PICTURE GALLERY: Residents cheer as plans for an 800 home development between Elsenham and Henham is refused again

UDC Planning Committee vote for a second time on development between Elsenham and Henahm.

UDC Planning Committee vote for a second time on development between Elsenham and Henahm. November 20, 2013. Phoitograph by Michael Boyton. Pic shows:Protesters arrive at the council offices. - Credit: Archant

Members of the public erupted into applause after plans to build 800 homes between Elsenham and Henham was refused for the second time.

Uttlesford District Council’s planning committee rejected an application by The Fairfield Partnership for a development on the 755 acres of land it controls between the two villages.

Last month, the committee had made the decision but the developer came back with provisions for a new health care centre.

Addressing the committee today (Wednesday), district councillor for Henham, Elizabeth Parr, said the decision to bring it back to the table was “setting a dangerous precedent” for applications “going against officers recommendations”.

“I cannot understand why this has been done,” she said. “I feel the promise of a health centre is a Trojan Horse. I do not feel a new health centre justifies destroying two villages.”

The proposal also included provision for a retail centre, primary school, community buildings, open space and improvements to surrounding road infrastructure.

However, speakers felt this development was unsustainable.

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And planning committee member Cllr Elizabeth Goodwin, who voted to refuse the plans in October, agreed. She said there was no provision for a secondary school, adding: “I made a decision last month in very good faith. I accept there may have been a change but I really cannot find one that will convince me otherwise.

“I know how difficult it is to get around Stansted and Elsenham and I see no provision for a secondary school.

“Children will have to travel through Stansted to go to school. We are not ready for this application.”

But Cllr Vic Ranger could see no reason to not let the proposal go ahead.

He told the committee: “Elsenham, and other areas in the district, will need to get more housing.

“The proposal brings a school, transport, employment, it is sustainable.

“I voted against refusal last time and I have not heard or read anything that will change my mind.”

Councillors voted 6-4 against the plans, with two abstentions.

Speaking after the meeting, district councillor for the two villages, Cllr David Morson, insisted “the right decision had been made”.

He said: “We have been fighting this development for seven years. It is a ­political decision, not planning.

“Elsenham has already taken 500 houses, we cannot take any more. It would be swamped and it would be turned into a town.”