Spring 2023 Update

Local Planning Matters

EPF/1406/22 Blunts Farm Change of Use to B8 Storage, validated in June 2022, remains undecided. EPF/1189/22 and EPF/1107/22 retrospective applications for flats at Blunts Farm have both been declared unlawful by EFDC. EPF/2416/22 new dwellings in the Green Belt at Mossford Green Nursery has been refused. Since our last report TBAG have objected to the following developments on grounds of inappropriateness in the Green Belt: EPF/1671/22 a swimming pool and extensions at Ivy House, Blunts Farm, EPF/2505/22 rear balcony extension etc at Grey’s Farm, Green Glade and EPF/0034/23 28 Piercing Hill, demolition and rebuild as a three-storey house.

National Planning Policy News and EFDC’s Local Plan

A large number of Conservative MPs have voiced considerable concerns about Government planning policies contained within the Levelling Up Bill which is still proceeding through the House of Lords having already been through the House of Commons. There has been considerable discontent about housing numbers being thrust on local authorities by Central Government in a quest to raise the general level of economic activity through development and its supporting supply chain. On 5 December 2022, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Minister for Intergovernmental Relations, wrote to all Conservative MPs. He said, inter alia, that reforms have been made e.g. “scrapping policies like top-down regional targets that built nothing but resentment”. And of the Green Belt he confirms that “we will be clear that local planning authorities are not expected to review the Green Belt to deliver housing”, Emphasis added. “This is in line with commitments made by the Prime Minister in the Summer.” “The effect of these changes will be to make absolutely clear that Local Housing Need should always be a starting point – but no more than that – and importantly, that areas will not be expected to meet this need where they are subject to genuine constraints.” Epping Forest District is very much constrained by being 92% Green Belt and the Forest SAC and the actual NEED for housing, based on the most current statistics from the ONS and not out of date, 2014 statistics. Gove went on to confirm that “Where authorities are well-advanced in producing a new plan, but the constraints which I have outlined mean that the amount of land to be released needs to be reassessed, I will give those places a two year period to revise their plan against the changes we propose and to get it adopted.” Emphasis added. Will EFDC reassess?

In a House of Commons debate, 20 February 2023, a comment by Michael Gove in reply to an enquiry by MP Gagan Mohindra about his constituents voices being heard in attempting to protect south west Hertfordshire, Mr Gove said “It is absolutely vital that communities in the suburban green belt such as his have the opportunity to ensure that people have the new homes that they NEED and that we preserve the communities that make his constituency so attractive to so many.” Emphasis added.

It is hoped that our own elected representative is making as much effort. But it may all be too late because Inspector Bore submitted his final report on 16 February 2023, ignoring our Green Belt constraints and the detrimental environmental impact that the unnecessary and excessive number of houses (11,400) will have on Epping Forest, and the proposed adoption of the Epping Forest District Local Plan 2011 to 2033 will be considered at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council on 6  March 2023. TBAG consider the plan to be unsound. By the time you read this, it could be all over – until the next one!