The approval of a 119-home estate and a 66-bed care home along Parsonage Road in Takeley is a sign of further creeping development in the Countryside Protection Zone (CPZ), which is supposed to prevent the green belt around Stansted Airport from turning into concrete and tarmac.
Alarmed by the prospect of more planning applications, Takeley Parish Council member Peter Hewett, who also chairs the Takeley Park Residents Association, has launched a petition campaign to protect the CPZ from further developments.
A 2016 report on the CPZ by Uttlesford-appointed independent consultants noted that the CPZ “helps to maintain the openness of the countryside and protects its rural character and restrict the spread of development from the airport. For some parcels, particularly to the south of the airport, the CPZ plays an essential role in protecting the separate identity of individual settlements.” It added that “the CPZ is helping to maintain the vision of the ‘airport in the countryside’. Unless other planning policy considerations suggest otherwise, we recommend that the CPZ is carried forward into the new Local Plan.”
However, with Uttlesford District Council’s (UDC) local plan judged unsound by planning inspectors in January, Cllr Hewett has raised concerns that the CPZ will be a new target for aggressive development by house-builders that threatens merge local settlements and the airport.
In a letter to district and parish councillors in the local area, he wrote: “Over the last decade there have been some notable planning applications that have been approved for significant developments within this zone.”
With no approved Local Plan, many local parish councillors fear a free-for-all in the CPZ as a result of decisions by the local planning authority and the government’s planning inspectorate.
Cllr Hewitt highlighted the 2016 report’s conclusion which noted the “potential level of harm to the CPZ associated with the release of parcels is moderate or high for all parcels within the CPZ” and warned that “the downgrading of the Dunmow Road following the construction of the A120 provided opportunities for development to occur along the road which is incongruous with the purpose of the CPZ.”
The planning inspectorate’s decision to allow the development along Parsonage Lane is evidence that the CPZ is under serious threat from large development corporations.
In November, I raised my own concerns about the Residents for Uttlesford party’s policy towards the CPZ following the approval of a 130-home development in Elsenham which lies within the zone. I stated: “If polices are summarily waived in this way, we will have planning chaos and unlimited speculative development – precisely the problem R4U claimed it would stop!”
It is time that the UDC administration takes seriously the erosion of the CPZ, or Stansted, Elsenham and Takeley will start to coalesce with the airport. While the council’s planning committee overturned a previous decision to approve the expansion in airport passenger numbers, for communities around the airport the erosion of the CPZ is an immediate pressing issue.
Takeley Parish Council is planning to write to local MP Kemi Baddenoch about its concerns and is petitioning UDC to highlight the value of the CPZ to the local communities surrounding the airport.
The petition “requests Uttlesford District Council to urge the Government to give greater recognition to the Countryside Protection Zone around Stansted Airport. It is our green belt equivalent and if the Countryside Protection Zone were recognised as such it would afford more weight in the context of the National Planning Policy Framework”.
If you want to preserve the green buffer between your community and the airport, you can sign the petition on Change.org.
Alternatively, click on the button below to download the petition, print it and get it signed:
Send it to Peter Hewitt at:
91a Takeley Park
Hatfield Broadoak Road