Giving ‘free’ electricity to council buildings among initiatives to benefit from £300k cash boost

Uttlesford District Council headquarters on London Road, Saffron Walden.

Uttlesford District Council headquarters on London Road, Saffron Walden. - Credit: Archant

Over quarter of a million pounds will be pledged towards boosting cycling, giving ‘free’ electricity to council buildings and developing neighbourhood plans.

Uttlesford District Council’s cabinet last night (Thursday) approved the allocation of £300,000 from the Strategic Initiatives Fund. It will be split as follows:

• £50,000 for the Uttlesford Cycle Strategy

• £100,000 towards the cost of Neighbourhood Plans

• £150,000 for the installation of photovoltaic panels on two buildings at the council’s Shire Hill depot

Cllr Robert Chambers, cabinet member for finance and administration, said: “The Strategic Initiatives Fund was set up last year with the money coming from savings made by the council over the past few years.

“Through the fund we are keen to back projects that benefit as many people in the district as possible. “These particular schemes have been identified as meeting the council’s objectives in supporting both our communities and the local environment, and are positive, long-term commitments to the residents of Uttlesford – and more initiatives will follow.”

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The Uttlesford Cycling Strategy was given cabinet approval in February and lists aspirations to identify ways to boost cycling in the district.

The investment will work in line with the strategy to assist with the replacement and provision of cycle stands, signage and small scale works.

Neighbourhood Plans, the council has said, are “a key tool” in allowing local communities to bring forward ideas and plans for their area to develop. A paper on how the funding will be used to benefit neighbourhood planning will be presented to the Uttlesford Planning Policy Working Group on March 30.

Photovoltaic panels will be installed on the council’s vehicle workshop and museum store at Shire Hill depot in Saffron Walden.

This will provide ‘free’ electricity to the buildings and give a small income to the council from the feed-in tariff. The proposal is subject to a survey and potential structural costs.

Going forward, the council has also said it will review options to introduce energy efficiency measures in further locations.