Future housing should 'focus on village clusters, walking and cycling networks'

UDC building

Uttlesford District Council building - Credit: Archant

Future housing development in the district should focus on village clusters, compact housing and walking and cycling networks, Uttlesford District Council heard. 

During a community stakeholder meeting, Petra Marko and Jennifer Ross from Velo City presented their ideas about regenerating and growing villages in a sustainable way. 

Ms Ross said: “Underpinning the strategy is very much about seeing the station as the point where you connect to the wider area, seeing the strategy as moving from the car to movement by walking and by cycling.  

“It’s about downgrading the car to use it only for longer journeys, but when you are in the cluster walking or cycling safely.” 

Ms Marko said: “Each village cluster could have a different focus and could become an attraction which people from further away could come and visit.  

“They would visit specific village clusters for something that the cluster is famous for, whether there is a focus on water, or leisure, or culture, or food. 

"It is very much an idea about not having all services in each village, but having a cluster where in each village you could have certain facilities, so in one you could have a medical facility, in another you can have a school.” 

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She added: “By making those cycling and walking paths across the fields in the cluster, it will make it easier for children to get to school independently and to have less reliance on the car.  

“A seven-mile cluster is what a child or an elderly person can comfortably cycle.” 

The suggestions were based on the fact that one of Velo City’s main principles is people instead of cars.  

Ms Marko said: “We don’t need to have a big capital spending to implement this strategy, it can be implemented very quickly at very low cost.  

“We are giving people a more convenient way of making journeys on a daily basis.” 

Another core principle is housing being compact, close or within and around the village core to prevent a sprawl. 

Velo also think that villages should be connected, not isolated and that future development should be bringing more potential for entrepreneurship and new work opportunities in rural areas.