford District Council Local Plan: Rejection by Government inspectors threatens future of Stansted
The decision by Government inspectors to reject Uttlesford District Council's Local Plan leaves Stansted vulnerable to development, councillors and village campaigners have warned.
The revival of a number of schemes that residents thought were dead and buried was a real possibility.
And with the plan – the blueprint for the district's development over the coming decades – hanging by a thread, "Stansted risks being besieged by multi-billion-dollar, multinational development companies as well as smaller piecemeal developments".
Parish councillor Daniel Brett cited schemes including 68 homes in Pines Hill, 70 at Bentfield Green, which were previously rejected, as well as up to 800 on the west of the village and a multitude of other, smaller sites.
"We could also be placed under immense strain from more development at Elsenham. Stansted cannot cope with more traffic from these new developments. We're already on the verge of being declared an air quality management area and scores of more houses have just been approved at Elsenham," he said.
"While I am not anti-housing or a Nimby, the infrastructural problems at the proposed garden communities, which were identified by the inspectors, will not be resolved by having no plan and Stansted, like other communities, will be facing unsustainable development.
"In order to shape and control development, it is crucial that the parish council moves as quickly as possible to pass the Neighbourhood Plan this year. Otherwise, the community will be besieged by multi-national corporations seeking to take advantage of any policy vacuum."
District and parish councillor Geoffrey Sell said that advice from Uttlesford council officers was not to withdraw the plan and start again but to revise the existing one.
"But that could be another 18 months to two years away before the revised plan takes shape and in the interim it means the district and Stansted is open to speculative development – and that's a worry," he said. "I imagine the developers will be popping open their champagne with the news."
Cllr John Lodge, the leader of Uttlesford's ruling party Residents for Uttlesford (R4U), said that it was committed to re-engineering the Local Plan, which the Conservative-led previous administration had failed to deliver.
"Residents elected R4U to lead UDC to sort out the mess the previous administration left behind. Now that we have clear direction from the planning inspector we will," he said.
"Under our administration the new Local Plan will be evidence-led, deliver infrastructure first, have effective local control by residents and tackle housing affordability. It is critical that there is proper planning for our district’s future.”
The Save Stansted Village action group, revived last year after Bloor Homes tested the water for 199 homes off Pennington Lane, was disappointed by the plan's outcome.
Chairman James Hogg said: "SSV are worried that the current situation could lead to opportunistic landowners and developers individually promoting their own inappropriate locations whilst ignoring the big picture of future housing needs of Uttlesford. This must not be allowed to happen."
What is the Local Plan?
The Local Plan is a document which shapes development in Uttlesford over the coming decades so that the infrastructure and facilities are in place to support the community and to grow the local economy. It sets out the district council's vision and framework to achieve this development, addressing the needs and opportunities of the area.
Local Plans set out the policies which are the starting point for the consideration of planning applications, including the identification of suitable locations for development. These policies include:
- New housing, including numbers, locations and whether certain sites should include affordable housing
- Employment, including how much is needed, for which industries and in which locations
- Transport required to support new developments and existing communities
- Parks and green spaces
- Community facilities, such as halls and community centres
- Heritage, listed buildings and conservation areas
- Health facilities
- Leisure facilities