Uttlesford District Council proposed that Saffron Walden get at least 1,600 new houses via their 2012 draft Uttlesford Local Plan, 2013 and 2014 updates. They approved over more than half before the Local Plan was rejected by the Planning Inspectorate in 2014.
More than 830 new homes have already been approved (unconditional or conditional planning approval) and are in various stages of being built (shown on the map below in BLUE). 800 to 1,200 are on sites that UDC were promoting for building but have not yet been granted planning permission (shown in RED). And there are other sites that are being promoted by developers and have been considered but are not yet included by UDC (shown in YELLOW).
UDC hasn’t demanded significant infrastructure investment for most of those already approved, which is a concern to residents as schools are already full and roads gridlocked at peak times.
The numbers on the map above on blue sites are approved numbers. Those on red and yellow sites are UDC’s own planners’ estimates. Read them in: UDC SHLAA All Uttlesford Sites Appraisals and Review (Saffron Walden Maps starting page 776).
Major Planning Applications for Saffron Walden
- Planning Application: Saffron Walden (85), Gladman, Little Walden Road (UTT/15/2069/OP)
- Planning Application: Saffron Walden (36), Catons Lane/Lime Avenue – Persimmon (UTT/15/2008/FUL)
- Planning Application: Saffron Walden (10), Moore’s Garage, Thaxted Rd (UTT/14/2003/FUL)
- Planning Application: Saffron Walden (24), LPA/Tudor Works, Debden Rd (UTT/14/0356/DFO)
- Planning Application: Saffron Walden (200), Manor Oak, Radwinter Rd (UTT/13/3467/OP)
- Planning Application: Saffron Walden (52 + care-home), Willis & Gambier, Radwinter Rd (UTT/13/3406/FUL, UTT/13/1981/OP)
- Planning Application: Saffron Walden (52), Kilns, Thaxted Rd (UTT/13/1937/OP)
- Planning Application: Saffron Walden (167), Ridgeons, Ashdon Rd (UTT/13/2423/OP)
- Planning Application: Saffron Walden (300), Kier, Thaxted Rd (UTT/13/2060/OP)
- Planning Application: Saffron Walden (130), Persimmon, Tudor Park/Ashdon Rd (UTT/1572/12/DFO)
See the Planning Applications section for all major planning applications.
Here is what is proposed and what it means for Saffron Walden:
- Saffron Walden grows by a minimum of 20%.
- Houses sited to the east: The vast majority of new houses will be on farm land between Radwinter and Thaxted Roads on the east. . In 2014 the UDC Cabinet also added 167 new homes on the Ridgeon site to their Saffron Walden tally. The sites have not been chosen for strategic reasons; they have only been selected because landowners and developers approached the council and said they’d like to build.
- No real new jobs: There is no significant increase in land for businesses in the town. Big chunks of current commercial land will be rezoned for residential and there is some new provision for commercial land to try to make up the difference. But the plan doesn’t detail how new businesses will be attracted to the town, and with no motorway access or A-roads into the town, it is unlikely many businesses will relocate here. In fact history says that they leave.
- East to west traffic: The main problem with building in the east is that the road/rail transport corridor is on the west. Because there are no jobs in the town, most people commute. Even today the peak commuter traffic crossing east-to-west often causes gridlock. With the town a 5th larger and no new roads across the town, it will only get significantly worse.
- Road to nowhere: Apart from housing, the plan indicates some infrastructure investment in the form of school places and retail, but it is quite vague and non-specific. The plan really only focuses in detail on housing. Importantly there is a link road proposed that will connect Radwinter Road (by Tesco) to Thaxted Road, near the end of Peaslands Road. The only effect this will have is dumping a quarter of the town’s traffic at the end of Victoria Avenue and Peaslands Road to find its way across town through existing residential neighbourhoods.
- Net effect – gridlock and pollution: All the new houses on the east; jobs and transport on the west; no new roads – it has recipe for disaster written all over it. The net effect will be gridlock on Bridge Street/Castle Street, London Road/High Street, Peaslands Road/Mount Pleasant Borough Lane – and urban cut-throughs on Victoria Avenue/West Road, Winstanley Road/Cromwell Road/Rowntree Way and Summer Hill Road – and misery for families who live there.
This is a poorly thought out plan. Clearly more houses are required for the south east of England, especially affordable ones, but there are better locations across the district – even in Saffron Walden.
Because key meetings happened behind closed doors with no minutes, it’s hard to understand why UDC just flipped from their strategy of building a new town to spreading the houses around. And there is a lack of supporting evidence. In fact the Planning Inspector referenced these as part of his reasons for rejecting the draft Local Plan in 2014.
And Saffron Walden residents agree; over 2,150 of them sent individual letters to UDC to urge them to reconsider the proposals.