Issued: December 19, 2016
Parish council expresses "grave concerns" over potential housing sites
Buckhurst Hill Parish Council has voiced "grave concerns" over the three sites in the parish earmarked for housing in Epping Forest District Council's Draft Local Plan.
Councillors have also stated that "increased and improved" infrastucture will be key to the success of the proposals and believes the draft Plan is "noticeably light and vague" on how the increased demand will be met.
Of the specific sites considered suitable for housing in Buckhurst Hill, the parish council says development of the Stores site in Lower Queens Road would "significantly impact" shops that serve the local community.
The council is concerned that should the area be developed there will be some time when no shops will be open., premises which are essential to nearby residents.
There is also concern about any closure, however temporary, of the subway access to Queens Road from Albert Way.
The parish council is also highlighting the lack of consultation with local residents saying "a great many" knew nothing of the district council's interest in the site with business owners and occupants of the affected properties already expressing worries and seeking assurances over the arrangements for their relocation.
Parking in the area is also an issue, the parish council states.
"Significant concerns" have been raises over the potential development of the Queens Road lower car park which is well used by commuters.
In its response the parish council states: "It seems almost impossible that the proposed 44 houses could be built on the site without impacting severely on the parking provision.
"Epping Forest District Council planners state that there would be a requirement on any developer to ensure no nett loss of parking spaces but this would be difficult to achieve without an expensive multi-story solution or a subterranean solution which would be even costlier.
"The only other alternative, we are advised by planners, is that any developer would have to provide an alternative car parking site. No guarantees that this would have to be within a short distance of the station or in Buckhurst Hill even."
There is also concern regarding what happens to the temporary displacement of 100-plus cars during construction and the impact on adjoining streets whilst the works are being carried out.
"Traffic congestion is an enormous issue for the whole of Buckhurst Hill; with a number of acknowledged pinch-points. Albert Road, especially the junction with "Palmerston Road; Loughton Way and Roding Lane area, are of particular concern. Similarly Queens Road, Princes Road and Victoria Road.
"All of these are specifically referred to in the Local Plan."
Regarding the possible development of the St Just site in Powell Road - which is designated Green Belt - the parish council states that all councillors are opposed to the development of the parcel which forms part of a buffer that prevents Buckhurst Hill and Loughton from merging into each other.
The site also adjoins the 'Linders Field' Local Nature Reserve and local residents and the parish council have "grave concerns" on the adverse impact any development here would have on the flora and fauna of the nature reserve.
The council's response states: "Linder's Field is more than just a field. It is a mixture of ancient woodland, wildflower meadow, scrub, grassland and ponds.
"The small ponds are home to frogs, toads and newts, the hedgerows are good for the foraging bats and in the summer the meadow is a draw for rare insects.
"Linder’s Field is a remnant of a once much larger ancient woodland called Pluckett’s Wood and contains a great number of ancient woodland indicator species, including wild service trees to name just one.
"The combination of hedgerows, scrub and woodland on the reserve provide an important corridor for wildlife to travel safely between the pockets of green space in the Buckhurst Hill area."
Linder’s Field got its name from Charles Linder who used to own the site and whose family had strong connections to the famous children’s novelist Beatrix Potter.
He allowed use of the 'field' by locals as a venue for sports days and summer fetes.
"Hence it has a particular place in the hearts of residents and its importance within the wider local community," the parish council states.
The parcel of land is also immediately adjacent to the Locally Listed building of special architectural/historic interest, St Just.
"The proposed development would wrap around the site and as a consequence would appear inappropriately dominant to St Just and thereby detract from its spacious setting.
"The resulting harm to the setting of the building is likely to cause, without proper justification, significant harm to its value as a non-designated heritage asset.
"Any development would also interrupt the historically linked assets of St Just and Linders Field."
As part of its response, the parish council states that it believes the proposed sites around Harlow offer the best options for large scale developments and see this as the natural extension of Harlow.