Local plan in limbo after inspectors call for clarity from new ruling party
PUBLISHED: 08:21 13 June 2019 | UPDATED: 08:21 13 June 2019
The future of Uttlesford District Council's (UDC) local plan is uncertain after inspectors asked for clarity from the council's new controlling party.
The plan, which identifies sites that can be developed for housing, was submitted for examination in January as part of a process which could see its adoption.
However, planning inspectors wrote to UDC, asking for clarity on Residents for Uttlesford's (R4U) stance on the plan.
Before taking control of the district council in May, R4U raised significant concerns about the plan, arguing that it was "not justified or effective and is unsound in relation to the delivery of infrastructure," according to the letter sent to UDC by the planning inspectors.
The local plan was submitted by the previous Conservative-led council.
The letter, written by inspectors Louise Crosby and Elaine Worthington, reads: "At the start of the first hearing session, we will ask the council to confirm 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 council have been asked to confirm its position by June 27.
Dan Starr, vice chairman and co-founder of R4U, said: "The local plan inspectors have asked a highly relevant question. In fact we would be surprised if they hadn't. Anyone who has been following the Uttlesford local plan through its tortuous and expensive history that will know that R4U does have concerns about the soundness of parts of it.
"Council officers have assured residents that the plan is sound, as did the previous Conservative administration that submitted it to the inspector. However, we would say that it has always been difficult to get a definitive view on certain things because records of meetings held by the previous administration are incomplete, and in some cases non-existent.
"With respect to the local plan and its upcoming examination, our councillors are still to decide. They are 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. Once they have done that they will write back to the planning inspectors."