Planning by appeal strikes again as 1,200-home scheme wins permission
There is bitter disappointment over the government’s decision to grant, on appeal, a scheme for up to 1,200 homes between Little Easton and Great Dunmow.
The plans had been put forward by LS Easton Park Development, which also wanted to build a care home, business space and primary school at the site, near Highwood Quarry.
However, Uttlesford District Council’s planning committee rejected the proposals in October 2021, saying they were harmful to the environment.
Predictably – in an age of planning by appeal – the developer launched its appeal in February this year and Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, duly granted planning permission on Monday, September 11.
He concluded the scheme would not harm heritage assets in the area, with only slight impact on the Little Easton Conservation Area or Church of St Mary the Virgin.
The appeal report noted: “The Secretary of State considers that there are no protective policies which provide a clear reason for refusing the development proposed.
“He further considers that the adverse impacts of granting permission would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.”
However, protest group Stop Easton Park – formed to campaign against the 2017 Uttlesford Local Plan proposal to build a new town of 10,000 homes on the site of nearby Easton Park – has slated the size of the development, saying it will increase urban sprawl and cause gridlock on the B1256.
Vincent Thompson, founder of Stop Easton Park and who has written for CPRE Essex, said: “This decision by the Secretary of State is deeply disappointing and has caused great upset in the local community.
“It demonstrates a legalistic approach taken to extremes without proper regard for the heritage and landscape of Great Dunmow and the surrounding villages.
“It shows the heavy hand of central government inflicting its political agenda to build yet further houses in this highly developed area without regard to local concerns.
“The arguments against this development have been comprehensively and persuasively presented by Uttlesford District Council and others but ignored by the SoS on the basis of land-supply figures that are now months out of date.”
We can only share Vincent’s frustration and upset – the planning system has failed Essex yet again.