The Federation of Enfield Residents’ & Allied Associations
Enfield Residents’ & Allied Associations

Housing in Enfield and the Green Belt

Population growth

The population of Enfield has grown strongly in the last 10 years and the Borough is very much in the mode of catching up with the demand for infrastructure and especially housing. One of the reasons for this population growth is the good access Enfield enjoys to London on the one hand and the national motorway network on the other. With the population of London credibly forecast to expand over the next 15 years by up to another million people the Borough, already one the most populous in London, will be called on to house even more. 350,000 residents by 2025 is the trend.

Quality of life

The quality of life and environment required to ensure healthy and productive families is core to policy setting in our Borough. One of the attractions of Enfield that must be retained as a matter of firm policy is the green open parkland distributed throughout the Borough. With population densities becoming ever more intense, the health and wellbeing of the population depends on access to quality outdoor space – building on it to maintain lower overall densities across the Borough is entirely wrong, and FERAA will press for considered policies rather than the ad hoc approach of recent years.

Some increase in density is inevitable and can be accommodated; FERAA acknowledges that industrial land must be retained to sustain employment, but where is the policy that secures both objectives, and invests to preserve the quality of environment required for a healthy and prosperous population? Allowing Enfield to inflate into an inner urban borough is to ignore the lessons of unmanaged urban development over the last 200 years.

The Green Belt

We hold the preservation of the Green Belt within the Borough to be one of the highest environmental objectives any administration can undertake. We see very little scope for “swaps” which almost inevitably substitute inferior land leading to the degradation of the Green Belt stock; in time degraded land will be pressured for release to development, a final loss to the community. Green Belt must not be so eroded as to permit reclassification as de facto brownfield.

Enfield’s parks make a valuable contribution to the quality of life in the Borough. Recent developments have shown they are considered a low cost route to expanding communal facilities. We resist the temptation to absorb recreation grounds in preference to using brownfield sites. A Borough with over 1/3m inhabitants needs open space, properly maintained, for communal health and social stability. 

Planning standards and Stewardship

Of late the Borough has taken shelter behind a narrow interpretation of planning rules to permit unstructured development – one instance is the former Middlesex University site at Cat Hill which has been sold for development; the developer has sought maximum densities in a new development, totally out of character with the surroundings and lacking any serious attention to building supportive infrastructure. It’s proving to be another case of just pile on the development and patch up the infrastructure when it creaks. Councillors defend their approach by “needs be” arguments, but an opportunistic approach to planning is no policy at all. FERAA is pressing for a much higher level of stewardship.

A further case of bad Council decision taking is found at the Notting Hill development close to the A406. The size of the dwellings is a matter of concern but of far greater importance is that the degree of over-development right close to a major arterial road will rob the new residents of any quality of life. This may appear on paper to be “housing the unhoused” but in no way is it consistent with the quality of life and environment required to ensure healthy and productive families. The Council must take steps to limit and control developments and refuse to support building just anywhere. It’s stewardship again.

For every breach of good standards pushed through by developers bent on maximising profit, a further precedent is established. Precedent can be quoted by developers and planning department alike, to gradually debase the quality of living in the Borough. Councillors like to state that they will not spend public money defending planning refusals at appeal, but if it becomes clear to developers, be they housing firms or retailers like Tesco, that maximum development gain is the norm in the Borough, the Enfield experience will deteriorate beyond recognition. An outflow of professional residents in favour of dense redevelopments with no social infrastructure cannot be consistent with balanced multi-occupational policies. 

FERAA is determined to stem this descent into mediocrity, to raise its profile with the planning function and employ the means at its disposal to challenge and obtain modifications to opportunistic developments that are out of keeping with the character and needs of a multi-occupational population.