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Council leader vows to make Enfield ‘deeply green’ as she sets out plans for nearly 10,000 homes on Green Belt

Fury from Conservative opposition leader as he declares “local democracy is dead in Enfield”, reports James Cracknell

Green Belt land at Vicarage Farm and (inset) council leader Nesil Caliskan
Green Belt land at Vicarage Farm and (inset) council leader Nesil Caliskan

The leader of Enfield Council has said the borough will become “a deeply green place” as she welcomed plans to build nearly 10,000 homes on the Green Belt.

The council today (Wednesday 6th) published a long-awaited update to its draft Local Plan, which proved highly controversial two years ago when it included proposals to ‘de-designate’ Green Belt areas currently protected from development and allow 6,430 homes to be built on them.

In the new version of the plan, drawn up after more than 7,000 consultation responses were submitted in 2021 to the council’s original draft, the council confirmed it wants to allow an even greater number of homes to be built on the Green Belt by developers – a total of 9,651.

Of this number, 7,151 would be built within the plan period up to 2041, while another 2,500 would be built later. The two biggest areas of Green Belt development are proposed to be at Crews Hill, where the plan states 5,500 could be built in total, and at Vicarage Farm – dubbed ‘Chase Park’ – where 3,700 are allocated.

Meanwhile, at the Meridian Water development zone in the east of the borough, the new Local Plan allocates 7,722 homes to various sites while stating that the “longer-term goal” is to build 10,000. The first new residents at Meridian Water moved in three months ago.

In total across the whole borough, the number of homes planned is being increased from the 25,000 included the 2021 version of the Local Plan to 34,000 in the version published today.

In an introduction to the document, council leader Nesil Caliskan states: “Our Local Plan identifies areas of the borough where new homes could be built and sets out how we will deliver 34,000 by 2041.

“This will be accommodated across the borough, with a special focus on town centres and well-connected urban locations, as well as the creation of new sustainable settlement at Crews Hill and a sustainable urban extension at Chase Park.”

Although it’s not known exactly how many respondents to the previous Local Plan draft opposed construction on the Green Belt, the move proved highly controversial and has been fiercely opposed by opposition Conservative councillors – who won eight seats from Labour in the 2022 local election after campaigning to protect the Green Belt.

Tory group leader Alessandro Georgiou told the Dispatch today: “After a record number of objections to this Labour-run council on its draft Local Plan, they have decided to plough on with destroying our Green Belt anyway.

“Enfield Council will now run roughshod over the views of residents and proceed with ruining anything that is valued by residents.

“Residents have rejected this plan, independent groups have rejected this plan, environmental groups have rejected this plan and even their own mate the mayor of London is against the plan. “Quite frankly, local democracy is dead in Enfield.

“To be clear, this plan does not satisfy UK and London planning guidelines and I would be shocked if any inspector would allow it to pass.”

The Labour administration disputes Cllr Georgiou’s claims, however. Announcing the launch of the new Local Plan today, Cllr Caliskan said: “We are proud of this draft Local Plan which will support the delivery of more and better homes for residents in the right areas of the borough.

“It will make Enfield a deeply green place by enhancing parks, woodland, open spaces and biodiversity. We will plan for new schools, GP surgeries and places of leisure and recreation for all residents and we will help the local economy to flourish.”

Farmland between Crews Hill and the M25 is earmarked for housing
The council wants to build 5,500 homes at Crews Hill, including on farmland and a golf course

Although residents will eventually be given a chance to respond to the new planning document, they will need to wait for twelve weeks before councillors debate and approve it at a meeting on 6th March, after which there will be a statutory six-week period of public consultation.

Cllr Caliskan added: “Given the importance of this draft document, I made a commitment to pre-publish it for twelve weeks, which goes above and beyond the statutory requirement. This will allow it to be properly considered ahead of the council meeting in March.”

As well as allocating housing quotas to hundreds of different sites in the borough, the draft Local Plan also outlines how the borough can address key issues such as climate change, the role of town centres, job creation and employment opportunities, and the protection and enhancement of both the built and natural environments.

Following the public consultation, the Local Plan and formal representations will be sent to the government. An independent examiner will then be appointed by the Planning Inspectorate to test the plan against government policies and, if successful, will be formally adopted by the council and used to determine future planning applications.

Matt Burn, from campaign group Better Homes Enfield, said: “It is crucial that between now and March people express their concerns or support for the plan to their local ward councillors. The councillors will then vote on whether or not the plan should proceed to the next stage in March 2024. If it does proceed to the next stage, there will then be a more formal and technical round of public consultation.”

Residents can view the new draft Local Plan via the Enfield Council website:
Visit
enfield.gov.uk/services/planning/new-enfield-local-plan

This article has been corrected. The original version stated 5,500 homes were allocated to Chase Park and 3,700 to Crews Hill, but these numbers were the wrong way round.


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