Commuters and residents have slammed “mad” proposals to potentially build hundreds of homes on Underground station car parks.

Under the draft Local Plan for Epping Forest, which highlights parcels of land which could be developed up to 2033, five Tube car parks in the district could see 444 new homes.

Debden could hold approximately 193, Loughton 114, Theydon Bois 29 on one side of the tracks and 19 on the other and Epping – the largest public car park on the network – 89.

The proposals, still only at draft stage, could see 11,400 new homes in the district and the loss of 200 hectares of green belt land.

Peter Mitchell, 42, commutes into London from Fyfield and parks in Epping.

He said: “The car park is full every morning by about 10 to eight.

“The best part of 600 cars – where are they going to go?

“You’re not going to stop people coming.”

People have queued up online to criticise the proposals ahead of a public consultation planned for the end of October.

Commenting on an Epping Forest Guardian story, user Quiet Bat People said it would be “madness” to build over Tube car parks while Jay Bee said: “Epping station is already a nightmare; with housing where the car park currently is no one will be able to get in or out of Station Road, rendering the station unusable!”

District planning councillor John Philip said the draft Local Plan includes details of how the idea could work, as well as detailed plans for extra infrastructure projects.

He said new housing at stations could have underground car parks which would still be publicly accessible.

“The aim is to have car parks with the same number of spaces, I am not looking for a reduction in car parking,” he said.

Despite public criticism of proposals to build thousands of homes in the district, he said the Local Plan is needed to avoid central government bypassing the council, effectively handing free rein to developers.

“Legislation is very clear that to have a sound local plan, you have to meet your objectively assessed housing need… people are living longer and more people are living in smaller households, either that is the way they choose or their partner dies.

“All that drives an additional requirement to the housing we need.”

Cllr Philip also said more affordable housing is needed in Epping Forest to help people cope with low average wage levels compared to house prices.

He encouraged people to take part in the upcoming consultation, and urged those who respond to include as much detail and evidence as possible.

“We have a degree of capability to change things around as a result of the consultation.

“People saying ‘I don’t like this’ is not enough to change.”

A Transport for London spokeswoman said: “No decisions have been made on how we might utilise our property sites in the coming years.

“We continue to engage with the local authority to understand what options may exist as part of the Epping Forest District Council Local Plan.”

Over the coming days and weeks, the Epping Forest Guardian will be examining the potential impact of the Local Plan on specific areas of the district. Got an issue you would like to raise, or an area you would like to highlight? Contact reporter Joseph Flaig by phoning 07795 316 211 or email