Press Release: Residents groups, Parish Councils and individual residents from as far afield as Elsenham, Henham, Newport, Saffron Walden, Stansted, Dunmow and Takeley have come together to declare Uttlesford’s local plan process a dismal failure and call on the District Council to start afresh with a brand new process. The collective is also calling on other Parish and Town Councils, groups and individuals from across the district to sign its petition.
On October 9 2013 Uttlesford’s cabinet finally admitted that neither the total number of houses nor the duration of its local plan would stand up to scrutiny by the Planning Inspectorate, and yet vowed to continue with the same plan. This was the final straw for residents groups and Parish Councils who have long been complaining about the lack of meaningful consultation and lack of transparency in the long Local Plan Development process.
The new umbrella action-group has chosen the name “Uttlesford United Residents Group” to reflect is significant support across the district which is thought to run into the tens of thousands of individuals. The group is united in its aims which are:
1. The local plan development process be stopped and the current draft plan
2. A brand new local plan development process to be put in place, that meets the following standards:
2.1. It is strategic: it works to an agreed set of objectives and reviews options against these objectives. It takes account of existing infrastructure capacity and needs as well as the infrastructure requirements that accompany new households
before deciding where to put houses.
2.2 It is evidence-based: up-to-date evidence is gathered first before decisions are taken.
2.3. It is open and transparent: information is provided in a timely and accessible manner to stakeholders. That all decisions and discussions related to the local plan are open to public scrutiny.
2.4. It includes early and meaningful engagement with local organisations and parish/town councils and that concerns and ideas of individuals and organisations in Uttlesford are properly considered.
2.5. It is timely: that a robust time-frame for development of the plan is put in place and accountability for meeting the time-frame established. We also believe a new plan can be done in less time than the current 2015 timescale.
Spokesman Matt North said:
“It is evident to all that whilst Uttlesford needs to plan for significant housing growth the process to date has been dismal. The whole focus seems to be on where to dump houses with little or no thought to the infrastructure needs of current or future residents. Decisions are made which don’t appear to be supported by evidence; and most shameful of all is the complete absence of meaningful engagement with town and parish councils or individual residents. It is this latter point which has united groups from across the district who are demanding that Uttlesford begins a new local plan development process.”
NOTE TO EDITORS:
Uttlesford United Residents is a new pressure group with the aim of reforming the planning process in Uttlesford including the development of a new Local Plan undertaken under a new more transparent and consultative process. The group’s aims are supported by WeAreResidents.org, Save Newport Village, the Joint Parish Councils Steering Group (Save Our Villages) Save Stansted Village and Takeley Parish Council.
The combined group delivered this letter outlining their position to the UDC Cabinet on 1st November 2013.