Further delay to EFDC’s Submission Version of the Local Plan
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.