‘Too many questions and no answers’: Stebbing parish councillor on Uttlesford District Council’s latest local plan

Councillor Howard Rolfe, chairman of the Planning Policy Working Group and leader of Uttlesford Dis

Councillor Howard Rolfe, chairman of the Planning Policy Working Group and leader of Uttlesford District Council - Credit: Archant

Questions were fired at Uttlesford District Council (UDC) during a three hour long meeting to discuss housing in Uttlesford before the local plan is submitted to the government.

At the Planning Policy Working Group meeting on Thursday 31 May, representatives from parish councils raised concerns about the latest version of

the local plan, where two new garden towns and a garden village have been proposed.

The local plan will set out how and where new homes, jobs, services and infrastructure will be delivered.

Sandi Merifield from Stebbing Parish Council said “there are too many questions, no answers and only aspirations” in the regulation 19 document, which outlines the latest plans.

When discussing the proposed community West of Braintree, which would see 970 Uttlesford homes by 2033, Ms Merifield said there was no indication of how closely UDC will work with Braintree District Council to deliver the site.

Ms Merifield also asked if a proposed “rapid transit” to Braintree and Dunmow town centre, would include buses.

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Dumow Town Council raised concerns over the Easton Park Garden Community, near Dunmow and Little Easton, which ultimately could deliver 10,000 new homes, and a minimum 1,925 houses by 2033.

The plan also includes new community facilities and neighborhood parks.

Great Dunmow Town Council clerk Caroline Fuller said the new town poses “serious transport problems yet to be properly assessed.”

She added: “All new settlement locations will pose challenges of urban sprawl, but none more so than the challenges facing Great Dunmow.”

Graham Mott from Elsenham Parish Council said smaller developments, such as a site for 40 houses in Elsenham “should not just go through on the nod” and that already the road through Stansted to the village was “beyond capacity”.

Traffic and infrastructure concerns were raised about the North Uttlesford Garden Community, near Great Chesterford, which could see 5,000 homes built, with 1,925 created by 2033.

Tony Orgee said that the North Uttlesford Garden Community, combined with other proposed local developments could lead to drivers avoiding congestion on the A5050/A1301 roundabout, resulting in “rat running” through South Cambridgeshire villages.

Professor William Brown from Hinxton Parish Council, argued that Hinxton “abuts one half of the proposed new town boundary but we shall have to bear far, far more than half of the infrastructure and amenity costs.”

He said the town was “grostesquely sited on hills that shape our landscape and the development will “wreck” the “shared landscape”.

He said his comments were fully supported by neighbouring parish councils including Duxford and Whittlesford, telling the working group members: “We are confident the (planning) inspector will be persuaded the the new town is unnecessary.”

Julie Redfern, District Councillor for Littlebury, Chesterford and Wenden Lofts said the amount of traffic from the garden community will “push” cars on to the B1383 road, leading them through Great Chesterford and towards Stansted. She added: “Promises that this will be dealt with later are no good to this community.”

More access routes to the new town are “an absoute must” she said, asking: “Where else do you have a town of this size with only one proper entrance and exit?”

In response, chairman Councillor Howard Rolfe said Highways England was looking at creating a smart motorway, which would mean, in the short term that drivers could use the hard shoulder, resulting in a three-lane motorway.

Fiona Wilkinson from Little Chesterford Parish Council said that the area sited as available for development at Chesterford Research Park was double that of the current available area.

She said she was unable to find any mention in regulation 19 that 50% of the research park is owned by Aspire, which is in turn “wholly” owned by UDC.

A UDC spokesman confirmed that the council’s 50% ownership is not in the regulation 19 document.

The Planning Policy Working Group approved the plans, with some modifications.

On June 12, the UDC cabinet will meet to consider the draft local plan, before sending them to the full cabinet on June 25.