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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.

Summer 2018 Update

Further delay to EFDC’s Submission Version of the Local Plan

The Judicial Review (JR) against Epping Forest District Council (EFDC), brought by CK Properties Theydon Bois Ltd who own the Old Foresters site, was dismissed by the High Court on 29th June 2018 on all four grounds of challenge, with costs of £10,000 awarded to EFDC.  The JR had delayed submission of EFDC’s Submission Version Local Plan (SVLP) to the Planning Inspectorate for Examination in Public.  CK Properties subsequently applied to the High Court asking for permission to appeal against the dismissal decision.  This was refused and they have now applied for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, resulting in further delays to the progress of our Local Plan.

Local Planning Matters

Old Coach House, 33 Piercing Hill –  An application (EPF/1409/18) to demolish the old Coach House and replace it with a new 4 bedroom dwelling, double the size, has been refused.  TBAG had written a strong objection on sound Green Belt grounds. Stable adjacent to Gun Cottage, Abridge Road – permission has been granted for a change to storage use (EPF/0102/18) but this came with conditions to protect the Green Belt site from further inappropriate development. Hydes Riding School, Abridge Road – Revised plans have been submitted for a smaller, 24hr, residential security building (EPF/0429/18). TBAG has written a further objection as the fundamental Green Belt reasons for refusal have not been overcome. Lillicroft Nurseries, Abridge Road – TBAG has submitted further comments to the Planning Inspector and requested that the appeal be dismissed.

Government Planning Policies and the impact on the Green Belt

The Government published its revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on 24th July 2018 and states that it has ‘undertaken major reforms of the planning system in particular to give councils and developers the backing they need to get more homes built more quickly’.  However, building on the Metropolitan Green Belt, while brownfield sites in London remain unused and undeveloped, will not provide the more ‘affordable’ homes which are most needed.  The importance of the Green Belt around our towns and cities has never been greater. The prolonged heatwave and increased air pollution levels experienced this summer have highlighted how vitally important the Green Belt and other green spaces are for our health and wellbeing and a sustainable future for us all, by cooling the environment and reducing the effects of air pollution.  This is why the Green Belt must be protected.

Whilst the Government continues to profess that it is protecting our precious Green Belt it is, in practice, forcing Local Authorities to build on Green Belt land and this is effectively being enforced, by the Planning Inspectorate, which is an executive arm of Central Government and which implements Government policies and instructions.  This all benefits developers who wish to build more profitable, ‘executive style’ houses on green field sites rather than develop urban brownfield land, often to the detriment of local communities and without addressing the shortfall in the type of homes that are most needed.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in its ‘State of the Green Belt’ report (August 2018) shows that the Green Belt is being built on at an ‘alarming rate’ and most of the new homes are unaffordable for first time buyers.  CPRE state that nearly half a million homes are planned for Green Belt sites in spite of the fact that there are already enough brownfield sites for an extra million homes in England.