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1. Introduction - Role and Purpose of Plan


National Strategy

1.1. The UK national strategy for sustainable development starts by focusing on the simple idea of a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come. Local plans have a part to play in this. They fit into a complex picture, however. The national strategy has four objectives, which it aims to meet at the same time, in the UK and the world as a whole:

• Social progress which recognises the needs of everyone;
• Effective protection of the environment;
• Prudent use of natural resources;
• Maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment.

These inform other national strategy documents like the White Papers Our Countryside: The Future, A New Deal for Transport and the Urban White Paper.

1.2. National planning policy guidance gives comprehensive general guidance on all aspects of development, and identifies issues where local plans have a role in interpreting national guidance. Examples particularly relevant to Uttlesford are:

• Protecting landscape, wildlife and historic features;
• Showing how future housing requirements can best be met in ways that are consistent with sustainability objectives;
• Ensuring sufficient land is available for different types of industrial and commercial development, readily capable of development and well served by infrastructure, consistent with national transport goals; and
• Ensuring that noise sensitive developments are located away from existing sources of significant noise.

Because Stansted Airport is in Uttlesford, national airports policy is particularly significant to the District. This was under review in 2001.

Regional Planning Guidance

1.3. Revised regional planning guidance for the South East, including Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire, was approved by the Government in April 2001. Key features of its strategy for the region include urban renaissance, concentrating development, economy in the use of land, integrating land use and transport, and securing a multi purpose countryside while protecting it from inappropriate development. It indicates that the Essex and Southend on Sea Structure Plan should provide for 5,240 homes on average each year to 2006, and that this should continue beyond 2006. Structure and unitary development plans should distribute the requirements in their plan area in accordance with the key features of the strategy for the region.

1.4. RPG 9 recognises the importance of the South East Region as the main gateway between the UK and neighbouring European countries for business, trade and many other aspects of national life. It says that every effort should be made to ensure the coordination of different modes of communication and to have regard to the international role of gateways to the region. Stansted is clearly one of these gateways. It is a key transport hub and has good quality air, rail and principal road connections, although links to the west of the airport require further improvement. RPG9’s specific reference to airports emphasises the need for sustainable surface access. The Government published the White Paper “The Future of Air Transport” in 2003, which sets out the strategic framework for the development of air capacity in the UK over the next 30 years. The forthcoming RPG 14 will take the White Paper into account in the policy framework it proposed for Stansted Airport.

1.5. It also says that a sub regional study should be undertaken to investigate what the nature, possible extent and location of future growth might be within an area extending from London Docklands to Cambridge, noting that it includes London Boroughs with some of the most severe social and economic deprivation in England but also major regeneration potential, one of the most buoyant local economies in the country at its northern end, and between them Harlow, another priority area for economic regeneration, and Stansted Airport

1.6. A range of sub regional studies of the London-Stansted-Cambridge-Peterborough corridor will inform the preparation of new regional spatial strategy for the East of England. This Plan does not address the issues arising from those studies. A new Local Development Framework will replace this Plan in due course to respond to the regional spatial strategy.

1.7. The regional economic strategy, “East of England 2010 – prosperity and opportunity for all” focuses on six major themes to provide a basis for making choices and action plans. These are: competitive businesses and organisations for a world class region; creativity, innovation and enterprise; invest in success wherever it is found; regeneration plus – supporting the region’s people and its communities; a clear identity and international profile; and leading edge infrastructure and high quality environment.

Essex and Southend on Sea Replacement Structure Plan

1.8. This strategic plan for Essex includes a comprehensive set of criteria based policies for most forms of development. It identifies issues where local plans have a role in interpreting structure plan policies. This local plan complements, rather than duplicates, the structure plan. Throughout this plan the Essex and Southend on Sea Replacement Structure Plan is referred to as the Structure Plan.

Essex and Southend on Sea Minerals Plan and Waste Plan

1.9. The Minerals Plan deals with matters like sand and gravel extraction, and the Waste Plan, addresses the planning issues related to the disposal of waste like landfill, recycling sites and energy recovery facilities. This Plan does not duplicate the Minerals Plan and Waste Plan. Throughout this plan the Essex and Southend on Sea Minerals Local Plan First Review and the Essex and Southend on Sea Waste Local Plan are referred to as the Minerals Plan and the Waste Plan.

Other Sub Regional Plans and Strategies that apply to Uttlesford

1.10. There are sub regional policies, programmes and strategies for areas that include Uttlesford, such as:

• Essex Biodiversity Action Plan
• Essex Local Transport Plan
• North Essex Health Improvement Plan
• Stansted Airport Employment and Training Strategy
• Essex Economic Strategy
• Environment Agency Plans
• Stansted Airport Access Strategy

and others specifically for Uttlesford:

• Community Strategy
• Quality of Life Corporate Plan
• Local Agenda 21 Strategy
• Air Quality Management Strategy
• Contaminated Land Inspection Strategy
• Crime and Disorder Strategy
• Economic Strategy
• Home Energy Strategy
• Housing Strategy
• Leisure and Cultural Strategy
• Parking Strategy
• Primary Care Trust Plan
• Recycling Plan
• Transport Strategy

1.11. They have been prepared by various authorities and agencies. This Local Plan identifies the land use planning issues that warrant specific policies and proposals. It emphasises the priority attached to particular national, regional and county policies, where this is justified by local circumstances, new site specific proposals for development and validates existing commitments. Issues that this plan needs to resolve arising out of these strategies include:

• Protecting sites for their importance to nature conservation;
• Ensuring suitable sites are available for the expansion of existing firms and the introduction of new employment;
• Reducing car travel by locating housing in places accessible to public transport, or where walking and cycling would be encouraged or where the potential for shorter car journeys to work, would be increased;
• Securing affordable housing sites through the planning system;
• Ensuring local services are provided when they are needed in relation to new development;
• Reducing the potential for crime by designing safer environments;
• Taking account of the effects on air quality of traffic generated by development;
• Enabling the provision of recreation and other community facilities.

Survey Material

1.12. The Plan is based on information from sources including:

• Urban capacity study
• Essex TEC Employer and Employee survey 2000
• Agricultural land survey
• Recreation facilities study
• Brownfield sites identified for a contamination risk assessment
• Historic towns survey
• Transport data
• How is the current plan operating? – Monitoring Reports
• Affordable housing needs survey and subsequent indicator monitoring
• 1997 Airport Employment Survey
• Habitat survey
• Issues consultation
• Flood risk plans
• Retail studies
• Advice from service providers

Main Aims


1.13. In June 2003 the Community Plan - “Uttlesford Futures” was published. The Community Plan is driven by the Local Strategic Partnership of local organisations from the public, voluntary and business sectors that are committed to working together to improve the quality of life in the district. The community plan vision statement for Uttlesford is “a safe and pleasant environment in which to live, grow and prosper.”
In December 2003 the Quality of Life Corporate Plan was published which sets out the ambitions of the Council for Uttlesford until 2007. It draws upon the commitments in the Uttlesford Futures Community Plan and identifies five strategic aims. The Local Plan will contribute to the delivery of two of these aims: -

• Protecting and enhancing the environment and character of the District whilst

o Improving rural transport
o Encouraging appropriate economic development
o Improving the supply of good affordable homes to meet the needs of the local community
o Promoting tourism, culture and leisure opportunities

• Improving community safety and the health of the population

Appendix 2 sets out indicators and targets to ensure the policies meet these aims

Vision for the Local Plan

1.14. Uttlesford enjoys strong positive attributes: its mainly rural environment, productive farmland and historic small towns and villages, good access to London’s job opportunities, cultural and sporting attractions and shopping, and to Cambridge with the further range of job opportunities and leisure activities this university city provides. Uttlesford has excellent schools and good access to health care, a high level of economic activity and very low unemployment, and a low crime rate. It is a relatively affluent area. It has a growing network of domestic and international air services through Stansted Airport, which is a major employment site in its own right. These factors have led to Uttlesford being described as the district offering the best quality of life out of 376 local authority areas in England and Wales. For reasons partly related to these attributes, house prices, car ownership, road traffic casualty rates and road traffic growth forecasts are, however, relatively high.

1.15. This plan seeks to maintain and improve on Uttlesford’s positive attributes. It will preserve the quality of life in the towns and villages. Its policies will help to address concerns within the community about facilities for young people, crime, housing needs, preserving the environment, public transport and access to services, in so far as these can be addressed through the planning system. It will protect the district’s environment from inappropriate development, reduce and control noise and air pollution, reduce waste and increase recycling. It will help secure the provision of appropriate high quality leisure facilities and other infrastructure needed to support the level of development proposed in the plan. It will seek to prevent the loss of village shops and post offices. It will seek to ensure that good, affordable housing is available to all residents, especially young people and low paid workers from the District. It will help local companies to grow within appropriate development constraints, creating more jobs locally.

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For further information, please telephone (01799) 510454 or 510461. Email: planning@uttlesford.gov.uk