3 November 2023 Demolition of Loughton Library Approved by the County Council The
proposal to demolish Loughton Library and provide a 5-storey block
containing a smaller new Library with 38 flats above it was approved by
the County Council's heavily Conservative Development Committee at
Chelmsford on Friday 27 October.
Local LRA Cllr Chris Pond and
his predecessor David Linnell (for LRA Plans Group) spoke forcefully
against the proposal but to no avail. No non-Tory voted for it.
the officers and committee ignored paragraph 152 of the National
Planning Policy Framework, which mandates re-use of current buildings
because of the huge carbon "bill" involved in demolition/rebuild, LRA
will be writing direct to Michael Gove (Secretary of State for
Levelling Up, Housing and Communities), who has recently personally
decided to refuse the Marks and Spencer application to demolish and
rebuild their Oxford Street shop, to invite him to do similarly with
3 March 2023
LRA was recently able to obtain the
District Council's comments on the County Council's planning application to
demolish Loughton Library and replace it with a smaller library with 38
flats on top.
The District Council have objected
to the application, with the key issue that the 38 flats exceeds the 20
flats allowed for in the draft Local Plan, and that there would be an
adverse effect from pollution on the Epping Forest Special Area of
Conservation and, as the District Council say, on the York Hill
Conservation Area as well.
4 November 2022
the consultation ended October 20th, you can still send your comments
by post to the Chief Planning Officer, County
Hall, Market Road, Chelmsford CM1 1LX.
Group acquired the confidential pre-application "Statement of Community
Involvement" document relating to the redevelopment of the Library
through a Freedom of Information request. The summary demonstrates the
majority of residents oppose the development. Over half of respondents
opposed any additional housing and in particular the size and massing,
loss of library space, against the principle of the demolition, parking
and impact of the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation were all
registered as areas of objection. Notwithstanding this, only minor
changes were made to the scheme before the application was submitted.
is disappointing a public authority is ignoring the views of the local
community. LRA Plans Group will continue to oppose the development.
Cllr Chris Pond is also seeking to found out how library services will be
maintained during the demolition and building period. The County
Council to date has only said they "will seek to mitigate the impact of
works on users of the building and ensure a continued library offer to
the residents of Loughton" without any detail and whether this just
means redirecting users to other libraries.
14 October 2022
The consultation period closes October 20th. It is now time to make
your views known to the Council. More on our website and how to comment.
5 October 2022 The
County Council have now applied for planning permission to demolish
Loughton Library on Traps Hill and replace it with a 5-storey block. More
details are here.
A consultation is underway until October 20th.
It is now time to make your views known to the Council.
How to Comment
online here. Click Accept at the bottom of the page, then on
the next page click 'Comment on this application” at the top right.
Alternatively, you can write to the Chief Planning Officer, County
Hall, Market Road, Chelmsford CM1 1LX.
Please copy your
comments by email
so that we can take account of your views - the LRA Plans Group oppose
the application and will make detailed comments to the County Council.
may like to consider the following
• The existing library, at
two storeys, dominates this part of Traps Hill which is characterised
by open spaces before it meets the three-storey high street retail
buildings. The proposed five storey building, by reason its height and
bulk is wholly out of character with the area and will dominate the
setting of Traps Hill. Because of the lack of buildings at the Church
Hill side of the cricket and bowls grounds, the new building will also
stand out like a sore thumb to anyone walking or driving south down
Church Hill, against a background of much lower buildings. It will also
significantly harm the setting of the cricket ground (one of the very
few grounds still in the centre of such a large urban settlement like
The application proposes 38
additional dwellings which would mean more car pollution and a
subsequent impact on the air quality in the Epping Forest Special Area
of Conservation (SAC). The additional dwellings will also result in
more pressure for the SAC’s overstressed recreational services and
subsequent damage to the SAC. The District Council has no firm plans to
mitigate this damage to the SAC, and cannot be sure that any payments
towards mitigation made as part of a planning approval will be enough
to carry it out. This
approach is in clear breach of UK law.
No “affordable housing” is included. If councils are providing zero
affordable housing in their schemes, how can they expect private
developers to provide
• The existing building is not that old, and should be refurbished. •
In the earlier public consultation, most residents (and LRA Cllr Chris Pond) firmly opposed the plans.
Happens Next Like
you, we can only make comments on the proposals, which the County
Council must take into account but not necessarily agree with. The
application will be decided upon by Councillors in a County Council
Planning Committee. This is a quasi-legal process, and decisions have
to be taken on planning
grounds only, whatever the personal views of
the Cllrs involved.
LRAPG is an independent panel that comments
on all planning and licensing applications on behalf of Loughton
residents and is quite separate from LRA Cllrs sitting on planning
5 August 2022
Loughton Town Council to move offices
of the County Council’s intention to demolish Loughton Library on Traps
Hill and replace it with a 5-storey block, the Town Council is having
to move out by October. They plan to move back to their previous
offices at 1 Buckingham Court in Rectory Lane (near the junction with
The Buckingham Court offices that were vacated in
2016 were successfully let out, but became empty in 2021 when the firm
that had them ceased to trade. The Town Council reluctantly decided to
return to the old site given the huge uncertainty caused by the County
Council's unsustainable redevelopment plans.
LRA comment: LRA
Plans Group, along with many residents, strongly opposes the County
Council’s plans for the Library and the consequent unnecessary
displacement of the Town Council. We note that planning permission for
the new building has not yet been granted.
1 June 2022 Results of the County Council
public consultation on demolishing Loughton Library
County Council held a public consultation last July on their plans to
replace Loughton Library (Traps Hill) with a five-storey building – a
ground floor library and 4 floors on top containing 38 flats. The flats
would be owned by “Essex Homes” a wholly-owned subsidiary of the
Council, who would pay for the development. There would be no
encroachment onto the public car park, but the parking area for library
staff and visitors would be lost, without replacement.
As we’d heard nothing from the County Council since we used the Freedom
of Information Act to get a
copy of the report.
Not many people responded, given the size of the Library’s catchment
area (which may indicate a certain cynicism about such consultations).
Even the rather loaded question “Do you in principle support a new
library for Loughton at zero net cost to the Essex taxpayer?" got
support from less than half of the respondents. Overall, the responses
from respondents were quite negative or very negative, although the
report tries to play this down. As a result of the comments, the
Council has made some minor changes to the design.
Five storeys still seems to LRA’s Plans Group (LRAPG) to be wholly
out-of-character with its surroundings (the Traps Hill car park, the
cricket field and the bowls club ground, an area which used be
designated as “Urban Open Space”). The new building would be close to
the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (EFSAC), and the extra
basement parking for residents would in LRAPG’s view be in breach of
the legal requirements on air quality for the EFSAC. LRA County Cllr
Chris Pond spoke recently at a County Council Cabinet meeting about the
cavalier attitude Essex Homes have to embodied carbon, and also how
they were intending to sell swanky flats in a building out-of-character
with its surroundings (in this case in Waltham Abbey) for capital
receipts. What they propose for Loughton certainly has no demonstrable
14 January 2021 New Essex Libraries Strategy –
give your views
There's still time to give your views (until January 21st) on the
County Council’s draft strategy. More
As always, there’s not enough detail for us to be sure of how what is
being proposed will affect Loughton and Debden Libraries.
Recently Essex County
Council held an online session on the future of Essex Libraries; you
can find a report on it here.
It appears that “sustainability” was among the objectives mentioned.
there was no justification for about the most unsustainable thing the
Council plans to do, which is to demolish and rebuild the Loughton
Library building - how many decades will it take to reclaim the waste
of resources and carbon bill for this?
10 September 2021
County Council plans for our Libraries
online sessions are taking place on Monday September 20th for residents
to discuss their views and ideas on the library service. The Council
will outline ideas for key principles to help guide the service and its
future development - residents will be able to discuss these, as well
as make suggestions and offer feedback. The Council say that their
ambition is to enhance and upgrade the library service and ensure it
reflects the needs of local communities. All libraries in Essex will
remain open and opportunities for training and upskilling libraries
staff will be a key priority.
comment: the County Council are well underway with their appalling plan
to replace Loughton Library with a five-storey block; if you’re unhappy
with this, we suggest you join one of these sessions and let them know
13 August 2021
County Council’s public consultation ended on August 1st. We hope an
ative plan for the Library, including retention of the existing
building instead of its demolition, will be worked up in the next week
or so. There is of course no guarantee that the County Council will be
20 July 2021 There is now a public consultation. You can
find this, and the detailed plans here.
There are also exhibition events at the Library on Thursday July 22nd
and Saturday July 24th. More
design of the new Library brings it all onto the ground floor (on two
floors at present) and preserves the current level of stock (books,
CDs, etc) in 80% of the current space, plus a new outdoor area which
can be used in connection with the Library by schools etc in fine
weather. However, this still represents a very significant reduction in
book stock held locally compared with that of, say, ten years ago.
County Council wants to put 38 flats on four floors on top of the
ground-floor library in order to raise the money to pay for the
development. Five storeys seems to LRA’s Plans Group (LRAPG) to be
wholly out-of-character with its surroundings (the Traps Hill car park,
the cricket field and the bowls club ground, an area which used be
designated as “Urban Open Space”). There would be no encroachment onto
the public car park, but the parking area for library staff and
visitors would be lost, without replacement.
The new building
would be close to the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation
(EFSAC), and the extra basement parking for residents would in LRAPG’s
view be in breach of the legal requirements on air quality for the
EFSAC. The Town Council and the National Jazz Archive would have the
same amount of space in the new building as they have now. The Citizens
Advice Bureau (CAB) would not return to the new building as they
changed over to giving advice over the phone during Covid (they have
found that this works well and means that their advisers can work from
home. Anyone needing face-to-face advice will have to go to their
The County Council own the site. The development
would be done by Essex Homes Ltd, a company owned by the County
Council. The Council would finance the construction of the building
with a cheap loan from the Public Works Loan Board. It would then get
income from leasehold sales of the flats and then ground rents from
There will be a formal planning application in the autumn.
This will be considered by the County Council’s planning committee. At
that stage, LRA Plans Group will strongly oppose the development on its
design, loss of library facilities and threat to the air quality in the
All this has nothing to do with the District
Council, except they have aided and abetted it by putting it into the
draft Local Plan as a development site (with a capacity of about 20
homes). There is now a public consultation on the 'Main Modifications'
to the Plan (more in our next regular news email), and the LRA Plans
Group will press the Inspector either to remove the site and/or reduce
you can do
Please let the County Council know what you think of the proposal. The
consulation ends August 1st.
the consultation website there is a feedback form for your comments. If
you agree with all or any of the LRA Plans Group comments include them
in your feedback. You can also email your comments to email@example.com
or by free
post (scroll down the page).
The development is
actually five storeys - four storeys plus a penthouse.
2 July 2021
County Council is about to consult residents about their plans to
demolish the Traps Hill library and replace it with a four-storey block
with lots of flats on the upper floors over a smaller library. Starting
next week, they’re arranging for leaflets to be delivered to local
households, with a structured questionnaire. This application
will not be decided by the District Council, but by a
Conservative-dominated development committee in Chelmsford, but the
Town and District Councils are able to comment on the proposals.
On Monday July 12th
there will be an online public meeting with Essex County Cllrs,
architects and the Essex Housing Team. There will be face to face
public exhibition events on Thursday July 22nd (afternoon and evening)
and on the morning of Saturday July 24th. Details should be in the
LRA Plans Group
comment: the council say that one reason for the redevelopment is the
poor state of the current building’s roof; this appears to be the
result of the Council’s past neglect. However, these plans would
produce a smaller and poorer library in a building wholly out of
character in its surroundings, and the residents’ vehicles would
contribute to air pollution in the Epping Forest Special Area of
Conservation, which would be in breach of the relevant legislation.
you can do: please consider your views on this carefully, and reply to
the County Council. If you agree with all or any of the LRA Plans Group
comments include them in your reply (if the Council’s questionnaire
doesn’t allow you to express your views in full, please reply by email
or free post). Please copy your comments to us at applications@LoughtonResidents.co.uk
and to the Town Council (firstname.lastname@example.org)
and the District Council (email@example.com).
11 June 2021
understand the much-delayed consultation on this project to demolish
Loughton Library and provide a smaller library under a block of flats
will take place in July.
Please be ready to give your views!
21 May 2021
Library is planned to be demolished and replaced by a much smaller
library and no doubt a very big block of flats. How big, the County
Council won't say. From what we heard on the doorsteps, there will be a
huge outcry on this, and they are intending to do a postal
11 April 2021 LRA
Cllr Chris Pond has been asking the County Council some searching
questions about their proposals [LRA comments in brackets]:
Why won't the County
Council say how tall these flats will be? [It can only be because they
want to increase the density and hence the height.]
Why aren't these flats to
be affordable or social housing?
are the County Council persisting with this scheme in the knowledge
it's very near the Epping Forest Special Area for Conservation?
Why are the new library and
all the tenants being crammed in the ground floor?
They say £450,000 needs to
be spent on the roof of the present building. [Why have they not maintained it
adequately in recent years? It's only 45 years old.]
Why have all the remaining
books (many have been discarded) been moved downstairs during lockdown?
Why has the lift been
allowed to go out of use?
Why, when we need to
discourage car use, has a garage floor been factored in?
Council have now announced that they are putting back their planned
public consultation on the redevelopment until after the election.
LRA comment: we think
the whole proposal is misguided and we will continue to press for
proper answers to these questions.
13 March 2021
County Council is proposing to demolish the existing library building
on Traps Hill and to replace it with flats and a smaller library. The
site is in the draft District Local Plan for redevelopment to give a
smaller library, with (at the moment) 20 flats above. However, LRA Cllr
Chris Pond suspects that the County Council wants to build higher than
the expected three storeys, with a garage floor below, as their
rebuilding budget of almost £12.4m would otherwise imply a cost per
flat of at least £600,000. The County Council is refusing to reveal its
The site is only four minutes’ walk from the Epping
Forest Special Area of Conservation (EFSAC), and LRA believes that any
development here would adversely affect the EFSAC. In addition,
anything over 3 storeys would be wholly out-of-character with its
surroundings, at a time when the Government is emphasising the need for
new developments to reflect “the character of each place and local
If the scheme goes ahead, Chris says that a
larger vacant High Road retail unit, such as the former Clinton Cards
and New Look stores, would be a "good possibility for a decamp" while
any building work was taking place at Traps Hill for about a year.
Chris thinks that these District Council owned units could also provide
enough temporary space for the library and the Citizens Advice Bureau.
The National Jazz Archive will also need relocating.
30 August 2019
Loughton Library is under threat of demolition
and replacement by a smaller library under a block of flats.
The County Council plans to spend
almost £800,000 to demolish the library and replace it with 27 new
apartments for either sale or rent, along with a new library.
As reported in the Epping Forest Guardian, LRA Cllr Chris Pond said that the
development, just a short walk from the Epping Forest Special Area of
Conservation (SAC), will add extra pressure on the wildlife that exists
He added a European Court of Justice
judgement protecting special areas of conservation against development
needed to be taken into account, and that replacing the library with
homes would harm Epping Forest wildlife.
Cllr Pond called in the plan at a
recent County Council Committee Meeting (read the details - item 7), however this was rejected on party
lines by the Conservative controlled council. Much will now depend on
the inspector's report on the Local Plan on safeguarding the SAC (read
the latest here),
as this would be 27 extra dwellings, each
with people, dogs and cycles etc within a four minute walk of the SAC.
Separately, the Town Council Planning
& Licensing Committee agreed to register Loughton Library and
Town Hall as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ with the District Council,
and will let Essex County Council know they're doing so.