Chapmans Farm sale worries Upminster community about green belt development
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Councillors are trying to reassure members of the community worried about development in the green belt after a farm was put up for sale.
Chapmans Farm, Hall Lane, Upminster, is one of 75 Havering sites under consideration to be removed from the green belt after land owners and their agents submitted plans to have its protected status removed.
The one acre farm, used for horse riding and stabling, has been put up for sale by Cambridge University for around £1m.
Havering Council’s cabinet member for financial management, Cllr Clarence Barrett said: “We very much value our green belt land but we cannot stop anyone submitting an expression of interest or submitting an application to take land out of the green belt.”
The council is in the process of preparing a new Local Plan which will replace existing planning policies set out in the Local Development Framework (LDF).
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The plan will guide future development and land use within Havering over the next 15 years up to 2032.
Chapmans Farm is being sold as a residential development opportunity through the St Albans office of property consultants Bidwells.
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It’s marketing material states: “A rare opportunity to acquire this existing livery yard which benefits from a positive pre-application in favour of residential development.”
According to the consultants, the farm comprises a number of modern but low quality barn buildings, stables and containers.
“They are generally in poor condition without any significant character,” the document reads.
“The only significant building is the old granary which could be kept and reused as a gateway feature.”
Bidwells class the mature trees and hedges which border the site on the north, south and west boundary as important features of the green belt and recommend they are retained and enhanced where possible.
But people were quick to voice their concern on social media to keep the site as a recreational facility and community hub as it has been for more than 55 years.
Alice Roberts, green space campaigner for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England’s (CPRE) London office echoed residents concerns but said the government is forcing councils to meet unrealistic housing targets.
“Councils are under massive pressure to allocate land for housing against high targets,” she said.
“The target for London is 50,000 new homes per year but we are actually building 25,0000 per year.”
Alice added that green belt developments negatively impacts community. As the land is not easily accessible by public transport it forces people to become car dependent, which creates more traffic and pollution on roads.
But although an expression of interest has been made to remove the sites protected status, no planning application has been made to develop it.
Cllr Gillian Ford (East Havering Residents Group, Cranham) added: “When an application is submitted to the council with proposals to develop Chapmans Farm, we will notify residents, at which point people can submit comments to the council for consideration.”
Cllr Barrett continued: “We are legally obliged to consider these applications. Any developer or person can put submissions in to take land out of the green belt.
“The council has to consider if it is a valued case.”