Letter to Editor: The Tories and the Green Belt near Sumners
Elections / Tue 25th Apr 2023 at 07:43am
HAVING just seen the letter and election flyer which has been sent by the Conservative candidate in Sumners and Kingsmoor I felt compelled to write to YourHarlow for the first time.
Cllr Souter states that a vote for any other Party is a vote to allow Sumners West to go ahead. This is clearly not true and follows the pledge to stop development to the west of Sumners made in the month before the local election in May 2021.
The fact is of course, the decision to allow the building of thousands of homes just across from Harlow’s border was taken on 6 February by ironically, Conservative Councillors at Epping Forest District Council.
Harlow Council has little if any influence about what will be built on any of the town’s borders.
Many residents undoubtably voted Tory in 2021 and 2022 due to the pledge they made to stop development. I hope they do not fall for this blatant lack of truth yet again.
Let’s not forget when trying to plot a route around the potholes on Harlow’s roads that Cllr Souter is also a County Councillor.
And it was the Conservative led Coalition government that introduced 'viability assessments' into the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework. These allowed property developers to claim a profit margin from 15 up to 20% to make a case to reduce their affordable housing obligations. Organisations like Shelter pre-warned the government that this would be case and subsequent history proves it has. The NPPF introduced in Paragraph 14 a presumption in favour of sustainable development that for plan-making means that, among other things, “local planning authorities should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area”. Paragraph 55 also obligated councils to meet developers needs: "Local planning authorities should consider whether otherwise unacceptable development could be made acceptable through the use of conditions or planning obligation".
I would add that the Tories are claiming that they will be creating thousands of new jobs in the town, another pledge they simply cannot meet if only because there is not enough space in the town to create such numbers. With some 16,000 new homes planned within a radius of 3 miles from Harlow Town Centre, the simple fact is that most resident of these new homes will be commuters. And what of the new hospital and the 3000 new jobs at the former Public Health England site at the Pinnacles the Tories have been pledging since 2017? Lets also not forget the Tories council house building boom, two years in power and not a single brick has been laid for a new house. Nicholas Taylor, HAP candidate in the Great Parndon Ward.
The Conservative government in 2018 helped developers avoid affordable housing (section 106) obligations by changing the definition of a major development. They did this by removing the combined floor space requirement of 1000 square metres and replacing it with a site area of 0.5 hectares. A leading planning consultant said: "There is an opportunity here for developments that would have previously been caught by the 1000sqm threshold. This is particularly relevant when developing sites of larger executive homes which would normally be less than 10 units but could have a very sizeable combined floor space." See https://www.evansjones.co.uk/news/new-national-planning-policy-framework-nppf-5-key-changes-to-consider.php
Whatever, the bottom line is what's happened and what has been delivered. More traffic, more unwanted unaffordable housing especially just outside the town, a trashing of the Gibberd plan, empty promises, pot holes to the hospital being moved out of town, a poorer environment and the loss of green spaces, all while the Council spends £21 million on shopping centre.
Worth a watch: How our housing system has failed: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001kk0h
I think sumners west should go ahead. We have thousands of Harlow residents waiting for homes . It would also give me a chance to get out of my current accommodation where I’ve been harassed and threatened by men and I desperately need to get out, yet the council think I’m ok here ??? Don’t know how that works tbh as I have evidence of the bloke next door to me shouting threats through our ajoining wall and evidence on my ring doorbell. Got a police order on him, but that doesn’t solve the fact that I never sleep and I live in constant fear here. But still, the council think it’s ok for me to live here and stay in band three when I’ve got drs letters telling them I need to be in band one and moved. The building on sumners would improve people’s lives such as myself, especially if they build bungalows. If you are worried about the environment I suggest you look at the bigger picture and Google geo engineering which is the reason why it’s cold all the time , this weather is man made to cool the planet, because it’s apparently heating up, yet we have no sun so crops can’t grow . This spring is really struggling. Humans are awful species, yet sadly we are here and we need safe homes . We can always plant trees if they give us a garden and plant flowers for the bees and put food out for the foxes, birds, squirrels and deer. Building on this land would help so many people in Harlow like myself.
P.s There needs to be safe spaces for women to live in Harlow. I am absolutely appalled that Harlow council think it’s ok to house me here with all my drs letters and evidence I have against the threats and harassment I’ve had living here. Councillors pretend they care but they don’t. Nobody cares. It’s disgusting. It would be a completely different matter if I was one of the councillors, or someone from Harlow councils daughter or girlfriend . They use the word bureaucracy to get out of it. They only care about their own and themselves. None of them care about us.
Clare, I am afraid you may have been misled. These developments will be of no help to any council tenant in Harlow because they are not in Harlow and none of them will be owned by Epping Forest DC or a Housing Association. They will have an Epping address and therefore command a premium in terms of the cost to buy one. The residents will pay no Council Tax to Harlow Council and there are no plans for any health service provision on Latton Priory. The only access road into Harlow will be Rye Hill Road, resulting in a huge increase in traffic on Paringdon Road and beyond. All good for Epping, bad for Harlow.
Nicholas - I think you meant to say that “none of them will be owned by HARLOW DC”. As you know, since most of the developments will be in the neighbouring Epping Forest District, Epping Forest DC will have the nominations to the affordable housing provided by housing associations - not Harlow Council.
Alan - Well surely I am right in saying that none of the new homes in the developments to the south and south west over the border from Harlow will be owned by Epping Forest DC?. As for Housing Associations being involved, to date I think there is no mention of this in the most forward part of the Plan, that is Latton Priory. The land adjacent to Katherines will be so expensive because of the need to buy out commercial greenhouses that there is unlikely to be any affordable homes of any sort. The developers at Gilston have already reduced their commitment to provide 40% affordable housing down to 23%.
A deafenly silence from our Conservative candidates....here's your opportunity to put us straight!!!!??? Or are the Alliance Party and other comments above correct...?
Nicholas - Yes, you’re right. It’s highly unlikely that Epping Forest DC will own any of the new homes. However, all of the affordable housing - at whatever % of the total homes on developments - will almost certainly be provided by housing associations. The % affordable housing to be provided on each development is for Epping Forest DC to negotiate with each of the developers. The only point I was making in my post, Nicholas, was that there appeared to be a minor error in your comment.