UTTLESFORD DISTRICT MUST PLAN MORE HOMES FOR FUTURE NEED –
INDEPENDENT SURVEY REVEALS HALF OF RESIDENTS SUPPORT A NEW SETTLEMENT IF HOUSING NUMBERS ARE INCREASED
The Fairfield Partnership is continuing its call for Uttlesford District Council to wake up to the urgent need to plan now to meet the district’s future housing demands.
Under Uttlesford District Council’s (UDC) current plan, 3,300 additional homes are set to be delivered in the district, in addition to the 2,731 homes already with planning permission in the district but not yet built out. UDC’s dispersal strategy for the 3,300 homes would see growth focused on Great Dunmow, Saffron Walden, Elsenham, Newport and Takeley.
The Council’s studies have yet to confirm that local infrastructure in the market towns and key villages is able to accommodate this level of growth. However, UDC has now accepted recent evidence from its own consultants (Edge Analytics) showing that the housing need is actually higher, meaning even more homes would be added to market towns and key villages if the Council sticks with this approach.
At The Fairfield Partnership’s recent public exhibitions on its emerging proposals for land to the north-east of Elsenham, the majority of attendees who lived in Elsenham and Henham stated their opposition to the plans, with 347 out of 385 individuals from the two villages who completed a feedback form saying they were against the development. 153 of these individuals also stated that they opposed the council’s dispersal strategy.
But an independent survey of 400 Uttlesford residents undertaken in September by leading market research specialist, ComRes, has revealed that half of those surveyed (51 per cent) supported proposed plans by The Fairfield Partnership for a new settlement to the north-east of Elsenham, whereas 40 per cent were opposed to it.
The ComRes survey also showed broadly equal support for the principle of adding the 3,300 additional homes currently planned to existing towns and villages (46 per cent) and building them in a single, new settlement (47 per cent).
Interestingly the support for a new settlement increased to 52 per cent if the district needed to plan for more than the proposed 3,300 new homes. Conversely support for further expansion of the district’s existing towns and villages fell to 39 per cent if the district required more than 3,300 new homes.
Of those surveyed, the vast majority (79 per cent) would accept some growth where they live. However, the survey showed that the level of growth considered acceptable by residents was typically below the levels mooted in the council’s dispersal strategy.
The Fairfield Partnership commissioned ComRes to undertake the survey in order to get a representative sample of local attitudes from the principal communities in the district who would be affected by housing growth under UDC’s dispersal strategy.
Steve Biart, on behalf of The Fairfield Partnership, said:
“This research illustrates that people in Uttlesford are not against some growth in their towns and villages but are opposed to the numbers UDC has earmarked for them in the dispersal strategy. If that is what local people feel now, what will they feel when UDC comes back and asks them to take even more?
“The Fairfield Partnership has always maintained that UDC has been under-estimating future household growth in the district, a fact now accepted by UDC. Unbelievably, the Council’s response is not to plan properly for more growth, but to propose truncating the plan period by two years from 2028 to 2026 to avoid having to begin to confront this issue. Not only is this bad planning, it makes a mockery of the Local Plan process and is likely to waste a lot of time, resources and taxpayers money.
“We believe that the most sustainable strategy for the long-term, without more and more houses being tacked on time and again to existing towns and villages, is if UDC plans properly for future housing needs with a sustainable new settlement to the north-east of Elsenham, located close to jobs and delivered in phases over time. This can then increase in size, sustainably and with the necessary infrastructure, in line with our master plan, as and when the district needs more growth.”
The Fairfield Partnership is bringing forward plans for up to 3,000 new homes, new jobs, new schools and associated infrastructure and services on land to the north-east of Elsenham, with a first phase of up to 800 homes to be delivered by 2018/19.
A planning application for the first phase of the new settlement will be submitted in early 2013.
Survey methodology note – ComRes interviewed 400 British adults in Saffron Walden, Great Dunmow, Elsenham, Newport and Takeley by telephone from 3rd to 11th September 2012. Data were weighted to be representative of all adults aged 18+ in the Uttlesford area by age and gender. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are available at comres.co.uk.