Waltham Abbey Residents Association Chairman’s Report 2014-15

Knollys Nursery October 2014

I reported at last years AGM that his time last year (2013/14) that we were concerned about the Knollys Nursery site that went back for a second application during the year and that we wrote a strong objection letter and attended the council meeting that decided by a very narrow majority of (1) to reject the scheme. I also said It appears from our intelligence sources that they are about to submit yet another application.

In June 2015 we had that application submitted and we compiled a very comprehensive argument against development. This time the local council sub-committee voted in favour of the proposals. However, the planning officer pointed out this is going against the council’s policy and the sub-committee did not have authority to override policy. So proposals had to be re-submitted with the sub committee’s recommendation for approval to the full EFDC council planning committee for consideration. This was to be heard on 4th November.

Council Meeing 4 November 2015.

 This meeting was held and 4 of our Waltham Abbey town councillors turned up to have their say in the matter (although none are members of this committe) . They all very much supported the application, which was dissapointing as many were the very members who voted againts the previous 2013 applcation. They cited the need for more affordable homes as reason for the removal of this land from its Green Belt Status.The result was a very close vote with the motion Against development voting 7 for and 7 against with 1 abstention. The motion to vote approval was 7 for and 8 against with no abstention. Thefore no conclusion.

I have to report that the Goverments National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states Unmet Housing Need (including for traveller sites) is unlikely to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and other harm  to constitute “The Very Special Circumstances” justifying inappropriate development on a site within the Green Belt.

I hope and pray that common sense prevails at the next meeting to decide the matter finally,  so that we do not start a precedent for the many nurseries allowed to fall into disrepair just awaiting such a success to place an appication of their own that are sited in and around our town.

The matter now goes before the full council on 23 November 2015.

At this meeting we understand we are not allowed to make a speech.

Following the vote on 9th November it was suggested that WARA contact Green Belt London to see if they can lend some support or advice to the matter. I have drafted a letter that Barbara is vetting for me and propose to send it immediately, we also think we should join the group and get its help on a long term basis, as most of our objections revolve around Green Belt issues.

November 2014

We had a place in last years cavalcade of light which was a good evening and we followed it up with a stall at the Market on the following Saturday, where we I think we made a suitable impression on the Town and gave out to the public Christmas Cards with our promotional info and contact details.

Town Show June 2015

We had a stall again at this year’s Town Show, where the weather was a little bit kinder than last year and was a great success, Dave even managed to get his picture in the Town Crier. We erected the Gazebo we purchased last year and used the Higher or Lower game suggested by George, using playing cards organised by Jannine and with the construction set up made by Steve. I think it proved to be a great success and we had a lot of comments on how well it was received both from the public and councillors. I have say a Great Big thank you to Dave who I think we all agreed was in his element with turning the Cards, and chatting to the public, with the committee acting as barkers getting the public interested. Unfortunately we had a major gust of wind on the second day and this has done some damage to the Gazebo, we hope to get that sorted before the November market day in Sun Street.

We have the cavalcade of light coming up before that and we will discuss our plans for that after the AGM matters are completed.

Former Transport Yard in Sewardstone Road, June 2015

I reported last year on this scheme at the AGM before the outcome of committee meeting. This planning application was refused just before Christmas but came back to life with appeal in June. We prepared another objection letter that was three times the size of our original and the inspector seems to have agreed with out thoughts and even used some of my passages and phrasing in his report and fortunately rejected the appeal.

Royal Gunpowder Mills

????? who prefers to be nameless at ths stage  approached us in March of this year and left several messages on my answer phone whilst I was away in the US. I contacted him on my return and we met with him and later with John Cook their spokesman. They gave us a presentation at our April meeting and asked for our help. We agreed, as a group to this and as you know I was asked to join the Save-RGM campaign committee and have put in a good deal of my time into their campaign. On behalf of ???? and all the Save-RGM members I would like to thank all WARA members for their support of the campaign and the help given in the flyer distribution to notify the town of the PGL exhibition promoting the scheme.

PGL by all appearances wanted to let the exhibition slip under the net and not be attended. We made sure by printing and heling to deliver deliver the flyer that residents were made aware of  the exhibition. A good many people turned out to visit the exhibition, once again on behalf of the Save-RGM campaign I thank the members for their help. The Save-RGM committee has grown by several new members recently,  but unfortunately has lost a vital key member who passed away recently, nevertheless the fight continues and I will keep you posted.

I have had a couple of meeting with Helen and Sam Kane with a Save-RGM group member regarding the campaign. They listened carefully to our concerns regarding the loss of the Visitor Attraction. Helen as Mayor agreed at the Town Council’s AGM to hold a public meeting to discuss the plans and has since agreed to see how she can set this in motion. We await the outcome.

I went with John Cook the chair of the Save-RGM campaign to Cambridge to meet Paul Sutton of Cheffins the planning consultants for the RGM development and architect of the document CMP. `We stated our case for the mills and he agreed that a planning application should involve the Visitor Attraction. The outcome of the meeting was that he was going to consult with the Trustees and PGL to see if they would include this detail in the application. Until that time we really don’t know what the proposals for the V.A are, as neither have made any comment as to how they envisage the V.A. can survive during or post development, that could have a huge bearing on what the campaign does next.

Closing Comments.

I would like to thank all committee members for their support and in particular Barbara for her work as secretary, Janine and George for their time spent researching and generally helping keep WARA in business without their help I could not chair WARA.