Epping Forest District Council’s Local Plan update

Ms Louise Phillips MA MSc MRTPI the Government appointed independent Inspector of the Epping Forest District Council’s Local Plan published an interim report on 2 August.

The document runs to 21 pages in which she makes numerous observations and suggested changes which included what are known as “main modifications” to make the plan legally sound and the removal of sites which have been identified by the Council as ones on which new homes will be built in the next decade or so. The former will require consultation with residents and others before they can be finalised.

Whilst there is specific reference to the site to the East of Harlow and Latton Priory, both of which remain in the Plan, there is no mention of the plans for West Sumners and Katherines.

The full report can be found here, points 10 and 11 are of particular note:

Point 10 says “The Council’s modifications are again late and are controversial”. 

Point 11, The first sentence notes the lack of consultation and concerns about the infrastructure requirements.

Plans to expand Stansted Airport delayed by Uttlesford District Council

The decision made by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) on 28 June clearly demonstrates that a Political Party formed by local residents to represent the views of local residents really can make a difference.

Back in late 2018 Councillors at UDC decided to accept the recommendation of it’s officers and agree that the airport could significantly increase the number of passenger using the airport. A vote was taken when 5 Councillors agreed to the proposal and 5 objected, the final decision to proceed was made by the chairperson of the committee.

In May’s Local Elections, the Residents for you Party (R4U) swept the board, replacing the Conservative Councillors on the committee. With fresh evidence and a mandate from local residents the R4U Party reversed the earlier decision and undertook to consider new material evidence including the UK Carbon Net Zero 2050 Legislation.

The issue of airport capacity has been well documented in the national and local press for at least 3 decades. Despite quieter and cleaner aircraft, the inescapable fact is that aircraft are a major contributor of pollution and will never be anything but when compared to other forms of transport. The issue has been a political hot potatoe during this whole time, governments obsessed with growth in the economy have continued to ignore the airports damaging effect on the countryside, the loss of farm land and the health and well being of residents under or near flight paths.

R4U is just one of a growing number of examples where new local Parties are making a difference. The Harlow Alliance Party is working hard to ensure that residents in Harlow are given a choice as to how the town is managed in the future.

ON YOUR BIKE OR HARLOW’S ROADS GET GRIDLOCKED!

A Public Enquiry was held by a Planning Inspector at the Latton Bush Centre on Tuesday 11 June. HAP and one Conservative Councillor attended the enquiry in the public gallery along with just 15 people, testament to the failure of Essex County Council’s e publicity in attracting residents to this important event. The Planning Inspector will we feel sure have noted this poor turnout.

The Harlow Alliance Party learnt that the new roads that feed into the new Junction 7a of the M11 from Harlow will not be able to cope with traffic from all the proposed new developments in and around Harlow and Gilston Garden Town unless 60% of residents, who now live or will occupy the new dwellings. use sustainable transport. If this percentage of change in transportation is not reached it is likely our roads will become gridlocked. So residents will be expected to abandon their cars and cycle, walk or use Rapid Transport Buses to avoid gridlock on our roads. The sustainable transport policy is an aspiration of Essex County Council whose officers put forward the case for such a scheme to the Planning Inspector

The new junction which it was suggested will be completed by 2022 was designed to ease congestion in Harlow as well as permit further planning consent for developments in the Enterprise Zone thus hopefully creating more jobs. It has secured funded for the construction of the junction from contributions by Highways England (£41.7M), South East Local Enterprise Partnership (£10.5M), with the remainder coming from Essex County Council and 106 agreements from planning applications to the Local Authorities.

The new and improved roads to be constructed are to accommodate traffic from the A414 in both directions and from proposed new developments, using a new road crossing the River Stort and railway into Riverway and then on to Edinburgh Way and Gilden Way which then feeds into the new M11 junction.

HAP is very disappointed that funding has not been found for a Northern By-Pass which many agree would be a much better option, serving motorists or lorries who are not looking to enter Harlow and Gilston Garden Town but to by-pass it to reach locations outside of the town.

The Planning Inspector will now put his findings in respect the Plan’s legality and viability to The Minister of Transport for final decision.

Latton Priory, West of Sumners and West Of Katherines …

The Harlow Alliance Party has been attending the Epping Forest District Council Local Plan (EFLP) Examination.

The EFLP Examination commenced on 12 February and is due to finish on 12 June. Another week of evidence was presented to the inspector this week. On Thursday 23rd participants spent much of the day talking about the infrastructure requirements needed to ensure that the proposed Plan was legally sound.

In view of information obtained whilst attending the Harlow District Council Local Plan Hearing the Leader and Deputy Leader of HAP made a late request to the Inspector of the Epping Plan to be allowed to participate on 23 May and this was granted just a few days before the hearing took place.

Most of the discussion were about the Plans proposal to provide new and improved sustainable transport (buses, cycling and walking) options in order to reduce the need for both existing and new residents to use their cars to get around the area. These proposals include the huge amount of work being proposed to create new electrified bus and tramways through Harlow.

Figures within documents supporting the Plan clearly show that despite attempts to reduce car journeys during the Plan period (the next 13 years or so), many roads and junctions which are already close to or are at capacity will become even more congested in the future leading to tailbacks measured in kilometres. Numerous speakers including representatives from Essex County Council, The Epping Society and The City of London Conservators all expressed concerns that the Plan was not sound (it did not provide sufficient plans to mitigate this problem).

I as leader of The Harlow Alliance Party made the point that residents in Harlow were already expressing concerns about the congestion on Harlow’s roads, the difficulty in getting doctors appointments, the long wait to be seen at A&E at PAH and schools being at bursting point. The Plan for Harlow already notes that in excess of 1600 new homes are planned in addition to those required by the Government and that unless even more infrastructure is put in place (to accommodate these extra numbers) then by the end of the term period (2031) things will be even worse than they are now.

It should be noted that the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town proposals have been costed at £1.7 billion. Of this, there is a funding shortfall of £141 million. Although this is apparently not unusual with such large schemes, concern was expressed by many of the participants at the Examination that much of the infrastructure proposals may end up being just wishful thinking.

Finally, it beggars belief that HAP and The Loughton Residents Association were the only Political Parties attending these meetings, perhaps members of the Conservative and Labour Parties had other things on their mind!

Off street parking

Complaints about the lack of parking spaces on housing estates across Harlow was a very common one heard by members of HAP when out and about talking to residents before the recent Council elections.

The Council recently announced that it was to commence a programme of providing new off street parking and would invite residents to contact them with suggestions as to where such parking spaces could be constructed.

HAP welcomes this initiative and would encourage our readers to contact the Council if they have any such suggestions to make. There will obviously be some areas where residents might object to the proposals or where for physical reasons it is not possible to provide such spaces, however any scheme that is successful in making it both easier and safer to park must be most welcome.

Trees in Market Square

Having spent more that £250,000 last year on work to improve Market Square, the Labour Group at Harlow Council recently agreed to spend another £50,000 on planting trees in and around the square.

Many residents will remember the outcry that took place some years ago when the Council purchased at great expense a number of red ‘tubs’ which were placed in the square, into which trees were planted. Due to a lack of care these trees soon perished.

Residents whose homes suffer from damage caused by tree roots will be well aware that the outcome of planting trees in Market Square will be damage to surrounding paving. Surely such planting should have taken place before any new surfaces were laid, taking care that the design ensured that enough space was left so that damage in the future did not occur?

And £50,000 …… really?

2019 Local Elections

The Party made significant gains in the number of votes it received in the four Wards which it contested at yesterday’s Local Elections.

Party leader Nicholas Taylor reflected on the hard work undertaken by Party members and volunteers in the last month. He said that whilst the Party did not win any seats this time, the increase in the number of votes and the reaction of the other Parties to our campaign clearly indicated that the campaign was a success and lessons will be learnt from 2019 which will be taken forward into 2020.


He went on to say that the total of 1333 votes across the four Wards showed that the Party’s message was resonating with many residents across the town and he thanked them for their support.

The results are as follows:

Great Parndon
Harlow Alliance 416
Conservative 681
Labour 388

Sumners and Kingsmoor
Harlow Alliance 405
Conservative 578
Labour 429

Old Harlow
Harlow Alliance 311
Conservative 969
Labour 569

Harlow Common
Harlow Alliance 201
Conservative 381
Labour 647
UKIP 294

HAP candidates interviewed by Your Harlow

Video

In the run up to the May 2nd Elections HAP candidates Nicholas Taylor and Alan Leverett were both interviewed by Your Harlow newspaper.

Your Harlow came to Sumners to interview HAP Leader Nicholas Taylor where he told Your Harlow that support for the Party is growing and that they are keen to make an impact in the wards of Great Parndon and Sumners.


(Interview courtesy of Your Harlow)

Alan Leverett told Your Harlow of his concerns regarding plans to build hundreds of home next to Sumners.

(Interview courtesy of Your Harlow)

HAP are also standing in the wards of Harlow Common (candidate Mike Carr) and Old Harlow (candidate Harry Mason).

Vote for a change, Vote Harlow Alliance on 2 May

Harlow Local Plan NEWS

The Harlow Alliance Party was the only Party to participate in the Local Plan Examination held by the Government appointed inspector David Reed, held over a five day period at the Civic Offices in Harlow. We were able to do so because of the written objections we made last year and earlier this year.

These objections were based on the fact that :

1) Harlow Council’s consultation with residents failed all of it’s own list of requirements set out in a document published in 2014.
2) The Plan does not protect the green open spaces in the town and the wildlife that uses it.
3) The matrix used to identify the 21 sites included in the Plan for future housing development is flawed.
4) The number of homes required is based on out of date information.

These are the key things noted at the Examination by HAP:

Because of the number of Planning Permissions already given and sites in the pipeline, Harlow Council’s latest estimate of homes that will be built in the town will be at least 1600 more than is required by the Government.

An uplift (basically an extra number of homes above target in the Plan in case some schemes are not built) is 14% in Harlow, the fourth highest in England.

Housebuilders will be expected to help pay for a new (relocated ?) hospital in the event that there is a shortfall in the money found from other sources (which in effect means those that buy the new homes will actually be helping to pay for the hospital).

It was said that 35% of travel within Harlow is presently being undertaken by foot, cycle or bus. The new electrified bus (or tramways) will it is hoped increase this figure to 50%.

The present hospital site is only large enough to have 500 homes built on it rather than the 650 in Harlow Council’s Local Plan.

The owner of land near the Latton clock tower wants to build homes on his land but this has not been included in the Council’s Plan.

The 21 sites chosen from an initial list of over 350 sites were selected using a matrix which included using officers judgement and knowledge and a value put to each site based on a survey of residents living near each area and by observing the use of each site. In respect of the latter each of the sites were considered to be of low value. HAP have not met any resident who to date when questioned thought the sites could be considered of low value.

HAP was able to reiterate it’s objections to the 8 sites as follows:

We made it quite clear that residents were concerned that the Council were failing to maintain areas as they had in the past which then led to sites being used less by residents than they had in the past.

West of Deer Park: We pointed out that this land was transferred to Harlow Council from the Harlow Development Corporation on 13 April 1973 with a Restriction which said that “Except under an order of the registrar, no disposition by the proprietor of the land is to be registered unless made in accordance with the Physical Training and Recreation Act, 1937, or some other Act or Authority”. This Act gave the power to Local Authorities for the first time, to designate land for play purposes. In view of this and the opposition it would receive from residents if the Council tried to change it’s use, HAP believes this land could never be built on.

Riddings Lane: We explained that in our view this piece of land should form an important green buffer between Hawthorns in Harlow and any development at Latton Priory in Epping’s area. We have since then been advised that Harlow Council have been given assurances that Riddings Lane will not be used to give access to Latton Priory.

St Andrews Meadow: We gave this as an example of the Council listing sites which nibble away at the green spaces between homes and the major roads in the town. The same had occurred when this estate was built and further construction would lead to even more loss of open space.

Jocelyns: We explained that this area of land was specifically left as open space between it and Broadway Avenue when the estate was built in the 1970’ and has been used as a public open space ever since. Access from Jocelyns would require the removal of a number of large trees and it’s location, close to the main road meant that it should remain an open space.

South of Clifton Hatch: We explained that the proposed site involved the removal of about half the area set aside for play when the nearby housing estates were built. In the past the common had in part been used for football pitches but was now being left to nature and could therefore not be used for play. The issue of flooding to nearby homes was also brought to the attention of the Inspector.

Fennells: We advised the Inspector that a resident who attended one of our public meetings had pointed to a page on the Council’s website where there is an article about the Queens Diamond Jubilee and London 2012. The article states that four playing fields,namely Ash Tree Field, Harlow Skate Park, Jean McAlpine Park and Parndon Wood Nature Reserve had all become Queen Elizabeth Fields in Trust in 2012. We submitted this information to the Inspector together with a picture of the sign at the entrance to the field. A check of this information revealed that the area included in the trust did not include the area in the Council’s Local Plan. We advised the Inspector that residents living adjacent to this land had never been advised let alone consulted about this change in status in 2012 and that if they had, they would have insisted that the Council included the whole site within the area covered by the Trust.

Land between Barn Mead and Five Acres: We explained that this was another example of infilling of land left between estates. It is clear that residents would prefer to see some of the area given over to new parking spaces, whilst the remainder being left as open space.

Pollard Hatch: Whilst HAP agreed that many of the shopping Hatches neeeded to be redeveloped, we made the case that Pollard Hatch was somewhat different, in that it was the only one which already has homes on the site. Any redevelopment would mean not only the loss of a green open space used for play but also the loss of 6 homes.

In conclusion, HAP made the best case that it could in the circumstances to get these 8 sites removed from the local Plan list of sites.

Readers should take note that these sites are on the list SOLELY because the majority Labour Group on Harlow Council have CHOSEN them. HAP believe there are more suitable sites that could be used, we have no objection to homes being built, indeed we support the proposal to build on the other 13 sites.

Removing these 8 sites will reduce the number of homes built by just 220, but bear in mind that the Local Plan already has identified more than 1600 homes in the pipeline, above the target set by the government.

HAP also believe that Harlow Council should only build bungalows, enabling those who would like to downsize their home to be given the choice, releasing their homes to those on the Council’s waiting list looking for larger accommodation.

Land at Hawthorns and South of Clifton Hatch

HAP held it’s fifth public meeting on 13 April to provide residents with information about these two areas, which Harlow Council intend to designate for new housing.

HAP voiced their opposition on behalf of residents about these plans at the recent Local Plan Hearing. It is quite clear that residents travelling to and from both these sites will add to the already considerable traffic congestion on nearby roads, despite the efforts of Essex County Council who will encourage the use of a busway, walking and cycling. An update was given about the building proposals at Latton Priory as well as those near Water Lane.

A full update will be posted on this website at the end of this month.