Spring into activities this Easter

Written on . Posted in Arts, Business, Community, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Health, Loughton, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Playschemes, Residents, Sports, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

If you are looking for fun activities to keep the children busy this Easter holiday, then look no further, we have it covered! We have a range of activities available for all ages and abilities.

Easter Activities page 1

Multi Sports Days 

Come and join our experienced coaches for a day of exciting activities such as

  • Football
  • Dodgeball
  • Tennis
  • Mini Olympics
  • Dance
  • Games and Competitions

Suitable for ages 5 – 14

Dates: Tuesday 4, 11 April 2017 and Thursday 6, 13 April 2017

Time: 09:15am – 15:30pm

Where: Epping Upper Clapton RFC, Upper road, Thornwood, Epping, CM16 6NL

Cost: £16.00

Book online (select the correct heading in brackets for Activity Type on booking form)

Funky Bird Feeder Workshop

Make a bird feeder with a unique difference, using recyclable materials.

Suitable for ages 6 – 11

Date: Tuesday 4 April 2017

Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Where: Communities training room, Epping Forest District Council, 25 Hemnall Street, Epping, CM16 4LU

Cost: £4.50

Book online (select the correct heading in brackets for Activity Type on booking form)

Peg Insect and Garden Display

Make amazing peg insect along with an indoor garden scene for your window using fresh flowers!

Suitable for ages 6 – 11

Date: Tuesday 11 April 2017

Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Where: Communities training room, Epping Forest District Council, 25 Hemnall Street, Epping, CM16 4LU

Cost: £4.50

Book online (select the correct heading in brackets for Activity Type on booking form)

Forest Adventures

Join us on a forest adventure; orienteering, forest art, scavenger hunts, games and much more!

Suitable for ages 6 – 11

Date: Wednesday 5 April 2017

Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Where: Meet outside Kings Oak Public House, High Beech, Loughton, IG10 4AE

Cost: £4.50

Book online (select the correct heading in brackets for Activity Type on booking form)

Play in the Forest

Play games and have fun in the forest; bug hunting, shelter building, woodland arts and crafts!

Suitable for all ages

Friday 7 April 2017

Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Where: Meet in the Kings Oak Public House car park, High Beech, Loughton, IG10 4AE

Cost: £3.50

Monday 10 April 2017

Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Where: Ditches Rise, Coppice Row, Theydon Bois, CM16 7DR

Cost: £3.50

Book online (select the correct heading in brackets for Activity Type on booking form)

Play in the Park

Play with a range of sports equipment and arts & crafts resources. Suitable for ages 5 – 14. The play in the park team organise fun activities and games! It’s FREE and there is no need to book either! Perfect.

Tuesday 4 April 2017

Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Where: Town Mead Leisure Park, Brooker Road, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1JH


Time: 13:30pm – 15:30pm

Where: Roding Valley Recreation Ground (near tennis courts), Roding Road, Loughton, IG10 3BS

Wednesday 5 April 2017

Time: 13:30pm – 15:30pm

Where: Stonards Hill Recreation Ground, Stonards Hill, Epping, CM16 4QF

Thursday 6 April 2017

Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Where: Abridge Village Hall Playing Fields, Ongar Road, Abridge, RM4 1BS


Time: 13:30pm – 15:30pm

Where: Shelley Park, St Peters Avenue, Shelley, Ongar, CM5 0BT

Tuesday 11 April 2017

Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Where: Ninefields (large green field), Hillhouse, Waltham Abbey, EN9 3EL


Time: 13:30pm – 15:30pm

Where: Roding Valley Recreation Ground (near tennis courts), Roding Road, Loughton, IG10 3BS

Wednesday 12 April 2017

Time: 13:30pm – 15:30pm

Where: Roydon Playing Fields, Occupation Lane, Roydon, CM19 5HL

Thursday 13 April 2017

Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Where: Abridge Village Hall Playing Fields, Ongar Road, Abridge, RM4 1BS


Time: 13:30pm – 15:30pm

Where: Jubilee Park, Love lane, Ongar, CM5 9BL

Further information

For more information please contact Community Services on 01992 564226 or email csreception@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

Book activities online

Selfless citizens celebrated

Written on . Posted in Arts, Chairman, Civic events, Community, Councillors, Grants, Media, Museum, Older people, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

The district’s most remarkable people had their moment in the spotlight on Friday 17 March 2017 at the Epping Forest District Council Civic Awards ceremony 2017 at the Marriott Hotel, Waltham Abbey.

Watch the video

Evening in pictures

Civic Awards 2017

Click on the thumbnails below for larger photos

Recognising the efforts of remarkable people

The special evening was hosted by the Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Jeane Lea. The Chairman explained why the Council hold the Civic Awards in her opening speech, she said: ”We hold the Civic Awards to recognise the efforts of the remarkable people that live amongst us, who make a difference and inspire others to do the same. Selfless heroes that strive to make the world a better place, without looking for praise or tribute.”

Diverse, unique and exceptional

”We want to thank those that volunteer with care in our communities. Those who save lives in their everyday work. Those who enrich the lives of others with their artistic flair, who make us proud of their sporting talent and those that give their time and effort to worthy causes. We hold these awards for you. You make our district diverse, unique and exceptional.”

”What strikes me, as I am sure it does others, is that our communities are full of incredible people, far too many to recognise everybody.”

Citizen of the Year 2017

This year, Doreen and Sid Miller, were the joint winners of the prestigious Citizen of the Year award. The pair have been heavily involved in community action in the district for decades. Together, they have helped hundreds of families find a place to live by providing crucial rent guarantees, they also volunteer with Epping Forest Community Transport and the local furniture exchange.

Elizabeth Renny was highly commended for her 35 years service to the second Loughton Girl Guides pack, before her retirement this month.

Team of the Year 2017

The Epping Forest District Museum volunteers received the Team of the Year award, for their outstanding work throughout the successful renovation of the museum and more.

Young Citizen of the Year 2017

Arjun Kuhaendran, a student at West Hatch High School won the very special accolade of Young Citizen of the Year for his dedication to his role of charity ambassador. He has seen money raised for Crisis at Christmas, Macmillan, Water Aid and the International Day of Peace in this past year alone.

Runner-up, David Castleman, received a Special Commendation for his extraordinary bravery.

Community Service Medals

Community service medals were received by Garry Clark and Richard Holt of the East of England Ambulance Service, Sub Officer Dave Horton of the Essex Fire Service and Sergeant Simon Dear of Essex Police.

Youth Council Awards

Epping Forest District Council Youth Council award winners Marley Chick, Lisa Nakimuli, Finlay Jordan and Ashwin Gohil were all commended for their outstanding achievements and dedication to their roles.

Sports and Creativity Awards

Daniel Rowden, an 800m runner from Buckhurst Hill, was the winner of this year’s sports bursary of £1,000. Bethany Joiner won the Creativity award for her photographic talent and charitable work, she received a bursary of £500.

Business Apprentices

Praise was given to Epping Forest District Council’s Business Apprentices; Jay Binks, Emily Gowens, Becky Linford, Sian Pavitt, Becca Yellop and Amber Stewart, who have all achieved their level 2 diplomas and are all now employed by different departments across the council.

Over £10,000 raised for Essex Air Ambulance

A magnificent £1,160 was raised at the Civic Awards for the Chairman’s charity, the Essex Air Ambulance Service and local artist Martyn Royce donated an original work of art to the charity for auction. Chairman Jeane Lea raised an incredible £11,160 for her chosen charity.

Poet wants district’s favourite stories

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Do you have a favourite story about the district that you’d like to share? It can be about something personal, historical or just something that makes you smile.

Come and meet our poet in residence Keely Mills and tell her your story of the district. She will be at Epping Forest District Museum in Waltham Abbey on Friday 24 February 2017 from 10am to 1pm.

Poet in residence 24-2-17

Poet in residence

Join our poet in residence Keely Mills, share your stories and have them turned into poetry.

Where

Epping Forest District Museum, 39 – 41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EL.

When

Friday 24 February 2017 from 10am to 1pm.

Cost

Free.

Paths Unseen

Poet Keely Mills is joining us as part of the Paths Unseen project, funded by Arts Council England.

Paths Unseen supports Keely Mills to develop her poetry, centred around residencies. She will be engaging local communities with poems, particularly those who do not consider themselves writers or  artists, enabling them to tell their stories and encourage them to record or perform the work in their own voices.

This is the first time Keely’s work will appear as the key focus of an exhibition. It is her first publication and major commission outside of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, spreading her art form further across the East of England.

The Paths Unseen exhibition opens at Epping Forest District Museum on Saturday 24 June 2017.

Council Tax frozen for 7th year

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Good financial planning over many years is being credited with keeping Epping Forest District Council’s share of the Council Tax down for a record 7th year.

Chris Whitbread and Gagan Mohindra at Oakwood Hill Depot

Keeping Council Tax frozen

The average payment of a Band D property to the District Council is set to remain at £148.77 until at least April 2018. Rents for Council House tenants are also set to come down by 1% in line with national guidelines.

The District has not increased its share of Council Tax since 2010.

Protecting services

Finance Portfolio Holder Gagan Mohindra presented the 2017/18 budget to Cabinet on Thursday 2 February. Confirmation of the nil-increase is expected to follow at Full Council on 21 February 2017.

Epping Forest District Council has successfully managed to maintain low taxes and the protection of frontline services against a background of long term reductions in central government funding and public sector service cuts elsewhere.

Councillor Mohindra said: ”This hasn’t been achieved overnight. Even before the financial crisis of 2008, Epping Forest District Council was setting out our stall as an efficient low-tax council. As central government funding has reduced year on year, we set our sights on becoming financially independent.”

Remaining as efficient as possible

The Council has managed the process through a combination of reduced costs and increased income.

Councillor Mohindra said: ”Over the years we have cut our costs dramatically. Our Revenue budget not many years ago was over £18million. That has been reduced to a little over £13million for next year.”

”We have adapted and moved with the times. We have changed the way we work, making better use of technology wherever possible, changing our structures and streamlining our services to ensure we remain as lean and efficient as possible. That process is ongoing. We are now embarking on a more intensive transformation which may see much more use of flexible and home working, reductions in office space and more productivity.”

Working in partnership

He continued: ”We have also embraced private sector partnerships wherever we believed it could deliver better services. Next month Places for People takes on the management of our Sports and Leisure Centres. We already had a good track record with our previous provider. This new contract will see not only reductions in the cost to the council but will also potentially see the development of a brand new leisure centre in Waltham Abbey and improvements to other facilities. This is against a backdrop of other councils cutting back and closing down their leisure offering.”

”Our residents also play a huge role in our success. Recent fluctuations in recycling have seen the cost of our waste collection service increase, but overall, with the help of our residents diverting domestic waste from landfill to recycling, our new contract is saving many thousands of pounds every year. ”

Members of the Cabinet and senior officers inspected progress on Epping Forest Shopping Park just before Christmas. Yearly income from the park could be as much as £2.7 million and will be used to support local public services.

”And while our costs are coming down, we are increasing our income. Epping Forest District Council is one of the biggest land owners in our area. Our portfolio of shops, industrial estates, commercial units, car parks and North Weald Airfield brings in a significant rental income. This money is ploughed back into providing local services. That income is set to be boosted by as much as £2.7million per annum when Epping Forest Shopping Park opens later this year.”

”These major contracts, developments and investments are years in the planning and delivery but they are paying tremendous dividends.”

Bucking the trend

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council congratulated Cllr Gagan Mohindra and thanked the finance team for their hard work on another strong budget.

He said: ”The hallmark of a good council is to be low tax whilst protecting front line services. Councillor Gagan Mohindra and his team have done a marvellous job in bringing forward this budget. Times are tough. We are seeing substantial increases in Council Tax everywhere else. But we have been able to buck the trend at Epping Forest District Council.”

”The foundations of our financial strength can be found in years of careful management and investment. It has been a job well done but we must continue to look forward. Later this year I hope to see new changes to the management of our Pay and Display Car Parks which will cut costs without increasing charges. Longer term we are also looking at better use of our offices in Epping.”

”We have excellent management and staff committed to getting the best value out of every penny. It is by far the best way to balance the books but we never forget our purpose is to provide the best possible service at the least possible cost to our local residents.”

Design Icons exhibition at museum

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

Our Design Icons exhibition takes you on a journey from the mischievous Mary Quant fashions to the ground-breaking Nintendo Gameboy. Design Icons: Through the 1960s, 70s and 80s exhibition explores some of the most recognisable designs of the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Both innovative and unique, these retro design icons captured the imagination of their contemporaries and continue to inspire designers today.

Design Icons: Through the 1960s, 70s and 80s

Design Icons: Through the 1960s, 70s and 80s

Packed with games and music, our Design Icons exhibition has something for everyone. Marvel at the world class design of the Raleigh Chopper. Try your hand at playing Mario on an original Gameboy and admire the fashions of the 3 decades, from the eye-wateringly short skirts of the ‘60s, to the ripped, zipped and pinned outfits of the 1980s punks.

Where

Epping Forest District Museum, 39-41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EL (map)

When

From 21 January to 4 March 2017 Open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Fridays from 10am to 4pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 5pm. Closed on Thursdays & Sundays

Cost

Free

Young Curators Project

Design Icons was first curated in 2014 by 2 3D Design students from Herts Regional College as part of Epping Forest District Museum’s Young Curators project. The exhibition was made by young people for young people and was accompanied by a series of arts workshops for 11 to 18 year olds.

This exhibition is part of a series of touring exhibitions produced by Epping Forest District Museum and funded by Arts Council England. Additional funding was awarded by the Royal Opera House Bridge to enable the museum to run its Young Curators programme.Arts Council England logo

How to … Draw workshops

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

Our fun, trick-filled drawing workshops are back for February half term. Join us at our museum in Waltham Abbey for How to Draw sessions, level 1 and level 2.

How to draw poster 2017

How to … Draw level 1

If you can draw a triangle you can draw a chicken! This artist led workshop takes you through the basics of drawing in a fun and creative way, with practical exercises in looking, feeling, mark-making and developing your own style.

  • When: Monday 13 February 2017
  • Time: 10.30am to 12 noon
  • Where: Epping Forest District Museum, 39–41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EL
  • Price: £8 (includes use of materials)
  • Age: 7+ years

How to … Draw level 2

So you can draw a triangle and a chicken, what’s next?  If you’ve been to our ever popular How to Draw Level 1 session and enjoy drawing, why not come along and develop your own style. Learn about different ways of drawing, from impressionism to cubism and photorealism, using a variety of artistic materials to explore different subjects, including landscape, portraiture and still life. And most important of all, have lots of fun!

  • When: Wednesday 15 February 2017
  • Time: 10.30am to 12 noon
  • Where: Epping Forest District Museum, 39 – 41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EL
  • Price: £8 (includes use of materials)
  • Age: 7+ years

Parents are welcome and encouraged to attend both sessions but need to book and take part too. We recommend attending level 1, before joining us for level 2.

Book now

  • Book online

  • Call 01992 564226 – Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm

Overview and Scrutiny December 2016

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The spotlight was on Transport for London (TFL) and the NHS at the latest meeting of Overview and Scrutiny.

Central Line staffing levels, the possibility of extending tube services from Epping to Ongar and an ‘inadequate’ care rating for Princess Alexandra Hospital, were all subjects for discussion on Monday 19 December 2016.

Following the closure of many of Epping Forest District’s underground station ticket offices earlier this year, Epping Forest District Councillors expressed their concerns about the lack of visible staff presence at off peak times at stations within the Epping Forest district.

Improvements to be made

In response, Chris Taggart (General Manager of the Central Line) and Mark Hart (Stakeholder Engagement Manager for the Bakerloo, Victoria and Central lines) explained that TFL intend to improve staff visibility at stations by ensuring staff work in well lit, focal points, to make it easier for customers to find them later in the evening. The changes are already underway, since a recent Travel Watch survey raised similar concerns.

Late night trains

TFL have no current plans to extend the late night train service to Epping, at the very end of the Central Line. The late night trains terminate at Loughton, this being the most appropriate location as the night fleet is small and at Loughton, they are able to turn quickly and easily.

TFL plan to review the late night service in 2017 but say that it has been successful so far and they have had very few issues since starting the new timetable.

Any possibility for an end-to-end service would be subject to further assessments.

Quashed rumours

Rumours that the Central Line may be extended from Epping to North Weald and Ongar were set straight on Monday evening. TFL do not own the North Weald to Ongar part of the railway and so have no jurisdiction over any decision to extend the line. Epping Ongar Railway (EoR) owns this part of the track and any decisions made would be subject to a feasibility study.

Councillors also discussed various issues surrounding high temperatures, quality of ride, frequency of maintenance works, frequency of trains round the ‘loop’ since a recent timetable change and Wi-Fi access.

Princess Alexandra Hospital ‘inadequate’ rating

A line of questioning was agreed by Epping Forest District Councillors before the meeting of Overview and Scrutiny on 30 January 2017.

At which, Councillors will meet the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust and will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the recent report of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which left the Princess Alexandra Hospital with a quality care rating of ‘inadequate’.

Christmas contact information

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We are closed from 5pm on 23 December 2016 until 9am on 3 January 2017. There are still ways you can get in touch with us when you need to over the Christmas holiday period.

Christmas message from Chairman Jeane Lea

Report it

Report it online (non-emergency) – report missed bin, noise, flytipping, fraud, abandoned vehicle, etc.

Report by email (non-emergency) – emails sent here will not be looked at until 3 January 2017.

Phone (emergency) 01992 564000

Housing repairs (emergency) 01992 564199

Social media

We monitor our main Twitter and Facebook accounts every day.

Pay it

Pay online 24/7 – pay Council Tax, rent, business rates, leasehold charges, etc.

Pay by phone 24/7 01992 564600

Our Debden cash office & Epping kiosk will close at 4:30pm on 23 December 2016 and reopen 9am on 3 January 2017.

Our Waltham Abbey library kiosk is subject to Waltham Abbey library opening hours.

Waste and recycling

Christmas 2016 revised collection dates

  • Collection date Tuesday 27 December 2016 revised to Wednesday 28 December 2016
  • Collection date Wednesday 28 December 2016 revised to Thursday 29 December 2016
  • Collection date Thursday 29 December 2016 revised to Friday 30 December 2016
  • Collection date Friday 30 December 2016 revised to Saturday 31 December 2016

Recycling real Christmas trees

Leave your real Christmas trees with your food and garden waste in January 2017. Remove the pot, all decorations and if over 6ft, cut in half to ensure safe collection.

Special collections

Our special collections service closes at 5pm on 23 December 2016 and resume at 9am on 3 January 2017.

Lost or found dogs

Call 07815 512833 weekdays from 7am to 9pm, weekends and bank holidays from 10am to 7pm.

Car parks

Free weekend parking in December – all of our car parks are free on weekends throughout December and bank holidays.

Epping Forest District Museum

Epping Forest District Museum is closed from 4pm on 22 December 2016 and reopens 10am on 3 January 2017.

Housing benefit payments revised dates

  • Payments due 26 December 2016 will be now be available in bank accounts around 23 December 2016
  • Payments due 02 January 2017 will now be available in bank accounts around 29 December 2016

Normal payment cycle will resume from 9 January 2017.

 

Christmas by candlelight carol service

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Community, Councillors, Local business, Media, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council

Residents, councillors and council staff gathered at Waltham Abbey Church to celebrate Christmas by Candlelight on Thursday 15 December 2016.

Waltham Abbey Church by night

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

The congregation was treated to the Abbey at its most stunning as the lights dimmed and the candles were lit for the annual Civic Carol Service hosted jointly by Epping Forest District Council and Waltham Abbey Town Council. The service was led by Rev Peter Smith with wonderful musical arrangement from Jonathan Lilley and the church choir.

Readings from King James Bible

Town Mayor Helen Kane welcomed members of the congregation. Councillor Liz Webster and Clerk Kathryn Richmond gave readings taken from the King James Bible on behalf of the Town Council. Rev Canon Dr Joyce Smith also gave a reading as did District Council Vice-Chairman David Stallan and Deputy Chief Executive Derek Macnab on behalf of the district before the final words by Epping Forest District Council Chairman Councillor Jeane Lea.

Traditional Christmas carols

On a magically crisp clear December evening the congregation sang traditional Christmas carols. Mulled wine and mince pies were served later at Waltham Abbey Town Hall. The offertory collection will be shared between the Salvation Army, Waltham Abbey Church and Councillor Lea’s Chairman’s Charity, the Herts and Essex Air Ambulance.

Christmas message from Chairman Jeane Lea

 

St John’s sale opens way to redevelopment

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Doing business with the council, Epping, Leader, Local business, Media, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

The £6.75 million sale of Essex County Council’s (ECC) land holdings in St John’s Road to Epping Forest District Council has signalled the start of a process that will see a major redevelopment in the town of Epping.

The sale means Epping Forest District Council and Frontier Estates can now deliver the development brief of new retail and leisure facilities Epping residents said they wanted.

Councillor Chris Whitbread with Councillor Anne Grigg at St John's Road

Sale stalled

The sale stalled after ECC received higher bids for part of its site, but an agreement to sell to Epping Forest District Council at a lower level means the scheme can now move forward.

Combination of retail and leisure

The amended development brief produced in 2012 incorporated many suggestions supported by local residents. The proposed combination of retail and leisure including a small cinema is a triumph of collaborative working and benefits for residents.

The scheme aims to benefit all residents of Epping and brings the derelict school site back into use. The brief allows for commercial development to boost the economy of Epping High Street, improve the town’s infrastructure, create a better mix of leisure and retail to meet local need and provide facilities of particular value to the town’s young people.

The plans include the retention of the Centre Point building as the new home of Epping Town Council. Epping Forest District Council’s Housing Depot will move potentially to North Weald.

Commercial development of the project is being undertaken by Frontier Estates in partnership with Epping Forest District Council and Epping Town Council.

Great news for Epping

Councillor Anne Grigg, Asset Management Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council is delighted that work can now progress.

Following the signing of the agreement to buy the land from Essex County Council, she said: “This is great news for Epping. An incredible amount of hard work has gone in from all sides to balance the interests of local residents and businesses with the financial reality.”

“We are incredibly fortunate that unlike most councils, Epping Forest District Council has the resources to balance the need for profit with the wider interests of the local community. Essex County Council has gone a long way to helping deliver the project and I am now looking forward to working in partnership with Epping Town Council and Frontier Estates to give Epping residents this exciting scheme.”

Work will now begin on preparing planning applications for outline planning permission and detailed planning permission. Meanwhile, Frontier Estates is seeking commercial partners.

Good value for money

Councillor David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council also welcomed the deal. He added: “As with any land development it is absolutely vital to balance the needs of the various parties, while ensuring council taxpayers get good value for money.”

“I am delighted we have been able to work closely with the district council to progress this deal which is really the first stage in kick starting what will be a fantastic redevelopment of this part of Epping.”

Better facilities for our town

Councillor Les Burrows, Chairman of Epping Town Council said: “Epping Town Council will be happy to join in the negotiations over the St John’s development proposals if it will mean better facilities for our town.”