Is it 860 or really 1,000s of new houses for Walden?

WeAreResidents.org firmly believes that UDC is significantly understating the actual number of new houses that will be built across the district, including in Saffron Walden. The 2012 draft of the Uttlesford Local Plan proposes a minimum of an additional 880 new homes for the town, with the majority, 860, in one location on farm land. This is in addition to the more than 400 already approved. Only stating a minimum number is highly misleading:

  • The majority of the housing proposed for Saffron Walden will be on a site to the east of the town in a big new estate in what UDC call Policy Areas 1 & 2.
  • UDC state that 860 houses are targeted for this new estate, but their small print says that this is a minimum number. We’ve asked them, but they refuse to provide the maximum or even likely number of houses that will be built, so we’ve done the calculation.
  • The site is 81 hectares (200 acres) and so 860 houses would be a density of 10.6 houses per hectare. Until June 2010, national planning guidelines indicated a minimum density of 30 houses per hectare.
  • In December 2011, UDC’s own Strategic Housing Assessment indicates that UDC believes that Saffron Walden sites should be between 35-67 houses per hectare.
  • Planned use a figure of 25% land loss for infrastructure, e.g. roads, schools, green spaces etc, which would reduce the 81 hectare site to 61 hectares of buildable land.
  • For 61 buildable hectares, UDC’s own guidelines give realistic new housing numbers of between 2,100 and 4,000 for the total site – in fact multiples above the their stated minimum of 860. See the calculation.

So why aren’t more realistic numbers quoted to residents? Probably because the belief is that people won’t notice the “minimum” small print and so believe that there will actually be fewer built. Then later, after the intial planning application, the numbers will be revised up to add more. That’s the shell game that’s played.

So is it 860 or 4,000 houses that will be dumped on Saffron Walden? We have done the analysis using UDC’s recent building densities, we have estimated that a 1,600 to 3,200 new house figure is a more likely. This number  allows for the UDC recommended mix of affordable housing and land use for infrastructure for the new residents such as a schools, medical centre, play areas, sports provision and roads.

Saffron Walden will grow by a whopping 56% in one fell swoop. A far cry from the “860 minimum” claimed by UDC.

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