EPPING FOREST: Council consultants eye Tube car parks in search for housing space
STATION car parks are among more than 300 plots of land being eyed as potential development sites, according to a new document set to go before the council.
Epping Forest District Council has commissioned consultants Nathaniel Litchfield and Partners, which has predicted that 16,200 more people will live in the district by 2031, to assess possible sites for new homes.
The latest table of possible sites, which could provide a total of 1,200 homes under current policy or 83,000 including sites in the Green Belt, has now been released.
It lists space for 240 homes on the car park of Debden Tube station, 160 at Loughton, 220 at Epping and more than 40 at Theydon Bois, which are classed as “available”, “achievable” and “deliverable” plots by the consultants.
The table has been published after the firm was criticised for releasing an unclear map of possible development sites in April.
Land listed also includes space for 5,000 homes, as well as employment and leisure, in a 2,000 acre sweep of land between the north side of Epping and Thornwood Common, next to the M25.
Another site mentioned is a plot of land south of Vicarage Lane, Chigwell, with space for 1,150 homes, although the firm has noted that both these sites are in the Green Belt, so the council would need to change its policy for development to take place.
The earmarking of station car parks as possible housing estates has alarmed people whose streets are already clogged with commuters’ cars.
Barry Johnston, 64, of Torrington Drive in Debden, said: “If they redevelop the car park, where are all those cars going to go?
“If they’re considering it and the council can make money, guess what they’re going to do?”
Michelle Duncan, 40, of Colson Road, also in Debden, said: “In the whole area, ours is the only station that does not have parking restrictions around it.
“There are already people down here with young children who can’t park anywhere near home because of the commuters. This would make it even worse.”
The council is due to launch a public consultation on its local plan, which the list of sites is expected to form part of, on July 30.
A spokeswoman said the aim of the plan was to provide a “prosperous district with jobs and homes for local people” and where “the Green Belt is protected.”
Richard Bassett, the district council’s planning portfolio holder, said 6,200 families were on its housing waiting list.
“Compared to many other places, the net effects of migration in this District are relatively minor,” he added. “But the population of Epping Forest is also getting older.
“We are living longer and in smaller family units. More people are living alone, driving up demand for more homes.”
The council is expected to allow the proposals to go forward for public consultation at a meeting on Monday (July 2).