Town council says plan policies protect school site from development

PUBLISHED: 08:26 15 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:26 15 November 2018

Walden School in April, 2018.

Walden School in April, 2018.

Archant

Saffron Walden Town Council has written to Chase New Homes, the developer which bought the former Walden School site, and Uttlesford District Council to highlight a series of planning policies which, it says, restrict development on the land.

“It was a disappointment to the town when the school failed as an enterprise, and that the site was not sold to another education provider,” a spokesman for the town council said. “The site was instead sold to a housing developer – Chase New Homes – which has now published proposals for housing development on the site.”

In light of the proposals and public concern about the future of the site, the town council has written to Chase New Homes and the chief executive of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to highlight planning policies which it says apply to the Walden School site.

In the letter, the council says the site is protected by the Uttlesford Local Plan 2005, and the National Planning Policy Framework published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The Local Plan 2005 contains a specific policy, LC1 – loss of sports fields and recreational facilities. This policy reads: “Development will not be permitted if it would involve the loss of sports fields or other open space for recreation, including allotments. Exceptions may be permitted if replacement facilities will be provided that better meet local needs or the need for the facility no longer exists.”

The town council has said that policy LC1 means that development of the Walden School site should not be permitted.

The council also highlighted policy ENV3 on open spaces and trees. The policy says: “The loss of traditional open spaces, other visually important spaces, groups of trees and fine individual tree specimens through development proposals will not be permitted unless the need for the development outweighs their amenity value.”

The Local Plan 2005 identifies the wooded areas of the school site as being covered by this policy and therefore, the town council says, prohibits development upon it.

The National Planning Policy Framework contains similar protections and offers further protection to the sports hall and swimming pool.

The law requires that all planning decisions must be taken in accordance with the development plan unless there is a particularly strong reason for not doing so.

A copy of the letter which was sent to Chase and UDC is available on the town council website.

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