The Planning Policy Team Leader said representations for the chapter raised issues about the appropriate density and mix of schemes in Uttlesford, as well the affordability of affordable housing.
Councillor Dean noted representations said standards for housing density allowed for a greater density of houses than in East Hertfordshire and South Cambridgeshire. He asked whether officers could confirm whether Uttlesford’s standards were different to elsewhere and why. The size of dwellings in the UK was on average smaller than other European countries, which negatively affected living conditions.
Councillor Mills said Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) principles proposed 20-30 houses per hectare. This should be the target for the new Garden Communities in Uttlesford, though there might be some areas where the density would be slightly higher. This would be less dense than some of the conventional developments over the past ten years. The health of the community would also play into the design of the houses, and the Council would be looking to reinforce this when the planning came forward.
In response to a question from Councillor Mills, the Planning Policy Team Leader said he would look into whether density was measured by an entire area or just the density of housing located in that area. There was a tension between low density sites with open spaces versus best use of land. If developments were not dense enough, then they might not be able to support a public transport route, as many houses would not be in walking distance of the public transport route.
Councillor Lodge said Policy H1 was aiming to build 35-60 houses per hectare in town centres and then between 30-50 house per hectare adjacent to a settlement. It seemed relative to the environment that Uttlesford was looking at too many.
The Chairman said officers would take this under consideration and come back to the group about the issue.
Councillor Lees said many representations suggested the housing mix was wrong. She asked how the Council would get the appropriate housing mix, and whether those parish councils without neighbourhood plans would be being consulted. The number of bungalows seemed to be a big issue, and some elderly people would want a greater availability of bungalows.
The Planning Policy Team Leader said there needed to be an evidence base to show that a different housing mix was required. The Chairman said the Council should look to update its evidence.
Councillor Barker said the Strategic Housing Market Assessment made recommendations for Uttlesford’s housing mix, and it was completed by experts in the field. The Council should have regard for this.
Councillor Lees said studies only answered questions that had been asked at the start of the study.
Councillor Mills said the indicative levels for housing mix would need to be taken forward to the regulation 19 plan. There was also government policy pointing to the release of larger houses for those wanting to move into smaller homes, and this was seen as an important way to meet housing requirements.