Uttlesford councillors have voted to approve a draft of the district's Local Plan for public consultation.

The vote on the Local Plan - which sets out where new homes, employment locations and infrastructure should be built - took place at an Extraordinary Council Meeting on Monday, October 30.

Cllr John Evans, R4U (Residents for Uttlesford) portfolio holder for planning and the Local Plan, said: "Excluding existing housing approvals and commitments, to meet the Government requirement the new Plan has to allocate 6,000 additional homes between now and 2041.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Cllr John EvansCllr John Evans (Image: Uttlesford District Council)

"In preparing this draft, UDC planning officers have used evidence, which shows that concentrations of new homes in existing communities makes best use of existing transport links and maximises developer funding to deliver much needed new infrastructure.

"The new housing will be backed by strong environmental policies, and along with it comes a third district high school in the south, a new dedicated sixth-form campus in the north, and five additional primary schools – all of which will create more school places and choice.

"Also proposed are community facilities, new green spaces, and road upgrades – and allocations for local jobs, retail, and surgeries for new and existing residents."

The last Local Plan for Uttlesford was made in 2005.

Cllr Evans added: "The last Local Plan was made in 2005 and successive failures of previous Conservative administrations to deliver a new one since then has led to Uttlesford becoming the UK’s biggest rural building site over the last decade.

"This speculative developer free-for-all has hugely benefitted their large property-developer donors, whilst robbing residents of so much needed access to facilities."

Saffron Walden Reporter: Cllr John EvansCllr John Evans (Image: Uttlesford District Council)

Cllr Susan Barker, leader of Uttlesford District Council's Conservative group, has raised concerns about how the district will cope with the increase in homes.

She said: "The proposed plan allocates 800+ new homes in Dunmow at Church End, 1600+ at Takeley/ Little Canfield, a 70 per cent increase, 1,280 east of Saffron Walden as well as allocations in Thaxted (37 per cent increase), Stansted and Newport.

"Many sites allocated have been refused planning on appeal but officers have now decided they area acceptable for development.

"The plan also allocates up to 100 houses in a number of villages such as High Easter, Wimbish, Debden and more. No suggestion at how the local schools, many already full to overflowing, will cope.


"The consultation does not include the 'up to 1,200' at Little Easton as well as 160 at Little Dunmow , 111 at Great Chesterford and any other homes that have been granted permission since April 2023.

"The proposals will need many amendments to make them acceptable to the residents of Uttlesford. 

"Perhaps it is now time to consider a new town based on the 1,200 allocation or in another location, rather than further extensions to existing towns and villages."

The plan is now moving into a six-week public consultation. The council will write to every household asking for feedback, which will then be used to produce an update for the next formal draft plan stage next year.