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Uttlesford prepares to take back control as consultation approaches for new draft local plan

Over the last few months Uttlesford District Council has been drafting a new local plan which will set the blueprint for new housing, employment and infrastructure for the district over the next two decades.

A local plan is essential as it sets the policies which are the starting point for the consideration of planning applications, including the identification of suitable locations for strategic development.

Uttlesford's new plan will look to protect the essential qualities of the district whilst at the same time provide the housing and employment, open space and other infrastructure required.

Cllr John Evans, Portfolio Holder for Planning, said: We haven't had a local plan in Uttlesford for many years, the last being made in 2005, and we have suffered badly because opportunistic planning applications at scale have been made across the whole district as a result.

"Without a current local plan, the coordination of infrastructure, such as new schools and GP practices go unplanned. With a new local plan however, this infrastructure can be planned for, and developers can be required to pay upfront for more of these facilities that our communities need.

"Whilst we still have to make some tough choices about where the most suitable sites are for the 14,000 new homes that the government has told us we must find space for over the next 20 years, at least we as local people will be able to say 'no' to unsuitable applications made in our towns, villages and countryside. Developers will also have to plan better and live up to our new environmental policies - and they will have to follow the lead we set in delivering more affordable homes for local people.

"Having a local plan or continuing without one isn't a choice whether we see these 14,000 new homes built or not - the government has made clear in setting the rules that they have to come. It is a choice instead between whether we continue at the mercy of speculative development or whether we take back control locally, putting the district's needs first."

The new plan will be published in the coming weeks for elected councillors to consider ahead of detailed public consultation. This will be the point at which local people are really encouraged to have their say on whether they feel the draft plan takes the right approach and if it deals with the key issues such as housing, jobs and infrastructure.

The consultation is due to start in late October and run for six weeks. There will also be a series of local community engagement events. Further details will be made available in due course. Every local plan changes as a result of the feedback received in the public consultation, and a revised version incorporating such changes will brought back to councillors in 2024.

19 September 2023