Decision day arrives for R4U over fate of local plan

Uttlesford District Council are gearing up for public hearings which will examine their local plan.

Uttlesford District Council are gearing up for public hearings which will examine their local plan. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

The future of Uttlesford District Council’s (UDC) local plan could be decided today (Thursday), as the controlling party is expected to confirm whether it supports the plan or intends to scrap it.

However, planning inspectors wrote to UDC on June 11 ahead of public hearings which will examine the plan, asking for clarity on Residents for Uttlesford's (R4U) stance.

Before taking control of the council from the Conservatives in May, R4U repeatedly raised significant concerns about the plan.

Planning inspectors Louise Crosby and Elaine Worthington said: "At the start of the first hearing session, we will ask the council whether it continues to think that it has submitted a plan which is sound and ready for examination and therefore, whether it still supports it. Alternatively, if the council no longer supports key aspects of the plan it has submitted, the appropriate action would be to consider withdrawing that plan from examination."

The inspectors asked the council to confirm its position in writing by June 27.

Now, action group Stop Easton Park, which opposes plans for thousands of new homes near Dunmow included in the local plan, has urged the council to withdraw the document.

In a letter to councillors, the action group said: "In our view, the plan submitted by the previous administration is inherently flawed both in the sustainability appraisal that underlies it and in the plan itself and hence runs a high risk of failure at examination. Surely, it is better for UDC to temporarily withdraw the plan and address its shortcomings rather than have to start again in some months' time and risk losing control to developers and central Government. We urge you to withdraw the plan to allow time for considered and lateral thought outside the confines of the 'tunnel-vision' of the previous administration."

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R4U told the Broadcast that it had not yet responded to the inspectors' letter and councillors were still working through issues.

On June 13, an R4U spokesman said that councillors were "seeking advice from officers and legal experts on the plan and the best way protect Uttlesford from the developer-free-for-all that has been going on for a decade".