Local Plan FAQs
We answer some of your frequently asked questions about the Local Plan process.
A Local Plan sets out the vision for future development in the district.
We are currently preparing the new Local Plan for Uttlesford which will set out how the district should be developed over the next 10 years in line with national policy and legislation.
General information on the Local Plan
What is a Local Plan?
A Local Plan is a district-wide plan which identifies the vision and aspirations for the future of the area, planning policies, and allocations identifying the sites or areas which can be developed and those which should be protected.
Uttlesford's Draft Local Plan will help shape future development in the district up until 2033 and set out the level and distribution of growth, including new homes and businesses. It will also set out sites and areas of the district that must be protected from development over the Local Plan period. It will include development management policies which our Planning Committee will go on use to assess planning applications as they come forward.
Why do we need a Local Plan?
The Local Plan enables the council to support the local economy and in doing so help meet housing and employment needs whilst ensuring the special character of the district is safeguarded. Without it, the Council loses the ability to secure and co-ordinate the development and infrastructure that are needed. Without a local plan the district is open to speculative development.
Doesn't Uttlesford already have a Local Plan?
The council's current Local Plan was adopted in 2005. Most of these policies are still in force but since the National Planning Policy Framework was published in 2012 some are now out of date and cannot be used and there is a need to deal with issues that have changed since 2005.
We need to develop an up-to-date Local Plan to meet Uttlesford's needs up until 2033.
Why it is important?
The Local Plan is not simply about how many homes are needed. It is also about ensuring that Uttlesford remains an attractive place to live, work and visit.
The Local Plan will:
- set out where new homes are most sustainably and suitably to be located
- support the success of our local businesses
- seek the right facilities and infrastructure are delivered by developers
- protect and enhance our historic and natural environment.
Will I have the opportunity to provide my feedback on the Local Plan?
Yes - there will be an opportunity for everyone to have their say on the plan at key stages in the process and the arrangements will be fully publicised and also included in this website.
Where can I find out more about the Local Plan?
Various studies which inform the plan-making process are available via this website on the Local Plan evidence and background studies page.
If you have any further questions you can also contact the Planning Team by email email@example.com
Where are the homes going to be built?
In 2021 the council undertook an Issues and Options consultation and different development scenarios were considered. Various options have been considered and tested. The draft local plan (known as a Regulation 18 plan) will set out the council's provisional, preferred option.
What happens if the council doesn't put forward enough sites to meet the housing need?
The council is committed to address the housing need within Uttlesford and to do this in a sustainable way that is linked to the provision of necessary infrastructure whilst protecting the special environmental quality of the district in line with national planning policy.
The approach will be subject to scrutiny by residents and a range of stakeholders that will include development promoters.
An independent Inspector (Planning Inspectorate) will consider the arguments in a Public Examination and the conclusions of which are likely to be binding on the council. If we do not meet our housing need and cannot demonstrate exceptional circumstances as to why we cannot, we are unlikely to be permitted to adopt the plan and will continue to be subject to speculative development.
Why don't we just build where nobody lives, so development doesn't affect anyone?
The council is committed to put forward a sustainable development strategy that balances the need to provide new homes and jobs with necessary infrastructure (such as good transport links, schools and shops) whilst protecting the special environmental quality of the district in line with national planning policy.
How much affordable housing will be provided and where will it go?
The council will seek the maximum viable amount of affordable housing and considers it should generally be provided alongside private housing and look no different.
How will local services and infrastructure cope?
All the potential locations for new homes and jobs are being assessed to identify the local services and infrastructure that will be needed to support the level of development proposed.
Where there is a need for additional capacity then consideration will be given to how this capacity will be provided and if there is sufficient development value in the proposed scheme to ensure that the developer is in a position to provide the infrastructure at the appropriate stage in the development of the proposed scheme.
Will we get the additional infrastructure before development takes place?
Where development is proposed then the Local Plan will set out the infrastructure needed and provide more information about this. It is recognised that timing of the provision is a key consideration in deciding on the acceptability of a proposed development.
What stage are we at now?
The council is working to a new timetable for the emerging Local Plan. We are planning to consult on our draft Regulation 18 version of the plan in the week commencing 30 October 2023.
The consultation will last for at least 6 weeks.
What consultation has Uttlesford District Council done so far?
In 2020 and 2021 the council ran an Issues & Options consultation, which was designed to help us better understand the development and vision strategy. It also sought views on topics such as infrastructure planning, employment, housing affordability, leisure and open space, and the natural and historic environment.
The council also surveyed parish councils on their respective areas.
The LPLG, Cabinet and Full Council will consider the draft local plan throughout September and October. It will then be subject to public consultation starting in the week commencing 30 October.
Questions from interested parties
Has the restrictive covenant on the Easton Park site been raised as part of the site assessment process for the Local Plan and is it included in the site assessment criteria?
The covenants, which are contained within the agreement of 6 July 1938, purport to restrict the use of the Easton Park. This includes by:
(a) limiting the use of the 'Park Land' area to specific identified uses, including dwelling house use (but no more than 10 dwellings); and
(b) limiting the use of the 'Woodlands' area to woodland purposes only.
If the council is minded to allocate some or all of Easton Park in the emerging Local Plan it would have to consider the effect of the covenants on the 'deliverability' and/or 'developability' of that allocation (within the meaning of the NPPF). This is a factor which would have to be taken into account as part of the selection of sites for allocation. The council would seek detailed legal advice as to the proper interpretation, applicability and enforceability of the covenants if the Easton Park site is to be taken forward.
Does the council have a position on the 1939 agreement and if so, what is it?
Under the Law of Property Act 1925 Sec84 (1) anyone with a freehold interest in land subject to a covenant can make an application to the Upper Tribunal to have a restriction discharged. The council may then have to take a view on whether the covenant still serves a useful purpose or whether the public interest would be best served via its development. This question has not been put to the council as far as I know.
Regardless of the above, the decision on whether to discharge a covenant would rest with the Upper Tribunal.
The Local Plan process
The Local Plan process, what happens at each stage, consultation and the role the Planning Inspectorate plays.
① Gathering of evidence
The council conducts a range of detailed studies and considers everything a Local Plan needs, like how many new homes and jobs are needed and what supporting infrastructure is required.
② Consideration of options
The council considers the ways future development needs could be met and outlines a preferred option.
③ Consultation (Regulation 18)
The options are presented to the public for consultation. The council invites comments on the options and arranges drop in sessions to discuss the plans with council officers.
④ Review of comments
The council reviews comments made during the public consultation and after careful consideration, publishes a draft Local Plan.
⑤ Representation (Regulation 19)
The draft Local Plan is published for representations to be submitted on it's 'soundness',
The Secretary of State appoints an Independent Planning Inspector to examine the draft Local Plan in great detail. Public hearing sessions are held during this stage.
⑦ Adoption of the Local Plan
The Planning Inspector's final report recommends whether the council can adopt the plan. Once adopted, the Local Plan will be used to make decisions on all planning applications.