Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Oakfield – a Rock and a Hard Place

So, where are we at with the Oakfield situation? Nothing much seems to have happened (but see later) since the council decided to have another look at the Local Development Plan and it is now August, when people go on holiday, don't answer emails or read this blog.

There does not appear to have been any official announcement / statement since the council leader's intervention at the Neighbourhoods committee on 1st July but we understand that there is to be no further request for representations / consultation process before the LDF Panel meeting, which is expected to take place at the end of September. However we are told that any further representations received will be fully considered and reported to the panel.

Once the council's proposals are published (this will involve input from the LDF panel and Neighbourhoods committee, and possibly cabinet - depending on what happens at Neighbourhoods). We are not sure if it will be considered again at Full Council.

Then we get to the full formal consultation stage prior to examination in public (ie a bit like an enquiry, carried out by a planning inspector).

Here’s the later bit …

So, as Ron Jeffries writes in the letters page of the Ilford Recorder, two influential national politicians have stated quite clearly that there is no need to build on green belt land. And Oakfield is still green belt as well as other sites identified for development in the proposed LDF.

The two likely lads are the newly-appointed secretary of state for business, innovation and skills Sajid Javid, a Conservative, and London Mayoral candidate and Labour MP for Tooting, Sadiq Khan.

This opens up a very interesting possible scenario where the plan is rejected and we end up without one, the one option that councillors past and present tell us is not an option because it would result in an open season for developers. But is this really the case? Let’s take a look.

Irrespective of whether Redbridge council has a plan or not any developer would still have to submit a planning application to the council and the council would still have to make a decision on whether to approve or reject it.

If an application is approved and no one appeals, it goes ahead. However, if there are grounds to appeal, like it is on green belt land, then the community can appeal and given the national planning rules on green belt development that appeal is likely to be upheld.

If an application is rejected then the developer has the option to appeal. However, if the application is on green belt it is very unlikely that the decision would be overturned, given the national planning rules for green belt.

The same is true for parks, sites of special scientific interest and open community spaces. So, we are left with brown field sites. The question is whether these sites can absorb the number of units required without excessive high rise development in areas such as the Wanstead & Woodford corridor. Even here there are legitimate grounds for appeal which are likely to be upheld.

As our newly elected MP commented, our council leader Jaz Athwal is truly stuck between a rock and a hard place. And when you are in such a situation, I would advise, the best course of action is to stand aside and let the rock and the hard place sort it out.


  1. Your logic is undeniable; however all Local Authorities have to submit a plan for 5 years or more (whatever the requirement is) to the Govt inspectors. Why? Because whilst there are policies affecting the Green Belt, conservation areas, high streets, if an application goes to appeal and there is NO plan, then the inspector can (and knowing some of idiots we have had) will say that the Council has NOT ruled on the specifics therefore the appeal can be allowed!
    If there is a plan, then it sends a clear (clearer?) message to all and sundry of what can and cannot be built, where and how and the appeal inspector is obliged to 'take into consideration' the views of the Council and thereby the public, because the Council have consulted the public on that document.....

  2. NeighbourhoodWatcher9:34 pm, August 05, 2015

    The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) is still going strong and CPRE London are keeping a watching brief on areas within Greater London including Oakfield.

    They have produced a Member Briefing here

    and a Bulletin here

    These are both PDF files which will need Acobat Reader to open.

    The bit about Redbridge at the end of the Bulletin seems to infer that CPRE London are in contact with Redbridge Council and it would be interesting to know what questions have been asked. The Sainsbury development will probably have sparked the interest of CPRE London.

  3. well it seems that our borough can be over rode in its opinion anyway look at what has happened with the "community" hub in Snakes Lane even with a big petition and common sense, it all came down to some bloke from Bristol.and I am sure Mr Athwal already knows what he would like to see in Redbridge

  4. and even though its August.......I'm still here!

  5. We have a major need for more housing. Those who need it are not residents, and have no vote. Those who have votes are residents and actively oppose ANY attempts to build near them.

    So external imposition is inevitable

    1. Full Circle then - these arguments have been rehearsed ad infinitem on this blog. Why do we need more housing? Because we have more people. Why do we have more people when we have a falling birthrate? Because we are living longer? That particular piece hasn't hit the fan yet as the first baby boomers are just now celebrating their 70th birthdays. Any other reasons? Come on guys, surely you can think of at least one more.

  6. It seems that the CPRE London have indeed contacted Redbridge Council and their letter to Cllr. Athwal (Leader of the Council) has been copied to Wes Streeting MP. Wes will no doubt wish to comment on the content of this letter in his own time.

    The content is unknown other than to its recipients but, garnering inferences from the published policies of CPRE London as applied to other London Boroughs, the letter would in all probability have included: references to the number of houses actually required to be built (mobile goalposts) and the proportion that are "affordable"; lack of public consultation on use of brownfield sites and proposed use of Community Infrastructure Levy (used to be Section 106) deriving from these developments; and revision of existing plans, which should be consulted upon.

    I am sure we eagerly await the response from the Leader.