Uttlesford District Council recently submitted its Draft Uttlesford Local Plan (“the DULP”). Certain parts of the DULP which relate to Stansted Airport have been highlighted by Stansted Airport Watch (SAW) as being potentially detrimental to the interests of communities which, whilst lying outside the District of Uttlesford, are affected by Airport activities. These include our parish.

Following a review of the DULP the Parish Council has submitted the following objection on Monday 18th December 2023:

This is the response of Much Hadham Parish Council (“MHPC”) to the Draft Uttlesford Local Plan (“ULP”).

By way of background, as well as the village of Much Hadham, the Parish includes the hamlets of Green Tye and Perry Green and covers an area of some seven square miles. The Parish lies approximately eight miles south-west of Stansted Airport, well within its footprint. Matters relating to the Airport and its operations therefore are of direct relevance to out parish.

As is to be expected, a great deal of the ULP addresses matters local to that district and do not directly concern us. However, there are two matters of wider significance which are of relevance to our parish, to which we wish to raise objection. The first relates to UDC’s proposed planning policy concerning Stansted Airport and its potential for the area around Stansted (including our parish) to be further adversely affected by aircraft noise. The second relates to the need to protect the green spaces in this area of the Hertfordshire/Essex border against the onslaught of building development.

We take these matters in turn.

1: Core Policy 11: London Stansted Airport

In common with many other parishes in the area, Much Hadham is affected by aircraft noise. Aircraft taking off from Stansted Airport tracking D22BZD are supposed to pass to the east of Much Hadham village but in practice it is not uncommon for them to pass directly overhead, starting to throttle back only as they do so. The Parish is also affected by noise from aircraft coming in to land, as they follow the ILS Glidescope on their descent towards the airport. The noise of aircraft taking off is intrusive and a matter of common complaint and discussion within the parish, particularly in the summer months when there are more flights, including flights throughout the night, and with a number of successive flights taking off from (and sometimes before) 0600 hrs. The detrimental effect of aircraft noise on physical and mental health is well documented and need not be repeated here.

In the circumstance any matter which may affect the volume of aircraft activity or changes in the flight paths of aircraft landing or taking off from Stansted Airport is of concern to our parish.

Core Policy 11 of the  ULP’s draft policy is significantly more supportive towards the expansion of Stansted Airport than is provided under Government policy. As such, it requires to be amended. In this regard it appears that UDC would support the possibility of a second runway being constructed. To bring Core Policy 11 into line with national policy will require that it be amended to provide that UDC planning policy will (i) support making “best use” of the existing Stansted runway to achieve the current permitted annual maximum throughput of 43 million passengers (for which planning permission already has been granted), and (ii) will oppose any application to construct a second runway (which, if it ever were built, inevitably would form the basis of applications for further increases in aircraft and passenger capacity in due course).

2: Core Policy 12: changes to permitted development in the Countryside Protection Zone (“CPZ”)

As long ago as 1995, UDC designated the CPZ (being an area around the airport perimeter) which was to be protected from development. The purpose of this policy was clear: to protect the rural area around the airport from the kind of sprawling, untidy, “joined up” urban development that has occurred for example around Heathrow Airport. With  significant building projects underway across the Hertfordshire/Essex border area it is essential that safeguards against such development be maintained in order to protect the quality and balance of the local environment.

Until the publication of the ULP, the integrity of the CPZ  has been consistently respected by UDC, regardless of which political party has been in control, and a policy of not permitting housing or other kinds of commercial development in the area around the airport boundary has been maintained.

However, in paragraphs 6.31 to 6.33 and Appendix 7 of the draft ULP it is proposed for the first time that the protection against inappropriate development provided by the CPZ be removed across a large part of the zone. At a time when the quality of the physical environment across the area of the country which we share with Stansted Airport is under threat, we strongly urge that this aspect of the  ULP be struck out from the draft and that the policy be amended to provide that the safeguards provided by the CPZ be maintained in full.