Epping Forest fails to hit government housing targets but it’s a complex state of affairs

How many new houses can Epping Forest district take? (pic Adrienne de Mont)

Fewer than half the houses demanded by the government have been built in Epping Forest district over the last three years.
The Housing Delivery Test had required Epping Forest District Council to ‘deliver’ 2,468 homes between 2017 and 2020 – however, just 1,213 were built, equating to 49 per cent of the target.
The figures have been falling year on year, with 564 homes built in 2017-18, when the required figure was 667. In 2018-19, 426 were delivered (937 required) and in 2019-20 just 223 of the expected 864 homes were completed.
However, if EFDC’s emerging Local Plan is found sound by the Planning Inspectorate, the situation will look very different. That would give a figure of 1,511 homes required to have been built over the three years, meaning the council had hit an 80 per cent delivery rate.
An EFDC spokesman said: “The council’s priority is to deliver the right levels of development in the right places. The emerging Local Plan currently at a late stage of examination with the planning inspector identifies delivery of 518 new homes per year on average in order to deliver 11,400 homes over the Plan period up to 2033.
“However, we currently have a number of planning applications going back to 2018 on hold as a result of advice received from Natural England in June 2018. Epping Forest has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation.
“The application of the advice from Natural England has meant that the council has not been able to grant planning permission for any new development that may adversely affect the integrity of the forest until satisfactory measures were agreed.
“Applications have therefore been on hold due to the need to have an agreed mitigation strategy to address the impacts on air quality in the forest.”