Uttlesford set for massive baby boom

A MASSIVE population boom will see the district of Uttlesford grow by about 17,000 people over the next 15 years, according to new Government figures.

The district is forecast to be among the top 10 fastest growing areas outside of London between now and 2020 – putting pressure on the need for new homes.

Data released by the Office of National Statistics last week showed that the population was 78,900 in 2011. This is forecast to jump by 17,100 to 96,000 by 2026.

Based on Government estimates that the average household size will be 2.2 people by 2020, it means 7,772 homes would be needed over the next 15 years to cater for the growth – about 518 per year.

At the same time, the district council is putting together its Local Development Framework (LDF), which will set out the 15-year planning strategy for Uttlesford. The aim is for this to be in place by the middle of next year.

Cllr Susan Barker, a member of the LDF working group, said there was no reason to panic despite the projections.

“There are various forecasts and population trends which will be looked at by the working group along with the comments which have come out of the recent housing consultation,” she said.

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Referring to an Essex-wide demographic study published this month, Cllr Barker added: “The working group will have to adopt one of seven different migration scenarios put forward by the study in order to give an idea of housing numbers required.

“We will also look at guidance from the revised national planning policy framework.”

She hinted that the district, along with Epping Forest and East Hertfordshire, may also have to share the burden of the housing requirements for Harlow and London because of the limited space available to those areas.

Harlow is forecast to grow by about 11,000 people over the next 15 years – leading to a requirement for an additional 5,000 new homes.

The working group will be looking at all of the information next month – including the latest consultation over site allocation and management – before putting forward the proposed core strategy and housing numbers to the cabinet on May 24.