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A VISION FOR A NEW COUNTRY PARK IN UTTLESFORD
Following the announcement on 8 May 2020 of our strategy for the restoration of Easton Park, SEP has today issued a document that sets out the rationale for this proposal and how it might be achieved.
The SEP Vision
Our Strategy is driven by:
Community Health and Wellbeing Benefits
SEP have always believed that Easton Park is not a sustainable location for new housing – whether 10,000 dwellings or any smaller number – and campaigned strongly against the proposals throughout the previous local plan process and at the public hearings in 2019.
In January 2020, the government appointed planning inspectors published their findings from the hearings with the outcome that they found the local plan to be unsound and a recommendation that it should be withdrawn. Following a peer review by Local Government Association consultants which reached the same conclusions, UDC resolved to withdraw the plan in April 2020.
Whilst welcoming the decision of UDC by an overwhelming majority to withdraw the local plan that has caused such concern to residents over the past few years, SEP believe that there is now an opportunity for a fundamental reassessment of the District’s needs. Housing is a key necessity but must be seen in the context of other key requirements for Uttlesford.
This reassessment needs to be undertaken in the context of the climate emergency we face, the commitments made by central and local government, and the increasing awareness, compounded by the Covid–19 pandemic, of the need to protect our natural surroundings for the physical and mental health and wellbeing of all.
In 2019 the UK government committed to becoming carbon neutral “Net Zero” by 2050. Essex County Council has made similar commitments, notably the Essex Forest Initiative to plant £1m worth of trees over the next five years. Also, in 2019 UDC declared a Climate and Environmental Emergency with a net zero carbon goal of 2030. A common theme to all these initiatives is the critical importance of planting trees as evidenced by DEFRA’s England Tree Strategy Consultation (June 2020) and the Committee on Climate Change Progress Report (June 2020).
The district of Uttlesford is extremely fortunate to have in Easton Park an exceptional asset - an ancient park of 1,000 acres with extensive wildlife and a rich heritage evidenced by multiple listed buildings.
Though damaged during World War II through the destruction of 10,000 trees to build an airfield, the Park remains whole and entire retaining the shape it has had for over 400 years. The Park is also remarkable for its biodiversity and is a haven for a wide range of flora and fauna.
SEP are campaigning for the restoration of Easton Park under the headline of RESTORE EASTON PARK – 10,000 trees not 10,000 houses. Our campaign focuses on repairing the damage inflicted on the Park in World War II when 10,000 trees were detonated to build an airfield. SEP have produced a Vision document which sets out a vision for the restoration of Easton Park in line with the following SEP strategy drivers:
1. Community Health and Wellbeing Benefits
Provision of the open space needed in the south of the District and the protection of Hatfield Forest.
2. A Response to the Climate Change Emergency
The opportunity to replace the 10,000 trees destroyed in WWII and create new woodlands that would make a significant contribution to Uttlesford’s ambitious climate targets and the UK Net Zero 2050 emissions target.
3. Recognition of the History and Heritage of Easton Park
The protection of the numerous heritage assets within the boundary of the park and their settings.
Our objective is to work with UDC, the owners of Easton Park and all relevant stakeholders to provide future generations with a worthy legacy.
To read the SEP Vision for Easton Park
To read the full history of Easton Park
To see Easton Park and its heritage assets
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The former mansion of Easton Lodge set within Easton Park.
This bird’s-eye view Skynner engraving of 1756 shows the earlier house within the setting of the grounds of the historic Easton Park.
The engraving shows the free-standing trees in the extensive areas of wood pasture set out as a “Patte D’oie” (Goose Foot) formation.