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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 Plannning 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.

Judicial Review Dismissed – Theydon Bois Green Belt Saved From Development

Further to the report in our Spring 2018 Update, TBAG are delighted to report that the Judicial Review brought by the owners of the Old Foresters site in Theydon Bois who sought to develop the land, has now been dismissed.

TBAG’s Chair and Vice Chair attended London’s Royal Courts of Justice, Strand today to hear the handing down of the Judgment in the case of CK Properties (Theydon Bois) Limited against Epping Forest District Council.  CK Properties were aggrieved that their site on land known as The Old Foresters had not been included by EFDC in the Submission Version Local Plan as land for development and claimed, inter alia, that they had been prejudiced by the non-availability of Appendix B to the Site Selection Report.

The case had been heard over two days at the end of May with the Claimant’s argument having four grounds of challenge.  Much reference to previous pertinent legal cases was made and matters were debated at length in the twenty-one page Judgment.  The Judge found against all of the four grounds observing that the essence of CK Properties’ complaint was that Appendix B had not been made available on 14 December 2017 at the time of EFDC’s decision to submit the draft local plan to the Planning Inspector for examination in public.  Costs were ordered to be paid by the Claimants to the EFDC in the sum of £10,000.

So while EFDC’s Submission Version Local Plan has been delayed for three months from being sent to the Planning Inspector, we are hopeful that it will now be submitted as soon as is possible.

TBAG is of the firm opinion that there should be no development to the east of the railway line in accordance with the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework and that the railway line presents a clear physical feature that is readily recognisable and likely to be a permanent boundary with the Green Belt to the east of our village.

During this extended period of glorious Mediterranean weather, we would remind supporters of the public footpath network that lies on our doorstep just over the railway footbridge including one path which crosses the Old Foresters’ site.  So why not take a walk in the country and enjoy our precious Green Belt!

Spring 2018 Update

Local Planning Matters

Lillicroft Nurseries: EPF/2528/17.  The latest application to replace the existing wooden dwelling with a bungalow more than four times the existing size has been refused by EFDC.  TBAG submitted a strong objection to this proposal as it is ‘inappropriate development’ in the Green Belt according to National Planning Policy.

Land adjacent to Gun Cottages:  EPF/0102/18.  TBAG raised an objection to an application for a retrospective change of use of this stable to ‘B8 storage and distribution’.  We have highlighted the earlier attempt to get a change of use to residential, which was refused by both EFDC and the Planning Inspector, largely on the grounds of harm to the Green Belt and landscape character and, significantly, contrary to a Condition imposed in the original planning permission restricting use of this stable to private stabling only and not for any commercial or business activity (including livery).  It is hoped that EFDC will honour the original condition and subsequent decisions and not permit this change to business use.

Macris House:  EPF/3321/16.  An application for conversion of the care home into eleven flats was finally refused by EFDC.  TBAG raised an objection to this application in January 2017.  The grounds of refusal were: (1) impact on the Green Belt; (2) loss of community facility and loss of employment; and (3) not being within a sustainable location or adequately incorporating principles of energy conservation or sustainable design.

EFDC Local Plan – December 2017

TBAG felt disappointed that our Local Authority only provided the minimal six week consultation period for consideration of the Submission Version of the Local Plan 2017 (SVLP) because this period included one week of Christmas holidays when EFDC offices were closed.  During this closure, it was impossible to obtain hard copies of the Plan document(s) which were not available until the New Year (2018).  The Submission Version of the Local Plan, together with its Appendices, totalled some 510 pages and this was in addition to the voluminous evidence base documents which are only available on-line or at the Council Offices.  TBAG was also disturbed to see that this consultation was not given the same level of publicity as had been given to the earlier Issues & Options and Draft Local Plan consultations, when leaflets, road-shows and talks were given to reach out to all residents.  EFDC appeared to be rushing to get this plan submitted for Examination in Public before the 31 March 2018 deadline*, under threat from Central Government of even greater housing targets (an additional 9,000 houses) being gratuitously imposed.

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