Category Archives: Updates

Winter 2014 Update

The preparation of the District’s new Local Plan is slowly moving forward but the publication of the Consultation on the ‘Preferred Options’ – where development is likely to take place – is not now due until mid May 2015. Epping Forest District Council is currently considering three main housing target options for the District, which range from between 6,400 and 10,200 new homes being built and which will require the release of Green Belt land. Unfortunately, all Local Authorities have to follow the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework which insists that they must take ‘account of migration’ when assessing housing need.

However, a recent Ministerial statement, on 6th October, from Eric Pickles MP said that ‘Councils must protect our precious Green Belt land’ and also that ‘housing need – including for traveller sites – does not justify the harm done to the green belt by inappropriate development’. Theydon Bois Action Group (TBAG) is not sure whether this is a ‘sea change’ in Government Policy which will now prevent building on Green Belt land or merely an attempt to pass the blame onto Local Authorities. Only time will tell.

On 5th November, the Chairman of TBAG took part in the London Green Belt Council’s launch of the first comprehensive Map of the Metropolitan Green Belt at the House of Commons. It is clear that our concerns regarding pressure for development on our Green Belt land are also shared by all 70 member Constituencies of the London Green Belt Council.

Specific planning applications which affect Theydon Bois:

Sixteen String Jack public house. TBAG, along with many other village groups and individuals, has raised a strong objection to the proposed demolition of the pub to make way for 13 new apartments (EPF/2040/14).

Tennis Club. The other planning item of particular importance to Theydon Bois residents is the Appeal by the Tennis Club to the Planning Inspectorate following the refusal by EFDC to allow flood lighting of one of the courts. TBAG has submitted a further objection against what would be a highly intrusive development on a sensitive Green Belt site, which forms part of the Buxton Trust land.

Blunts Farm. A proposal for a large new agricultural machinery storage building in a small field in Coopersale Lane (EPF/1593/14) was refused by EFDC. The applicant has now submitted an Appeal to the Planning Inspectorate to which TBAG will be making a further representation.

Stable adjacent to 1 Gun Cottage, Abridge Road (EPF/0255/14). Following a refusal by EFDC to convert the stable to a new dwelling, the applicant has now lodged an Appeal with the Planning Inspectorate. TBAG will also submit a further objection to this inappropriate development on a Green Belt site at the rural edge of the village.

This being the centenary of the start of WW1, our Committee felt quite strongly that they would like to lay a wreath at the village war memorial on behalf of TBAG. Had those service personnel, and thousands of servicemen and women since, not given their lives for our freedom, TBAG, if it existed at all, could have very different aims today. We decided not to use ‘fighting funds’ so a collection was made from Committee members for the wreath which was laid by our Vice-Chair.

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

Autumn 2014 Update

In our June report we mentioned the promising Ten Minute Rule Bill, which had been raised in the House of Commons by Greg Mulholland MP and had cross party support. He was critical of certain aspects of the National Planning Policy Framework, which appeared to override the Localism Bill and put the wishes of developers over those of local communities, especially with regard to building on green field and Green Belt sites in preference to brownfield sites. Unfortunately the Bill did not receive a second reading because the allotted date of 6th June 2014 was the day of the Normandy D Day celebrations and the House did not sit.

Also of national interest, the Department for Communities and Local Government has just published yet another public consultation document, entitled “Technical Consultation on Planning”, with the stated aim of improving the planning system. The following link gives details of the Consultation:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/technical-consultation-on-planning

Theydon Bois Action Group will examine this document and respond as appropriate.

The progress of Epping Forest District Council’s (EFDC) new “Local Plan” seems to be suffering further delays and it is unclear now if the “Preferred Options”, as to where new development could take place within our District, will be announced by the 30th October 2014 as previously stated. From September, a series of Area Based Workshops will be set up so that Councillors can begin to consider the options and implications for their area of the District. The target date for submission of the new District wide Local Plan for examination by the Secretary of State is now scheduled for the autumn of 2016.

Theydon Bois Action Group continues to monitor local planning applications which would have a harmful impact on the Green Belt around our village. We have raised comprehensive objections and made presentations at EFDC Planning Committees where appropriate.

Blunts Farm – EPF/0382/14: Agricultural storage building refused under permitted development but was resubmitted as a full planning application EPF/1193/14. This was also refused due to the harm to the Green Belt which would be caused by its size and location, along with lack of evidence of agricultural need.

EPF/1032/14: Another application for a large agricultural machinery storage building in a small field in Coopersale Lane, was refused under permitted development. This has also been resubmitted as a full planning application, EPF/1593/14, to which TBAG has raised an objection.

Oak Hill Farm – EPF/0670/14: TBAG spoke against this application, for a 1.8 metre high perimeter fencing around the entire Oak Hill Farm site, at Planning East Committee in July, when it was refused. It was then referred to the higher District Development Control Committee meeting on 13th August, when the recommendation from Planning East for ‘refusal’ was rejected by a majority of one vote, in spite of strong representations from TBAG and Councillor Sue Jones. However, the permission for the fencing will include a condition preventing the planting of Laurel (an invasive species) as screening.

Sixteen String Jack Public House: Many of you will have noticed that the pub has closed. The same developers who built apartments on the Railway Arms site have now drawn up plans for apartments on this site but no formal planning application has been submitted to date. Theydon Bois Action Group will carefully consider any proposals but take the view that any development must respect the sensitivity of the site which is bordered by Green Belt land at the rural/settlement edge of the village.

Spring 2014 Update

(This update also  appeared in the Theydon Bois Village News Issue 86 – JUNE 2014)

The most substantial threat to the Metropolitan Green Belt surrounding our village since its introduction in 1955 continues to be the possibility of development on up to 3 sites at the rural edge of the village. These sites, some put forward by local landowners, have been offered as residential development sites to contribute to the projected 20 year housing supply for the district. You may recall the extensive consultation carried out by EFDC in 2012 to identify specific ‘Issues & Options’ for the emerging Local Plan and the maps showing in red those areas which may be suitable (see EFDC website for Local Plan Consultation Document). As part of the process of considering all the issues and options and results of the consultation, roughly monthly Local Plan Cabinet Meetings were scheduled by EFDC. However, each scheduled meeting since the last in March 2013 has been cancelled. We are therefore unaware of how our Local Plan is progressing. TBAG has written to EFDC to establish the current position and we shall mail supporters once we have news. One thing we have been promised is that an announcement of the ‘preferred option sites’ will be made by 30 October 2014 but how these decisions will be arrived at without sufficient Cabinet meetings is of concern.

TBAG are paying great attention to the ongoing review of national planning legislation as ultimately this filters down to affect planning applications at a local level. Changes to the Government’s General Permitted Development Order were approved on 6 April but notably it made no reference to exempting the Green Belt. Through our membership of NORA and the LGBC, TBAG have expressed their concerns that the Government appear to be ignoring their promises to protect the Green Belt.

Also of national planning importance was Greg Mulholland MP’s Ten Minute Rule Bill in the House of Commons on 30 April which has cross-party support. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/house-of-commons-27222497. Mr Mulholland is rightly critical of some aspects of the NPPF and seeks changes.  He explains how the NPPF at present is proving to put the wishes of developers over those of the local communities (fully ignoring ‘Localism’), especially when it comes to building on green field and Green Belt sites in preference to brown field sites. This is the most encouraging thing we have seen or heard for a long while. The proposed bill was voted forward for a second reading on 6th June.

Oak Hill Farm EPF/2659/13: Perimeter fencing including adjacent agricultural field – refused by Planning East. Another similar application EPF/0670/14 submitted to which TBAG have again objected. Recommendations by EFDC for ‘the way forward’ to the original application have not been followed. TBAG’s objection is on grounds of causing harmful impact on the landscape character and openness of the Green Belt.

Tennis Club EPF/2610/13 and EPF/2611/13: To light two tennis courts – withdrawn. Planning East refused the remaining application.

Lilicroft, Abridge Road, EPF/2479/13: Certificate of Lawful Development – objected to on the grounds of it amounting to a new dwelling in the Green Belt without very special circumstances. The application was approved under delegated powers.

Ripley Grange EPF/2036/13: TBAG spoke at the DDCC meeting in February 2014 and the application for an ‘eco’ house was again refused.

Blunts Farm EPF/0382/14: Prior Notification for an Agricultural Building for machinery storage. Refused.

Land adjacent to Gun Cottage EPF/0255/14: Conversion of stable to dwelling – refused by Planning East.

Theydon Bois Action Group www.theydonbois-actiongroup.co.uk

Protecting the Village of Theydon Bois

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January 2011 Update

Villagers

Happy new year to you all. We have some mixed news to report.

Some positive news in that those of you that objected to Phase One of a 350 space Commuter Car Park on land behind Forest Drive and Slade End known as the Old Foresters, will have received confirmation that the application was recently turned down by the planning department at EFDC. We do however expect this application to be appealed to the Planning Inspectorate within the next six months. Those that objected will receive notice of the details of the appeal however all letters of objection will be passed to the PI. TBAG did expect that the application may go to appeal and will be preparing a far more detailed response to the PI if it proves necessary.

The negative news is that the case against the leaseholder of the Old Foresters site for the unlawful stationing of portable buildings, in June 2008, and a small built structure without planning permission collapsed on 6th December 2010. EFDC were preparing a County Court case but were informed by their barrister that a prosecution against the leaseholder was unlikely to be successful and they were advised to bring a case against the land owner, Parkeng. EFDC had previously negotiated a deal with the land owner Mr Philip Newman of Parkeng, whereby he would not be prosecuted. TBAG wrote to Cllr. Lesley Wagland the Portfolio Holder for Legal and Estates, Cllrs. Sue Jones and John Philip our District Ward Councillors and Eleanor Laing MP on 14th December. We are awaiting a reply from the councillors, however Mrs Laing did confirm receipt of our letter and representatives from TBAG will be meeting with her soon to discuss our concerns with regard to this issue.

It is also likely that the enforcement notices served against Blunts Farm Estates Limited in January and August 2006 will be signed off at the District Development Control Committee meeting on 1 February. The varied enforcement notices state that “Within 2 years of the notice taking effect: EITHER the completion of the golf course on the land in accordance with drawing number BLUN.209A approved pursuant to condition 12 of the planning permission dated 23 April 2002, Ref. EPF/765/99 OR the restoration of land levels at Blunts Farm to their original levels prior to the commencement of works on the land in 2002.”

It was then agreed by EFDC that

The Council had anticipated a formal proposal from the applicant. This was finally received in April 2006 in which the applicant had indicated that the little excess on the site would enable them to start filling one of the voids on the site but that they would still need to import, approximately, a further 176,000m2 to complete the course. Officers considered this proposal to be unacceptable leading to more lorry movements. Evidence from investigations indicated that there was more than sufficient material on site to undertake remediation. The Committee noted this view. As part of the preparation for the appeal, Officers had a case conference with Counsel who had recommended that the requirement of the notices to remove from the Land all the excess fill material should be varied to meet the concern about the excessive HGV movements that would arise as a consequence of complying with such a requirement. Also Counsel had advised that it would be prudent to issue new Enforcement Notices in the same form as the varied notices. Additionally, consultants producing evidence of the breach of planning control for the Council, had been instructed, in liaison with the Council’s Landscape Officer, to produce a plan to show the “best fit” in landscape terms of the existing material on site, with the voids filled using the existing surplus, and the remainder distributed in the way least harmful to visual amenity. This remedy for the breaches would involve no exporting of material from the site and so avoid further disruption for residents. Future importation of construction materials would remain restricted to the minimum necessary such as sand for greens and gravel for drainage. Topsoil requirements would be met from material on the site as originally proposed.

Compliance with the enforcement notices are at least 2½ years late. It is worth noting that after confirming to the Planning Inspectorate in October 2007 that they no longer wished to complete the golf course at Blunts Farm because; “the project that was, until recently, commercially viable has in recent weeks ceased to be so” this development team have applied for permission to extend their course Blakes Golf in North Weald by 18 holes requiring in phase one the importation of 69,000 cubic metres of inert waste. After refusal by Essex County Council they are now appealing that decision. TBAG objected to the application and are currently preparing their response to the appeal. We will also be preparing a report to members of the DDCC with regard to the “signing off” of the enforcement notices with regard to Blunts Farm.

We remain vigilant to large scale applications that materially affect the village and are awaiting an application for “training and leisure facility for foster children and their carers” at the Old Foresters site.