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.