Homes to be built on former garden centre site in Nazeing

A housing development in a former garden centre will be completed, despite being in green belt land as well as an old landfill site.

Phase Two of the development at the former Chimes Garden Centre in Old Nazeing Road, was given final approval by Epping Forest District Council last month.

After debating the proposals, councillors concluded that developing the land would be an opportunity to smarten up its condition, which has deteriorated since the garden centre closed, and to provide a higher standard of decontamination.

The development, which will be built in the southern part of the site, will consist of 14 new homes – four affordable flats and 10 houses.

Phase One, in the northern part of the site, consists of 33 houses and is currently being built having been given planning permission in 2019.

Paul Watson, a planning agent for the applicant, said issues with contamination had prevented the site being developed as a whole, but these had now been resolved.

He said: “Given the historic landfilling of the site, members note that the opportunity existed through the granting of this application to secure a higher standard of contamination mitigation than is currently required.”

According to a council report, the application was approved by the Area Planning Sub-Committee West on March 16 2022, despite officers’ recommendation to refuse.

But it was then referred upward to the District Development Management Committee in order to approve a departure from the council’s local plan policy.

Councillor Heather Brady (Con, Passingford) told the committee: “I think it’s important to point out that just because land has been allowed to become messy, untidy and tatty, is not a reason to build on land.”

Councillor David Joslin, of Nazeing Parish Council, said the condition of the site had deteriorated since the original closure of the garden centre and that the parish council supported both phases of the development.

Additionally, he said the parish council had visited the site proposed for Phase Two, and said it remained in an “untidy and unattractive condition”.

He said: “This must clearly have a detrimental effect on the completed development of Phase One.

“It appears evident that if the Phase Two site is not developed it will remain in its present condition indefinitely, which the council considers to be unacceptable.”

The former garden centre has been subject to several planning applications since its closure, many of which were never acted on despite approval from the council.

The developer will also contribute £61,523 to local education, £1089.20 to libraries and £335 per dwelling to air quality mitigation measures, according to the report.

Eight councillors voted to approve the application, versus five against and one abstention.

Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter