Fresh bid for homes in village is turned down over wildlife concerns

PUBLISHED: 08:16 02 December 2019

Uttlesford District Council. Photo: CONTRIBUTED.

Uttlesford District Council. Photo: CONTRIBUTED.

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An application to erect 40 homes south of Rush Lane in Elsenham was unanimously refused during a planning committee meeting at Uttlesford District Council (UDC).

Councillors said there was no need for additional housing following an earlier approval of 130 homes in the village and said the focus should now turn to "protecting the countryside".

Councillor Graham Mott, from Elsenham Parish Council, told the meeting on November 6 that the local plan inspector had in 2014 rejected a draft plan which involved a new large development in Elsenham because he "regarded any further development in the village as unsustainable".

Referring to an application by Bovis Homes for 130 houses in Elsenham which UDC approved during the same meeting on November 6, Cllr Mott said: "Since 2014, 550 houses in Elsenham have either been built or approved. The 130 agreed earlier are not a case of another 130 here, oh, and here is just another 40, that won't make much difference, will it? That is the wrong approach. It is the cumulative effect which is important."

An agent representing the applicant said he believed the site south of Rush Lane was 'sustainable for development'. He told the committee: "The presumption in favour applies and therefore the principle of development is acceptable."

However, Councillor Paul Fairhurst proposed rejection of the application.

He said: "Think of 40 houses in that space and imagine if that space was treed and there were real bats and newts and wild species. There are enough houses to go around, imagine if we were here to plan for bats instead of planning for houses. We are talking about protecting the countryside, and the countryside isn't just about houses, it's about bats and reptiles and all sorts of other things."

Cllr Reeve seconded this, which was the intention of Cllr Freeman as well, who stated he "thirded" the refusal.

Cllr Freeman argued: "There is a death trap because of the railway line crossing at the bottom of Robin Hood Road. There has been one fatality there already. Children will have to cross that to play. There is a plan to close that and go through the tunnel instead, but that presents another problem: tunnels are lethal for being attacked."

"There are no energy saving measures, solar panels which are cheap."

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