North Weald industrial estate plan goes back to public after concerns raised

Plans for a new industrial estate on an Essex airfield will go back to public consultation after locals complained about its proximity to a village and impact on existing businesses.

The framework for the North Weald employment land masterplan was approved by Epping Forest District Council’s cabinet at a meeting last night (November 8).

According to the council’s local plan, the site will comprise a minimum of 10,000 square meters of new employment floorspace at North Weald Airfield.

The plans will now go out for public consultation for three months, before an updated version of the masterplan is voted on by the cabinet early next year.

But according to a council report, comments from an earlier consultation with the public revealed several issues surrounding the development.

These included the size of the buildings and their proximity to North Weald village, highway access, environmental considerations, the future use of the airfield’s control tower, the range of employment opportunities, the impact on existing businesses in the area and the specific employment needs of graduates and the young.

A section of the report read: “Following the receipt of comments as a result of the public consultation, further work was undertaken by the council’s consultants to address the points and issues raised and as a result of these changes have been made to the proposed master plan that are included in the draft master plan framework presented with this report.”

At the meeting, Finance, Qualis Client & Economic Development Portfolio Holder John Philip (Con, Theydon Bois) said: “We need to note that that consultation will be a lengthy one, taking place in November, December and January, to allow as much public contribution as possible.”

Council officer Nick Dawe told the meeting: “Local members, local interested parties, cabinet yourself, will be fully briefed on the detail before the public consultation itself is launched.”

The master plan area includes the main airfield and land to the east and west and its intended use would be for industrial, commercial and retail, according to the council report.

Additionally, the plans seek to encourage the use of sustainable transport, such as walking, cycling and public transport connectivity to Epping and Harlow.

The site, which is owned by the council, is also boarded by land earmarked for a separate residential development, the report continues.

According to the local plan, this could consist of a minimum of 1,050 new homes.

An updated version of the master plan will return to the cabinet between February and April 2022 for approval, after the consultation period ends.

If approved, the cabinet hopes to make it a material planning consideration, which means individual planning applications for the area will have to take the council’s ambitions into account.

Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter