Uttlesford garden communities backed by Government funding

PUBLISHED: 08:17 29 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:22 29 March 2019

A garden community is planned next to Great Chesterford. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

A garden community is planned next to Great Chesterford. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Archant

Uttlesford District Council (UDC) will receive a share of £3.7million of funding from the Government to "fast-track specialist survey work and planning works" necessary for the development of three new garden communities.

It is hoped that funding for five councils, including UDC, will clear the way for up to 64,000 homes across England, the Minister of State for Housing announced on Monday.

The Government has allocated £750,000 to Easton Park Garden Community, North Uttlesford Garden Community and West of Braintree Garden Community in Uttlesford.

The three communities are included in the draft Uttlesford local plan.

Minister of State for Housing, Kit Malthouse, said: “I congratulate Uttlesford District Council for putting forward an ambitious proposal, which could deliver up to 18,500 high-quality homes, and am pleased to support them as they work to make these plans a reality.”

Councillor John Lodge, chairman of Residents for Uttlesford (R4U), welcomed the news but warned the funds wouldn’t be enough.

He said: “It is important that we have proper funding to plan for new homes so this grant is good news. However, the money is split between five councils so our share won’t go very far at all.

“To date, the current UDC administration has spent more than £5million of our money on a string of embarrassing local plan failures, so this only pays for part of that. This grant money needs to be made to work for residents.”

Neil Gregory and Richard Pavitt, independent candidates for the Chesterfords ward where the North Uttlesford Garden Community is located, questioned the timing of the funding.

“This token support from the Government should in no way be considered an endorsement of the draft local plan, which has not long been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate,” the pair said. “It is the job of the planning inspectors to evaluate the evidence on its merits and they will not be influenced by Government handing out money six weeks ahead of local elections.”

UDC leader, Councillor Howard Rolfe said: “Firstly, let me congratulate the strategic planning team at UDC - it is an outstanding piece of work to receive this substantial sum but also to be recognised by the ministry for the quality of the plan.

“It would be really helpful for Uttlesford residents to be told where the R4U party stand on the local plan - the grudging acceptance from Cllr Lodge that the ministry recognise the council’s work may be an endorsement.”

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