Stansted development deal will open up parkland

PARKLAND will be opened up to the community under a vision set out by Stansted Mountfitchet Parish Council – if a plan to build 53 homes is met with approval.

Members have negotiated an agreement with Knight Developments and the Gemmill family, who own an agricultural site off Church Road, which would see residents in the village benefit from an area of land at Elms Farm being transformed into a park.

A previous application for 58 homes was narrowly turned down by planners at Uttlesford District Council in June after the chairman of the committee had the casting vote.

It had been recommended for refusal by officers, whose report said the Gemmill family’s residential project was “inappropriate development” in the Metropolitan Green Belt.

The application included a proposal to demolish existing livery buildings, while flood alleviation works, public open space, community allotments, and footpaths, cycleways and bridleways across neighbouring Stansted Park were part of the plans.

A revised proposal had the unanimous backing of members of Stansted Parish Council at a meeting last Wednesday (August 7).

Speaking about a legal agreement the council had drawn up with the developer for the latter to open up 7.4 acres of parkland, Cllr Peter Jones said: “I think we will achieve one of the biggest gains for the village in the 40 years I have been here if the parkland is opened up to the public.

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“But if that fails, then the whole thing fails. The agreement is critical – this development in return for the park to be opened and looked after is vital for this village.”

Chairman Geoffrey Sell said one of the council’s initial concerns was that the development would be seen from Chapel Hill. He called the existing view “sacrosanct” but was satisfied that it would not be spoilt after acknowledging that developers had agreed to remove the 10 houses previously planned along Church Road.

Cllr Frances Richards was pleased to see 40 per cent affordable housing included in the proposal, while district councillor Joe Rich added: “I have made it clear that I’m prepared to support this application, although there are a few more houses in there than I would like.

“This is green belt land so there has to be exceptional circumstances to justify the proposed development.

“This agreement is that, and if we can give the village a wonderful open space for people to enjoy then I think it will be great.”

There were concerns about health and educational facilities, particularly primary schools being at “breaking point”.

But Cllr Catherine Dean said because approval had already been given for a new health centre to be built at the old Castle Lotus garage, Uttlesford was not likely to consider the former as a factor when deciding the application.

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