Hundreds sign petition urging fresh Local Plan debate

Newly-elected councillors have not yet had a chance to debate future of Green Belt, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

An Enfield Road Watch campaign banner in Enfield Town
An Enfield Road Watch campaign banner in Enfield Town during last year’s consultation

Hundreds of residents have backed calls for a fresh debate on Enfield Council’s draft Local Plan amid ongoing concerns over its impact on the environment and the Green Belt.

A petition has been drawn up urging the authority to bring the revised Local Plan to a full council meeting to allow newly-elected councillors to have their say on what it calls the “most significant and important policy choice that can be made by local governments”.

The draft document, which included controversial proposals to allow more than 6,000 homes to be built on the borough’s Green Belt land when it was first published a year ago, underwent a twelve-week public consultation last year. This will inform the next draft of the Local Plan, which is due to undergo a further round of technical consultation before being examined by a government planning inspector.

But four local groups – The Enfield Society, Enfield Road Watch, Enfield Climate Action Forum (EnCaf) and Better Homes Enfield – have joined together to call for a renewed debate following the local elections in May, when 29 new councillors were elected. They say the new members should be allowed to share their views on the revised Local Plan and vote for or against it in a roll call.

The petition has gained more than 800 signatures since it was launched on 3rd June, and it will run until 31st July. If it receives 3,124 signatures, it will be debated at a full council meeting.

Dave Cockle, chair of The Enfield Society, said the society’s “core objective” was the protection of the Green Belt, but other concerns included tall buildings, the design of developments and housing affordability.

“It really does need to be debated by full council,” he said. “There are so many new councillors in now, and they were not around when they had the previous discussion on the Local Plan. We feel very careful thought has to be given to it.”

Carol Fisk, vice chair of campaign group Enfield Road Watch, said her main concern was the “huge swathes” of Green Belt land that could be opened up for development under the Local Plan.

She said: “We recognise there is a need for affordable homes especially, but what will go on the Green Belt will probably not be homes for Enfield people and people on the housing list. The Green Belt is just too precious a resource to throw away.”

EnCaf’s land use working group has claimed the proposed Local Plan will fail to meet its goals on the Green Belt, affordability, heritage and the climate emergency. It claims there are “sufficient brownfield sites” to meet housing need, and building on the Green Belt would not provide affordable homes.

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A representative of EnCaf said: “We want each councillor to nail their colours to the mast on it [the Local Plan]. It is so big for every part of Enfield, certainly the communities in the east. Green space, air pollution – all those things that the Local Plan can cover, we want to know what the councillors think.”

Matt Burn, of Better Homes Enfield, said his group wanted to see councillors talk about “affordable housing and how we get more in the right places”, as well as the claim that 50% or more of housing built on the Green Belt could be affordable.

He added: “We are trying to understand why more affordable housing is not being located on [the council-led redevelopment programme] Meridian Water in the Local Plan. We would like to see them debate that far more.”

During a full council meeting in June last year, councillors agreed that the “final version of the Local Plan” would be brought back to a full council meeting following the twelve-week consultation. Later that month, Sarah Cary, the council’s head of place, told the environment forum that the final version was due to be heard at full council in June or July this year.

Earlier this week, the council sent out an email asking for people to submit suggestions for brownfield sites that could be suitable for development as part of the Local Plan process. The email states that the land submitted “will form an important part of the evidence base that underpins the spatial pattern of development included in the Local Plan”.

Some of those who responded to the Local Plan consultation said they had not received the email, however.

Enfield Council did not respond to requests for comment.

To view the Local Plan debate petition:

For more information on the Enfield Council call for brownfield site suggestions:

Update (20/6):

A council spokesperson said: “There are clear procedures for petitions to be submitted to the council. Petitions with 3,124 signatures can be presented to council for consideration, and a petition can seek to call an officer for the council to account by the overview and scrutiny committee with 1,562 signatures. All information can be found on the Enfield governance webpages. Council agendas, which set out the business to be discussed at meetings, will be available at least five clear working days before the meeting.

“In regard to the Enfield Local Plan, there will be opportunity for members to debate the next draft of the plan at full council before it is approved for submission to the secretary of state for examination. The council’s approach to the Local Plan programme is published on our website.”

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