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Communities secretary Eric Pickles to look over ‘ludicrous’ green belt proposals

PUBLISHED: 15:00 07 December 2014 | UPDATED: 17:53 08 December 2014

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles

PA Archive/Press Association Images

The secretary of state for communities Eric Pickles has agreed to review any plans to build on green belt land in Redbridge.

The council’s local development plan has earmarked spots across the borough as potential sites for new homes, including green belt land in Fairlop, Barkingside and Oakfield Playing Fields in Hainault.

MP for Ilford North, Lee Scott, has asked the minister to look over planning applications made on green belt land should they arise.

Speaking to the Recorder, he said: “It is obviously better to develop brown field sites.

“Oakfield has football and cricket pitches, why are we trying to 
get rid of sports land? It’s ludicrous.”

The news was also welcomed by campaigners hoping to protect land being built on or used for gravel extraction on Fairlop 
Plain.

Ron Jeffries, of the Aldborough Hatch Defence Association (ADHA), said it was a “breakthrough” in the group’s Enough is Enough campaign.

The Oakfield site in Fencepiece Road is just one option proposed by Redbridge Council in the framework, published in September.

Another is a “growth corridor” between Woodford Green, South Woodford and Wanstead.

Dozens of residents packed out a meeting this week held at Woodford Parish Church Memorial Hall, in High Road, South Woodford, organised by the campaign group Save Our Suburbs to discuss the plans which could quadruple the density of housing in the area.

Former cabinet member for planning Alex Wilson said: “The only way you can get [800 homes] in this part of the borough is to build up and to build high density and we don’t want it.”

Residents said infrastructure such as schools, surgeries, roads and public transport were already failing to cope with the demands of the population.

One resident suggested high-density “rabbit hutch” housing be built on the Oakfield site, allowing for some playing fields to remain while also satisfying the council’s housing quota.

Responding to the comments, Chris Nutt, chairman of Oakfield Parkonians Cricket Club, told the Recorder it was “nonsense” and added: “There isn’t room for any housing that would allow us to keep the pitches.

“If it were possible then the council planners would have drawn this up.”

Cllr Helen Coomb, cabinet member for planning and regeneration, said: “We are keen to hear from as many residents as possible to help us make these decisions. We know many residents have concerns about some of the options outlined and we know they all have their strengths and weaknesses, but unfortunately, these are the difficult decisions that face us.

“We are under increasing pressure to provide much needed homes and school places and as the population increases, the pressure on the Borough’s facilities is going to keep on increasing. We must find sites for these facilities but at the same time make sure development is as balanced as possible. If we don’t, we leave ourselves open to appeals from developers, which could see all kinds of development being built anywhere in the Borough.We will be listening carefully to all of the suggestions and comments residents make before making any decisions.”

Visit www2.redbridge.gov.uk to have your say.

The public consultation on the proposals ends on December 22.


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