Thursday 11 July 2013, Saffron Walden: The Government Planning Inspectorate has written to both WeAreResidents.org and Saffron Walden MP Alan Haselhurst to unequivocally clarify what they expect to see from the Local Plan. Specifically the Planning Inspectorate has confirmed that the Uttlesford Local Plan must last for 15 years from the proposed 2014 date of adoption unless there are “compelling reasons” otherwise. There are no compelling reasons.
The UDC Cabinet had reduced the Uttlesford Local Plan period from 15 to 12 years but this has now been ruled to be inadmissible. Uttlesford District Council had claimed that by reducing the timescale, they only needed to allow 3,300 houses, and so had no choice but to abandon their long promoted single settlement strategy. The latest guidance from the Planning Inspectorate says clearly that UDC must include the full 4,500 homes that the Government requires them to plan for over 15 years.
Focusing the majority of development on a single settlement had been the preferred strategy of UDC since 2007 with evidence produced to show consistently that it was the most sustainable option by far. A number of locations in the district had been recommended by the council and planning applications prepared. National planning rules require that a district council adopt the most sustainable option, and with this clarification, UDC now has no choice but to revert back to the single settlement strategy.
Additionally, public support for the single settlement option has grown across the district as residents have become more aware of local development issues; in the 2010 Local Plan Public Consultation attitudes were split, but in 2012 an overwhelming 99% rejected UDC’s plans to abandon the single settlement strategy.
Dan Starr, chair of WeAreResidents.org said:
“The Planning Inspectorate has confirmed that the Uttlesford Local Plan has to run to at least 2029 and so the government requires UDC to plan for a minimum of 4,500 new homes. This is well above UDC’s tipping-point for a new settlement, meaning that UDC now has no choice but to revert back to the most sustainable and overwhelmingly supported single-settlement strategy. This guidance provided by the Planning Inspectorate comes at a critical time as the district has been subject to many speculative developments in most communities. UDC should now be able to quickly issue a revised single settlement based Local Plan update and protect our communities that are under threat.”
John Lodge, Essex County Councillor for the Saffron Walden division said:
“UDC’s emerging dispersed house strategy sought to focus housing on many settlements each with roads, schools and water treatment facilities that were ill-equipped to cope with their proposed expansions. With a single-settlement approach, all of the infrastructure required is funded by the developer and transparent for all to see. Technically the single-settlement strategy is still UDC’s adopted strategy, so it should be straightforward for them to revert to it as their basis of their next draft Local Plan. I look forward to reviewing it”.
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Notes for Editors:
UDC uses a model based on economic growth to predict housing need. Using this model, UDC is required to plan for a minimum of 415 new homes a year. UDC had previously announced that they intended their Local Plan to run from 2011 to 2026 and that it would be adopted in 2014, making it in effect a 12 year plan under planning guidelines. Because UDC has already approved a number of significant housing developments, they had claimed that they needed to plan for a remaining 3,300 new homes over their shortened Local Plan period (to 2026).
The letter from the Planning Inspectorate makes it quite clear that even though a council may backdate a plan, the 15 year timing starts on the day the plan is adopted. Because the Uttlesford Local Plan will be adopted in 2014, this means that UDC is required to plan for a further 3 years, to 2029. At 415 new homes a year, this represents just over 1,200 homes, bringing the required number of homes that the government expects UDC to plan for to be in excess 4,500.
UDC had previously claimed that a plan shorter than 15 years was allowed and had referenced the Haringey Local Plan. The Haringey Local Plan is not an appropriate reference. The Planning Inspectorate had reviewed that plan before the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) came in to effect and so it was not subject to the 15-year planning timeframe. The Planning Inspector commented to this effect during his formal approval of the plan. There is no evidence of any other Local Plan being approved for less than 15 years.
Enclosures: Copy of Planning Inspectorate letter: http://wp.me/p2dglp-1KP
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.