‘Extreme weather will become norm if we don’t start building sustainable developments’, Uttlesford activist group warns

Walden in Transition members with copies of the guide. Walden in Transition members with copies of the guide.

Friday, February 14, 2014
3:33 PM

Extreme weather will become the norm if growth and development does not become more sustainable, activists have warned.

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Walden in Transition, a group that examines ideas for improving life in the district, has published the Uttlesford Sustainable Development Guide. The eight-page document has been sent to parish and town councils with the aim of helping them to respond to planning applications using “sustainability criteria”.

On Saturday the guide will be placed into the public domain at the group’s Community Café, held at Saffron Walden Town Hall.

Paul Garland, a member of Walden in Transition, said: “Any building that takes place should not undermine the integrity of the environment – including flood risks and traffic provisions.

“The national Planning Policy Framework fails to identify clearly what sustainable development is. This document provides a definition of sustainability and proposes criteria to consider in evaluating planning applications.

“We are hoping that councillors will look at the criteria included in it, and take it into account. They can use the guide to object to developments that do not fulfil it.”

Walden in Transition emphasised that ‘sustainability’ has become a buzz word used without real understanding behind it.

The guide sets out to show that it should allow people to live “healthy, secure and worthwhile lives” and enables “the natural world to sustain the conditions of life”.

The guide also pinpoints key threats to future wellbeing that need to be taken into account when approval is given to planning applications.

These include climate change, fossil fuel dependency, economic instability and loss of biodiversity.

Ultimately, the group is hoping the document will be of some assistance to Uttlesford District Council as the authority looks to finalise its Local Plan – the blueprint of how 10,400 homes will be built across the district over a 20-year period.

“Global warming is getting worse and extreme weather is going to be more the norm,” added Mr Garland. “As the responsible authority, Uttlesford should actually be 
planning to mitigate the affects of global warming.”

UDC has received a copy. The authority’s chief executive, John Mitchell, said: “We want to thank Walden in Transition for their report which will be carefully considered by our planning policy department and, where relevant, cost effective and achievable, taken on board.”

The Walden in Transition ‘Community Cafe’ will take place tomorrow (Saturday, February 15) at the rear of Saffron Walden Town Hall, from 10.30am-1pm.

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