Bishop's Stortford town councillors fear impact of Uttlesford's plans for 14,000 new homes
Uttlesford District Council is pressing ahead with plans for thousands of new homes in three new ‘garden communities’.
The authority has finally submitted its proposals to James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
It has abandoned earlier efforts to build the bulk of the new homes required on Bishop’s Stortford’s doorstep - between Henham and Elsenham - after they were panned as unsustainable by a government inspector who sent the council back to the drawing board.
However, Bishop’s Stortford town councillors are still concerned about the impact of Uttlesford’s revised draft local plan.
The district is required by government to outline how it will meet a target of 14,000 new homes by 2033. Of these, approximately 8,000 homes have already been built or have planning permission within existing towns and villages.
It has decided to partner with neighbouring Essex authorities to build along the A120 at Easton Park, to the north of the A120 and west of Great Dunmow, constructing 10,000 dwellings of which 1,925 will be delivered by 2033.
The West of Braintree Garden Community would straddle the district boundary with Braintree and the Uttlesford portion is located on land between Stebbing and Rayne and includes the ancient Boxted Wood. The whole garden community within both districts will ultimately have capacity for 10,500 to 13,500 homes - of which 970 homes will be built by 2033 to meet Uttlesford's housing need.
The M11, A120 and Stansted Airport are critical to Uttlesford’s strategy to build homes and create 16,000 jobs and the leader of Bishop’s Stortford Town Council, Cllr John Wyllie has repeatedly called for a new train line from the aviation hub – the region’s largest single-site employer – to Dunmow and onto Braintree. Otherwise, he predicts commuters from the new settlements will drive to the nearest town with a mainline station into London and Cambridge - Bishop’s Stortford.
A 5,000-home North Uttlesford Garden Community, close to the border with Cambridgeshire, on land south-east of the A11 and north-east of the B184, is also planned with 1,925 homes ready by 2033.
Uttlesford’s Conservative leader, Cllr Howard Rolfe, said: “This is an exciting time for Uttlesford as we move to the next stage of the Local Plan process. Putting together a local plan is complex but it is vital to ensure we conserve and enhance the district’s intrinsic character and beauty while supporting our thriving rural communities.
“A balanced approach of new developments and managed growth in existing towns and villages has been proposed as the best plan to ensuring a positive future for our district. The plan delivers for all residents, addressing the needs of the area without compromising on what makes Uttlesford one of the top-rated places to live in the country.”