In 2003, a major football club with close links to Epping Forest submitted a planning application to build 20 football pitches and one covered pitch, plus a pavilion, on land designated as Green Belt near Theydon Garnon, a rural site that had remained unchanged for generations...
As the local CPRE district group, we were aware that development in any area needs to conform with the policies outlined in the local development plan, Our plan does not allow covered pitches to be built on Green Belt, so we had good ammunition with which to fight the intended development. In addition, since the site was surrounded by a network of country lanes, the traffic density would have been a recurring problem.
To gain support for our view, we met with local parish councils, and with the local planning officer to remind him of the relevant point in the plan. The planning officer recommended to councillors that the application be refused. Councillors accepted his recommendation and planning permission was denied.
We weren't the only people concerned about the damage the pitches would do to the Green Belt - 450 letters were written to the council opposing the application.
- Terry Callaghan, chairman, Epping Forest District, CPRE Essex