The decision by the Planning Inspectorate released on 14th January 2020 is clearly a disappointing outcome for Uttlesford and for the Council in bringing forward the much-needed new homes and jobs for our district.
Whilst it might be considered a welcome relief for some around Great Chesterford, Little Easton and Stebbing, the question of where the housing will go, remains an unanswered question and one which must be answered by the new Council administration.
The Inspectors have made their judgement and so their comments and conclusions will need to be carefully considered by Uttlesford District Council over the coming days. Planning officers will be particularly disappointed, given that the emerging Plan was considered by visiting Inspectors on a regular basis where - whilst these were not official considerations - their comments were broadly supportive. In addition to this, the Government are keen on Garden Communities and gave UDC grants of £750k to facilitate development.
The Inspectors make important points about the alignment of infrastructure and housing. If the Government is serious about delivering 300,00 houses a year and investing heavily in infrastructure, then better coordination is needed between local government and Whitehall.
Going forward proposals for new homes, communities, employment and open spaces should be driven by existing communities’ views and ambitions. A case for community planning, through neighbourhood plans and other mechanisms, is a route by which we can achieve the best result.
A case should be put forward that Uttlesford (as indicated by the Inspectors) is a special area with its huge wealth of ancient monuments and listed buildings and our housing requirement should be reduced accordingly. We can then collectively decide where such housing is placed.
Uttlesford Conservatives will continue to strive to make Uttlesford the best place in the UK to live or work. We will listen to communities, promote the delivery of affordable homes for those most in need and ensure that residents’ voices are heard at all levels of government.