Uttlesford Citizens Advice response to UDC draft Local Plan

Uttlesford Citizens Advice has been asked to provide an opinion on proposed development within the district.  The Board of Trustees of Uttlesford Citizens Advice have therefore issued the following statement.

The key objectives of Citizens Advice are to support people with the problems they face and to use our day to day experiences to inform decision makers on the policies and practices that impact people’s lives.

During the last year we helped 3,056 people, of which:

·         378 needed help with debt related enquiries

·         413 were supported with housing issues

·         1171 were advised on benefit issues including disability related benefits

Using the insights we gained from these clients we are aware of the chronic lack of affordable housing in the district.  Uttlesford Citizens Advice therefore supports plans to increase the provision of low cost housing for rental and private purchase and would welcome the availability of more supported housing together with intergenerational accommodation that could provide solutions for households on low income because of:

·         Care responsibilities, (for young children, people with disabilities, elderly relatives or family members with long term ill health)

·         Ill health including mental health

·         Low pay, difficulty securing regular hours of work or variable work hours

We are also aware that physical access to services and the cost and provision of public transport are consistent issues within our client base.  Therefore the delivery of infrastructure ahead of new housing completions will be crucial. Particularly:

·         Low cost transport options including pathways for walking and cycling

·         Regular, subsidised or free bus transport options

·         Affordable and accessible parking

·         Access to advice services, district council services, employment support, mental health services and community support

·         Facilities such as schools, GP surgeries, shops and cashpoints within a reasonable travel distance

·         Community facilities to prevent isolation and encourage community cohesion, such as sports centres, day centres, outdoor community space and youth services