Paul Gadd of WeAreResidents.org writes in response to the recent letter by UDC Cabinet Councillor Howard Rolfe:
I’m writing following Cllr Rolfe’s misleading letter about the on-going shambles that is the UDC Cabinet’s planning process.
Cllr Rolfe says that UDC only began work on a new local plan after the last election, and therefore can’t be blamed for failing to have a plan. This is totally untrue – a quick search on the UDC website shows the first project plan for the Local Plan was dated 26 April 2006, and the Local Plan should have been completed in 2011. The key reason that a plan is not in place is because the UDC Cabinet took a political decision to drop plans for a new settlement near Elsenham and flood Saffron Walden and Dunmow in particular with new houses – and are now trying to find evidence to support this change.
Next, Cllr Rolfe says that UDC must have “a five-year housing supply with planning permission/building”. Again, this is not true, as Cllr Rolfe must be aware. The requirement is to have a supply of identified sites to provide a five year housing supply – either by having a Local Plan which identifies sufficient sites for future development or by granting planning permission. Because the UDC Cabinet have failed to produce a plan, UDC is forced to fall back on having granted 5 years of planning permissions, which it hasn’t. Hence the current developers’ free for all that we are now exposed to.
Finally, Cllr Rolfe repeats UDC’s recent claim that the housing allocation site in Saffron Walden would reduce from 79 to 40 ha. This is grossly misleading. UDC’s plan envisaged that “only” 38.3ha of the 79ha would be used for housing, with the other 40ha for employment land, playing fields and other facilities or not-developable. The “reduction” UDC are now claiming was never housing land in the first place, and UDC have now confirmed they are not changing the number of 800 homes proposed for the site. Moreover, 40ha of land at UDC’s standard housing density represents between 900 and 1,500 new homes rather than the 800 claimed.
Surely we are entitled to more from our councillors?
Read the letter in the Dunmow Broadcast (page 6).