STANDING UP FOR THE FOREST
In order to preserve the Forest, the Friends take an active role in the planning process of
Local Planning Authorities. Given the increasing pressures for housing, infrastructure and
commercial developments, we review planning applications and developments close to the Forest
and object where we can demonstrate the threat to the Forest. This includes work to resist
erosion of the Green Belt, along with infrastructure and industrial developments that could
pose a risk to the Forest, such as waste recycling centres.
We often remind Local Planning Authorities that by controlling the area around the Forest,
they too are acting as guardians of the Forest. They must avoid the temptation to see the
Forest as an adjunct or substitute for their own provision of open space for recreational
activities or for the location of infrastructure proposals. These could both put stress on
the very essence of the Forest, the natural aspect, enshrined in the Epping Forest Act.
Responding to consultations
We also review various policies and strategies prepared by local authorities, the City of
London and occasionally government agencies in respect of planning policy, recreation and
nature conservation. We may object to proposals within emerging strategies and consultation
documents that could threaten the Forest or indeed support those which further enhance and
protect the Forest. This work has included presentations at Public Inquiries, Hearings and
Examinations in Public.
During the past two years, key documents to which we have responded have included:
Epping Forest Management Plan Consultation for the next ten years – seeking to ensure
it is policy driven, long term in its consideration and with sustainability at its heart. We
also want to ensure that the natural aspect is preserved.
Wanstead Park Grade 2 * listed Heritage Park and Gardens
The key focus of our response was the protection of the natural aspect of the Park, whilst
celebrating its historic importance as a Historic landscape park, through interpretation and
events and preservation of key landscape features.
Various Powers proposed Open Spaces Bill – The Friends wanted to ensure that the proposed
change to increase the licensing period for concessions on the Forest gave enhanced protection
of service quality standards, made minimal impact on the Forest and supported the long term
protection of the Forest. In addition, the Friends sought assurances that with the proposed
more extensive powers to license events and activities in the Forest that these brought
minimal disturbance to the Forest and its visitors. The Friends welcomed that both events and
activities would first require a policy to be developed in consultation with a variety
Iron Age Camps in the Forest – consultation by Historic England, to inform the future
management of these sites. The Friends were keen to ensure that any works proposed to protect
the historic aspects of the site were not to the detriment of the nature conservation value
and interest of the site.
Highams Park Neighbourhood Planning Group – development of a Neighbourhood Plan for
Highams Park. The Friends participated throughout the process, to ensure the Forest area
included in the plan was better understood and that any ideas for the Forest land would be in
keeping with the status of the Forest and its natural aspect.