Epping High Street warehouse could be demolished for flats

A former builders merchant and warehouse could be demolished to make way for new flats and shops in Epping town centre.

Twenty new one and two bedroom apartments and one commercial unit would be built in place of a former Travis Perkins store in High Street, if a new planning application is approved.

Also included in the proposals are parking and bicycle spaces, as well as refuse storage and landscaping.

A design and access statement by Farrell Design Studio describes the current buildings between High Street and Hemnall Street as “inappropriate”.

A section reads: “The site is sustainably located and well connected to public transport links.

“The proposal represents an excellent opportunity to deliver twenty additional high quality dwellings that are in keeping with the character of the surrounding area, especially when you take into account the precedent set with developments in the immediate area.

“It is wholly appropriate and indeed encouraged via the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] to seek to make efficient use of previously developed land, which this proposal does.

“It is applications such as this that ensure that Epping’s popularity, vitality and viability are sustained by ensuring that good quality housing stock is available and that choice of highly sustainable, efficient and ultimately more desirable dwellings are available.”

Spaces for 19 cars and 22 bicycles would also be provided, if the application is given permission by the council.

The statement says pre-application advice from the council established that the new scheme should be split between residential and commercial use, with commercial aspects taking priority for the High Street frontage.

A planning statement also claims the proposals have been designed to allow neighbouring Poppy’s Grill takeaway to come forward for redevelopment in the future, if the owner wishes to do so.

This property was discussed during the pre-application, with officers warning it could lead to a “piecemeal”, or inconsistent development if not included.

However, it has not been possible to purchase the site, the planning statement continues.

The current use of the Travis Perkins site is for a mix of retail, office, storage and a builders yard, and the site contains a warehouse and large hardstanding as well as retail space.

According to the design and access statement, the site benefits from two street frontages, onto High Street and Hemnal Street.

It also claims any development would be “sympathetic” to its surroundings, and would be the approximate height of nearby 136 High Street to the south west.

Cars would access the new development through an entrance on Hemnal Street.

Epping Forest District Council will likely make a decision on the application later this year.

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter