Winter 2019 Update

Progress of Epping Forest District Council’s (EFDC) Submission Version Local Plan (SVLP)

EFDC is currently working on addressing the 39 Actions (Main Modifications) required by the Planning Inspector in order that its Local Plan can be found “Sound”. In particular, the Inspector is very concerned about the impact that housing development and increased traffic movements would have on the integrity of Epping Forest, especially in terms of greater recreational pressure and the effect of atmospheric pollution on the Forest and its habitat, most of which is a Special Area of Conservation, having both National and European recognition and status. Natural England and the Conservators of Epping Forest both raised objections to EFDC’s Local Plan and spoke at the Examination in Public. EFDC is now having to carry out a programme of additional work, which will take approximately 6 months, in order to attempt to address these specific concerns over air pollution.

TBAG shares these crucial concerns on the air pollution caused by excessive, unsustainable, housing numbers and traffic movements in our District.  The loss of Green Belt land, along with its agricultural use, hedges, trees and grassland, to make way for housing development and associated infrastructure, will result in less carbon dioxide (a Greenhouse Gas) being removed from the atmosphere which will exacerbate the increasing climate change emergency around London. A recent Report (4 Nov 2019) by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London’s Green Belt has stated the positive impact of the Green Belt on people’s mental health and physical well-being, local food production, and the capital’s ability to address the climate emergency such as supporting the targets set out in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. The Report says there is little evidence of “affordable homes” being built in the Green Belt, despite the fact that there is space for well over 280,000 homes on previously developed brownfield land within Greater London alone. Developers will always favour building on “shovel ready” sites in the Green Belt rather than brownfield sites in London, as they can make a bigger profit. Furthermore, the Government’s definition of an affordable home is 80% of the actual market price, which would still be out of the reach of most young people in Epping Forest District!

The All-Party Parliamentary Group also recommends that the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) be reviewed and amended to ensure that the Green Belt is better protected from inappropriate development. TBAG shares this view and would add that Permitted Development (that which can be carried out without gaining Planning Permission) should not apply in the Green Belt. Unfortunately, the Government, in its quest for economic “Growth”, has sacrificed the protection of the Green Belt, in spite of its continued assurances “To protect our precious Green Belt land” which is “Absolutely sacrosanct” and this has effectively forced Local Authorities to allow developers to build on Green Belts through the process of creating new Local Plans.

It is also of some concern that Transport for London (TfL) had stated that capacity on the Central Line would be improved and should not act as a deterrent to planned growth in the Local Plan, including of course the homes TfL plans to build on its own station car parks from Buckhurst Hill to Epping. However, we now learn that a reduced service between Debden and Epping, during peak hours, is planned for the New Year, albeit that this is indicated as being a temporary measure. 

Local Planning Matters

Blunts Farm, Coopersale Lane The application to build 3 new dwellings in place of agricultural buildings (EPF/0597/19) was refused by the planning officer on the grounds of inappropriate development which would be harmful to the rural character of this unsustainable Green Belt site. This decision is consistent with earlier refusals for new housing development at Blunts Farm.                                                                    

TBAG extends season’s greetings to all villagers and wishes you all the very best for the New Year.

Autumn 2019 Update

Local Planning Matters

Theydon Bois Action Group (TBAG) continues to have a good ‘track record’ for successfully objecting to inappropriate developments in the Green Belt.

Three recent Appeal dismissals

Hydes Riding School, Abridge Road/Coopersale Lane – The Planning Inspector (PI) has dismissed the Appeal (Ref:3215238) which included plans to build a 24-hour security hut on this Green Belt site. TBAG had made an additional representation to the PI.

Blunts Farmhouse (now Ivy House), Coopersale Lane – Appeal (Ref:3226161) was also dismissed by the Planning Inspector. He agreed with comments made by Epping Forest District Council and local interest groups, including TBAG, that the unlawful decking and footpath were harmful urban encroachments into the Green Belt.

Lillicroft Nurseries, Abridge Road – TBAG submitted a strong objection to thePlanning Inspector regarding this proposal to build a replacement, and much larger, bungalow deeper within the Nursery site. The Planning Inspector dismissed the Appeal (Ref:3218732) as he considered this would be harmful to the openness of the Green Belt.


Applications awaiting decision

Mossford Green Nursery, Abridge Road – Awaiting a decision by EFDC regarding an application (EPF/3379/18), recently amended with a reduction to 17 dwellings. TBAG submitted a strong objection to this proposed residential development on an isolated Green Belt site.

Blunts Farm, Coopersale Lane – TBAG has submitted a strong objection to a new application (EPF/0597/19) to build 3 new dwellings in place of agricultural buildings at Blunts Farm. This proposal would clearly contravene Local Plan Policies and the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework. Two similar applications for new dwellings were refused by EFDC in 2013 and 2016. An appeal against refusal of the 2013 application was also dismissed by the Planning Inspector.

Piggotts Farm, Abridge Road – An application (EPF/1656/19) has been submitted for plans to build 6 new dwellings in place of 8 agricultural barns. Again, TBAG has submitted a strong objection on clear Green Belt Policy grounds. Farms and nurseries tend to be on rather remote or isolated locations. This makes them unsuitable and unsustainable for new residential development, which also spreads urban encroachment into the Green Belt.

Examination in Public (EiP) of Epping Forest District Council’s (EFDC) Local Plan            

Following the final hearing session of the Examination of Epping Forest District Council’s proposed new Local Plan on the 11th June 2019, the Planning Inspector produced her Advice and Interim Findings on the 2nd August, detailing what changes (Main Modifications -MM’s) are required to be made in order for the Plan to be found sound.  TBAG is pleased that the Inspector has asked for changes to be made to Policy DM12 – Subterranean, Basement Development on which the Chairman spoke at the Hearing.  We disagreed that basements should be allowed to be built under 50% of the garden area and argued that further restrictions should also be made on Green Belt land.  We were also pleased that EFDC accepted the need for the inclusion of Protected Lanes, such as Coopersale Lane, in Policy DM7 – Heritage Assets.  We are disappointed that the Inspector appears to allow EFDC to omit individual, specific Green Belt Policies and solely use the Government’s own Green Belt directives in their National Planning Policy Framework.  However, in the light of this, we expect EFDC to recognise and confirm the importance and significance of our Green Belt boundary, being the railway line and its embankment, as this fully complies with Government Policy on Green Belt boundaries.  We look to our elected representatives to ensure that this happens.

Sixteen String Jack Overdevelopment – TBAG’s Worst Fears Confirmed

Villagers are now realising just how much of an overdevelopment has taken place on the Sixteen String Jack site. TBAG had submitted numerous objections to the earlier plans and were the only Interest Group in Theydon Bois to object to the final plans which, in our opinion, should not have been granted planning permission. The flatted development is simply too tall and wide and with insufficient set back from the road.

We do not believe that it fully satisfied the reasons for refusal, which were made by the Government’s Planning Inspector in dismissing an earlier appeal. See the full letter of objection here.

Summer 2019 Update

Examination in Public (EiP) of Epping Forest District Council’s (EFDC) Local Plan     

The Examination of Epping Forest District Council’s proposed new Local Plan, at a series of Hearing sessions held by a Government Planning Inspector, began in February 2019 at the Civic Offices in Epping.  Theydon Bois Action Group’s (TBAG) Chairman has made both written representations and spoken at a number of these sessions in defence of our village and its surrounding Green Belt.  The new Local Plan (2011-2033), once approved by the Inspector, will determine where some 11,400 new homes will be built across the District.

The Hearing session dedicated to the proposed development of 57 new homes in Theydon Bois (Policy P8 of the new Local Plan) was held on 16th May.  TBAG’s Chairman made a strong representation to the Planning Inspector and EFDC that the Central Line railway and its embankment, which has been in existence since 1865, should continue to be recognised as the permanent, definitive and defensible Green Belt boundary separating the ‘urban’ development of Theydon Bois from its surrounding Green Belt countryside.  He emphasised the importance of having a boundary that is ‘readily recognisable’ and ‘likely to be permanent…in the long term’ as stated in the Green Belt section of the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework.  Should the existing railway line boundary be breached by built development on its eastern side, the next equally defensible boundaries would be Coopersale Lane and the M11/M25 motorways!  Ultimately, Theydon Bois would no longer be a village but would become a town. 

At earlier Hearing sessions, TBAG’s Chairman spoke on a variety of topics which could affect development in Theydon Bois.  Importantly, he argued for the retention of a number of existing Green Belt Policies which have been ‘tried and tested’ and served the District well under the present Local Plan but which have not been carried forward by EFDC in the new Local Plan.  He also asked for the continued inclusion of a Policy relating to Historic, Protected Lanes, including Coopersale Lane in Theydon Bois as this has been recognised by Planning Inspectors in various appeal decisions relating to development along Coopersale Lane.  Additionally, he requested that greater control should be exercised regarding the size of basement developments, particularly in the Green Belt and urged that stronger protection should be given to veteran trees on development sites. 

Local Planning Matters

Mossford Green Nursery, Abridge Road – Awaiting a decision by EFDC regarding anapplication (EPF/3379/18) to build 19 dwellings.  TBAG submitted a strong objection to this proposed residential development on an isolated Green Belt site.

Hydes Riding School, Abridge Road/Coopersale Lane – Awaiting Planning Inspector’s decisiononappeal (Ref:3215238) to which TBAG made a further representation.

Blunts Farmhouse (now Ivy House), Coopersale Lane –  An appeal (Ref:3226161) has been submitted to the Planning Inspector following the refusal of planning permission to retain the decking and new pathway to the pond.  TBAG will be making a further representation to the Planning Inspector.

Lillicroft Nurseries, Abridge Road  – TBAG submitted a further representation, regarding the 3 times larger replacement dwelling, to the Planning Inspector and requested that the appeal (Ref:3218732) be dismissed.

Winter 2018 Update

EFDC’s Submission Version of the Local Plan (SVLP) was finally submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in September 2018, after CK Properties Theydon Bois Ltd (who want  to develop the former Old Foresters sports ground, on Green Belt land, to the east of the railway line), had their application for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal refused.  A Planning Inspector has now been appointed and Theydon Bois Action Group (TBAG) has formally requested to speak at the Examination in Public which is expected to take place early in 2019.

Local Planning Matters

Hydes Riding School, Abridge Road/Coopersale Lane – Revised plans (EPF/0429/18) for a 24 hr residential security building in place of a stable were refused at Planning East Subcommittee, against the Officer’s recommendation to grant permission, on the grounds of inappropriate development in the Green Belt.

Blunts Farmhouse (now Ivy House), Coopersale Lane –  Following enforcement action by Epping Forest District Council (EFDC), a retrospective planning application (EPF/2169/18) was submitted, which included artificial landscaping features on agricultural land which was not part of the residential curtilage of the dwelling. TBAG objected to the large area of artificial grass and wooden decking around a previously natural pond which had been dredged and sanitised.  The application was subsequently refused by EFDC and we now await the return of this agricultural land to its former natural state.

Lillicroft Nurseries, Abridge Road  –  In August, the Planning Inspector dismissed the appeal (Ref.3195592), against a refusal by EFDC, to develop a replacement dwelling, 4 times the size of the existing dwelling.  A revised application (EPF/2550/18) has been submitted for a replacement dwelling which would be 3 times the size of the existing one and in a different location, deeper within the Green Belt site.  TBAG considers that this revised application does not address the reasons for the appeal dismissal and has submitted a further strong objection to EFDC.

Conflicting Government Planning Policies are undermining protection of the Green Belt.  In spite of Government assurances that they are committed to protecting the Green Belt, their failure to exempt Green Belt locations from development allowed under the General Permitted Development Order is resulting in some clearly inappropriate replacement dwellings being allowed by the Planning Inspectorate as well as some harmful extensions to existing dwellings.  TBAG’s Chairman, who is an Executive Committee member, raised this matter at the London Green Belt Council (LGBC) AGM on 14th November 2018.  The LGBC also acts as the Secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group for London’s Green Belt, which aims to support Green Belt friendly planning policies that protect London’s Green Belt for future generations.

In spite of the revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) being published as recently as July 2018, the Government has now launched yet another Consultation to make further amendments to the NPPF and Planning Practice Guidance.  Unfortunately, the Government is not proposing to revise its standard methodology for assessing local housing need in the light of reduced population growth figures recently published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and will not accept the reduction in population growth as an exceptional circumstance to reduce imposed housing targets.  TBAG will respond to this Consultation.

Draft London Plan – Implications for Epping Forest District

The Draft New London Plan Examination in Public is to open on 15 January 2019.  The new Plan is to be applauded in as much as it is said to strengthen safeguards for the London Metropolitan Green Belt.  The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in an earlier press release (Nov 2017) has vowed to protect the Green belt as the “lungs of the capital”.  Mr Khan acknowledges that London needs 66,000 new homes every year but that development must not be done at any cost.  However, London Boroughs have only 7% of the overall London Metropolitan Green Belt area, the remainder being in the shire counties around London.  The effect of protecting this 7% is that the remaining 93% around London is under more pressure to be developed.  Many elected representatives whose constituencies are adjacent to London have raised objections to those Government policies which threaten their Green Belt but TBAG is unaware of any efforts made by our local representatives to defend the London Metropolitan Green Belt in this District.  EFDC have stated that the natural population growth within our district is approximately 200 people per annum yet they have been effectively ordered by Government and have conceded to provide 11,400 new homes by 2033 – over the next 14 years.  Clearly this number does not merely accommodate new homes for our children and grandchildren but for the many thousands who will migrate out from London into the un‑affordable homes that are most likely to be developed.  This number of homes in our Green Belt equates to urban sprawl, and the prevention of urban sprawl is the stated fundamental aim of Government Green Belt Policy.  While the Government plays the numbers game with how many dwellings are required within England, it appears that developers are successfully lobbying Government to build on our Green Belt’s ‘shovel ready sites’ with the primary motive of maximising their profits.

Village Design Statement Association  TBAG would like to thank all Committee members of the Village Design Association for their hard work and commitment in producing the first Village Design Statement for Theydon Bois.  With the winding up of the Association, it was decided by the Committee to donate their remaining funds equally between Theydon Bois & District Rural Preservation Society and Theydon Bois Action Group.  TBAG would like to express its sincere thanks for this generous donation which will help us to continue to protect the Green Belt around our village, in line with the aims of our Group and its Constitution.

TBAG extends season’s greetings to all villagers and wishes you all the very best for the New Year.