Limes Centre open morning

Written on . Posted in Business, Chigwell, Community, Environmental health, Housing, Local business, Media, Older people, Out and about, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

We are having an open day at The Limes Centre in Chigwell to mark our extended opening hours. All residents are welcome to come along and find out what services we offer.

  • When – Monday 1 February 2016 9:15am to 12 noon
  • Where – The Limes Centre, Limes Avenue, Chigwell, IG7 5LP

Limes Farm open day flyer

On the day we will be available to answer your questions

  • Housing management South – rent enquiries, tenancy matters and estate issues
  • Environmental health – noise nuisance, fly tipping and general enquiries
  • Community safety – anti social behaviour, or any other policing matters
  • Community involvement – activities in your local area and at the Limes Centre
  • Private sector housing – housing advice to private home owners

Since our new extended opening hours, we have been asking residents to complete a satisfaction questionnaire when visiting The Limes Centre. Every month all completed survey forms will be entered into a £25 prize draw. The first draw will take place on 1 February 2016. So come along and see us, we’ll be happy to help with your enquiry.

Free refreshments.

Want to know more?

 

Tenants move into new council homes in Chigwell

Written on . Posted in Chigwell, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Housing, Media, Residents, Your area, Your council, Your home

Tenants moved into the district’s first new council homes on 7 December, just in time for Christmas.

The 10 converted flats at Marden Close and 2 new flats at Faversham Hall in Chigwell Row are the first of the council’s new house-building programme to be completed. The programme aims to build around 315 new council homes across the Epping Forest district in the next 10 years.

Miss Downes with councillors and housing officers

Pictured from left to right – Chigwell Row Councillor Brian Sandler, Paul Pledger (Assistant Director of Communities), Georgia Downes, Alan Hall (Director of Communities) and Housing Portfolio Holder Councillor David Stallan – congratulating Georgia Downes for being the first tenant to move into the new flats.

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

Marden Close, Chigwell Row

20 sheltered bedsits at Marden Close in Chigwell Row were converted into 10 one-bedroom general needs flats as the bedsits had become unpopular and difficult to let.

The 2-storey building has secure individual entrances to each flat, a small communal garden, energy efficient heating, insulation and new windows. They are being let at the usual council social rents.

The former Faversham Hall on the same site has also undergone a high quality refurbishment including new landscaping. It now provides 2 new general needs flats out of a previously underused community facility.

A hugely significant moment

Councillor David Stallan, Housing Portfolio Holder said: “This is a hugely significant moment for Epping Forest District Council and something I am immensely proud to be part of. After 30 years when government policy focused our affordable housing plans towards facilitating new homes built by housing associations, we are starting to provide new housing directly again.”

“These new homes have been converted to a good standard and are energy efficient. They are a great example of what we want to achieve across our district.”

I’m really happy

Georgia Downes said: “I’m really happy with the quality of my home and it’s a real pleasure to live here.”

 

Limes Centre office soon open all day

Written on . Posted in Abandoned vehicles, Animal welfare, Benefits, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Council tax, Crime and safety, Epping, Housing, Housing repairs, Media, Parking, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council

The council’s office at The Limes Centre in Chigwell will soon be open all day.

Tenants and other residents living on the Limes Farm Estate and in surrounding areas can visit the office for advice on a whole range of issues including

  • rent
  • council tax payments
  • repairs
  • refuse
  • pets
  • parking
  • tenancy conditions
  • anti-social behaviour
  • estate
  • environmental issues

Limes Farm EFDC local office

Longer opening hours and new services

Until now the office has been open during the mornings only, but from 4 January 2016 the hours will be

  • Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm.
  • Benefits and council tax advice service everyday
  • Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)  advice services on Wednesday and Thursday mornings

We are also extending the range of services available to include

  • A new facility to pay your rent and council tax by debit or credit card
  • An Epping Forest District Council and Essex County Council information kiosk
  • Community services, tenant participation and advice on repairs, estates and environmental issues

The longer opening hours will be trialled for 18 months with a review after 12 months and the extended service may continue if it is popular with residents.

Further details

Please contact us for more information on the new hours and services, or for any of your housing enquiries

 

Save money on your energy bills

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Councillors, Energy efficiency, Housing, Media, Private housing, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Essex Energy Switch can save you hundreds of pounds a year on your energy bills. Essex residents have already saved nearly £1 million with the Essex Energy Switch.

Essex Energy Switch

Residents can sign-up now for the latest scheme which lets energy companies bid to supply homes for the cheapest price.

A great scheme

The Essex County Council scheme is supported by Epping Forest District Council. Portfolio holder Councillor Gary Waller said: “This is a great scheme which applies the simple principle of economies of scale. Thousands of residents across Essex including Epping Forest have benefited by pooling their buying power together in previous schemes. There is no risk.”

“If your current supplier turns out to be cheaper there is no obligation to switch. On the other hand some customers could stand to save hundreds of pounds a year. Just register your details and let Energy Switch do the rest.”

Energy Switch is a county wide initiative that aims to cut the prices that residents and small businesses pay for gas and electricity. People who wish to take part must register their interest between the start date of 1 December and closing date of 1 February 2016.

The prices offered by energy providers will be calculated based on how many people register and their current usage, so residents really have nothing to lose but a lot to gain.

An unmissable opportunity

Councillor David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council said: “This scheme is an unmissable opportunity, even for those who believe they are already getting the best prices available to them.

“The scheme is completely free and registration will take just 5 minutes. There is no obligation to switch providers following the auction – it really is a win-win for all involved.”

Once the registration period has ended, energy providers will bid against one another and whoever can provide the cheapest energy rate will win the custom of those who have registered.

If registrants will not be saving money by switching, they do not have to switch from their current providers. Participation is completely free and there is no cost to register or switch providers.

 

National Empty Homes Week

Written on . Posted in Community, Housing, Media, Out and about, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Working with the council, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Did you know approximately 480 properties in the Epping Forest district have been standing empty for more than 6 months. In an area where there’s a huge demand for housing but development on Green Belt is prohibited, it’s very important that as many empty properties as possible are brought back to use.

Empty homes banner

Properties are left empty for a variety of reasons but they can be the source of much misery to neighbours who live nearby. It’s estimated that the home next door to an empty property can be devalued by 10%. There is also the worry of nuisance, vermin, arson, vandalism and anti social behaviour. For the owner, an empty property is a wasted resource and can be costly in terms of increased insurance, increased council tax, emergency repairs and break-ins.

Reducing the number of empty properties

Epping Forest District Council is committed to reducing the number of empty properties in the district and can offer financial help in certain circumstances. It is recognised that 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 offer the following schemes

  • Empty Homes Repayable Assistance

    The Empty Homes Repayable Assistance offers up to £10,000 if there is an empty property that you intend to live in yourself, but is in poor condition. The money is repaid when you eventually sell the property.

  • PLACE Loan

    The 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 out. 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 the council will always prefer to work with owners in a constructive way, it has certain enforcement powers that it may use 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.

Committed to bringing empty properties back into use

Housing portfolio holder David Stallan said: “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 as a last resort.”

Report an Empty Property

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 work with him, to bring his property back to use. All calls are treated in confidence. For further information and advice or to report an empty property, please contact the Empty Property Officer on telephone: 01992 564706 or email: privatesectorhousing@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.

 

Cabinet 5 November

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Crime and safety, Doing business with the council, Housing, Leader, Local business, Media, Meetings, Planning, Prosecutions, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home, Your money

Councillors discussed many issues at the cabinet meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 5 November 2015.

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Breaches of standing orders

Councillor Chris Whitbread set out details of breaches to standing orders in response to a public question by Mr Blanks. Responding to a supplementary question by Mr Blanks, Councillor Whitbread confirmed that the breaches of standing orders relating to cumulative orders placed with contract suppliers had been identified by council officers.

Councillor Whitbread undertook to provide further details in due course. Returning to the item later on the agenda, cabinet actions now require assistant directors to avoid similar occurrences in the future. Standing Orders are also to be reviewed.

Gracelands

Gracelands, a local company has been awarded a new 5-year contract to provide gas and heating services to council housing tenants. Gracelands came in the with the lowest bid of just under £400,000 per year. Previous work by Gracelands has provided some of the highest levels of tenant satisfaction for Epping Forest District Council.

Civil penalties

Councillors supported the introduction of civil penalties for people giving false information when making Council Tax and Housing Benefit claims. The penalties of £70 for Council Tax and £50 for Housing Benefit cheats can also be applied to people who deliberately withhold information when their circumstances change. Anyone providing false information would also have to pay back any overpayment of Benefits.

Bus shelters

The cleaning and refurbishment of 60 local bus shelters has been awarded to Clear Channel for a further 4 years. The contract was awarded at no cost to the council. Maintenance costs to Clear Channel will be met from revenue raised through advertising.

Payment kiosks

Payment kiosks are to replace the staffed Epping cashier office. Residents increasingly make payments to the council by direct debit, phone and online with a consequent decline in cash payments. The council successfully implemented a payment kiosk alternative in Waltham Abbey several years ago with significant ongoing savings. Implementation of a similar plan in Epping is expected to save more than £20,000 a year.

Epping Forest College redevelopment

Councillors agreed to release restrictive covenants on land owned by Epping Forest College. Redevelopment of the land for housing will provide a proportion of new affordable housing within Loughton. Profits from the development will be used by the College to develop new educational facilities.

Epping Forest Shopping Park

The Epping Forest Shopping Park project remains on schedule. Asset Management Portfolio Holder Councillor Ann Grigg updated cabinet with latest progress on retail tenants, highway works and relocation of council services to Oakwood Hill.

 

New van ReUses unwanted furniture

Written on . Posted in Community, Housing, Local business, Media, Out and about, Private housing, Recycling and waste, Residents, Supporting business, Volunteering opportunities, Working with the council, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

A new furniture delivery van was unveiled by Epping Forest ReUse in Epping on 8 October. The new van will deliver and pickup furniture, white goods and household items which would otherwise have gone to landfill.

Epping Forest ReUSE van launch

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

Trustee and Essex County Council Vice-chairman John Aldridge cut the ribbon with heartfelt speeches made by Brian Darwood, director of Lighthouse Furniture project and local Councillor Janet Whitehouse.

Epping Forest ReUse supports the local community through the sale of furniture and household items, at extremely affordable prices with lower prices offered to those on income based benefits and in some cases items are provided for free.

A terrific charity

Environment Portfolio Holder, Councillor Will Breare-Hall said: “Epping Forest ReUse is a terrific charity and one I’m delighted to support. Not only does this fantastic new vehicle help with the collection of donated furniture and the delivery of purchased items, it’s also an eye-catching mobile advertisement for a service that all our residents can use.”

“Epping Forest ReUse also provides many volunteering opportunities. Whether its staff crewing the van, working in the warehouse or helping with administration, they assist people to gain skills and experience, and help them to grow their self esteem and confidence.”

“If you have unwanted household items to donate or are looking for something for yourself please call 01992 578222 during office hours or contact them via their website at www.eppingreuse.org.uk.”

Epping Forest ReUse

Epping Forest ReUse is a registered charity that works in partnership with the Lighthouse Furniture Project.

 

Green belt debate at cabinet

Written on . Posted in Business, Commercial properties, Community, Councillors, Democracy, Grants, Housing, Leader, Local business, Media, Private housing, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Councillors discussed the green belt review at length when Epping Forest District Council’s cabinet met on 3 September 2015.

Democracy live

First stage review completed

The first stage of the green belt review for the Epping Forest district has been completed. Councillors received a report on the strategic level review which identifies broad areas for further assessment. Completion of the review and any proposals to alter existing boundaries will become a significant part of the supporting documentation in the new Local Plan.

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Council reported that from the analysis of the first stage, the second stage of the green belt review will identify

  • Areas where the green belt policy designation should remain
  • Any historic anomalies in the existing boundaries or locations where development has taken place, which may therefore suggest minor amendments to green belt boundaries are required
  • Areas that would be less harmful in green belt terms for potential development purposes

Identification of any parcel of land as a potential area of development does not mean that the council agrees or approves of it. Planning Portfolio Holder Richard Bassett strongly emphasised that the review does not constitute any decisions by the council.

Hierarchy and cooperation

Councillors discussed the status of various settlements within the review with debate on definitions of small villages, large villages and towns. Further discussion will take place with representatives of Buckhurst Hill and Roydon on village or town status. Further discussion will also take place with Chigwell Parish Council on the detail of their submission.

Questions were also raised about proposals to carry out the second stage review in conjunction with Harlow. The council’s legal adviser Mark Beard said that the review should be viewed as an evidence gathering process. Council Leader Chris Whitbread said the ‘duty to cooperate’ was not a ‘duty to agree’ and proposed that cabinet proceed to the second stage review independently.

Broadband

The rollout of Superfast Broadband to rural parts of the Epping Forest district was welcomed by councillors at the meeting of cabinet on 3 September. Responding to comments on the different types of broadband being introduced nationwide, Portfolio holder Alan Lion assured councillors that the fibre installations being installed by Gigaclear were of the highest quality.

£120,000 boost to help people stay in their own homes

Cabinet increased the disabled facilities grants budget for 2015/16 to £0.5 million with the inclusion of an extra £120,000, with further additional funding bids to be made for three years up to 2018/19. Grants are used to help people remain independent in their own home. Grants are awarded to eligible residents based on occupational therapist referrals to the council.

Epping Forest Shopping Park update

Epping Forest District Council completed the purchase of Polofind’s interest in the Epping Forest Shopping Park on 3 July. Asset Portfolio Holder Anne Grigg updated councillors on progress toward the development of the new shopping park including highway works, approval of the most recent planning application on 10 June, architectural drawings, utility company works, health and safety, appointment of the main contractor, marketing and letting of the units and other matters. The council aims to have the complex fitted out and occupied by tenants in time for Christmas 2016.

 

Sheltered housing open days

Written on . Posted in Community, Epping, Housing, Loughton, Media, Older people, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

Are you thinking about sheltered housing for yourself or someone else? If you are, why not come and see us at our sheltered housing open days.

Sheltered housing open days

You are invited to come to our open days. You may know somebody who lives in one of our schemes, or maybe you are thinking about sheltered housing for yourself (or someone else).

You will be able to look around the schemes, and possibly view a flat if one is vacant, to see what life is like at our sheltered schemes. Light refreshments will be provided.

Come and see us

  • Parsonage Court, Loughton, IG10 2BB on Monday 7 September 2015 from 2pm to 4pm
  • Leonard Davis House, North Weald, CM16 6BS on Friday 11 September 2015 from 10am to 12pm

Want to know more

Please contact our Re-housing Support officer at Older Peoples Services

 

Councillors discuss Local Plan and elections

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Consultation, Councillors, Democracy, Elections, Housing, Local plan / planning our future, Media, Meetings, Our performance, Recycling and waste, Residents, Your area, Your council, Your home

Councillors received updates on a wide range of projects when Cabinet Portfolio Holders reported to the meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 28 July 2015.

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Local Plan

Items included a comprehensive report on the Local Plan, progress on major schemes at Langston Road (Epping Forest Retail Park) and St John’s Epping, significant improvements following the troubled introduction of the new 4-day domestic waste collection contract and a summary of the council’s latest financial position following the Chancellor’s first budget since the General Election in May.

Individual Electoral Registration (IER)

Councillor John Philip reported on successful introduction of Individual Electoral Registration before the last General Election. Epping Forest District Council produced the best electoral register in the country according to statistics released by the Electoral Commission. Councillor Philip made the announcement as the canvass for the first update to the register begins.

More than half of all households have already responded to the update, although that means some 25,000 households are still to reply. Councillor Philip was pleased to say that the vast majority of replies have been received electronically saving time and money. He appealed to fellow councillors to encourage residents to complete the canvass by returning all outstanding forms electronically as soon as possible.

Council housing rent reductions

Housing Portfolio Holder David Stallan responded to concerns raised about the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement on council housing rent reductions. One per cent per cuts per year over the next 4 years could impact on the council’s ability to build more new homes.

Further concerns were raised regarding plans to make councils sell high value houses. Councillor Stallan said that further evaluation would help to assess the impact on the Epping Forest district.

St John’s Road development

Assets Portfolio Holder Councillor Mrs Anne Grigg said that consultation would take place as the St John’s Road development reached planning application stage.

Overview and Scrutiny

Councillors welcomed the annual report of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee which highlighted the investigative role of the council in checking the work of its own cabinet and other organisations as diverse as the police, public transport, health, education and social services.

Mick Merrick

Council Chairman Councillor Liz Webster paid tribute to Mick Merrick, one of the council’s best known and popular members of staff who passed away earlier in the year. Flowers and condolences are to be sent to his family.