Residents’ party accepts seat at the table for Uttlesford Local Plan discussions

Joanna Parry

Joanna Parry - Credit: Archant

The newly-formed party Residents-for-Uttlesford (R4U) has announced that it will be joining the revamped working group for the new Uttlesford Local Plan – but the party says it still has reservations about public participation and undue political influence.

R4U announced that Councillor Joanna Parry, a district council representative for the Newport ward, will be joining the Local Plan working group as the party’s representative.

She said: “When the inspector cancelled the examination and sent the Local Plan back he instructed ‘major modifications’, including for Elsenham and Saffron Walden.

“We expect the council to heed his words, rip up those sections and start again. We also expect them to take onboard his criticism of their plans for Dunmow, Stansted and other key villages.

“There is a lot of work to do and the new group needs to roll up its sleeves and get started right away so that more taxpayers’ money isn’t wasted.”

R4U chairman, Councillor John Lodge, welcomed the invitation from the Tory-led Uttlesford District Council to join the working group but said his party still felt there should be more involvement from town and parish councils.

“Residents and town/parish councils still have no seat at the table,” he said. “All they are allowed to do is make a short statement at each meeting before being sent back to sit in the corner in silence.”

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The revamped Local Plan working group will hold its first meeting towards the end of January. It will be held in public for the first time after criticism from residents and the opposition Liberal Democrats.

In 2012, the Lib Dems withdrew their members from the working group, citing allegations that secretive meetings of selected councillors were taking place and in protest that the working group was not open and accountable to the public.

Last month, a planning inspector threw out Uttlesford District Council’s Local Plan, which laid out where 10,400 homes should be built between 2011 and 2031, on the grounds that a development site between Elsenham and Henham was unsustainable and that more houses needed to be built during the life of the plan.