New leisure centre for Epping being explored

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The feasibility of providing a new community leisure centre and swimming pool to be built in Epping is being actively explored. Proposals are being discussed with Places Leisure (the leisure arm of Places for People), the District Council’s current leisure provider and Epping Town Council.

The new centre could form part of the larger St Johns development to potentially include the first cinema in the town for decades, new shops, public open space and housing. The councils have withdrawn from previous plans to sell the area to a private developer, Frontier Estates. Frontier had intended to build a mixed use scheme to include a supermarket, but changes to the retail environment have made the approach less favourable and the Councils are now actively pursuing the new leisure option with Places Leisure.

The proposals include the transfer of the District Council depot to its new headquarters at Oakwood Hill in Loughton, and freeing up the site of the current Epping Sports Centre for housing as set out in the draft Local Plan. New Town Council offices would also be built into the new plans.

Epping Forest District Council remains one of the few councils able to invest in new leisure services. Its property portfolio includes the new shopping park in Loughton, now adding to the Council’s income from other shops, industrial units and commercial properties across the district. Income from these properties allows Epping Forest District Council to set one of the lowest Council Tax rates in Essex while continuing to invest in major new schemes.

In partnership with Places Leisure, it has just completed improvements at Ongar and the current Epping centre, built a major extension to Loughton Leisure Centre opened last week, and is due to complete the brand new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre in November.

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council was delighted to make the latest Epping announcement with the Epping Town Mayor, Councillor Nigel Avey.

Councillor Whitbread said: “Today marks a milestone in the history of Epping. These plans can transform the heart of Epping, building on the current success story with an even better town centre. We are creating a wonderful new space to draw in visitors, providing jobs, leisure and housing. It would be a major boost to the local economy and a fantastic enhancement to our town.

Councillor Nigel Avey added: “Our two councils have a joint vision for Epping, our town and our community. It has been a long road, with setbacks, but both the Town and District have stuck to our guns in putting Epping first. With Places for People, we think we could find a private partner that has already demonstrated its local commitment through the provision of fantastic new community facilities across the district. St Johns would be on a larger scale with benefits to match.”

Public consultation on the new plans will take place in the New Year with outline planning permission being sought thereafter.

Background

Epping Forest District Council and Epping Town Council originally went into partnership with Essex County Council and a private developer, Frontier Estates, to redevelop the St Johns area of Epping.

The site comprises the former primary school, town council offices, and district council depot. From the outset the advantages of redeveloping the separate sites as a single holistic project made more sense than piecemeal redevelopment. The District Council took a major step forward when it bought the freehold of St Johns Primary School from Essex County Council as a means of ensuring that vision was followed.

Consultation with residents had previously altered the original design brief. Residents welcomed additional housing, shops and public open space but there was also a strong call for Epping to have its own cinema again, particularly for the benefit of the town’s young people.

Separately, an ongoing debate has been conducted over the future of Epping Sports Centre. Although the District Council has continued to invest in the Centre, its long term future has always been in doubt due to its location and construction. The site was identified for housing in the draft Local Plan, although the Council promised no plans would be made to close it until new facilities had been provided.

The new relationship forged between Places Leisure and Epping Forest District Council at its other leisure facilities around the district, combined with the opportunities at St Johns Road are crystalising into the new plans in partnership with Epping Town Council.

Other potential sites were also considered to replace Epping Sports Centre. Among other sites, a group of sports centre users had suggested an area currently owned by St Margaret’s Hospital and the District Council had also looked at reprovision at North Weald Airfield. Early investigations into the possibility of a joint-use centre with St Johns Secondary School had not passed feasibility discussions.

Apart from concerns over access and location, the cost of the St Margaret’s proposal involving the purchase of the land would have been prohibitive. North Weald Airfield and the largest part of St Johns are already owned by Epping Forest District Council, making each of these options much more affordable.

The previous aspiration to build an additional supermarket in Epping has been dropped.

With public calls for the new centre to be located as close as possible to the heart of Epping and customers not wishing to see a new North Weald facility lead to the closure of Ongar, the proposal to build at St Johns will come as welcome news.

Technical Background

  1. The St John’s Road redevelopment scheme is an important strategic project for the District, because of its ability to deliver both significant community and economic benefits.
  2. The site totals 3.68 acres and is in a prime town centre location. The original land ownership comprises of Essex County Council (former junior school) 2.59 Acres, Epping Forest District Council (Housing Repairs Depot) 0.59 Acres and Epping Town Council (Epping Hall) 0.54 Acres.
  3. The three public bodies have been working in partnership since the Junior School relocated to bring forward an appropriate redevelopment scheme.
  4. In recognition of the profile of the site and the high level of public interest a consultative approach with the local community has always been adopted, including a range of interested parties and stakeholders.
  5. As a result of public consultation the Council adopted a design and development planning brief for the site.
  6. The planning brief was for a mixed use scheme to include a food store (12,000sq ft) cinema, restaurants, ancillary retail use, car parking and up to 34 units of housing.
  7. In order to deliver the redevelopment the three Councils sought a specialist development company with the required expertise. After expressions of interest were received, Frontier Estates were appointed.
  8. After an extensive period of negotiation, which in order to ensure that the desired outcomes of the design and development brief were achieved, involved the purchase of the County Council’s land by Epping Forest District Council, it was anticipated that the final contracts could be entered into in the summer.
  9. However, it has not been possible to reach a final mutually agreeable position between the District Council, Town Council and Frontier Estates. The time taken to conclude negotiations has seen change in the retail market and Frontier Estates development risk increase.
  10. Therefore both the Town Council and District Council are now actively exploring an alternative which still delivers the community and economic briefs they both are keen to achieve for local residents.
  11. It is still the intention to pursue a mixed use scheme in accordance with the sites allocation in the submission version at the District Council’s Local Plan.
  12. However, the District Council is currently accessing the most suitable location for the reprovision at Epping Sports Centre which is ageing and constrained in terms of access. The St John’s site can now form part of this option appraisal.
  13. In the intervening period the District Council will continue to ensure the security of the site and keep residents updated.

Epping Forest District Council Local Plan submitted

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Civic events, Community, Consultation, Councillors, Democracy, Epping, Leader, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Meetings, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

The Local Plan, a set of policies to manage development within Epping Forest District up to 2033, has been submitted for approval to the Planning Inspectorate by Epping Forest District Council. The news was announced by Planning Portfolio Holder John Philip at the meeting of the Full Council on Tuesday 25 September 2019.

EFDC local plan logos

Submission followed the end of a legal challenge by property developer CK Properties (Theydon Bois) Ltd after its application for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal was refused. CK Properties had already lost its case following a High Court hearing.

Although the Council was successful on all four grounds in the judgment given by Mr Justice Supperstone on 29 June 2018, an injunction continued to prevent the Council from submitting the Local Plan to the Secretary of State for examination until the conclusion of the legal proceedings – this included the subsequent applications for leave to appeal made by the claimants.

11,400 homes by 2033

Councillor John Philip reminded fellow councillors of the key aims of the Plan which includes the delivery of 11,400 new homes over the plan period up to 2033. He congratulated the Council’s planning policy officers.

Councillor Philip said: “I am sorry for the uncertainty this unnecessary delay brought by a property developer has caused to our residents. From the very outset, this Council followed the best legal and technical advice. We were always completely confident of our case. Our approach was vindicated on all grounds at the High Court and again by the Court of Appeal last week.

“Now, at last, we can let the Planning Inspectorate do its job. The Plan will be properly scrutinised in the right forum of an independent examination, where the Planning Inspector will listen to all opinions and come to a proper objective assessment. The District can move forward with a Plan that acknowledges the need for change and growth while protecting the most precious things we love about our district and makes it the place in which we wish to live.”

Modifications expected

Councillor Philip expects modifications to the Plan following its Independent Examination. He said: “The Local Plan is without doubt the most complex project we have ever undertaken. Even with the years of care, consultation and diligent hard work put in by so many people including councillors, staff and residents, there are likely to be small amendments required following examination to take account of changing circumstances.

“I will keep an open mind and I urge fellow councillors and residents to do likewise. We can all welcome that process and look forward to engaging with the inspectorate in the most positive and constructive way. We have taken a major step forward and it is long overdue but the end is now in sight and I look forward to it with relish.”

Background

Planning applications for development are considered within the context of policies and regulations. Overall, councillors must have due regard to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which has a presumption in favour of granting planning applications unless there is good reason to do otherwise.

Councils can supplement this national guidance with a set of local policies tailored to the unique local circumstances of each town, district and borough. These policies are enshrined within a Local Plan.

The production of Local Plans must take account of national as well as local priorities for such things as the provision of new housing, employment, health care and leisure for a growing and changing population. Local Plans must show how infrastructure including roads, public transport and utilities including gas, water and electricity are to be provided.

Before a Local Plan can be adopted and used as a basis for making decisions on planning applications, it must be scrutinised and approved by an independently appointed planning inspector working on behalf of the Government. The Inspector will be looking to ensure the Plan is legally sound and meets all the requirements for national and local policies in a fair and consistent way.

This process is conducted in a transparent manner through Independent Examination. The Planning Inspector will scrutinise all the policies and supporting documents before hearing submissions and taking further evidence from interested people.

Inspectors rarely approve a Local Plan without any modifications. This is usually achieved in consultation with the authority to produce a final version for adoption by the Council.

Once adopted, the Local Plan becomes one of the most important means by which councillors can regulate and ensure appropriate development.

The Planning Inspectorate will schedule the Independent Examination of Epping Forest District Council’s Plan among ongoing examinations of other councils’ local plans. Once submitted, councils may have to wait several months before an examination takes place.

More information can be found at http://www.efdclocalplan.org/

Search on for Young Citizen of the Year 2019

Written on . Posted in Arts, Buckhurst Hill, Chairman, Chigwell, Civic events, Community, Epping, Health, Loughton, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Nominations are now open for the Epping Forest Young Citizen of the Year Award 2019. If you know of a young person that deserves recognition, nominate them before Friday 30 November 2018.

Make a nomination now

The award, presented annually, recognises young people’s exceptional contributions to the Epping Forest District. This can be in terms of outstanding courage, service to the community or showing extraordinary commitment, energy and effort in a particular cause or achieving a particular goal.

11-18 year-olds living in Epping Forest district are eligible for nomination.

Awards evening

The finalists will be invited to the District Council`s Civic Awards in March 2019 where the winner will be announced and will receive £300 and a certificate of achievement.

Making positive contributions

Chairman of the Council, Councillor Richard Bassett said: “The Young Citizen of the Year Award highlights the positive contributions that young people make throughout our district in so many different ways. Many of these young people are unsung heroes and we want to recognise the tremendous contributions they make to their communities. So if someone springs to mind, now is the time to nominate them for this prestigious award.”

Make a nomination

To nominate a young person for the Young Citizen of the Year award either:

The closing date for nominations is Friday 30th November 2018.

Further information

Contact Paula Dunley, Youth Engagement Assistant

Council homes to be proud of

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Community, Councillors, Epping, Housing, Leader, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

An extra £2 billion for council housing announced by the Government, has been welcomed by Epping Forest District Council. The Council is already building new homes to supplement its stock of around 6,500 properties. There are currently more than 1,500 people waiting for a home on the District’s Housing Register.

Image – John Scott Court, opened in October 2017. Phase One of the Council’s House-building Programme, providing 23 new affordable rented homes in Waltham Abbey

£58m commitment

The Council has committed around £58 million for new housing since it restarted its council house building programme in 2014. 28 new homes have been completed so far in Waltham Abbey, North Weald and Epping, with more in the pipeline. It has also bought eight brand new homes off-plan from a developer in Roydon and a further six open market properties for renovation.

Burton Road development, Loughton

Fifty one new houses and flats are nearing completion in Burton Road, Loughton. The site was the scene of a construction related fire a few weeks ago. However, despite flames and a spectacular plume of smoke that could be seen for miles, damage to the block involved was relatively light and largely confined to the roof. The building stood up to the fire extremely well which put back the completion schedule by only a few weeks. The first new tenants should be moving into Burton Road before Christmas.

Next phase

Thirty four new homes are planned in the next phase of construction. Utilising eight small parcels of land already owned by the Council, it is building these homes in Epping, North Weald and Coopersale. Under future phases, more new properties will be built in Loughton, Buckhurst Hill, Ongar and Waltham Abbey, with planning permission already granted for an additional 74 homes.

All the Council’s new homes are energy-efficient and safe, built to the Government’s Decent Homes Standard and Lifetime Homes Standards.

“More than bricks and mortar”

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council is proud of the work done so far and very keen to draw some of the extra money announced by the Government into the District. He said: “We provide very high quality council housing but it is more than just bricks and mortar. We take pride when our tenants tell us how much they appreciate the good level of service we provide throughout from lettings to management and maintenance.”

He continued: “The biggest problem with our stock is that we don’t have enough of it. We are committed to building more local council houses for local families, and we will be sure to do all we can to get hold of some of the £2 billion announced by the Government to build more.”

“Council housing second to none”

Delivering Epping Forest District Council’s house building programme is Councillor Syd Stavrou, Portfolio Holder for Housing. She added her support, saying: “Council housing in Epping Forest is second to none. I also welcome the Government comments around removing the ‘stigma’ of social housing.

“We are four years into our ten year council house-building programme. The quality of our homes is as good as any private sector equivalent and we are determined to continue in that way. It’s not enough to just build the homes though, our focus is very much on continuing to manage and maintain all our homes in partnership with our tenants to the highest possible standard”.

Epping Forest Civic Awards nominations open

Written on . Posted in Arts, Buckhurst Hill, Chairman, Chigwell, Civic events, Community, Councillors, Epping, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

The search is on for Citizen of the Year 2019!

If you know someone that deserves recognition for the positive impact they’ve had within their community or a team that work hard to make a difference – nominate them before Friday 23 November 2018.

Prestigious award

Epping Forest District Council’s Chairman, Councillor Richard Bassett is hoping for a number of excellent candidates to choose from this year, he said: “The Citizen of the Year Award is such a prestigious award and I’m looking forward to seeing all of the nominations flood in!

“The Citizen of the Year awards highlights all of the positive work that happens throughout the district. There are people amongst us that go above and beyond to make others’ lives better and this is our opportunity to recognise their important contribution to our local communities.

“If you know an individual or a group of people that are worthy of either the Citizen of the Year or Team of the Year Award 2019, we want to hear from you! Please make your nominations before Friday 23 November 2018, stating your case for your nominee!”

Candidates need to be over 18 years old.

Further information

Contact Pat Seager for further information

A Summer of fun and more at the Museum

Written on . Posted in Arts, Community, Museum, Older people, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Playschemes, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community

Epping Forest District Museum was buzzing with visitors over the summer 2018 for all sorts of fantastic creative activities. Why not take a look at what is on offer for October half-term holidays?

Summer round up

Budding artists took inspiration for their own works of art in How to Paint…Like an Artist, from artists in the museum’s collection. They used colour like Walter Spradbery, texture like Lucien Pissaro and painted beautiful watercolours like Jacob Epstein.

In our new ‘How to Draw…a Portrait’ workshop, participants got tips and tricks for drawing faces and experienced what it is like to be a model – not as easy as they thought!

At the ‘Little Storytellers’ workshop in Ongar, Michael Rosen’s classic tale ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ was used as inspiration for our little explorers to go on a journey through long wavy grass, sticky mud, a deep dark forest and even a snow storm, before creating their own maps and bears.

There was another wacky show from Booster Cushion Theatre Company; Old MacDonald and the Three Pigs Plus. The ‘Musical in 2 Days’ workshop cast worked incredibly hard to learn songs, scenes and choreography from Bugsy Malone and were ready to perform in just two days.

Garden and forest

Young artists and keen gardeners designed their own flowers, complete with Latin style names; did botanical drawings from plants in the museum garden and planted their own seeds to watch grow, in ‘Art and the Garden’. Participants designed beautiful prints, inspired by work from the current exhibition ‘Walter Spradbery: Artist in War and Peace’ and the forest in ‘Be a Printmaker’.

Family Fun

Over 400 children and their families enjoyed the ‘Family Fun Day’ drop in sessions at both Epping Forest District Museum and Lowewood Museum on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

October half term holiday sessions

Epping Forest District Museum have some great drop in arts and crafts sessions planned for October half term holidays.

Clay days

Come and play with clay! Our clay days are set up to give everyone a chance to create something, whatever your age or experience.

  • Monday 22 October 2018 and Wednesday 24 October 2018
  • 11.00am – 15.00pm
  • Epping Forest District Museum, 39-41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EL
  • £1.50 per child
  • All ages welcome

First World War Postcards

Fun family art and craft activities for you to make together and take home.

  • Tuesday 23 October 2018
  • 12.00pm – 15.00pm
  • Epping Forest District Museum, 39-41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EL
  • All ages welcome

Comments from participants

Alistair said: “Phil was highly engaging and really entertained both my 8 year old and 3 year old throughout the entire performance. We will be back!” – ‘Old MacDonald and the 3 Pigs Plus’ by Booster Cushion Theatre

“It was fun; I liked rolling through the wavy grass.” – Participant from Little Storytellers

£14.5m leisure investment for EFDC residents

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chairman, Chigwell, Civic events, Commercial properties, Community, Epping, Health, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Loughton Leisure Centre’s £3m refurbishment was formally unveiled on Saturday 8 September 2018 by Cllr Richard Bassett, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council. The centre is one of three in Epping Forest that is undergoing refurbishment, alongside a complete new build at Waltham Abbey.

Over £14m investment

Investment in the district’s leisure centres tops £14m and has been completed in partnership with Places Leisure, Epping Forest District Council’s leisure activity and wellness partner.

Before cutting the ribbon and leading a tour of Loughton’s new facilities, Cllr Bassett paid tribute to the centre management and staff for keeping as much of the centre operational during the building works, and thanked users for their patience during the disruption.

New state-of-the-art facilities

The refurb brings new split-level gym facilities and multi-function movement studio spaces, a virtual spinning room, upgraded changing villages with new lockers, flooring and vanity units as well as better air conditioning.

The bulk of the project has been completed in 20 weeks with further work planned to the reception areas and heating and power units.

Councillor Helen Kane, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Community Services, EFDC Acting Chief Executive Derek McNab and Mayor of Loughton, Stephen Murray also attended the opening.

Health and wellbeing hub

“All of our leisure centres needed a makeover to keep them up to date and offering a welcoming environment for users. But in Waltham Abbey we had a wonderful opportunity to create a health and wellbeing hub in a new setting and I am really looking forward to seeing the finished project,” said Councillor Helen Kane.

Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre is being completely rebuilt on the old community centre site in Ninefields, as part of a major health and wellbeing initiative between Epping Forest District Council and Places Leisure, It is scheduled for completion in November.

Mathew Nicholson, Contract Manager for Places Leisure said “It’s an exciting time for leisure within our community, following the recent investment at Loughton and across our facilities. With the brand-new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre due to be completed in November we are excited to be able to offer an enhanced leisure provision within the area and more opportunities for our community to get active.”

Special opening offers

Check out the website for special opening offers at Loughton Leisure Centre www.placesleisure.org/centres/loughton-leisure-centre/centre-activities/gym/

Weekly athletics sessions for beginners

Written on . Posted in Community, Health, Loughton, Older people, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Young people, Your community

Get started in Athletics with Epping Forest District Councils new weekly sessions, perfect with beginners and improvers, from Saturday 15 September 2018 at Roding Valley Recreational Ground.

This brand new Athletics session is the perfect way to start improving your Athletics skills and ability on a weekly basis.

Perfect for beginners

The session is perfect for beginners or for people who want to improve their knowledge and skill of athletics.

Our trained coaches will help you to improve various skills such as agility, speed and many more.

The details

  • Sessions run for 10 weeks, starting on 15 September 2018
  • Saturdays – 8:45am to 10am
  • The first session is FREE and each session thereafter is £3 per child
  • The session will take place at Roding Valley Recreation Ground, Roding Road, short running track , Loughton, IG10 3BS

Further information

For more information please call Will Fordham on 01992 562 563 or email wfordham@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Roding Valley mammal morning

Written on . Posted in Chigwell, Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Loughton, Older people, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Join Epping Forest Countrycare for a close encounter with some of the small mammals found in Roding Valley on Saturday 29 September 2018 at 7:30am – 9:30am.


Join Countrycare for an exciting morning learning about the mammals that live around us and their natural habitat.

Event details

  • Date: Saturday 29 September 2018

  • Location: The Grange Farm Centre, Grange Farm Lane, Chigwell, Essex, IG7 6DP

  • Time: 7.30am – 9:30am

  • Donation: £6 per person

Further information

Booking is essential. Please contact Countrycare to book your place

Fun and activity at ‘Women Like Us’ Festival

Written on . Posted in Arts, Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Community, Epping, Health, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Playschemes, Residents, Sports, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Active Essex and Epping Forest District Council are getting together to support Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can ’campaign with a festival next month.

Aimed at encouraging women of all ages and abilities to have fun, be active and improve their wellbeing the ‘Women Like Us’ Essex Festival takes place on Sunday 7 October at Zinc Arts, Ongar between 10am and 2pm.

Throw it back at 90’s Music Aero Classes, let your feet fly at Kickboxing, or take great strides at Walking Netball – whatever gets you up and moving there’s an activity for you at the Epping Women Like Us Festival!

Register now

If you can’t wait to work up a sweat and want to bag your place in the session of your choice, make sure you register your  interest in advance to seal your spot. It’s first come first served and spaces will disappear fast, so don’t be­ disappointed!

There are lots of sporting activities to choose from, including kick boxing, yoga, pilates and dance.

Flower arranging and tapestry

There are also flower arranging and tapestry workshops, life skills and wellbeing sessions along with tea, coffee and refreshments available all day from the onsite café.

Sport England

“The ‘This Girl Can’ programme was started by Sport England to encourage more women into sport. Our festival widens that programme by encompassing wellbeing and craft activities too,” said Cllr Helen Kane, portfolio holder for Leisure and Community Services.

“It promises to be a fun packed day for the women of Epping Forest, so please come along.”

Registration and workshops

Some workshops need to be booked in advance, when you register, while others can be signed up for on the day.

Sign-up starts at 9:30am and activities begin at 10am. Everyone will be encouraged to stay to join a stretch and cool session at the end of the day.

Parking is not available on site but there is plenty available close by in the town.