by Alan Dean on 5 October, 2020
Around four years ago, I visited New Earswick on the outskirts of York to see an early 20th century housing initiative by the Rowntree chocolate manufacturers. The aim then was to build quality housing for the people of the chocolate factory.
One-hundred and twenty years on, Uttlesford District Council wanted until recently to bring the highest possible standard of new housing to our district through the concept of Garden Settlements.
In 21st century York, their council continues to aim for the best, the greenest, low energy housing, as reported here yesterday.
Sadly in Uttlesford we are back at ground zero, with no plan for the future and no clear signs of where to go next.
Uttlesford’s proposed Garden Settlements were jettisoned in April when Residents for Uttlesford and Independent councillors voted to scrap the Local Plan that contained this Council’s most imaginative-ever housing proposals. Easton Park near Great Dunmow was one such location that might have hosted a latter-day New Earswick, together with a large country park.
It’s worse than that. Only today I received bad news in a letter from the Leader of the Council, John Lodge.
Tragically, today’s letter informed councillors that the land owner and promoter at Easton Park intends to push forward with a planning application for 1,200 homes at Easton Park on the land spurned by UDC for the much needed country park. There might be a proper Garden Community at a later date on other land.
There are people around who wanted a latter-day equivalent of a royal hunting forest on the Easton Park land instead of a Garden Community – a place for people to live. They may now have lost a country park – a marvellous amenity – whose trees would have reduced the district’s carbon footprint.
Cllr Lodge’s letter ended by saying the new “local plan…..will consider entirely afresh all the options for development across the district”. I fear most of this Council has cut off its options to spite not its face but its and the district’s future.
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