An updated timetable has been agreed for Uttlesford's Local Plan, which will guide the district's future development up until 2040.

The plan will include allocations of sites for new housing, provision of infrastructure and policies to protect historic buildings and places.

Last month, Uttlesford District Council announced a pause to the plan-making process to allow more time to complete further work ahead of publishing a draft Local Plan for consultation. 

The draft plan will offer residents a chance to comment on the council's provisional choice of policies and site allocations to meet the needs of the area, including affordable homes, employment opportunities, schools, GPs and the most sustainable locations for transport, water and power supply infrastructure.

Uttlesford District Council described the delay as "unfortunate", but said: "It will have the benefit to residents, parish councils and other stakeholders of a more accessible and clearly justified draft plan consultation document.

"The council will have to make very difficult decisions at every stage to balance the competing needs and aspirations."

According to the updated timetable, in summer 2023 the consultation draft Local Plan will be published, with public events held to explain the proposals and answer questions.

From autumn 2023 to spring 2024 the council will consider the feedback from the consultation, then will publish the proposed Local Plan in the summer.

In autumn 2024 the plan will be submitted for examination by an independent planning inspector, who will consider comments made in the consultation. The inspector will then decide whether the plan is 'sound' and meets government and legal requirements, or whether it needs to be changed before it can be adopted. The examination will continue through winter until the formal decision.

Subject to successfully passing independent examination, the Local Plan will be formally adopted by the council and will come into force in October 2025.

The Local Plan team is currently reviewing and updating the previous provisional assessments of potential development sites.

Once complete, the review of will be used to inform the decisions in later stages of the process.

Leader of the Conservative Group George Smith said: "Everyone wants to see a Plan adopted but R4U have offered nothing but dither and delay. 

"This latest delay to the Local Plan timetable is the fourth one that the administration has overseen this year alone. What is really unfortunate is the impact of their delays.

"The longer they stall over the delivery of a Local Plan, the more our communities continue to be beset by large-scale speculative planning applications.

"Why don't they want the electorate to know where new houses will be allocated before next years local elections?"

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