New Bush Fair Councillor “utterly opposes” Purford Green development at Planning Committee and says he will “lay in front of diggers dressed as batman”

General / Thu 10th Jun 2021 at 07:22am

AT Tuesday planning committee the controversial Purford Green development – which will affect Stile Croft, Little Brays and Purford Green was debated and voted on.

The new Conservative Councillor for Bush Fair, Dan Swords, spoke on behalf of residents to oppose the development which he called “nonsensical” and “hair-brained”.

Cllr Swords said that the proposed development will have a detrimental impact on the surrounding homes in Stile Croft, Little Brays and Purford Green and is not the right site for new properties.

He also took real umbrage to the proposal for the potential investment into playing fields to be going to Church Langley and not Bush Fair – as suggested by Sports England. Cllr Swords said that this was insulting to Bush Fair residents and families and that he would offer to walk those at Sports England from the Purford Green site through the many Bush Fair playing fields to show where the investment could be better spent – such as Nicholls Field.

Perhaps the most notable of Cllr Swords objections was his threat to “lay down in front of the diggers dressed as batman” to stop the works going ahead.

Following the meeting, Cllr Swords said: “I utterly oppose this development. It is not the right site for development and the notion that any subsequent investment into playing fields should go to Church Langley is absolutely unacceptable. I will be taking this up directly with Sport England at the highest level who have proposed Church Langley as the beneficiary.

“I recognise the impartial nature of the planning committee, but I promised to stand up for Bush Fair residents and I meant it. I would strongly encourage any residents that are opposing this development to contact me via [email protected]

We did ask the Bush Fair Labour councillors for their thoughts on this matter.

Cllr Jodi Dunne said:

As I’m sure Your Harlow are aware, a number of investments have been made in Bush Fair over the last couple of years with Labour (small “m”) momentum behind them such as the new crossing near the Poplar Kitten and new CCTV for the shopping centre. I think these and other initiatives should be a source of pride for the local party.

Also, the new houses at Rushes Mead show an administration keen to rebuild and invest in the Bush Fair ward (okay it’s right on the edge but near enough). 

Mentions must also go to the former leader of the council Mark Ingall whose pursuit of Essex County Council over potholes almost ended with the scandalous prospect of court action to get them to repair the roads in Hookfield and I know a great many residents were appreciative of his efforts. 

And who can forget the late Cllr Purton and his sterling work on the Garden Town project, such dedication and tenacity remains an inspiration to us all in the local CLP. 

All in all it’s my view that along with the rest of Harlow, the Labour Party while in power did an awful lot to invest back into the town, not least with the creation of HTS which led to profits coming back into the public purse and not disappearing into the privatised ether.

Moving to the article recently published, I think if I were on the Development Management committee I would personally vote against a motion if I thought one ward would benefit to the detriment of another, wherever the wards were in Harlow. It would be interesting to know what the new Regeneration portfolio holder’s view on this is.

“It’s my hope and expectation that the regeneration trajectory will continue under the new administration for which I would imagine Your Harlow will be keeping a close eye on as indeed will we”.

Cllr Eugenie Harvey told us she agreed with Cllr Dunne.

Neither cllrs Dunne or Harvey attended the meeting.

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9 Comments for New Bush Fair Councillor “utterly opposes” Purford Green development at Planning Committee and says he will “lay in front of diggers dressed as batman”:

Edward Vine
2021-06-10 09:14:49

As a town resident living in Church Langley I totally oppose selling off playing field and green spaces, this creeping practice of infilling green spaces must be stopped. These are the lungs of the town. This process happens insidiously over many years and gradually strangles many towns. Re the section 106 monies to Church Langley, money promised in 1990s to improve facilities accessible to all in Harlow of under Section 106 arrangements has never been paid, so it seems this plan is as Cllr Danvers said, this is just means of Essex CC getting it's hands on a few million pounds at the expense of Harlow. It's an unfortunate but all too often a story: Essex CC just doesn't get what an ultra green strategy for town planning is. Transport road plans and trashing the Stort Valley are just two examples. Time Harlow was a unitary authority.

2021-06-10 09:21:20

This meeting highlights a whole range of issues: 1 The Council needs to invest in a better means of filming it's meetings. At present it is almost impossible to see and hear who is speaking. This reflects badly on the Council. 2 The hypocrisy of Labour Councillors purporting to want to protect open green spaces, when their Local Plan proposals included building on 8 green spaces/playing fields, 6 of which were deleted from the Plan following objections from the Harlow Alliance Party made to the Planning Inspector. 3 The ditching of the need to provide 30% affordable housing as set out in the local plan, for a poultry sum to be spent in Church Langley. 4 As new developments take place, more school places will be needed. Demolishing the old Passmore school only to find that a new school would be needed in only a few years later shows that there is no long term plan in place, it is all about short term gain. This land should have been left as it was in case the existing school needs to be extended in the future or used for instance for instance youth services.

Tony Durcan
2021-06-10 17:53:55

The simple facts are very simple and straightforward. This decision has nothing to do with either Purford Green or even Bush fair. This is about monies being directed to Church Langley as a result of this decision.This will only cause tension in the town that we don’t want or need. Shameful decision based on the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Terrible Tory decision.

Neil Warner Baker
2021-06-10 19:45:07

I'm really impressed to see a Councillor that first and foremost protects and serves the interests of those that have entrusted in him the power to care for their interests! Well done Dan...inspiring

David Forman
2021-06-10 22:44:05

I'm sure Harlow Labour have forgotten their ditching of the 30 percent 'affordable' housing quota at several developments whilst in control of the council. But then all politicians think the electorate have short memories.

Connie Sosa
2021-06-11 11:05:52

Councillor Durcan's comments reek of hypocrisy. This whole project was submitted under the former Labour Council's watch and it was they who agreed the compensatory funds going to Church Langley. Worse still, they broke their own plan by agreeing to the building of new houses in Bushey Croft in the same ward. This has resulted in: a) The destruction of a much larger green area, which was enjoyed by the public (unlike the Purford Green site which was closed and unused since 2018); and b) the loss of a important car park in front of William Martin School, which was used by parents and school staff. The closure has led to much more congestion and traffic by an infant and junior school. Members of the former Labour controlled council should hold their heads in shame for their deceit and incompetence, evidenced throughout the town after their decade of mismanagement.

Tony Durcan
2021-06-11 11:56:58

Let’s me clear and make this very simple all the Tories on planning voted to support private housing to be built on green fields. Any compensation for the loss won’t go to the local residence,it won’t go the the ward. It will go to Church Langley. The Tories could have opposed this but didn’t. At the moment the houses being built at Bushey Croft are council homes but the Tories may decide to sell them off instead. We need more council homes. Yes it’s political but for the people and the community and decisions should be based on what is best for the people and community. This decision was unfair and unjust. So Connie call me all the nasty names you want but it won’t make any difference and won’t stop me calling out when decision are based on profit and what really matters people Connie I don’t accept or acknowledge your social media bullying. Final point even the local Tory councillor agree this was the wrong decision.

Connie Sosa
2021-06-13 13:41:55

I did not call you any ‘nasty names’. Please re-read my post with due care. The debate raised by Labour was about building on green sites. Whether the houses are private or council is irrelevant in environmental terms. No Bush Fair Labour councillors even showed up! Labour built no ‘new’ council houses. Instead they bought houses in the open market which is financial insanity and a waste of taxpayer money given that tenants can exercise the Right to Buy and enjoy a big discount. Building council houses only makes sense of built on council owned land or sites that can be acquired cheaply and built by the council such that the financial result for the council in 3 years plus time when the tenant has the right to buy with a discount to market is neutral. This has to be measured against the cost of Housing benefit payments by councils. How many Council houses did the Labour administration actually build from scratch over past 10 years…? None?????

Connie Sosa
2021-06-13 16:46:55

Mr Durcan, using what seems to be your set phrase, let’s keep it clear and simple; Labour ward Councillors could not be bothered to turn up for the meeting. It shows how much interest they have. Hardly surprising that residents of Harlow rejected Labour comprehensively in May. It would be good if Labour presented a more serious and constructive opposition rather than spouting Momentum sound bites that resonate only in their ever shrinking little echo chamber. As things stand, the Greens and LibDems present a far more credible alternative than Labour pseudo Marxists!

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