Travelling community accommodation needs survey

Written on . Posted in Gypsy and traveller, Local plan / planning our future, Planning

This recording outlines the reasons for the consultation with the travelling community of the district which will run through December 2012 and early January 2013.  This is being distributed, in DVD form, to all individual traveller pitches in the district.  There is also a covering letter and a paper form of the questions which are also included in the recording.

Find out more about the Local Plan Consultation

 

Housing association appointed to develop new council homes

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Epping, Housing, Housing repairs, Loughton, Ongar, Planning, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Epping Forest District Council has appointed East Thames Group, a housing association, as development agent to deliver its new council housebuilding programme.

This is thought to be the first agreement of its type, where a council has appointed a housing association to deliver a whole development programme. East Thames will develop around 120 new affordable rented homes on behalf of the council over a 6 year period. The £1.6 million appointment follows a competitive tender process, with most of the new homes being developed on difficult-to-let garage sites in the council’s ownership.

East Thames will provide all the required development, project management and professional building services for the programme. The housing association will undertake initial development and financial appraisals, preparation of planning applications, all resident consultation and liaison and the procurement and supervision of works contractors.

“This is the right approach for us”, said Councillor David Stallan, the council’s housing portfolio holder. “The council has not built any new homes for over 25 years, so we do not have the technical expertise in-house to undertake new housebuilding ourselves. We are very pleased to announce this strategic partnership with East Thames, who we have already worked successfully with over a number years through our enabling role”. “Not only did East Thames submit the most competitive price”, Councillor Stallan continued, “their tender submission was also assessed as providing the best quality. We will continue to facilitate the provision of affordable housing in our district, with all of our housing association partners. But personally, I am looking forward to the day when we are able to build more council homes each year than we sell through the Right to Buy”.

Initially 13 organisations, comprising both housing associations and private companies, expressed interest in tendering for the role, with six shortlisted to submit detailed tenders.

East Thames will also be responsible for formulating the council’s development strategy and seeking investment partner status with the Homes and Communities Agency for the council. If successful, this would enable the Council to bid for grant funding for the new homes.

The appointment is expected to commence in January 2013, with the development of the first sites starting on site commencing in early 2014. The council’s cabinet has also agreed to set up a committee to oversee the housing building programme.

Cabinet on 3 December

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Housing, Housing repairs, Leader, Licensing, Local business, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Parking, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Parking reviews, town centre initiatives, dog control orders and more were among the items discussed at cabinet on Monday 3 December 2012.

£35,000 for Town Centre initiatives

Councillors at cabinet on 3 December approved £35,000 to develop a range of initiatives in support of the district’s town centres. Councillor Anne Grigg, Economic Development and Asset Management Portfolio Holder announced a town team taskforce will work with local town centre partnerships to allocate the money and develop the initiatives. It will also champion the needs of local high streets, co-ordinate and promote activities across the district, innovating and testing new ideas.

Although funded by the council and chaired by Councillor Anne Grigg in her business champion capacity, the taskforce will be made up mainly of local business leaders drawn from the 6 town centre partnerships, Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce, Epping Forest College and the Federation of Small Businesses.

Among the practical initiatives being considered for the taskforce to take forward are ‘High Street Hero’ awards, maximising national campaigns at local level, ‘bite-size’ training for small businesses and economic initiative grants. Linking tourism and high street promotion through the websites ‘Visit Epping Forest’ and ‘One Shops Local’ with promotional support by the council through platforms such as the Forester magazine and council website will help to support these initiatives.

 

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council is also a local business person. He strongly welcomed the proposals put forward by Councillor Grigg. Reminding councillors that 3 December is the busiest day for online shopping, he said that each of the towns of Epping Forest has excellent shops and services as well as the opportunity to reach residents.

In a further measure of support to residents and high street shops, Councillor Gary Waller announced £25,000 towards significant extension and improvement to CCTV coverage in Loughton. In response to a question he also noted improvements to CCTV coverage in Epping. Councillor Syd Stavrou, Finance Portfolio Holder then went on to ask cabinet to confirm no increase in charges in the council’s town centre pay and display car parks.

Development agent chosen for council house building

Councillors have taken another major step towards starting a new council house building programme with approval to appoint East Thames Group as development agent. Cabinet approved a recommendation for the appointment of East Thames on an initial 4 year contract which could be extended to up to 7 years as the council starts to provide 20 new dwellings a year over a 6 year period.

The appointment follows a competitive tender in which the bid of £1,582,500 by East Thames Group came out as the most economically advantageous to the council.

East Thames will be responsible for feasibility, planning application, post-planning including project management and appointment of construction contractors plus other related services.

Dog control orders

Dog owners will be required to clear their dog’s faeces on public land following the adoption of dog control orders by the council. Cabinet also approved recommendations to restrict the total number of dogs that can be walked by a single person on public land to four and for authorised officers to require dogs to be put on a lead when requested.

£113,000 boost for homelessness prevention

The homelessness prevention service is to be boosted. In addition to allocating money for staffing its own service, members of the cabinet also approved funding towards the costs of debt advisers employed by the Citizens Advice Bureau and the council’s rental loan scheme assisting homeless people obtain private rented accommodation.

Prevention is a key part of the council’s strategy in dealing with homelessness. Between 2008 and 2012, 1,820 of the 2,233 homelessness cases (82%) dealt with by the council were prevented, enabling people to find or keep a roof over their heads.

Parking reviews

Lessons learnt from the Epping Parking Review will be used to improve the outcomes of the Buckhurst Hill and Loughton Broadway reviews. In particular, subsequent reviews will target the needs of specific areas rather than wider area reviews. Councillor Gary Waller, Safer, Greener and Highways Portfolio Holder assured councillors that full consultation would be carried out as the reviews went forward.

National Empty Homes Week

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Council tax, Epping, Grants, Housing, Local business, Loughton, Ongar, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your home

National Empty Homes week runs from 26 November to 1 December 2012 highlighting the waste of empty properties.

Each dwelling that stands empty is a wasted resource and the council is committed to bringing empty properties back to use.

  • An empty property can cost an owner up to £10,000 a year in maintenance, Council Tax, increased insurance and potential loss in rental
  • They act as a magnet for crime and anti-social behaviour including squatters, vandalism, arson and rubbish dumping
  • Run-down, derelict and abandoned properties bring down the appearance of a neighbourhood and give a sense of decay and decline
  • The house next door to an empty property may be devalued by as much as 10%

We can help owners of empty properties by giving advice and information and also by offering financial assistance.

Report an empty property

If you know of an empty property and want to make us aware of it, please complete the online form.

If you would like to discuss any property or issue relating to empty homes call the Empty Property Officer on 01992 564706. All calls and information received will be treated in confidence.

Read more on empty properties.

Comment on potential changes to planning permission for extensions

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Business rates, Commercial properties, Conservation and listed buildings, Consultation, Gypsy and traveller, Housing, Housing repairs, Licensing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has issued a consultation document for 6 weeks seeking comments on possible temporary changes to permitted development rights on extensions.

Among its proposed course of action is to allow homeowners and businesses to make larger extensions to their homes and business premises without needing to submit a planning application. For example, this could allow a maximum 8 metre depth for a single storey rear extension to a detached house and 6 metre depth for any other type of house, without needing planning permission. If approved, this would be a temporary measure for 3 years.

You can comment on this consultation direct to the DCLG, which ends on 24 December 2012, on a downloadable response form by following the link below. This form also includes details of the proposals.

Comment on the DCLG consultation document

New planning application fees

Written on . Posted in Building control, Business, Business rates, Commercial properties, Conservation and listed buildings, Crime and safety, Doing business with the council, Housing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Out and about, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

As from 22 November 2012, there will be a new level of planning application fees, which  will increase by 15 percent above the current level.  This is the first national increase since 2008 and therefore any planning applications received from this date will require the new fee. 

 Please follow this link to view the new charges

 

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.

Business Briefing hot off the press and brimming with news for local businesses

Written on . Posted in Abandoned vehicles, Animal welfare, Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Doing business with the council, Drainage, Energy efficiency, Epping, Grants, Gypsy and traveller, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Media, Noise, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Trees and landscapes, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

The October 2012 edition of ‘one business briefing’ is available. Produced by EFDC, One Epping Forest and local partners the briefing provides information for businesses and those looking to start up in business in the Epping Forest District.  The briefing  is designed to report on  business funding opportunities/access to finance, business support, workshops/events for business and local economic development initiatives.

The October edition highlights a new training grant available from Essex County Council which is available to businesses but those eligible must be quick as the grant is only available from now until March 2013. The briefing also highlights specific support available to manufacturing and construction businesses in the Epping Forest district.  If you are looking to set-up in business the briefing directs individuals to support being offered by HMRC, including its free and informal workshop sessions held in Epping.

Read the October 2012 edition – One Business Briefing

If you would like to receive future editions of ‘one business briefing’ directly to your email inbox please email vwillis@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

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.