“GET A GRIP” CALL FROM LIB DEMS AS LOCAL PLAN TURMOIL ENGULFS DISTRICT COUNCIL

November 11, 2016 4:52 PM
In Press Release

Alan Dean (Tudor Owen)"SECRECY & CENSORSHIP MUST STOP!"

Uttlesford's Liberal Democrats have demanded that the council gets a grip of its emerging local plan as the process descended into farce. "Last week was worse than the first week in December 2014, when the last plan was rejected", said Lib Dem group leader, Alan Dean.

"Two years ago at least we knew the old plan was dead. This week a fresh plan was due to be announced, the press was told about it, the papers were then censored and threatened if they published; but two of them did.

"Meanwhile, many councillors were kept in the dark about this turmoil. Now residents know what the leader of the council and professional planners want them to approve - two new settlements along the A120 corridor, one to the west of Great Dunmow and the other to the east of Great Dunmow.

"It is shocking that the draft plan document is being kept secret from the public and from their elected representatives", added Cllr Dean.

The Liberal Democrats have published a set of principles (see Annexe 1) on which the local plan should be based. These include:

  • New settlements must be connected to major corridors of movement; the A120 and the M11, plus investment in more sustainable modes of transport - rail, bus and cycleways
  • Settlements must meet the housing needs of the M11/Greater Cambridge Growth Corridor, especially in the north of Uttlesford through working closely with Cambridgeshire councils
  • Ensuring that 40% of new homes are low cost rental or purchase to meet the needs of those, especially young people, who cannot afford to have a home at market prices.

Alan Dean added: "The arguments in favour of most new homes being built along the A120 corridor from the airport almost to Braintree in two settlements seem half-baked. The third site in contention at Great Chesterford must be properly evaluated and not dismissed on what are questionable grounds, especially if the effects of the Cambridge Phenomenon are to be addressed.

"The Liberal Democrats will not be bounced into an ill-informed decision, so it is good that more time will now be given to evaluating the options rigorously. But all this secrecy and censorship must stop!"

ANNEXE 1: LIBERAL DEMOCRAT POSITION STATEMENT ON THE EMERGING UTTLESFORD LOCAL PLAN

Uttlesford Liberal Democrats recognise that Uttlesford, in the main, is a sparsely populated rural area with few large settlements; that government has set house building targets to be delivered within the district as part of its national strategy to meet a serious housing shortage.

Our Overarching objective

To have a long term vision for the development in the district that provides a long term solution (over a 30 to 50 years' timescale) that minimises the impact of development on the district and maximises the benefits to the local population. We do not wish to face another round of proposals for speculative incremental development solely on the edges of existing settlements when the next version of the Local Plan is developed.

Our solution

We support the creation of one or more new settlements to minimise the threat to the rurality of the district by concentrating the bulk of development in a small number of areas.

Our key criteria for any new settlement are:

  • It needs to abide by the principles of Garden Village/Towns policy started by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government;
  • The choice of location must be clearly evidence based through an open, balanced and transparent process;
  • A new settlement should be located on a major corridor of movement - not solely on trunk roads - but should facilitate the use and investment in more sustainable modes of transport - rail, bus, and cycleways. It should maintain good air or improve air quality in the district. The chosen location(s) should consider the future impact of any proposal and that of adjoining authorities on Junction 8 of the M11, which is approaching current capacity.
  • In response to market and social demand, it should provide much needed housing for employees of businesses and research institutions e.g. The Genome Centre in the M11/Greater Cambridge Growth Corridor. There is a range of innovative companies that are creating high value jobs in the knowledge economy and businesses operating in international markets that can and do provide employment for Uttlesford residents, especially in the north of the district. These businesses will be especially important in view of the emerging threat of a "hard" Brexit with the potential loss of membership of the European Single Market.
  • The council should fulfil its obligations to cooperate with neighbouring authorities in Cambridgeshire in equal measure with those in Essex and Hertfordshire to deliver new settlements, but should ensure that what is best for the Uttlesford district comes first.
  • Ensure the delivery of additional capacity in education, health and public transport to cover existing or projected needs, e.g. secondary school places in Saffron Walden, and improve the viability and productivity of existing transport infrastructure, such as by increasing passenger numbers and train capacity on the West Anglia line between Cambridge and Bishop's Stortford.
  • We expect the Local Planning Authority to have robust negotiations with developers on their contributions towards infrastructure provision either through Section 106 agreements or the Community Infrastructure Levy
  • We demand that a substantial proportion (circa 40%) of the housing in any new settlement should be low cost rental or purchase housing to enable young people, in particular those brought up in the area, either to get on the housing ladder or have access to social housing locally.
  • Provision of community infrastructure must be delivered on time and completed by an agreed trigger point. For example, the delivery of local shopping facilities, which at Flitch Green, Felsted and Forest Hall Park, Stansted have either been excessively delayed or not been achieved. This must not recur at locations developed in the future.

ENDS