As we headed into autumn, Geoffrey Sell wrote of news of fresh delays to Uttlesford District Council’s efforts to deliver a Local Plan*

All Change at the Top

As we headed into autumn we moved from the Elizabethan era to the Carolean era.

The Accession proclamation was read out by the Chairman of the Council in a brief ceremony. Our meetings during the official mourning period were all cancelled. We all have memories of our late monarch. She was a link to earlier generations. My parents often talked about how they were part of the crowd at the coronation in 1953. The shelter in Chapel Hill commemorates this event.

Not only do we have a new monarch, but a new Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer. This new era has been marked by economic instability which councils and residents must do our best to navigate.

The Local Plan

It is safe to say that the history of Uttlesford’s Local Plan has been a chequered one. It has been 16 years in the making with two failed attempts.

A Local Plan sets out the vision for future development in the borough. Every area in England and Wales should have an up-to-date Local Plan in place and review it at least every five years.

Local Plans are used to help decide on planning applications and other planning related decisions. In effect, they are the local guide to what can be built where, shaping infrastructure investments and determining the future pattern of development in the district.

The District Council has delayed the publication of the first draft of the new Local Plan until after the May 2023 elections. It is important to get the Local Plan right, but this is disappointing news.

It came as a surprise to me as a member of the Local Plan Scrutiny Committee. We had been repeatedly reassured that the Local Plan was on track. This further delay before the first draft of the Plan goes out to consultation will have unwelcome consequences – developers will continue their assault on Uttlesford by submitting further speculative applications whilst the District Council has an out-of-date plan and no 5-year land supply.

The Residents for Uttlesford administration promised that the Plan would be completed within four years, but now it is certain to stretch to six years. The financial impact on the District Council will make a bad situation even worse.

The original cost of producing the plan was originally £7m. This delay will further add to the costs when the District Council is already looking for at least £3m worth of savings over the next four years.

Section 106

A Section 106 Agreement (S106 Agreement) is an agreement entered into between a local authority and a landowner and/or developer under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

The agreement will contain planning obligations which the local authority wish to secure, or which the developer wishes to offer, in return for planning permission being granted. Although these are legal obligations it is not always easy to get developers to honour them.

Cllr Alan Dean and myself were pleased that the planning committee refused to allow the developer to renege on an obligation to remove two footpaths at King Charles Drive.

Thanks go to the local residents and Parish Councillor Jo Kavanagh for their support. Cllr Dean and myself have arranged a meeting with Dean Hermitage, UDC Director of Planning.

The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the S 106 for King Charles Drive and Walpole Meadows.

With the latter we would like to get a timeline from the developers when they will be handing over to the Parish Council amenities such as play areas, allotments, woodlands, litter collection etc.

50th Anniversary of Uttlesford

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the first elections. Stansted then elected three councillors. One of them Peter Clark is still alive. I have asked the leader of the council what we will do to mark this occasion.

*This column also appears in November edition of The Link community magazine