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Planning laws in Epping Forest and the halting of property development

Planning laws in Epping Forest and the halting of property development.

Did you know about the change in planning laws in Epping Forest?

In July 2018, planning laws changed in the District of Epping Forest and remain unresolved.

What happened in 2018?

Natural England had concerns about the impact of new housing on air quality in protected woodland. Because of this, Epping Forest District Council put the processing of more than 100 planning applications on hold, while the examination of its 11,400-home draft local plan also ground to a halt. Both the council and observers stated at the time that they did not expect a solution to the planning impasse any time soon.

Epping Forest District Council has since recognised that the current situation is deeply frustrating for most, and has stated that they are fully aware of the number of planning applications that are affected by the issue, which continues to delay development in the District.

EFDC say that they are trying to explore every avenue to attempt to resolve this issue a soon as they can, including engaging with central government to try and reduce the huge backlog of planning applications that are waiting to be checked.

Action in 2019

In January of last year, a comprehensive Habitats Regulations Assessment was prepared by AECOM Engineering on behalf of the Council, in order to address the objections of Natural England and the Conservators.

Unfortunately, in order to unlock development for sites proposed, the Council have had to undertake a significant programme of highly specialised technical work to determine what actions needed to be taken in order to secure a satisfactory resolution to the situation.

What kind of work had to be undertaken?

This included the collection of new traffic data to understand the proportion of diesel, petrol and low-emission vehicles that use the road now and what this mix is likely to be in the future as this is important to help assess future air quality conditions arising from traffic in the future.

The Council, Natural England and the Conservators have been working together to identify a satisfactory solution and have been meeting on a regular basis over the previous months.

It was said that their work was progressing well and it was anticipated that the Council would be in a position to publish a draft Mitigation Strategy for the Council's cabinet to consider in July 2020.

Has anything been resolved this year?

The most recent update was in April 2020. At that point, it was stated that the Council needed to make progress to update the Habit Regulation Assessment, in order to be able to grant planning permission for development in the District. This will also protect the impact of growth on the Epping Forest Special Areas of Conservation. It was also stated that a detailed work programme had been drawn up and was regularly monitored with updates being provided to the Inspector.

A decision has still not been made. The huge knock on effect has seen some developers' companies to collapse, meaning that the housing supply has slowed down dramatically.

We are no clearer as to when the situation will be resolved, nearly three years later. We are hoping that this clears and is resolved soon, enabling the District to continue with new build developments, which we desperately need.

With a need for first time buyers and those who need affordable housing, this is a real ongoing issue. Those hoping to get on the first rung of the property ladder cannot until the restriction is lifted, and the proposed developments will bring with them a good number of affordable housing, which is desperately needed.

There could be good news on the horizon however, as when the development is unlocked and ready to commence, there will be new opportunities and new job creations in the construction industry in Epping Forest.

Are you affected by the planning law situation? Are you experiencing issues with your development, feel confused about the market or looking for a new property?

Feel free to get in touch with us at Butler & Stag for some friendly advice regarding your property query.

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