Housing target review in Uttlesford agreed - although new town at Elsenham cannot be ruled out

COUNCILLORS have passed up a golden opportunity to scrap a controversial 3000-home eco settlement altogether – although campaigners have welcomed news that housing targets in Uttlesford are to come under review.

COUNCILLORS have passed up a golden opportunity to scrap a controversial 3000-home eco settlement altogether – although campaigners have welcomed news that housing targets in Uttlesford are to come under review.

At a packed meeting of the district council’s environment committee on Tuesday, it was agreed that Uttlesford go back to the drawing board with its projected housing provision.

That follows the coalition government’s direction for local authorities to ditch the controversial Regional Spatial Strategies and top down housing figures.

The backlog of 2500 houses already approved can be worked into the new figure.


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But, while the news is likely to subsequently ease the pressure on finding a single settlement, it is unlikely to hold much weight with Elsenham and Henham residents, many of whom packed into the council chambers for the meeting.

They will feel concern that mass development of the village is still on the table - Option 4 in the previous strategies - despite considerable opposition to it in the last round of public consultation.

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Yet chairman of the Save Our Village Campaign, Nick Baker, said he could see “promising signs of realism”.

“I can see the beginnings of some common sense. If the council alludes to what it’s going to do then the [development] will be dead in the water,” he said. “It would have been nice if it was abolished but we are in a lot better position than we were three years ago.”

He added: “We have got to absorb these needs in a way that we always suggested – to invigorate and enliven villages, and breathe life into smaller communities.”

Chairman of the LDF working group, Cllr Kim Ketteridge, stressed that the housing numbers need to be looked at first, before flagging up suitable locations.

“All along we have been totally opposed to the housing targets in the district,” he said. “We are starting afresh but one simply cannot pluck numbers from the air.

“We still have to prepare a LDF – it is not just about housing – and until we complete that we are not able to discuss future locations.

“We will look to revise these figures downwards. The housing number is in our hands but we still need to satisfy the inspector.”

Tuesday’s meeting did however, signal a big change in the way future targets will be set. Uttlesford still needs to prepare a LDF but, for the first time, it will take responsibility for establishing its own level of housing provision, including for gypsies and travellers.

Committee members were also clearly in approval that town and parish councils should feature heavily in that process.

The new figures are not likely to be released until autumn 2011.

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