Help us bring empty homes back into use

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Epping, Housing, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Private housing, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community

Did you know that in the Epping Forest District there are approximately 447 properties which have been empty for more than 6 months?

We are asking for your help this National Empty Homes Week (16 to 23 October 2017) – report empty homes to us, so that we can help the owners bring them back into use.

Empty homes week

Why are properties left empty?

Properties are left empty for a variety of reasons but they can be the source of much misery to neighbours who have to live nearby. It is estimated that the home next door to an empty property can be devalued by 10%.

There is also the worry of nuisance, vermin, arson, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

For the owner, an empty property is a wasted resource and can be costly in terms of increased insurance, increased council tax premiums, property fraud, emergency repairs and break-ins.

Financial assistance

We are committed to reducing the number of empty properties in the district and can offer financial help in certain circumstances. It is recognised that a stumbling block can be that the empty property is in disrepair and cannot be lived in, let or easily sold in its condition.

We can offer the following schemes:

  • The Empty Homes Repayable Assistance offers up to £10,000 if there is an empty property that you intend to live in yourself, but is in poor condition. The money is repaid when you eventually sell the property.
  • The PLACE Loan offers up to £25,000 if you have a property that you would like to have renovated in order that you can sell or rent it out. This is an interest free loan and is paid back within two years in the case of a loan to sell, or five years in the case of the loan to let.

We always prefer to work with owners in a constructive way. We have certain enforcement powers that we may use to ensure an empty property is brought back to use, particularly if it has been empty a long time and is problematic to the local community.

Help for empty home owners

Councillor Syd Stavrou, Housing Portfolio Holder, said: “As a council we are fully committed to bringing empty properties back into use and are looking to help owners in every way we can. However where all other measures have failed, we are prepared to take enforcement action as a last resort.”

She added: ”If you are aware of an empty property or own one yourselves, please let us know. We will need the address and any other information you think might be helpful. We will do our best to contact the owner and work with them to bring the property back to use, and all calls are treated in confidence.”

Report an empty property

Further information

State of the art centre for Waltham Abbey

Written on . Posted in Business, Chairman, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Doing business with the council, Health, Local business, Older people, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

On Thursday 12 October 2017 local school children, councillors and business members gathered to mark the start of construction for Waltham Abbey’s brand new state of the art leisure centre, which is due to open in Winter 2018.

Preparing to place the Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre time capsule

Click on an image below to begin slideshow

Exciting times for Waltham Abbey

Councillor Helen Kane, Portfolio Holder for Leisure said: “These are exciting times for Waltham Abbey. The first new council housing in 30 years has just been completed in Harveyfields, Roundhills and surrounding roads as we start the construction of this fantastic new leisure centre. Sixty independent living accommodation units providing a positive alternative to residential care and new health facilities replacing the old surgery accommodation in Maynard Court are set to follow in partnership with Essex County Council and NHS England.”

”The leisure centre will be for everyone. Working with Places for People and their construction partners Pellikaan, we are set to deliver a top class leisure facility that will promote health and wellbeing, and provide a place for people to enjoy physical activity and socialise within the community.”

Investing in our community

Councillor Kane continued: “We are investing in our community and our future. Coming hard on the heels of the recently refurbished and extended museum in Sun Street and the development of the brand new Epping Forest Shopping Park in Loughton, Epping Forest District Council is signalling its intent in the best possible way.”

Councillor Sue Lissimore, Cabinet member for housing at Essex County Council added: “These plans breathe new life into taxpayer-owned land. We’ve pledged £42m over the next five years to bring sites like this forward for much needed homes with multi-use developments that also help to drive economic growth. The leisure centre ground-breaking is a fantastic milestone and a great example of public and private sector partners working together across Essex.”

Design, build, operate and maintain

Places for People Leisure were awarded the 20-year Design, Build, Operate and Maintain contract for the new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre by Epping Forest District Council, along with their construction partners Pellikaan Construction and architects Pozzoni.

£9.5m investment in centre

The new £9.5m leisure centre has been designed with a green roof to complement the surrounding recreational ground and will feature an 80-station fitness suite, 25m six lane pool with 15m learner pool, exercise and group cycling studio, a community room, and café.

Virtual cycling & Les Mills

The Centre will also feature a dedicated Virtual Cycling studio with classes led by Les Mills virtual master trainers, enabling customers to participate at their own convenience when it suits them.

Fantastic community leisure facility

John Bates, Business Development Director at Places for People Leisure said: “We are extremely excited to begin work on what will be a fantastic community leisure facility. Through our partnership with Epping Forest District Council we are looking forward to providing a leisure operation that will capture the local community’s imagination and encourage even more people to adopt a love of physical activity.”

Time capsule

Those in attendance yesterday included pupils from Hillhouse Church of England Primary School as well as representatives from the Epping Forest District Swimming Club who buried a time capsule as part of the ceremony which included the old set of keys to the previous community centre.

The current Waltham Abbey Swimming Pool recently received investment to improve the customer experience and will remain open and fully operational until the new centre opens.

Decisions from Plans East 11 October 2017

Written on . Posted in Commercial properties, Councillors, Democracy, Housing, Media, Meetings, Our performance, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Uncategorized, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Planning application decisions from Area Planning Sub-Committee East meeting on Wednesday 11 October 2017.

Watch the webcast

Decisions

  • EPF/2523/16 – Brent House Farm, Harlow Common, North Weald, Essex CM17 9JD
    Permission granted
  • EPF/1629/17 – 13 Vicarage Lane, North Weald Bassett, Essex CM16 6ET
    Permission granted
  • EPF/2057/17 – 95 High Road, North Weald, Epping, Essex CM16 6HS
    Permission granted
  • EPF/1913/17 – Ellensmead, Stondon Road, Ongar, Essex CM5 9BU
    Permission granted
  • EPF/1762/17 – Land to the rear of Mountford and Bishops Bron, Oak Hill Road, Stapleford Abbotts, Essex RM4 1JL
    Deferred for a site visit
  • EPF/2041/17 – 1 Curtis Mill Lane, Stapleford Abbotts, Romford, Essex RM4 1HS
    Permission granted
  • EPF/2174/17 – Trade Winds, Oak Hill Road, Stapleford Abbotts, Essex RM4 1EH
    Permission granted
  • EPF/1973/17 – Newstead, 19 Coopersale Common, Coopersale, Epping, Essex CM16 7QS
    4 members stood so will go to D.D.C
  • EPF/2086/17 – 49 Ash Groves, Sheering, Essex CM21 9LN
    Permission granted
  • EPF/1824/17 – The Downtons, 114 Crown Close, Sheering, Essex CM22 7NE
    Permission granted
  • EPF/2591/15 – Belgique (Theydon) Ltd, 14 Forest Drive, Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex CM16 7EY
    Permission granted
  • EPF/1628/17 – 56 Dukes Avenue, Theydon Bois, Essex CM16 7HF
    Permission granted

Planning application search

Have your say on how homes are allocated

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Consultation, Epping, Housing, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community

Have your say about the way Epping Forest District Council prioritises housing applications and allocates affordable housing. We want your views on the draft revised Housing Allocations Scheme before 2 January 2018.

What is a Housing Allocations Scheme?

The current scheme was last reviewed in 2015. It is a document which sets out clear policies on how the council prioritises applications and allocates affordable housing to people on the housing register. The housing register is a list of homeseekers who are waiting to be offered a council or housing association property.

We are required by law to have a Housing Allocations Scheme for:

  • deciding priorities and the procedure to be followed in selecting homeseekers for council accommodation
  • nominating homeseekers for housing association accommodation

Alongside members of the public, we are also consulting with

  • The council’s Tenant and Leaseholders Panel
  • Town and Parish Councils
  • Partner agencies with an interest in the scheme
  • Every private register provider of social housing with which it has nomination arrangements

Have your say

Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor Syd Stavrou said: ”We are consulting with a variety of associated bodies and partner agencies, as well as our residents. We want to hear your views, so please make sure you complete the consultation.”

”If you would like to comment on the draft revised Housing Allocations Scheme 2018, please fill out the online form. Responses are needed by 2 January 2018. The Council’s Cabinet will consider the results of the consultation and when it has been approved, the new scheme and policy will come into force on 1 July 2018.”

Further information

Nazeing Triangle improvements complete

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Your area

Thanks to the Tesco and Groundwork’s ‘Bags of Help’ grant, the Epping Forest District Council Countrycare team and their volunteers, the Nazeing Triangle project is now complete. The site now boasts a new interpretation board, new aquatic plants and the installation of a hardened path which has significantly improved accessibility.

Interpretation board

Click on an image below to begin slideshow

Showcase of wildlife and plants

With the help of volunteers and the Bags of Help grant, this area has been transformed. The final piece to the puzzle was the installation of a brand new interpretation board in September, showcasing the wildlife and plants people are likely to see at this local Wetland Nature Reserve.

Peaceful pond

The Nazeing Triangle is a peaceful pond and wetland Nature Reserve which lies in the centre of ‘Old’ or Upper Nazeing. The Nazeing Triangle is our smallest Local Nature Reserve at 0.6 hectares, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

Preparing for winter

Countrycare and their volunteers have been busy preparing the site for winter, clearing the area along one of the boundary hedgerows and building a new reptile hibernaculum using rubble from the local area.

Thrilled with the transformation

Councillor Sam Kane Safer Greener  Portfolio Holder said: “We are thrilled with the transformation of the Nazeing Triangle Nature Reserve and we wouldn’t have been able to make all of these improvements without the help of Tesco and Groundwork’s ‘Bags of Help grant’, our wonderful volunteers and Countrycare team.

Thank you to everyone that has supported the work, you have ensured the Nazeing Triangle Nature Reserve is a beautiful little spot that can be enjoyed by everyone and most importantly, you have improved the environment for our local wildlife too! If you haven’t visited yet, make it a priority.”

Further information

Council Tax Support Scheme consultation extended

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Consultation, Council tax, Democracy, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

The Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme consultation has been extended, due to a problem with a link that was published on social media. You are now able to make comments until midnight on Wednesday 25 October 2017.

We’re asking for your views on the future of our Local Council Tax Reduction scheme (LCTS) to see whether any changes should be made. It’s important we get the views of our residents as it could affect the amount of Council Tax you pay, or the services you receive.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme consultation

Government grant

“The Government gives us a grant to pay Local Council Tax Support which is reducing each year” explains Finance Portfolio Holder Councillor Gagan Mohindra, “if we spend more than the grant, we have to decide how we pay for the excess.”

Making changes

“This year, in addition to looking at how the scheme is funded, we are deciding whether changes should be made to reduce the number of different Council Tax bills that people get when they receive Universal Credit, and whether Bereavement Support Payments should be disregarded. There are also changes to the way that we treat decisions by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).”

Generate savings

Councillor Mohindra said: “We’ve looked carefully at the LCTS scheme and are aiming to providing a fair level of support to those residents on a low income as well as identifying potential changes which would generate savings for the council.

We will of course continue to fully fund support for those who suffer exceptional hardship, and none of the changes would make a drastic change to the amount of council tax individuals would pay.”

Let us know what you think

“Let us know what you think on this important issue” Councillor Mohindra asked residents. “ It takes just 10 minutes to complete the online questionnaire which runs until midnight on Wednesday 25 October 2017.

Any recommendations from this consultation will be considered by Full Council later in the year, with a view to bringing in changes from April 2018.”

Make a detailed reply or comments

If you want to make a detailed reply or comments, email benefits@eppingforestdc.gov.uk and enter ‘consultation’ in the subject heading. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can get a paper copy from the Benefits Division at the Civic Offices.

We cannot respond individually to each response.

Lower Sheering notice of poll

Written on . Posted in Community, Democracy, Elections, Media, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council

Notice of poll for the election of 1 district councillor for the Lower Sheering Ward on Thursday 19 October 2017.

The next election is on Thursday 19 October

Notice of poll

  1. A poll for the election of a councillor for Lower Sheering will be held on Thursday 19 October 2017, between the hours of 7am and 10pm
  2. The number of councillors to be elected is 1
  3. The candidates are
    • Ingrid Black (Liberal Democrats)
    • Paul Stalker (Conservatives)
  4. The situation of Polling Stations is
    • Sheering Village Hall, The Street, Sheering

Download

Two prosecuted for cutting down protected tree

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Doing business with the council, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our countryside, Out and about, Prosecutions, Regulations, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Francesca Schillaci a resident in Nazeing and Tom Casey of Casey Tree Services, Nazeing have collectively been fined over £3000 after cutting down a protected willow tree.

Willow tree - Honeysuckle Nazing

Preservation Order

The was tree situated in Mrs Schillaci’s garden in Back Lane, Nazeing and became subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) in December 2016, following a proposal by Mrs Schillaci to cut it down.

In March 2017 tree and landscape officers noticed the willow tree had been cut down, although no consent had been given.

False claims

Mrs Schillaci admitted that she has known the tree was protected but claimed it had been damaged during “Storm Doris” in February 2017 and the willow required urgent removal as there was an imminent danger if this did not happen.

Mrs Schillaci stated that she had contacted the council and having explained the situation was given authority to have the tree felled.

Further investigations

Tom Casey of Casey Tree Services confirmed that he had cut down of the willow tree after Mrs Schillaci incorrectly informed him she had permission from the Council to do so.

Officers confirmed that a telephone call had been traced from Mrs Schillaci, the officer she spoke to did not give her permission to cut down the tree, but advised her in line with the Council’s standard procedure Mrs Schillaci should arrange for the tree to be inspected by a tree surgeon and send in a photograph of the tree in its alleged dangerous state.

Found guilty

At Basildon Magistrates Court in October 2017 Francesca Schillaci and Tom Casey Nazeing were each found guilty of cutting down the willow tree without authorisation.

The Magistrates stated that they found the evidence presented by council officers to be credible and the evidence given by Mrs Schillaci inconsistent.

They also advised as a professional tree surgeon, Mr Casey should have known not to accept what Mrs Schillaci told him without written proof.

The Magistrates were not satisfied that the tree was an immediate risk which required it to be cut down immediately.

Mrs Schillaci was fined £1500 and ordered to pay a contribution towards the council’s prosecution costs of £1,000.

Mr Casey was given a 6 month conditional discharge, ordered to pay a contribution towards the council’s prosecution costs of £1000 and has been removed from the Council’s approved list of contractors.

Further information

First new council homes for Waltham Abbey

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Councillors, Doing business with the council, Housing, Housing repairs, Leader, Local business, Media, Older people, Our countryside, Our performance, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Epping Forest District Council welcomed the first tenants into John Scott Court, Waltham Abbey this week.

50 guests gathered for the official opening ceremony, an event which marked the completion of Phase One of the Council’s House-building Programme to provide 23 new affordable rented homes in Waltham Abbey.

John Scott Court

Click on an image below to start slideshow

John Scott

The development is named after former District Health and Housing Officer and Joint Chief Executive John Scott as a tribute to decades of service to the Council and the local community.

Guests, including John Scott, MP Eleanor Laing and local councillors joined council officers, contractors and tenants to open the nine newly built homes at John Scott Court, all of which are being let to local residents in need of housing.

Energy efficient homes

The brand new energy-efficient homes, which are built to Lifetime Homes Standards, are built on a formerly under-used garage site.

Resident delighted with her new home

One new tenant, who was delighted to move into her new home said: “I moved in last week and am so happy in my new home. I am very impressed with the size of the rooms, my son has lots of space for his toys. I’ve shown lots of friends and neighbours around my flat and they all want to live here!”

Programme of over 300 homes

The new homes at John Scott Court are the latest completions in the district-wide programme of over 300 new affordable homes to be built during the next 10 years. They will shortly be followed by the completion of Phase 2 of the Programme in Burton Road, Loughton, which is on schedule to complete by March 2018.

Proud to work with residents

Councillor Syd Stavrou, Portfolio Holder for Housing attended the official opening and said: “We are committed to making the best use of our housing stock and are continuing to build new homes for people in housing need within our community. We are proud to be working with residents and partners, building more well-designed homes for affordable rent in our district”.

After the ceremony there was an opportunity to visit another new development of six houses and flats at Hockley court, Waltham Abbey.

Further information

Nominate your Young Citizen of the Year 2018

Written on . Posted in Arts, Business, Chairman, Civic events, Grants, Local business, Media, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

The search is on for the Epping Forest District Young Citizen of the Year 2018.

Young Citizen of the Year

Highlighting positive contributions

The annual award presented to a young person in the district highlights extraordinary commitments, efforts and achievements made by young people in the district.

The finalists will be invited to attend the District Council`s Civic Awards ceremony in March 2018 where the winner will receive an award of £300 and a certificate of achievement.

Tomorrow’s future

Chairman David Stallan said: ‘The Young Citizen of the Year is part of the yearly Citizen of the Year awards, which is a great event showcasing the fantastic work that goes on throughout the district.”

“It’s important that we recognise all the good young people do in our community. The younger generation are our future and it always great to see the steps they are making to make the district a better place. If you know anyone between the ages 11 and 18 and feel they deserve recognition as well as £300 towards their work nominate them for an award today.”

Make a nomination

To nominate a young person aged between 11 and 18 for the Young Citizen of the Year award either

The closing date for nominations is Friday 24th November 2017.

Further information

For further information please contact Diane Gilson-Butler, Youth Engagement Officer