Category Archives: Village News

Spring 2021 Update

LOCAL PLAN: EFDC continues to push through its emerging Local Plan for 11,400 homes, with the majority to be built on Green Belt land in this District, despite the latest Government figures demonstrating that around half this number is actually required (see our February newsletter for details). The impact on existing local community infrastructure (doctors, schools etc) is simply unsustainable

In TBAG’s opinion if EFDC do not want to have their Local Plan to be found unsound, they need to reduce their housing numbers in line with the latest Government household projections for Epping Forest District and remove all polluting development sites closest to Epping Forest.

FAKE NEWS: It is absolutely FAKE NEWS to claim that if our local plan is not found to be sound, the Government will impose 21,000 new homes on our District under the Government’s latest Standard Housing Needs Formula (the Algorithm), instead of the already unnecessarily high number of 11,400. The Government Planning Inspector has already expressed concern that this number is TOO HIGH and would detrimentally impact the Forest (and no doubt residents) and has already rejected a push from Developers at the Examination in Public to increase the 11,400 to 12,500. This fake news amounts to pure scare tactics to attempt to silence those interested parties who actually want the numbers justly reduced in order to preserve the environmental integrity of Epping Forest, in line with the concerns expressed by the Inspector. It is quite clear that if the Inspector is already unhappy with the impact of 11,400 new homes on the integrity of Epping Forest, she (or any other Inspector) could hardly condone any increase in numbers.

CAZ: Last February EFDC tried to placate the Inspector’s concerns regarding atmospheric pollution by voting in a proposal for a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) designed to charge motorists using Forest roads. Since our last newsletter, TBAG have heard from a considerable number of concerned supporters about this disastrous proposal. When it is introduced by EFDC, TBAG anticipate that this scheme will merely push LOCAL TRAFFIC from Forest roads onto those roads which skirt around the Forest, including roads through Theydon Bois. This will in turn cause congestion on those roads while the chargeable roads are left free for HGVs and commercial vehicle operators that can afford to pass on the cost of using them to their end customers. As a result, slow moving traffic and the greater increase in numbers will only INCREASE the pollution on non-toll roads in residential and Green Belt areas, thus causing a ring of pollution around the Forest. What with the anticipated increase in local pollution from 700 daily HGV movements from the proposed Next warehouse development on Green Belt land in Waltham Abbey, J26 of M25 (if EFDC ultimately grant planning permission), from the M25 and M11 generally, and the ultimate 11,400 new homes, TBAG anticipate that little benefit to the Forest will ultimately result and great detriment to residents will follow. To introduce local vehicle exclusion zones, which for some residents will be simply unaffordable, and yet to STILL build the excessive number of homes planned is pure folly for residents’ wellbeing and futures.

CAR PARKING CHARGES IN THE FOREST: Introduction of charges for car parking in the Forest by the City of London (CoL) doesn’t give people CHOICE; it merely DISCRIMINATES. If the car is so damaging to the Forest; why are CoL encouraging it at all and not deciding to restrict car access? TBAG would rather see the Forest retained as a natural environment which does not accommodate or introduce any more man-made elements regardless of how the ‘times change’ around it (i.e. parking signage, meters, gates, enforcement officers’ cars simply adding to numbers). It is an ancient forest and should look like one; not a budding Center Parcs. How about a useful forest-wide stop-on-demand bus service instead?

GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE STRATEGY: The EFDC Cabinet recently approved this Strategy document, which includes the so-called ‘enhancement’ of the Woodland Trust site between Theydon Bois and Debden (alongside the M11) with better signage and trackways, arguing that residents of the proposed new developments in Theydon Bois, Debden, Loughton and Buckhurst Hill, will visit the 38Ha site INSTEAD of Epping Forest. This outcome is highly unlikely due to the remote location of this Woodland Trust land, its immediate proximity to the M11, its remoteness, and the fact that there is no parking there. TBAG pointed this out to EFDC, in its consultation last year, as did Theydon Bois Parish Council, but these comments were ignored and, incidentally, NOT PUBLISHED. We see this as another attempt by EFDC to try and justify building 11,400 homes in a District which already has huge constraints against development, being over 90% Green Belt and having Epping Forest, which is nationally and internationally recognised as an SAC and SSSI.

THE REAL SITUATION

In 2020, the Government carried out two consultations and TBAG responded to both of them. The first consultation was on the Government’s proposals on “Changes to the current planning system” and included their so-called Standard Method For Assessing Local Housing Need – the Formula or Algorithm. The second consultation was on the Government’s White Paper called “Planning for the Future,” which was strongly debated in parliament following a call for debate by Conservative MP Bob Seely (Isle of Wight), who was supported by some 50+ of his colleagues. In the light of these two consultations and the critical debate in parliament, the Government published its response to the first consultation, which included the proposed changes to the Standard Method For Assessing Local Housing Need. In back tracking, the Government Response made it quite clear that “Within the current planning system the standard method (Algorithm) does not present a ‘target’ in plan-making, but instead provides a starting point for determining the level of need for the area, and it is only after consideration of this, alongside what constraints areas face, such as Green Belt, and the land that is actually available for development, that the decision on how many homes should be planned is made.” In Epping Forest District, we also have the ADDITIONAL, internationally recognised, constraint of the Epping Forest to protect as well.

NO CHALLENGE TO THE LOCAL PLAN HOUSING FIGURES: TBAG remain deeply concerned that our elected representatives, including District Councillors, have not grasped every or indeed any opportunity to challenge EFDC about those constraints but rather to take the softer option of following the Government’s line that development, whether inappropriate in the Green Belt or not, will boost the national economy. The Prime Minister, in PMQ’s on 8 July 2020, announced the Conservative agenda to be “Build, Build, Build for Jobs, Jobs, Jobs“, so are we to expect an ongoing loss of our “precious Green Belt” to developers; land which the Government had also declared to be “absolutely sacrosanct“?

In stark contrast to Epping Forest District, we are aware that elected representatives in Surrey, Sussex and Kent have fought hard to protect their local Green Belt land, along with newer, independent councillors (pledging to protect the Green Belt). The Member of Parliament for Sevenoaks, in Kent, Laura Trott MP (Conservative) has been particularly active in this respect.

TBAG wonder if development of our Green Belt is really all about money. Grants to Local Authorities, like EFDC, from Central Government have been dramatically reduced, often by more than 50%, and so it follows that Local Authorities who allow more development will get more money coming in from the Council Tax. Land owners who have their Green Belt, possibly agricultural, land developed for housing, will make a financial killing, and large development companies will acquire their preferred ‘shovel ready’ sites in their quest for profit margins in excess of 20%. Developers do not want the difficulties of building on previously developed, brown field land, which is often urban and potentially contaminated. During the parliamentary debate in the House, on the ill-fated Government’s White Paper on “Planning for the Future“, which had many dissenting Conservative MPs, Apsana Begum, MP for Poplar and Limehouse (Labour) stated that the Government’s party-political funds had received £11m from property developers, and referred to the White Paper as a “Developers’ Charter”.

THYB.R1, VIRGIN GREEN BELT LAND AT THE END OF FOREST DRIVE EPF/0292/21: Thank you to all those who wrote to TBAG expressing their objection to this planning application. Many residents attended the Parish Planning meeting on 18 March 2021 to make their own views known and the Parish Council made a strong objection to the application. TBAG also submitted a robust letter of strong objection to EFDC and included all the concerns that supporters had expressed. Since the Parish Council objected to the application, it will now likely be pushed up to District Planning Committee for consideration, that is, unless the Planning Officer refuses it first. Another way to make your feelings known about this application is to lobby our Ward Councillors John Philip and Sue Jones at cllr.jphilip@eppingforestdc.gov.uk and cllr.sjones@eppingforestdc.gov.uk respectively and encourage others to do the same. TBAG feel these two Councillors have had and will have the greatest influence on the District Committee concerning this development site and, as our elected representatives, it would be appropriate for them to robustly reflect the views of the residents they represent within their ward. Statutory consultation expires on 5 May, so we should know more after that.

FORMER OLD FORESTERS: The operator of the food bank containers, Pesh Kapasiawala, remains in breach of planning law by not removing the two containers from this green belt site. The EFDC Enforcement Notice that was served is now put on hold because the operator has lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate. We await the outcome of this appeal.

December 2020 Update

Local Planning Matters

Theydon Bois Action Group (TBAG) has continued to make successful objections to what it considers to be inappropriate development in the Green Belt around our village. TBAG had objected to a planning application to build two large, detached, 5 bedroomed houses in the extensive grounds of Bowlands Meadow, Theydon Road, which the developer described as ‘limited infilling in a village’. Planning permission was refused by EFDC and the developer subsequently appealed to the Planning Inspector. TBAG submitted further objections to the Inspector, who dismissed the appeal. We also raised objections to various applications relating to two properties at Theydon Hall Cottages, Abridge Road, near the M11 motorway bridge. These were in connection with:

i) the unlawful placement of a mobile home relating to one of the cottages and the proposed extension of the residential curtilage to include an agricultural field which lies behind all 4 cottages and:

ii) the proposed, excessive, extension of another dwelling.

These applications were all refused permission by EFDC.

The Emerging Local Plan and Question over Housing Numbers

In July, TBAG alerted the village, through our Website Updates and Mailshots, that the Inspector dealing with our new Local Plan had contacted EFDC, pointing out that the Government’s latest (2018-based) figures for Household Projections in Epping Forest District had shown a dramatic decline (by more than a half) in the number of new households required in the Local Plan. EFDC had based their original assessments on the Government’s earlier data for 2014, this being the latest available data at that time. The Inspector then asked, whether the projected reduction in household growth (also shown in 2016) justifies building on so much of our Green Belt? Our District Councillor, Sue Jones, asked a question on this matter at a Full Council Meeting on the 30th July, when a prepared statement from EFDC was read out. However, the statement made reference to “Nothing will stop us getting the plan through” and “getting the local plan over the line” and, almost begrudgingly, if necessary “to remove the most environmentally sensitive sites”—presumably relating to the impact of excessive development on the environmental integrity of Epping Forest, of which the Inspector had already expressed her concerns.

There is a view, locally, that EFDC just want to get the local plan over with, as more delays mean more time, work and expense. But TBAG take the view that it should be the right number of homes, in the right places. EFDC put the Inspector’s question to their commissioned consultants, who, unsurprisingly, backed EFDC against the Inspector’s question, and argued that the number of homes should actually be increased from 11,400 to 11,920! The Inspector subsequently invited a wider consultation on EFDC’s response supported by their consultant’s 27 page report. TBAG responded with an evidence based critique (see response in full here), stating that the consultants had ignored the impact of Brexit and Covid 19 on migration and economic growth and had chosen to use a 10 year average method which would dilute the currently low household projection figures, by combining them with previously higher figures which peaked in 2013/14, with migration into our district at +1,500, compared to only +550 during 2017/18.

TBAG also responded to two Government consultations on Planning, including its White Paper on ‘Planning for the Future’. This White Paper caused great debate in Parliament by dissenting Tory MP’s due to impact on their Green Belts and countryside, including the Cotswolds, whilst ignoring ‘Growth’ in the Midlands and the North and the Government’s proclaimed ‘Levelling Up’ policy.

TBAG extends season’s greetings to all villagers and wishes you all a safe and healthy New Year.

Spring 2020 Update

Local Planning Matters – Applications awaiting decision, pending further Local Plan work on Environmental Impact on Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC):-
Mossford Green Nursery, Abridge Road – TBAG submitted a strong objection to this proposal to build 17 new homes on an isolated Green Belt site.
Piggotts Farm, Abridge Road – TBAG submitted a strong objection on clear Green Belt Policy grounds against the development of 6 new dwellings in place of agricultural barns.
Bowlands Meadow, Theydon Road – TBAG submitted a strong objection to the proposal for 2 large new dwellings within the Green Belt grounds of the existing property.
Ivy House, Coopersale Lane – A revised scheme for entrance wall/gates, security fence and hedge has recently been submitted. TBAG will consider whether this has addressed the reasons for our earlier objection.
Recently registered – Land adjacent to Magnolia House, Abridge Road –TBAG is currently considering an application for change of use of former agricultural buildings to create 6 new dwellings in the Green Belt close to the M11 motorway.

Update – Epping Forest District Council (EFDC) new Local Plan and Environmental Concerns
The next opportunity for residents to make further comments on the Main Modifications to the emerging Local Plan, (as required by the Planning Inspector), is likely to be July 2020.
It is clear that the Planning Inspector remains concerned about the impact of housing development, traffic movement and air pollution on the integrity of Epping Forest (SAC) and its habitats. This issue was raised by Natural England and the Conservators of Epping Forest at the Examination in Public last year. In August 2019, the Planning Inspector actioned EFDC to provide evidence “beyond reasonable scientific doubt” ……. “that any effects of development would not be adverse; or to seek to avoid the effects by altering (or potentially reducing) the pattern of growth proposed in the Plan.” The Inspector reiterated her view to EFDC on 25 November 2019 stating that “My advice indicates that you should remain open to this possibility.”
TBAG has always maintained that the proposed number of new homes (11,400), which will result in a loss of Green Belt land, is far too high for a District composed of over 90% Green Belt and which includes the special habitat of Epping Forest, which has both National and European protection.

Climate Emergency – the negative ‘double whammy’ of building on our Green Belt
At a Council meeting on 19 September 2019, EFDC formally declared a ‘Climate Emergency’ in the District and pledged to do everything in their power to make Epping Forest District carbon neutral by 2030 and, in recognising the special circumstances of this District, resolved to protect the SAC (Epping Forest) through the Local Plan. TBAG welcomes this approach and would like to see action taken to reduce the planned number of new homes which is an obvious starting point. Our existing green open spaces and Green Belt land are already doing a vital job in removing and ‘locking up’ carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) from the atmosphere. New homes and associated traffic will generate more carbon dioxide and when this development takes place on Green Belt land, the overall increase in carbon dioxide levels is magnified. The increase in nitrogen dioxide and toxic particles from vehicle exhaust, brake linings and tyres adds another harmful dimension, both to people’s health and the Epping Forest biosphere.
Back in November 2004, Eleanor Laing MP presented a residents’ petition in Parliament to the, then, Labour Government in an attempt to stop 11,000 new homes being built in our District because of the impact on our Green Belt and the Epping Forest biosphere. TBAG would urge all of our elected representatives, if they are serious about addressing EFDC’s Climate Emergency, to use their best endeavours to significantly reduce the unsustainable housing target of 11,400 new homes, the majority of which would be built on Green Belt land!

Winter 2019 Update

Progress of Epping Forest District Council’s (EFDC) Submission Version Local Plan (SVLP)

EFDC is currently working on addressing the 39 Actions (Main Modifications) required by the Planning Inspector in order that its Local Plan can be found “Sound”. In particular, the Inspector is very concerned about the impact that housing development and increased traffic movements would have on the integrity of Epping Forest, especially in terms of greater recreational pressure and the effect of atmospheric pollution on the Forest and its habitat, most of which is a Special Area of Conservation, having both National and European recognition and status. Natural England and the Conservators of Epping Forest both raised objections to EFDC’s Local Plan and spoke at the Examination in Public. EFDC is now having to carry out a programme of additional work, which will take approximately 6 months, in order to attempt to address these specific concerns over air pollution.

TBAG shares these crucial concerns on the air pollution caused by excessive, unsustainable, housing numbers and traffic movements in our District.  The loss of Green Belt land, along with its agricultural use, hedges, trees and grassland, to make way for housing development and associated infrastructure, will result in less carbon dioxide (a Greenhouse Gas) being removed from the atmosphere which will exacerbate the increasing climate change emergency around London. A recent Report (4 Nov 2019) by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London’s Green Belt has stated the positive impact of the Green Belt on people’s mental health and physical well-being, local food production, and the capital’s ability to address the climate emergency such as supporting the targets set out in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. The Report says there is little evidence of “affordable homes” being built in the Green Belt, despite the fact that there is space for well over 280,000 homes on previously developed brownfield land within Greater London alone. Developers will always favour building on “shovel ready” sites in the Green Belt rather than brownfield sites in London, as they can make a bigger profit. Furthermore, the Government’s definition of an affordable home is 80% of the actual market price, which would still be out of the reach of most young people in Epping Forest District!

The All-Party Parliamentary Group also recommends that the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) be reviewed and amended to ensure that the Green Belt is better protected from inappropriate development. TBAG shares this view and would add that Permitted Development (that which can be carried out without gaining Planning Permission) should not apply in the Green Belt. Unfortunately, the Government, in its quest for economic “Growth”, has sacrificed the protection of the Green Belt, in spite of its continued assurances “To protect our precious Green Belt land” which is “Absolutely sacrosanct” and this has effectively forced Local Authorities to allow developers to build on Green Belts through the process of creating new Local Plans.

It is also of some concern that Transport for London (TfL) had stated that capacity on the Central Line would be improved and should not act as a deterrent to planned growth in the Local Plan, including of course the homes TfL plans to build on its own station car parks from Buckhurst Hill to Epping. However, we now learn that a reduced service between Debden and Epping, during peak hours, is planned for the New Year, albeit that this is indicated as being a temporary measure. 

Local Planning Matters

Blunts Farm, Coopersale Lane The application to build 3 new dwellings in place of agricultural buildings (EPF/0597/19) was refused by the planning officer on the grounds of inappropriate development which would be harmful to the rural character of this unsustainable Green Belt site. This decision is consistent with earlier refusals for new housing development at Blunts Farm.                                                                    

TBAG extends season’s greetings to all villagers and wishes you all the very best for the New Year.

Autumn 2019 Update

Local Planning Matters

Theydon Bois Action Group (TBAG) continues to have a good ‘track record’ for successfully objecting to inappropriate developments in the Green Belt.

Three recent Appeal dismissals

Hydes Riding School, Abridge Road/Coopersale Lane – The Planning Inspector (PI) has dismissed the Appeal (Ref:3215238) which included plans to build a 24-hour security hut on this Green Belt site. TBAG had made an additional representation to the PI.

Blunts Farmhouse (now Ivy House), Coopersale Lane – Appeal (Ref:3226161) was also dismissed by the Planning Inspector. He agreed with comments made by Epping Forest District Council and local interest groups, including TBAG, that the unlawful decking and footpath were harmful urban encroachments into the Green Belt.

Lillicroft Nurseries, Abridge Road – TBAG submitted a strong objection to thePlanning Inspector regarding this proposal to build a replacement, and much larger, bungalow deeper within the Nursery site. The Planning Inspector dismissed the Appeal (Ref:3218732) as he considered this would be harmful to the openness of the Green Belt.


Applications awaiting decision

Mossford Green Nursery, Abridge Road – Awaiting a decision by EFDC regarding an application (EPF/3379/18), recently amended with a reduction to 17 dwellings. TBAG submitted a strong objection to this proposed residential development on an isolated Green Belt site.

Blunts Farm, Coopersale Lane – TBAG has submitted a strong objection to a new application (EPF/0597/19) to build 3 new dwellings in place of agricultural buildings at Blunts Farm. This proposal would clearly contravene Local Plan Policies and the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework. Two similar applications for new dwellings were refused by EFDC in 2013 and 2016. An appeal against refusal of the 2013 application was also dismissed by the Planning Inspector.

Piggotts Farm, Abridge Road – An application (EPF/1656/19) has been submitted for plans to build 6 new dwellings in place of 8 agricultural barns. Again, TBAG has submitted a strong objection on clear Green Belt Policy grounds. Farms and nurseries tend to be on rather remote or isolated locations. This makes them unsuitable and unsustainable for new residential development, which also spreads urban encroachment into the Green Belt.

Examination in Public (EiP) of Epping Forest District Council’s (EFDC) Local Plan            

Following the final hearing session of the Examination of Epping Forest District Council’s proposed new Local Plan on the 11th June 2019, the Planning Inspector produced her Advice and Interim Findings on the 2nd August, detailing what changes (Main Modifications -MM’s) are required to be made in order for the Plan to be found sound.  TBAG is pleased that the Inspector has asked for changes to be made to Policy DM12 – Subterranean, Basement Development on which the Chairman spoke at the Hearing.  We disagreed that basements should be allowed to be built under 50% of the garden area and argued that further restrictions should also be made on Green Belt land.  We were also pleased that EFDC accepted the need for the inclusion of Protected Lanes, such as Coopersale Lane, in Policy DM7 – Heritage Assets.  We are disappointed that the Inspector appears to allow EFDC to omit individual, specific Green Belt Policies and solely use the Government’s own Green Belt directives in their National Planning Policy Framework.  However, in the light of this, we expect EFDC to recognise and confirm the importance and significance of our Green Belt boundary, being the railway line and its embankment, as this fully complies with Government Policy on Green Belt boundaries.  We look to our elected representatives to ensure that this happens.