by Alan Dean on 25 June, 2018
Conservatives and Liberal Democrats backed the draft Local Plan at 4 minutes to midnight last Tuesday night. The meeting lasted from 7 p.m. for just shy of five hours, with the first 90 minutes used by members of the public, who mostly were opposed to Garden Settlements on their own doorsteps near Great Chesterford, Little Easton/Great Dunmow and Stebbing.
This is my speech. I focussed on the urgent need to support this Local Plan after 13 years of trying, and the need for truly affordable housing in the district that would enable people on local pay rates to have a home in the Uttlesford District. This is something that should be achievable through the three Garden Communities and so-called land value capture, which essentially means that the bulk of the uplift in value of the land from agricultural to housing values is reinvested in the new communities rather than going into the bank accounts of landowners and developers.
Most of the debating time was taken up by an amendment from the Residents for Uttlesford Party (R4U) that sought to defer a decision to some indeterminate date in the future. Sadly, their handling of the amendment was incompetent. There had to be a 15 minute adjournment for them properly to compose their amendment. You can’t table an amendment to defer a decision without any rationale behind what is supposed to happen during the interregnum. It looked like R4U had contrived the amendment on the hoof. It has been obvious for months that R4U were determined to concoct a reason for voting against the Local Plan.
They came into being to oppose the Tories’ previous unsound plan, so, despite several of them appearing tormented by this line of argument, they all voted to defer a decision. All but one subsequently voted against the Local Plan on the grounds that it hadn’t reached perfection.
My feeling is that R4U should invert their initials to become the U4R Party, the Unfit for Responsibility Party. Thankfully they failed to have any impact beyond wasting a lot of time. About two-and-a-half hours were spent on the U4R amendment.
I stick by what I said: “This is a Crunch Council Meeting. We either vote for the best plan on offer, noting that no one has come up with a better one, OR, once again, Uttlesford District Council can bury its head in the sand and continue its quest for a Perfect Promised Land that almost certainly does not exist”.
The Local Plan began its final stage of public consultation today before submission for government inspection in the autumn.
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