Local Essex council considering new plan to build at least 14,741 new homes

The council is considering a new local plan to build at least 14,741 by 2041
-Credit: (Image: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

Councillors are set to consider draft plans for thousands of homes across Uttlesford for the next twenty or so years at a meeting next week. Uttlesford Council’s local plan panel will meet on July 15 to discuss the draft local plan which contains proposed plans for at least 14,741 to be built between 2021 and 2041.

Around 8,700 of these have already been built or have planning permission. The level of housing allocations for 6,076 homes that were initially proposed has been reduced to 4,638 homes in the revised plan, 3,738 on strategic sites and 900 on non-strategic sites.

This is due to the number of planning permissions approved from April 2023 up until April 2024. The 489-home strategic allocations at Thaxted have been removed altogether, partly due to difficulties in planning for strategic infrastructure, and the 400-home strategic allocation at Newport has been replaced with a requirement for 300 homes, to be planned through the Neighbourhood Plan on a collection of smaller sites.

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It comes after councillors blasted an extraordinary meeting regarding the progress of a local plan as a “waste of time”, and accused the opposition of politicising the process, back in January. The independently-run Uttlesford District Council’s continued battle to adopt an up-to-date local plan under the current system has been well-documented and was previously subject to wider scrutiny after the Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, named the authority as one of the seven “worst” in the country for development.

This latest plan proposes a requirement for about 1,500 fewer homes than previously put forward, as well as significant improvements to the strategic site allocations and an updated affordable housing policy to better reflect some of the affordability issues in Uttlesford.

It has taken into account feedback received during the previous stage of the local plan consultation, which was held last year and generated about 5,000 comments from 1,700 respondents, and also further work that has been carried out to address the issues then raised.

John Evans, portfolio holder for planning, said: “I’m pleased to see a number of positive improvements and changes to this plan which have taken into account the many representations that were raised during the last consultation, all of which – as promised – have been reviewed and considered.

“It is crucial that we get a new local plan in place as it establishes the policies that serve as the foundation for reviewing planning applications and prevents speculative development, the last local plan being more than 19 years old. Councils that have a current Local Plan have greater powers to approve or reject unsuitable individual planning applications compared to those that don’t have one in place, and it is vital that Uttlesford’s Local Plan is approved so that we can once again take back development control locally.

“This latest plan looks to respect the important qualities and features of the district whilst providing the housing and employment, open space and other infrastructure required over the next two decades.”