Are Enfield Council’s plans to build on the Green Belt the result of its own failings?

Planning officers and senior leaders at Enfield Council have been repeatedly warned about the lack of family housing being built on housing developments in Enfield, but these warnings were either ignored or argued against, despite clear breaches of planning policy.  

Scroll forward, and the council now plans to build on large parts of Enfield’s Green Belt; their reasoning is that this is the only way to deliver the family housing that Enfield needs.   

We think that this is a problem of the council’s own making.   For example, several large-scale developments have come forward over the last few years which could have delivered far more family housing, but council planners stubbornly resisted calls to increase the number of family homes built on these sites. In other words, they had the power to enforce this but chose not to.

One example is Enfield Council’s £6bn Meridian Water development in Edmonton (pictured above).  Meridian Water is in an area that desperately needs more family housing and yet the council is failing to deliver this on its own flagship development. Plans for large parts of the site will deliver less than half the amount of family housing required by planning policy. There have been plenty of other examples of new developments where the council could, and should, have insisted that more family housing be built, but these opportunities have been squandered.

In September 2020, the council approved the controversial Colosseum Park development on Southbury Road, even though as little as 16% of the homes could have 3+ bedrooms; well short of the 60-65% required by planning policy.

An application for the next stage of the redevelopment of the Chase Farm hospital site was approved last November, with just 21% of the homes having 3+ bedrooms. One of the reasons given to justify the shortfall of larger family homes was that the area already had enough of these.  The council now says it needs to build 3+ bedroom homes on nearby Green Belt land.

Over the last 10 years, far too many housing developments have been approved that deliver too many small flats and not enough family housing. Enfield is around 3,000 homes behind where it should be in terms of building new homes with three or more bedrooms and 1,500 ahead of target for 1-2 bed flats.  Now, in order to compensate for routinely failing to enforce policy, the council is proposing building over large parts of Enfield’s Green Belt.

Enfield does need more housing, especially affordable family homes, but building on the Green Belt, certainly to the scale proposed by the council, is an unnecessary response to the combined housing, employment and environmental challenges the borough faces.

There are enough suitable grey and brownfield sites across Enfield that could be redeveloped in order to deliver the type of sustainable family housing that Enfield needs, without resorting to lots of tall tower blocks and without extensive building on unsustainable Green Belt sites.

Focusing development on grey and brownfield sites would also bring much needed investment and regeneration across the borough, especially to the areas of Enfield that need it most. Regenerating grey and brownfield sites also makes the best use of the borough’s existing infrastructure e.g. roads, public transport etc. and would help to protect the environment

Conversely, accessing the main Green Belt sites proposed for house building would require very significant and costly alternations to the highways network, including probably a new junction off the M25, which does not appear to have been fully considered in the council’s plans.

When people ask, “why do we need to build on Enfield’s Green Belt?”, the answer to the question is, we think, “because, when it comes to housing, our council has repeatedly failed us”.  

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