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The next version of the Draft Local Plan, which will bring high quality homes and employment to the district for years to come, will be considered by councillors of the Planning Policy Working Group (PPWG) this week.

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The next version of the Draft Local Plan, which will bring high quality homes and employment to the district for years to come, will be considered by councillors of the Planning Policy Working Group (PPWG) this week.

Papers for the meeting, on 31 May, have been published and are available to view on the Uttlesford District Council website (*see notes).

The report asks PPWG members to consider whether the preparation of the Local Plan has met the relevant regulatory requirements, and to make a recommendation to Cabinet on 12 June.

This stage of the process is called 'Regulation 19 Pre-submission Local Plan' consultation - it is the final stage before the plan is submitted to the government for independent examination. A seven-week public consultation on the proposals will start on 25 June, subject to the plan being approval by Full Council on 19 June.

The PPWG report includes the full draft Local Plan pre-submission document - this contains recommendations for the site allocations and policies which will guide where new homes and businesses will go in the future, as well as the infrastructure such as transport improvements and new community facilities needed to support it. The plan also includes guidance on how this development will happen. This will help the district to retain its high quality of life and special character.

The recommendations have taken into account changes from the previous consultation of the plan, which was held in summer 2017 and generated nearly 6,000 comments from over 2,000 individuals and organisations. The council has considered the comments made in the consultation and carried out further work to address some of the issues raised. A wide range of extensive background studies have also been used to inform the proposals.

The PPWG has already considered the findings of these pieces of work. The evidence base and policy development is now advanced enough for the plan to move to the Regulation 19 pre-submission stage of consultation.

The council continues to plan for at least 14,000 homes over the plan period (2011-2033). This number has been calculated using a national approach. Over 8,000 of these homes have already been built, have planning permission, or are anticipated to come forward in small infill sites.

Three new garden communities - located at North Uttlesford (north-east of Great Chesterford), Easton Park (between Great Dunmow and the Eastons), and West of Braintree (east of Stebbing) - are proposed within the Regulation 19 plan and would be central to accommodating much of the outstanding growth needs.

The new settlements, which will be developed to Garden Community principles, have been chosen as they are well located on the strategic road network and close to major employment locations. If the plan is approved at Full Council on 19 June, work would quickly progress to developing new documents - called Development Plan Documents - which will set out more detailed requirements for the garden communities. This includes looking at the essential physical and social infrastructure, such as new schools, health care facilities and roads, which will be needed to ensure the settlements are sustainable.

Some of the remaining housing need will also be distributed across the district, with some being in Saffron Walden, Great Dunmow and the larger villages, and the rest in smaller villages.

Further sites that are potentially suitable for allocation have also been proposed. These sites were put forward in the Call for Sites process in 2015, or through the comments received in the last round of public consultation held in summer 2017. They have been submitted for consideration following updated assessments of the sites. The additional sites that have not appeared in previous version of the plan are located in existing villages and are all under 50 homes each. In total they would provide 347 homes.

The inclusion of these sites in the plan would ensure the council maintains a five-year supply of land to meet its housing needs. It is necessary for the council to identify and update a deliverable five-year supply of housing land in line with the Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Without a five-year supply, the district is subject to speculative development, even where the adverse impact of development outweighs the benefit.

Alongside the housing need, the proposed plan also looks to support the growth and location of businesses in the district by safeguarding existing employment land and providing a mix and range of new employment sites. It sets out the provision for jobs growth over the plan period, with an increase of 16,000 new jobs.

30 May 2018