Issued: December 6, 2016
Council submits Draft Local Plan response
The proposed "downgrading" of Sun Street in Waltham Abbey in the Draft Local Plan to a 'small district centre' is being opposed by the town council which has also given its views on potential sites for housing across the town.
In its response, the town council has highlighted that Waltham Abbey is the second largest town in the district and should maintain its status as a Town Centre.
While it understands that Sun Street cannot attract large retail outlets due to the limitations of the historic town centre, it believes the town centre can become a "bespoke retail/social space" encouraging tourism and the visitor economy due to its historic attraction.
Any downgrading would "exacerbate the current trend of allowing the change of use on ground floors of buildings from retail to residential", the council adds.
The council's response adds: "The town council believes that the current retail frontage in Sun Street is in peril of fossilisation and a slow death as the main retail attraction to the town is away from the historic centre.
"We would also like to see stronger policies within the Local Plan supporting town centres."
Regarding potential housing sites, the council has reservations over the size of some of the proposed sites in Waltham Abbey and believes the district council's suggestion for development on strategic sites around Harlow to be "a sensible, sustainable approach, given that Harlow have expressed a desire for growth."
Of the sites earmarked for housing in Waltham Abbey the council has expressed the following views:
Waltham Abbey Fire Station site, Sewardstone Road) - about 44 homes
The council does not agree to the closure of the fire station as it is understood it is a specialised unit regarding water rescue, and the only one of its kind in a large radius. Should the fire station, close the council says a small housing development would be acceptable
Darby Drive car park - about 17 homes
As parking would need to be maintained beneath any properties, the raised height would make any development "unacceptable" given the sites' location next to the Abbey Gardens, part of which is a scheduled ancient monument, with many listed features including the walls.
The increase in height would harm the views from Abbey Gardens and have an adverse effect on one of the town's major assets.
This site is "totally unacceptable".
Ninefields, land at Hillhouse - about 60 homes
The site, part of the Hillhouse Masterplan, is already ‘in process’.
Waltham Abbey Community Centre, Saxon Way - about 53 homes
The council has acknowledged that this could be a suitable site but an appropriate replacement community facility would need to be part of any development and would need to be completed before the existing centre is
Waltham Abbey Swimming Pool, Roundhills - about 27 homes
On the assumption that the Hillhouse Masterplan comes to fruition, this is a suitable site. The council adds that it believes the site is part of King George V playing fields, a registered charity with the Charity Commission, so may require special permissions/covenants to develop.
Lea Valley Nursery, Crooked Mile - travellers' site with five pitches
The council does not agree to this site as it adjoins a pub car park, is too visible and should not be part of any newly-developed site. The location is also too close to the centre of town which goes against the wishes expressed by the Gypsy & Traveller community during the last consultation.
land north of Parklands - about 132 homes
Provided the site had its own access from Parklands [the road] and was not dependent on the proposed Lea Valley Nursery development in Crooked Mile, being completed, the town council considered this an acceptable site.
Lea Valley Nursery, Crooked Mile - about 463 homes
The council says this site is too large to go ahead as it stands as it goes against the town council's view of small developments, and that it would be more acceptable if this allocation was reduced by about 50 per cent on the southern area adjacent and accessing to and from Parklands. The council has suggested that no more than 250 units should be designated for the site.
The council has identified an area not currently allocated - just south of Beechfield Walk - and because of its preference for smaller sites has suggested that Langley Nursery, Crooked Mile, and Mile Nursery, Crooked Mile, be considered.