Liberal Democrat leader says it would be ‘suicidal’ to reject Uttlesford local plan

PUBLISHED: 15:21 18 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:21 18 June 2018

Leader of the Lib Dems, Councillor Alan Dean. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Leader of the Lib Dems, Councillor Alan Dean. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Archant

Uttlesford District Council’s Liberal Democrat leader, Councillor Alan Dean, has said the current local plan is “imperfect” but it is the best chance to “avoid a developer free-for-all”.

On Tuesday, Uttlesford councillors will vote on the new local plan. If the plan is agreed it will proceed to the next stage of public consultation and examination at a public enquiry by a planning inspector.

This plan, drawn up with cooperation between the Conservatives, R4U, and Liberal Democrats includes three new settlements and sets policies for the future development of Stansted Airport.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Cllr Alan Dean, said: “It has rightly been vigorously debated and it has been a long and fractious process. All of the political parties have had to adapt with changing circumstances and in light of increasing housing numbers imposed by central government to address a national housing shortage.

“It would be suicidal if councillors rejected the cross-party plan. Central government would take control of our local future, causing planning anarchy in our towns and villages. Our inaction would free developers to make planning decisions at local people’s expense. Simply failing to submit a plan for consultation by next month would, on its own, result in our imposed housing target being increased by 2,000.

“The current plan is imperfect. It is, however, the best available and provides our best chance to avoid a developer free-for-all. There will also be opportunities to further improve the plan through the consultation and inspection process.

“Liberal Democrats see the plan, with its ambitious targets for affordable housing, as an opportunity to address the terrible imbalances in our local housing market.

“Average house prices in our area are 11 times local incomes and are out of reach of all but the wealthiest families. There are around 1000 people on UDC’s waiting list for housing and that’s only part of the desperate picture. We must provide an opportunity for the disadvantaged, less well paid and the young to make a life for themselves in locally owned homes throughout the district.

”Liberal Democrats want UDC, on the back of the commitments in this plan, to massively expand the availability of community-owned housing and to ensure that it is provided at well below open market rates. We will work to deliver rented property at social rent levels and not at 70-80% of full market rates that is current policy.”

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