Redbridge’s environmental campaigners fight to save ‘irreplaceable’ green belt at Local Plan meeting
PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 June 2017
Redbridge Council was accused of picking and choosing what it decided was green belt at a meeting on the borough’s long term housing plans yesterday.
Under proposals laid out in the borough’s Local Plan, a package of land at Billet Road, in Aldborough Hatch, will be developed into 1,100 new homes, but campaigners insist the land still meets national criteria to qualify as green belt and should be protected from developers.
Those plans were analysed by planning inspector David Smith yesterday, at a meeting where he took representations from a number of interested parties.
Chris Gannaway, of the Aldborough Hatch Defence Association, argued that the small road separating the land from the rest of Fairlop Plain did not mean the two were not connected, and insisted that claims the surrounding areas had been developed already were misleading.
Passing round a pack of photographic evidence he had brought to the meeting, he pointed out three separate zones where the land set aside for development connected to the rest of the green belt.
Mr Gannaway concluded his representation: “We have looked at sites in the borough that have even smaller levels of connectivity, but that the council says is still green belt.
“To us, this indicates what we have long suspected, and we believe this site is now being sought after for development against green belt purposes.”
But Jesse Honey, of multinational engineering firm Aecom, who are working alongside the council to potentially develop the site, argued the site could no longer be considered green belt,
He claimed that development in the surrounding areas had surged ahead, and a number of high hedges served to completely isolate the Billet Road land from the rest of the Fairlop green belt.
He told the planning inspector: “We argue that not only does the Billet Road site not meet one or two of the criteria for green belt designation, but that in fact it meets none of them.”
Kevin Page, speaking on behalf of the London Green Belt Council, also raised concerns that Redbridge Council’s plans for development at Goodmayes Hospital did not seem to take into account the land’s status as a site of important nature conservation, nor the fact that there were currently 150 tree preservation orders in place there.
He described the council’s approach as “lumbering chalk and cheese together”.
The Council currently expects around 500 homes to be built on the grounds of Goodmayes and King George Hospitals.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Page told the Recorder he feared the entire process was going to end in the loss of some of Redbridge’s “irreplaceable” green belt.
“I fear what may happen is that we might lose the battle in Redbridge, but hopefully we will not lose the war,” he said.
“I do worry that we will lose some of the borough’s green belt, and it might just be a case of waiting to see where exactly the axe will fall.”