Have your say on plans for housing in and around Saffron Walden

Have your say on new homes for Uttlesford.

Have your say on new homes for Uttlesford. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Consultation on where 12,500 new homes should be built in Uttlesford over the next 18 years will begin next week and the council is encouraging everyone to have their say.

Uttlesford District Council (UDC) has started work on a new Local Plan for the district, to guide housing development up to 2033, with residents invited to comment on a number of sites that have been proposed as potential areas for new homes from Thursday, October 22.

The council particularly wants to hear views from residents about whether they want a new large settlement or a number of smaller developments in the area.

The Local Plan is being prepared through the Planning Policy Working Group, made up of a cross-party advisory panel of district councillors, and issues raised by residents will be considered by the group following the consultation, which ends at 4.30pm on Friday, December 4.

Seven sites in Saffron Walden have been earmarked by the council as potential areas for housing, as well as nine others within Uttlesford.

The seven potential areas in the town are; between Windmill Hill and Little Walden Road, between Little Walden Road and Ashdon Road, between Ashdon Road and Radwinter Road and including the area surrounding the Community Hospital and the fuel storage depot, between Radwinter Road and Thaxted Road and including the area of Shire Hill Farm, between Thaxted Road and Debden Road, between Debden Road and Newport Road, and between Newport Road and Audley End Road.

Among the other areas proposed in the district, two sites have been identified outside Great Chesterford, near junction 9 and 9a of the M11, as well as land to the north and east of Elsenham.

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The new Local Plan document has been criticised by Residents for Uttlesford (RFU) as being “biased and unintelligible” and aimed at developers rather than residents.

Councillor Dr Barbara Light, from RFU, said: “We’ve long pushed for better engagement between UDC and the public. Residents should be properly consulted in plain English. Now they’ve produced a new Local Plan strategy that is twisted, biased and written so as to be unintelligible to the layperson.

“More shockingly they’ve said they don’t care because they are primarily targeting developers.”

Councillor Howard Rolfe, leader of the Council, said: “Developing a new Local Plan is a complex and vital task and I have been very keen to make it transparent, objective and non-political. I am saddened that, while their leader was away, RFU councillors have chosen to play naive protest politics rather than engage in strategic discussion. The consultation document has already been approved by the independent Planning Advisory Service, the three group leaders and the cross party Planning Policy Working Group and has therefore been widely scrutinised.”

The next Planning Policy Working Group meeting, which is open to the public, will take place on November 26, but there is a public consultation in Saffron Walden on November 10.

Two weeks ago, the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) report, which was commissioned by UDC and partner authorities, indicated that 12,500 should be built in the district in the next 18 years to meet housing need at a rate of 568 per year.

All consultation responses must be made in writing, either electronically or otherwise, and must be received no later than 4.30pm on Friday, December 4. Residents can send responses to the Planning Policy Team at UDC through the consultation portal at www.uttlesford.gov.uk/lpconsult or by emailing planningpolicy@uttlesford.gov.uk. Paper copies of the document and response form can be obtained by calling 01799 510346.