This was a 4 day inquiry into two planning appeals relating to proposed major development in the Green Belt involving the relocation of Hargreaves Services plc’s logistics operations to new bespoke premises on the edge of Harlow and the redevelopment of its existing site at Foster Street South into a 65-dwelling development.
Epping Forest District Council had refused planning permission for both schemes on the basis that they were inappropriate development in the green belt for which very special circumstances had not been shown. They also contended that the Foster Street South residential development would not be sustainable due to its inaccessibility to services and facilities by public transport.
The Appellants argued that very special circumstances existed for both developments having regard in particular to (i) the role they would play in allowing a major local employer to remain and grow in the District, (ii) the serious housing supply shortfall in the District, in circumstances where the Council accepted it had at most a 1.35 year housing land supply (iii) the fact that Harlow Gateway South was a draft allocation in the Council’s emerging local plan, (iv) the previously developed nature of much of the Foster Street South site (v) the unsuitability of Foster Street South for Hargreaves’ plans for growth which would have significant impacts on the amenity of neighbouring residential properties, and (vi) the fact that 93% of the District is within Green Belt boundaries which had last been reviewed in 1998, and were therefore out of date and having a serious effect in constraining housing and employment growth.
In relation to the sustainability of Foster Street South for residential development, amongst other things the Appellants relied upon an innovative proposal to provide free electric cars for 15% of the development, as well as an additional pooled electric car for use by all residents and free electric car charging points for each home, so as to ensure that as many as possible car trips to and from the site would be in electric vehicles which would amount to sustainable transport.
Charles Banner appeared for the Appellant, instructed by Iceni Projects.