A petition campaigning against plans build a distribution warehouse on green belt land has almost reached its target.

Members of Waltham Abbey Community Campaigns have collected 1,400 signatures out of 1,500 opposing clothing company Next Plc’s planning application.

At the beginning of May 2018, the retail giant purchased land north of Dowding Way, Waltham Abbey but announced they would revise their application in November 2019.

Carina Hill, one of the Waltham Abbey Community Campaign organisers, said: “We believe that the promised employment and economic benefits are overstated and are far outweighed by the negative effects of losing a large green space to a warehouse, diminishing our town’s character.

“This will be one more significant step towards changing Waltham Abbey from a beautiful historic market town to an adjunct to industrial units. This is an inappropriate development so close to the Forest SAC.”

The campaign group are also opposing planning application number EPF/1413/18 to prevent increased traffic, pollution and potentially overstated economic benefits.

Should Epping Forest District Council approve of the application, an overall investment of £53 million is expected to be generated in Waltham Abbey and around 111 jobs created.

The building consists of one warehouse, some accommodation, a two-storey admin office, a one storey goods office and a security gatehouse.

The Next Studio planned would also offer studio manager and photography roles, including graduate and trainee schemes.

The tallest point of the warehouse would be 21 metres high.

The proposed site will cover 12 hectares, is on the Metropolitan Green Belt and within a flood zone due to its proximity to the River Lee in the south.

The campaign group held a briefing and awareness event at the Woodbine Inn Pub in Waltham Abbey on Friday, January 3.

Speaking about the event, Ms Hill said: “The fantastic response from the community last year has already led to Next.plc making big changes to their planned warehouse.

“However, it would still put a massive additional burden on our already congested roads, along with impacts on our air quality, wildlife habitats and the environment.”

Comments are currently open on planning application EPF/1413/18 until Wednesday, January 8.

To sign the petition, click here