County council raises objections to developer’s plans for more than 100 new houses in Thaxted

PUBLISHED: 15:47 27 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:47 27 July 2018

Thaxted Primary School. Picture: Saffron Photo

Thaxted Primary School. Picture: Saffron Photo

SaffronPhoto 2016

An application to build more than 100 homes in Thaxted has been met with objections from Essex County Council and Thaxted Parish Council due to a lack of clarity over a proposed school site and inadequate infrastructure to cope with the development.

The application, submitted by developers Countryside Properties, sets out plans for 104 dwellings, provision of land for a primary school, with associated landscaping, open space and highways, drainage and other infrastructure works on land south of Sampford Road.

At a meeting on June 5, Thaxted Parish Council voted to object to the application, stating that the development would be “contrary to a number of policies in the Thaxted neighbourhood plan”.

Elliott Moore, infrastructure planning officer at Essex County Council, also questioned the proposed school site in a consultation letter to Uttlesford District Council (UDC).

He said: “The proposal is within the priority admissions area of Thaxted Primary School, which has capacity for up to 266 pupils. It is the only school in Thaxted. As of January 2018, the school had 243 pupils on roll and was full in two year groups.”

According to forecasts from the county council, the school is expected to have just three unfilled places by the academic year commencing September 2021.

Mr Moore said this would not be sufficient to accommodate a development of 104 homes.

He continued: “Unfortunately, it would be extremely difficult to expand Thaxted Primary School on its current site and, with no other schools within reasonable walking distance of Thaxted, accommodating pupils from any new homes built in Thaxted will be problematic.”

Mr Moore said the applicant’s planning statement alludes to a site for a new primary school building.

“Whilst this offer is welcome, the level of development in Thaxted that is anticipated by Uttlesford’s emerging local plan would not justify or finance the construction of a new two form entry school,” Mr Moore said. “It is also noted that in their planning statement, the applicant appears only to offer land or a financial contribution towards a new primary school building.”

Mr Moore said the developer will need to demonstrate that the necessary surveys have been undertaken to assure Essex County Council that the land is developable for building a school.

In the conclusion of his letter to Uttlesford District Council, he said: “If your council were minded to turn down the application, I would be grateful if the lack of surplus childcare, primary education, secondary education and secondary school provision in the area to accommodate the proposed new homes can be noted as an additional reason for refusal.”

Hands Off Thaxted, a campaign group aiming to stop unsustainable development in Thaxted, said: “In 2015 an application to build 70 houses on land to the south of the Sampford Road, Thaxted was refused by Uttlesford District Council.

“That proposal was deemed to be unsustainable, and harmful to the setting of the Grade I-listed St John the Baptist Church. It seems that the refusal was not clearly understood by developers and landowners, so Thaxted residents have decided to spell it out.

“The setting of Thaxted in the countryside is crucial to the identity of the village, which is an important destination for tourists, so over the last two years Thaxted Parish Council has worked hard to develop a neighbourhood plan. The neighbourhood plan does identify sustainable locations in and around the village on which new houses can be built.”

Countryside Properties were contacted by the Reporter for comment but did not respond in time.

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