“Don’t be misled – check all the draft Local Plan facts for yourself on the official Local Plan website” says Councillor John Philip after hearing reports that Epping Forest District Council wants to build all over the Green Belt.
Worried by false claims
Councillor John Philip, Cabinet Portfolio Holder responsible for Planning was shocked to find some residents are being unnecessarily worried by false claims about the draft Local Plan.
He continued: “The draft Local Plan is a complex and detailed document. It identifies potential areas for development. Nowhere does it say we are building all over the Green Belt or taking away all our open spaces. Anyone suggesting we are must have fundamentally misunderstood the Plan.”
Residents can find the answers to many questions on the FAQ section of the website. Council staff have been meeting residents to talk about the draft Local Plan at a series of public exhibitions around the district.
Among the misconceptions some residents have are
Epping Forest District Council plans to build all the new housing itself – not true.
Epping Forest District Council is the Planning Authority. It does have a modest council house building programme but the vast majority of new homes will be built by private developers. The Local Plan would help the Council encourage private developers to submit planning applications for the most suitable locations.
Epping Forest District Council wants to build tower blocks – not true.
It is true that higher density developments take less land to build upon and a balance needs to be struck between how much land is used and the amount of new homes built on it but tower blocks are not on the table.
Epping Forest District Council wants to take away car parks – not true.
The draft Local Plan identifies local car parks as potential areas for development. Car parks outside the district have managed to make use of the land for new homes while keeping all the car parking spaces.
The Council has confirmed no parking spaces would be lost if car parks were developed for housing with other types of parking such as multi-storey or under-croft.
There is no plan for infrastructure – not true.
Chapter six of the draft Local Plan is devoted to infrastructure and there is a Draft Infrastructure Plan which identifies where there is a need for provision to be made.
Further work on detailed proposals to make this provision will be undertaken between now and the next stage of plan making which is the publication of the Pre-submission Plan next year. This is the normal process for developing infrastructure plans.
Green Belt and open spaces
Epping Forest District Council wants to do away with the Green Belt and open spaces – not true.
The Draft Local Plan seeks to identify potential sites for meeting the District’s identified housing need of 11,400 homes over the Plan period. Wherever possible, the Council has sought to propose allocations within existing settlements and to make best use of Brown Field (previously developed) land.
Unfortunately, there is not enough such land available within the district and the council has therefore identified some managed open space and Green Belt land.
But the Local Plan is still a draft. The consultation is an opportunity for local people to agree or disagree with the proposals and to provide evidence to support their views. The Council will consider all comments made before revising the Plan, publishing it and then submitting it for examination by a Government Inspector.
Essex County Council must approve the Epping Forest District Local Plan – not true.
Essex County Council and many other organisations are consulted on the Draft Local Plan. Approval or rejection of the draft Local Plan is made by central-government appointed planning inspectors following an Examination in Public or EiP.
The inspectors will reject the Plan if they do not think the Council has made provision in the plan to meet the housing and jobs requirements which have been identified in the evidence.
Green Belt agricultural land becomes Brown Field when it is ploughed – not true.
It may look brown but in planning terms it is still part of the Green Belt.
You have made up your minds. It won’t change – not true.
A look at the previous Issues and Options consultation shows the council does listen. The new draft Local Plan relies heavily on feedback from such previous studies. The Draft Local Plan is the Council’s best attempt at identifying the preferred sites for growth and draft planning policies based on the evidence it has now.
If the council gets new evidence or information through the consultation, this can be used to update and amend the Plan. Opinions are not enough. We need facts and evidence.
The deadline for responses is 1 December – not true.
The deadline for responses is 5pm on Monday 12 December 2016.
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It’s a two-way conversation and we are listening
John Phillip added: “These are just a few of the things we have heard. It is therefore all the more important that people fact check on the official website. This is a real consultation. It’s a two-way conversation and we are listening.”
He concluded: “Some people have told me I’ve already made up my mind and the draft Plan is set in stone. It is not.”
“I know many people hold different and valid points of view. The most important thing is to stick to the facts and make your voice heard. The best way you can do that is online.”
“If online consultation is not for you, you can complete a paper questionnaire for return to Freepost EFDC LOCAL PLAN RESPONSE or you can email LDFconsult@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.”