Local Planning Matters
The Old School House, Coppice Row. Following the ‘demolition’ of much of the original building, the owner has now submitted an application described as the ‘extension and conversion’ of this historic, locally listed building – Ref. EPF/0811/17. The reality is that any development would now necessitate a rebuild, rather than a conversion. The present plans are for a more intensive development of 2 x 5 bedroom dwellings, instead of the previously approved plans for a 3 bedroom and 4 bedroom dwelling. Theydon Bois Action Group has submitted a strong objection to the increase in bedrooms, from 7 to 10, as this would result in an over-intensification of residential use on what is a highly sensitive Green Belt site adjacent to the Churchyard, War Memorial and Epping Forest land.
Draft Local Plan & Protection of the Green Belt
EFDC have been holding Development Forum meetings with potential developers of sites around Harlow and across the rest of Epping Forest District. It appears that many new sites have come forward but details have not been made public and no Minutes of these meetings have been published.
While residents were trying to get to grips with the enormity of the Draft Local Plan Consultation Document last year, Harlow, EFDC and East Herts District Councils made a joint application to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) requesting Government support for a new, ‘Locally-Led’ Harlow and Gilston Garden Town, the huge impact of which was not fully appreciated at the time of the Consultation.
(See Local Plan posts)
EFDC stated in their Green Belt Review that the expansion of Harlow, as part of the London, Stansted, Cambridge Corridor, represented the ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ which justified altering Green Belt boundaries in Epping Forest District. The proposal for growth and expansion around Harlow, as a new Garden Town, which includes land in Epping Forest District, gained Government approval in January 2017. This, so called, ‘locally led’ proposal, was supported by our MP as well as the MP for Harlow but did not have the support of residents of Epping Forest District who were not consulted and unaware of the impact that it would have on our Green Belt. As a consequence we are now faced with housing development on many Green Belt sites in Epping Forest District, including Theydon Bois.
EFDC are still analysing the responses to the Draft Local Plan Consultation as not all responses used the Questionnaire format. A summary of responses, largely to the Questionnaire, have been published and the response to Question 3 (proposed development sites around Harlow) showed that only 8.1% strongly agreed, whereas more than 20 % strongly disagreed; and this was without residents having the full knowledge of the implications for the rest of the Green Belt in Epping Forest District.
TBAG continues to work as an Executive Member of the London Green Belt Council, in conjunction with CPRE, to do the utmost to protect the Green Belt around London. In contrast to our District, other MPs in Surrey and Kent are doing their best to protect their Green Belt, as can be seen in their responses to the a recent Government White Paper Consultation on Housing, which can be viewed on the TBAG Website. It is clear that some Conservative MPs are prepared to put their heads above the parapet to protect the Metropolitan Green Belt, whereas our elected representatives and EFDC are actually facilitating development of our Green Belt land!