Councillor stands up and resigns from Uttlesford planning committee

Councillor Richard Pavitt has resigned from Uttlesford District Council's planning committee

Councillor Richard Pavitt, who has resigned from Uttlesford District Council's planning committee - Credit: Uttlesford District Council

A councillor has resigned from Uttlesford District Council's planning committee today (Wednesday) in protest over the handling of an application to build homes in the countryside.

Councillor Richard Pavitt stood up and left the meeting shortly before 124 houses were approved near Little Chesterford.

An artists impression of the Little Chesterford development, Uttlesford, Essex

An artists impression of the Little Chesterford development. Credit: LDA Design. - Credit: LDA Design

Cllr Pavitt (Uttlesford Independents, Littlebury, Chesterford & Wenden Lofts) and other councillors were concerned the development would harm the local countryside and put unsustainable pressure on nearby villages, but is being “pushed through” because of the council’s recent designation and lack of housing land supply.

Uttlesford was recently stripped of some of its planning powers because a large number of its decisions were overturned on appeal.

Cllr Pavitt said: “In the light of the way this particular application has come forward and being pushed through based on tilted balance as the only thing that matters, I’m resigning from this committee as of now.

“I do not wish to vote on this, it’s a pointless waste of my time.”

Cllr Pavitt had been debating with council officer Nigel Brown, who advised the committee against voting for motions to defer or refuse the application, saying they did not have legal grounds to do so.

Developers Hill Residential Ltd say the location is sustainable and that it would rather spend money on the community through planning contributions to the local CCG and schools than on fighting an appeal.

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Chloe Houston, development manager at Hill, said: “We have a strong record of delivering high quality developments.

“This site is a sustainable location for development and would serve as a natural progression for the Great Chesterfords.”

Moving to approve the application, Councillor Barbara Light (Green, Saffron Walden Audley) said: “Nobody in this room can truly believe that this is desirable or even sustainable, or that it is a positive addition to the Chesterfords, because it goes in both directions, Little and Great.

“Yet we have to show that we are meeting government demands and we have to accept or seemingly accept this inappropriate and greedy development.”

Despite the designation, this application was decided by the planning committee and not the planning inspectorate. 

Developers for major applications now have the option of applying directly to the planning inspectorate, but still have the option of applying to the council.

Of the 97 people submitting representations for the application, 84 were objections.

But there were no objections from statutory consultees such as the Environment Agency and Anglian Water, meaning there was no ground to refuse the application over flooding or sustainability fears.