Broadway ‘gateway’ building approved

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Housing, Leader, Local business, Loughton, Media, Meetings, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Planning permission has been granted for the redevelopment of the Sir Winston Churchill public house site in Debden Broadway.

Foul language and interruptions from the public gallery forced a temporary suspension of the District Development Control Committee at Epping Forest District Council on Wednesday 11 December 2013. Committee Chairman, Councillor Brian Sandler repeatedly appealed for members of the public to respect the process of the debate before other councillors voted to suspend the meeting and clear the public gallery. The meeting continued after a short delay with members of the press present. The debate was also webcast for live and subsequent viewing. Those members of the public choosing to stay were able to watch the debate from the council’s ground floor reception area.
Artists impression of the new development

View photos in a slideshow by clicking on a picture below and then click start slideshow.

The controversy surrounded a planning application at the Broadway in Debden. It comprised redevelopment of the site of the Sir Winston Churchill pub, and a number of lock-up garages owned by the council. The applicant planned to build a new 7 storey building with parking. 64 new flats were proposed for the upper floors with retail, food and drink units on the ground floor. 62 parking spaces, a service yard, access and car parking completed the plan of development.

Watch the webcast

Read the agenda

A section 106 legal agreement would require a contribution of £192,000 towards local primary and secondary school facilities as well as £14,400 towards health services.

Former councillor Joan Davis spoke on behalf of objectors to the proposal. She argued that it was an overdevelopment and out of keeping with other parts of the Broadway. She felt that parking and traffic congestion would be detrimental to existing residents and objected to the lack of an affordable housing element to the proposed scheme.

Local resident Christopher Holt argued that the height of the development was out of proportion and the shadow cast by the building could be dangerous to road safety. He called for further traffic assessments.

Town Councillor Jill Angold-Stephens spoke for Loughton Town Council. She referred back to earlier proposals for housing at a lower density and the inclusion of affordable housing. She described the current public house as an iconic gateway to the Broadway and asked the developer to think again.

Mr Simmons for the applicant referred to the council’s own development brief calling for more retail and business. He asserted that it would not mean the loss of a pub. He argued that the development would bring jobs and regeneration as well as new housing. He asserted that ‘affordable’ housing would make the scheme unviable but that the section 106 contribution of over £200,000 would bring much needed community investment. He felt that the development was in line with council policy and would stimulate future ‘affordable’ housing opportunities.

Mr Simmons said that the changes in traffic would be small and the development would bring many benefits to the area.

Councillor Jennie Hart, a local ward member spoke of the concerns around the loss of the Sir Winston Churchill. She also expressed concerns about the size and scale of the proposed development which she felt was out of keeping with the wider area. She was concerned about the potential disturbance to existing local residents and felt the lack of affordable housing in a deprived area was unacceptable. She asked the committee to consider a redesign on a much smaller scale with screening and landscaping.

Councillor James Hart felt that the Broadway would benefit from some redevelopment but he had concerns about the height and scale of this particular proposal. He noted that while it might be ‘much-loved’ the pub was not profitable. He proposed refusal based on the height and bulk of the proposed building.

Councillor Gary Waller felt that the proposal had merit. He said that it would make a very interesting addition to the Broadway scene and would also bring a considerable number of new residents with ‘purchasing power’ to the benefit of the wider area. Over time he felt it would benefit the area.

Councillor David Stallan supported the proposal and the comments of Councillor Waller while acknowledging some of the points made by Councillor Jennie Hart. Councillors debated the scope for landscape planting.

Councillor John Markham felt that the proposed building was a ‘decent piece of work’ but felt the architects should think again about where it should go. He also expressed concern about the omission of affordable housing from the proposal.

Councillor John Knapman described the decision as a ‘much closer call’ than people might think. He asked if the pub could be nominated as an asset of community value. It was reported that Loughton Town Council had discussed the idea but had not as yet reached a decision.

Councillor Knapman discussed the potential income from the redevelopment of the site towards future provision of affordable housing. However, he was more concerned about the commercial viability of the current pub. He balanced the merits of housing development on a brown-field site with the potential demand for future development sites elsewhere. He felt the economic advantages of redevelopment were clear. He asked if this was the ‘right’ building design.

Councillor Yolanda Knight felt that such a development could be a catalyst for regeneration. She drew comparisons with examples in Harlow and Chelmsford which she felt lifted the businesses around them.

Councillor John Philip explored some of the Highways issues. He felt that the shadow would not cause problems. He liked the design but raised issues about the size and particularly the height. Like Councillor Knapman, he felt the arguments were finely balanced.

Councillor Jon Whitehouse recalled the Broadway Development Brief which had supported the replacement of the existing pub but he was not certain that a development on the scale of the proposal had been foreseen.

Councillor Caroline Pond said that she felt the building was too big for the site. The college on the opposite side of Rectory Lane was set back from the road and landscaped whereas the proposed building would be more prominent.

Councillor John Markham also felt the section 106 contribution of £14,000 towards health services was insufficient.  

Councillor Leon Girling was not a member of the committee but spoke as a ward councillor. He argued that the residents of Debden wished to keep the essential character of the area. He agreed that some form of development on the site was necessary but not a building of this bulk and height.

Other non-committee members also spoke. Councillor David Wixley and Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens both felt the building was too large. Councillor Lance Leonard appealed to members of the committee to consider the principles of ‘localism’ in reaching their decision.

A motion to refuse the application on the basis of excessive height, bulk and lack of soft landscaping was lost by 5 votes to 8 with 2 abstentions. Committee Chairman, Councillor Brian Sandler then called a second vote in which councillors were reminded to set aside personal feelings and vote purely according to planning considerations. The committee voted 9 to 6 in favour of the planning application.

 

Minister sets out support for town centres

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Doing business with the council, Leader, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Out and about, Parking, Planning, Recycling and waste, Supporting business, Your council

The future form and function of high streets will be debated when the Leader of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Chris Whitbread shares a platform with Government Minister Brandon Lewis MP and other key opinion formers. The debate is set to focus on the strategic thinking that will be needed to help high streets and town centres thrive.

The conference on December 2, at Sadlers Wells in London, gives the opportunity to hear from veteran retailer Bill Grimsey, author of the controversial Grimsey Report; Matthew Hopkinson, of the Local Data Company; and Dr Julie Grail of British BIDs.

Councillor Chris Whitbread outside Argus Lighting, a mainstay of Epping High Street for decades

Councillor Chris Whitbread outside Argus Lighting which has illuminated Epping High Street for decades

Along with case studies from successful town centres, and a selection of political representatives, delegates will have an opportunity to hear cutting edge thinking on managing town centres, and to hear the very latest in the debate around their future – how restoring community uses and reducing retail footprint could help, what trends can be seen in the data, and how businesses of all types can be encouraged to take the lead in managing the future.

Councillor Chris Whitbread knows all about local high streets, having run his own business in Epping for many years. He said: “The way we use our high streets is changing and businesses need to change with us. Out-of-town retail and online shopping have revolutionised the way we use our high streets. For some businesses, that means our online presence is now just as important as our shop fronts. For others we may have to look even more fundamentally at what we are doing and why.”

He continued: “High streets and town centres need to reinvent themselves. Today’s customer is looking as much for a social and leisure experience as for bargains and deals. Many people believe bars, restaurants and coffee shops are becoming some of the new ‘High Street Kings’. They draw people in and encourage them to spend their money. It is then up to the rest of us to make the best offer we can to deliver the full modern High Street experience.”

The conference is being organised by The London Stansted Cambridge Corridor Consortium, a partnership of public and private organisations covering the area north of Tech City, the City Fringe, Kings Cross, and the Olympic Park, up through the Lee Valley and M11/A10, and West Anglia Rail corridors to Harlow and Stansted, and through to Cambridge. The partnership was formed to organise and promote what is the economic area, with strong inter-connections; commuting to work and learn patterns, clusters of industries and supply chains. 

Councillor Whitbread believes councils have a very important part to play. He said: “Thriving town centres are an essential element in the lives of our local communities. They provide investment and employment that can lift whole communities out of deprivation into prosperity. At Epping Forest we always try to be on the side of our High Streets.  We can do practical things such as keeping our parking charges low and offering incentives such as free parking on Saturdays in the run up to Christmas. We can use our powers as the Planning Authority to encourage a mix of uses that compliment each other and stimulate trade. We can draw people in from outside our area by promoting ourselves as a visitor and tourist destination. We can contribute to the infrastructure and care of our town centres whether that means decent pavements, good lighting or frequent street cleansing.”

He concluded: “It is a full partnership between the public and private sector. We understand the changing face of our High Streets and will do our best to encourage residents to shop local wherever possible.”

Businesses must make alarm call on strike day

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Crime and safety, Emergencies, Local business, Media, Out and about, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your home

Essex firefighters will be taking part in the national strike on Wednesday 25 September 2013 from 12 noon to 4pm. Essex County Fire and Rescue Service have produced advice for businesses and workplaces.

Advice for businesses and workplaces

ECFRS fire engine

Businesses are being urged to be vigilant during the national firefighter strike next Wednesday afternoon.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) says if resources are stretched, it may not be able to respond to any calls generated by automatic fire alarms (AFA), unless these are backed up by a 999 call. This will affect schools, hospitals and residential homes which ordinarily would receive a response immediately an alarm is triggered.

Since February 2011, ECFRS has significantly reduced fire calls by no longer responding to automatic fire alarms originating from offices or factories, or to calls from telephone kiosks where the caller dials 999 and abandons the call by hanging up unless there is a follow up call.

However, the Service has maintained its response to AFAs in premises where there is risk to life such as schools, and also where people sleep, such as hospitals and residential homes.

But next week, between midday and 4pm on September 25, all premises are being advised to make the call in the event of an emergency and fire appliances will attend.

ECFRS has resilient arrangements in place to provide fire cover to the County during the 4 hour industrial action by Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members. Essex firefighters on Essex fire appliances will be responding to 999 calls in the normal way but resources could be stretched with reduced personnel and fire appliances on the run during the strike.

The dispute is between the FBU and the Government over proposed pension reforms.

Fire safety checklist

10 top tips from ECFRS are

  1. Make sure that your alarm contracts are completely up-to-date
  2. Familiarise yourself with your risk assessment
  3. Make sure that fire escapes are clear
  4. Make sure that staff know what to do in the event of a fire
  5. Try to avoid putting flammable waste out on Wednesday
  6. Don’t store flammable goods under stairs or in enclosed spaces
  7. Make sure that electrical appliances are switched off at the plug when not in use
  8. Keep smoking areas free of waste and empty ash trays
  9. Urge your staff to be safer, be slower be vigilant, particularly delivery drivers
  10. Be vigilant and keep safety in mind with all that you do

 

North Weald decision

Written on . Posted in Commercial properties, Consultation, Councillors, Democracy, Housing, Leader, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Meetings, North Weald Airfield, Private housing, Supporting business, Your council

The challenge to Epping Forest District Council’s Cabinet decision to proceed to preferred options with a mixed aviation, residential, community and commercial development option at North Weald Airfield has been rejected.

Residents made their feelings known before the meetingA packed public gallery looked on as members of the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 27 August 2013 upheld the original Cabinet decision.

More than 150 residents listened to the debate. With the public gallery full, other residents were invited to take spare seats in the council chamber itself. More residents watched via webcasting in an overspill area after a good natured demonstration outside the district council offices in Epping earlier in the evening.

Cabinet set a course for consultation as part of the Local Plan preferred options on a mix of continued aviation with some residential and commercial development on 22 July. Councillors challenging the Cabinet decision argued that further attention should have been given to issues around the rejection of full scale business aviation, and housing and commercial development options which would have led to the end of aviation.

Councillor Sylvia Watson introduced the case for the call in. She argued that the original Cabinet decision specifically gave

  • Insufficient weight given to the discount rate reflecting risk
  • No analysis of revenue implications versus capital
  • No district wide consultation on change to Issues and Options prior to the Preferred Options stage (of the Local Plan)
  • No options available without massive development with no aviation

Watch the debate


 

Councillor Anne Grigg, Asset Management Portfolio Holder defended the original decision rebuffing each of the grounds for challenge in turn. She also outlined that each option carried a degree of financial risk and drew attention to the estimates of financial returns to the Council in the original report. She argued that it was not possible to provide full development cost estimates until such time as detailed development proposals were produced.

Councillor Grigg also took issue with concerns expressed by Councillor Lesley Wagland that the decision would hamper the introduction of the Council’s new Local Plan. She believed the Cabinet decision would meet the requirements of the Local Plan process. Drawing attention to the consultant’s report, she emphasised the commitment to complete a high level master planning exercise focusing on feasibility and deliverability prior to incorporation into the Local Plan Preferred Options consultation process also approved by Cabinet on 22 July. 

Members of Overview and Scrutiny questioned Councillor Grigg and those councillors supporting the call in. Councillor Richard Bassett, Planning Portfolio Holder was also asked about potential delays to the Local Plan should additional options be considered. All councillors wish to have the Local Plan adopted as soon as possible. Councillor Bassett reminded councillors that the Council is not only the planning authority but also the owner of North Weald Airfield with all the responsibilities that entails such as protection of the heritage of the site.

Impassioned calls for and against the challenge were made by councillors across the chamber before Overview and Scrutiny upheld the Cabinet decision by 9 votes to 3. Councillor Richard Morgan, chairman of the committee concluded with thanks to residents for their attendance and interest.

Over 150 residents attended the debate

Over 150 residents attended the debate at the civic offices in Epping

 

Local Plan confusion – option D

Written on . Posted in Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Housing, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Planning, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your environment

Theydon Bois councillors are reassuring local residents that a leaflet putting forward proposals for development on the edge of the village do not come from Epping Forest District Council.

Option D leaflet coverThe leaflet entitled ‘A better option for Theydon Bois’ has been circulated to households with a reply paid slip urging residents to support the development of land next to the M11.

District Councillor John Philip said: “This looks like a high quality official publication which makes many references to the Local Plan consultation carried out by the council last year. It does not say who it comes from, leaving several local people with the impression it was issued by the council. In fact, I understand it has been produced and distributed by the owner of the land being put forward as a development option.”

Residents can view the official our Local Plan consultation online. 

 

Cabinet 15 April 2013

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Councillors, Democracy, Housing, Licensing, Local business, Meetings, Recycling and waste, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Councillors met on 15 April for the last meeting of the Cabinet in the 2012/13 civic year. Items discussed included housing, early preparations for the tendering of the next waste management contract, pay policy, business continuity and licensing.

Housing

Changes to tenancy conditions and the housing allocation scheme for residents in council housing were approved by the Cabinet. The changes include the adoption of flexible (fixed-term) tenancies for 3-bedroom properties. Councillors also agreed to ask the Housing Scrutiny Panel of Overview and Scrutiny to review the pilot scheme for flexible tenancies after 12 months. In particular, Cabinet will receive feedback on potential for continuing, discontinuing and expanding the flexible tenancy policy for 2-bedroom properties.

The changes were adopted following consultation with the Tenants and Leaseholders Federation, partner agencies, Parish and Town Councils and Registered Social Housing Landlord Partners.

Licensing

Cabinet supported proposals to introduce evening meetings and extended direct consultation with residents for premises licensing applications. By holding evening meetings, Councillors hoped to make them more accessible to residents, and particularly those at work during the day. Extending contact to residents and other businesses within 150 meters of a licence applicant follows procedures adopted by Westminster City Council. A recommendation for a supplementary estimate of £63,770 for 2013/14 is to be made to Full Council to pay for the enhancement to the licensing service.

Subject to funding agreement at Full Council, new licensing arrangements would be reviewed at the end of a 9 month pilot.

Watch the cabinet meeting

Is your club up to date on tax laws?

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Commercial properties, Community, Grants, Local business, Our activities, Out and about, Regulations, Residents, Sports, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your money

 

With all the talk in the media of obesity in adults and the push for an Olympic legacy this is a golden time for sports in our country as we drive to get more people active.

Wheelchair basketball - image supplied courtesy of Sport England www.sportengland.org

Clubs and organisations also need to offer a professional service that is business like and can cope with the ever changing financial climate. However, this can be difficult as we often run clubs as volunteers through our passion for our chosen sport or because we wish to give something back to the community we live in. This means that we often have no formal training in the ‘off the pitch stuff’ that can make or break even the most successful club (finance, marketing, book-keeping).

Unfortunately for some clubs a lack of expertise in this vital part of club management has been a costly wake up call and there have been reports of clubs receiving fines of up to £100,000 in unpaid taxes and penalties. Additionally, it may not be widely known that if your club is formed by a committee and not limited by a guarantee, the committee members can end up being personally liable for any tax debt the club incurs. 

So, with all this in mind, Epping Forest District Council in partnership with GB Sport will be running two interactive training courses to help clubs understand the tax environment and correct their procedures to fall in line with HMRC guidance (none costing more than £20). There is also an additional course on marketing to help clubs take advantage of the growing social media sector to develop their presence in the local community.

Business essentials for clubs

On 23 May at North Weald Golf Club from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. The course will cover

  • Legal status – detailing the definitions and requirements for the various ways coaches/workers can be paid
  • Self employment – outline the strict HMRC self employment guidelines, that if not satisfied can result in a hefty tax bill
  • Employment – review of the various types of employment for those involved in sport
  • Contracts –  sample contracts for self employment will be given and ideal working arrangements for coaches and clubs will be discussed
  • Insurance – we review insurance options to minimise risks to both clubs and coaches

Book-keeping essentials

 On 20 June at North Weald Golf Club from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. The course will cover

  • Book-keeping – How best to meet the HMRC requirements to ensure you are prepared for a tax inspection
  • Allowable expenses – the types of expenses that can/can’t be claimed by clubs and coaches
  • Invoicing and debt management – What to include in an invoice, how to avoid bad debt and options for debt recovery
  • V.A.T –  The rules and regulations for a sports coaching business, linked to turnover, legal status. A review of the VAT issues for non profit-making organisations such as clubs and associations, particularly focusing on what is and isn’t exempt from VAT

Marketing essentials

On 13 June at North Weald Golf Club from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. The course will cover

  • Branding – how to build and develop your club’s/organisation’s brand
  • Planning – how to put together a business and marketing plan
  • First impressions – why they count and how your organisation can make a good one
  • Social media – how to use facebook and twitter to improve your organisation’s profile and increase profit
  • Good practice – case studies of what other clubs have done and how it has helped them

The address for North Weald Golf Club is Rayley Lane, North Weald, Essex CM16 6AR.

If you would like more information on any of these workshops or would like to book a place on any of them, please contact Fabrizio on 01992 564567 or email fferrari@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.

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

Love Limes celebrations mark first anniversary

Written on . Posted in Arts, Business, Chairman, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Health, Local business, Media, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Playschemes, Residents, Sports, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

Hundreds of local people joined the ‘Love Limes’ celebrations at the Limes Centre in Chigwell to mark the 1st Anniversary of its re-opening on Wednesday 27 February 2013.

Love LimesThey joined in with fitness classes, dance and drama workshops, martial arts classes, bingo and DJ workshops organised by staff from Epping Forest District Council in the Limes Activity Hall. Visitors were also treated to songs performanced by pupils from Limes Farm Junior School.

Information stands in the Limes Hall helped to keep people informed on a range of local services including recycling, crime prevention and health.

Youngsters ran off their energy in the football courts outside with the Tottenham Hotspur Football Foundation who ran a coaching session. 

Councillor Brian Rolfe, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council said: “I had a wonderful time. My thanks go to the people of Chigwell who attended this event and to the staff who organised it. I hope the local community continues to make use of this fantastic facility.”

Photos of the day

Tip – to view all the photos in a slideshow, click on a picture then click start slideshow (in the bottom right of the frame).

Watch a video of the celebrations

Book your event at the Limes Centre

The Limes Centre is a facility for the whole community, whether it’s for wedding receptions or children’s parties, fitness classes or meetings, look at the facilities we have to offer.

 

Financial assistance to help you improve your home

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Epping, Grants, Housing, Housing repairs, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Planning, Private housing, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your community, Your home, Your money

Do you know that Epping Forest District Council offers financial assistance and grants to home owners and private tenants?

We may be able to assist if you need house repairs, energy efficiency works, or adaptations to your home because you are disabled. We also offer assistance to home owners wanting to bring an empty home back into use.

Financial assistance to help you improve your home

The types of financial assistance available include

  • disabled facilities grants up to £30,000
  • decent homes repayable assistance up to £10,000
  • small works repayable assistance up to £3,000
  • empty homes repayable assistance up to £10,000

Find out more

Full details of the eligibility criteria, and how you can apply, are available from the Private Sector Grants Team

  • email PSHGrantsandCare@eppingforestdc.gov.uk
  • phone 01992 564092
  • write to – Private Sector Grants Team, Housing Directorate, Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping, Essex CM16 4BZ