Race is on to grab a slice of the £222m profit to be made from Britain’s ‘best rural area to live’

St Mary's Church in Saffron Walden. Picture by Megan Ridgewell. St Mary's Church in Saffron Walden. Picture by Megan Ridgewell.

Thursday, March 27, 2014
4:20 PM

Uttlesford is Britain’s most desirable rural area to live after topping a nationwide poll for the first time.

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The Doctors Pond in Great Dunmow.The Doctors Pond in Great Dunmow.

Now the race is on to get a cut of the estimated £222million profit housebuilders stand to make by cashing in on the attractiveness of the district.

In the same week Uttlesford topped a quality of life survey, a report has been released estimating the value of land earmarked for development.

It also gives an idea of how much money could be made from building on it.

Heading the list is a 2,100-home site to the north east of Elsenham – long billed the controversial Option 4 development – which could generate in the region of £81.8m in profit.

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Land on the east side of Saffron Walden, between Thaxted Road and Radwinter Road, tagged for 800 homes, offers a projected total profit of £42.9m, while developers could make £33.4m from a 57-hectare plot to the west of Great Dunmow.

The sites are all part of Uttlesford District Council’s draft Local Plan.

The document sets out where 10,400 homes are to be built over a 20-year period from 2011-2031.

A report by BNP Paribas Real Estate, commissioned by the district council, estimates that it would cost a total of £144m for developers to acquire the land listed for the 14 major proposed developments in the Local Plan. Some of the sites, such as the one north east of Elsenham, have already been snapped up.

The sum of scheme values alone, before construction costs, marketing and other outgoings, could reach an eye-popping £1.3billion based on calculations.

The purpose of the report was to test the viability of each site.

It comes as the district topped the Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey 2014 for the first time.

Leader of UDC, Jim Ketteridge, said: “We already know this is a beautiful part of the country to live and we take great pride in the district. But it is particularly pleasing to have outside independent recognition.

“I am delighted our residents have the highest standard of living in rural Britain and it is encouraging the district performs strongly in terms of average weekly earnings and a high employment rate.

“However, we won’t be complacent and will continue to support our local businesses and drive the local economy forward.”

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