The following are articles originally published in the The Gazette and give a flavour of how the process evolved for the creation of our Village Design Statement during 2015 - 18

The Gazette December 2015

Neighbourhood Plan

Your Parish Council is gathering information about the benefits of preparing a Neighbourhood Plan for our villages of Elmdon, Duddenhoe End, Wenden Lofts and Pond Street Upper and Lower). Uttlesford Council supports the idea. The advantage for us would be that we should have some say in any future housing applications, not to prevent them altogether but to be able to influence where they should be sited and what kind of houses would be suitable. Our hope is that with a Plan in place we would be able to prevent our beautiful villages and our countryside from being ruined by indiscriminate development.

A Neighbourhood Plan involves all the community so we do need to know your views. We also need to know, if we go ahead, who in the community would be willing to be part of a working group to set up the plan and carry it forward. In Elmdon we already have a community group and we hope that some of them will be willing to join the working party. Establishing the plan is a complicated process (and expensive, although grants are available) and could take at least eighteen months to set up. It may well be of benefit to us in the long run, though, and is therefore worth exploring.

We have enlisted the help of the Rural Community Council of Essex and their first step will be to carry out a Housing Needs Survey to cover all our villages. This is an independent and confidential survey, providing us with a better understanding of what, if any, housing needs there are or are likely to be. We can go ahead with this before finally deciding if a Neighbourhood Plan will be viable. As this survey would form part of our evidence base for the Neighbourhood Plan it will address any need for open and affordable housing, thus providing a good overall picture of the requirements of our communities now and in the future.

Do please complete this survey if you have, or expect to have, any housing needs (for example a member of your family who would love to live in the area but who would require a housing association affordable house to do so). If you have no such needs, there would be no point in your completing the survey. We hope to make a final decision on whether to go ahead with a Neighbourhood Plan at our meeting on 16th February as the housing needs survey will not be completed until the middle of January.

We shall very soon be sending round a leaflet to all the houses in our villages explaining the Neighbourhood Plan idea in more detail, asking for your approval (or not) and also for potential volunteers for a working group.


The Gazette December 2016

The Village Design Statement (VDS)

It was decided at a meeting (to which all residents were invited) in the Duddenhoe End Village Hall on the 30th August 2016 that the villages of Elmdon, Duddenhoe End, Pond Street and Wenden Lofts would combine resources and prepare a village design statement for each. A committee has been formed to oversee this.

It is clear that new development in the villages will occur and it should be welcomed if it enhances the environment. Inevitably there will be some opposition. The VDS is a way of making sure as far as is reasonable that this inevitable development has the democratic approval of all residents and other interested parties. The VDS is a document officially approved by the planning authorities and accepted by them as valid for the purposes of future development and the preservation of local amenities. It has the status of material consideration in any planning decisions.

It is important that stipulated procedures be followed – the most important being that everyone young and old, rich and poor be consulted and their views taken into account and reflected.

The most logical approach seems firstly to decide what needs to be done.

The “what” is described as follows:

  • Assessment of the character of the built and natural environment.

  • Views and opinions about various elements of character and aspirations for the future. Guidelines about the design of future development (including an attempt to influence permitted development).

  • The committee is therefore working on the following:

  • Preparing a map of the villages with descriptions of what is built and the purpose for which it is used on each property and which are vacant or derelict. A lot of work has already been done for Elmdon. Have a look at http://

  • Preparing an ancillary map of the villages and surrounding areas showing the use to which the land is put. Items of interest worth preserving should be recorded. People will have different views on this. Some examples may be the bluebell woods, the remaining elm trees in Elmdon, the cricket field in Elmdon, the churches – hopefully there will be people who could become quite keen on something like this and will have views.

  • Determining areas, locations or types where future development could be beneficial. For example, there are some barns in the middle of Elmdon which could qualify, perhaps Essex barn style bungalows for OAPs somewhere, or homes for 20-year-olds. New homes on unused land within the villages could also be considered.

We are looking for your reaction to the VDS. The committee will be responsible for preparing the maps mentioned in 1. and 2. above. But we would be interested in your views about what needs preserving.

Please give thought to 3. above and let us have your views about the type of development you wish to see and the type that you definitely do not want to have. It would be helpful, if you are aware of any proposed or impending development, to come forward and tell the committee.

The make-up of the committee is mostly Elmdonians with Duddenhoe End, Wenden Lofts and Pond Street being represented by Ian Donaldson. We would like to see one or two more. If you are interested and willing, please let us know.

There will be further communications to let you know of progress. Hopefully we will not be faced with a mass outbreak of rural apathy.

Contact either Ian Donaldson: or Peter Syfret: with any thoughts, opinions, invective, kind words or rude remarks you may wish to impart.


The Gazette April 2017

The future of our villages

In the previous article for The Gazette the establishment of a committee to prepare a Village Design Statement (VDS) was described. The purpose is to set up a plan for the future development of our villages which is formally recognised by the planning authorities. We will have as much of a say as possible as to what development occurs rather than forming ad hoc protest groups when a development is proposed which is uncongenial. The most recent proposal in Elmdon involving a large housing estate which led to the formation of the Elmdon Community Group is an obvious case in point.

Villages cannot be preserved unchanged forever. We need to think of the future and what the effects of macroeconomic forces will be. We are in a growing part of the world. Cambridge is close and London is not far away. Many thousands of houses will be needed. While accepting that there will be changes there is an even greater need to cooperate with the planning authorities from a position of strength and protect what we have from unwanted encroachments.

We need to think very carefully about all this. We live here for a number of reasons. Our environment and the opportunities for recreation and leisure are clearly among them. We must think of ways in which we can improve these and build on what we already have. The main attribute of our villages is that they are in a deeply rural environment. We probably take for granted such things as unencumbered views, bird song, and the fact that there are miles of paths and bridleways for our use. Walking is the recreational activity involving most people. The countryside is lovely in the Spring, particularly our bluebell woods. Much can be lost if we are apathetic.

The parish has a lovely cricket ground which is used for football in the winter and the village fête. It has won prizes for the best kept ground in Essex on a number of occasions. The ground is on a lease and when it expires the villages have no hold on the usage of the facility. It can easily be lost. We have two village halls. Our thatched church is one of only three in England.

There are a number of organised activities: a Bridge school on Mondays, Music Box on Thursdays, the library in the Elmdon church, seniors lunch and summer outing assisted financially by the fête. Other leisure activities include the annual croquet competition, the Harvest Supper, the Church’s hog roast, the book club, the wine club, Father Christmas, Carol service and others. The Duddenhoe End village hall is used regularly for quiz nights, Pilates, keep fit sessions, and is very popular for children’s parties.

What should we be doing to build and improve on what we have? What we do not cherish we risk losing.

As mentioned in the previous article, we will be asking for your views on all matters relating to future development in our villages as it is essential for the VDS to incorporate the opinions of all residents. The purpose of this article is to provide some food for thought and put you on notice that we shall soon be sending a questionnaire to all households to canvass people’s views on this subject which is close to all our hearts.

The VDS committee comprises Ian Donaldson, Bob Woods, Ali Porritt, Penelope Gaine, Susanne Reich, Sarah Westerhuis, Jonathon Hall and Peter Syfret. Please feel free to contact any one of them if you have questions or wish to express your views.