Decisions from Plans West on 14 November

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Planning application decisions from the Area Planning Sub-Committee West meeting Wednesday 14 November 2018.

Decisions 

  • EPF/3359/17 Land to the rear of 54 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EJ
    Deferred to next meeting
  • EPF/0530/18 38 Honey Lane, Waltham Abbey, EN9 3BS
    Refused
  • EPF/1169/18 Pipers Farm, Lippitts Hill, Waltham Abbey, IG10 4AL
    Permission granted
  • EPF/2227/18 ‘Tomworld’, Shottentons Farm, Pecks Hill, Nazeing, EN9 2NY
    Permission refused
  • EPF/Curtilage of Yew Tree Cottage, High Road, Epping, CM16 4DJ
    Permission granted

Planning application search

Cabinet 8 November 2018

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Extra investment to support improvements to 20 Council owned car parks, a council owned gymnastic centre in North Weald and to fund two Epping Forest Citizens Advice Bureau Debt Advisors, was agreed at Cabinet on 8 November 2018.

Improvements to Council car parks

Following the decision to change parking tariffs in September, Councillors have now agreed to reinvest some of the extra income into the improvement of 20 car parks across the district.

The plans to improve CCTV systems and upgrade to LED lighting were supported by Cabinet members. A study will also be commissioned to look into the viability of installing electricity charging points in council car parks.

Revamp for Gymnastic Centre

The Council owned Gymnastic Centre in North Weald is in need of investment and refurbishment. When it was built in 1986, it was seen as a centre of excellence, and for many years generated international level gymnasts and operated an intensive beginners programme.

Gymnastics continues to have a high profile within the district with a demand for good quality training facilities and the Council is committed to investing in leisure for residents.

£240,000 will be spent to bring the centre back to its former glory. Plans boast brand new equipment and apparatus, as well as essential building works and repairs.

The current lease for the facility is up for renewal at the end of December.

Council funds Debt Advisors

For three years, the Council has funded two Epping Forest Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Debt Advisors to assist residents in the district with their personal budgeting. Last night, Councillors decided to keep funding these advisors for a further year.

Councillor Syd Stavrou, Housing Portfolio Holder spoke passionately about how important the Epping Forest CAB is to residents of the district and to the Council itself – in keeping rent arrears low and preventing homelessness.

Consultation on Local Council Tax Support scheme for 2019/20

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Local council tax support for 2019/20 is being reviewed so we are seeking the views of local residents on a new scheme to replace the current one and consultation is open now, until 21 December.

The scheme helps local people in financial need to pay their Council Tax. All local councils must have a scheme that they administer themselves and reviewed annually to see whether any changes should be made.

Epping Forest District Council gets a grant from the Government for its scheme, but that grant is reducing each year and there is now less funding from the grant than the annual cost of the scheme.

“It is important therefore that we have the views of local residents – whether they receive Local Council Tax Support or not – as it could affect the amount of Council Tax they have to pay, or it could mean that we have to cut service to meet the costs of the 2019/20 scheme,” said Cllr Gagan Mohindra, Portfolio Holder for Finance.

People of pension age have been protected by the Government and they have their own scheme for Local Council Tax Support. However, for people of working age, the Council has had to design a scheme that is less generous than the scheme for pensioners.

Epping Forest District Council is not proposing any changes for the scheme in 2019/20 but has to undertake the consultation process..

Consultation is via an on-line questionnaire available until 21 December 2018. Please let us have your views on whether you agree with this or whether you think changes should be made, before we decide on the scheme for next year. The brief questionnaire is available here:

If you would like to make a detailed reply or comment, you can email benefits@eppingforestdc.gov.uk and enter ‘consultation’ in the subject heading. If you do not have access to a computer, you can request a paper copy from the Benefits Division at the Civic Offices. Unfortunately, we will not be able to respond individually to each response. The results of the consultation will be presented to Councillors in February 2019.

Details of the Local Council Tax Support scheme for 2018/19 are available on the Council Tax Support section of our website: www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Council progress report to Scrutiny

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Council Leader Chris Whitbread set out progress on a number of key Council initiatives for Overview and Scrutiny on Monday 29 October. Major steps forward include internal reorganisation of the Council’s top management structure, new homes for local people through the council house building programme and the culmination of a year of major investment in leisure facilities with the imminent opening of the brand new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre.

Thanks to prudent financial planning, effective management and maximisation of assets, Epping Forest District Council is in a stronger financial position than many councils. Councillors of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee received the latest progress report on services from Council Leader Chris Whitbread.

£2.5m savings

The Council has a savings target of £2.5m over the next three years as government grants are phased out while protecting frontline services and keeping Council Tax low.

The first new council houses have been completed with many more now in the pipeline.

Restructure

Senior management has been restructured with two Strategic Directors and eight Service leads tasked with focusing on the customer and driving efficiency through bringing business support functions together.

Councillor Whitbread said that the Council is committed to promoting ‘flexible smarter working’ for staff and redeveloping the rear of the Civic Office site. While listing has delayed changes to the Civic Offices, options are to be discussed by December Cabinet.

Good progress on ICT is supporting customer access to Council services and allowing staff to work in flexible more efficient ways.

Epping Forest District Local Plan

The Local Plan is back on track.   Judicial Review caused frustrating delay and uncertainty but the plan is now submitted for examination next year.

Leisure in the district

The Council’s partnership with Places for People has delivered £12 million of improvements including the opening of the new Waltham Abbey Leisure Centre in a few weeks’ time. Council assets are helping to deliver community and economic benefits.  Epping Forest Shopping Park is trading well and the Council is now in position to take forward St John’s Road, Epping potentially including another new leisure centre.

Finance

Whilst Council Tax was frozen for many years, an increase of 2.5% this year to fund extra police officers dedicated to the district is proving very successful.

Preparation of the 2019/20 budget starts in earnest shortly with positive bids for extra services such as investment in public car parks being looked at by Cabinet and Overview and Scrutiny in January.

Nazeing nursery fined for contaminated water

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The owner of a Nazeing nursery has been fined £583 plus £500 costs and a £58 victim surcharge, after Epping Forest District Council found  E. coli and Enterococci in his water supply.

Mr. Derek Fawcett, one of the owners of Eastside Nursery, Nazeing, Essex pleaded guilty on 11th October 2018 at Chelmsford Magistrates Court, to not having complied with a Notice served on him on the 8th November 2017 by Epping Forest District Council for improvement work to be carried out to the private water supply serving the nursery.

Potential dangers

Inspection of the supply confirmed it to be high risk and samples of the water showed that it contained E. coli and Enterococci which posed a potential danger to human health. These bacteria are commonly associated with human or animal bodily waste and the concentrations found were the highest the council has encountered. Residents of the site would be using this water to wash, cook and clean with.

The Notice required the improvements to be completed by 5 March 2018. After the failure of one contractor to complete the work during the initial timescale, an application was made to the Council in February 2018 by Mr Fawcett to allow him extra time to complete the work.

The Council agreed to extend the time for completion of the project until 5 May 2018, however on the 4 May, Mr Fawcett informed the Council that the work had still not been started. On 7 May the owners were informed that prosecution proceedings would be commenced. Subsequently, a different contractor was instructed by Mr Fawcett on 14 May to undertake the tasks. The improvement work continued until the 9 October 2018 when an inspection confirmed it was substantially complete subject to final sampling and analysis of the supply by the Council.

Fined

The Magistrates stated that on consideration there had been some negligence on the part of Mr Fawcett notwithstanding his illness in 2018. He was fined £583 and ordered to pay £500 towards the Council’s prosecution costs and a Victim Surcharge of £58. It is important to note that this offence can be given higher fines and even custodial sentences.

Statutory duty to assess risk

Council Officers will continue to inspect all private water supplies that are judged to be a risk, and take the necessary enforcement action to safeguard human health. These bacteria can cause significant illness and in some cases even death, especially at such high concentrations. It is the Council’s statutory duty to risk assess and restore water quality to these supplies.

Councillor Nigel Avey, Cabinet member responsible for the environment said:  “The Council has a duty to protect the health and wellbeing of our residents.  It is disappointing that we had to take this case to prosecution rather than the work being undertaken during the notice period. There are a large number of private water supplies in the district. I would like to thank the Magistrates Court for supporting the Council. No one wants anyone to become ill through poor water and I hope this case sends out a clear message to all owners of private water supplies on the importance of ensuring they keep those supplies clean, fit and healthy for human consumption.”

Decisions from Plans East 10 October 2018

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Planning application decisions from the Area Planning Sub-Committee East meeting Wednesday 10 October 2018.

Decisions 

  • EPF/0282/18 – 12 Station Road Epping Essex CM16 4H
    Permission refused
  • EPF/1583/18 – 1 Buttercross Lane Epping Essex CM16 5AA
    Deferred to DDMC
  • EPF/1847/18 – 55 High Street Epping Essex CM16 4BA
    Permission refused
  • EPF/1556/18 – Site at Bansons Lane Ongar Essex CM5 9AR
    Permission granted
  • EPF/0429/18 – Hydes Riding School Abridge Road Theydon Bois Essex CM16 7NS
    Permission refused
  • EPF/1406/18 – 1 Mount End Mount End Road Theydon Mount Epping Essex CM16 7PS
    Permission refused
  • EPF/2212/18 – 15 Vicarage Lane North Weald Essex CM16 6ET
    Permission granted

Planning application search

National empty homes week

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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

Counting the cost of irresponsible waste disposal

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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.

Savings scheme to benefit low income families

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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.

Epping Forest District Council Local Plan submitted

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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/