You can’t brush houses under the carpet…but you can take a common sense approach

Stratford-on-Avon District CouncilA recent Independent newspaper article that focussed on the planning dilemma faced by Stratford-on-Avon Council has clear parallels to the situation facing Saffron Walden.

Green village to meet increased housing requirement

Stratford council have been told by the Planning Inspectorate in Whitehall to add 1,500 houses to its 20 year plan. It’s solution? A new ‘green village’ of 4,800 new homes cited close to a motorway junction. This single settlement hasn’t proven popular admittedly, but when faced with a planning rock and a hard place, it has proven to be the most logical, sustainable and cost effective solution to the nation’s housing ‘crisis’.

“Before the 2008 banking crisis, the UK invested 3.5 per cent of GDP in housing, compared with 6 per cent in Germany and France, creating a backlog of some two million homes, in a country where 230,000 new households a year are adding to demand. As a result, house prices and the average age of first-time buyers go ever upwards.”

Uttlesford in same situation

Uttlesford District Council’s chief exec has now confirmed the need for a 15 year (rather than 11 year) plan from adoption which in simple terms means that the target number of houses to be built must increase.  The substantial planning applications being submitted at a rapid pace are proving to be unsustainable, unsuitable and poorly located in a town that hasn’t the infrastructure to support the additional needs of thousands of new residents.

“The [Stratford-on-Avon] council was advised by the developers it consulted that one option was to put more than half the required new houses on one site – and the Lighthorne site’s proximity to the motorway would avoid the cost of building a new road.”

Ignoring the obvious

Stratford’s council have done what UDC is still refusing to do; and that is to accept the sound and professional advice of experts in the field to opt for the supported single settlement option. When UDC was originally tasked by central government to play their part in ‘getting Britain building’ the evidence all pointed to the most sustainable option which was to group the housing allocation together. The arguments for this approach are obvious; houses together would provide bespoke community services, tailored education facilities and purpose-built transport and utilities. But instead, UDC is hell bent on shoe-horning houses into areas that simply don’t fit, and in the case of the Willis & Gambier site, potentially dangerous.

It’s in your hands

When faced with applications that have divided the town amongst renters and home owners, parents and young couples trying to get on the housing ladder, and when any public consultation and community involvement is kept to a bare minimum, it can seem like those elected to represent residents are working to their own set of public service guidelines. But the tide is turning. A look at the UDC Planning Portal shows a significant increase in the number of public objections, an increase that has been called ‘overwhelming’ by UDC.

So every individual action counts, and we need your help.

You can respond to a public consultation and we are currently fundraising to legally contest UDC’s bonkers Local Plan and unsustainable developments. If you love where you live, please consider a donation to WeAreResidents.org.

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Posted in News, Planning, Spotlight Articles, Uttlesford District Council, Uttlesford Local Plan
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