Walden Weekly: “New town” is only housing solution

In its front-page story, Saffron Walden Weekly News reporter Leanne Ehren writes:

EVEN more houses are needed in Uttlesford – and the only way forward is to build a new town, campaigners have said.

Newly-published Census data indicates the draft Uttlesford Local Plan, stating how many properties need to be built in the district in the next 15 years, underestimates the requirement for new housing by about 35 per cent – amounting to an extra 1,155 houses than the 3,300 proposed.

Saffron Walden group WeAreResidents.org believes Uttlesford District Council’s current plan is “in tatters” and it should revert to a new-settlement strategy, known as Option 4, first mooted five years ago. Over 15 years, Option 4 would see no more than 1,000 new homes in total across existing settlements with the remaining 3,000 plus homes developed in a new settlement.

Dan Starr, WeAreResidents.org spokesman, said the council’s current plan is now “undeliverable”.

He said: “The new 2011 census data kicks the last leg out from under the draft Uttlesford Local Plan. “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.”

Since 2007, the council’s plan had been for 4,200 homes to be built over the next 15 years with 3,000 of them being in a new settlement with supporting infrastructure.

In May this year, based on government economic predictions, the council revised its figures for new homes to 3,300.

Drafted plans to spread these houses around existing towns and villages, including 880 houses to the east of Saffron Walden and 370 in Newport, have since been met with animosity from residents.

Cllr Jim Ketteridge, leader of the council and chairman of the local development framework working committee, said: “The council will need to take a measured view of the best way forward. The plan is not ‘in tatters’ nor anything close to it, despite what this particular group is claiming.”

He said new data is always emerging and it is a matter of judgement which set of assumptions to work with, adding that distributing houses across existing settlements is more “amenable to adjustment in uncertain times”.

He said forecasting work is ongoing and added: “The report published in July and reported to the councillors’ working group on the local plan looked at the implications for the forecasts of using revised population estimates for 2010 and previous years, not the 2011 data as claimed byWeAreResidents.org. “The implications of feeding in the emerging 2011 census data are still being modelled by consultants working for the Essex local authorities and will be published in due course.”

WeAreResidents.org opinion:  The new data is clear; the draft Uttlesford Local Plan seriously underestimates the number of homes required. The response from UDC and the fact they just want to steamroller ahead also shows the same arrogance they’ve shown to residents, town and parish councils before.  It also ignores their own evidence that now a new town is the best and most sustainable option.

Read the full article in the Walden Weekly News (page 1).

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Posted in Consultation, Planning, Uttlesford District Council, Uttlesford Local Plan
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