Lib Dems lodge formal complaint over Uttlesford District Council’s handling of prospective housing sites

17:12 13 May 2014

Uttlesford District Council

Uttlesford District Council

Archant

Uttlesford’s Liberal Democrat group has lodged a formal complaint about the district council’s handling of prospective housing sites.

Councillors Alan Dean and David Morson investigated the repeated claims, by officers and cabinet members, that no landowner had come forward to offer up sites for housing development in Great Chesterford beyond those already listed in the Local Plan.

The pair have accused the council of blocking discussions with a planning agency, which wanted to hold a meeting about potential new housing in the village, and have said a “thorough, independent investigation is now unavoidable”.

Cllr Dean said: “We started last December to investigate what housing schemes were being proposed for Great Chesterford. We did this in the light of public discontent that the council seemed to be wedded to a major 2,100 development at Elsenham, but had been accused of ignoring alternatives at Great Chesterford and at places along the A120 corridor.

“We were told at a meeting in December with a planning officer that there had been no proposals for several years from Great Chesterford. Since then we have discovered that planning agent Bidwells asked in the previous month of November for a meeting to talk about a site which it is said could accommodate between 200 and 600 homes.”

He added: “We again met two officers in April to ask about Bidwells’ request to discuss their proposal. We asked three times and were told three times that there had been no request for a meeting. We now know that denial was untrue. We have received email correspondence which shows that a meeting was requested by Bidwells on November 21 but was refused by Uttlesford the next day.

“I am left unable to trust what I am being told about planning at Uttlesford. As councillors we need to be confident that what we are told is correct.”

At a full council meeting tonight (Tuesday) the Lib Dems are expected to call for an independent investigation into how the council has been selecting housing sites.

Cllr Morson said: “Fairfield’s scheme at north-east Elsenham was resurrected by the council in November 2013 at a time when agents and landowners at alternative locations were being ignored and barred from having open dialogue. This is a clear indication that the current Local Plan is unsound.

“A council which ignores alternative sites, which refuses to discuss them and then claims planning agents didn’t even ask for meetings, is asking to have its Local Plan dismissed as unsound by the government’s planning inspector.

“Last December the Liberal Democrats called for an investigation into the way this Local Plan has been put together. This was rejected by the Tories at the time. A thorough, independent investigation is now unavoidable.”

However, an Uttlesford District Council spokesman hit back at the allegations of distrust.

He said: “It is erroneous and disproportionate to draw these conclusions on the basis that an officer – at a meeting in April – was unable to instantly recall on demand an email received four months earlier in November.

“At the time officers correctly recommended to the landowner’s agent that the site be put forward in response to the council’s then current consultation.”

The spokesman added: “The site in question was indeed submitted to the council as part of the consultation process and the response is publicly available in the report on representations which is on the council’s website.

“The submission from Bidwells suggests a capacity of at least 170 dwellings, so it is not known how the figure of 600 homes was arrived at. Officers’ handling of this matter has been open, transparent and is a matter of public record.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Saffron Walden Reporter visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Saffron Walden Reporter staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Saffron Walden Reporter account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Yesterday, 12:49
From left, Olivia Prior and Jack Cameron of Cardinal Security and Joe Higham, chair of Friends of Great Chesterford Primary School, with pupils from the school and supporters of the project.

The culmination of two years’ fundraising saw hundreds of children streaming out into the sunshine last Friday for the opening of the school’s new outdoor classroom.

Mon, 12:44

Every household in Uttlesford will receive a letter aimed at encouraging all eligible electors to register to vote ahead of the general election.

Mon, 11:46
Butcher Tony Kisielowski and Andrew Webb hold up their chieftains in front of Burtons Butchers on King Street.

The end of January marks what you might call, a return to normal service, where we all finally give up any ideas about diets or abstinence. And so it is with perfect timing that the Scottish tradition of Burns Night comes around. So here’s my local take on the Scottish Bard’s birthday dinner.

Sunday, January 25, 2015
UDC deputy leader, Cllr Susan Barker, said the council is not proposing any sites at this moment in time.

Uttlesford District Council has been accused by residents living near a proposed gypsy and traveller site of “trying to fit a square peg in a round hole”.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Saffron Walden Reporter e-edition today E-edition

Most read stories

Most commented stories