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Featured News
New Epping Forest District Council Local Plan

13 August 2021

With the proposed changes, called Main Modifications, available on the District Council website, LRA's planning specialists are working through the details and an appropriate response.

The development sites currently in the plan are here. (Loughton is on Map 5.3 on page 9.)

The key concern remains that the Air Quality Mitigation Strategy (AQMS) is insufficient and will not make the plan sound to ensure no detriment to the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (EFSAC).

You can make your views known online (you can click 'continue without an account' on the page). Alternatively there is a downloadable form that can be emailed or posted to the Council on this page, which also has more details on the consultation.

Whichever you choose, we suggest you object to MM38 on the grounds that damage to the SAC will still occur, and that the so-called interim Air Quality Mitigation Strategy is woolly, will not prevent further detriment, and it does not meet the strict criteria laid down by the Holohan court judgement.

Please encourage friends and relatives to do the same to let the District Council know that concern is widespread among residents.

23 July 2021

The proposed changes, called Main Modifications, are now available on the District Council website. They are complex changes to a complex document! LRA will be going through them very carefully, and making our views known to the Council as part of the formal consultation. We'll keep residents posted on social media and eventually in our September Townwide Loughton Life newsletter. Members will hear more in our monthly email news bulletins.

The headline news is that, thanks to the hard work put in by LRA and many others, the number of new homes to be foisted on Loughton by the District Council has been reduced drastically, from 1,021 to 455. This reflects the dropping of Jessel Green and the two station car parks from the list of sites for development.

2 July 2021

Residents and stakeholders are being invited to have their say on proposed modifications to the emerging Epping Forest District Local Plan from July 8th to September 16th. The Local Plan outlines proposed development across the District until 2033. This “Main Modifications” stage follows the public examination hearings that took place early in 2019 and the inspector’s initial advice of August 2019. More from the Council is here.

LRA comment: LRA will be examining the proposals in detail and will reply to the consultation in full. In particular, we will be trying make sure that the Plan makes proper provision to avoid new developments adversely affecting the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (something which the Conservative administration in Epping seem unconcerned about in practice).

21 May 2021

The  Local Plan Major Modifications paper is due to be issued for consultation shortly. LRA will have to check very carefully that promised changes are included, and that nothing inimical Loughton's interests has been slipped in.

21 January 2021
Charging to drive through an Epping Forest Clean Air Zone

Read more about the proposal to pay to drive through Epping Forest, which is directly related to the Local Plan.

18 December 2020
We are still waiting to learn when the Inspector will reply to the Council on the documents the Council have submitted earlier in the year. In the meantime, the Council has published an Interim Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy on its website. Once adopted, this would enable the Council to lawfully grant planning permission for new development that would result in a net increase in vehicle movements through the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (EFSAC).

LRA comment: we will be examining the Mitigation Strategy very carefully as this could open the floodgates for further developments in Loughton.

21 November 2020
We understand that the Council have submitted their last batch of documents to the Planning Inspector and expect that they will now produce a consolidated version for public comment.

29 August 2020

When the draft Local Plan was submitted to the Planning Inspector last year, she asked the Council to undertake further work, particularly on the Council’s strategy for handling the effects of air pollution on the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The Council have to submit its proposed changes to the draft Plan to the Inspector for her consideration. The key changes are called Main Modifications (MMs). The Council submitted its third tranche of MMs during the week of June 8th. It expects to send in its final tranche of MMs in early September, and to consult residents on the MMs in October.
At its July Cabinet meeting, the Council’s Cabinet considered a draft document on its proposed approach to managing and mitigating the effects of new development on the SAC in relation to air quality.

At the meeting, LRA Cllr Chris Pond commented on this draft. He noted that the strategy was a work in progress that seems to be rather aspirational and said the Council should be working towards mitigation for better human health and bio-diversity. The damaging effects of particulates on the SAC did not seem to be particularly highlighted in the report and should be comprehensively dealt with. He suggested that the Council needed to shift development away from the SAC and the most popular parts of the District. Intensification of development on the Epping St John’s site would change Epping completely, which may be difficult to justify due to its closeness to the SAC. In his view, development should be shifted to somewhere in the north west of the district, a long way from the SAC and this should be used to encourage tourism to the Forest. He feared that the Inspector and Natural England would find the Council’s report insufficient.

4 July 2020

You may recall that last year the Planning Inspector referred the draft Plan back to the Council for further work to be carried out. The Council is desperately trying to find a way round the air quality issue (a "mitigation strategy") in the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (EFSAC). According to reports in the press, before the lockdown Epping Forest District had the worst Air Quality (AQ) for particulates of any district in Essex. Particulates come not only from exhausts, but tyre and brake emissions from motor vehicles too.

The Council needed to obtain new traffic and habitat data in order to analyse and forecast the likely future effect of new buildings on Air Quality, and this data had been gathered before lockdown interrupted the fieldwork. Nonetheless, the analysis of the data has been delayed and the final assessment is not expected now until at least October.
Since 2018 the Council has been unable to process any planning applications that would involve an increase in vehicle movements on roads within 200m of the EFSAC because of the potential impact on Air Quality levels. Loughton Town Council has suggested that any new housing within a mile of the EFSAC is bound to increase car ownership and use, and thus exacerbate the Air Quality issue; they say it would therefore be unsound for the District Council to grant such planning permissions.

LRA and Loughton Town Council will be watching the next stage very closely. Although the Council has been instructed by the Inspector to drop its plans to put housing on Jessel Green, its proposals for Loughton still involve cramming a large number of homes into the town, potentially to the severe detriment of local air quality, the EFSAC and (last but not least) of the quality of life of existing residents (for example, the proposals for huge developments on Luctons Field and on the two station car parks are as yet unresolved).

6 June 2020

The District Council has issued an updated position statement about the new Local Plan, its potential effect on the SAC and the present position with respect to the granting of planning permission for new developments that may adversely affect the SAC. The Council says that it is continuing to work actively to resolve the current situation which has restricted housing and economic development coming forward in the district since 2018. Working with Natural England the Council is striving to identify potential opportunities to address the backlog of undetermined applications and is seeking legal advice as to the extent to which permissions can be issued.  A further report will go to Cabinet at the December meeting. 

Although the Council has been required to take Jessel Green off the list of proposed developments, LRA and Loughton Town Council are continuing to follow progress closely and will challenge any attempt by the Council to push through any other developments  or "mitigations" which would adversely affect the SAC.

The District Council have now launched a consultation for their Draft Green Infrastructure Strategy. You can read the draft strategy and complete the survey. The consultation runs until 16th July.

13 March 2020

Things have gone very quiet on this. The District Council are desperately trying to find a way round the air quality issue (a "mitigation strategy"). Meanwhile, according to reports in the press, Epping Forest District has the worst Air Quality (AQ) for particulates of any district in Essex. Particulates come not only from exhausts, but tyre and brake emissions from motor vehicles too. This can be seen in practice in the condition of roadside structures, signs, and vegetation in the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) near the roads through the Forest, many of which are covered in blackish slime.

The Town Council has suggested that any new housing within a mile of the SAC is bound to increase car ownership and use, and thus exacerbate the AQ issue; they say it would therefore be unsound for the District Council to grant planning permissions. Some 80% of bus mileage in Loughton near the Forest is now run by hybrid electric vehicles, and the Town Council has asked Essex to make a bid to the Government's Electric Bus Town initiative to help reduce the emissions problem further.

The District Council has also been reported as saying that since 2018 it has been unable to process planning applications that involve an increase in vehicle movements on roads within 200m of the SAC because of the potential impact on air quality levels. News Article (registration required, free trial)

18 January 2020

The District Council’s progress report can be read here. The report is Agenda Item 11 from page 55 onwards. A list of sites is in Appendices B, C and D from page 71 onwards. We share the City of London’s concerns about the way in which the District Council is taking forward matters in relation to the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation – see here (item 17).

14 December 2019

The District Council’s progress report can be seen here. The report is Agenda Item 11 from page 55 onwards. A list of sites is in Appendices B, C and D from page 71 onwards.

The City of London is very unhappy with the way in which the District Council is taking forward matters in relation to the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation – see here (item 17).

15 November 2019

The District Council have provided a report on the current situation (item 11). There is still a lot to be done before the question marks over developments in Loughton near to the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (EFSAC) can be resolved. The Town Council has submitted a statement suggesting that a mile from the SAC edge be designated a no-development zone.

18 October 2019
Jessel Green Saved

LRA Cllr Chris Pond reports that the District Council do not intend to resist the Planning Inspector’s proposal that Jessel Green should be removed from the list of sites allocated for development in the draft Local Plan.

The Council will not be seeking other allocations to replace this and the other site deletions.

TfL have been given to 31 October to reduce the amount of housing proposed for Loughton and Debden station to that stated in the Plan or the sites will be deleted altogether.
LRA is delighted that the Council has finally given way of these points. However, the wider question of the excessive amount of housing still allocated to Loughton in the Plan remains unresolved.

So Jessel Green seems safe for now, but we must be vigilant and safeguard it for the future too.

11 August 2019

Plans to build houses on Jessel Green should be scrapped, Local Plan inspector tells the District Council

The Planning Inspector, Louise Phillips, has recommended in her letter dated 2 August, and published on the 7th, that Jessel Green should not be developed for housing. This does not mean Jessel Green is definitely saved, but the District Council, if they do not accept her recommendations, of which this is one of many, would possibly see their whole local plan rejected. They are not making any comment or giving any undertaking at present.

So many thanks are due to Save Jessel Green, the Town Council, and indeed ourselves, Milo Boyd late of the local paper, and all those individuals who protested. It is they who so far as we can see at the moment have saved this wonderful open space in the middle of Debden.

And shame on the District Council, who put the community to such trouble by suggesting this preposterous idea in the first place contrary to the clearly expressed wish of residents.

The inspector has also recommended either no “housing development” of the Debden and Loughton station car parks, or at least, no very high rise tower blocks as proposed by Transport for London.

Limes Farm in Chigwell has also been recommended for removal from the list of sites for development.

It may be that other sites in Loughton would have to be removed from the development list if measures to save the Forest from harm cannot be agreed. Conversely, EFDC may start looking for other local sites, including some that had previously been discounted.

You can read the whole advice and there is also a news article from the Epping Forest Guardian.

28 July 2019

The Epping Forest District Council Local Plan has been under scrutiny by the Planning Inspectorate in a series of hearings in Epping. LRA are continuing the fight against planned over-development in Loughton and Debden and for the preservation of Jessel Green.

The District Council disregarded local and national policies, submissions by respected bodies and consultation responses that many of you completed. Our forest, local services, transport and green spaces will all be under pressure from congestion and increased pollution if the plan for 1000+ new dwellings so close to the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation is approved.

Seventeen days of the Examination in Public ended on 11th June with a morning session in which Loughton sites were considered in detail. Barrister David Altaras and LRA Cllr Chris Pond argued for the Town Council against high-rise on the station car parks, and for the retention in full of Jessel Green, as did David Linnell and planning consultant Liz Alexander for LRA, and Michael Benbow spoke about the proposed huge care complex in Alderton Hill. Several other Loughton sites were also debated. The SaveJesselGreen group also spoke at a hearing specifically for Loughton. Most of the Loughton participants thought the day went reasonably well, and points were put across succinctly and cogently.

The hearing can be found on the District Council's website.

All is now in the hands of the inspector, Louise Phillips, whose report is expected during the summer. If further argument is necessary, the Town Council and LRA will be prepared to follow it through.

8 December 2018

Epping Forest District Council has now submitted its Local Plan for Examination. The Inspector has produced a timetable and document, including a set of questions. for hearings in 2019.

LRA, SaveJesselGreen and others will be attending some of the hearings to oppose various aspects of the Plan, including the idea of building on Jessel Green.

It’s important to remember that the Inspector will solely be looking at whether the Plan is “sound” (that is, it has been prepared in accordance with the relevant legal requirements) and may agree changes to make it “sound”. Other than this, she will not consider making any other improvements to the Plan.

3 July 2018

The High Court has dismissed a developer's legal challenge to the Epping Forest District Council’s Local Plan, paving the way for the Council to submit the Plan to the Secretary of State for Independent Examination (the challenge could, if successful, have had a significant effect on the progress of the Plan).

See the Council’s statement here – we will be considering the implications of the judgement.

21 March 2018
Epping Forest District Local Plan halted

On March 20th, a judge agreed that there should be a Judicial Review hearing in May on a developer’s objections to the Local Plan. Until then, the Council will have to defer submitting the Plan to the next stage of the process.

LRA is contesting a number of points on which we feel that the Plan is unsound. In particular, we object strongly to the Council’s proposal to build housing on Jessel Green.

LRA Press Release
District Council Press Release

29 January 2018
LRA attacks Local Plan

LRA has sent twelve representations to the District Council, setting out what it sees as the serious mistakes in the Local Plan, including calling for Jessel Green to be dropped from the development list. The next stage will be a hearing in front of a Government Inspector, probably in Autumn 2018.
At this stage, to get the Plan changed, we have to show that the Plan is not soundly based and is not the most effective way to deliver the required results in the Plan’s period. We know that the District Council won’t change anything at this stage, so our representations are aimed at this Autumn’s hearing.
You can see our representations here:

Jessel Green Station car-park: Loughton Station
Allocation of dwellings to Loughton Station car-park: Debden Station
Phasing of development in Loughton Employment implications of including Debden Station car-park
Local List Sustainable Transport policies – road capacity
Boundary treatments Sustainable Transport policies – bus provision
Bungalows & specialist accommodation

Find details about what’s happening, and the Local Plan itself.

11 January 2018

LRA will be pointing out to the District Council what’s wrong with the draft Local Plan, in preparation for the formal hearing in the Autumn. Save Jessel Green

Please help by
signing SaveJesselGreen’s petition

16 December 2017

What the latest position?

Despite strong opposition to various aspects from LRA Cllrs, and Cllrs from other parts of the District, at a Council meeting on December 14th the Conservative majority pushed through their current draft Local Plan.

Following pressure from LRA, Traps Hill car-park had been dropped from the list of developments, and Rochford Green had also been omitted. However, some of Jessel Green, Luctons Field and the car-parks at Loughton & Debden stations, are still on the list, and the County Council wants to redevelop the Traps Hill Library building to provide housing and a library, which means the Library, Town Council, CAB and National Jazz Archive will need relocating while work is carried out.

LRA Cllrs put forward a motion to exclude all public urban open space from development under the Plan but this was defeated.

What next?

The next stage in the process restricts representations to the District Council on the legal compliance and soundness of the Plan. More on this here and here. LRA and Loughton Town Council will of course be responding, and this should mean that next Autumn both bodies will be invited to speak at the final stage of the process – a formal hearing on the Plan in front of a Planning Inspector.

The District Council aims to deliver the development of 11,400 new homes in the remaining 15 year plan period. The Inspector will want to see a rolling 5-year land supply capable of meeting the identified housing need. Furthermore, in order to meet the housing targets required by national policy, the Council will have to demonstrate that it can achieve a dramatic improvement in the number of new homes brought forward annually. The annualised average requirement for new housing in the district is approximately 518. However, over the past years only 150 – 220 dwellings per annum have been delivered, leaving the Council with a significant shortfall of approximately 1,500 dwellings for the years 2011 – 2017. This shortfall must also be delivered in the Plan period.

We will keep residents posted on progress.

[Photo courtesy of Mark Soanes]

10 December 2017

Loughton’s open spaces threatened

The Government recently proposed that the number of housing units to be built in Epping Forest District should go up from 514 a year to 921 a year – an impossible target!

To avoid this increase, the District Council needs to submit its new draft Local Plan for examination before March 31st 2018 - the key Council meeting to approve the draft will be on December 14th. More here 

The Council say that even 514 units a year would mean building on Loughton’s open spaces – we know the vast majority local residents are against this, as is LRA. They are proposing to build on some of Jessel Green, a much-loved green that Loughton people have enjoyed for decades. The car parks at Debden and Loughton stations are also threatened.

The County Council wants to redevelop the Traps Hill Library building to provide housing and a library, so the Library, Town Council, CAB and National Jazz Archive will need relocating – temporarily or permanently - before work starts.

Following pressure from LRA, Traps Hill car-park has been dropped from the list – at least for the time being.

There will now be a public consultation on the soundness and legal compliance of the draft Plan. LRA will question the soundness of the Plan, and particularly the deeply-flawed site selection process; we are prepared to take the fight forward to the full-scale hearing before a Government Inspector (probably in Autumn 2018). Follow us on Facebook or Twitter, or look out for updates on our website.

14 October 2017

Draft Local Plan. LRA is considering our options should the District Council persist with what we see as extremely harmful proposals, such as including the Debden green spaces and the Traps Hill car-park in the list of development sites. Here’s a summary of the work the Council is currently undertaking on the Plan.

The Government is currently consulting on greatly increasing the number of housing units that would have to be built in the District, from 514 a year to 921 a year. The District Council can avoid this increase if it can submit its Plan for examination before 31 March 2018. It’s therefore trying to speed up the process to make sure this happens – the key Council meeting will be on December 14th

There will then be a 6-week public consultation on the latest draft, before it goes to a formal hearing in front of an Inspector. At this stage, if the Debden green spaces are still on the list for development, and if we think there are other serious things wrong with it, we will let residents know and ask them to give their views.

If this doesn’t make the Council put things right, then we will challenge the plan at the formal hearing.

13 December 2016

The Consultation is now closed. Over 600 residents copied us in on their responses – thank you! LRA response here & Loughton Town Council response here.

To keep abreast of what’s happening, join LRA and get our regular news bulletins

4 December 2016

Help Save Loughton's Open Spaces - Now!

Draft Local Plan Public Consultation

Tell the Epping Forest District Council which sites you value – and why!

Email the District Council about the Local Plan
Want to know more?

What you might say?

Put up a window poster

30 October 2016
The District Council is threatening to build over Loughton’s open spaces

Jessel GreenLoughton Library Car ParkLucton's Field You can find out more,and how to make your views known, in our latest Townwide Loughton Life newsletter.

Please tell the Council which sites you value – and why.

Public open space provision is only just adequate now and must not be reduced.  Give reasons for your views - see our suggestions. (if possible, put these in your own words)

You don’t need to be an expert! Just think what you’d say to a friend who asked you what you thought – and write down your answers.

See the areas affected 

24 October 2016
LRA to fight District Council threat to build over Loughton’s green spaces! 
The new District Local Plan will affect how the District develops. A Public Consultation starts October 31st. You can find out more, and how to make your voices heard, in the latest Townwide edition of our Loughton Life newsletter and email news bulletin. We’ll add a list of suggested replies here in the next few days. Copies of the “Townwide” are being printed and will be delivered to Loughton households in a week or so. LRA Statement.
Save Loughton's Greens

28 September 2016
LRA to fight District Council threat to build over Loughton’s green spaces!

The new District Local Plan will affect how the District develops. This Autumn there will be a Public Consultation. We’ll bring residents the details, and how to make your voices heard, in the end-October Townwide edition of our Loughton Life newsletter and here on our website. 

The Rape of Loughton's Open Spaces

What’s proposed?

Most of Debden’s green areas – and open areas elsewhere in Loughton – will be built over if the Conservative-dominated District Council (“EFDC”) have their way, according to their draft Local Plan.

At every stage of the development of the Plan, LRA Cllrs have made it clear that they oppose these proposals, and that they expect the vast majority of Loughton residents will do so too.

At the end of October, EFDC will launch a Public Consultation on the Plan. In the week commencing October 24th they will deliver a leaflet about the Plan to every household in the District.

At the same time, LRA will provide every Loughton household, explaining what’s involved and how residents can make their views known. At this stage we hope – and expect – that residents will give these aspects a resounding “thumbs- down”!

The details
The details of the draft Plan can be found at the Epping Forest District Council website (item 7).

Debden’s green spaces
EFDC want to build 195 houses on Jessel Green, which they own, pocketing the sale or rental proceeds. This is the big open hillside between Colebrook Lane and Jessel Drive.

(There is already a campaign group objecting to this – see the Facebook page).

They want 53 houses on Rochford Green (which they also own) near the Princess of Wales pub (previously the Clydesdale).

Epping Forest College sites (Borders Lane)
They have designated Luctons Field, opposite the College, to take no fewer than 304 dwellings - this field is owned by Epping Forest College. Despite strong LRA protests, last year EFDC just threw away a protective covenant that restricted it to educational or NHS use; at the time the College said the field was primarily intended as the site for a sports centre. EFDC also want 158 houses on the College Middle Site, which was also subject to a protective covenant which the Conservative majority threw away.

Elsewhere in Loughton

Other sites they have put forward include Traps Hill car park (44 houses), Debden Station car park (193 houses) and Loughton Station car park (114 houses) - the car park sites doubtless involve massive buildings over underground parking to replace the lost ground-level parking spaces.

Altogether, the draft Local Plan wants 1,190 more houses across Loughton. However, it fails to include any specific requirements for extra schools, roads, GP surgeries, etc

Next steps
The proposals will be discussed at an EFDC Cabinet meeting on October 6th and then at a full Council meeting on October 18th. Assuming that the draft Plan is approved, there will be a Public Consultation, which will run from October 31st to December 12th; EFDC may then revise the Plan. There are then further stages to go through before the Plan is finally adopted.

EFDC are already well behind their original time-table for producing the new Plan, and we would not want to further delay its introduction unnecessarily. However, should EFDC not take the expected public outrage into effect by amending the draft Plan, the LRA will continue to the fight these proposals at every stage.

1. About the Local Plan
The Local Plan governs many aspects of life in the district, including planning for housing and employment. In preparing the new plan, EFDC is required to consider all potential sites for housing.

2. About developments in Loughton
The Conservative majority on EFDC have already forced through a wholly out-of-character seven-storey building at the end of Debden Broadway, now under construction. They are also developing a “retail park” on Langston Road where it appears that – despite their promises at the outset - the retailers they are bringing into Loughton will create extra direct competition for retailers in The Broadway and Loughton High Road.

3. About Loughton Residents Association
Loughton Residents Association is a very active group of local residents who care for Loughton and its environment. Our membership is around 1,000 households, and we have been in existence for over 30 years. We are independent of any political party.
We seek, and listen to, the views and concerns of Loughton residents and take action in support. We have a majority of the councillors on the Loughton Town Council, and councillors on Epping Forest District Council & Essex County Council.

We have our own regular printed and email newsletters to residents and this website. This statement is also available online.

25 September 2016

The new Plan will affect how the District develops. This Autumn there will be a Public Consultation. We’ll bring residents the details, and how to make your voices heard, in the end-October Townwide edition of our Loughton Life newsletter and here on our website.

What’s in the plan?

Heritage Conservation, Nature Conservation
Recycling and Pollution

Housing, Employment, Shopping and Town Centres
Recreation, Sport and Tourism, Community Facilities

Design and the Built Environment
Landscape and Landscaping


The new Plan will affect how the District develops, in terms of housing and other building, the level of local employment and in many other ways.

LRA and Loughton Town Council will be playing our full part in the formal consultation – and then in the legal processes needed for the Plan to be approved.
Meanwhile, we - and some residents - are concerned that the draft Plan may list some of our green spaces for possible development.

No decisions have been taken yet.
We will be asking residents to make their views known in the consultation process - we will do our best to protect Loughton’s green areas!

More from Epping Forest District Council.