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Apr 6 16

As two big projects are refused Inspector overrules on Woodberrie: what does this mean?

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In recent weeks planning applications have cast their shadow over the green green Loughton Hills with a score of two refusals – and one landmark appeal which gave the go-ahead for development after some 46 years.

The first refusal at appeal was for the development of a 10 home housing estate on the site of Trevelyan House, Arewater Green, abutting the Loughton Potato Fields with access off the A121 opposite Englands Lane.

The second refusal, this time by the local authority, was for a new house on land to the rear of 25 Staples Road, rejected “by reason of the location, design, height and bulk of the proposed new house, the proposed dwelling would fail to complement or enhance the Staples Road Conservation Area or respect the street scene which consequently would be harmful to the character and appearance of the locality. The proposal is therefore contrary to Policy CP2, DBE1, HC6 and HC7 of the Adopted Local Plan and Alterations (which are consistent with policies contained within the National Planning Policy Framework).”  This application may yet go to appeal.

The shock was the overturning of 46 years of opposition by the local authority to the development of land adjoining Woodberrie, a landmark house on Woodbury Hill.  Hills Amenity Society was formed in 1972 following the development of five chalet-type houses on the corner site of Woodbury Hill and York Hill followed by an application for four properties on the site of Woodberrie, which occupies the next corner of Woodbury Hill and Kings Hill. A number of applications over the ensuing 40 years were successfully opposed by Hills Amenity Society, local residents, town and district councils.  A recent application was taken to appeal for a new house to the east of Woodberrie and this has been upheld by the Inspector giving the go-ahead for a new property.  Is this the end of the story – or just the start of a new chapter?  And what does it mean for the future of the Hills.

County Councillor Chris and Councillor Mrs. Caroline Pond assess where we are:

The Government is very pro-housing-growth, and successive ministers have tweaked the planning laws to favour development rather than the prevention of development. Conservation areas are still protected, but the likelihood still is that, whatever local councillors decide, a challenge may be mounted with the Planning Inspectorate, and that is ever more likely to be successful. Local planning officers may also be more inclined to recommend an application (say, for an additional house on a large plot or a massive extension) for approval, which means the job of those resisting it, whether resident/amenity groups or cllrs, is made more difficult.

Needless to say, if an application is approved, those who were against it have no right of appeal. This is an inherent unfairness in the system.

As far as the Hills’ three conservation areas are concerned, there are two main dangers. These are infilling of spare and side plots, and the development of the Green Belt parcels to the west of Woodbury Hill, those large gardens abutting the Forest. A third might be added, which is the planting of buildings of design unsympathetic to the genius loci (sense of place) of the area.

Infilling

The 2016 inspector’s decision to allow a new house approximately on the site of Woodberrie’s garage was an example of this. With Loughton land values established at £4 million an acre (by the sale of the RVHS tennis courts elsewhere in the town), the value of a side or corner plot is now immense. New houses tend to have pocket-handkerchief sized gardens because of this high land value, so that means the sense of spaciousness established by what 100 years ago were ordinary gardens of a sixth of an acre or more is compromised. The new house to be built next to Woodberrie was not of an offensive design, but it would arguably still detract both from the amenity of neighbours, by its relative proximity, and from the general pleasantness of the area. There is a current proposal to build in the CA in what was the rear garden of 25 Staples Rd. That was refused by an inspector once before; we shall have to see what happens to this application, which is without vehicular access, given the recent changes in planning law.

Land to the west of Woodbury Hill

The Government seem to be keen at present on additions to built up areas. The very large plots of houses on the west side of Woodbury Hill, from Woodbury Hollow to Dryads Hall inclusive, are in green belt. They were lands enclosed from the Forest in the early 19c, possibly illegally, and some are still heavily wooded. The reasons for maintaining land in Green Belt are established in planning law, and include “protecting the setting of historic towns” – but unfortunately not the setting of a conservation area. These lands are therefore vulnerable, and their loss would greatly affect the setting of the York Hill CA.

Buildings of unsympathetic design

Architects at present seem to be following a fashion for bizarre buildings. You can of course get more for your money by building a concrete and glass construction than by traditional methods, especially as bricklayers are a shortage trade. Because the Hills areas, with the exception of Staples Rd, are a real mixture of styles, it is difficult to resist a building on the grounds of incongruent style. Whilst one can accept that in every generation there may be a building of real merit and real novelty erected, the run of the mill modern building is likely to be an intrusion in the design of the Hills CAs, but it can be very difficult to convince the Conservation Officer and planning inspectors of that.

With the two new buildings added to Staples Rd school, the firms of architects concerned did try to adapt and reflect the styles of the CAs, with (eg) pitched roofs, polychrome brickwork, and diapered tile hanging. The 2015 building won the Loughton Design Award on the basis of being a modern variant on the traditional idiom. The fallback position is that conservation area status does not preclude new development, but it should always “conserve and enhance” the area.

The Hills have always been active on planning matters, and have a good reputation with EFDC. The price of conservation is eternal vigilance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 3 16

Sewer blockage and burst main close York Hill

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Two events coincided to cause the closure of York Hill and chaos to Loughton High Road. The blocked sewer (top) initially showed itself in one property but after extensive excavation proved to be the main sewer in York Hill.  The burst main (picture below) occurred on School Green at the York Hill, Staples Road, Queens Road junction.

And would you believe it….?…within a week or two to everything getting back to normal someone tipped a load of fat and blocked a main drain on York Hill which then caused more problems when Storm Katie turned the hill into a river and caused the usual problems for homes on the Hill.  Bin it – Don’t Block it as Thames Water would say!

 

Nov 16 15

Record number at unveiling and autumn lunch

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Hills Amenity Society’s own unveiling of the plaque at the top of York
Hill commemorating the society’s 40th anniversary took place on Sunday 15 November and drew a record crowd for the Autumn Lunch which followed at the Gardeners’ Ams.

Mayor Judy Jennings was there with a few kind words of Congratulations to all those who had worked to achieve the p;aqua and the sprucing up of the York Hill Green which accompanied the two ceremonies, the first organised by the Town Council on the previous Thursday and the second exclusively by Hills Amenity Society for local residents and members of the Society.

Hills Committee chairman Stephen Cohen welcomed the gathering before asking the Mayor to say a few words.  He then invited all present to join the Hills Committee for lunch during which he presented John and Mary Lowe of 22 Baldwins Hill with the shield for the best front garden in 2015. He said the trophy is awarded to bring focus to the importance of well-maintained front gardens to the general appearance of the Hills Conservation Areas.

 

Our pictures show Loughton Town Mayor, Judy Jennings with designer of the plaque, Daniel Wallis with committee member Peter Wynn looking on; John and Mary Lowe of 22 Baldwins Hill with Hills Chairman Stephen Cohen; and(top) lunch in the Gardeners Arms.

 

 

Nov 13 15

ECC Chairman joins Mayor in plaque unveiling

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It was a moment to savour.  The Chairman of Essex County Council, the Mayor, representatives of the Corporation – and the Hills Amenity Society.

All there to see the fulfilment of a dream to unveil a plaque recording the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Society in 1972.  No matter that it had taken some four years from inception through patient persuasion to unveiling.  The plaque was finally there – and looking pretty amazing at the popular viewing spot at the top of York Hill.

An idea which evolved from a suggestion at a Hills Committee meeting, picked up and run with by chairman Stephen Cohen, made real and visible with drawings by his designer friend Daniel Wallis, adopted and supported by County Councillor Chris Pond through Town, District and County, aided by Forest Commissioner Richard Morris – painstakingly the pieces fell into place as the project wound its way through the labyrinths of authority.

Gradually the idea became “a project” which helped it gain traction.  ”Community Funding Initiative”…that sounded good.  Not just a plaque but other long campaigned-for items such as replacing and re-bedding the bollards alongside York Hill Green – and, while we are at it, repaint the ironwork, scrub down the road signs, repair the verges.

And what a result.  Many of the cottages alongside the green have been spruced up in the last year or two, all now having their fences repaired or replaced and painted and no tithe Gardeners Arms is being spruced up, too.

Well done Stephen and Daniel, Councillor Pond, Commissioner Richard Morris, the Town Council, County Council, City Corporation and Forest Commissioners….and the Hills Amenity Association.

Our pictures from top: County Council Chairman Norman Hume, Town Mayor Judith Jennings and County Councillor Chris Pond after the unveiling of the plaque; the permanent record of the partnership which made it all happen: the Corporation of London, Essex County Council, the Town Council and Hills Amenity Society; the bollards along York Hill green looking spick and span at last;
Video clip of unveiling P1013695; ..and not forgetting the heroic chaps who did all the work.  Well done lads!

Mayor recalls romantic moment on York Hill

In her address Mayor Judith said: “Welcome to the York Hill Conservation Area and this picturesque green with its dramatic view over London.  This is a very popular destination for local residents and tourists particularly in the summer who come to enjoy the panorama.

“I can remember being here with family and friends to celebrate the Millenniu

m and we enjoyed the wonderful sight of fireworks going off all over London.
“We are here today to celebrate the completion of the Pump Hill Environmental Project.  Theinitial idea for this came from the Hills Amenity Society as part of their plans to mark its 40th anniversary, so I am pleased to welcome Stephen Cohen, the current chairman of the Society.
The Society is a local residents’ group, originally formed in 1972.  Their aim is to preserve and improve features of this part of Loughton and to promote higher standards of planning and design in keeping with the rural character.
“I hope you will forgive me for saying that I am possibly better qualified than most to express a deep affection for this particular spot. It was on this Green (well, just across the road in the car park actually) that my husband, Bob, first asked me out on a date about 34 years ago. A few years later we moved in just down the road, and about 22 years ago Bob was, himself, Chair of the Hills Amenity Society. Of course I never imagined then that I would be standing here as Mayor today.
“We have always felt very proud and priviledged to be living here in the heart of the Conservation Area. The Hills Amenity Society first approached the Town Council in 2013 for help with its aspiration to install an orientation display board depicting the London skyline.
The Council’s Environment and Heritage Committee agreed to take on this project and also widen the scheme by including other environmental improvements.  These include the new Victorian style grit bin, new and refurbished wooden bollards with refector strips, and renovated street name signs.
“The Hills had already commissioned local artist Daniel Wallis, to provide the design for the orientation board.   We are very grateful to Daniel who gave his time and expertise for free.   Daniel is unable to join us today but we are delighted his mother is with us this morning. I would also like to thank the City of London, represented here today by Verderer Richard Morris, for their assistance with the project and for granting us a licence for the works.  The green was originally part of Epping Forest before the cottages were built and it is still owned and managed by the City of London today.
“Finally I am very pleased to welcome here today Cllr Norman Hume, Chairman of Essex County Council.   Whilst the bulk of the money for this project was provided by the Town Council, we are indebted to Essex County Council for the generous award of a £1,500 grant from the Community Initiatives Fund which enabled the completion of the project this year.”

 

Oct 23 15

Hills Front Garden Competition selection

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Oct 23 15

Town Mayor to unveil Hills plaque

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Loughton Town Mayor Judy Jennings (pictured) will unveil the plaque organised and championed by Hills Amenity Society at the top of York Hill at a Town Council unveiling on Thursday 12 November at 10.30am. The project has been led by Hills Committee chairman Stephen Cohen.

 

Oct 23 15

What plans for York Hill corner site?

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When the last of the businesses left the single story offices on the corner of York Hill and Kings Green metal shutters went up (and much used evening parking space lost). Since when all has been silence. Any information on the future proposals for this site gratefully received…..

 

Oct 23 15

Trevelyan House and Woodberrie go to appeal

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An application to develop Trevelyan House and its adjoining buildings into a mini estate of 10 homes on the site which abuts the Potato Field allotments has gone to appeal.  The plans were rejected by Epping Forest DC. At its meeting the Hills Amenity Society had expressed concern that access to the site might be sought via Church Hill and Monkchester Close, a route which would almost certainly impinge on allotment land.  The development would also create a “development bridge” between Baldwins Hill via Stony Path and the almshouses.

Woodberrie, Woodbury Hill. Plans to demolish an existing garage and erect a two storey extension to the existing dwelling house were rejected by Epping Forest DC.  The proposal has now gone to appeal.

And some other planning applications at October 2014

62 Queens Road Single storey front extension.

36 Queens Road Proposed front and rear dormer extensions all below the level of the existing house ridge but including raising of the side hip to gable. Front dormer position over existing bay set back to align with the adjacent new proposed front dormer.

Landscapes

29 Woodbury Hill Proposed single-storey rear extension (garden room) with internal alterations and proposed garage and extension to existing outbuilding

76 Queens Road Demolition of existing conservatory and erection of a single storey rear extension with a roof lantern. Alterations to fenestration to include enlargement of existing windows at first and ground floor south-west flank elevation.

4 Pump Hill Single storey front extension, reduce level of basement, raised rear deck, reduced levels in garden and changes to rear windows.

2 Wroths Path Conversion of storage areas and single storey rear extension following demolition of of existing rear addition.Alterations to front elevation include new windows ground floor and new porch.

 

Oct 23 15

Pump Hill Planning Success

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Hills Committee has registered its strong approval for the new house at the top of Pump Hill, erected after many years of discussion and planning applications.  The impasse of over development of this sensitive site was overcome by flexibility on all sides enabling the owner to achieve a most acceptable result.  Congratulations to all involved.

Oct 23 15

Burglary up – police doors close

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In August, 138 crimes were reported in Loughton – four of them in the Hills or immediately adjacent: one in Wallers Hoppet, one in York Crescent and three on Church Hill.  You may have read elsewhere big changes are taking place to policing in Essex as a whole.  Locally Loughton Police Station now has reduced opening hours and will be one of 15 in Essex where the counter is to be closed before April leaving Harlow as our nearest public access to the police. On the previous page we  give details of lour local police contacts.  If you haven’t already it is well-worth visiting the Essex Police website and clicking through ‘Your Neighbourhood ‘ to Epping Forest and Loughton to see how the changes will affect us.  You will also read that in Loughton the crack-down on anti-social behaviour is working – but burglaries are on the rise. The Police Meets programme is impressive. Do go along to the Methodist Hall and see for yourself.  Click here for details of times

 

Meet the police

Did you know you can meet your local police to voice concerns?  Their meetings are organised by

PCSO Paul Le’strange, a PCSO for five years in the Loughton area who can be contacted at:

Email: huboffice-efd-brentwood@essex.pnn.police.uk

Telephone: 101 extn 313603

PCSO Kerri Bowden, a PCSO since 2005 and at Loughton since 2008.

Email: huboffice-efd-brentwood@essex.pnn.police.uk

Telephone: 101 Ext 313603

The meetings, at Loughton Methodist Hall, High Road, last for one hour to meet the public and discuss any issues we may have.

Next dates are:

Monday 19 October 2015  11.00am

Mon 26 Oct 2015 11:00:00

Wed 4 Nov 2015 11:00:00

Fri 13 Nov 2015 11:00:00