After some four years in the making, the Local Plan of Epping Forest District Council (EFDC) is now in its final stages. The Planning Inspector tasked at looking at the Plan has made her comments and the Council has now invited its residents and interested parties to comment on these changes by 23 September.
Why is this of interest I might hear you ask? Well, with the agreement of Harlow District Council (HDC) this Plan proposes to allow the building of over 3000 homes to the East of Old Harlow, 1000 to the south (called Latton Priory) and over 3000 to the west of Sumners and Katherines, on what is effectively Harlow’s Green Belt.
Work on at least two of these sites is likely to start in 2023. During the following 10 years, new schools, shops and leisure facilities will be built to create new communities.
The key points The Harlow Alliance Party have made in response to this Plan are:
- These homes are not in Harlow, despite in some cases being literally just over a hedge from homes in the town. As a result residents in Harlow have not been consulted about these plans.
- These homes are being built on what is effectively Harlow’s Green Belt. Despite this, decisions about the future of this land is being made by EFDC when they should be made by Councillors in Harlow.
- All the New Homes Bonus, business rates and Council Tax will be paid to EFDC. They will reap the financial benefit from these new homes whilst Harlow Council will get nothing.
- There will not be a single Council home built to address the real housing need in the area, those who will never be able to afford to buy a home.
- Whatever steps are taken, there will be a huge increase in traffic on Harlow’s roads, such as Rye Hill Road, Paringdon Road and Southern Way. No account has been taken of the extra noise and pollution which will be experienced by residents living in Harlow although much was made of the effect the increase in pollution will have on Epping Forest.
- New Planning Applications (called windfall sites) will mean that 3000 more homes will be built in Harlow than required by Government. Recent reduced estimates of the growth in household numbers and immigration into the UK in the coming decade show that the number of new homes needed is far lower that was thought even just a few years ago. EFDC have ignored this evidence. Quite simply, there is no need to build new homes on Harlow’s East, South and Western borders.
- No account of these windfall sites has been taken into account by those providing public services such as school places and health services. This can only mean they will be stretched even further than they are now.
None of our political representatives, whether Conservative or Labour objected to these plans whilst the Planning Inspector looked at the proposals. Only the Harlow Alliance Party did so and participated in the examination hearings that took place in 2019.
At HDC’s Full Council meeting on 15 July, Cllr Andrew Johnson launched a new initiative when he formally invited residents and others to give him their ideas for improving Harlow in the future
You may care to ask him when and how HDC intends to explain to residents of the town the consequences of the EFDC Local Plan on Harlow and share with him any concerns you may have by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org