Annual Canvass of Electors – Don’t ignore forms you have received

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Democracy, Elections, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Around 5,000 households in Epping Forest District have failed to respond to this year’s annual canvass of electors – a process that checks who is on the Electoral Register. A second reminder form has now been sent to these properties – the deadline to respond is 31 October. Remember you still need to respond even if there are no changes to your details.

More than half of those who HAVE responded did so by using an automated service – online/phone/text. To keep costs down we need most of the remaining households to use a similar method because last year we spent £20,000 on sending out reminders.

Failure to respond could ultimately result in deletion from the Electoral Register, which could seriously affect the person’s credit rating and ability to get a mortgage, bank loan or even a mobile phone contract!

Here’s what to do…

No changes?

Using the 2 part security code on your household enquiry form:

Changes to make?

  • Amend the information online easily and quickly or
  • Call the Electoral Services helpline on 01992 564411 or
  • Amend the form and return it in the prepaid envelope – making sure to give a contact phone number or email address in case of queries.

Has your name been added to the Household Enquiry Form?

If so, you are not registered to vote just yet. There is a second stage to the registration process. The Council has been sending out registration forms by post and emails/phone messages giving information about how to register to vote to all new people added to the Household Enquiry Forms. Please don’t ignore them. Registration is not complete until this second part has been done.

It’s a simple process and can be done online at www.gov.uk/registertovote or by calling the elections helpline (01992 564411). The deadline to complete the registration process is 17 October (otherwise more reminders will need to be sent out).

National empty homes week

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Housing, Local business, Media, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

There is an increasing demand for housing in the district, where development on Green Belt is generally prohibited, so it is particularly important that as many empty properties as possible are brought back into use.

Properties are left empty for a variety of reasons and they can be the source of much misery to neighbours. It is estimated that a home next door to an empty property can be devalued by 10% or more, and there is the additional worry of nuisance, vermin, arson, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

Empty homes week

For the owner, an empty property is a wasted resource in terms of potential rental income and can be costly in terms of disrepair, higher insurance costs, increased council tax premiums of 150%, property mortgage fraud, emergency repairs and break-ins.

Financial help

We are committed to reducing the number of empty properties across the district and can offer financial help in certain circumstances. 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 therefore offer the following schemes.

Empty homes repayable assistance

  • offers up to £10,000 if there is an empty property in poor condition that you intend to live in yourself, or let to a tenant. The money is repaid when you eventually sell the property.

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. This is an interest free loan and is paid back within 2 years in the case of a loan to sell, or 5 years in the case of the loan to let.

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

Report an empty property

Please let us know if you are aware of an empty property. Provide us with the address and any other information you may have and we will do our best to contact the owner, to try to bring the property back to use. All calls are treated in confidence.

For further information contact the Empty Property Officer

Decisions from Plans South 26 September 2018

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chigwell, Local business, Loughton, Media, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community

Planning application decisions from the Area Planning Sub-Committee South meeting Wednesday 26 September 2018.

Decisions

  • EPF/0727/18 – Vere Road garages, Loughton
    Permission granted
  • EPF/0840/18 – 1 Tomswood Road, Chigwell
    Permission granted
  • EPF/1072/18 – Phig Na Vira, 64 High Road, Chigwell
    Permission granted
  • EPF/1242/18 – 143-149 High Road and 2 Old Station Road, Loughton
    Permission granted
  • EPF/1453/18 – 142 Buckhurst Way, Buckhurst Hill
    Permission granted
  • EPF/1610/18 – Forest Place, Roebuck Lane, Buckhurst Hill
    Permission granted
  • EPF/1691/18 – 30 Barrington Green, Loughton
    Permission refused
  • EPF/1911/18 – 57 Southern Drive, Loughton
    Permission granted
  • EPF/1965/18 – Regency House, Kings Place, Buckhurst Hill
    Permission granted

Planning application search

Small changes help make a dementia friendly community

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

Epping Forest Youth Councillors have signed up as Dementia Friends after attending an awareness session with Engagement Officer, Karen Murray.

Dementia Friends learn about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turn that understanding into action, helping people in all kinds of everyday situations.

“Anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend by attending a face-to-face Dementia Friends Information Session or watching an online video,” said Cllr Helen Kane, portfolio holder for Leisure and Community Services. “It’s all about learning more about dementia and spreading the word, such as telling friends about Dementia Friends or visiting someone who is living with dementia”.

Awareness sessions

Epping Forest District Council has been holding dementia awareness sessions in libraries throughout the summer. The next one is Thursday 18 October, 2pm at Epping Library.

Each session lasts around one hour and attendees will learn about dementia and how they can help to create dementia friendly communities.

For more information visit: https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/

Counting the cost of irresponsible waste disposal

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Countryside and wildlife, Crime and safety, Epping, Licensing, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Prosecutions, Recycling and waste, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

A Loughton resident incurred fines of more than £1,500 for not checking he was giving his waste to a reputable company.

Mr Vadims Tjoluskins of Hillyfields pleaded guilty at Chelmsford Magistrates Court last month to failing in his household waste duty of care, by giving his waste to somebody else to dispose of without carrying out the necessary checks to ensure that they were authorised by the Environment Agency to carry such waste.

Mr Tjoluskins admitted he handed over some large cardboard boxes which were later found fly tipped amongst a larger pile of waste in Oakley Court, Loughton at a bin store provided for local residents.

Magistrates fined Mr Tjoluskins £600 and ordered him to pay the Council’s prosecution costs of £900, together with a victim surcharge £60 and said that had he not pleaded guilty the fine would have been £900.

Fly tipping prosecution

“We take fly tipping, and residents’ responsibility to ensure they are disposing of their waste legitimately and responsibly very seriously,” said Cllr Nigel Avey, Portfolio Holder for Environment.

“Our message is simple: Before handing your waste to somebody else, always check, consider and record in order to protect yourself, and reduce fly-tipping by rogue traders. It is a crime not to care.”

Further information

Advice on how residents can protect themselves from rogue traders who fly-tip for profit is available on the Council’s Website. Click here for more information Crime Not to Care.

Watch a series of short films produced by the Cleaner Essex Group (a campaign group made up from representatives from local authorities across Essex), are also available to view on this web page.

Watch out for deer, the rutting season is here

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Crime and safety, Environmental health, Epping, Loughton, Media, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Travel, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Motorists and dog walkers are being warned that the deer mating season, also known as the rutting or breeding season, has begun.

During the rutting season male deer can become highly aggressive as they attempt to fight off rivals to attract female deer. This makes them less aware of dangers around them, such as cars and bikes on the roads.

Watch out for deer the rutting season is here

Take extra care

“At this time of year its especially important for motorists to take extra care when driving through the forest and rural parts of the district” said Councillor Sam Kane, Portfolio Holder for Safer, Greener and Transport.

Accidents involving deer increase during rutting season, which lasts until late November. Deer are particularly active at dawn and dusk, which unfortunately coincides with commuting hours and the busiest times of day on our roads.

Deer are particularly active at dawn and dusk. Unfortunately this coincides with commuting hours which are often the busiest times of the day on our roads.

Wild animals can behave unpredictably

“Deer are pack animals and often move in groups, if you see one, others are likely to follow. They can appear without warning and present a greater risk than other wildlife because of their large size.”

Cllr Kane has advice for dog walkers: “Keep your dogs on a lead. Deers are wild animals and can behave unpredictably if they feel threatened, so don’t get too close.”

Be deer aware

“Please read the safety advice and be more ‘deer aware’ during this time of year” says Cllr Sam Kane, “Whether you’re driving in our district or walking in our beautiful forest, I want everyone to complete their journey safely and without incident.”

Savings scheme to benefit low income families

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

Thousands of families on low incomes will be able to benefit from a new Government savings account launching this month. The Help to Save scheme rewards savers with an extra 50p for every £1 saved, so that over four years maximum savings of £2,400 would earn an overall bonus of £1,200.

More than 285,000 people on low incomes living in the East of England can potentially benefit from this scheme.

Save up to £50 a month

Help to Save is available to working people on Tax Credits and Universal Credit. Account holders can save between £1 and £50 a month over a four year period.  After two years, savers get a 50% tax-free bonus on savings and another 50% tax-free bonus after four years if they continue to save.

The bonus does not count as income for tax credits, Universal Credit or any other income related benefit, e.g. Housing Benefit.

Easy, flexible and secure

“Help to Save is easy to use, flexible and secure,” said Cllr Gagan Mohindra, Portfolio Holder for Finance. “It will help those on low incomes build up a ‘rainy day’ fund, and encourage savings behaviours and habits. How much is saved and when is up to the account holder, and they don’t need to pay in every month to get a bonus.

“On maximum savings of £2,400 over 4 years, the overall bonus would be £1,200.”

Who can apply?

To be eligible for Help to Save, customers must be a UK resident and:

  • be receiving Working Tax Credit
  • have a nil award of Working Tax Credit but receiving Child Tax Credit
  • be in receipt of Universal Credit with minimum individual or household earnings equivalent to 16 hours, times the National Living Wage in their last income assessment period (that’s £542.88 during the financial year 2018-19).

If customers have a joint Universal Credit or tax credits award, both partners can open an account.

To apply, savers can visit www.gov.uk/helptosavelocal or use the HMRC app.

Stay well this winter events in November

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

As the colder months close in, Epping Forest District Council is working with West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group and Livewell Essex, to help residents prepare for winter by providing a series of free health and wellbeing events across the district in November 2018.

Healthy throughout winter

Come and speak to local pharmacists, community nurses and specialist healthcare advisors and learn more about how to keep yourself healthy throughout the winter months.

FREE goodie bags and more

There is so much more on offer too, including FREE goodie bags, entertainment and lunch – you are guaranteed to have an informative and enjoyable day!

Booking is essential, so please call 01992 564225 to confirm your place.

Join us in…

Nazeing

  • St Giles C of E, St Giles Church Hall, Nazeing, Essex, EN9 2JL
  • Thursday 8 November 2018
  • 10am – 2.30pm

Ongar

  • Jubilee Park Pavillion, Love Lane, Ongar, Essex, CM5 9BL
  • Thursday 15 November 2018
  • 10am – 2.30pm

Epping

  • Epping Hall, St Johns Road, Epping, Essex, CM16 5JU
  • Thursday 22 November 2018
  • 10am – 2.30pm

Fyfield

  • Fyfield Village Hall, Houchin Drive, Fyfield, Essex, CM5 0RG
  • Wednesday 28 November 2018
  • 10am – 2.30pm

Further information

Council 25 September 2018

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Business, Chairman, Chigwell, Civic events, Community, Councillors, Crime and safety, Epping, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Meetings, Museum, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Recycling and waste, Residents, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

The Burton Road fire, proposals for the St Johns Road development, the Epping Forest Shopping Park and the Epping Forest District Local Plan submission were amongst the topics of discussion at Full Council on 25 September 2018.


Burton Road fire

Council Leader, Councillor Chris Whitbread set the record straight in response to questions asked by Councillor Steven Neville relating to the fire at Burton Road on 17 August 2018.

Councillor Whitbread said: “Having read the comparisons with the Grenfell disaster on the front page of the local paper recently, we are concerned that sensational headlines will cause a great deal of unnecessary anxiety for potential tenants. Links with the Grenfell Tower do a disservice to the people involved in that disaster as well as families currently waiting for a new home on our waiting list.

He urged: “Burton Road is a completely different building and it is not yet finished. The fire was caused by a construction related accident, not the materials used. Unlike Grenfell, Burton Road only has four floors. The interior was practically untouched by the fire. Even if it had been possible for such a fire to start once the building was finished and occupied, all the evidence suggests people would have been able to escape unharmed. The building stood up remarkably well to the blaze.”


St Johns Road proposals

Options for a new leisure centre at the St Johns Road development site in Epping are being explored. Proposals are being discussed with the District Council’s current leisure provider Places for People and Epping Town Council.

The new leisure centre could form part of the larger St Johns development and could potentially include the first cinema in the town for decades, new shops, public open space and housing.


Local Plan progress

Planning Portfolio Holder, Councillor John Philip announced that Epping Forest District Council’s Local Plan, a set of policies to manage development within the district up to 2033, has been submitted for approval to the Planning Inspectorate.

The Local Plan’s submission was delayed following a Judicial Review brought by CK Properties in March 2018.


New leisure hub for Waltham Abbey

Council was given an update on the new leisure centre in Waltham Abbey by Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Communities, Councillor Helen Kane. She informed Council that the new health and wellbeing hub is now in the final stages of construction and is on target to achieve its scheduled opening on 17 November 2018.


It’s a ‘Crime Not To Care’

In a bid to combat fly-tipping and increase awareness throughout the district, the Cleaner Essex Group will be ‘recycling’ the Crime not to Care campaign this year to highlight issues caused by fly tipping and how residents can help.

The campaign, due to launch in October, will ask residents and businesses to ‘Check, Challenge and Record’ when handing their waste over for disposal – ensuring waste is kept out of the hands of the rogue traders that fly-tip for profit.


New brands at Shopping Park

Home Bargains and Boots Plc are the last two brands to join the group retailers at the Epping Forest Shopping Park in Loughton.

Home Bargains opened its doors on 1 September 2018 and the lease on the final retail unit has now been agreed with Boots Plc, with completion imminent pending approval of the shop fit out.


Funding granted for inclusion project

Councillors noted a report which referred to the grant of extra funding from Action for Children, for the Epping Forest Inclusion Project. The project provides an important resource, offering a wide range of sport and leisure activities for children and young people with disabilities and their families.

New leisure centre for Epping being explored

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Civic events, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Elections, Epping, Health, Leader, Local business, Meetings, Older people, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

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.