Alan Dean

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Stansted North and Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Learn more

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DRAFT LOCAL PLAN GOES OUT FOR PUBLIC CONSULTATION

by Alan Dean on 13 July, 2017

A six weeks’ public consultation began yesterday, following Tuesday night’s council decision to approve the Draft Local Plan for publication. See a summary of the plan here.

 

UTTLESFORD COUNCIL MEETING 11TH JULY 2017

The following is what I said at the meeting:

Tonight, I will be supporting the recommendation to start public consultation on this draft Local Plan.

It has been a long and tortuous journey. Indeed, a saga that has not yet ended. But now is the time formally to ask the people of the district what they think of the plan to date.

I would expect some changes by the end of the year. It’s our job to listen to the feedback we receive.

This is a serious set of proposals that contains a fundamental shift in the way the council has planned for growth. I was around in the early 1990s and fought hard – and won – against the first proposal for development at Easton Park. That plan eventually focussed mainly on building upon brownfield land.

In the past twenty-plus years our planning world has changed. The housing crisis has grown worse. The need for more housing has increased at lot.

There is little brownfield land left. There is no alternative to building most new homes on greenfield sites. This means that some areas will have to change.

I see no credible alternative solution from the three garden communities put forward in this draft Local Plan.

We councillors have been assisted by our officers since the start of 2015 in gathering and refining evidence on a whole range of topics. We had a blip in the process last autumn whilst still digesting the evidence. Then the evidence changed; the housing numbers went up yet again. So, although we only received our officers’ professional recommendations in recent weeks, the evidence has been pointing towards the need for three new communities since the spring.

I was actually looking forward with some anticipation to working out how to select two from a shortlist list of three or four. As it has turned out, there are three sites that broadly meet the criteria; and we need all three to deliver what’s needed.

I have received lots of emails appealing for the council to steer away from this location or that site. That’s fine. What I would say to anyone listening tonight is: whether or not you believe that you have the killer fact, the golden bullet that will see off development at your favourite location, please also put some effort into thinking about what you want if the new community does go ahead. What do you want to conserve? What do you want to enhance? What do you want to get rid of? That way we should all end up with the best possible outcome.

I’ve not given up on improving this plan. I want to see some clear statements in it about future road widths. I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about obstacle courses that I intend to keep happily buzzing away. There’s more; but the rest can wait.

So, I invite my fellow councillors to support putting this draft plan out for consultation. A lot of work has gone into it and local people deserve to have their say now.

   2 Comments

2 Responses

  1. Geoff Powers says:

    Alan

    Forgive me if I say that you sound ‘pigged off’ by the whole business, and just want it out of the way, and I can’t blame you in a way for feeling that. However, for a multitude of reasons, I cannot accept this as a solution, or part-solution, to Uttlesford’s District Plan. Like you, I was one of those who fought this proposal in the early 90s, and was elected to the council on the strength of it. Easton Park was ‘wrong’ then, and it’s wrong now. One has only to look at the land-take on the map to see that it would be a disaster for Great Dunmow. With a major development at Andrewsfield to boot, our area of Essex would be unrecognisable in 30 years’ time. Already we have what is tantamount to ribbon development from Little Canfield and through Takeley, and, of course, any major development will not provide housing that ordinary people can afford. And then there are the ongoing issues of infrastructure, which remain insoluble, short of a miracle, in the short to medium term: schools, medical practices, public transport, etc. and massive investment will inevitably be needed. There have to be hard and fast guarantees that these can be met, as, otherwise, the whole edifice will come crashing around our ears. Not least, there is also the question of the airport, which has recently publicised its proposal for major expansion. Will all the people who are about to purchase these yet-to-be-built houses be pleased that they have a mini-Heathrow on their doorstep, with planes taking-off and landing 24/7? It may be very convenient for business-users, and at holiday-time, but that’s about it. I
    have not looked in detail at the consultation document as yet, but I do know that local residents are getting very ‘het up’ even at this early stage, so sparks are sure to fly.

    • Alan Dean says:

      Geoff, All the points you make are relevant and need to be addressed and answered in detail in the next stage following the consultation. You must make them between now and September 4th through the formal channel.

      We had a Lib Dem group meeting only this afternoon at which we declared that responses to the consultation must not be ignored.

      It remains to be seen whether representations on the fundamental shape of the plan are sufficient to result in major change. Proposals can’t be changed solely because people don’t like them. In particular, only alternative proposals to the currently proposed new settlements that are deliverable, or firm evidence that any of the three proposed schemes is not deliverable, are likely to bring about a major change.

      Too many years have been wasted avoiding what has to be done – the adoption of a plan that will work.

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