Issued: January 25, 2016
PICTURE: A picture can be viewed and downloaded HERE
MP issues "stand firm" plea to residents over Green Belt development
The district's residents need to "stand firm" over the Green Belt, Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing told a public meeting in Epping.
A packed Epping Hall heard from various speakers about the importance of Green Belt land as the Epping Forest district awaits a draft Local Plan document about potential future development sites in the area.
Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing described the turnout at Friday evening’s open meeting organised by The Epping Society as "absolutely brilliant" adding that the number of people turning out showed the high priority local residents gave to the Green Belt.
Mrs Laing, who said 93 per cent of the Epping Forest district is designated Green Belt land, highlighted a change made to Government policy last August which gives stronger protection to Green Belt land.
She added that the Government was particularly concerned about the harm caused by intentional, unauthorised development in the Green Belt.
Far more stringent control is now in place through the planning inspectorate process to protect Green Belt land from development, she said.
Mrs Laing said: "For us, here in Epping Forest, we are in the frontline between urban sprawl from London and the rolling Essex countryside beyond.
"I know that we can trust our district council to do all that they can with the production of the Local Plan to make sure that our precious Green Belt can be protected.
"The best protection that we can have is our Local Plan and that is being produced in consultation with all our residents.
"We have a very tough district council who know how important the protection of our Green Belt is. It (preparing the Local Plan) has to be done carefully, to the letter of the law, otherwise it will be challenged. With strength and consultation we will succeed."
She added that the district's residents had to "stand firm" against Green Belt development.
The meeting also heard speeches from London Green Belt Council chairman Richard Knox-Johnson, Epping and Theydon Bois county councillor Jon Whitehouse, Epping Town Council planning and environment committee chairman Nigel Avey and Alison Blom-Cooper, Epping Forest District Council's Local Plan consultant.
The district council is still gathering evidence for the Local Plan. Meanwhile Epping Town Council is doing likewise for its Neighbourhood Plan.