TV personality Griff Rhys Jones voices support for Great Chesterford campaign group

One of the banners put up by the campaign group. Picture: StopNUtown

One of the banners put up by the campaign group. Picture: StopNUtown - Credit: Archant

A campaign group aiming to stop a development of 5,000 houses in Great Chesterford have gained the support of TV personality and president of Civic Voice Griff Rhys Jones.

As part of Uttlesford District Council’s (UDC) local plan, North Uttlesford has been proposed for the creation of a stand-alone garden community of up to 5,000 new homes.

Mr Rhys Jones added his voice in a foreword to a report highlighting increasing opposition to housing developments proposed in rural areas.

He warns that these are ‘disordered schemes’ that ignore local communities and would be located on ‘wholly unsuitable’ sites.

He added that terms such as ‘housing crisis’ and ‘emergency’ are being used by national and local government to force through development of the countryside, which enriches landowners but fails to provide adequate affordable housing.

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StopNUtown, the action group opposing the North Uttlesford Garden Community (NUGC) in the parish of Great Chesterford, pointed to the similarity in tactics being used by councils in the south east.

The action group spokesman, Richard Pavitt said: “Local plans are supposed to be locally-led but that is far from the reality.

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“Massive developments are being imposed via a dysfunctional system that favours landowners and developers and allows local councils to make a mockery of consultation with the communities most affected by these land-hungry urban sprawls.

“There are better ways to meet the need for affordable housing.”

The North Uttlesford Garden Community proposed in Great Chesterford features in the report with an outline from StopNUtown action group.

In the report, StopNUtown said: “At the outset there was incredulity from all quarters as to how this site could be viable and sustainable.

“Evidence is mounting that it will not be. As of February 2018 the council has provided no information of how NUGC is to be delivered except for introducing a developer (Grosvenor Estates).

“Grosvenor appear to be struggling to make the site work. The site has been chosen simply because through the “call for sites” process it is being offered by a group of farmers.

“Now a poorly reasoned strategy is being retro-fitted to justify its inclusion as part of the local plan.”

In August 2017, the landowners appointed Grosvenor as their partner for delivering North Uttlesford and in November 2017 the developer’s initial plans were displayed at a public exhibition to gather feedback from the community.

The consultation period ended on December 1 and at the time Grosvenor said they would be reviewing all the feedback and coming back to the community in the New Year with more detailed proposals for further resident input to “help shape and evolve the plans”.

A UDC spokesman said: “The council consulted on its draft Local Plan in July 2017 and generated around 6,000 comments.

“Part of the draft Plan included a proposal to develop a new garden community at North Uttlesford. The council is still finalising its response to the comments generated and, having considered all of these comments will produce an updated Local Plan for consultation in June this year.”

Mr Pavitt said public consultation is scheduled for June 25 to August 13.

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