Further delay to EFDC’s Submission Version of the
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.
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.
Continue reading Spring 2018 Update
Local Planning Matters
Rear 33/34 Piercing Hill – Old Coach House. The application to demolish the building and replace it with a new dwelling, because of the ‘uneconomical’ costs of a conversion, has since been withdrawn.
Lillicroft Nurseries – Following a refusal to demolish and replace the existing bungalow and build a second bungalow on the nursery land, an application has been made to replace the existing small wooden dwelling with a new bungalow more than 4 times the size. Theydon Bois Action Group has submitted a strong objection to the plans which are contrary to Local and National Green Belt Policies.
EFDC Draft Local Plan & Protection of the Green Belt
Continue reading Winter 2017 Update
Local Planning Matters
The Old School House, Coppice Row. Following the ‘demolition’ of much of the original building, the owner has now submitted a further application described as “The extension and conversion of” this historic, locally listed building – Ref. EPF/0811/17. The reality is that any development would now necessitate a rebuild, rather than a conversion. The present plans are for a more intensive development of 2 x 5 bedroom dwellings, instead of the 2013 approved plans for one 3 bedroom and one 4 bedroom dwelling. TBAG has submitted a strong objection to the increase in bedrooms, from 7 to 10, as this would result in an over-intensification of residential use on what is a highly sensitive Green Belt site adjacent to the Churchyard, War Memorial and the SSSI of Epping Forest.
Draft Local Plan & Protection of the Green Belt:-
EFDC have been holding Development Forum meetings with potential developers of sites around Harlow and across the rest of Epping Forest District. It appears that over 60 new sites have come forward but details have not been made public and no Minutes of these meetings have been published.
Continue reading Summer 2017 Update
Local Planning Matters
The Old School House, Coppice Row. Many villagers who have walked past the Old School House have been appalled to see how little of the original building remains. Permission was granted in 2013 to extend and convert the existing building into two dwellings, not to demolish and rebuild it. Theydon Bois Action Group (TBAG) strongly objected to the large extension and change of use which would result in an intensification of use and a harmful impact on the sensitive Green Belt site adjacent to St Mary’s Churchyard. Many people considered that the best way to preserve this Locally Listed building was to approve the extension and conversion to residential use. Sadly, it is now evident that this was not the case as the majority of the building has been demolished, contrary to the planning permission which was granted.
Marcris Nursing Home, Coopersale Lane. Following Epping Forest District Council’s (EFDC) refusal of a proposal to demolish the care home and replace it with a new building containing 11 flats, a new proposal (EPF/3321/16) has been submitted to convert the existing building into 11 flats. TBAG has written a further strong objection to the loss of a much needed care home facility and change of use which would result in a harmful impact on the Green Belt and Protected Coopersale Lane due to the over-intensification of use of the site.
Draft Local Plan & Protection of the Green Belt
The level of housing development proposed for Theydon Bois in the Draft Local Plan, put forward by EFDC, would increase the size of our village by nearly 25%. Almost all of the development would be in the Green Belt with the largest proportion being to the east of the railway line, which has always formed a definitive and permanent Green Belt boundary to our village. TBAG have raised a strong and comprehensive objection, in particular to the proposed major expansion of our village and the associated encroachment into the Green Belt. The full letter of objection can be viewed here.
Continue reading Spring 2017 Update