Epping Forest Conservators continues to Object to Next Plc development in Waltham Abbey

The Conservators of Epping Forest have reaffirmed their objection to a proposed development by clothing and home retailer, Next Plc.

The company is proposing a new warehouse on land north of Dowding Way in Waltham Abbey, Essex, but saw plans rejected by Epping Forest District Council in June 2021. The distribution centre scheme also comes with a photo studio and a multi-storey car park and bridge link. Among the reasons for refusal were claims the plans would impact the green belt, and that the A121 would struggle to accommodate the 1,000 extra lorry movements likely to be generated, according to the council’s planning website. But Next has lodged an appeal, reducing the size of the scheme to 57,267 metres squared.

The additional comments submitted to HM Planning Inspector are listed below.

Mr Robert Wordsworth,
The Planning Inspectorate
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay
Bristol
BS1 6PN

City of London Corporation as Conservators response: Reference: APP/J1535/W/21/3289760 – Planning Appeal (W) Next Plc & Trinity Hall, Land North of Dowding Way, Waltham Abbey, EN9 3RU. Epping Forest District Council.

Epping Forest is owned by the City of London Corporation and comprises some 6000 acres (2,500 hectares). It is supported by a further 1,800 acres (730 hectares) of Buffer Lands. The Epping Forest Act 1878 charged the City as Conservators of Epping Forest (here after referred to us The Conservators), with a duties to conserve its varied native vegetation and to preserve the Forest’s natural aspect.

The Conservators have made multiple objections to this application in respect of both the Phase 1 and the abandoned Phase 2 proposed development (the last comments made on the 24th June 2021). The views of the Conservators remain the same, despite minor amendments proposed by the applicant as part of the appeal process.

The Conservators would also like to make the following comments:

ANPR
The proposed ANPR system to ensure compliance with a s.106 agreement is not proposed to remain in perpetuity and is stated as only being in place and funded by NEXT Plc until the EFDC Air Pollution Strategy is produced. Any person subject to S.106 can seek to have obligations modified or discharged after 5 years. The Conservators believe that if permitted the routing of vehicles through the SAC must remain in place for the lifetime of the scheme. It is the opinion of the Conservators that any additional vehicles associated with the development (electric or not) will lead to increase traffic volumes within the SAC, resulting in greater increased stationary traffic in the SAC of non-electric vehicles.

The monitoring of the ANPR is set to be monitored by NEXT but there does not appear to be a suggestion of the fine value for breaches. In addition, there does not appear to be any mechanism for controlling staff or visitors dropped off at or near the site, but not entering the site by vehicle. For example, a potential member of staff could be driven through the SAC and dropped near the site to attend work.

Transport Strategy
The Conservators are sceptical of the transport strategy proposed, whilst incentives for non-private single care use are positive, they remain aspirational and not wholly enforceable.

In-combination developments
The Conservators would like to bring to the attention of the Inspectorate, a recent application by Sainsburys PLC to increase the capacity of their existing site (EPF/2103/21) at Fleming Way, Waltham Abbey. This existing business utilises the access roads to the M25 (junction 26). Both applicants have stated that their business activity will not utilise roads through the SAC. These applications if permitted would in-combination see increase in traffic flows to the busy junction 26 of the M25. The Conservators are concerned that this will lead to a movement or baseline vehicles to utilise the existing roads through the EFSAC.

The Conservators are grateful for the opportunity to comment on this appeal and may make further comments on this scheme prior to the deadline for comment submission.

Yours sincerely

XXXXXXXX

Land Agent & Planning Officer,
Epping Forest
Environment Department

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