The deployment of traffic monitoring equipment on Rainsford Road and Croasdaile Road is a harbinger of a major planning application at Bentfield.
Local residents have taken to social media to voice their anxieties over the developer’s decision to monitor traffic on Rainsford Road during half term, when Bentfield Primary pupils will not be driven to school. The move is bound to skew results to bolster the case for the road being used as a conduit for traffic from a potential development.
An Uttlesford District Council planning official tried to assuage the fears of one resident, writing “Please be assured that time and duration of traffic counts will be carefully considered when the highway submission is considered by the Essex Highways within the submitted planning application.”
Given Essex Highways’ past refusal to acknowledge that new Elsenham housing development places increasing strain on Stansted’s roads, the planning official has not reassured many local residents who fear the narrow residential roads in the Bentfield housing estate will turn into a peak-time rat run for commuters.
Several sites are in the frame for development. In October, Bishop’s Stortford Independent reported on Bloor Homes’ plans for a 199-house estate next to Pennington Lane, a quiet country lane. The proposed estate is adjacent to the Walpole Meadows estate, which is still under construction, and the site listed as 07Sta15 in UDC’s strategic land assessment for Stansted.
Taylor Wimpey’s plans were defeated in January 2014 following an appeal against Uttlesford’s refusal to grant housing developer Taylor Wimpey planning permission for a 140-home estate. The council’s assessment for the site, however, suggests that a 70-home estate would be “achievable and the site is suitable subject to the capacity of the highway network and any necessary highway mitigation measures” and would be deliverable within five years.
The site promoter said in 2015 that “vehicular access [to the estate] would take the form of an extension to Rainsford Road at its junction with Pennington Lane” and that “existing junction priorities would be altered, so that the major arm becomes Rainsford”. This is why we are now seeing the vehicle monitoring tubes across Rainsford Road.
During Taylor Wimpey’s appeal hearing back in November 2013, UDC’s five-year land supply for housing was crucial to the case made by local campaigners. With UDC’s land supply now at 2.7 years and the local plan in tatters following a damning verdict by government inspectors, my feeling that Stansted will be besieged by developers may come true.
It is not simply about the village taking on more development having already seen its population expand by a third in little more than a decade. The key problem is that we will have less leverage over developers to secure the infrastructure necessary to support growth. Development may go ahead with less than the community was previously offered – a new primary school and four football pitches.