‘Too many questions and no answers’, says parish councillor on Uttlesford local plan

PUBLISHED: 19:23 07 June 2018 | UPDATED: 19:29 07 June 2018

Councillor Howard Rolfe, leader of Uttlesford District Council. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Councillor Howard Rolfe, leader of Uttlesford District Council. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Archant

Questions were fired at Uttlesford District Council (UDC) at 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 on Thursday May 31, representatives from parish councils raised concerns about the latest version of 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 in the district.

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 delivered by 2033.

One speaker 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 bare 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 comments were fully supported by neighbouring parish councils, including Duxford, Whittlesford and Little Abbington, amongst others, and told the working group: “We are confident the (planning) inspector will be persuaded the the new town is unecessary.”

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 absolute 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 were 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 the local plan that 50 per cent of the research park is owned by Aspire, which is in turn “wholly” owned by UDC.

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

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

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.

Dunmow 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 created by 2033. The site also includes new community facilities and neighbourhood parks.

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

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

A spokesman for UDC said the 50 per cent ownership of the Chesterford Research Park had not been included in the local plan.

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, including any recommendations from the Planning Policy Working Group before sending them to the full cabinet on June 25.

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