City of London Corporation has welcomed decision to block development near Epping Forest

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Epping Forest

The City of London Corporation has welcomed a Planning Inspectorate decision to block a distribution centre just a quarter of a mile from the most protected section of the ancient woodland.

An appeal by Next plc against Epping Forest District Council’s decision not to allow its proposed development at Dowding Way was dismissed by the government agency.

The Inspectorate’s decision was welcomed as a victory by campaigners for preserving the green belt, protecting north-west views from Epping Forest, and stopping lorry traffic pollution through the site.

The City Corporation, which manages Epping Forest as a registered charity, was joined by local groups and the Epping Forest Heritage Trust in appealing against the proposals.

Epping Forest is a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation, and one of the few remaining extensive natural woodlands in southern England.

Known as the ‘green lungs of London’, the Forest is of national and international conservation importance, containing two registered historic parks, seven listed buildings and three scheduled ancient monuments.

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Chairman of the City Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee, Ben Murphy, said: “We are delighted with this decision, which further strengthens the planning protection of the local landscape character and preservation of the green belt.

“Our team work tirelessly to defend Epping Forest against inappropriate development and air pollution, but we do recognise the demand for reasonable development to support local housing needs and jobs. We work closely with local authorities to create robust local plans which set out the planning framework and mitigation to damage it may cause to the forest. The need for conservators to object to planning applications is actually rare.

“It is encouraging that both Epping Forest District Council and the government’s Planning Inspectorate continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us in recognising the importance of protecting Epping Forest.

The Planning Inspectorate deals with planning appeals, national infrastructure planning applications, examinations of local plans and other planning-related and specialist casework in England.

The Epping Forest charity receives more than £4million a year from the City of London Corporation to help deliver an outstanding environment attracting 4.5 million visits annually.

These sites, most of which are charitable trusts, are run at little or no cost to the communities that they serve. They include important wildlife habitats, Special Areas of Conservation, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and National Nature Reserves. They are protected from being built on by special legislation.

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