Published on 30 March 2012
There is enough land identified by consultants employed by Epping Forest District Council theoretically to provide approximately 2,399 new homes in the district without any changes to current planning policy. Any additional new homes are likely to require changes to existing policies, according to the report commissioned by the council, as one part of the Local Plan process.
The draft Strategic Land Availability Assessment (SLAA) was presented to town, parish and district councillors on Friday. The report follows the ‘Call for Sites’ survey which identified a broad range of suggestions for development sites by residents and developers. A final version of the report will be available around the end of April.
In parallel, district council staff are working on an assessment of housing need in the district, as part of the development of new planning policy. Only when the assessed level of housing need has been established will councillors know how big any gap between current building capacity and future need might be.
If the need for more housing, employment and infrastructure proves greater than current capacity, councillors have the option to review current policies. In particular they could:
- Look at whether green spaces within towns and villages might be developed; and/or
- Review Green Belt boundaries to allow some extra development; and/or
- Look at the existing land use designations (industrial or commercial uses, for example) to determine whether these should be changed to permit residential or other types of development.
A spokesperson for Epping Forest District Council said: “It is too soon to say how many homes we will need but there is a strong chance it will be more than the capacity already identified, particularly five or ten years from now. The consultants emphasised that the draft SLAA does not allocate land for development or that the Council would support development of any or all of the identified areas. The SLAA simply gives us an idea of the potential land capacity.”
The spokesperson continued: “Sustainable development means more than just housing. People moving into new homes would need jobs, schools, places to shop and recreation, as well as roads and other basic infrastructure such as water, gas and electricity supplies, all of which would need to be accommodated locally.”
Slides of the presentation to councillors are available to view here (Please note that maps in the pdf document are indicative only as they are in draft form):
Epping Forest SLAA (pdf 431 KB) Epping Forest SLAA
Residents and local business people will have plenty of opportunity to comment and influence the debate. Three further rounds of public consultation are planned. The first ‘Issues and Options’ round will look at the planning issues facing the district in more detail and the various options for dealing with them. The second round of consultation will involve publication of the public response to the ‘Issues and Options’, along with the Council’s proposed way forward. The third round will focus on the Council’s preferred options before they go before a Government Inspector at the Examination in Public.
The spokesperson added: “All councils are doing this. It is part of the process to create a Local Plan that reflects the latest central government guidance and to ensure that the needs of the district are properly represented. We will continue to update residents as it progresses.”
For further information, contact the Forward Planning team at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01992 564517.