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.