Housing plan "in tatters", say resident campaign groups

PUBLISHED: 10:30 27 September 2012

Erly Stafford and Dan Starr of WeAreResidents group hand over the letters to UDC chief executive John Mitchell on Monday.

Erly Stafford and Dan Starr of WeAreResidents group hand over the letters to UDC chief executive John Mitchell on Monday.

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RESIDENT groups opposed to the district council's 15-year development housing plan have claimed that 99 per cent of respondents in the recent consultation reject the proposed strategy.

Saffron Walden-based WeAreResidents.org said the draft Local Development Framework – which would see 800 homes built in the town by 2028 – is “in tatters” following the revelation.

Campaigners have analysed the 3,387 responses UDC received in the public consultation held in July and found that 3,348 people rejected the plan for a dispersal housing strategy to distribute 3,300 homes.

Only 39 respondents supported the proposals, according to WeAreResidents.org.

Dan Starr, spokesman for the group, said: “You can fit all the supporters of UDC’s proposals into a single bus – in fact there are fewer than the total number of councillors we have.

“Residents of Uttlesford have spoken, and a 99 per cent rejection is a complete humiliation for the UDC cabinet and they have spectacularly failed the district.”

He added that the “unprecedented rejection” would form part of the group’s evidence as campaigners vowed to fight what they described as a “pig of a plan” all the way to the Planning Inspector.

WeAreResidents.org has urged the council to revert back to its previous strategy – the controversial single settlement approach, otherwise known as Option 4.

The group also received backing from other campaign groups in the district.

Robert McKibbin of Thaxted Voice described the Local Plan as an “epic fail”.

“The UDC cabinet completely misunderstands the concept of sustainability because they propose building houses in areas with no support infrastructure, no jobs and no major roads. Residents won’t support a UDC cabinet that is hell bent on ignoring clear evidence or voters’ wishes.”

Save Newport Village chairman, Joanna Parry, added: “The UDC cabinet have squandered hundreds of thousands of pounds of our taxes on a plan with no support, and the delay has left our communities wide open to speculative developers.

“This brings into question the cabinet’s ability to run our council.”

Sandra San Vicente of Listen to Dunmow Residents also believed the council should go back to the drawing board and “build a plan that the majority supports”.

But the leader of Uttlesford District Council, Cllr Jim Ketteridge, hit back at the resident groups’ suggestions.

“We will be looking at all the responses to the consultation but it has to be kept in perspective – there are nearly 80,000 residents in Uttlesford and it is usually the case when consultations on planning matters are conducted that those who are opposed are more likely to respond,” he said.

“The proposals on which the council has consulted have been supported by the Scrutiny Committee and ultimately the full council will make the decision on the plan that emerges prior to it being submitted to the Planning Inspector.”

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