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Family homes agreed for Chadwell Heath Green Belt site could safeguard future of farm

PUBLISHED: 14:47 02 May 2012

Farm manager Elizabeth Webb is delighted by the plans

Farm manager Elizabeth Webb is delighted by the plans

Archant

The future of a popular city farm could be safeguarded and 88 zero-carbon family homes built in Chadwell Heath after the council threw its weight behind a major development.

Plans to build the five-bedroom detached homes, which will be eco-friendly, on Green Belt land at Collier Row Road were given the green light by councillors at a development control meeting on Monday night.

The proposals, which have been praised by Marks Gate infant and junior schools, will now go to the Greater London Authority and the government.

As part of the plans, put forward by Ecogrove Homes Limited, struggling Wellgate City Farm, which sits beside the site, would receive a new building with a classroom, cafe, farm shop and farm offices.

The centre, which runs a number of educational programmes, would also benefit from a farm manager’s house, a new recycling shed and 85 per cent more land.

To tackle the possible pressure the housing development would put on local schools, a £200,000 contribution would be made towards providing about 90 school places.

Building on Green Belt land is generally not allowed, however the council said this case was an exception because the homes are carbon neutral and because of the vast improvements to the farm.

According to the council plans, the site where the homes would be built is currently occupied by a cattery, dog kennels, a garden centre and a number of other buildings, some empty, which may not have planning permission.

Chadwell Heath councillor Jeff Wade, who made a speech in support of the application, said the site was essentially “brown field”.

He added: “This development will actually bring back the green nature of that area, not take it away.”

Fellow ward councillor Sam Tarry also backed the move.

He said: “This development will be transformative. There are very few private houses in Marks Gate. This could attract professionals to the area, which we desperately need.”

He praised Wellgate Farm for helping to turn young people’s lives around and said the money would safeguard its future.

Some councillors expressed concerns over the proposed financial contribution toward the provision of school places and argued that the figure was too low.

Cllr Dee Hunt said that 90 school places were not enough.

She said: “I believe there will more than 90 children living in the new homes. That figure should be doubled or trebled.”

Others felt that there should be a mixture of house sizes and some should be “affordable homes”.

Farm manager Elizabeth Webb, who together with her team has been running a Keep Us Going Campaign since the 30-year-old farm hit financial troubles, said she was delighted with the decision: “We’ve still got two stages to go, but it’s fantastic news.

“Hopefully this will save our farm.”


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