4th December 2023
Member letter 1st December 2023
Further to my letter of 3 November, our Special General Meeting took place, as planned, on 29 November and our members voted overwhelmingly to support the resolution. Accordingly, the Executive Committee will now proceed with the transition from Stansted Airport Watch (‘SAW’) to the Stansted Airport Watch Foundation (‘the SAW Foundation’).
It may take several months to complete the transition, during which time we will continue to play an active role in airport-related issues, so far as we reasonably can.
During the transition period we will not be asking members to renew their subscriptions but we will continue to encourage donations, which could help us to exceed our current projection of being able to transfer around £90,000 to the SAW Foundation. This will be invested with the aim of achieving long term capital growth. As previously advised, by establishing the SAW Foundation, we will be laying down the seed-corn for the future. In particular, if the threat of a second Stansted runway re-emerges, funds would be available from the outset to kick-start a new campaign.
I will write to you once more when we are close to completing the transition to advise you of the final completion date, to set out how we will deal with outstanding issues, and to provide contact details for the SAW Foundation.
In the meantime, an immediate priority is to respond to the Draft Uttlesford Local Plan (‘ULP’) and we would encourage all our members and supporters to do so, whether or not you are a resident of Uttlesford. The ULP is an extremely important document because it will form the basis for all planning decisions within Uttlesford over the next decade and beyond. You can view the draft ULP at https://www.uttlesford.gov.uk/2023-Draft-Plan-Consultation, where there is also advice on how to respond to the consultation.
We have two main concerns about the draft ULP, as follows:
i. The proposal to allow housing and other development on the Countryside Protection Zone (‘CPZ’) south of the airport.
As far back as 1985, when the Government decided that Stansted should be London’s Third Airport, there was a promise that Stansted would be the ‘Airport in the Countryside’. Sprawling development, as seen around Gatwick and Heathrow, would not be permitted at Stansted.
In 1995, the vision of an Airport in the Countryside was reinforced by UDC with the designation of the CPZ around the airport perimeter. Ever since 1995, the CPZ policy has been consistently maintained by UDC, regardless of which political party was running the Council.
Only airport-related businesses would be permitted on the airport site and local planning policy would prohibit housing, commercial and other development adjacent to the airport boundary. The aim is to prevent urbanisation by restricting development which could cause coalescence – i.e., a joining up – between the airport and surrounding settlements and other built-up areas.
The draft ULP proposes to declassify a large part of the CPZ (see paragraphs 6.31 to 6.33 and Appendix 7). We encourage you to object to this proposal in the strongest possible terms.
ii. Proposed UDC policy towards the expansion of Stansted Airport.
We know from bitter experience that there is little value in UDC having a local planning policy on airport expansion which is directly contrary to Government policy. However, it is extremely concerning to see, in the draft ULP, that the proposed policy towards the expansion of Stansted Airport is far more liberal and supportive than even Government policy!
Core Policy 11 in the Draft ULP needs to be amended to make clear that, in line with Government policy, UDC planning policy will support making “best use” of the existing Stansted runway (defined as a throughput of 43 million passengers per annum, and for which planning permission has already been granted) but will not support a second Stansted runway.
You can respond to the draft ULP by email to email@example.com or by post to:
Local Plan Team
Uttlesford District Council
The closing date for responses to the consultation is 18 December so please do not delay.
Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous 2024 and, as always, to thank you for your ongoing support.