Action group and council leader clash over plans for 5,000 houses in Great Chesterford

PUBLISHED: 12:29 25 May 2018

One of the booklets delivered to 15,000 homes by StopNUtown action group. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

One of the booklets delivered to 15,000 homes by StopNUtown action group. Picture: CONTRIBUTED


A campaign group aiming to stop a new town being built near Great Chesterford has sent a 20-page booklet to 15,000 households outlining ‘flaws’ in the proposals for 5,000 houses and questioning the motives of Uttlesford District Council (UDC).

StopNUtown action group is campaigning against the building of the North Uttlesford Garden Community (NUGC), which was announced in June 2017 as part of the council’s third draft of Uttlesford District Council’s local plan.

StopNUtown says the site has a catalogue of problems, including landscape mitigation, sustainability and viability, and that the development would add “excessive and unplanned” traffic to the A505, pointing out that there are currently no plans for significant improvement to the road.

Richard Pavitt, spokesman for the action group, said: “A lot of major problems are being kicked into the long grass for future generations to deal with and yet UDC would have you believe this is a sustainable proposal.

“In the draft local plan, UDC has adopted a housing target that expert observers question as unnecessarily high. Without this inflated target, the proposed new town would not be necessary.

“The site for NUGC is close to an office complex and research park in which UDC last year purchased for a 50 per cent stake, investing £47 million with another £50 million pipelined for expansion.

“Residents in the area are wondering if this is a conflict of interest.

“UDC is trying to suppress debate and present the new town as incontestable. By distributing the booklet we want to make sure everyone is aware of what this new town will mean and how they can make their voices heard.”

The leader of UDC, Councillor Howard Rolfe, said: “I have read the booklet and it contains more opinion than fact and much of the opinion is illogical. It is also aggressive and in part intimidatory, it lists what it calls the “key players” but at no point does it say who the authors are. Hiding behind anonymity is hardly transparent and begs the question of who the unelected authors really are and who they represent.

“Their tactics are in sharp contrast to the professional approach of Great Chesterford Parish Council which are most challenging of the process but engaged in finding a solution.

“The booklet does not address the key point which is that UDC must produce a plan and must do that to a timetable.

“The opponents say they recognise the need for a plan and for housing, it is just they do not want it near them.”

I believe there is an acronym for that school of thought. The most positive way forward is to work together to create something very special in north Uttlesford.

“If opponents have concerns about infrastructure, deliverability, facilities, housing then why not work proactively to mitigate these concerns? It is incorrect to say the concerns cannot and are not being dealt with.

“I live in Great Chesterford and have done for many years so I am bemused why they believe I would destroy my local environment. Why shouldn’t others have a home and experience the same opportunity, the same sense of community and the same setting that we have enjoyed?”

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Saffron Walden Reporter. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Saffron Walden Reporter