Essex County Council’s arms-length development company is set to build flats in Epping Forest despite the design being described as ‘out of keeping’ to the area.

Watham Abbey Town Council said that the design of the building for 26 flats – made up of 16 private and 10 specialist which includes one carer’s unit was unsympathetic to the area when the plans first came forward in 2019.

Essex Police has also added its concerns for the potential risk of “walk-in burglaries” and added “attention needs to be paid to entry systems, visitor control and mail delivery to ensure that these do not put residents at risk”.

Essex County Council now the scope to transfer the land to the ownership of Essex Housing Development for private sale alongside new independent living units for adults with disabilities, following planning permission being granted.

The council says this will provide new homes, create jobs, and importantly provide much-needed specialist homes that will enable those living with disabilities to live independent lives.

But the plans have been criticised for their design the block has been described as too high and over dominant – while the security of the flats on the ground floor has been criticised as insufficient.

A statement to the planning committee at Epping Forest District Council from Waltham Abbey Town Council said: “While the committee is not objecting to the principle of the development, the committee feels that the design is not sympathetic to the surrounding area, and is therefore out of keeping.

“A four storey development is too high in that location and so would be over dominant, and concerns were raised regarding the designing out crime report from the police, expressing their concern regarding the design.”

A representation from Essex Police said: “We note from the plans that it appears that a number of ground floor apartments/rooms have external doors from living rooms and it is uncertain if these open into a secure or an open area, if it is the later then we are concerned of the potential risk of ‘walk-in burglaries’.

“Attention also needs to be paid to entry systems, visitor control and mail delivery to ensure that these do not put residents at risk.”

A statement as of part of a decision set to be made by Essex County Council cabinet to transfer the freehold from Essex Council to Essex Housing on May 24 said: “The development of land at Shernbroke strongly supports the delivery of the council’s plan, ‘Everyone’s Essex’, providing a high-quality environment, strong, inclusive and sustainable economy, promoting health, wellbeing and independence for all ages.”