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Draft Local Plan: Spatial Strategy sets out the big picture

Uttlesford District Council is nearing the final stages of a Draft Local Plan that will help shape the future growth of the district up to 2033 and beyond.

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The next stage - called 'Regulation 19 Pre-submission' - will see officers put forward proposals for councillors to consider over the coming weeks.

At the heart of the emerging plan is a commitment to finding the best balance between delivering the homes, jobs and infrastructure that addresses local needs, whilst protecting the high quality of life and special character of Uttlesford.

The Spatial Strategy is a very important part of this. It sets out the 'big picture' of where and when development will happen - including new homes, business, and infrastructure - and looks to ensure that growth takes place in the most suitable places in the district.

Earlier in the process, five spatial strategy options were put forward for councillors to consider:

  • all development allocated in new settlements
  • all development distributed in villages
  • all development in the two main towns of Saffron Walden and Great Dunmow
  • combination of development in main towns and villages
  • a hybrid solution involving new settlement(s), main towns and villages

Each option was assessed on its benefits and risks following exhaustive analysis and evidence-gathering exercises.

At Full Council in July 2016 councillors agreed the hybrid solution was the best option - this recognises the benefits of focussing development in new settlements and having some growth in existing towns and villages. This approach is considered as being the most suitable as it can deliver the infrastructure needs of the district whilst limiting the impact on existing communities.

This approach has been the basis for Uttlesford as it plans for at least 14,000 homes over the Local Plan period (2011-2033). This housing number is calculated using a standard national approach. Over 7,000 of these homes have already been built or received planning permission, and it is estimated an additional 1,120 homes will be provided on small infill sites. This means sites are still needed for 5,800 homes up to 2033.

To meet this requirement, the council proposed three new garden communities, at North Uttlesford, Easton Park and West of Braintree. These new settlements will be developed on garden city principles, and would be central to accommodating the majority of the outstanding housing needs of the district (4,820 across these sites over the plan period). The remainder of the homes would be distributed across the district, with some being in Saffron Walden, Great Dunmow and the larger villages, and the rest in smaller villages.

The council consulted on these proposals last summer and has considered the 6,000 responses, including to the way in which it has proposed to distribute housing. If the council decides to stick with the current approach to distribution, work will quickly progress to developing new documents - called Development Plan Documents - which will set out more detailed requirements for the garden communities.

While identifying the locations for new homes is a major element of the Local Plan, another key part is to ensure that essential physical and social infrastructure is delivered in a timely way to meet the needs of new and existing residents. For example, the Local Plan policies must ensure that new schools, health care facilities and roads are all provided when they are needed so that the new development is sustainable.

The Local Plan also aims to support the growth and location of businesses in the district by safeguarding existing employment land and providing a mix and range of new employment sites. It sets out the provision for jobs growth over the plan period, with an increase in 16,000 new jobs.

What's next?

The key activity for the Local Plan over the coming weeks includes:

  • 23 May- Planning Policy Working Group (PPWG) meeting to consider the Draft Local Plan evidence base
  • 31 May- PPWG meeting to discuss full version of the Draft Local Plan (called 'pre-submission') and Sustainability Appraisal
  • 12 June - Cabinet to consider the Pre-submission Draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal, including any recommendations from PPWG
  • 19 June - Full Council to consider the Pre-submission Draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal for public consultation
  • 25 June - If approved by Full Council, a public consultation on the pre-submission Draft Local Plan begins

Stay informed

All PPWG, Cabinet and Full Council meetings, including those where the Local Plan will be discussed, are broadcast live and recorded.

The Local Development Scheme, which contains the proposed timetable for producing the Local Plan, is available to view on the council website here.

Related Local Plan documents, including background studies, is available to view at

Residents can also sign up for email updates about the Local Plan via

22 May 2018