Government funding for garden towns ‘yet further waste’ - campaigners say

Councillor Howard Rolfe, leader of Uttlesford District Council

Councillor Howard Rolfe, leader of Uttlesford District Council - Credit: Archant

Three new garden towns in Uttlesford will receive a share of £3.7million of funding from the Government to “fast-track specialist survey work and planning works” necessary for each new town’s development.

It is hoped that funding for five councils, including Uttlesford District Council (UDC), will clear the way for up to 64,000 homes across England, the Minister of State for Housing announced on Monday.

The Government has allocated £750,000 to Easton Park Garden Community, North Uttlesford Garden Community and West of Braintree Garden Community in Uttlesford which, it says, will help to deliver the homes and infrastructure needed for both neighbouring communities and future residents.

The three communities are included in the draft Uttlesford local plan.

Minister of State for Housing Kit Malthouse MP said: “I congratulate Uttlesford District Council for putting forward an ambitious proposal, which could deliver up to 18,500 high-quality homes, and am pleased to support them as they work to make these plans a reality.”

But Vincent Thompson, from Stop Easton Park, said: “We believe that the Easton Park proposal is fundamentally misconceived and will be seen as such by the independent inspectors following the examination in public currently scheduled for July. Easton Park is too close to Stansted Airport, too close to Great Dunmow, lacks adequate access and would result in the destruction of one of the great historic parks of Essex. So this funding risks yet further waste on a fatally flawed proposal.”

Councillor John Lodge, chairman of Residents for Uttlesford (R4U), welcomed the news but warned the funds wouldn’t be enough.

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He said: “It is important that we have proper funding to plan for new homes so this grant is good news. However the money is split between five councils so our share won’t go very far at all.

“To date, the current UDC administration has spent more than £5million of our money on a string of embarrassing local plan failures, so this only pays for part of that. This grant money needs to be made to work for residents.”

UDC leader, Councillor Howard Rolfe said: “It would be really helpful for Uttlesford residents to be told where the R4U party stand on the local plan - the grudging acceptance from Cllr Lodge that the ministry recognise the council’s work may be an endorsement.”