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
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. 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
Local Planning Matters
Planning permission was finally granted for the development of 7 apartments and one ‘cottage’ on the site of the Sixteen String Jack PH (EPF/2000/16). In spite of the reduction in the number of flats, Theydon Bois Action Group considered that the final design, due to its height, bulk and insufficient set back, did not fully address the Planning Inspector’s reasons for dismissing the earlier appeal. TBAG raised a further objection as did the City of London (Epping Forest) and local residents. Only time will tell what the true impact of the development will be on this sensitive location at the edge of the village!
TBAG also objected to the application for 2 large dwellings to replace agricultural buildings in the Green Belt at Blunts Farm (EPF/2298/16), citing an earlier Planning Inspector’s appeal dismissal relating to this site. EFDC also recognised the relevance of the Planning Inspector’s reasons and refused the application.
Continue reading Winter 2016 Update
Local Planning Matters – The Appeal Decision on the Sixteen String Jack proposal for 13 flats, which was of great interest to many residents, was issued on 22nd March 2016 when we finally learned that the Inspector had dismissed the appeal. The main reason being due to the harm the development would cause to the character and appearance of the surrounding area due to its bulk, mass, prominent position at the front of the site and almost continuous built frontage across the site, particularly as the site is at the settlement edge of Theydon Bois and adjacent to Green Belt land. The Inspector also recognised the spacious character of the surrounding area and that the development would be at odds with that and would not ‘respond to local distinctiveness’ as set out in Para 60 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This part of the NPPF was raised by TBAG’s Chairman at the Informal Hearing last November. The Inspector’s decision supported the majority vote to refuse permission taken by District Councillors at Planning East Committee and, in doing so, disagreed with the original recommendation of the Epping Forest District Council (EFDC) Planning Officer to grant planning permission. TBAG now looks to see a radical redesign of any future proposals for this site, fully taking on board the Planning Inspector’s statements.
The proposal to demolish the Marcris Nursing Home and replace it with a new development of 11 flats has been refused by the planning officer without the need for a District Council Committee decision. The proposed new ‘Debden Hall’ development, just outside our Parish, was approved by a majority vote at Planning South Committee. TBAG, in supporting Loughton Town Council, had submitted a comprehensive objection and greatly regret the loss of this tranquil Green Belt woodland site at Debden Green. We have also raised concerns with EFDC over the destruction of the natural landscape around Blunts Farmhouse, where revised plans have recently been approved which now include a basement.
Protecting the Green Belt – TBAG believes that the main threats to our Green Belt arise from the continual amendments to Government legislation (NPPF and the General Permitted Development Order) which dictate what can be developed and where. In spite of the Government’s statements about protecting the Green Belt, the changes they have made which are intended to ‘liberalise’ planning legislation (largely to enable more development to take place) have not exempted Green Belt land. The Chairman of the London Green Belt Council has recently written to the Prime Minister asking why the Government’s stated policy on protecting the Green Belt is not being upheld. (See the TBAG website). TBAG has responded in depth to two recent Government Consultations with a view to ensuring the protection of the Green Belt in any proposed changes to planning legislation.
The other cause for concern is the rapidly increasing population of London (one million in the last decade) and the subsequent outward pressure for more housing in the Metropolitan Green Belt. Paragraph 159 of the NPPF states that migration must be taken into account in the development of new local plans. In this respect, the outcome of the EU Referendum (In or Out) will undoubtedly have an influence on future pressures for building on the Metropolitan Green Belt.
The Green Belt’s function as a ‘Green Lung’ cannot be overlooked and its protection is vital in order to mitigate against the high levels of air pollution in London.