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Forum topic: Scale of developer's 'vision' for building on green belt revealed

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Scale of developer's 'vision' for building on green belt revealed

Basil Clarke

09 Aug 2023 20:49 #6932

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[Original article]


Analysis of recently published inputs to the 2021 public consultation on the next Enfield Local Plan has revealed the scale of the ambitions of housing developers to build on extensive areas of land in the borough currently classified as Metropolitan Green Belt - but also among the submissions from developers there were some calling on the council to give preference to building on "brownfield land", including sites in Palmers Green.

vicarage farm vision design rationaleA map from Comer Homes' submission to the draft Enfield local plan consultation shows their 'vision' for building 5000 new homes on green belt land between Trent Park and the Ridgeway and south of Enfield Road

The submissions from individuals, public bodies, local societies, campaigning groups and private companies were finally published online by the council in June - they comprise 7,157 documents, presented in a manner that makes it difficult to search or find one's way around the inputs. The Enfield Society has now created a single alphabetically sorted list, making it (somewhat) easier to digest the data. In conjunction with the Society, the greenbelt protection campaign Enfield RoadWatch has begun the long and slow process of analysing the information, as have the Enfield Dispatch, Better Homes Enfield and other civic sector organisations.

Rather than me re-inventing the wheel, I recommend reading what the Dispatch and Enfield Society have published so far - doubtless just the first instalment of the results of their analysis of the submissions. In this report I'll just point out a couple of key findings.

Some of the consultation responses from statutory and expert bodies are highly critical of aspects of the draft plan. They include Historic England's concerns about local heritage and the Environment Agency's questions about handling flood risks, in particular in "Chase Park", through which the Salmons Brook and Merryhills Brook both run.

It now appears that the scale of housebuilding envisaged for "Chase Park" - a large green belt area to the east of Trent Park - is higher than previously suggested. At the heart of this area is Vicarage Farm, owned by Comer Homes. One of Comer's submissions is a glossy document entitled "Vicarage Farm Vision", which reveals that in 2021 they were proposing to build 5000 housing units on the site. (Better Homes Enfield have since uncovered a recent statement by Comer suggesting they might build 12,000 homes there!)

The proposals are not without merit: for example, extending Trent Park eastward, keeping half the acreage as "open space" (or is that where the extra 7,000 homes would eventually be built?), and providing walking routes through the development. However, in the final analysis the big problem for me is the disappearance of a green gap in the urban sprawl. Bizarrely, Comer try to argue that this is one of their proposal's plus points!

Comer argue that the large green space is “already surrounded on three sides by development […] thus reducing the effect on the countryside” and that thousands of new homes there would “expand on [the] existing residential character of Gordon Hill to the east and World’s End and Oakwood to the south”. Exactly the type of uninterrupted urban spread that the green belt concept is designed to prevent.

Comer even go so far as to suggest that the huge development would consist of three "15-minute cities". 15-minutes cities are a wonderful concept, both for improving environmental sustainability and for making for less stressful lives, but how are Comer going to ensure that the shops, pubs, restaurants, social clubs, doctors' surgeries and other nearby essential facilities will be there? I somehow doubt that this is within their capabilities, and the result will be even more cars travelling along the already congested A110 to reach Enfield Town.

An image from the 2021 planning application for development of the TFC supermarket at the intersection of Green Lanes and the North Circular Road. The developers argue that mixed residential/commercial developments on brownfield sites with good public transport access should be preferred over building on the green belt

And the Palmers Green references?

On behalf of Morrisons, Peacock & Smith responded to the call for development sites stating that their Palmers Green site "presents an ideal opportunity to deliver a mixed-use development for a replacement foodstore, car park, and housing, contributing to the Council’s ambitious housing delivery targets, whilst still providing a ground floor retail use to serve existing and future residents, as well as providing ongoing employment opportunities". Presumably, they are suggesting a multi-storey building with a supermarket on the ground floor and flats above.

Lindhill Properties were one of the developers objecting to the council's objective of building on green belt land, arguing in favour of brownfield development, such as their proposals for the TFC Supermarket in Palmers Green(the former Cock public house - see this 2021 report on PGC):

"The Council is fully aware of the site edged on blue [the TFC site] having conducted pre-application discussions for a number of years and having validated an application for that site’s development. We are told that the Council supports the principle of high density homes on this site. [...] The site as identified is known to officers of the Council and should be allocated for mixed use housing- led regeneration which should include a tall building."

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Scale of developer's 'vision' for building on green belt revealed

Darren Edgar

10 Aug 2023 09:07 #6933

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Problem is people are quick to say "don't build on the green, use brownfield sites" but then look on here and all the Enf Soc type forums for the constant maniacal opposition to attempts to build on brownfield sites.

That TFC site is a perfect example. Look at the scale of opposition and campaigns against it. What's actually happened since??

Through in the Cockfosters car park and Southgate Office Village. All under utilised brownfield sites. All vehemently opposed.

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