Category Archives: News

WATC Annual Meeting

WARA attended the WATC annual open meeting and put a number of questions to councillors. We brought up the subject of Japanese Knotweed prevelant in the open ditch outside King Harold School and also at neighbouring Galley Hill with the junction of Broomstick Hall Road. Councillors promised to investigate this issue and get back to us. Council members also asked to get back to us on a couple of other topics we raised and we  publish here those questions. We will also publish WATC answers when received.

  • The threat to the Royal Gunpowder Mills is a major worry to Residents. Its significance, together with the Abbey Church is the very history of Waltham Abbey and should be a priority for this council to maintain and defend to the death.
  • It seems that the Town Council is quite prepared to allow this important part of Waltham Abbey’s history and its main employer for generations, to be taken over and turned into some sort of privately run children’s attraction, despite its initial plans being rejected.
  • It has been clearly demonstrated over the years, that the Trust set up to protect this site is incapable of managing such a project and consequently it now seeks a means of shirking its responsibilities even further by this action.
  • We ask why the Town council hasn’t come up with any initiatives on how to generate more interest in this very historic and important place and why is has not assisted in promoting it.
  • We ask that you lobby the District council for funding, so that staff can be tasked to investigate and hold dialogue with similar institutions elsewhere to find a more appropriate solution.
  • This should not mean surrendering the site but reinvigorating it with perhaps a more sympathetic partner with innovative and enterprising ideas that engage with the town. We would like the District Council to offer guidance to the trust on what is beneficial for the District and what is appropriate development following this investigation.
  • Finally we urge you not be remembered as the councilors who let us down by not even attempting to save the site for the benefit of the next and future generations of the Town.
  • A children’s holiday camp is definitely not the answer.
  • The second topic of questions relates to our twinning with Horstell.
  • With regards to the proudly proclaimed “twinning” with Hörstell, a similar town in Germany. We have 6 points of queries regarding our participation:
  • 1. Germany is famous for its Christmas markets, why is there no such Christmas market in Waltham Abbey in conjunction with our twin town and has this ever been discussed2. Do councillors and their partners pay their own fares and hotel expenses when visiting Hrstel or is this funded by the council?3. When councillors from Hörstel visit Waltham Abbey, who decides on the itinerary, for instance do they visit schools, church, police and fire representative etc, and do they get introduced to residents. Very little information gets reported and residents are left in the dark on these visits. Why not publish this information in the Town Crier4. What meetings are held between the two councils and why do residents not get to hear of them and their outcomes.

    5. Unfortunately, with the lack of information available, not one of WARA ‘s commitee feels there is any benefits to Waltham Abbey from this association. We must have much better communication if we are to continue with this association.

    6. WARA has no member on our committee that is aware of the original intention for our twinning with Hrtsal. So can you please inform us as to what the original purpose was of twinning and what benefits Waltham Abbey receive by this arrangement

A.G.M. of Residents Association

To all residents interested in the activities of the Waltham Abbey Residents Association we announce that we are to hold our  A.G.M. at the Angel Public House on 7th November 2016 at 7.30. All interested members of our local community are welcome to attend.

2016 Town Show

WARA would like to thank all those residents of the Town who visited our stall at the Town Show and by taking part in our Higher/Lower game helped us raise much needed funds that we use in our efforts to help the local community to stand up for their rights.

R.G.M Poster

WARGM-Summer-2016-Poster Please click here.

This poster will give you an update on the opening times and events happening at the site during the School Summer Holidays.

R.G.M Update

The District Development Control planning committee  meeting was held on the 26 April 2016 to determine the planning application submitted by P.G.L. for Royal Gunpowder Mills site in our Town. The proposals are to develop a children’s holiday centre on the site at the expense of the Visitor Attraction that would be greatly reduced in size to accommodate development. After much debate Councilors on this committee voted to approve the proposed development.

However 4 members stood up to object and this meant that the decision could not be validated and was to be sent back to a full council meeting to determine if the proposals were  considered acceptable to the whole of the district. It was to go before the full council with the recommendation for approval by this planning committee.

The  full Epping Forest District Council met on 6th June 2016 and following a very long and heated debate the proposals were rejected by 16 votes for and 26 against by the elected members. This is despite a large contingent of Waltham Abbey Councillors voting in favour of the proposals. This is once again going against the wishes of  a large proportion of the local community who see their history and heritage as something to be preserved and nurtured. This site is the only Gunpowder Mills left intact in this country and is an important reminder of our heritage.  For over three centuries  this site was the main employer for the Town and a substantial amount of residents had fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers who worked at the site. Indeed a good deal the housing in Waltham Abbey was built specifically to house the workers from the site.

Subject to an appeal from P.G.L it appears that common sense has prevailed and that the operating company will now have an opportunity to formulate a new scheme possibly with P.G.L or another interested party to help fund the much needed renovations on the site. Hopefully,  this time without losing access to the history and heritage of the site and the popular visitor attractions. These  generate income to maintain facilities and keep the site open to the public. The permanent staff together with the not inconsiderable and much valued assistance of  volunteers and friends who give up their time and energy to keep the site open. The knowlegeable educational staff provide an enjoyable fun day experience for the many schools who bring children to learn about the 300 year history of manufacturing gunpowder, cordite and rockets at the site. We sincerely hope that this aspect can be built upon and other activities added to the experience in order to create an income that can be sustainable in the future.


R.G.M date for planning notice

Waltham Abbey Residents Association

Waltham Abbey Residents Association

If you have any queries about this application please contact the case officer directly:

Graham Courtney, ,

Dear Sir or Madam

    1. Notification of case being put to Committee for decision.

    2. Town and Country Planning Act 1990


Gunpowder Mill , Powdermill Lane/Access off Beaulieu Drive , Waltham Abbey , Essex , EN9 1JY


Full planning application for the use of parts of the site as an outdoor recreation and activity centre for children, together with the erection of new buildings to provide: guest accommodation, dining hall and kitchen, pavilion (changing rooms); and the conversion of several existing Listed Buildings to provide further guest accommodation and classrooms, together with a new lake for water based activities and the erection of free-standing activity structures.

I refer to the above planning application and I am now able to inform you that the application will be considered by a meeting of the District Development Control Committee on 20 April 2016. The committee will start at 7.30 p.m. in the Council Chamber of the Civic Offices in Epping.

The officer’s report on this application is to Recommend: Grant Permission (Subject to Legal Agreement). Please remember that the District Development Control Committee may vote differently to this recommendation.

The agenda for the meeting will shortly be published, and if you wish to inspect it online it can be viewed on our website –

One person can speak in opposition of the application. If you wish to take up this opportunity you must register your desire to speak before 4 p.m. on the day before the meeting by telephoning the committee clerk on 01992 564243. Speaking and/or communicating with a Planning Officer by email or letter will not register you to speak – you must register direct with Democratic Services.

Yours faithfully

Graham Courtney,

Senior Planning Officer

Neighbourhood Plan Application

First steps for Waltham Abbey Neighbourhood Plan

Written on 12 January 2016. Posted in Community, Local plan / planning our future, Media, Planning, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Waltham Abbey Town Council has taken the first steps towards preparing a Neighbourhood Plan by informing Epping Forest District Council of their intentions and submitting an application for the designation of their parish as a Neighbourhood Area.

Any Parish or Town Council can prepare a Neighbourhood Plan if they wish.  The Plans give communities an opportunity to shape the way in which their local area develops over the coming years. Neighbourhood Development Plans, which must be prepared in accordance with the District Councils Local Plan, can be used to:

  • Develop a shared vision for the local area;

  • Choose where new homes, community facilities and other forms of development should be built;

  • Identify and protect important local green spaces; and

  • Influence what new buildings should look like.

Waltham Abbey Town Council has identified the area to be covered by the plan as the whole parish.  Under the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012 (as amended) Epping Forest District Council, as the local planning authority, is required to publicise this proposed area for a period of at least four weeks so that people can comment on it.

View the application

A copy of the application, along with further information on neighbourhood planning, can be viewed.


This is a consultation on the identification of the potential plan area, not a formal consultation on the Neighbourhood Plan itself, which will come later as the Plan progresses. The consultation commences on 12 January 2016 and will run for 4 weeks until 5.00pm on 8 February 2016.

Comment on the application

  • Comments can be sent by email to

  • Post to: Forward Planning, Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping, Essex CM16 4BZ.

Please be aware that all comments received will be publicly available and may be included on our website. Personal details such as the respondents address, telephone number and signature will not be published.

WARA Objections to RGM Proposals

Re: Application EPF/3028/15

Gunpowder Mill Powdermill Lane/Access off Beaulieu Drive Waltham Abbey Essex EN9 1JY 

WARA objects to the proposal on the basis that the development will be detrimental to our Town.

The Royal Gunpowder Mills (RGM) apart from the Abbey after which our town is named and Epping Forest after which our District Council is named it is the only legitimate Visitor Attraction in the district. This much loved facility will be lost to the general public if the proposal is approved.

The site was handed to the Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills Charitable Trust Foundation Ltd (No 1062985) and was set up by the MOD in order to preserve, manage research and display for the benefit of the general public at large all the historical and archaeological heritage that may exist in all that land at Waltham Abbey, Essex. A permanent Endowment Fund of £5m was provided for future income to support development and management of the Waltham Abbey site. A further unrestricted fund of £1.85m was provided to supplement grants from the National Heritage Lottery fund to develop the site in order to house, conserve and display the collections of the Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills. Funds are transferred when necessary to the operating company The Royal Gunpowder Mills Company Ltd (The Visitor Attraction and Operating Company) also a charity (no1062968) in order to carry out the works, operate and manage facilities.

It was stated at the time of inception by Mr Dave Prince of Prince Associates who were employed in 1997 to evaluate and accommodate the ownership transfer of the site, that it would take at least 20 years for the project to become established and financially viable. The site finally became operational and open to the public in 2000.

Ambitions failed to live up-to expectations and consequently opening times were scaled back and staff reduced significantly after the first year of operations (though in our opinion it was very poorly promoted and lacked any significant publicity). The site manages to survive and exist today through the dedication and support of unpaid volunteers who maintain and assist in operating the site.

Consequently, through poor and disinterested leadership emanating from the Foundation Trust and a lack of support by them for the O.C. the site has been struggling ever since. We are informed some trustees have never visited the site and others only rarely.

Few live locally, and none appear to understand the value of the site to the local community.

The Foundation Trust stated publicly at the meeting held at Waltham Abbey Town Hall that they have not looked at alternative solutions or sought any other partners to assist in keeping the Visitor Attraction open to the public as their charter requires.

What the proposal allocates to the Visitor Attraction and O.C. is the island site that consists of the gift-shop/reception and the theatre site. A separate second section of the site that is a SSSI (site of special scientific interest), an S.A.M (scheduled ancient monument) and a section of badly contaminated land with no means of access. This area has no basic infrastructure such as mains water, sewage connection or power on the site. There is no financial provision made by the Foundation or PGL to install any of these or provide any buildings to house the collections as there are none existing on this land.

For the protection of the children, the PGL site must be fenced and made secure from the general public and thereby no longer available to the public at large, only the few children attending the PGL Children’s Holiday resort, will have that opportunity.

Para believes that these proposals if approved, mean that the Visitor Attraction cannot possibly survive in any relevant meaningful way. The R.G.M will then no longer meet the criteria laid down in the Charter set up by the M.O.D when ownership was transferred.

If the council is of a mind to allow this development, we believe that a sizeable contribution should be made by PGL in order to set up collection accommodation on the site at an alternative location. We have seen a plan that could be adopted for this purpose that we can make a copy available if requested.

WARA ask the Planning Officer to consider these facts as well as any other legitimate constraints and recommend refusal on this ground as well as any other he may identify.

The Foundation Trust must demonstrate they have fully explored all alternative options to keep the site open to the general public as required in the Charter, before consideration is given to the current proposal that will inevitably force the Visitor Attraction to close.

National Planning Casework Unit

WARA sent details of our Knollys Nursey site objections to the National Planning Caswork Unit after the proposals were accepted by the full council meeting in December. However, the Council do not have authority to override the Goverments NPPF so this proposal has now been submitted to the Unit to consider the Councils wishes to overide policy.

I have been asked by members to put on the website our submission letter to the Unit in order to demonstrate what we at WARA as representatives of our residents have tried to accomplish on your behalf. We still await the Units decision.

National Planning Casework Unit

5 St Phillips Place

Colmore Row


B3 2PW

Re: Application EPF/1162/15 – Knollys Nursery, Pick Hill, Waltham Abbey, Essex EN9 3LF

Dear sir/madam

As Chair of the Waltham Abbey Residents Association (WARA), I am acting on behalf of the residents of Pick Hill and the surrounding areas, who wish to strongly object to the proposed development mentioned above, that has been referred to you following three separate council meetings were the scheme was approved by the council members but referred to you as it goes against both Epping Forest District Council’s (EFDC) local plan and also the NPPF guidelines on Green Belt policy..

In the first meeting (EFDC area west planning sub-committee) made up almost exclusively of Waltham Abbey Town Councillors the “very special circumstance” required to remove this site from the Green Belt was the inclusion of the children’s nursery to the scheme. The children’s nursery has been asked to relocate because its current location at King Harold Academy, Waltham Abbey is required to build a 6th Form and needs the space occupied by the nursery for this purpose and the children’s nursery is struggling to find a new home. For some unaccountable reason councillors who rejected a similar application at the site the previous year and several times in the recent past were fully in favour of the latest proposals, they appear to have been convinced on this occasion that the nursery was a much needed facility and that should not be lost. They even stated that they them selves had tried to find alternative locations but were unable to find a single opportunity.

The council voted against the advice of the EFDC Director of Governance who recommended refusal on the grounds that it is inappropriate development within the Green Belt. Nevertheless the application was approved as the members were concerned about the loss of the “much valued” children’s nursery. This decision was contrary to the local plan and it was referred to the District Development Control Committee for further consideration (DDCC)

(Please see attachments relating to our original objection letter)

At the second meeting, (DDCC.) WARA produced evidence that the children’s nursery had not searched the district for alternative accommodation and found several opportunities that were not consulted and were available. Council members then persuaded themselves to concentrate on the 80% affordable element to remove the site from Green Belt, disregarding the NPPF guidelines with regard to the Green Belt.

At this meeting the Waltham Abbey Town councillors who had approved the application at the sub-committee but were not sitting on this committee, were allowed to speak at great length in favour or the proposals, much to the surprise of some of the sitting council members voting on the matter.

Because the Waltham Abbey Town councillors were in full support of the scheme the sitting members were persuaded by their arguments and voted again in favour. The committee were then advised yet again that it was against EFDC policy and it would need to be submitted to the full council. (See attachments ref the children’s nursery on second hearing)

At the third full council meeting, before being referred to the National Planning Casework Unit, WARA consulted with the London Green Belt Council (LGBC) of which WARA is an affiliated member. I as chair presented the case to the full council and the council agreed with our viewpoint and an objection letter was sent from the LGBC supporting our objection on the NPPF guidance on Green Belt.

The chair of the LGBC also recommended that their letter be accompanied by a letter received from Brandon Lewis, the Minister Dept for Communities and Local Government, showing support of the guidelines and reiterating that unmet housing need does not justify inappropriate development within the Green Belt.

The EFDC committee ignored this advice and again voted in favour of the proposals. The LGBC documents were not referred to at the meeting despite being sent to all council members and the presenting officer (please see attached copies of LGBC letter and Brandon Lewis letter to the LGBC.

Residents Concerns

We at WARA, mandated by our residents to speak on their behalf, are very concerned that the Lea Valley as the largest fresh food producer in the country and 80% of these nurseries fall within EFDC region, should not approve this development. If the green light is shown to Knollys Nursery, it will set a precedent for other nurseries sited within the Green Belt to abandon horticultural activities and seek consent for housing. This is only human nature, as building land has 20-30 times the value of green belt horticultural land and owners will not be able to resist the temptation of a financial windfall.

Approval could have a devastating effect on the local economy, the Nursery trade is the largest employers in the whole district. Waltham Abbey in particular already has acute job shortages with the closure of Pan Britannica Industries making way for a Tesco Store, the closure of the Catalin Factory for a housing development a short time ago, these two sites represented 70% of the employment to the town. This Followed the closure of the Royal Gunpowder Mills in the 1990’s and now we no longer have any industry left employing more that 15 people, other than the nursery trade. This lack of job opportunities causes traffic chaos at peak times with breadwinners forced to seek work in the Greater London Area for employment.

WARA consulted with the Lea Valley Growers Ass to determine whether Knollys could be brought back to commercial viability with a cash investment. They confirmed that all the necessary strategic criteria such as (access to mains gas; commercial vehicle access; room for future expansion;) was in place for the nursery to be productive and cost effective.

But the big question is why should they if they think they can receive a windfall by obtaining planning consent to develop homes on the land. WARA want to send out a strong message to owners, to reinvest in the Nursery Trade. If the predicted population explosion continues and the need to reduce air-miles for our food to reach us, we are going to need local fresh food producers. EFDC’s E13 policy is to increase by 200hectares Glasshouse production in the Lea Valley. This nursery site and all those in the Lea Valley are very important to our food production chain being so close to the massive London market. This area was identified in the 1930’s when the industry moved out of East London to settle in the Lea Valley and its even more vital today.

This decision is not just about forfeiting a slice of Green Belt to meet the unmet housing needs of the district. This is about protecting the Horticultural Industry in the Lea Valley. Lost horticultural land is unlikely to be replaced by neighbouring districts, as they too have the same demands placed upon them to facilitate housing shortages. The massive demand for the increase in housebuilding will consequently increase the demand for fresh food production, so where can this

demand be met if current production land is sold off for housing needs. It will simply be imported thereby increasing our food air-miles. EFDC must be treated as a special circumstances in this instance, no other district has the same environment with the density of Glasshouses situated within its district.

Small plots of Greenhouse land that fail to meet the essential criteria set out by the Lea Valley Growers Association should be permitted to be developed for housing.

But those sites that meet LVGA criteria must be protected from development so that they can meet the needs of the growing population. If the message is spelt out loud and clear owners will reinvest in their land. If not they will allow them to deteriorate in the hope of a financial windfall, and be lost to the fresh food production industry.

WARA can name thee similar nursery sites within 800mtrs of the Knollys nursery site that we know of who are just awaiting the outcome of this decision and are ready to apply for planning permission to develop their Nursery land given the slightest encouragement.

Knollys nursery site is set on the other side of a hill on the edge of an urban developed area.

NPPF guideline states that the Green Belt is designed to stop urban sprawl, that is exactly what this development would constitute. Pick Hill is the boundary between a housing estate and the Metropolitan Green Belt. Over the hill are green fields and nurseries and where do we stop developing when we have moved the natural boundary.

I hope WARA have convinced you that you should heed the advice of the LGBC and reject this proposal and by doing so send a clear message to those awaiting the outcome, that unmet housing need, does not justify inappropriate development within the Green Belt.

We are very disappointed in our local councillors who have not listened to our arguments on Fresh Food Production, refused to apply the Government guidelines to this situation and have totally lost the confidence of our residents in this matter.

Yours faithfully

Roy Porter


Waltham Abbey Residents Association


Copy of Wara first objection letter with

appendix 1 showing flooding in Jan 2103

Appendix 2 Flooding outside 24 Pick Hill Jan -Feb 2013

Appendix 3 Copy of Gov uk doc Councils must protect our Green Belt.

Copy of supplementary letter to planning officer.

Copy of supplementary WARA letter detailing alternative Children’d Nursery locations with photos

Copy of the London Green Belt Council’s letter to EFDC

Copy of the Brandon Lewis document sent to London Green Belt Council.

Copy of Lea Valley Growers Planing threatens the future if the Lea Valley Fresh Produce.

Members of the National Organisation of Residents Associations (NORA)”

Members of the London Green Belt Council (LGBC)”

Royal Gunpowder Protest