Developers get green light to build on Kilns site in Saffron Walden

THE green light has been given for developers to build up to 52 homes on a brownfield site in Saffron Walden.

Uttlesford District Council planning committee approved the controversial outline planning application for the land at the rear of the Kilns on Thaxted Road.

The proposals include a range of two, three and four bedroom houses and bungalows.

Despite concerns about the loss of employment land, the majority of councillors decided at a meeting yesterday (Wednesday) to vote in favour.

Saffron Walden Town Council had objected to the scheme, opposing it on grounds including over density of the site and that it was a loss of important employment land.

However Councillor Vic Ranger, a member of UDC’s planning committee, said: “We have an opportunity here to get a landmark development. I support this for residential use.”

He was backed up by Cllr Eric Hicks, who said: “We have heard a lot of people talking about employment land.

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“I really do not think this is a ground we need to consider. This site has been semi-derelict for a number of years and it is about time it was put to a proper use.”

Planning permission was originally granted for eight blocks of business live/work units but the development came to a halt in 2008. After the original developer went into administration, the site was purchased by Tarncourt Ambit last year.

The company wants to build up to 52 homes with 40 per cent of these being affordable housing.

And, at the committee meeting, Dan Starr, of campaign group WeAreResidents, asked members to refuse the application as he believed there was no reason to support it.

Addressing councillors, he said: “The officers’ report refers to the draft Local Plan and Position Statement as reasons to approve this development.

“As confirmed to WeAreResidents by UDC, neither document is adopted or holds any legal status. It is therefore not permissible to use them for any planning determination.”

Paul Gadd, who opposed the development, was disappointed with the outcome. “I felt the officers were determined to push it through without any regard for our rejections,” he said.

“The site is clearly designated as employment land and that was just ignored. Any landowner has got a green light to sit on employment land until they are allowed to turn it into housing.”

Nine councillors voted in favour of the scheme, one against and one abstained.