More Trees Please

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your environment

This year, a total of 180 trees have been planted by the Council`s Parks Department across the Epping Forest district.

A range of species, including Sweet Gum, Turkish Hazel, Rowan, Cherries and Silver Birch have been planted this season. The aim is to put the right tree in the right place. Therefore careful consideration is given to the species selection to try to avoid the tree becoming a nuisance and instead, a long-term asset to an area.

A Tree being planted by Epping Forest District Councils Parks Department

A mixture of bare root and container-grown stock are planted in a range of locations, from paved areas or grass verges to open spaces. The ongoing threats against our trees from climate change, pollution, pests and diseases as well as sadly vandalism, only re-enforces the need to place the right tree in the right spot.

Environmental Co-ordinator Sarah Creitzman said: The Council recognises its responsibility to help protect our local environment and planting plenty of new trees is one way to try to tackle climate change. There are a number of schemes in place, run by the Council to make sure that new trees continue to be planted every season.

Amongst the trees planted this season, a number were kindly donated by members of the public through our Tree Donation Scheme. Details of how to take advantage of this service and to find further information on how the Council aims to preserve the tree population of the district, visit the Trees area of the council website.

New Guidelines for Shooters

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Countryside and wildlife, Crime and safety, Local business, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your community, Your environment

Trespassers firearms and the law posterEpping Forest District Council`s Safer Communities Officer Paul Gardener and Epping Forest Police District Crime Reduction Officer Tony Ellis have been working together to improve policing in rural areas. This is as a result of the National Farmers` Union County Chairperson expressing concerns to the Chief Constable regarding policing priorities towards rural crime.

One action as a result of those concerns was for an email family to be established to exchange information between members about current crime trends and suspicious persons. This now 90-strong group has gone on to form a Neighbourhood Action Panel (NAP) to discuss and resolve rural crime issues – the Prime Minister mentioned the initiative in a recent speech as good practice.

At one of the NAP meetings, a farmer drew attention to a current trend that has become a national debate in some of the shooting magazines. People who are legitimately shooting on land have been approached by trespassers on that land. When asked to leave, the trespasser has reported to the Police that they were threatened by a man with a gun, meaning, in some cases, that the shooter has been arrested and his weapons confiscated solely on the word of the trespasser.

The Police and the Safer Communities Team, in consultation with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and Mick Fidgeon the Head of Essex Police Firearms Licensing Department produced guidelines for shooters which, if followed, would protect them from false allegations. The guidelines will be circulated to every Police Firearms Department in Britain recommending that they be adopted nationally. They will also be taken to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) with the suggestion that ACPO and BASC work together to expand them. Epping Forest Safer Communities Partnership has supported the initiative by funding the production of leaflets and posters, which will be distributed to shooters through shooting schools, firearms dealers, retail farming outlets and shooting syndicates.

Tony Ellis Crime Reduction, Mike Aldiss Essex Shooting School, Paul Gardener Safer Communities

Epping Forest Police Inspector Craig Carrington said: We were asked by the members of the NAP to come up with a plan of action, which would help protect legitimate shooters from falling victim to mischievous allegations. Paul and Tony have worked hard on this initiative and the result is a document which contributes nationally to resolving the problem. This has been a Partnership project with a number of other agencies contributing towards the final product and shows the value of working together with the community to resolve problems.

Caroline Wiggins Epping Forest District Council Community Safety Manager said: “The Farmers` NAP has highlighted a very real concern with the potential to have serious consequences and I am pleased the Safer Communities Partnership has been able to support this worthwhile initiative.”

Epping Conservation Area Character Appraisal

Written on . Posted in Conservation and listed buildings, Consultation, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Our countryside, Your area, Your council, Your environment

The final version of the Epping Conservation Area Character Appraisal has been published by Epping Forest District Council. This follows public consultation when local residents were invited to comment on the draft document.

Epping Conservation Area was first designated in 1969 and encompasses most of Epping Town Centre. When the appraisal was compiled, the area was surveyed and photographed in detail. A range of historic maps was consulted and documentary research carried out.

The purpose of a character appraisal is to define the character of the conservation area, review its boundaries and highlight any parts of it that may be in need of improvement. The character appraisal for the Epping Conservation Area covers topics such as public spaces, shop fronts, and highway signs as well as sites with potential for improvement or development.

A limited number of hard copies will also be available. These can be obtained by telephoning 01992 564582 or emailing contactLB@eppingforestdc.gov.uk. Alternatively, the appraisal will be available to view at the District Council`s Planning Reception in the Civic Offices in Epping from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

The Council is soon to be printing a character appraisal on Bell Common after public consultation earlier in the year.

Food and Garden Waste Wheelie Bins

Written on . Posted in Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Countrycare, Our countryside, Recycling and waste, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Green lidded wheelie bin for food and garden waste and black wheelie bin for non-recyclable waste

Following the introduction of new food and garden waste wheelie bins by Epping Forest District Council some residents with very large gardens have expressed concerns about the amount of their garden waste they will be able to recycle using the new bins.

One of the most important factors the Council considered in developing the new system was the need to reduce the total amount of waste being collected. Although the food and garden wheelie bin only holds the equivalent of four or five of the former sacks, unlike the old sacks system, the food and garden waste will be collected weekly. In the vast majority of cases this should be sufficient, especially where residents are also composting waste at home and storing the garden waste to allow it to dry out and reduce in weight and volume.

The Green lidded wheelie bin is for food and garden waste and the black wheelie bin is for non-recyclable waste.

However, the Council recognises that there may be exceptional circumstances where a second wheelie bin is appropriate, and therefore at the Cabinet meeting on the 7 September 2009 Councillors looked again at the particular problems of a small number of residents who have very large gardens and agreed that in these exceptional circumstances a second food and garden wheelie bin might be made available, following an individual assessment.

People who think they might qualify for a second wheelie bin will need to talk to the Council first to make sure other options, such as garden composting and storage of garden waste have also been considered.

In addition, the Council will consider, again on an individual basis, providing a garden wheelie bin to residents in flats who are currently maintaining garden areas themselves and who wish to continue to do so. This will enable residents to continue to keep their surroundings tidy and ensure that garden waste is recycled.

Land Banking Scheme

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Countryside and wildlife, Local business, Our countryside, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your environment

These commonly advertise small plots of agricultural land for sale, on the internet, by phone or through the use of leaflets and brochures or newspaper articles. These parcels of land are advertised as potential investment opportunities. The premise is that planning permission for a new housing development can be sought and if approved, the value of the land should increase at which point it could be sold on to a developer for a substantial profit, or the purchasers could build their own homes. The sales information often gives the impression that planning permission is shortly to be granted, or the use of the land is to be changed via the Development Plan process.

There are examples all over the UK of such schemes, where unsuspecting buyers have purchased plots of land believing that the value will increase significantly. There is no example to date where planning permission has been granted for all or part of an area of land that has been divided into plots in this way. Purchasers are left with a piece of land with agricultural land value, and very little prospect of being able to sell it on or develop it.

Investigations into these types of schemes have been carried out by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), Trading Standards and several national newspapers. Some that have claimed to be able to seek planning permission for a collective of plot owners have been closed down. Such collective investment schemes need to be authorised by the FSA to be legal.

Emerging Property Partnership (EPP) is currently advertising plots of land for sale on land within the Blunts Farm area in Theydon Bois.

    However, the planning policy position has not changed:

  • The land is entirely within the Green Belt, and therefore the normal restrictions on development apply
  • The areas of land are isolated from the existing built area of Theydon Bois, and the services it provides
  • No means of access has been shown to the parcels of land. Policy CP3 would require this is addressed before any planning application could be made
  • The land has been submitted to the District Council under the Call for Sites exercise, but this does not mean that there is any certainty that this land will be allocated for development purposes
  • The allocation of 3,500 new homes claimed by the vendors refers to the requirement in the East of England Plan for the whole District over the period 2001 to 2021

EPP does not offer to seek planning permission for plot owners, nor does it give any guarantee that planning permission will be forthcoming. However, Planning Officers have received a number of calls about the land available, and feel it is important that people should be advised of the true planning policy situation.

Gypsy and Traveller Reduction

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Democracy, Gypsy and traveller, Leader, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your environment

The Secretary of State published the final East of England Plan policy (H3) for Gypsy and Traveller pitch provision on 20 July 2009. Epping Forest District Council is required to provide an additional 34 pitches in the period 2006 to 2011. This would mean that the minimum number of authorised pitches in the district should total 128 by 2011. The policy expects pitch provision to be made through a combination of Development Plan Documents (DPD) and development control decisions and that opportunities should be taken to secure provision within major developments.

Councillor Di Collins Leader of Epping Forest District Council said: “We argued long and hard that the overall number of extra gypsy and traveller pitches allocated to our district was unfair in comparison to other Council areas. I am pleased we had some success. From an original draft allocation of 49, it was no mean feat to get the Government to reduce the figure to 34. However, I think the vast majority of Epping Forest residents will agree with me that the allocation is still too high and should have been much lower.

“Having confirmed our allocation, I think it is now up to the Government to listen very carefully to the views of local people about where the extra pitches should go in the district. Those decisions should be taken locally in conjunction with the needs of all our residents and not imposed by Government-appointed Inspectors.

The District Council is continuing to analyse responses made to the consultation for additional pitch locations within the district, which ran from November 2008 to February 2009. Discussions with GO-East about a revised timetable for submitting a draft DPD continue. Beyond 2011 the East of England Plan policy requires additional provision based on an annual 3% compound increase and advises that DPDs should consider the need for rural exception sites and the alteration of Green Belt boundaries.

The County of Essex and the Unitary Authorities of Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock are also required to make provision for 30 transit pitches by 2011.

Policy H4 deals with pitch provision for travelling show people and requires Essex, Southend and Thurrock to make provision for an additional 103 plots by 2011 with an annual 1.5% compound increase thereafter. Councils are again advised to consider rural exception sites and changes to Green Belt boundaries.

The implications of these two policies will be considered in the Autumn by the Council’s Local Development Framework Cabinet.

Recycling Initiatives at Epping Forest Schools

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Our countryside, Recycling and waste, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

 

Epping Forest District Council is helping to boost its already excellent recycling levels by offering schools across the district the opportunity to take advantage of free recycling facilities. Recycling will enable schools to reduce the waste they produce by more than 70% and cut the cost of their waste collection, making money available for other budgets.

Most schools typically recycle paper from their classrooms and offices. Some also recycle cans and glass. Every classroom/office taking part in the scheme has a blue box identical to those provided by the Council to all households across the district, enabling children to make the link between recycling in school and at home.

Portfolio Holder for the Environment Councillor Mary Sartin said: Learning about waste management can be a valuable source of education, linking directly to both Citizenship and Education for Sustainable Development. Recycling projects also provide an opportunity for the entire school to work together as a team.

Schools are able to develop their pupils` knowledge and understanding of such issues, preparing them to make informed choices in the future, which will no doubt influence how rubbish is tackled in the future.

If your school, or playschool/nursery is not yet using Epping Forest District Council`s recycling service, please phone 01992 564608.

Councillors Wowed on Copped Hall Visit

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Conservation and listed buildings, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Our countryside, Your area, Your council, Your environment

After more than 90 years, the gutted remains of Copped Hall are rising from the ashes thanks to a band of dedicated volunteers and trustees. Members of Epping Forest District Council including the Chairman, Councillor Penny Smith, were treated to an extensive tour of the restoration works as the Hall returns to its former glory. Where only a short while ago there were no floors or roof, councillors were able to walk from room to room, admiring the restoration work in warmth and comfort as thunderstorms lashed the building outside.

Copped Hall on a stormy day, it is hard to imagine the vast amount of restoration work going on

The current Copped Hall was built in 1753 near the site of an earlier Tudor palace. It was extended and embellished but disaster struck when fire ripped through the building in 1917. What remained was left to decay and the Hall could have been demolished entirely. However, unlike so many English stately homes, it was not knocked down. In 1993 the Copped Hall Trust was established to save the house and surrounding gardens.

Councillors see where new floors will be laid across fire resistant steel beamsArchitect Alan Cox by one of the restored fireplaces

With support of organisations including Epping Forest District Council and the dedicated hard work of many individuals, Copped Hall, the gardens and associated buildings are gradually being brought back to life. The Trustees hold events including the Copped Hall Run with Epping Rotary, music and open-air theatre productions. Tours around the inside of the building are being held for members of the public and local schools.

The cellars at Copped HallCouncillors visit the stables at Copped Hall

Councillor Penny Smith`s family has farmed land in nearby Epping Upland and she remembers some of the people who used to work on the Copped Hall Estate.

She said: Today, many people have no idea about the hall or estate. Most only catch a glimpse as they speed past on the M25. However, there was a time when the lives of people in Epping, Epping Upland and Upshire revolved around Copped Hall. It is steeped in history with records as far back as the Doomsday Book.

The restoration still has a very long way to go but walking through the rooms is incredibly atmospheric. From the great dining and bedrooms to the servants` quarters, kitchens and stables, you get a sense of the generations that lived, worked and died there. Small touches such as the restoration of a fireplace, paintings on a wall and the occasional piece of period furniture add to the impression that this was once a very special place and is becoming so again.

Chairman Penny Smith with Councillor Mary Sartin and Copped Hall Trustee John Padfield

Although there are public footpaths across the Copped Hall Estate, entry to the House is by appointment with the Trustees only who run regular tours, proceeds from which go towards the restoration work.

Councillor Penny Smith thanked Alan Cox and Denys Favre of the Copped Hall Trustees for showing the Councillors the Hall. She said: It is marvellous to see the fantastic work taking place. The Copped Hall Trust is a charitable organisation. It relies upon an army of dedicated volunteers led by Alan, Denys and the other trustees. They have done a tremendous job and I look forward to seeing the restoration progress over the next year or so.

Council Teams Up With BBC

Written on . Posted in Countryside and wildlife, Health, Our countryside, Out and about, Working with the council

Epping Forest District Council is one of 50 local Councils across the UK and the only one in Essex that has joined forces with the BBC Breathing Places campaign to turn their communities into breathing places.

In the next 12 months each Council has committed to make space for nature and create wildlife friendly communities in urban and rural locations.

Working in partnership with the BBC, Councils will encourage nature novices to join events, learn new skills and make a long lasting difference to their community. Across the Epping Forest district the plan is to change the community by holding regular volunteer days and transforming a number of sites for both people and wildlife over the next year.

Karen Gregory BBC Breathing Places Project Executive said: “I am delighted that Epping Forest District Council has joined us for what promises to be an exciting year for the Breathing Places Campaign. Working in partnership gives us both a wonderful opportunity to reach thousands of people and inspire them to get out and do one thing for nature.

Inspired by existing wildlife priorities local Councils have set practical targets for the year including tree planting, bird box building, pond clearance, wasteland transformation, wildflower planting and litter clearance. Everyone and anyone can get involved locally as Councils will be teaming up with schools, libraries, children`s centres and existing wildlife organisations.

    The year kicks off with the BBC Breathing Places ‘Dirty Weekend’ – click on the link below for more details.

  • BBC Breathing Places Dirty Weekend website (opens in a new weekend)