A developer has been accused of rushing into a housing estate in an Essex village in order to beat his neighborhood plan. Richstone Procurement Ltd., listed as an applicant on the Uttlesford District Council website, wanted to build 60 houses in Stebbing but this was blocked by the planning committee.
An agent speaking on behalf of the plaintiff said the offer was intended to support the neighborhood plan rather than compete with it, and would benefit the entire neighborhood. But the developer was accused by a parish councilor of trying to rush it before the plan was officially adopted.
Planning Officer Chris Wragg said: “Rather than creating competition, our vision is for this development and Section 106 contributions to proceed alongside the plan and provide additional benefits to both the Village and the District. at large.”
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Stebbing parish councilor Jacqueline Kingdom said the site was rejected from the plan by Urban Vision planners for being a “significant foray into the rural area”.
Cllr Kingdom said: “It is understandable that so many people are angry that this request appears to have been rushed by the claimant and officers to beat the neighborhood plan and over 400 people have written to oppose the request. No one is recorded as the approver.
An independent reviewer concluded that the neighborhood plan met its requirements and recommended that it now be put to a local referendum last month.
Councilor Judy Emanuel (Residents of Uttlesford, Newport) said: ‘This community has come forward and come up with their plan with a 95% response rate which is absolutely outstanding.’
She later said, “It’s not just a representative sample, it’s representative of the whole community and I don’t think it would be appropriate to undermine this effort when it has reached the stage where it turns out that.”
In addition to the 60 homes, the application requested permission for parking, amenity space, access, public pathways, and new trees and hedges.
According to a council report, 40% of the houses would have been affordable housing, in line with the council’s minimum requirement.
If approved, the developers would have provided a community bus in Stebbing and contributed financially to local schools, libraries, healthcare and the Hatfield Forest Recreation Mitigation Strategy.