Furious Uttlesford residents, whose views on local development have been ignored by their District Council for exactly one year, have resorted to an unusual form of protest; they have baked a birthday cake, signed a card in the Saffron Walden market square, and redelivered more than 2,000 public responses to Uttlesford District Council. The public responses were first submitted as part of last year’s public consultation, but none has been considered by UDC in twelve months. In the meantime the district has been left open to speculative development and there are growing calls for council resignations.
Dan Starr, chair of Saffron Walden based WeAreResidents.org stated:
“The Local Plan is a mess, residents are furious, and they have lost their trust in the council leadership. UDC Cabinet councillors Ketteridge, Barker and Rolfe are responsible, directly culpable, and have catastrophically and publicly failed. Right now Uttlesford residents need new leaders that are accountable and can get the job done rather than let this fiasco go on unchecked until they are voted out in the 2015 local elections.”
Great Dunmow resident Tony Clarke added:
“In its pursuit of political aims, UDC has released the genie from the bottle in the form of uncontrolled and unsustainable development. We are witnessing the results of classic management failure at both political and executive levels. Now residents face a stark choice; continued unplanned overdevelopment with underfunded, dysfunctional infrastructure, or we can get rid of them through the ballot box before it is too late.”
A Local Plan is required to follow sustainability evidence and is designed to allow residents to decide, through their district council, where they want new housing to go. In July 2012 an overwhelming 99% rejected UDC’s draft Local Plan that sought to overbuild existing towns and villages rather than focus future housing in a new settlement as previously proposed. Since losing the support of the public, UDC has made almost no visible progress with the Local Plan, and so has left many settlements open to speculative development; there have been applications submitted for more than 4,000 new homes so far in 2013 alone.
Neil Hargreaves of Save Newport Village stated:
“Many unhappy returns to the Local Plan. UDC has betrayed democracy by ignoring public consultation responses for over a year. As a direct consequence of UDC’s failure, Dunmow, Walden, Stansted, and my own village Newport are facing unprecedented growth that is unsustainable and will cause major upheaval and irrevocably damage them; sewage plants will overflow, roads will be jammed and rural farmland destroyed. The UDC Cabinet should to revert to the more sustainable and widely supported new-settlement option, or resign.”
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Detailed Notes for Editors:
Consideration of Public Consultation Responses
UDC’s draft Local Plan consultation ended on 23rd July 2012. UDC public stated in their March 2013 Local Plan position statement that they have not yet considered the public consultation representation about the strategic housing policies (single settlement vs. dispersed) or specific site proposals.
From “UTTLESFORD DRAFT LOCAL PLAN POSITION STATEMENT March 2013”:
2. The LDF Working Group still has to consider the representations received regarding the Strategic Housing Policies and the Site Allocations.
This position has not changed as of 22 July 2013; public consultation feedback from residents has still yet to be considered 12 months later.
UDC Planning Applications since 1 January 2013 – breakdown
(note figures for multiple applications rounded up or down to nearest round numbers)
Major applications submitted – 1875
1. Fairfield Developments, Elsenham 800
2. Land Securities, Little Easton 700
3. Great Dunmow, Crest Nicholson 375
Miscellaneous applications – 1120
4. Elsenham, several applications – 160
5. Elsenham, Stansted Road – 165
6. Great Dunmow – 68
7. Newport – 84
8. Saffron Walden – 55
9. Stansted, several applications (including applications for 160, 140 and 58) – 380
10. Takeley – 100
11. Thaxted, several applications – 115
Screening applications– 1050
12. Great Dunmow, Barratt Homes – 850
13. Newport (100 homes; 100 care home apartments plus care home) – 200
Total – 4,000
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.