Uttlesford agrees to withdraw Local Plan

Uttlesford District Council is to withdraw the Local Plan and start work on preparing a new plan for the district.

Local plans are important documents as they set the framework for the development and growth requirements of an area. This includes the vision for the district, a clear statement of the priorities that the council wants to achieve through the plan such as addressing climate change, the future direction of the economy in Uttlesford and where housing and employment sites are located, alongside the necessary infrastructure to support it.

At an Extraordinary Council Meeting held remotely via video conferencing software, on Thursday (30 April), councillors approved a recommendation that will see the council work towards getting a local plan in place by 2023.

The decision follows the recommendation of two government-appointed inspectors who have been examining the draft local plan since January 2019. The inspectors wrote to the council earlier this year setting out significant concerns with the plan.

The decision also took into account the independent professional advice of a peer review team from the East of England Local Government Association who had been appointed to provide guidance to the council.

Cllr John Evans, Portfolio Holder for Planning and the Local Plan, said: "This has been an important decision with potential ramifications for the district's residents and businesses for years to come and it was important that we took the time to carefully consider the implications of withdrawing the plan and starting again. Given the recommendation from the inspectors and what we were told by the expert consultants, it was the clear majority view that preparing a new plan is the most appropriate option.

"We must now look forward and work in an efficient and effective manner to create a robust local plan that provides for sustainable growth and benefits for the district. It will be important to take on board the concerns of the inspectors and to address the issues they have raised.

"We are committed to involving residents, businesses and the town and parish councils, and we need to begin by developing a consensus on what the plan will aspire to achieve. One of the first jobs will be to draw up a new Statement of Community Involvement to ensure this happens in a positive and engaging way."

The council's decision commits it to having an up to date plan in place by the government deadline of December 2023. A programme of works and timetable will be developed over the coming weeks.

4 May 2020