Residents’ views on Dunmow by-pass ignored, says developer

I AM writing to you regarding the recent coverage of Woodlands Park in the Broadcast dated June 10 and subsequent correspondence in the letters column.

At the outset I would like to stress that Wickford is holding nobody to ransom over completion of the bypass which it will complete in due time in accordance with the legal obligations it has entered into with Uttlesford District Council. At the present time the constraints in the banking sector mean that we are unable to bring forward completion of the bypass without increasing the security held by the bank.

The recent planning application would have satisfied the bank’s requirements and thereby enabled Wickford to complete and open the bypass to the public within 18 months. This would achieve a significant reduction in traffic movements in the historic core of Dunmow. In addition it would have secured the early provision of 76 affordable dwellings (included in the 190 houses that we were applying for), substantial financial contributions to highways and education, the donation of �40,000 towards additional playing fields which could have been made available to the Helena Romanes School to ensure its provision close to the school. In addition, approval of the scheme would have secured an exit route for coaches from the school to the Thaxted Road roundabout thereby resolving a long standing problem of congestion at the school.

All of these benefits would be delivered in addition to the 156 affordable dwellings already built and occupied at Woodlands Park and the financial contribution of �2.6m that Wickford has already paid to Essex County Council towards primary education in Dunmow. This enables the education authority to sell the former school site in Rosemary Lane thus generating additional funding for education and which would not otherwise have been possible. Wickford has also landscaped a considerable amount of public open space at Woodlands Park and having maintained it to an exemplary standard for a considerable period, has an ongoing programme of handover to Uttlesford, together with the funds to maintain to a high standard.

Mention has been made in your columns of Wickford’s slow rate of build and that this is somehow detrimental to the community of Dunmow. Wickford is under no obligation to build Woodlands Park at a given rate of sales per annum or to complete it within a specified period. However this rate of build has been beneficial to Dunmow by enabling the additional population to be more easily absorbed into the community over a longer period of time without undue strain on facilities. Furthermore, as the site has taken longer to develop we have been able to adapt our plans to accommodate government requirements for higher density developments. Whilst this would not have been our choice by increasing densities on land already allocated for development, Uttlesford has not had to allocate green field land elsewhere to accommodate that increase in numbers.

Wickford has always behaved properly in accordance with the obligations imposed upon it in legal agreements prepared by the council and is proud of its record of quality building and maintaining a smart and tidy appearance to the ongoing development, This is evidenced by the numerous NHBC awards including National Supreme Award winner in 2000 and 2005.

Wickford has always accepted its obligation to complete the bypass in due time and at no cost to the public. That is why over the years it has completed various sections of the bypass as and when it had the funds.

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The recently refused application would have enabled, in what are very difficult financial circumstances for each and every one of us, Wickford to deliver early completion of the bypass and open it to the public in 18 months without any contribution from the public purse. It afforded an opportunity of securing that infrastructure and the other considerable benefits mentioned above. This was acknowledged by the council’s planning officers in their report to committee which recommended that planning permission should be granted.

By refusing to grant planning permission the council are indicating that there is little or no benefit to the derived from bringing the bypass forward and that the other advantages are similarly of no value to the community. The comments in your columns seem to suggest that the people of Dunmow think otherwise which begs the question, are the views of residents being properly represented by town and district councillors.

Cliff Neale

Consultant surveyor

Wickford Development Company