Elsenham Village

A new cosmology

The Fairfield development plans are riddled with flaws and driven by greed. They claim to be building much needed homes but that is not true. The houses we need are those already in the pipeline. All the extra houses will become very difficult to sell for a number of reasons and will pull down the values of existing property. Firstly the development is not in Elsenham at all its over the border (Approximately the Railway) into Henham. On the wrong side of the railway, the facilities of Elsenham will be difficult to get to and this will get worse as the railway gets ever busier and the level crossing gates open for ever shorter periods until eventually the time between trains will not be enough to bother to open them at all. The only option then is the foot bridge which is so high few will be able to manage it and nobody with Prams etc will be able to until the lifts are built. Going on past performances the lifts will not be built until enough houses are built to spread the cost, provided they are sold. Then how do we keep the rowdy destructive youth out of them?

Spare a thought for those first buying houses there, They will have nothing, Elsenham’s School is full, the Doctors surgery is over subscribed, what retail we have is strictly limited to Ambrose corner and the Station, all too small to provide reasonable shopping prices. There is one Pub apparently failing, an Indian takeaway and a hairdresser. Against all odds the Post Office has survived.

I have seen many proposed development plans and they all share common faults. There is a minimum amount of parking for each house and often the garage is counted, however, many have checked the drawings and while a car can be driven in they often then cannot open a door to get out. All those with such garages use them for storage and park in the street but sadly one or both passing or parking cars must mount the pavement to keep the street open to cars, (Emergency Vehicle access is going to be a problem,) in a rural environment 2 cars is seen as a minimum per family plus the kids as they grow up and one of those vehicles is likely to be a Chelsea Tractor.

Recreational space is a problem too as the space being built on was the existing householder’s space the only other spaces with all the developments in place are either owned by the Parish Council or in private hands and will soon prove to be inadequate. for example the Cemetery and the Church graveyard are nearly full.


Unlike most applications for building consent, that of the Crown Estate was different in that we understood we were being offered a new Village Hall as part of the plan. This significantly affected our attitude towards it but it seems it was a ruse. The Crown Estates requested a private meeting with the Parish Council which we initially declined.

A compromise was reached whereby the first half of the meeting was held in committee with the public excluded then open to the public for the second half. On the basis that I didn’t want to breech any confidences I asked if there was anything in the first part which was in any way confidential before the public were admitted, the Crown Estates representative assured me there was not, so I was free to discus publicly all that had just been discussed in private.

Naturally the key topic of the following discussion was the new Village Hall. The Crown Estates representative then explained that he was new to the post and so not bound by anything his predecessor had said and that we were not going to get a new hall rather we were to expect a piece of land, the hall to be provided later by all the area developers contributing to its cost.

Naturally we on the Council felt our trust had been abused and made it very clear that we felt that the Crown Estate had reneged on the earlier understanding. We did not care who was in post then or now as all such persons had been received as authorised agents of the Crown Estates.

Now we understand that the consent contract clause 106 includes the Hall and overall consent will not be signed off by Uttlesford District Council without the Hall.  If we have been duped and it turns out that the Hall is not part of the package then we will begin to campaign strongly against the plan making it very clear how we were fooled.  

Bonfires and the law

It is a common misconception  that there are specific bylaws prohibiting garden bonfires or specifying times they can be lit but there aren't. However, this is not a  licence for indiscriminate burning! Occasionally a bonfire is the best  practicable way to dispose of woody or diseased waste that cannot be  composted. And bonfires are used to mark traditional celebrations especially November 5th.

Under the Environmental  Protection Act 1990 (as amended) it is an offence for people to dispose  of their domestic waste in a way likely to cause pollution of the  environment or harm to human health. In practice you should not burn  waste that is likely to create excessive smoke or noxious fumes. If only dry garden waste is burnt, your bonfire should not cause a problem.

Most bonfire problems are  addressed under nuisance legislation. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, a statutory nuisance includes "smoke, fumes or gases emitted  from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance." In  practice a fire would have to be a recurrent persistent problem,  interfering substantially with neighbours' well-being, comfort or  enjoyment of their property.

If a bonfire of industrial or commercial waste is emitting black smoke it  is dealt with under the Clean Air Act 1993  this includes the burning  of such material in your garden! Under section 34 of the Environmental  Protection Act 1990 it is illegal to dispose of waste that is not from  your property for example from your workplace or from a neighbour. For example, small tradesmen must not burn waste from site at  home.

How do I complain about a bonfire?

If bothered by smoke,  approach your neighbour and explain the problem. You might feel awkward  but they may not be aware of the distress they are causing and it will  hopefully make them more considerate in the future. If this fails,  environmental health at your local council should be notified. They must investigate your complaint and must issue a notice under the  Environmental Protection Act 1990 if they consider a nuisance is being  caused. The Act also allows you to take private action in the  magistrates court. However, if a fire is a one-off it may be difficult  to prove a nuisance. Similarly, if you are troubled from bonfires from  different neighbours, each only burning occasionally, a nuisance action  would be difficult as there are several offenders. In this situation  encourage them to consider the alternatives, give them a copy of this  leaflet! Finally, under section 161A of the Highways Act 1980, anyone  lighting a fire and allowing smoke to drift across a road faces a fine  if it endangers traffic or causes injury. Contact the police if this is  the case.


Barbecues can also cause  smoke and odour problems especially if you use lighter fuel. Again, be considerate. Warn your neighbours, and don't light up if they have  washing out. If it is windy make sure smoke won't blow directly into neighbouring properties and keep the noise down.