Proposal to build 1,200 houses west of Great Dunmow
Many of you who live locally will have received a leaflet circulated on behalf of Landsec summarising outline proposals to build 1,200 new homes on land to the west of Great Dunmow adjoining developments on the Bishops Stortford Road that are already in hand. Details are given on www.landeasthighwoodquarry.co.uk .
Respond and make your views known
SEP encourages all to respond to this consultation but to be very wary of the form supplied by Landsec for that purpose which is dominated by leading questions to which it encourages responses. SEP suggests that Questions 1 to 7 on the form be ignored and respondents limit themselves to Question 8, ‘Do you have any other comments or suggestions’ in which we suggest you object using some or all of the following points.
The following are the key reasons for opposing this proposal:-
- Further and excessive expansion of Great Dunmow. As you are all aware, Great Dunmow is already expanding at an alarming rate. This proposal would increase the current population of some 9,000 by some 3,000 people, an increase of 33% which would swamp this historic market town. The 148 hectares in question would increase the developed area of Great Dunmow by some 40%.
- Urban sprawl and coalescence. The proposal would be a further example of runaway urban sprawl in the south of Uttlesford and would remove the historic divide between Great Dunmow and Little Easton.
- Access is limited and inadequate. The sole access to this proposed development is that used by Highwood Quarry which is inadequate for a development of this size.
- Congestion. This access directly impacts on the main access/exit from Great Dunmow on the B1256 Bishops Stortford Road. Combined with developments already in progress, this will result in gridlock.
- Landscape. The proposal would destroy the landscape on accessing the historic centre of Little Easton by Park Road which is a Conservation Area comprising the Grade 1 church, the historic Manor and Barns, the lakes and the entrance to Easton Park.
Responses to this current consultation should go to LEHQ@bartonwillmore.co.uk not UDC.
We urge you to object in the strongest terms remembering that the deadline is 1st February.
With glaring predictability Landsec, through their agents Barton Willmore, have announced that they are bringing forward proposals to January 2021 to formerly apply for a residential development of up to 1,200 new houses on land “East of Highwood Quarry”. Well, that’s how they describe the site. But the reality is that although the site is in the parish of Little Easton it’s another step to coalescence with Great Dunmow and urbanisation of our countryside. These proposals are also IN ADDITION to the 10,000 houses Landsec are desperate to foist on Great Dunmow and surrounding parishes at Easton Park.
Why are Landsec so keen to pursue 1,200 houses now? Because it’s advantageous to them on a number of fronts and now believe they can more easily overcome opposition unlike previous applications which have been embarrassingly lost, despite hiring expensive London QCs. Their probable reasoning:
- UDC no longer have a minimum five-year housing supply and in this situation Landsec want to take advantage for the benefit of their distant shareholders of a presumption in favour of sustainable development.
- Residents are distracted with Covid-19 and consequently the ability to muster opposition is made more difficult.
- The current Covid-19 Tier 4 lock-down restrictions result in limited opportunities for public meetings. Why didn’t Landsec delay their planning application until the Spring when the positive impact of vaccinations is projected to ease the impact of current restrictions. The answer is obvious – there would be more freedom to focus on objections to their plans.
- Tier 4 restrictions limit (legally required) public consultations to video conferencing, information in the local press and requests for comment by post, telephone and e-mail.
- There is no opportunity to hold public meetings where people can voice their thoughts and views direct to decision-makers. UDC Councillors and Officers will also be restricted to remote communications. Approval could be granted via Royal Mail without the proposers directly facing members of the public. However vociferous the public try to make their views known by letter, telephone and e-mail those views will never come across as strongly as open public debates.
- Landsec’s commercial portfolio has suffered as a result of Covid-19. However, houses are a high agenda item for government and Landsec clearly see this application as a means to offset commercial portfolio losses.
If Landsec do gain permission to build 1,200 houses then building on historic Easton Park becomes far more real; the principle for building in that area will have been set. But a maximum of 10,000 houses cannot also be assumed. With condensed building and subsequent applications, Easton Park development of 10,000 houses could ultimately drift upwards to maybe 20,000.
It’s interesting to note that the land for the 1,200 houses was originally designated by Landsec themselves, as parkland. Additionally, on 26th August this year Landsec had their application to turn nine historic, century-old stables (used in a previously successful livery business) refused. It is obvious this latest attempt to gain approval for housing development is another attempt to set a precedent for building on Easton Park, where an existing decades-old covenant limiting the number of houses has been flagrantly ignored.
Let there be NO doubt in people’s minds that this is a company that is determined to make the most of their 16 years investment in the land of Easton Park where they stand to make profits of several hundreds of millions of pounds TAKEN OUT OF OUR DISTRICT WITHOUT BUILDING A SINGLE HOUSE THEMSELVES. A fair risk/reward ratio is perfectly acceptable in our society. But holding land, adding little value over a relatively short period of time and then gaining excessive profit solely as a result of local and central government decisions is unjust, inequitable and galling for local residents and those that care about the countryside, wildlife, agriculture and open space. The value of the latter has never been so important and is now recognised to be vital for mental well-being and good health.
EVERYONE in our area will have been disrupted by the new building currently in progress west of Tesco supermarket over recent months. This is only for 1,000 houses and is a precursor to even worse disruption over the next several years. Now imagine the chaos caused by the building of another 1,200 houses (abutting to the north of the 1,000) and then potentially 10,000+ houses in Easton Park over the next fifty years! Additionally, there is another 2,000 houses (some approved, some in the process of being approved) for various other sites around Dunmow. The quaint market town of Great Dunmow will be urbanised and coalesced destroying the character of surrounding villages with little, if any, compensation for residents and their descendants.
Landsec have made it clear that this proposal is in addition to their intention to have Easton Park included in the new Local Plan which is currently being drawn up by Uttlesford District Council. They refer to it as the first phase. These 1,200 houses are the thin edge of the wedge to which might be added 10,000 additional dwellings on Easton Park and possibly more. We need to keep in mind that Landsec’s strategic objective is to build more than 11,000 houses in the Little Easton Parish.
This consultation should not be confused with the Scoping Opinion Application (SOA) which is currently on the UDC planning portal. The SOA is a preliminary to the planning application requiring clarification from UDC of the level of technical detail required to support the planning application.
You will see advertisements regarding consultations for the 1,200 houses proposal in the local press, magazines and noticeboards. When invited to make comment, Stop Easton Park need you to make your views known. If you care about your environment, tell Landsec in no uncertain terms that their proposals to extract monetary value for their distant shareholders at the long-term cost to residents and their children of losing local countryside, wildlife, agriculture and open space are not, and never will be, acceptable when there are far better alternatives to build truly AFFORDABLE housing in Uttlesford.