Dozens of protected local sites have been highlighted for potential development by Enfield Council, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter
Campaigners have warned building on the Green Belt would be a “huge mistake” after Enfield Council listed 29 protected sites where housing could be built.
A coalition of local groups claimed in a new report there were enough brownfield sites in the borough to meet its housing targets, meaning building on the Green Belt – which covers around a third of Enfield – was “unnecessary” and would undermine its health and environmental benefits.
The Green Belt sites, totalling around 330 hectares, are listed in a land availability assessment document as “potentially suitable” for housing. The document was originally published by the council in December but has now been analysed by a coalition of local groups.
Inclusion of these sites in the document do not necessarily mean they will be developed, but the campaigners – from The Enfield Society, Enfield Roadwatch, Better Homes Enfield, CPRE London and Enfield Climate Action Forum – say the threat should be taken seriously, as the council has undertaken an extensive review of the Green Belt.
The sites include eight horticulture nurseries in Crews Hill, which campaigners say should be saved to provide local jobs and locally produced food; several large areas of productive farmland; Edmonton Marsh, part of the Lee Valley Regional Park that has been earmarked as a potential new public park for residents at Meridian Water.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) described the proposed farmland sites as “vital for local food production at a time of food insecurity and climate emergency”.
Alice Roberts, of CPRE London, said: “Green Belt housing is typically well out of range of anyone on low income. CPRE research shows only a tenth of homes built in the Green Belt are ‘affordable’, and these are rarely for social rent.
“Additionally, people living in Green Belt developments have poor access to public transport and are tied to owning and using cars, as well as being stuck with the cost of commuting, creating further financial stress for families on low incomes.
“The council claims to be working for low-income residents, but building on the Green Belt is likely to benefit only developers and wealthier people.”
The coalition of groups called on the council to prioritise brownfield development and said the £6billion Meridian Water scheme “could be doing far more to provide the affordable family-sized homes that Enfield and Edmonton need”.
An Enfield Council spokesperson said the land availability assessment informed the local authority’s strategy, but was not policy. They said councillors will soon need to consider Enfield’s draft Local Plan, which explores “a number of options for future growth and enhancement in Enfield”.
The spokesperson said: “Enhancing Enfield’s character and wonderful green spaces is our absolute priority.
“As required by law, Enfield Council is pursuing a joined-up, long-term strategy to ensure there are sufficient quantities of good-quality housing to meet the needs of all of our residents, regardless of their backgrounds and circumstances.
“The draft Local Plan looks at ways we can grow the borough to meet the housing and employment needs of our residents while providing greater access to improved green spaces throughout the borough.
“This means introducing more green spaces in our urban areas by creating new parks, including pocket parks, planting over half-a-million new trees throughout the borough and ‘greening’ our streets through initiatives like green roofs and walls.
“We are also proposing to make our wonderful green spaces even more accessible to our residents, through connecting channels and improving biodiversity both in the green belt and in our town centres.
“The draft Local Plan also guards against the development of inappropriate skyscrapers as well as looking at options for providing more affordable family homes – which we know our residents want and need.”
When the council initially set out the objectives of its new Local Plan in 2018, it led to a rebuke from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who has pledged not to build on Green Belt land in the capital.