New website launched to boost visitor and tourism economy

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Countryside and wildlife, Local business, Media, Museum, North Weald Airfield, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

An exciting new website has been developed to provide information on places to visit, eat and stay in the Epping Forest district.

Visit Epping Forest logo

Visit Epping Forest website

The new website is to be formally launched on Friday 7 December at 2.30pm.

Members of the Epping Forest District Tourism Partnership will launch the Visit Epping Forest website at a special event at Epping Ongar Railway at North Weald Railway Station.

The website has been developed by the key attractions in the district, supported by Epping Forest District Council and the Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce. It provides information on places to visit, eat and stay and how to get here. It is planned that local groups will be able to upload their events directly to a specific ‘What’s on’ section.

The website has already had 1,800 visitors, who viewed over 5,600 pages during the construction stage. Enquiries have already been answered from film companies looking for locations, as well as cycle touring organisations looking for somewhere to eat on Sunday mornings. As this website grows it will generate more interest in the district as a tourist destination.
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Councillor Tony Boyce Chairman of the One Epping Forest Tourism Task Force, which has led on this work said: “This has been a real partnership producing positive results. Everyone has chipped in with their expertise and resources to make this happen and give this district a site that is new, vibrant and supports the tourism economy right across this corner of Essex.

A new leaflet, highlighting the varied attractions is being completed, which will tempt locals to explore their area as well as bring in visitors from further afield. We will soon be announcing a major visitor and tourism summit to enable attractions, restaurants, hotels and shops to come together and plan how we can make so much more of the growing tourism sector to bring investment and jobs into the area in the longer term.”

Green Flag award for Roding Valley Meadows

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Volunteering opportunities, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Countrycare and EWT announce the award
Countrycare and EWT announce the award

A flag-raising ceremony took place in November attended by members of Epping Forest District Council, Essex Wildlife Trust (EWT), the Grange Farm Centre Trust (GFCT) and Roding Valley volunteer group.

The group was welcomed by Abigail Oldham, Countryside Manager, Countrycare. Then Patrick Bailly, EWT Warden of the Reserve, explained the importance of the Reserve for nature, wildlife, recreation and education.

The Reserve, in Loughton, is the largest area of traditional river-valley landscape left in Essex. Bounded by thick hedgerows, the herb-rich meadows, marsh and scrub woodland follow the meanders of the River Roding for a mile-and-a-half. More than 200 species of wildflowers thrive in the meadows.

The plant assemblage is so rare that the Reserve was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1986.

Countrycare, EWT and GFCT raise the flag together
Countrycare, EWT and GFCT raise the flag together

Lush hedgerows and veteran trees attract many species of bird, such as woodpeckers and Sparrowhawk. The ponds, river and fen attract numerous dragonflies and birds, such as Kingfisher, Snipe and Reed Bunting.

The Reserve is owned by the District Council and the Grange Farm Centre Trust and managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust.
The Green Flag recognises UK green spaces that are well-managed, sustainable, of conservation and heritage value and of high quality. The Reserve was judged on a searing hot day in July when Patrick Bailly lead a guided tour of the site, impressing the judge with his management methods.
And the flag is up!
And the flag is up!

After the volunteers were thanked for their contribution to making the Reserve the beautiful place it is today, John Hall, EWT’s Chief Executive, Alex Pelican, Grange Farm Centre Trust and Abigail Oldham, together raised the flag.

Refreshments were served in a marquee on one of the Reserve’s meadows where an exhibition about Countrycare and the Roding Valley Meadows was displayed.

Read more about Roding Valley Meadows.

Interested in volunteering? Volunteer with Countrycare.

Read more about the Essex Wildlife Trust.

Help us to tackle fly tipping

Written on . Posted in Business, Our countryside, Out and about, Prosecutions, Recycling and waste, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

If you are an individual or household passing waste to someone other than the council’s refuse collectors, remember you are under an obligation to check that the person you’re handing your waste to is authorised to take it. This is known as the Household Duty of Care and applies to every private individual involved in transferring waste.
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Businesses also have a Duty of Care when dealing with their commercial waste, and must fulfil more requirements. In a recent prosecution, a Harlow based company were fined for the offence of “not securing that the transfer of waste was to an authorised person and not exchanging a written description of the waste”.

No tipping
If you produce commercial waste (and all businesses produce some waste, however small), ensure you can answer YES to all of the following statements.

  • My waste is stored on my property
  • My waste cannot escape from my property and is securely contained
  • I have checked that my waste is collected by an authorised person
  • I have waste transfer note(s) to cover all my waste collections and I keep the paperwork for two years

If you answered NO to any of these statements, you must take action now to comply with the law.
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Epping Forest District Council’s Environment Portfolio Holder, Councillor Will Breare-Hall, said: “Not only is the illegal dumping of rubbish damaging to the environment, it is also costly for the council to deal with. It is a serious criminal offence which can lead to large fines or even imprisonment. Where we have sufficient evidence we will prosecute. Households and business can help by complying with their Duty of Care, ensuring that their waste goes to people authorised to deal with it, and keeping it out of the hands of potential fly tippers. Households and businesses who don’t comply with their Duty of Care risk being prosecuted if their waste is fly tipped.”

Councillor Breare-Hall continued: “I encourage members of the public who witness fly tipping to write down details of the offence, including the date and time, and to report it to us as soon as possible, either online or by calling 01992 564608 during office hours or 01992 564000 at all other times. We offer a special collection service for bulky household items such as beds, chairs, sofas, fridges and washing machines, so no items need ever be illegally dumped. Together we can tackle fly tipping and ensure that Epping Forest district remains a clean and attractive place for residents and visitors alike.”
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Find out more about fly tipping online or contact the council’s Environment and Neighbourhood Officers on 01992 564608 for advice.

First reflections on the Local Plan consultation

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Consultation, Councillors, Gypsy and traveller, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Anyone who wants to know what local residents and stakeholders said during the recent ‘Community Choices’ public consultation can find out in our latest video update.

Councillor Richard Bassett, Planning Portfolio Holder has chosen Chipping Ongar as the location for his second Local Plan blog. He gives an initial assessment of the evidence submitted to Epping Forest District Council on the issues and options facing the district as it continues to prepare a Local Plan covering the next 20 years.

More than 5,500 responses were made in response to the Council’s appeal for evidence and opinions. It will be several months before detailed analysis is completed.

In addition to online consultation documents and a questionnaire, the Council organised a number of evening drop-in sessions throughout the district at which local people discussed the issues and options with councillors and staff face to face. Presentations were made to Town and Parish Councils, several of whom invited district council representatives to talk about the consultation at their public meetings. The district council received letters and emails as well as several petitions, all of which are being incorporated into the body of evidence.

Councillor Bassett said: “We received a great deal of interest and I would like to thank everyone who participated in the consultation. The new Local Plan will be our district’s best defence against inappropriate development as well as enabling us to provide homes and employment opportunities for our children. The evidence and opinions provided by our residents are vital in making it as strong and robust as possible.”

The next stage in the public consultation process will be the publication of a ‘preferred options’ document containing draft policies based on evidence from ‘Community Choices’ and forecasts of population growth and housing need. Eventually this will lead to a ‘submission’ Local Plan for further scrutiny by a government-appointed inspector at an ‘Examination in Public’. Only by successfully passing all these stages will the final Local Plan be adopted as the blueprint for appropriate development over the next 20 years.

Cabinet reports to Council on 6 November

Written on . Posted in Arts, Business, Chairman, Council tax, Councillors, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Crime and safety, Democracy, Environmental health, Health, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Meetings, Museum, North Weald Airfield, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Parking, Planning, Prosecutions, Recycling and waste, Sports, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business

The runway at North Weald Airfield, Council Tax freeze, local plan, recycling, welfare reform were all discussed at the full meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 6 November 2012.

Councillor Anne Grigg, Asset Management Portfolio Holder informed members that Halcrow were in the process of being appointed to undertake some non-invasive testing of the structure of the main North Weald runway. This testing is intended to ensure that the runway is suitable for its current uses and will also inform the strategic review of the Airfield.

Councillor Grigg also reported that Cabinet at its meeting in September agreed to commission a strategic review of North Weald Airfield, to be undertaken as part of the development of the new Local Plan. The review should be completed and reported back to councillors in time for the recommended outcomes to become part of the Local Plan “Preferred Options” consultation scheduled to commence in the summer of 2013.

Environment Portfolio Holder, Councillor Will Breare-Hall was pleased to report improvement in recycling figures with the quarter 2 out-turn at 62%. In a similar vein, the results for dealing with litter and detritus are also ahead of target.

Councillor Breare-Hall also drew attention to the use of new CCTV cameras in The Broadway, Loughton which have provided a number of leads for fly-tipping investigations. He noted discussions between council officers and Epping Ongar Railway where very few new complaints have been received concerning the heritage railway.

Councillor Breare-Hall’s report concluded with news that following extensive remedial work, the former Bobbingworth Tip has achieved Queen Elizabeth II Field designation. It is now a tranquil and attractive open space. Councillor Breare-Hall said it was a great testament to the hard work of all those involved. A robust commemorative plaque will be placed on site.

Councillor David Stallan, Housing Portfolio Holder reported on the Welfare Reform Mitigation Plan consideration of a proposed new Tenancy Policy and Housing Allocations Scheme for the district.

Councillor Chris Whitbread recommended www.visiteppingforest.org  as one of the new initiatives designed to support and stimulate the local economy through tourism and other avenues. Referring to feedback on the Local Plan, Councillor Whitbread confirmed he had been in discussion with Eleanor Laing MP for Epping Forest concerning many of the issues raised in the Community Choices consultation.

Councillor Mrs Syd Stavrou informed councillors that the Government’s announcement of the latest Financial Settlement would not be made until late December.

Councillor Stavrou had previously announced the Cabinet’s intention to freeze Council Tax for another year. The Government has subsequently announced a grant equivalent to a 1% increase in Council Tax for authorities freezing their charge. Councillor Stavrou was pleased to confirm that Cabinet agreed the parameters set for the 2013/14 budget include no increase in the Council Tax.

Councillor Richard Bassett, Planning Portfolio Holder responded to questions put by members of the public as well as councillors in respect of the Local Plan. He repeated previous assurances that no decisions had been taken on the policies to be included in the new Local Plan. Many public responses had been received in response to the recent Community Choices consultation. Population predictions formed a key element in the forecasts of future development need and Councillor Bassett confirmed he would be meeting regional planning experts in the near future to discuss the latest estimates.

Reports by Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder Councillor Liz Webster noted progress on the construction of the new ‘3rd Generation Astroturf’ pitch at Town Mead in Waltham Abbey an a number of successful funding bids including.

• £23,500 for adult training in subjects such as IT
• £39,000 for ‘Transitions’ a professional development programme for carers work with people with dementia
• £27,500 of initial Heritage Lottery Funding towards a bid for £1,165,000 for the expansion of Epping Forest District Museum in Waltham Abbey

Loughton Leisure Centre users can look forward to better facilities following a decision to spend £240,000 on improvements. Epping Forest District Council will obtain a reduction in its annual management fee to Sports Leisure Management (SLM) of £88,000 per year in exchange for one-off capital funding to improve changing facilities at Loughton Leisure Centre. The deal equates to a three per cent return on investment on the £240,000 capital sum with the added bonus of spending the money to improve the Council’s own property for the benefit of Leisure Centre users.

Councillor Gary Waller Safer, Greener and Highways Portfolio Holder answered questions ranging from parking reviews to the merits of the forthcoming elections for the Essex Police and Crime Commissioner. He also thanked Councillor Leon Girling for suggesting a presentation to Loughton Broadway businesses on the capabilities of the new CCTV systems.

Braeside girls get volunteer project off to a great start!

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our activities, Our countryside, Young people

Last Tuesday, pupils from Braeside School, including Epping Forest Youth Councillor, Aysia Leigh donned their wellies and waterproofs to kick start a series of volunteering days for young people in the Epping Forest district. The Council’s Community Development Team is currently organising volunteering events for all secondary schools in the district. Braeside’s volunteers chose to do conservation work with the Council`s CountryCare team at the Linders Field Nature Reserve in Buckhurst Hill.

Braeside pupils at Linders Field Nature Reserve during their volunteer day

Following a tour of the Linders Field area, the young people were instructed on health and safety, and then wrote their own risk assessments. With these formalities out of the way, it was time to get their hands dirty … or head to foot dirty in some cases! The young people split into two teams, working under the direction of Nicola and Kevin from CountryCare. One team worked with Nicola to complete a board walk. The young people painted the area, attached chicken wire, nailed on the safety batons, then dispensed and levelled some areas of gravel. Kevin had the second team clearing brambles, digging a drainage ditch, and laying pipe! After munching packed lunches, the group all helped to mulch the base of some young trees.

Everyone got into the spirit of the project and was surprised by how much had been achieved at the end of the day – and how good it felt! Many of the Braeside girls said that they would consider volunteering again in the future.

Council thanks community for choices

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Consultation, Councillors, Gypsy and traveller, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Parking, Planning, Private housing, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

We wish to thank all of the 5,255 residents and businesses who presented their views on future housing and development before the close of the Community Choices consultation on Monday 15 October.

Since the start of the consultation on 30 July, councillors and staff have been talking, and listening to the views of, residents and businesses across the district. Planning Portfolio Holder Councillor Richard Bassett concluded his part of the marathon consultation during the last week with public local council meetings in Sheering and Nazeing.

Planning our future - local planCouncillor Bassett said: “I would like to thank everyone who has taken a constructive part in the process. The more information we can gather from local people, the stronger the Local Plan will be and the better able we will be as a community to protect our district from inappropriate development. It’s a long process and there will be several more rounds of consultation before the final Plan can come into force.”

Over the course of the past 11 weeks, the Council has been doing everything in its power to engage with residents and businesses.

Councillor Bassett said: “We are pleased to report that more than three thousand people replied to the consultation. We are now starting to work through those submissions. They have been received in a variety of ways including an online questionnaire, email, exhibitions, petitions and public meetings.”

During the next phase, the Council staff will collate and sift through all the evidence working with District Councillors to produce a first draft of the Local Plan called ‘Preferred Options’. This will contain proposals for policies to meet future population, housing and development growth and it will again go out to public consultation. Many people chose to use handwritten paper forms to make their submissions. Extra time will be factored in for inputting these alongside the online submissions made via the website.

Councillor Bassett said: “This is the next part of the long process to create a formally accepted Local Plan for the District. The final version of the Local Plan has to be approved by the planning inspectorate and it is important that the widest ranges of options are considered during the total process. This ‘Issues and Options’ part of the consultation has gathered evidence that will help us reject unsuitable sites and concentrate on appropriate development opportunities.”

It will take the council many weeks to work through all the evidence submitted during Community Choices but several key themes are already clear.

Councillor Bassett said: “Very few people support the idea of development in the Green Belt. Councillors share that view but recognise that our children will need somewhere to live. We must accept that a small proportion of the Green Belt will be required to provide enough land for the population growth forecasts over the next twenty years.”

He continued: “Most people would prefer to see any new development take place on previously developed or derelict Brownfield sites. The council has worked hard to try to identify such Brownfield opportunities through the ‘Call for Sites’ exercise. However we may not have been able to identify enough of this type of land and we are appealing to anyone who thinks they may know of any Brownfield site, not included in Community Choices, to let the council know.”

Councillor Bassett concluded: “Everyone wants to protect the environment and special character of the district which makes it such a popular area in which to live. Councillors feel strongly that the district needs to be protected as much as possible. Without a Local Plan, developers would only have to satisfy the general guidance contained in the National Planning Policy Framework, which comes into effect in April 2013 and this may not pay regard to local concerns.”

For more information go to Planning our Future or email ldfconsult@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or call 01992 564517.

Dig the Pulhams of Broxbourne exhibition at Lowewood Museum

Written on . Posted in Arts, Museum, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Trees and landscapes

Poster for the Pulhams of Broxbourne exhibition at Lowewood Museum

Join us this Saturday at Lowewood Museum for the opening of a spectacular exhibition on one of the most important landscape design companies of the Victorian and Edwardian era.

From their manufactory in Broxbourne, James Pulham and Son produced a wide range of very high-quality, classically-designed terracotta garden ornaments, such as vases, urns and sundials and examples of their garden landscape design can be seen locally and nationally, from High Leigh in Hoddesdon to Buckingham Palace in London.

In 1868, the firm was awarded its first Royal Warrant for the work they did on Sandringham Royal Estate, where they constructed two lakes, one with a large boat cave. Their second Royal Warrant was awarded for the rockwork they did on ‘The Mound’ and around the lake at Buckingham Palace in 1903-04.

To accompany the opening of the exhibition on Saturday 27th October, between 11am and 1pm, Claude Hitching, author of Rock Landscapes – The Pulham Legacy will be at the museum signing copies of his book – the perfect Christmas present for any garden lover!

Don’t miss out on seeing this fascinating exhibition, which showcases the history of this remarkable company.

For our younger visitors, the museum will also be hosting a special Design Your Own Garden craft on Thursday 1 November, 12 – 3pm. The event is free of charge and there is no need to book, just drop in.

The exhibition will run at Lowewood until the 2nd February 2013.

We look forward to seeing you at the museum!

Opening times: Wednesday – Friday (10am – 4pm) and Saturday (10am – 5pm)

Fur further information on the exhibition or the museum, please contact us at:

Lowewood Museum
High Street
Hoddesdon
EN11 8BH
Tel: 01992 445596
Email: museum.leisure@broxbourne.gov.uk

Essex Key Facts: Latest edition of district area data published

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Crime and safety, Democracy, Energy efficiency, Housing, Local business, Older people, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Private housing, Residents, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Image showing many datasets being compared
 

Data is everywhere!

With moves to a more open approach to publishing statistical information and data being encouraged across the public sector, more and more datasets, covering more and more subjects, are becoming widely accessible to all.

Unfortunately, amongst the biggest constraints on accessing the data you need can be knowing where to look, finding the time to visit the many varied websites that publish data and identifying the information you require from amongst what can appear to be an overwhelming amount of statistics that you don’t need.

To make this task a little easier and to help our residents, businesses, students and visitors find relevant data in a more straightforward and direct way, we publish a regular compilation of many of the datasets that are available. ‘Essex Councils Key Facts’ pulls together information on a wide range of subjects and allows readers to see how Epping Forest District compares with its Essex neighbours. The figures give a context to the environment in which we live, work, study and do business, and help paint a picture of some of the issues that face us all on a day to day basis.

Our latest issue, ‘Essex Key Facts Volume 4’, has recently been published and covers Business Data, Jobs and Skills Mismatch Analysis, Access to Key Services and Rural Accessibility to Services. You can find this issue, alongside copies of our previous editions, on our website by following the link below:

 
We hope you find these publications useful and easy to use. If you have any comments on the documents, please drop us a line by email on performance@eppingforestdc.gov.uk
 
The following previous editions are also available:
 
Volume 1: Political control, council tax, population, ethnicity, health, welfare, education, business & employment, carbon emissions, land use mix
Volume 2: Planning, housing, deprivation, mortality, older people care needs, crime
Volume 3: Audit Commission Value For Money profiles

Lifewalks supporting the British Heart Foundation

Written on . Posted in Community, Countryside and wildlife, Health, Older people, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Sports centres and pools, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community

For the 9th year in a row Epping Forest District Councils walking for health group arranged a 6mile long Lifewalks ramble around the Lee Valley in support of the British Heart Foundation.  Over 35 walkers took part on the walk around some of the most beautiful parts of the Lee Valley and over £250 has been raised so far for the British Heart Foundation.

The route was put together by Patricia Hutchings from Nazeing (a Lifewalk leader) and took in many of the walks that are featured in the current Lifewalks Diary but also some areas of the park that were new to many of the walkers.

Lifewalks has 27 routes and 5 walks a week covering the Lee Valley, Roding, Epping, Loughton, Theydon Bois and North Weald. All walks are graded for all abilities.

For  more information about Lifewalks please contact Karen Murray on 01992 564222 and leave your details or e-mail kmurray@eppingforestdc.gov.uk . A diary of walks will be sent to you and a free walk voucher.