Uttlesford to decide on local plan


by Michael HardwareDirector of Planning and Property 

Uttlesford District Council has called an Extraordinary Council Meeting (ECM) next Thursday to consider a recommendation from officers to withdraw the local plan.

The two inspectors, Louise Crosby and Elaine Worthington, the same inspectors as for St Albans, had expressed serious concerns over the local plan. They felt there was an over-reliance on three new garden communities which would take tome to deliver. They also felt that even with the plan adopted the council would not have a five-year land supply.

The council subsequently appointed a Peer Review Team from the East of England Local Government Association to provide independent advice. The council administration is new, only having been elected last May. Residents4Uttlesford was unexpectedly swept to power, overturning a significant and long-standing Conservative majority.

R4U campaigned on the basis of objecting to the local plan, although allowed it to continue after the election. The inspectors may have done them a favour although perhaps not: the council will take two to three years to bring forward a new plan during which they will be subjected to speculative applications until its five-year land supply has been achieved – the council will have to decide now what applications it needs to support and which it will allow to go to appeal – a policy of favouring the least-worst projects!

The timing, however, is difficult for R4U as the new plan will be coming forward for adoption in the run-up to the next local elections (they elect every four years). If they get it wrong in the eyes of the electorate, they will be punished by the ballot box.

The leader, Cllr John Lodge, has always said his party did not oppose the local plan, just that the wrong developments were being planned in the wrong place. Now we will get the opportunity to see what he thinks are the right developments, and where they should be located.

The ECM next week will be held virtually.