‘Vision’ for up to 5,000 homes on Green Belt site revealed

Developer Comer Homes is planning to turn Vicarage Farm into a huge housing development, reports James Cracknell

Vicarage Farm and (inset) the 'vision' from Comer Homes (credit Farrells)
Vicarage Farm and (inset) the ‘vision’ from Comer Homes (credit Farrells)

A developer’s “vision” for up to 5,000 homes on Green Belt farmland in Enfield has been published for the first time.

Comer Homes Group, the owner of Vicarage Farm, claims that the “landscape and topography of the site provide an opportunity to create a wonderful place to live” which is “sustainable and adds significantly to Enfield and its environment”.

The farm is sited between Trent Park and Salmons Brook and currently has a public footpath running through it, where walkers can enjoy scenic views of the borough. But two years ago Enfield Council proposed the de-designation of the site, as well as a large part of Crews Hill and several other smaller plots of land, from London’s Metropolitan Green Belt.

The current version of the council’s draft Local Plan – if finalised and agreed by the government’s Planning Inspectorate – would allow the farmland to be used for residential development, with an initial allocation of 3,000 homes.

Few specific details of the proposal, dubbed ‘Chase Park’ by Comer Homes, have previously been released. But documents submitted as part of the Local Plan consultation in summer 2021 have now been made public for the first time – with a higher target of 5,000 homes proposed by the developer.

The 'Chase Park Vision' submitted by Comer Homes (credit Farrells)
The ‘Vicarage Farm Vision’ submitted by Comer Homes (credit Farrells)

In its 25-page ‘Vicarage Farm Vision’ document, Comer Homes argues the 140-hectare site 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”.

Making the case for environmental improvements to the site, Comer Homes proposes “extending Trent Country Park towards Enfield Town Centre” and “allowing for sustainable drainage systems and flood mitigation” along the course of Salmons Brook and Merryhills Brook, which both flow through the farm. The vision document suggests new allotments, wetlands and a central park could be created there.

In the centre of the site, Comer Homes says there is an “opportunity for new community support facilities” – with a primary school specifically mentioned – while development would also “complete the missing links connecting the site to its surroundings” by creating new routes over Salmons Brook and through to Hadley Road.

Of the total site area, Comer Homes proposes splitting Vicarage Farm fairly evenly between housing development (at 65ha) and “open space provision” (70ha). But removing the site from the borough’s Green Belt is opposed by many residents and campaign groups, with anger over the Local Plan contributing to the Labour group’s loss of eight seats to the Conservatives at last year’s local election.

Although local MPs have joined London mayor Sadiq Khan in opposing the de-designation of Green Belt land in Enfield, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer recently suggested a future Labour government would consider reducing the Green Belt – saying he supports “the builders, not the blockers”.

Chase Park Vision proposals
The ‘Vicarage Farm Vision’ (credit Farrells)

The publication of the vision for Chase Park forms part of just one of 7,157 consultation responses to the draft Local Plan that were all published by the council in June. The Enfield Society has since created a searchable database to make it easier for residents to find specific responses they wish to read.

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Among those likely to be of interest are the responses submitted by local landowners. They include several horticultural businesses in Crews Hill – such as Parkview Nursery, Warmerdam’s Nursery and Woldens Garden Centre – stating they are in favour of residential development on their sites.

Other landowners supporting housing on their sites include Berkeley Homes, for land next to Crews Hill Station; Trent Park Equestrian Centre, for its riding stables next to Trent Park; WM Morrisons Supermarkets, for its site in Palmers Green; and Fairview New Homes, for its Green Belt site in Enfield Road which it hopes will “compliment” any housing development by Comer Homes.

Among those opposed to development, however, is Thompsons of Crews Hill, whose director Rod Thompson wrote that residential development in the area will “have an extremely detrimental effect on my family business”.

Crews Hill Golf Club (CHGC), which leases its 18-hole course from Enfield Council, points out in its Local Plan consultation submission that Crews Hill was cited as one of the other places local golfers could play when the decision was made in 2021 to close Whitewebbs Park Golf Course. The club wrote: “It begs the question, where is the logic of LBE [London Borough of Enfield] using CHGC to enhance their reasons for selling-off the lease at Whitewebbs, then in this plan trying to remove the same facility upon which they rely?”

There is also a highly critical consultation response from Dominvs Group, a developer currently involved in building on a number of sites around Enfield, which states: “To achieve the council’s strategic targets and address their poor housing delivery record, more needs to be done to accelerate the delivery of new homes on appropriate brownfield sites, which in turn can help reduce the need for new homes to be built in the Green Belt.”

Cross-party talks convened following last year’s local election in an attempt to find common ground on the Local Plan among Labour and Conservative councillors broke down this spring with no agreement being reached. It was also revealed in January that the council was hoping to generate £800million from the sale of its Green Belt sites slated for development.

A final draft of the Local Plan is expected to be published and consulted on before the end of the year.

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