Green belt fears aired

Proposals to sell off five-and a-half acres of green belt land as part of plans to relocate St John's School, Epping, may set a worrying precedent, according to campaigners.

Multi-million pound proposals to build a housing estate on the present school site, off Bury Lane, would finance a new school on neighbouring green belt land. This would leave enough land for a new Epping sports centre, if councillors were to renege on a decision to scrap a sports centre move.

england land sale

The St John's Consultation Group, established last October to represent the views of 100 concerned residents, has met to discuss altered plans for the St John's School site.

Group chairman Rob Thompson said: "We have no objections to Epping having a new school but it mustn't be through building housing on green belt land. It would create a very bad precedent, especially with the Government wanting to build as much as possible in the M11 corridor."

Mr Thompson said he would seriously question the need for another 200 houses in Epping and raised concerns about traffic congestion, road safety and the "short-sightedness" of providing only the legal minimum amount of space for school playing fields.

Governors chairman Mike Riglesford said:

"It's true a proportion of the green belt would be lost but under the new development there would be a defensible and marked boundary for the green belt along the line of ancient hedgerows and pond, with the school behind that, making it a firm position for avoiding any further encroachment in the future."

He added that if the council were to grant planning permission for the school redevelopment, that would not neccesarily mean other applications for building on green belt land would be granted.

Epping Forest Guardian, 19th August, 2004

Further News Articles »