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The founder of a community charity supporting vulnerable people during the pandemic has pleaded with the district council to allow vital food supplies to be stored on a plot of land near Theydon Bois underground station.

Two empty former sea containers were donated to the charity 3Food4U and placed on a vacant car park adjoining Station Hill.

The owners of the site – which a few years ago the land received planning for a golf driving range, and a children’s school which started to be implemented , but is now lying empty, gave permission to the charity to store tins of food, clothes and non perishable items in the containers.

But Epping Forest District Council have warned they will take enforcement action unless the containers, which arrived last week, are not removed by Wednesday (Feb 25th)

Pesh Kapasiawala ,chair of trustees at 3food4u, said “This is taking food out of people’s mouths, I can’t believe the Council is treating us like this.

We already have five centres distributing essential food and clothes for people in need but we really need extra storage space.

We are already helping around 1,000 people a week from our hubs in Loughton, Chigwell Row, Waltham Abbey and Ongar five days a week and queues are forming outside our centres. Some of these people come from Theydon Bois.

These two containers are really key for us to continue to help people on this scale. We have approached the council and asked if there are any storage facilities we can have but they say they haven’t got any.

This land is not being used for anything and if we cant use it, we will have to start turning away donations which we really do not want to do.”

He added:”No money is changing hands or anything, the landowners have offered us the storage for free.

“We get huge pallets of food items from supermarkets, catering companies, the national NGOs and donations from well wishers and I can’t thank them enough but we need extra space and this would be ideal.

There won’t be queues of people turning up or anything, it will just be a couple of volunteers loading up a van twice a week to distribute to our hubs.”

However feelings are running high locally. Objections have been raised by the Parish Council, some residents and mysteriously bollards appeared in the road – which is a public highway – to block the entrance and access of the delivery truck when it arrived with one of the containers,

The road was also fly-tipped in an attempt to make it impassable The police have been called to the scene as tempers have flared.

Previous plans to turn part of the site, which was once the Old Foresters Sports Ground, into a car park for the station have been blocked in the past During the Olympics it was used as a temporary camp site for overseas visitors and tourists. Three years ago there was a legal row after a proposal was ditched following a proposal to build 160 homes on the site as part of the local plan.

Now discussions with the council have been had considering the possibility that the area, which covers about 15 acres and an adjoining plot could be used to plant 100,000 trees for carbon offsetting & biodiversity to help the councils net zero targets .

A spokesman for the land owners said:”This land is sitting there doing nothing and we knew of 3food4u who doe such an amazing job in the community, was looking for storage, so we offered it to them.

If it’s doing someone some good, we would like to help but we have met with a wall of opposition and some of it has been very abusive.

It’s unbelievable, all we are doing is offering a charity a place to store some pallets of food for free.”