The Royal Aero Club awards medal to a North Weald Airfield pilot

Written on . Posted in Epping, Local business, North Weald Airfield, Ongar, Our attractions, Out and about, Supporting business

The Royal Aero Club recently presented its Bronze Medal to Joan Walsh, Chief Flying Instructor of Saxon Microlights at North Weald Airfield. This prestigious award was for her services to the microlight community through the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA). The gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded annually for outstanding achievement in aviation during the preceding year or over a number of years, principally, but not necessarily, as a pilot.

Joan with her Bronze Medal and Thruster microlight

Joan has been instructing for 10 years, and has pioneered the use of flight simulation to enhance training, which has proved to be very effective. She has recently added a large side screen to her Thruster simulator, which gives the student pilot a greater degree of realism and situational awareness in training.
Her students have already benefitted from being able to carry out exercises such as crosswind landings on the simulator before repeating them in the air. This saves the students money and means that the airborne training time has maximum practical value. The visuals give a great view of the Airfield and the local training area out to the East. Joan can programme in different winds and other factors to add to the challenge.

The Thruster simulator has been a great training aid

Joan has also served on the BMAA Council, where her calm, no nonsense approach (and experience as a magistrate) proved to be of significant value. The Airfield Operations Team would like to congratulate her on this well-deserved recognition.


North Weald Airfield Control Tower is now officially ‘historic’

Written on . Posted in Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Epping, North Weald Airfield, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Residents, Your area, Your community

It is now a Grade II Listed Building

Last year an English Heritage Assessment Team visited North Weald Airfield. They took a close look at the Control Tower, which is a Type 5223a/51 tower dating from 1952. On the basis of their recommendations, it is now a Grade II Listed Building:

  • Architectural interest: one of only seven of this type of post-war control tower to be constructed, the tower, which is larger than its predecessors, has an imposing presence and is illustrative of the development of the design of control towers in the face of increased reliance on electronic navigational aids in the post-war period;
  • Degree of survival: an intact plan, with sympathetic replacement windows, it is the best surviving example of its type on a fighter station, and amongst the best surviving overall;
  • Historic interest: a rare physical reminder of the role of RAF Fighter Command in the early years of the Cold War and its re-equipment with jet interceptors;
  • Group value: sited on a fighter station with an illustrious record during World War II, it has group value with the Grade II listed former Officers’ Mess.

Other similar towers were at heavy bomber bases: Upper Heyford, Brize Norton, Fairford, Mildenhall, and Greenham Common, plus Biggin Hill, which was a fighter base. Upper Heyford and Greenham Common are also listed. Mildenhall was demolished in 2004.

The Tower and Gate Guardian

We are delighted that our Tower has received this recognition as a historically significant building. Only last week we hosted a visit by 48 members of the Thornwood Seniors, a local community group, who spent time in the Tower before their tour of the Airfield and hangars.

The two large rooms are frequently used by the Air Ambulance and other organisations for meetings, training courses and functions. They are available for hire. Our Tower Facilities Hire leaflet can be downloaded from the Information for Event Organisers section of the Airfield website at

The Thornwood Seniors recently visited the Tower during their tour of the Airfield

Essential Living Fund and changes to the social fund

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Council tax, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your home, Your money

The Essential Living Fund or ELF is a new scheme for awarding emergency grants and loans for vulnerable groups.

Launched on 1 April 2013, it replaces 2 parts of the social fund from The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

  1. Crisis Loans
  2. Community Care Grants

Essex County Council is responsible for the Essential Living Fund in Essex with individual applications being administered by Southend On Sea Borough Council.

What is the ELF?

The Essential Living Fund is operated as a grant system (and not as a loan as the crisis loans), and if awarded, it will be paid by goods or vouchers.

It can provide you with essential items in an emergency such as

  • Furniture and furnishings
  • White goods
  • Household equipment
  • Fuel connection or re-connection charges
  • Clothing and footwear
  • General living expenses

Who can get the ELF?

To be considered for support you must be

  • Aged 16 or over
  • In receipt of state benefits or on a low income
  • Permanently live in Essex

How to apply for the ELF

To apply for general living expenses (such as groceries, nappies, toiletries, hygiene products and fuel), phone the ELF team on 0300 7900124 between 8.45am and 5.15pm (this number is charged at local rates from any number including mobiles).

To apply for furniture / white goods / clothing and footwear / household equipment use the online application form.

You will be asked questions about your income, earnings and savings. You will also be required to provide proof of your financial situation.

Home Energy Conservation Act Further Report 2013

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Chigwell, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Energy efficiency, Epping, Housing, Loughton, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Planning, Private housing, Recycling and waste, Regulations, Residents, Travel, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

As part of the amended Home Energy Conservation Act, Local Authorities are required to submit a further report on planned energy efficiency measures in their area.

Read the Epping Forest District Council HECA further report 2013

Find out more about energy efficiency


Countrycare Easter Scavenger Hunt

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Sports, Travel, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Looking for something fun to do with the  kids Wednesday 3rd April? Why not Join Epping Forest Countrycare for an Easter Scavenger hunt!

10am until 12pm. No need to book just turn up. £4 per child. Starting point Reserve Entrance at the end of Pike Way, North Weald, CM16 6BL.

For more Countrycare events download our Coutnrycare Events List 2013




Proposed changes to charging for pre-planning application advice

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Epping, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

As from 1 April 2013, the Council’s charges on pre-planning application advice will be changing to include a greater scope of development types. Please see the attached document which sets out these new charges and the procedure for seeking advice.

View the new pre-planning application advice fees April 2013


Find out more about the planning process and pre-application advice

Countrycare Events For 2013

Written on . Posted in Animal welfare, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Environmental health, Epping, Loughton, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Playschemes, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Countrycare will be running a series of kids events again this spring and summer.

Join Countrycare on one of our Local Nature Reserves and branch out into birds on Roding Valley Meadows, go barmy over bugs at Weald Common or nutty over newts at Nazeing Triangle. Our kids events are aimed at ages 4 to 12, we aim to teach them a little about their surrounding countryside and the wildlife that lives there and have a lot of fun too!

We will be kicking off with an Easter Scavenger Hunt at Roughtalley’s Wood on 3rd April. Find and solve the riddles hidden around the reserve to win some chocolate eggs!

Click Countrycare Events 2013 for a list of all our events in 2013.

Shared Ownership Week

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Epping, Housing, Loughton, Ongar, Private housing, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your home, Your money

Shared Ownership Week aims to highlight the need for shared ownership (part buy, part rent) within today’s housing market. It could be an ideal solution for would-be first-time buyers who are increasingly frustrated by high house prices and deposit requirements.

Housing associations and councils are teaming up with the National Housing Federation for Shared Ownership Week from 18 to 24 March 2013 – to show the positive effects shared ownership can have on local economies and communities. Epping Forest District Council works in partnership with housing associations to develop shared ownership in the local area.

Shared ownership offers the most affordable route into home ownership, meeting families’ aspirations and allowing them to live and work in areas they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. Normally the homes are newly built and available for sale on a ‘part buy and part rent’ basis through housing associations. You can buy shares worth between 25% and 75% of the property’s market value, then pay a subsidised rent on the remaining share. You may need to raise a mortgage to purchase your share. But if you have enough money for a deposit, or equity from the sale of a property, this can also be used towards purchasing your share. Second-hand shared ownership properties are also available from existing owners and these are called resales.

An innovative scheme called “Open Market Shared Ownership” (OMSO) was launched last year by the  Council, in partnership with B3 Living. OMSO offers a lower cost alternative to other types of shared ownership. Buying a 50% share and paying a subsidised rent on the remaining share, can cost you a third less than if you bought the property outright. The deposit is lower too.  For an affordable way to own your own home, give the Home Ownership Team at B3Living a call on 01992 453700.

On 1st March a new development of 119 houses was officially opened at Gilwell Hill, Waltham Abbey – including 95 affordable homes. The Council worked closely with Genesis Housing Association to provide 38 two bedroom shared ownership houses on the ‘Abbey Meadows’ site, which have all been sold. There are 57 affordable rented homes as well. All applicants must be registered on the Epping Forest Housing Register.

Contact HomeBuy if you are looking for shared ownership homes, or resales.  HomeBuy options is the single website for the South East of England and is operated by Moat. You will find details of homes available to buy or rent in Essex – through affordable home ownership schemes – in the area you live or work.

Council Tax Benefit change is coming

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Consultation, Council tax, Epping, Housing, Loughton, Ongar, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

A new scheme called Local Council Tax Support (LCTS) will replace Council Tax Benefit from the 1 April 2013. This new support scheme will be different from the current Council Tax Benefit scheme and is not so generous.

Local Council Tax Support poster
Local Council Tax Support poster

This scheme applies only to people of working age. People of pension age will continue to have their LCTS calculated in the same way as they currently have their Council Tax Benefit calculated.

Although the Government has introduced the LCTS scheme, they have reduced the funding that we receive and therefore we have had to reduce the amount of help that we can give working age people towards their Council Tax.

Changes from 1 April 2013

If you currently do not pay any Council Tax you will now have to pay something.

If you already pay Council Tax after your benefit entitlement has been deducted you will have to pay more than you have previously towards your Council Tax.

Council Tax Support will fall by over £1 million in Epping Forest.

If you have questions about this new scheme, come along to one of our Local Council Tax Support surgeries where you can talk to our Benefit and Council Tax team about the scheme and the payment options available to you.

Local Council Tax Support surgeries

  • Monday 25 February 2013
    Debden, Little Oaks Children’s Centre, IG10 3TD – 1.30pm to 3.30pm
  • Tuesday 26 February 2013
    Waltham Abbey, Waltham Abbey Town Hall, EN9 1DE – 9.30am to 12.30pm
  • Wednesday 27 February 2013
    Chigwell, The Limes Centre, IG7 5LP – 9.30am to 4.30pm
  • Friday 1 March 2013
    Ongar, Ongar Adult Community Learning, CM5 0GA – 9.30am to 11.30am
  • Monday 4 March 2013
    Buckhurst Hill, Little Buddies Children’s Centre, IG9 5ES – 2pm to 4pm
  • Wednesday 6 March 2013
    Epping, Epping Forest District Council Offices, CM16 4BZ – 9.30am to 3.30pm
  • Thursday 14 March 2013
    Waltham Abbey, Hazelwood Children’s Centre, EN9 3EL – 12.30pm to 3pm

Love our British birds on Valentines Day

Written on . Posted in Animal welfare, Arts, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Environmental health, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Travel, Trees and landscapes, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your environment

National Nest Box Week is great for birds. Starting on 14 February, St Valentine’s Day, it’s the time we remind ourselves to provide homes for dozens of species, from Blue Tits to Barn Owls.

Nesting Blue Tit
Nesting Blue Tit

The natural nest sites on which many of our bird species depend, such as holes in trees and buildings, are fast disappearing as gardens and woods are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired.

National Nest Box Week was launched in 1997 and since then thousands of enthusiastic naturalists across the UK have put up boxes to compensate for this loss. It is estimated that there are now 5 to 6 million boxes in gardens across the UK.

Whether you’re a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a bird club and could organise a work party, National Nest Box Week gives you the chance to contribute to the conservation effort in the UK whilst giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract to your garden.

Build a nest box

If you’ve never built a nest box before, why not give it a go this year? Or if you haven’t got the time, it’s easy to buy one. Go on, give Britain’s birds a valentines day gift this year!

Making your own nest box

If you want more information about nests and nest boxes, contact