UDC issued the second update to their draft Local Plan at the end of October 2013. It can be downloaded and read from our Local Plan document page (Update #2). It proposes:
- 20 Year Plan: After advice from the Planning Inspectorate they have finally concluded that the previous draft would be refused and so they have increased the plan length from 12 to 20 years. This seems prudent.
- 55% more houses per year: UDC has changed their underlying forecasting model and revised the new housing numbers up from the 2012 number of 338 per year to 523 per year. The issue of a poor underlying model was highlighted as long ago as August 2012 when the new number moved to 415 per year. The 14 month delay as meant that the government’s expectation has risen again and now 523 are required.
- Nearly 6,000 new houses: That means that the total additional new homes that UDC is required to allow is now 5,900, up from 3,300. That number of homes is the equivalent of a town nearly the size of Saffron Walden, and the UDC Cabinet propose to build them in Saffron Walden, Dunmow and Elsenham, rather than build a new settlement.
To all intents and purposes the 2012 draft of the Local Plan should be dead. Rejected by 99% of respondents, it was based on a dispersed strategy because UDC claimed that as soon as the new homes target fell below 4,000, the most sustainable new-settlement strategy was no longer viable. With more than one-and-a-half times that number of houses, the single-settlement strategy is most sustainable strategy and so national planning policies require it to be adopted as the preferred approach.
“We think this is a positive fresh start and we look forward to having input into the new draft Local Plan. The longer 20-year timeframe gives UDC the opportunity to plan infrastructure, amenities & services strategically, but clearly the dispersed housing strategy of the 2012 draft Local Plan is now officially dead, “said Dan Starr, chair of WeAreResidents.org”. “That strategy was only proposed by UDC because of reduced housing numbers. Now with a 55% increase to 523 a year, the only sustainable option is to switch back to the original single-settlement strategy, coupled with limited development in other towns and villages to meet the needs of existing local communities. The question is, will only one new single settlement site be enough to meet the need for 5,900 new homes across the district?”
Also released was the long awaited traffic report that UDC blocked from councillors and the public. WeAreResidents.org’s traffic consultants are analysing its detail and will produce a report in due course. In the mean time you can download it here.
However the strategy behind the 2012 draft Local Plan isn’t dead, even though UDC proposals to abandon the new single settlement approach was resoundingly rejected. Instead the UDC Cabinet have proposed to dump even more new homes on over stretched communities rather than adopt a new settlement.