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Lucton's Field, Borders Lane

Support LRA10 September 2021

We are sorry to see that building work has begun on the site, which has now been enclosed by hoardings. LRA Plans Group (LRAPG) has opposed these developments root and branch. Planning permission was granted by an unelected government inspector after the District Council hadn’t the courage to do the right thing by refusing the plans.

On Lucton's Field, a mobile phone mast has been erected as a temporary measure to replace the mast on the college across the road. There's now a planning application to the District Council to put masts on top of the new flats - the Town Council and LRAPG have objected to the application because the extra height would increase the visual impact of the proposed building, which is already too high - and anyway we don't think you’re allowed to apply to alter a building that hasn't been built yet!

Application EPF/1917/21. The formal consultation period has ended but you can still comment to the Council.

2 July 2021

Much to LRA’s displeasure, a Planning Inspector has allowed the two appeals by Fairview Homes against the District Council’s failure to make decisions on their proposals to develop Lucton’s Field and the Middle Site on Borders Lane for housing.

We think the key issue is the potential adverse effect of these developments on the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (EFSAC), and we think the Inspector’s decisions are wrong. We are considering what further steps, if any, we can take.

There is some work activity on the sites, which we're told is to do with temporary relocation of a telecomms mast. The old building on the Middle Site is now being demolished. The developers applied for prior approval for removal of the old building, and this wasn’t objected to. Therefore, what is being done is lawful.

11 June 2021

We are still waiting for the Planning Inspector’s decision on Fairview Homes appeal against the District Council’s failure to decide about their application to build flats on the field opposite the College. So residents were concerned when work started on the field; however, a resident asked the workers about it, and they said that they were installing a temporary mobile mast as the one in the College grounds has ceased to operate (there are provisions to allow for a temporary installations without the need for planning consent until the existing one is fixed). However, the works appear more extensive than would be needed for a temporary mast and the District Council has been asked to investigate.

21 May 2021

While we await the Planning Inspector’s decisions on Fairview Homes’ appeals against the non-determination of their proposals for Lucton’s Field and the Middle Site (Borders Lane), we have been encouraged by a press report on another of their developments in Garston (Hertfordshire), which had been turned down by the local council. A Planning Inspector, in turning down Fairview’s Homes appeal against the council’s decision, said “In terms of the characteristics of context, identity, built form and homes and buildings the proposal would fail to be a well-designed place” and “this proposal would be poor design that harms the character and appearance of the area”. View the full document here under 'Appeal Dismissed'.

These are comments which the LRA Plans Group (LRAPG) thinks apply equally to Fairview’s Borders Lane development proposals.

30 April 2021

LRA Cllr Chris Pond, David Linnell and Michael Benbow attended the online appeal hearing against the District Council’s failure to make a decision on Fairview Homes proposals for developments on Lucton’s Field (opposite the College) and on the Middle Site. LRA committee member Michael Benbow spoke on behalf of a group of 217 residents.

The Council argued that Fairview Homes were trying to put too many dwellings on the site, and that the design was unsatisfactory. Much of the discussion was on technical planning points. Chris gave cogent arguments against any development on Lucton’s Field, and David spoke on what we see as a fundamental legal flaw in the Council’s approach which means that building shouldn’t be allowed on either of the two sites until a complete and detailed Air Pollution Mitigation Strategy is put in place. Michael stressed the excessive density of the proposed development.

We now await the Planning Inspector’s decision, which may not appear for many weeks.

11 April 2021

The District Council failed to take any decisions on Fairview Homes’ proposals for developments on Lucton’s Field (opposite the College) and on the Middle Site and so they asked for the decisions to be made by a Planning Inspector. A hearing on both proposals starts online on Microsoft Teams on Tuesday April 13th at 10am and will last for eight days (we haven’t yet seen the timetable for the hearing).

LRA will be in attendance and we'll keep you updated.

Thank you to all the LRA members and local residents who sent in hundreds of objections and demonstrated clear local feeling towards the proposals.

13 February 2021

There is a major change for the two College Site planning applications off Borders Lane for the Middle Site and Lucton's Field.  The College sold the land to Fairview Homes and both sites are in the District Local Plan for building new homes.  Fairview Homes have appealed because the District Council has not made a decision.  A Public Inquiry will start on April 13th and the decision for both planning applications will be taken by Mr Robins, a Government appointed Planning Inspector.

Lots of new homes have been built in Loughton in the last 30-40 years but our lovely town has reached saturation for road traffic, congestion, air pollution, parking spaces, Central Line capacity, school places, open spaces for exercise, recreation facilities, police enforcement and it's hard to get a doctor's appointment.  The District Council has encouraged development of both sites and proposed is an increased number of flats - 25% and 30% more than is prescribed for each site in the District Local Plan.

Proposed details:  Five of the eight blocks of flats are four and five storeys high.  This is a total of 402 flats and 19 houses but the District Council's Local Plan specifies 328 homes.  This is a total of 769 bedrooms but only 327 car parking spaces - less than half a space per bedroom.  A one bed flat will have 1-2 people and 1-2 cars but many flats are intended for families and would result in 800-1000 extra cars using our roads several times a day.  They would add to the congestion we already suffer for much of most days.

The District Council must now submit evidence to the Public Inquiry including what their recommendation would have been had the applications not been appealed. This evidence will be considered by the Inspector along with any further views from local residents.

It's now vital that as many residents as possible submit their views directly to the Inspector, so please send a 5-6 bullet point email to  leanne.palmer@planninginspectorate.gov.uk by February 19th midnight:
If you raised objections to the District Council last year, you can use the same objections this time.

18 December 2020
In our last Loughton News email, we reported on how LRA Cllr Chris Pond and other Cllrs 'called in' proposed amendments to the covenants that apply to Lucton's Field. The District Council then prepared this report.

The Cabinet persisted and set aside the covenants despite the Overview and Scrutiny committee referring it back to them for reconsideration. LRA is disappointed with this outcome.

21 November 2020
The field was originally covered by covenants restricting its use to educational or health usages.  Five years ago, a motion to amend the covenant was “called in” by LRA Cllr Chris Pond and other Cllrs, because they thought it was ill advised. The covenants were amended so that they would cease to have effect once the College made a planning application for a sports centre on the Field.
Recently the Council put forward further amendments to the covenants, and these were again called in by Chris and other Cllrs. They wanted the new covenant to include a provision of public access to the sports centre and for the land to revert to community control if the sports centre wasn’t built. They also wanted the contract with the developer to include a community benefit such as a Wellness Centre. The Council agreed to take these points forward.

Chris's suggestions for new covenants have now been put to the college, who will doubtless reject them, as they would limit their freedom of action.
The Council has confirmed that the County Council don’t see any need to use the land for educational needs, such as a new primary school (LRA finds this incredible, given the Council’s determination to build another 1,000+ homes in Loughton).

12 October 2020

Thank you to all the residents that have responded and commented on this proposed development.

Do you want one of the last large green spaces in our town developed with 285 flats in 3-5 storey buildings? Your comments can make a difference. Now is the time to make your views known.

It's easy.

To object, you just need to email appcomment@eppingforestdc.gov.uk with your views expressed in 5-6 bullet points using your own words. Use an email subject of "EPF/0379/20: Objection", include your name(s) and address, and send only one email per household. Please also copy your comments to us at applications@loughtonresidents.co.uk.

When commenting, you may find it usefull to read LRAPG's concerns in summary below and the full objection letter here.

See the plans here or search the District Council website using Application Number EPF/0379/20.

Thank you to all the residents that have responded and commented on this proposed development to date. Remember this development is different to the Middle Site one.

26 September 2020
District Council challenged on Lucton’s Field covenants

LRA Cllr Chris Pond and Independent Cllr Stephen Murray challenged the District Council’s proposal to effectively remove the covenants on land in Lucton’s Field (Borders Lane) owned by New City College (which was Epping Forest College) at a recent District Council meeting.

The original covenants limited use of the land to education or health purposes and were amended a few years ago, despite objections from LRA Cllrs. The report to the Cabinet said that "Removal of the covenants benefits the district by allowing the college to develop the Wellness Centre while also assisting the developer in unlocking further housing provision in the district in accordance with the Local Plan." At the meeting, Cabinet member Cllr John Philip commented that Essex County Council had said (some time ago) that it did not want to put a primary school on the land which was subject to the covenant.

LRA comment
This is almost certainly the last remaining site in Loughton where we will be able to deal with the undoubted need of a new primary school. Cllr Philip is leading the District Council’s attempts to force over a thousand new homes on Loughton, which would inevitably generate a need for more schools; it seems incredible that the District Council has seemingly not bothered to check the up-to-date position on a new school with the County Council.

29 August 2020
Make your views known on the proposed development of 285 flats on Lucton's Field, opposite Epping Forest College
Have you commented?

As we reported earlier this year,  a major development is proposed for Lucton's Field, across the road from Epping Forest College on Borders Lane (aerial view). There are 285 flats proposed in 3-5 storey buildings. This is a virgin green site, has never been ploughed or built on, hasn't been mown until recently, and is valuable for biodiversity and as a green lung. 

LRA Plans Group has raised concerns around parking and transport congestion, the development being out of character with the area, and impacts on local health and education provision.

To date, only 175 objections have been made. Objections are needed from 300-400 households in order to show the District Council planning committee of 15 Cllrs how local residents feel about the proposal. 12 of them represent other towns and this is the committee which granted permission for Landmark House on the corner of Chigwell Lane and The Broadway.

If you raised an objection to the Middle Site proposal and feel as strongly about Lucton's Field, you need to send a separate objection in - they are different developments. The Middle Site proposal had 485 objections made. This is a strong response. If not, you may like to look at this proposal too.

To object, you just need to email appcomment@eppingforestdc.gov.uk with your views expressed in 5-6 bullet points using your own words. Use an email subject of "EPF/0379/20: Objection", include your name(s) and address, and send only one email per household. Please also copy your comments to us at applications@loughtonresidents.co.uk

11 April 2020

You can read our full objection to the Lucton's Field proposal here.

13 March 2020

Fairview Homes have now applied for planning permission for development on Lucton's Field, across the road from Epping Forest College on Borders Lane (map). This is one of the last large green spaces in our town and would be a significant housing development including:
  • 5 blocks of flats - mostly 5 storeys
  • 285 units - the draft local plan allows for only 217
  • 521 bedrooms in total
  • 198 parking spaces under cover
  • 1 bed flat = 1-2 people and cars?
  • 38% of car space per bedroom
See the plans here or search the District Council website using Application Number EPF/0379/20. More detail is also on the Fairview Homes website.

Now is the time to comment. Objections are needed from 300-400 households in order to influence the District Council planning committee of 15 Cllrs. 12 of them represent other towns and this is the committee which granted permission for Landmark House.

To object, you just need to email  appcomment@eppingforestdc.gov.uk preferably by Friday March 20th with your views expressed in 5-6 bullet points using your own words. Use an email subject of "EPF/0379/20: Objection", include your name(s) and address, and send only one email per household.

Please also copy your comments to us at applications@loughtonresidents.co.uk

The LRA Plans Group is inclined to oppose this scheme (see the concerns we have below), but would like to hear your views.

Your comments can make a difference. Don't forget, Jessel Green was saved last year after a huge effort from the community.

The proposal
Although the Council’s adopted plan in 1998 zoned this land as urban open space, the latest draft Local Plan identifies it for development. However, we consider the current proposals are an over-development of the site; 285 homes would be over a third more than proposed in the Local Plan.

In particular, we are also inclined to oppose this scheme for the following reasons but would like to hear your views:
  • 198 parking spaces will result in more congestion along Borders Lane, in particular atthe junction of Borders Lane and Rectory Lane. We are also concerned about where visitors – and some residents - would park. In addition, 31% of the dwellings with have no dedicated parking which will add to parking congestion to nearby streets.
  • The excessive number of residential units will result in more congestion to Debden Underground Station (particularly as the train service from Debden was reduced from 26 January).
  • The development is surrounded by predominantly 2 storey red brick homes with pitched roofs. The proposed buildings are monolithic in nature and out of character with the area. We consider that at up to 5 storeys they are too high and overbearing.
  • The site is less than a mile from the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (EFSAC). The law requires that developments should not take place if they would harm the EFSAC (these were EU laws which have been made into UK law). The harm could come from extra pollution from vehicles or from extra recreational use of the EFSAC. This aspect of the draft Local Plan is still under discussion and LRA, Loughton Town Council and the City of London (for Epping Forest) will continue to fight hard to protect the area.
  • The development will have a significant impact on waiting lists for local health centres and no mitigation measures have been provided.
  • The proposal will impact on local education provision.
  • There is no bus service along Borders Lane from 7.15pm onwards.

Although the plans state that the sports centre and gym will be open to the public, there are no guarantees of this, or of whether charges for access will be reasonable.
These are our initial views. Do you agree or do you have alternative comments to make? Please let us know, before March 13th if possible.

What Happens Next
Like you, we can only make comments on the proposals, which the Council must take into account but not necessarily agree with. The application will be decided upon by a District Council Planning Committee, which will consist of Councillors from across the District, advised by Officers; one objector will be able to speak at the meeting. This is a quasi-legal process, and decisions have to be taken on planning grounds only. For example, loss of private views and to the value of your home are not planning grounds.

Luctons Field Plan

Luctons Field Front Impression
Luctons Field Aerial Impression
Source: Fairview Homes planning application

15 November 2019

We now await formal planning applications. In the meantime, residents have launched a petition against the proposals, and a Facebook page.

18 October 2019

LRA is very disappointed by the proposals for the college sites, which is on the Fairview Homes website with details on the Epping Forest College Middle Site and Lucton's Field.

Indeed, we were horrified by the removal by the Conservative majority at the District Council of the protective covenants on these sites, which we fought long and hard in 2015.
Developing the proposed sites would adversely affect air quality in the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC) by pollution from residents' cars, and would adversely add to the recreational pressure on the SAC.

Luctons Field is an area of valuable open grassland that has never been developed. It was a green meadow till 1950, then a playing field. It contributes greatly to Loughton's biodiversity.

The quality of life in St Mary's and Alderton Wards would be impaired because there is insufficient infrastructure for such a development:

Acting as an Association, LRA opposes all over-intensive development proposals in Loughton. However, LRA councillors have to act separately from the Association in relation to planning proposals because they have to take planning decisions solely on the basis of the evidence presented at planning committee meetings. However, when these proposals become a formal planning application to the District Council, your councillors will ask searching questions, and the LRA Plans Group will ask residents for their views.

Lucton's FieldJanuary 2015

In summer 2015, LRA Cllr Chris Pond headed off temporarily an attempt by District Council cabinet member John Philip to release the protection this 11-acre field between Borders Lane and Colson Road has enjoyed since 1952. The protection is a covenant restricting its use to educational or NHS uses, and the Council controls the covenant.

Epping Forest College, who own the land, wanted to develop it for a sports centre, and, importantly, for housing, to finance the sport centre and improve their finances. The sports centre is a good idea, but it won't take up 11 acres.

LRA believed that some of this land is still needed for educational purposes. Loughton will need a new school within a decade or so. But with land at up to 4m an acre, how could such a site be found anywhere in Loughton, without taking green belt or valued urban open space?

All this was aired at a special meeting in Epping, when the decision to go ahead with the covenant release was scrutinised. LRA Cllrs Leon Girling, David Wixley, Howard Kauffman and Chris Pond all pointed out how the decision was flawed, and how much Lucton’s Field was valued, and should be continue to be protected for educational use. However, the silent Conservative majority on the committee - not one of whom spoke to defend this short-sighted decision - voted it through.

So the chances are that the college will cover this land, and its middle site (other side of Borders Lane), with yet more housing, as well as the sport centre, so we will need even more school places, which we will be unable to provide as we have no land.

LRA thinks this is preposterous, unreasonable and entirely short sighted.