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.

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