Stebbing 60 homes planning application is rejected

Aerial view of the proposed Stebbing development.

Aerial view of the proposed Stebbing development. - Credit: Arcady Architects

A developer has been accused of rushing though a housing development in an Essex village in order to beat its neighbourhood plan.

Richstone Procurement Ltd, listed as the applicant on Uttlesford District Council’s website, wanted to build 60 homes in Stebbing, but this has been blocked by the planning committee.

Over 400 people had written to oppose the application, for land to the east of Brick Kiln Lane and north of Pound Gate.

And residents had gathered with signs as the site visit took place on Monday, to show their feelings.

An agent speaking for the applicant at the planning committee meeting yesterday (Wednesday March 16) said the bid was intended to go alongside the neighbourhood plan rather than being in competition with it, and that it would benefit the whole district.

Planning agent Chris Wragg said: “Rather than creating competition, it is our vision that this development and Section 106 contributions run alongside the plan and offer additional benefits to both the village and the wider district.”

But the developer was accused by a parish councillor of trying to rush it through before the plan is formally adopted.

Stebbing Parish Councillor Jacqueline Kingdom said the site had been rejected from the plan by town planners Urban Vision for being a “significant incursion into the rural area”.

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Cllr Kingdom said: “It is understandable why so many people are angry that this application appears to have been rushed through by the applicant and officers to beat the neighbourhood plan and over 400 people have written opposing the application. No one is recorded as approving it.”

An independent examiner found the neighbourhood plan met its requirements and recommended it now go on to a local referendum last month.

Councillor Judy Emanuel (Residents for Uttlesford, Newport) said: “This community has come forward and developed their plan with a 95% response rate which is absolutely outstanding”.

She later said: “This isn’t just a representative sample, this is representative of the entire community and I don’t think that it would be appropriate to undermine that effort when it’s reached the stage it’s at.”

In addition to the 60 homes, the application sought permission for parking, amenity space, access, public footpaths, and new trees and hedgerows.

According to a council report, 40% of the houses would have been affordable homes, in line with the council’s minimum requirement.

If approved, the developers would have provided a community bus for Stebbing and would have contributed financially to local schools, libraries, healthcare and the Hatfield Forest recreational mitigation strategy.