ELSENHAM PARISH COUNCIL
ELSENHAM PARISH COUNCIL OBJECTIONS
TO UTTLESFORD DISTRICT COUNCIL‟S
CORE STRATEGY - PREFERRED OPTION CONSULTATION
Uttlesford District Council (UDC) is preparing a Core Strategy for future development of the District. Having published the Issues and Options Paper in January 2007 (Regulation 25), it has now published the Uttlesford Core Strategy - Preferred Options Consultation (POC) (Regulation 26) on 30th November 2007, seeking public responses by 11th January 2008.
Elsenham Parish Council has made a number of representations to Uttlesford District Council opposing the targeting of Elsenham for large-scale development, and in particular, the proposals to establish a new settlement directly next to the village on its north eastern side (Options 3 and 4). We consider this new settlement proposal to be conceived in a way that is ill considered, and totally lacking in any consideration to the village, its character and identity, and to the numerous problems that will arise and be caused to the facilities, amenities, services and infrastructure within the area. Elsenham Parish Council also considers that the distribution of information to residents of the District on the Preferred Options consultation has been poor. The 4-page circular distributed by Uttlesford to residents via the Royal Mail was unsatisfactory, with many residents not receiving copies, or they arrived late in the consultation period. Access to the full 55-page consultation document was through the Uttlesford web site and proved to be difficult to view/download, or required residents to make a specific request to the Council for a paper copy. None of the documentation prepared and supplied by Uttlesford contained sufficient maps and diagrams to allow residents for fully understand and appreciate the implications of the options.
The Parish Council considers that the holding the Preferred Options Consultation over the period of a busy and prolonged public holiday (Christmas and New Year) although improper, was ill-advised.
Our comments to the Consultation document, and more specifically, our objections to Options 2, 3 & 4 are outlined below.
The East of England Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) has reached the stage of Government Modifications being published with likely adoption in 2008. The Modifications require 8,000 new homes for the District between 2001 to 2021, which equates to 400 p.a., of which some 5,500 homes are either committed or have already been completed (UDC information).
Comments to Uttlesford Core Strategy - 1 Preferred Options Consultation (November 2007)
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The Submission Core Strategy will be judged against the 9 tests of soundness set out in PPS12 „Local Development Frameworks‟ (paragraph 4.24) which are as follows:
1 it has been prepared in accordance with the local development scheme
2 it has been prepared in compliance with the statement of community
involvement, or with the minimum requirements set out in the
Regulations where no statement of community involvement exists
3 the plan and its policies have been subjected to sustainability appraisal
4 it is a spatial plan which is consistent with national planning policy and
in general conformity with the regional spatial strategy for the region or,
in London, the spatial development strategy and it has properly had
regard to any other relevant plans, policies and strategies relating to the
area or to adjoining areas
5 it has had regard to the authority‟s community strategy
Coherence, consistency and effectiveness
6 the strategies/policies/allocations in the plan are coherent and
consistent within and between development plan documents prepared
by the authority and by neighbouring authorities, where cross boundary
issues are relevant
7 the strategies/policies/allocations represent the most appropriate in all
the circumstances, having considered the relevant alternatives, and
they are founded on a robust and credible evidence base
8 there are clear mechanisms for implementation and monitoring
9 the plan is reasonably flexible to enable it to deal with changing
This representation will make reference to those tests of soundness where appropriate, to indicate where it would be unsound.
The Issues and Options Consultation identified the need to provide between 2,800 and 3,000 additional dwellings, beyond commitments and completions (paragraph 7.2).
Government guidance (PPS3) requires that Local Development Documents (LDDs) should make provision for “continuous delivery of housing for at least 15 years from the date of adoption taking account of the housing provision set out in the RSS”
(paragraph 53). UDC has assumed that the Core Strategy will be adopted in 2009 so that the housing provision should be up to 2024. The POC has interpreted that to Comments to Uttlesford Core Strategy - 2 Preferred Options Consultation (November 2007)
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mean a total of 9,666 (Policy DC 1) or 9,762 (leaflet) dwellings between 2001 and 2024.
The Officer‟s Report of 4 September 2007 (paragraph 7) seems to confuse delivery and allocation in arriving at how much housing the Core Strategy should provide for. The report mentions the RSS requirement of 8,000 but goes on to mention the 15 years requirement without reference to PPS3. The RSS Government Modifications Policy H1 says that the average rate of completions for the period 2007 to 2021 should be 430 p.a. to achieve the 8,000 total by 2021 (completions 2001 to 2006 were 320 pa). However despite what is said in the Government Modifications in the text at paragraph 5.6, there is no logic to continue that annual rate post 2021 in terms of allocation. The proposed RSS Policy H2 says this figure is “for monitoring purposes”, not allocation purposes. The 8,000 figure is a total for the 20 year period so that for allocation purposes post 2021 the annual figure should be 400 pa not the 430 p.a. figure required to make good the shortfall.
The report therefore (wrongly) arrives at a need for 3,824 additional homes, and then adds 10% “for sites which may not come forward” so arriving at an additional 4,200. No basis for adding 10% in policy terms (national or RSS) is given. The sounder method, based on the RSS and PPS3, of calculating what is required is as follows:
; 8,000 from the RSS less existing commitments/completions of 5,500 equals
2,500 additional dwellings for the period up to 2021
; for the period 2022 to 2024 (3 years to make up the PPS3, paragraph 53, 15
year total) at the RSS provision rate (“taking account of the housing provision
set out in the RSS”) is an additional 1,200
; no allowance needs to be made for non-delivery, this is a matter for monitoring
and review of the Core Strategy which is likely to have two reviews in the 15
; the correct quantum of additional housing to be identified in the Core Strategy
is therefore 3,700 (8,000 – 5,500 + 3x400)
Thus 3,700 extra homes must be provided for in the Core Strategy, not the POC figure of 4,200.
Policy DC1 of the POC should make provision for a total of 9,200 new
homes, including 3,700 extra homes, in the District for the period 2001 to
2024 in accordance with RSS Policy H1 and PPS paragraph 25, on the
assumption that 5,500 homes are committed or already completed.
The current proposal in Policy DC1 fails Soundness Test 4 in that there
is no national or regional policy requirement to add 10% to the regional
housing figures, and that the RSS has no policy requirement to continue Comments to Uttlesford Core Strategy - 3 Preferred Options Consultation (November 2007)
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the „shortfall‟ rate of development beyond 2021, the annualised rate for
2001 to 2021 is adequate.
If the figure of 3,700 additional dwellings is correct then the strategy for
providing 3,000 at Elsenham/Henham is even more concentrated, failing
Test 9 (lack of flexibility).
The Core Strategy process is:
; consultation on issues and options (January 2007)
; this stage - consultation on the „preferred option‟ (30.11.07 to 11.1.08)
; submission of the Core Strategy probably June 2008, with further public
; public examination held by independent Inspector probably January 2009
; adoption of final Core Strategy probably July 2009
Other planning documents will take this forward in more detail (Development Control Policies and Site Specific Policies) to be adopted in 2010, which must be based on the Core Strategy. Planning permission is required before development can commence, applications may not wait until the plan making process is complete. It is possible that development could start as early as 2009.
The Issues and Options Consultation January 2007 (Regulation 25) put forward the following options to accommodate the identified need for 3,000 additional homes:
1a Concentrate all development at Saffron Walden
1b Concentrate all development at Great Dunmow
1c Concentrate all development at Stansted Mountfitchet
1d Concentrate development in the largest centres
1e Concentrate development in a single new settlement
2a Distribute development over a range of settlements
2b Distribute development along the West Anglia Rail Corridor
2c Distribute all the development in villages around the District
2d Distribute development along the A120 corridor and at Great Dunmow
The Officer‟s Report to the Environment Committee of 4th September 2007 gave a detailed assessment of the position following the public consultation on these options. Comments to Uttlesford Core Strategy - 4 Preferred Options Consultation (November 2007)
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It carefully recommended that 3 options be considered and that one should be identified as the preferred option. This is ambiguous: should the Authority consider the 3 options then take one forward as the preferred option or should the Preferred Option Consultation include all 3 with one identified as the preferred option? The 3 Options were as follows:
Option 1 would involve distributing development between the District‟s three main
Option 2 would involve distributing the development across a hierarchy of
settlements. The settlements identified are considered key service centres as
defined in the East of England Plan.
Option 3 would involve distributing development across a similar hierarchy of
settlements with significantly less development at Little Canfield and a significant
increase in development at Elsenham as the start of a new settlement.
At the meeting of the Environment Committee on 4th September, Councillor Ketteridge, Leader of the Council,
“ put forward the following proposal which he considered would meet these
criteria. He suggested that four growth options should go to consultation for
further consideration and moved the following motion:-
To approve the three growth options as outlined in the paper and to add the
fourth option of 3,000 dwellings in a new settlement to the north east of
750 dwellings in larger towns.
250 dwellings in villages.
And to identify Option 4 as this Council‟s preferred spatial strategy.”
Members had effectively rejected the Officer‟s recommendation for 3 options, although they remained “for consultation for further consideration”. The introduction of a new, and preferred, option was without any analysis or reference to the Issues and Options Consultation Document or the public response to it, or the degree of consideration which has was given by Officers in formulating the 3 options in their report. It is also questionable that this is indeed a new settlement being more accurately described as the coalition of the two existing settlements of Elsenham and Henham, as the illustrative material on the UDC web site shows.
Members had also ignored the District-wide public response at the Issues and Options stage where 59% of respondents disagreed with the proposal of a new settlement, against 51% that disagreed with expansion of Saffron Walden, Dunmow and Stansted. It ignored the local response of Elsenham/Henham that 76% thought Comments to Uttlesford Core Strategy - 5 Preferred Options Consultation (November 2007)
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that Elsenham/Henham could not accommodate more housing, 81% thought that new housing would spoil the environment (I&O Consultation, NS11 page 93). In a letter of 2nd November 2007 from the UDC Assistant Chief Executive to solicitors Bevan Brittan, the following was included:
“In the circumstances, Option 4 is not a new option at all. It is merely an
extension of option 1(e) but with a greater degree of particularity as to where
such a new settlement may be located … There was ample information before
members both in the Policy Choices and Options for Growth Paper and in the
officer‟s report to enable them to rationally reach a decision to adopt a new
settlement at Elsenham as a basis for consultation and to adopt that within its
In fact apart from the 3 proposals for new settlements there was nothing of detail in the Issues and Options Consultation which would guide Members:
“12.2 Developers have promoted sites for a smaller new settlement or the first phase of a larger development on land east of Stebbing; land between Elsenham and Henham; and within the vicinity of Stansted Airport.”
Indeed the final assessment of a new settlement option should have guided Members against rather than for:
12.3 This option of concentrating development would mean the development of
a new settlement which would be too small to create a properly sustainable
community and the residents would need to make additional journeys to access
services and facilities. A new settlement in some locations may lead to the
coalescence of settlements contrary to the Council's vision of towns and villages
remaining separate entities. A large Greenfield development would have
significant impact on landscape character.”
The Officer‟s report to the Committee made very few references to the new settlement or weighed the pros and cons of the Elsenham/Henham proposal against other options. The White Young Green Sustainability Appraisal is dated November 2007, thus written after the Committee had made its decision. This is contrary to PPS 12 (page 24). In considering a single settlement no criteria have been presented against which the Elsenham/Henham can be seen as advantaged over other possible “new settlement “ locations e.g. Stebbing, Little Dunmow, Great Chesterfield, Audley End, Newport
“Pre-submission public participation stage
Sustainability appraisal will inform the decision making process and the
development of the preferred options”
If the three options put forward by Officers were based on the assessment of the original Issues and Options Consultation as refined for the next Preferred Option Stage, then a new settlement at Elsenham/Henham did not emerge by that process. It very obviously emerged from Members intervention at a very late stage. Comments to Uttlesford Core Strategy - 6 Preferred Options Consultation (November 2007)
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The Preferred Options Consultation does not comply with PPS12 (page 34): “The local planning authority will have to provide sufficient information including maps and/or diagrams where appropriate at this stage to ensure that people can understand the implications of their preferred options.”
Whilst the diagrams alongside the 4 options show where the main towns are, and the size of the symbol indicates the scale of growth, given that the precise housing numbers are given, the diagrams should be more specific. The UDC web site includes material submitted by the Elsenham/Henham development promoters, which may infer the general area of intended growth. There is therefore both a need and ability to satisfy PPS 12.
thThe process of selecting a 4 and Preferred Option for a new settlement is
not based upon a rational, analytical or transparent process. Contrary to
PPS 12 the sustainability appraisal followed, rather than informed, the
decision. Also, the Preferred Options Consultation lacks the necessary
maps and/or diagrams to enable informed consultation, contrary to PPS 12.
The process of selecting Option 4 fails the following Tests of Soundness:
3 the sustainability appraisal was produced after Option 4 was selected
6 the coalescence of Elsenham and Henham which would result from thOption 4 is contrary to the 8 point of the District Vision (page 4 of the
POC) which is inconsistent; the omission of the necessary maps and/or
diagrams for the allocations lacks coherence
7 the selection of Option 4 was not based on a robust or credible evidence
base nor were other options for a single development on this scale
9 the selection of a single location for the majority of the housing is
inflexible should circumstances arise which prevent or hamper delivery
THE ISSUES AND THE OPTIONS
This section of the objection looks at the claimed advantages and disadvantages of the Options. The objection by Elsenham Parish Council is clearly targeted at Options 3 and 4 in particular, but additionally, at Option 2, which will also have a significant impact upon the village. Option 2 involves dispersal of development to many settlements, but includes new 750 dwellings in Elsenham. Option 3 proposes 1,440 dwellings (described as the start of a new settlement) is similar, but in a smaller scale to Option 4. Neither of these options as presented is considered superior to Option 1, which should be the preferred option, and is clearly superior to Option 4. Option 4, although described as a „new settlement‟ is in fact a 3,000 dwelling expansion and coalescence of the two villages. Option 3, although proposed as Comments to Uttlesford Core Strategy - 7 Preferred Options Consultation (November 2007)
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1,440 dwellings at present, nevertheless will develop in time to at least the size of the settlement proposed by Option 4. As the Issues and Options Consultation correctly records:
“The East of England Plan panel report considers the potential
contribution of a new settlement of at least 10,000 dwellings is the size
required for a properly sustainable community which would support a
range of local services including schools, shops and employment.” (I&O
Paragraph 12.1 page 90)
The Panel Report actually went further than this:
“The potential role of new settlements was also discussed, mainly in the
context of a significant number of suggestions for new settlements of
around 5,000 dwellings, as another means of boosting the number of
market options and thus the potential for completing more dwellings
pre-2021 …. We were also not convinced that small new settlements of
this general size would rank sufficiently high up the scale of
sustainability to merit including them as a significant component of the
spatial strategy”. (EoE Plan Panel Report paragraph 4.17)
The identification of a large single development for 70-80% of the development needs of the District to 2024 risks „putting too many eggs in one basket‟. Should the
development not come forward then there would be a vacuum in provision. This lacks flexibility. Option 3, 1,440 dwellings, the start of a settlement, which will inevitably expand over time, is also a significantly large development and suffers the same risk of concentrating too many eggs in one single basket. Option 1 spreads the development, whilst maintaining critical mass, to three locations. All three would need to fail to come forward to produce the same vacuum.
The description of the expansion of Elsenham/Henham as a “new thsettlement” is incoherent and inaccurate thus failing the 6 Test of
Soundness. A “new settlement” of 3,000 dwellings ignores the advice in th the EoE Panel Report on size thresholds thus failing the 4Test of
The lack of flexibility and reliance on one location for the majority of the thdevelopment needs of the District fails the 9 Test of Soundness.
The choice between expanding Elsenham and Henham, either by Option 4 (or by Option 3 over a slightly longer timeframe) or expanding the existing main towns of Saffron Walden, Great Dunmow and Stansted Mountfitchet (Option 1) are regarded as the principle options in this objection. In seeking to have Option 4 (and by direct inference, also Option 3) dropped in the final Submission Core Strategy, it Comments to Uttlesford Core Strategy - 8 Preferred Options Consultation (November 2007)
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strengthens the case to identify the most credible alternative, rather than spend time in examining all of the Options.
The following section considers the claimed advantages and disadvantages of the two Options (Options 4 and1), grouped together under appropriate headings, provides commentary then concludes with Objections. It is not order of importance, merely roughly following the order of claimed advantages of Option 4 as they appear on page 44 etc of the POC. The claimed advantages / disadvantages of these Options appear in italics. They may not be direct quotes from the POC, but give the main points.
SERVICES AND INFRASTRUCTURE
It is claimed that Option 4 will deliver a sustainable form of services and infrastructure:
some of the existing communities have significant development
committed and require existing infrastructure to be improved
a new settlement which can be developed in a sustainable manner and
incorporate the necessary infrastructure
(paragraphs 6.42, 6.45)
The objective of this option is to direct growth to the District's main centres
which are capable of offering access to employment, services and community
facilities and where the scale of development can bring forward the necessary
social infrastructure required.
The suggested distribution between the settlement reflects the capacity of
locations which are likely to be able to be delivered for housing development
and would have the least impact on the character of the settlements.
By concentrating the development in the main settlements the development can
link into existing infrastructure and the scale of development proposed would
make infrastructure improvements viable.
Response and Comment
It is unsurprising that the 3 main settlements have grown in the past and that could be expected to continue. There is no evidence that they have reached an expansion ceiling.
The need for additional/improved infrastructure is recognised, whether as part of Option 4 (and Option 3) or of Option 1. There is no greater certainty for delivery of infrastructure in either option. The advantages of Option 1 in delivering services and Comments to Uttlesford Core Strategy - 9 Preferred Options Consultation (November 2007)
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infrastructure are fully recorded in the POC, and the selection of Option 4 as preferred therefore seems perverse and contrary to the substance of the material. It is very doubtful that the Elsenham/Henham village expansion could support adequate local facilities. The Issues and Options Consultation concluded:
“It is unlikely that a new settlement of 3000 homes would support significant
services and facilities and the residents would have to use existing services and
facilities in nearby towns and larger villages.” (NS6 page 92)
It is more likely that expansion of existing towns, with established infrastructure and services, which could grow at a similar pace of development if required to meet the needs of their expansion, is both deliverable and sustainable. The growth proposal in Option 1 represents organic and proportionate expansion of existing settlements. Objection 4
The claim that Option 4 would better deliver services and infrastructure in a
sustainable manner is unsupported by evidence, indeed the material in the
POC better supports Option 1 which is more likely to achieve this objective. thThis fails the 7 Test of Soundness.
It is claimed that Option 4 will deliver better employment opportunities than Option 1. Option 4
providing additional employment opportunities at Elsenham as part of the new
settlement would increase the opportunity for existing and new residents to work
provide space for businesses close to Stansted Airport and the M11 motorway.
Out commuting is however seen as a disadvantage of Option 4: there will be out
commuting to Harlow, London and Cambridge but out-commuting would be by
By providing additional employment opportunities, alongside the residential
development in each of the settlements, this option would increase the
opportunity for existing and new residents to work locally. This option would
benefit growth in the Greater Cambridge sub-region by providing housing and B1
employment development in Saffron Walden in proximity to Cambridge. It would
also locate employment in Great Dunmow and Stansted Mountfitchet within
proximity to Stansted Airport and the M11 motorway.
Comments to Uttlesford Core Strategy - 10 Preferred Options Consultation (November 2007)