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On the 25th February 2020, our Felsted Neighbourhood Plan was unanimously ‘Made’ by the full Uttlesford District Council.
On the 9th March 2020, the final Steering Group meeting was held.
The Plan is now a ‘material consideration’ in determining planning before Uttlesford District Council.
There will therefore be no further updates to this website.
If you have any further questions about the Plan, please go to the Felsted Parish Council website and contact the Parish Clerk.
Felsted Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
30th January 2020: Referendum Result
We are delighted to say that after over 5 years of work and some dispiriting setbacks, our Felsted Neighbourhood Plan finally passed the Referendum tonight.
We have a Neighbourhood Plan!
The turnout for the vote for the plan was 754, or over 31% of the electorate. Of those that voted, 687 voted in favour of the Plan and 65 voted against (2 papers were spoilt). Over 91% of those that voted were in favour of the plan. We are really pleased that the result was so clear.
From now on, the Felsted NP will be a ‘material consideration’ for the Uttlesford District Council Planning Committee and for any Planning Appeals Inspector considering any planning application in Felsted.
The Parish Council, who have supported the Plan throughout, will now have its position strengthened.
Thank you all for your support and your contributions to the development of the Plan.
Sincere good wishes,
The Steering Group
January 2020: Vote Against the Neighbourhood Plan and Get More Unwanted Development
In the last few days some people have been criticising the Felsted Neighbourhood Plan on social media. They seem to believe that by voting against the Plan, they will prevent further unwanted development in Felsted. Folks, you could not be more wrong! Voting against the Plan will make matters a lot worse. Voting against the Plan will open the doors even wider to unwanted development. You’ll hear the champagne corks popping in developers’ boardrooms across the county!
The Neighbourhood Plan could never stop all unwanted development in Felsted. UDC has a quota imposed by central government and every parish has to accept some development. Do we think we’ve had more than our share? Absolutely. That’s why we have objected time and again to developments we don’t think offer anything to our community. We’ve won some and lost others, but we’ve tried bloody hard! Development will come: plan or no plan. It’s about controlling it and getting benefits from it.
The Neighbourhood Plan doesn’t stop any further development. It can’t. Nothing can. What the NP does, is make it a legal requirement that UDC and Planning Appeal inspectors take our community’s plan as a ‘material consideration’ in determining any planning application. The Felsted Neighbourhood Plan gives an opportunity for community gain like we’ve never had before. We’ve used our allocation thoughtfully. We say,
‘Okay UDC, if we must have around 70 new homes in our parish over the next 13 years: this is where we want them, and this is what we want in return for suffering more development.’
Fact: The existing surgery is going to close. The plan delivers a new surgery. Some people don’t like where the new surgery is going to be in Station Road. We had to find a location that suited the doctors, the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, the planning authorities and every one of you. Oh, and we had to find a landowner prepared to meet our needs. We looked tirelessly at all the alternatives.
Did we find a solution that satisfies everyone? Of course not. But we found a site that is already approved for UDC for development and that offers an excellent new surgery that the community will own. Yes ‘own’! It will belong to Felsted and the parish will benefit from a rent for many years to come. The alternative was that the CCG would find a site outside the parish. Further to travel and no rental income. That would not have pleased any of you!
Dozens of you complained about congestion at the Primary school. So, we have used our plan to reduce that congestion, provide off road parking for 90 cars and a safe ’kiss and drop’ for parents and children. The school also gets to use the secure car park as an additional recreational area after drop-off.
So, for the burden of less than 6 new homes a year for the next 13 years we ensure we have ready access to primary health care, we reduce congestion in the village, we improve the safety of our children, we deliver improved recreational facilities at our primary school and we protect our environment. We think that’s worth voting for on the 30th January.
The Steering Group
PS. Please feel free to share this on social media.
November 2019: Felsted Neighbourhood Plan Passed by UDC
We are delighted to inform you that on Tuesday 26th November at Foakes Hall, our Felsted Neighbourhood Plan was passed unanimously by Uttlesford District Council and is now ‘published’.
In practice this means that the Plan can now proceed to the final Referendum Stage. If successful at Referendum, the Plan become part of the development plan for the parish alongside the UDC Local Plan. Local planning authorities and planning inspectors considering appeals must make their decisions in accordance with the policies of the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
The full details of the referendum will be published in due course by the Democratic Services Unit of Uttlesford District Council, but we expect it to be held on the 30th January 2020.
UDC will publish full details in due course, when they’ve finished with the General Election but here’s what we know now:
If you haven’t yet considered what the NP delivers, please try to do so between now and the end of January. The Steering Group believe that the plan delivers significant benefits and protections for the parish as a whole and we urge everyone in the parish to vote in the referendum.
The Steering Group
November 2019: The Home Straight!
Our Felsted Neighbourhood Plan has at last reached the penultimate hurdle. The Plan will be on the agenda of the next Cabinet Meeting of Uttlesford District Council and will be ‘published’ by the Council within the meaning of the regulations, thereby gaining further weight in planning terms.
Should you wish to attend the Cabinet meeting which will publish the Plan, the meeting is being held locally, in the Foakes Hall in Great Dunmow, at 7pm on Tuesday 26th November.
The final hurdle is the referendum. Following publication, UDC must hold a referendum of all parishioners in Felsted. If the plan receives the support of at least 50%+1 of all those who vote, it will become part of the Local Plan and will at last carry its maximum weight and be effective for 15 years.
The date of the referendum is as yet unknown. Unfortunately, a rather more significant democratic exercise has somewhat scuppered the timetable in December and will delay our local referendum. It will now be early in the new year.
The Steering Group
October 2019: Felsted Neighbourhood Plan Passes Examination
It’s been a while! At last we are delighted to be able to tell you that, following agreement on modifications by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) and Felsted Parish Council (FPC) and a detailed fact check, our Felsted Neighbourhood Plan (FNP) has passed formal examination. It was returned by the Examiner to UDC on the 29th September. The Examiner has concluded that the plan meets the required standard and is suitable to be ‘made’ through a referendum, when you get your chance to vote on the plan.
From the outset, none of us who live in the parish, including every member of the Steering Group, wanted any more development in Felsted. That was unrealistic and unachievable. Government policy requires all communities to take a positive approach to sustainable development and the UDC Local Plan requires all communities, including Felsted, to accept some development. So our objective throughout has been to support the minimum to meet our obligations in relation to housing need and to ensure that for the next 15 years (the Plan Period) any proposed development is consistent with a plan that delivers the maximum benefit to the whole community in Felsted.
The FNP supports the development of just 69 new homes over the next 15 years in two developments. To put that number into context, that’s less than have been approved in the parish in the last 12 months. The plan requires the developers to provide a new surgery, to be owned by a charitable trust for the benefit of the people of Felsted, and a new car park and recreation space for the primary school which will alleviate congestion at Watch House Green and improve safety for parents and children. The FNP also brings forward over 30 other policies intended to protect the parish from unwanted development and to deliver needed community amenities.
Those of you who follow the planning meetings at UDC will know that along with FPC, we have been trying hard to prevent unwanted developments in Felsted. We have had some success, but not as much as we would have liked. We couldn’t stop the Maranello or Clifford Smith Drive developments. If we had had a ‘made’ Neighbourhood Plan as a ‘material consideration’, we would have been in a stronger position and been more successful.
“If successful at referendum, a neighbourhood plan comes into force as part of the development plan for the area alongside the local plan. Local planning authorities and planning inspectors considering planning applications or appeals must make their decisions in accordance with the policies of the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.”
Locality- Government Guidance
We are in dialogue with UDC about when the authority will publish the details of a referendum in which you will be entitled to vote. Without a fully made Neighbourhood Plan we remain vulnerable to unwanted developments across the parish, so we strongly urge that you engage in this process when the referendum is published.
The Steering Group
July 2019: Felsted Neighbourhood Development Plan Independent Examination – Examiner Initial Letter
Further to my appointment to undertake the Independent Examination of the Felsted Neighbourhood Development Plan, I am writing to clarify how I will conduct the examination which will formally commence on Thursday 1 August 2019.
It is essential that the examination process is open and transparent to all interested parties. I would be grateful if the District Council and the Parish Council could publish this email on their respective websites. The Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group may wish to publish this letter on their website also. I will address all future communication to the District Council and send a copy to the Parish Council. It would be helpful if the Parish Council could channel all communication to me through the District Council, and that, when writing to me, the District Council sends a copy to the Parish Council.
2. National Planning Policy Framework
The most recent National Planning Policy Framework, that includes minor clarifications in respect of the July 2018 version, was published on 19 February 2019. The Planning Practice Guidance was most recently updated on 22 July 2019. Both the Framework and Guidance could be further revised or updated during the Independent Examination. As a point of clarification, I confirm it is my intention to undertake the Independent Examination in the context of the most recent National Planning Policy Framework and Planning Practice Guidance.
3. Examination Documents
The District Council has provided me with copies of the main submission Neighbourhood Plan documents; each of the Regulation 16 representations received during the publicity period; and a copy of the District Council representations. I have access to additional documents on the District Council, Parish Council and Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group websites.
All documents that have been sent to me, and any other documents that may be sent to me throughout the Independent Examination should be available for inspection by interested parties. This is best achieved through publication on the District Council website.
I have looked at the main submission Plan documents. Subject to my later detailed assessment I have not identified any obvious fundamental flaws in the submission documents that would lead me to advise the examination should not proceed. If I find that there are significant issues which may prevent the Neighbourhood Plan meeting the Basic Conditions and other requirements, that cannot be addressed through modifications, I will notify you during the examination.
The District Council has advised me what are regarded by the Local Planning Authority as the strategic policies of the Development Plan applying in the Felsted Neighbourhood Area.
I am providing an opportunity for the Parish Council to comment on the representations of other parties. There is no obligation on the Parish Council to offer any comments but this opportunity can prove helpful where representations of other parties include matters that have not been raised earlier in the plan preparation process. The Parish Council should submit any comments to me, via the District Council, no later than 12.00 noon on Thursday 15 August 2019. The Parish Council may, at an earlier date, submit its comments, or confirm it does not intend to submit any comments on the representations. Any Parish Council comments should be published on the District Council website. Parish Council comments must not include new evidence.
From my initial review of the Neighbourhood Plan documents it would appear that there are no conflicts of interest that would call into question my independent status. I will keep that matter under review throughout the examination.
5. Visit to the Neighbourhood Plan Area
After I have thoroughly reviewed the Neighbourhood Plan documents, representations, and any comments of the Parish Council, I intend to visit the plan area as this will assist me in understanding the nature of the Neighbourhood Plan and points made in representations or comments, and help me decide if there are any issues to be clarified. I will undertake this visit on an unaccompanied basis as it is important that there should be no perception that I have heard additional representations.
6. Clarification Procedure
I may at any time during the Independent Examination seek written clarification of any matters that I consider necessary. I will direct any request for clarification to the District Council, copying in the Parish Council. I will request any response is agreed as a joint response of the Parish and District Councils. Any request for clarification and any response should be published on the District Council website.
I am proceeding on the basis that the examination can be concluded without the need for a hearing. At any time before I issue my final report, I may call a hearing if I consider this is necessary to ensure adequate examination of any issue, or to allow a person a fair chance to put a case.
7. Examination Timetable
The main determinants of how long the examination will take are: the number and complexity of the Neighbourhood Plan policies; the clarity of supporting evidence; and the number and nature of representations. The Felsted Neighbourhood Plan includes 37 policies, which is a greater number of policies than many neighbourhood plans contain.
Assuming a hearing will not be necessary, and that the need for me to request clarification of any matters will not cause undue delay, I anticipate that around late September 2019 I will be able to send a confidential draft of my report to the District Council and the Parish Council to allow an opportunity to check whether there are any factual errors. This will not be an opportunity for any further representations to be made.
8. Procedural Questions
A guide to Independent Examinations can be found here – I would be pleased to address any questions relating to the examination process that the District Council or the Parish Council may have.
Planning and Management Ltd
We are delighted to draw your attention to the UDC website announcing the publication of our Neighbourhood Plan:
You can click on the link for more details and please remember the Plan is for the coming 15 years and offers us the protection we need to resist the plague of unwanted development we are currently suffering.
13th May 2019
We are delighted to inform you that the Felsted Neighbourhood Plan has been submitted to Uttlesford District Council under Regulation 15 of The Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 as amended.
For now the Steering Group’s work, though not done, is at least paused while other stages in the process continue.
The regulations covering the next steps and when we should get there are as follows:
Reg. 16 Requires UDC’s, after our submission, to widely publicise Felsted’s NP details for 6 weeks. (Early June)
Reg. 17 The point at which UDC sends all documentation to the Examiner. The appointed Examiner expects to work on our Plan in June. He will consider whether our proposed plan meets the basic conditions and other requirements set out by law. If the Examiner considers modifications to our Plan are necessary, the Steering Group will work with UDC. We have the option of withdrawing our Plan if we are unhappy with the changes proposed by UDC.
The examiner will be considering whether the plan:
- has regard to national policy;
- contributes to the achievement of sustainable development;
- is in general conformity with the adopted strategic local policies for the local area;
- is compatible with EU obligations;
- meets human rights requirements.
(in late July / early August)
Reg. 18 UDC should publish the Examiner’s findings and its decision within 5 weeks. (September)
Reg. 19 If our Plan is found to be satisfactory, with modifications if necessary, then UDC will arrange for the referendum to take place. This will be organised by UDC’s elections unit. UDC is required to publish information about the neighbourhood plan 28 working days before the date of the referendum. Then 25 working days before the date of the referendum, they are required to give notice that a referendum is taking place and the date of the poll.
The referendum will ask a single question:
Do you want Uttlesford District Council to use the neighbourhood plan for the Parish of Felsted to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?
People on the electoral register will be entitled to vote in the referendum. If more than 50% of those voting in the referendum vote ‘yes’, then the Felsted neighbourhood plan becomes part of the statutory development plan for the area.
If successful at referendum, our Felsted Plan comes into force as part of the development plan for the area alongside the UDC local plan. UDC and planning inspectors considering planning applications or appeals must make their decisions in accordance with the policies of the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
So!! Downhill, with a following wind and providing that UDC’s Department of Democratic Services has not gone into meltdown arranging Local Elections, European Elections, General Election(s), People’s Vote(s), Brexit Mk2 or any other exciting manifestation of democracy, we could be looking at a referendum on our Plan in the late Autumn. That’s something to look forward to, isn’t it?
Finally, the Steering Group cares passionately about ensuring that our Plan is not undermined by unwanted developments coming forward while the NP process moves forward. We will continue to meet as a Group to respond to UDC and also to vigorously object to any planning application that we don’t believe is in the interests of the community in Felsted.
The Steering Group
31st March 2019
We thought you ought to see this letter. It’s a response from Natural England to a letter we wrote about our concerns that the protection of the wildlife on the Blackwater estuary was being given more weight than our concerns about our local environment being destroyed by developers and is delaying the submission of our Plan.
Anyone who thinks that Neighbourhood Planning is an easy and straightforward process should read this!
We have also written to the Sec of State for the environment, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP. He is yet to supply his response to the impact of zones of influence.
The Steering Group
Two issues concern us:
1) The Steering Group is ready to submit the Felsted Plan for Inspection. We have identified and nominated an Inspector. He has agreed to do the work. We have a mountain of back-up material. We are ready to go: but we can’t. Why? Because we remain stuck in the mire of the Blackwater Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest!
Uttlesford District Council and Natural England have yet to decide how to deal with the boundary change which extended the Blackwater Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest’s Zone of Influence (ZOI), from 15Km to 22Km which now dissects Felsted Parish. The ZOI is the likely distance visitors are prepared to travel to reach the Blackwater for recreation. So, we are required to know how many people from the 24 new homes in one small segment of Felsted might like to go to Maldon, to observe the little tern or the non-breeding dark bellied Brent goose, and what should be done to mitigate their impact on the environment.
This impasse has really serious consequences for Felsted because until the issue is resolved we cannot fulfil the statutory Basic Conditions Statement required of us when submitting our Plan. The irony is that Natural England can hold up the process for Neighbourhood Plans but not necessarily delay planning applications. And therein lies the problem.
While we cannot submit our Neighbourhood Plan, we cannot control development in the Parish. Meanwhile, developers are free to submit planning applications, right left and centre. In other areas developers in a ZOI have been required to pay a one-off Mitigation fee per new home of, no wait for it! £122.30. Honestly, £122.30 per new home in a Parish where the average house price stands at over £620K! Developers will pay it in half a heartbeat!
If this were simply a bureaucratic delay of little consequence, we could sit patiently on our hands, say job done and wait for the nod from – from wherever this particular nod comes. We’re not content with that so, in addition to badgering UDC officials, we’ve written directly to the new Chair of Natural England, Tony Juniper CBE and the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove urging them to resolve the issue and allow us to submit our Plan.
The Steering Group cares about the environment and the Plan includes strong policies to protect it, but Felsted also needs protection from our own predatory species!
2) There is another serious planning issue. The UDC Local Plan allocates the site adjacent to Clifford Smith Drive at Watch House Green, this site is shown as FEL02 in the UDC Local Plan and seeks consent for 30 homes. The Felsted NP doesn’t agree with this allocation. FEL02 offers nothing to the community. We have twice objected to the development at Planning Committee meetings and as a consequence the UDC Planning Committee has twice refused applications on the site. The developer has now taken the application to Appeal. We have submitted a written objection to the Inspector hearing the appeal. We have been asked by UDC to agree a ‘Statement of Common Ground’ to inform the Inspector examining our Plan about where we and UDC stand on the issue. We have submitted a suggestion to UDC that, in the event that the Felsted NP is ‘made’ before the UDC Local Plan, invites UDC to withdraw the site from the Local Plan.
If you think this is a weary read, our ‘go to’ counsellor’s recommendation is Bishop Nick!
The Steering Group
As a required step in the Neighbourhood Planning process, prior to final submission, our Neighbourhood Plan has now been scrutinised by an experienced Planning Examiner in what is called a ‘high level health check’. We are very pleased with the result of this examination and the guidance offered by the examiner.
There were some areas where we took the view that his comments were of such importance to the success of the Plan that we reverted to the examiner and asked for his in-depth comments. We have now received those detailed further comments – which are again very helpful – and are working through them to further refine our Plan.
The work on finalising the Plan is time consuming and to some extent reliant on external inputs. For example, the unexpected need for a Habitats Regulations Assessment. At this late stage, this has become necessary as a result of a change to the extent of the ‘Zone of Influence’ of the Blackwater Estuary Special Protection Area. The enlarged area means a segment of the Parish is now just within the extreme outer margins of the new Zone.
The required assessment cannot be conducted by us. We are therefore reliant on UDC and we are waiting the outcome of their work. This was an item identified as essential during the ‘Health Check’. There are other areas where we are reliant on others and in every case we have been clear about the need for their urgent input to allow the Plan to be submitted.
We remain confident that the Plan in final form will be submitted in the next few weeks.
The Steering Group
11th January 2019
You may have seen a Planning Application for 30 homes on land to the south of Braintree Road. The application is made by Go Homes Ltd. The reference on the UDC Planning Portal is shown below. In the documentation provided by Go Homes substantial references are made to the Felsted Neighbourhood Plan. An image of the Felsted Neighbourhood Plan submission document is included in the Go Homes submission documents.
(UTT/18/3529/OP | Outline application for residential development of up to 30 no. Dwellings and a community building with associated roads and infrastructure with all matters reserved except access. | Land To The South Of Braintree Road Felsted Essex)
For the avoidance of any doubt or confusion and to answer questions already raised we wish to state the following:
- The Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group is opposed to this and any application not advanced in the Plan.
- The housing proposed by Go Homes would be in addition to the housing proposed in the Neighbourhood Plan and would, in the view of the Steering Group, be excessive and unwelcome.
- This application does not form any part of the Neighbourhood Plan and the use of the image of the Plan is regrettable.
- Whilst in principle, the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group supports the development of a new village hall, it considers the negative impact of an additional 30 houses unwanted unacceptable and damaging to the Neighbourhood Plan.
- In the absence of an agreement with the Memorial Hall Committee to move to this site, the proposed Hall would be surplus to need.
- Mr Crawford, the landowner resigned from the Felsted Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group in March 2018.
- Neither Go Homes nor the landowner or any other person advancing this application has had any dialogue whatsoever about these proposals with the Felsted Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group or any of its members.
- The Steering Group and individual members of the group will register strong objections to the proposals.
The Application also makes several references to the Felsted Memorial Hall. We have also discussed the Application with the Memorial Hall Committee (MHC). The MHC wishes to state the following:
- Neither Go Homes nor the landowner or any other person advancing this application has had any dialogue whatsoever with the Memorial Hall Committee (MHC) about these proposals.
- The MHC has plans to carry out major refurbishment work on the Memorial Hall. The process began in December with architects conducting a feasibility study. Initial plans have been received by the Committee and discussions are progressing.
- As part of the Neighbourhood Plan consultation process, The MHC considered and rejected a proposal by the Steering Group to relocate the Hall to land adjacent to the currently proposed site.
- The MHC and individual members of the Committee will register their strong objections to the proposals.
The Steering Group
Happy New Year!
It’s time for resolutions! Your Steering Group is resolved to complete our Neighbourhood Plan so that it can be offered to you in a referendum as soon as possible.
Our Group has lived with this Plan for a long time. Many of you have helped to shape the final document through tremendously helpful contributions during the Consultation Process. We all have busy lives and we don’t expect the NP to be at the forefront of your minds. So, here is a brief reminder about the Plan and its importance.
None of us want any more housing development in Felsted. We’ve all had enough of development that has not delivered any lasting benefits to the Parish. But the reality is that we are required by the government and Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to accept some further housing development over the coming years. What we have set out to achieve through the Neighbourhood Plan is to have the minimum development required to meet our obligations and to see it delivered in a way that offers maximum benefits to the community.
Once approved all planning applications must be considered against the NP’s Policies.
The Plan supports the development of just over 60 new homes in Felsted over the next 15 years, consistent with the allocation for Felsted in UDC’s emerging Local Plan.
One development will be on land to the west of Bury Farm, a site that UDC has already earmarked as suitable for development. We have been careful to restrict the boundaries of the development to ensure Felsted does not ‘merge’ with Flitch Green. Some additional public open space will be designated. There are very significant long-term benefits to the Parish from this development. The landowner has agreed that the developer will be required to fund a new surgery to be owned by the Parish. The doctors have said this is exactly where they want their Practice to be. The rent from the surgery will be paid by the NHS to the Felsted Community Trust and will help fund other Parish amenities for many years to come.
The second site is at Sunnybrook Farm adjacent to Felsted Primary School. In addition to helping meet our housing requirements, this site provides a large car park and drop-off facilities to ease the very serious congestion at the school – the source of so many of your complaints. It will also offer some additional recreational facilities for the school.
A significant aspect of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’. This requires all Local Authority to be able to demonstrate a ‘5-year housing supply’. Currently UDC is unable to do this and developers are exploiting this opportunity, especially in Felsted where there is strong demand for housing. However, where there is an up to date Neighbourhood Plan that meets the Authorities housing allocation, it needs only to demonstrate a 3-year housing supply. With our Neighbourhood Plan in place and with UDC meeting its 3-year allocation requirements, we will have greater protection from opportunistic and unwanted developments.
There is a great deal more in the Plan than the developments we’ve mentioned here. We have also tried to protect our environment, help our schools and support community amenities, but we know that it is development that is of most concern to us all.
Our Plan has been ‘health checked’ and will soon go to an Inspector for formal examination. At that stage, it becomes a ‘Material Consideration’ in any planning application.
We will keep you informed of progress and hope you will support the Plan at referendum.
The Steering Group
Just when you thought that planning regulations couldn’t get any more complicated something comes out of left field to make delivering our Neighbourhood Plan even more difficult!
As part of fulfilling our obligations necessary to meet the Basic Conditions requirement for Neighbourhood Plans, we are required to screen the Plan to assess whether we are impacted by the need for a Habitats Regulations Assessment HRA (a piece of European law). This is not something we can do as a Neighbourhood Plan group: we rely on UDC’s assessment for the District. UDC engaged consultants to identify any aspects of the UDC’s Local Plan that would cause an adverse effect on European Sites (Special Areas of Conservation). UDC did this work in October 2018 as part of its Local Plan work. (If you want to look at this greater detail, its covered in the Habitats Directive 1992.)
No European sites were identified within Uttlesford, but consultants identified seven European sites which, though they lie outside UDC, have ‘zones of influence’ that needed to be examined to see if any impacted the UDC area. When the UDC work was conducted, Felsted was not impacted by any of the zones of any of the seven sites. In fact, nowhere in UDC was affected. However, without UDC’s participation in the process, the extent of the zones of influence of these sites have subsequently been extended from 15km to 22km.
The impact of this extension is that the zone of influence of the Blackwater Estuary European site now cuts right through the Parish of Felsted! We are the only parish in Uttlesford affected by this change. The limit of the zone cuts across the parish just west of the junction of Chelmsford Road and Station Road and means that though the Bury Farm site is outside the zone, the Sunnybrook Farm site is within the zone.
So where does that leave our Neighbourhood Plan? The short answer is no one yet knows. We are now waiting for central government to issue fresh guidance to neighbourhood plan groups and local authorities. We are hopeful of a resolution to this problem in the next few weeks. However, central government seems a little distracted at the moment by another influential European zone!
This hasn’t stopped our work. We have finished assessing all the representations we received during the Consultation Period and have made some amendments to the Plan as a result. We will be submitting the Plan for a ‘health check’ towards the end of November and now hope to have the final Plan submitted early in the new year.
In the meantime, if you should see the common pochard, ringed plover or the little tern anywhere near the Swan – the pub not the bird – please mention that they are near the end of their zone of influence and of our tether!
The Steering Group
Following the 7 Consultation Sessions on the Pre-Submission Plan that concluded on the 21st September, we have been assessing the representations made both by people who attended the sessions in person and by the numerous statutory consultees, like Essex County Council, UDC and the Environment Agency and other interested parties, like developers, as well as carefully considering the important comments and contributions made by individual parishioners. We are working through every single comment and assessing whether any changes should be made.
We have been encouraged by the support for the Plan and by the many constructive comments made. We never expected every aspect of the Plan to be universally welcomed and we are doing our best to ensure the final Plan properly reflects people’s individual concerns, but the Plan must benefit the community as a whole, for example by ensuring we have a doctor’s surgery fit for the 21st Century.
We had hoped to be sending the Plan for a pre-inspection ‘health check’ on the 21st October. However, we have decided to try to delay that examination by a month to allow us more time to consider some of the very detailed representations and to resolve some very complicated issues raised by a decision of the European Court that is causing procedural confusion to some District Councils and Neighbourhood Planning Groups. [For the legally minded among you it’s the judgment of the Court (Seventh Chamber) of 12 April 2018: People Over Wind and Peter Sweetman v Coillte Teoranta]
As a result of what appears to be an arbitrary change to the boundary of something called the ‘Zone of Influence for Essex coastal Habitats Sites’ (which in our case relates to our ‘proximity’ to the Blackwater Estuary) areas previously unaffected by the Habitat Regulations Assessment requirements are now contained in a much-enlarged zone and that includes a chunk of our parish! We are working with UDC and our professional advisers to determine how best to resolve these issues and be compliant with the regulations.
We also have to consider other variables created by the introduction, early in 2019, of a new National Planning Policy Framework, and decide whether we opt for our Plan to be assessed against the current NPPF or the new NPPF which comes into force on 19th January 2019.
We offer these details both to keep you informed and as an illustration of how difficult and time consuming this process has become. We will get there, and we greatly value your patience and continuing support.
The Steering Group
September 2018 Update: Neighbourhood Plan – Final Consultation Events
3pm-8pm, 17th-21st September, URC Hall Stebbing Road
We’d like to claim that the conclusion on the 21st September of the consultation process for the Felsted Neighbourhood Plan is part of a carefully crafted plan to coincide with the celebration of The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Peace to recognize the efforts of those who have worked hard to end conflict and promote peace and celebrated annually on the 21st September. However, it is nothing more than happenstance!
That said, the Steering Group has worked hard to get the Neighbourhood Plan to this stage. On page one of the Plan, we said we doubted it would ever be possible to please everyone, but we have been pleased with the constructive contributions from visitors to the consultation events and will now carefully consider all the representations you and the numerous statutory consultees have made and decide whether we need to make changes.
The next step is for the Plan to be professionally examined to ensure it not only meets the statutory requirements, but also that the policies we have drafted deliver what you have said you want from them. After that – probably, early in the new year – the Plan will be subject to a Parish wide referendum. For it to be passed and become effective planning policy, it needs to be supported by 50% plus one of all those who vote in the referendum.
From the start, it’s been clear that we’re all on the same page in wanting to resist further housing development. But we can’t stop it all. The law requires us to take a positive approach to sustainable development and to support some further housing development over the 15 years of the Plan. Stuck with that requirement, we have been determined to get the most out of any development proposals for the community. We have sought to reduce traffic congestion and provide a safe drop off for children at the Primary School and to protect our access to the doctors by owning our own modern surgery. The surgery will also deliver a significant rental income for many years to come to a Felsted Community Trust, offering the trustees an unprecedented opportunity to fund community projects and amenities.
We were ambitious for the Plan and, to be honest, we haven’t been able to deliver everything we originally envisaged and not everyone in the community agrees that any change is necessary. However, some things are unarguable: over the next 15 years there will be more of us, we will be living longer and there will be ever increasing demands on our community amenities.
The Felsted Neighbourhood Plan is not of international significance, but its importance to preserving our peaceful community should not be underestimated, so come and give us your comments.
The Steering Group
July 2018 Update: Neighbourhood Plan – Pre-Submission Draft
We are very pleased – and not a little relieved- to tell you that the Neighbourhood Plan – Pre-Submission Draft is now published and available for you to examine in detail by clicking on the link. The Plan has taken an incredible amount of work by the Steering Group and has been a long time in the making, but it’s here now! (Plan can also be seen under the ‘Documents’ tab)
The Plan sets out how we believe you want to see development in Felsted over the coming 15 years, the Plan Period. The Plan is a substantial document comprising 70 pages with 36 draft policies covering our schools, our heritage, the rural economy, how we value the environment and, of course, housing development.
We have been very clear in our understanding of how much concern there is about any further housing development in Felsted. All the members of the Steering Group live in the Parish and share these concerns. We’ve all had enough! At the same time, knowing that a ‘No development’ policy would mean that the Plan would fail inspection, developing an acceptable housing policy has been the most challenging aspect of the Group’s work. So, we know we are required to have some development but, without a new Uttlesford Local Plan informing us how much, how did we try to square that circle?
We took a positive approach to sustainable development. We identified developments that not only pass the required tests, but which also directly address issues you wanted the Plan to tackle and which offer to deliver really significant benefits to the community. We have been demanding on your behalf. In so doing, we have secured a site and a building for a new doctor’s surgery, addressed a serious cause of congestion, provided off-street parking and a safe drop-off for our Primary School. In return for the community’s backing, the developers of the supported projects are required to gift the land and, in the case of the surgery, the building to the Parish through the Felsted Community Trust.
The supported developments will provide new amenities which are wholly owned by the community.
The Consultation period is now open. You can send us your comments through the Survey Monkey on the website, directly by post to the Parish Office or you can drop written comments in to Lindsells. We will also hold ‘drop-in’ sessions in the Memorial Hall, The Primary School and finally in the URC Hall meeting Room in Stebbing Road. Stay in touch as we publish dates. Hard copies of the full Draft Plan are available for you read or borrow at Andersons, Lindsells, the Swan, the Chequers and the Compasses.
We look forward to hearing from you.
The Steering Group
Felsted Neighbourhood Plan – The Home Straight !
On the 13th and 14th April we held well-attended consultation meetings in the Memorial Hall. For those of you unable to attend or just wish to consider what was presented in your own time, the slides and my speaking note from those presentations are accessible through this site.
We are now finalising the Plan. We believe the draft Plan delivers much of what you said you wanted through the long consultation and preparation period and we are sending a draft to Uttlesford District Council for an initial assessment this week and, provided it passes some basic hurdles and is not inconsistent with Uttelesford District Council policies, we will soon be publishing the Plan for a Pre-Submission Consultation (PSC). The Pre-Submission Consultation will be open for 6 weeks, during which time you will have the opportunity to look at the proposed policies and give us your feedback.
Over the past 20 years around 200 new dwellings have been approved in the Parish – 90 have been approved in the last 7 years! Over the coming 20 years, through to 2038, this Plan supports less than half that number. We cannot resist all development, but in this Plan, we have done our best to control it and to ensure that whatever is built during the Plan period delivers positive sustainable benefit to the community.
In determining the number of new homes the Plan should support, we have been and remain severely hampered by the lack of a new Uttlesford District Council Local Plan. The obligation on us, as a Steering Group, is to present a Neighbourhood Plan that provides for the development of no less housing than the Uttlesford District Council Local Plan allocates for Felsted. This obligation is clearly set out in Uttleford District Council Neighbourhood Plan Protocol document published in July 2016. The important extract is as follows:
‘… this could result in the Neighbourhood Plan being overridden if it does not allocate at least the minimum amount of development allocated in the Local Plan…(Appendix 3 page 22)
Though Uttlesford District Council has been extremely helpful and supportive in many other ways, the Authority has been unable to tell us what is that ‘minimum amount of development allocated’ to Felsted. So, without that guidance, we have had to establish our own mechanism for identifying appropriate development limits. We have tried to meet our obligation to take a positive approach to sustainable development by identifying projects that offer the greatest community benefits, deliver some of the identified objectives, contribute to the vision for the Parish and finally – in the face of concerted and understandable objection to any further development in the Parish – fairly distribute development for the benefit of the whole community.
We are now in the final stages of finalising your Plan and we aim to publish around the end of May.
Thank you all for your continued patience and support.
Felsted Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
The Localism Act 2011 introduced a new type of community-led plan giving communities the right to produce a Neighbourhood Plan. The Neighbourhood Plan is intended to set out policies on the land use in a neighbourhood or parish area. Neighbourhood Plans are subject to examination by an independent inspector and a parish-wide referendum before they come into effect.
Neighbourhood Plans are important documents against which all planning applications will be judged. They will help shape neighbourhood environments for the next 20 years. The Neighbourhood Plan cannot actually deliver any development but it can guide any development that the local authority or a planning inspector permits to take place.
A great deal of work around public attitudes to the issues facing our community was previously conducted during the preparation of the Parish Plan, but the Neighbourhood Plan needs to go much further and define a vision for the future of the whole parish of Felsted.
YOUR VIEWS MATTER
You can make suggestions at any time by clicking on Contact Us, or, if you prefer, you can submit your views by completing our – Setting the Agenda for Consultation booklet, please click on the pdf link below. Please note – This PDF file can be modified using the standard version of Adobe Reader. You should download the PDF file, then open the file and enter your views into the text boxes provided. Click here to open the consultation (PDF format). You MUST complete both the Submitted By text box and the Post Code text box at the bottom of the first page. The completion of the other text boxes, below each of the 7 headings, is optional. Please save the completed PDF file on your computer and return it as an e-mail attachment to email@example.com.
Towards the end of 2014, Felsted formed a Steering Group and decided that our community would produce a Neighbourhood Plan based on the parish boundary to bring the community together and to help us build lasting partnerships to take the plan forward. The Steering Group has drafted a vision statement and has ‘brain stormed’ a few initial outline ideas to help guide us through the process and to provoke debate. We will continue to gather evidence and consult widely in the community. There is ample opportunity to add, alter, amend and critique the work we have done so far and to make suggestions, radical or moderate. Beyond this brief Legislative Background section, nothing has yet been decided or even formally proposed. It is early days and as yet we have no fixed views!
It is important to realise that saying no to all development is NOT AN OPTION when preparing a Neighbourhood Plan. The plan can seek to guide where homes and business premises should be built, taking into account the Local Authority’s assessment of housing and other development needs. With the recent rejection by inspectors of the Uttlesford District Plan, deciding what we want our parish to look like in coming years is now of critical importance.
Felsted Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group