Geoffrey Sell’s first column for 2002 sees the district councillor update residents of efforts to rid the village of HGVs and brings news of the district council’s Local Plan
On behalf of Stansted’s District Councillors Melvin Caton, Alan Dean, Ayub Khan and myself I should like to wish you a Happy and Safe 2022.
Last year was another challenging one. It was the year of the jabs, in which Stansted surgery has placed an invaluable part in the roll out of the vaccines. It’s hard to imagine that at this time last year, barely anyone had received their first dose of a Covid vaccine.
I thought it might be helpful to give a review of some issues affecting Stansted.
Removing HGVs from the centre of Stansted
The entry points of Grove Hill, Church Road, High Lane and Chapel Hill will become no-go zones for HGVs, to be monitored using the latest camera technology, under proposals agreed between highways authority Essex County Council and residents.
The scheme will go out to consultation this year and is a solution to years of negotiations. It makes Stansted one of the first areas in the county to seek a blanket ban. As Chair of the Highways Committee of the Parish Council and Vice Chair of Uttlesford Highways Panel I have been working closely with our county councillor Ray Gooding. We have been greatly assisted by Cllr Lee Scott ECC portfolio holder for Highways. Local residents have shown great patience.
Welcome to new community organisations
Stansted’s response to dealing with the pandemic included the setting up of new community organisations. These included Let’s Talk, the Stansted Community Mental Health Initiative and Touchpoint. The latter has taken over the running of the Day Centre. We have supported these organisations through grants from the new homes bonus scheme which each district councillor has. Alan and myself have worked with residents to fund a defibrillator at Walpole Meadows
Last year your councillors and residents celebrated the dismissal by the Planning Inspectorate of the Bloor Homes planning application. This was for 168 houses west of Pennington Lane.
Despite this victory, development pressures will loom large this year. As the planning authority the Council has the responsibility for preparing the local plan. The council has conducted the call for sites and had nearly 300 responses. The local plan is for the period 2020-2040.
The local plan has had a chequered history. We are now on version 3 the previous one having been withdrawn by the Residents for Uttlesford administration. Stansted councillors voted against withdrawal and for amendment. We were in the minority. It is a crucial document as it determines the scale of development and where it should be located. It is Central Government that sets the numbers of houses required. The numbers are approximately 11,600 over the 20 year period. Some including myself argue that this is far too high a figure. It constitutes a significant risk of making Uttlesford a less pleasant place to live in. The link details the sites that have been submitted by landowners. Call for Sites April 2021 (arcgis.com)
My colleague Cllr Melvin Caton is a member of the Local Plan Leadership Group. They have the responsibility of bringing an acceptable local plan to fruition. The timetable has been slipping, but these are some of the significant timelines.
- By summer 2022 UDC will presents its preferred options for public consultation
- Mid 2023 the local plan will be submitted to Central Government for examination and hopefully approval.
- Mid 2024 Adoption of the local plan by UDC
The shape of the plan which I am assured by officers will be evidence led is currently unknown. What is known is that its decisions will not be universally welcomed. As one of the districts principal settlements Stansted is in a vulnerable position. We will all need to do our best to ensure that the essential character of the community we are fortunate to call home is preserved and indeed enhanced. If there is to be development then Stansted must receive significant community benefits.