July 23 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Twelve “apostles” – including a couple of County High students – will be assembled to take on the challenge of shaping what Saffron Walden should look like by 2050.
The group, to be put together by Saffron Walden Town Council, will act as the voice for residents in coming up with a range of ideas, including what facilities, traffic management measures, house designs, business space, and parks or playing fields are needed.
It will be an extension of Uttlesford District Council’s (UDC) Local Plan, which sets out where houses should be built, jobs created and community benefits boosted up to 2031.
Cllr David Watson welcomed the proposal to include County High students – designed to engage the younger generation and establish what they would like to see in the town – but cautioned that the elderly also needed to be looked after.
At a full council meeting last Thursday, he said: “The average age of the town is considerably higher than elsewhere. We do have to recognise we’ve got an older population, which will get older as we go on, and we need the services to cater for that.”
In response, Cllr Keith Eden, who has been tasked with taking the lead on the Neighbourhood Plan, told councillors there was a broad scope for the group to put forward whatever concepts it deemed necessary.
He said: “We can become the old person’s capital of the south. We can have all sorts of facilities such as swimming pools for old people [if we want to].”
The apostles, as Cllr Eden termed them, are likely to include two town councillors, one district councillor, Essex county councillor John Lodge, and two representatives from residents’ group.
There will also be two people with development experience – possibly even a developer which has had a planning application approved in Saffron Walden – two economic gurus and the County High pupils, likely to be A-level politics students.
Giving an update on the progress of the Neighbourhood Plan, Cllr Eden said: “The question that needs to be answered is what we expect Saffron Walden to look like in 2035 or 2050.
“It’s a 24-month process from September [when the group of 12 is expected to meet for the first time], so it’s not going to be finished until the second half of 2016. It’s a pretty big job and we need people to commit to it.
“The assumption is that the district council’s Local Plan has been approved. It’s a done deal but we’re working on the implementation of it.
“We can also go beyond the Local Plan period, which for a town that’s been around as long as ours has, I think would be a good idea.”
The town council has already sought advice from its counterparts in Dunmow and Bishop’s Stortford, councils that are further along in the process.
It is unclear how much the plan will cost to create, but £20,000 from UDC and a further £10,000 from the town council’s budget is available.