Council leader committed to fixing Local Plan after ‘Tory failures’

PUBLISHED: 09:25 27 February 2020

R4U Councillor John Lodge, leader at Uttlesford District Council. Photo: CONTRIBUTED.

R4U Councillor John Lodge, leader at Uttlesford District Council. Photo: CONTRIBUTED.

Archant

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) has announced that the R4U-led Uttlesford District Council (UDC) has engaged an external team of advisers as part of their initiative to fix the local plan after failures by the previous administration.

In January this year, planning inspectors found the draft local plan submitted by the previous Conservative-led UDC to be "unsound". The new council administration has committed to "fix the plan".

This week, R4U Councillor John Lodge, UDC leader, said: "The previous administration wasted millions of pounds of residents' money on multiple failed local plans. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That is not what this residents' administration will do. We will fix the plan.

"We have moved decisively and swiftly since the inspectors issued their opinion. We've brought in a highly experienced and independent team of planning advisers. Boots are now on the ground. They have started reviewing the council's options on how to best proceed with a new local plan that meets the government's demands for new housing, whilst minimising the impact and cost to communities and residents. They will make recommendations over the next few weeks for consideration and approval by all councillors."

Cllr Lodge also said that UDC officers have already made improvements in the way planning is dealt with by the council - and that these have allowed higher requirements from developers and "a string of appeal victories against inappropriate developments."

Nevertheless, he acknowledged a need for a more in-depth re-engineering of planning, which sees external advisers undertaking a "root-and-branch review" and recommending "target investment, staffing, process and technology changes" to the chief executive and councillors.

"We're not like the previous administration," said Cllr Lodge.

"We demand high levels of governance, transparency, and democracy from this council. During the planning review and re-engineering process, we expect officers and all councillors, including the scrutiny committee, to be completely involved. This is a new council; it is one that operates differently and strives for better outcomes for residents."

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