Press Release: Credibility of Uttlesford Local Plan collapses as new data reveals 35% more houses required

New requirement for 1,455 further homes means that new town is the only remaining sustainable option

Newly published government census data indicates that the draft Uttlesford Local Plan significantly underestimates the requirement for new housing by 35%, which is 1,155 more than the 3,300 already proposed. This makes the current draft Local Plan undeliverable, subject to appeal by developers and rejection by HM Inspector. WeAreResidents.org believes that the only viable and credible way forward is for Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to revert to their long-held new-settlement strategy (”Option 4”) and abandon their emerging dispersed housing proposals (“Option 2”). Not to do so would result in unsustainable development and likely burden tax-payers with the additional costs of fighting appeals and reworking a rejected plan.

Since 2007 UDC’s plan has been to allow a further 4,200 homes to be built over the next 15 years with 3,000 of them being in a new single settlement complete with the necessary infrastructure such as roads, schools, doctors, sewerage and water.

However, in May this year the UDC Cabinet selected a new approach, based on government economic predictions1 to forecast housing numbers. Using this, UDC suggested that only 3,300 new homes would be required over the next 15 years. The UDC Cabinet argued that fewer homes ruled out a new settlement, as it would result in negligible development in other settlements. Instead they switched their support to a plan to build the houses in the existing larger settlements, including 880 houses to the east of Saffron Walden, 1,150 in Great Dunmow and 370 in Newport. Residents, town and parish councils have opposed these proposals.

However a new version of the baseline databecame available at the end of July. Based on 2011 census data, it indicates that actually even more houses will be required – 415 per year, not 338 as UDC previously anticipated. After accounting for houses already approved, the number of extra houses required is 4,455; this is 1,155 higher than the 3,300 stated in the draft Local Plan, and even higher than the 4,200 the Council started the process with in 2007.

This leaves the Council’s draft Local Plan in tatters as it removes the single argument they have used for switching away from a new settlement.  The new data means that UDC is now able to pursue their most sustainable proposal, Option 4. Over 15 years, Option 4 would see no more than 1,000 new homes in total across existing settlements and develop the remaining 3,000+ in a new settlement that would also meet any future housing needs.

WeAreResidents.org spokesman Dan Starr says “The new 2011 census data kicks the last leg out from under the draft Uttlesford Local Plan. The UDC Cabinet now has a plan which is undeliverable and they’ve lost control of, exactly what they have been warning against. UDC has been sitting on these numbers for a few weeks. We now urge them to quickly acknowledge the new housing numbers and publicly revert to their long-held single settlement approach; it is evidence based, will provide the homes required and importantly won’t wreck many of the existing towns and villages. It is their only credible and defensible choice”.

Notes for Editors:

Sources for census date:

The draft Uttlesford Local Plan was based on numbers from the first document below. The second document is the revised baseline which increases the required number of new homes.

  1. Greater Essex Demographic Forecasts March 2012 Edge Analytics, Page 40http://www.uttlesford.gov.uk/uttlesford/file/Demographic%20Forecasts%20-%20Essex%20-%20Phase%202%20Scenario%20Development%20-%2009th%20March%202012%20(2).pdf
  2. Greater Essex Demographic Forecasts July 2012 Edge Analytics, Page 109http://www.uttlesford.gov.uk/uttlesford/file/Demographic%20Forecasts%20Essex%20-%20Phase%203%20-%20Final%20-%20July%202012.pdf

 Sustainability and Options:

UDC published a detailed comparative sustainability assessment in January 2010 which can be viewed here). It looked at three options for dispersing housing across existing settlements (Options 1-3), and six variations of an option for building a new settlement (Option 4).  Each Option was scored against a range of sustainability criteria, and a total score given.  The scores were as follows:

  • Option 1: 25
  • Option 2: 24 (as proposed in draft Local Plan – mass housing inside the existing larger settlements)
  • Option 3: 24
  • Option 4 (based on a settlement at Elsenham): 32
  • Option 4 (based on a settlement at Stumps Cross): 29
  • Option 4 (based on each of the other 4 possible locations): 27-28

This comparative appraisal shows that Option 2, which is essentially UDC’s new strategy as proposed in the draft Local Plan, and Option 3 are the least sustainable solutions.  The new settlement options, Option 4, were found to be the most sustainable solutions by a considerable margin.

If mass building in Saffron Walden, Great Dunmow and Newport was unsustainable in 2010, it must still be unsustainable now. See the summary of the UDC housing allocation assessments: https://weareresidents.wordpress.com/resident-reports-and-documents/whitepaper-summary-timeline-of-uttlesford-housing-allocation-strategy-2006-2012/

The WeAreResidents.org website contains maps, reports and residents’ own analyses of the UDC’s proposals at www.weareresidents.org.

About WeAreResidents.org

Founded in 2011, WeAreResidents.org is the Uttlesford based group that provides a strong, independent voice for the views of local residents. The group campaigns for long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area. WeAreResidents.org works with other similar groups across Uttlesford and enjoys the strong support of professionals in key and relevant professions.

WeAreResidents.org is one of the residents’ groups that help start Residents for Uttlesford (R4U), the local political party of towns and a village that is seeking to give residents a stronger say in local matters.

WeAreResidents.org can we found on the web at www.WeAreResidents.org.

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Posted in Planning, Pollution and Air Quality, Press Releases, Uttlesford District Council, Uttlesford Local Plan
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